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Venues Reflect Diversity of Kentucky's Musical Culture

Friday, 03 01, 2013

Bob Adams
502-564-4930 ext 152

Music is in the soul of Kentuckians, and not just the bluegrass music that was born in the Commonwealth and has earned international acclaim. Befitting a diverse state that mixes urban and rural traditions, country music, blues, gospel and many other genres are popular today in the Bluegrass State.

Kentuckians’ love for music has spawned an abundance of venues where it’s performed live. From pop to classical, from one end of the state to the other, you’ll find down-home music halls, state-of-the art concert arenas and everything in between. Beethoven, Bill Monroe and Loretta Lynn may be just a few of the fabrics that make up the crazy quilt that is Kentucky’s music scene on any given weekend.

Bluegrass aficionados will want to visit the Owensboro area, where the Rosine Barn Jamboree serves up a regular supply of the music considered to have been conceived by Kentucky native Monroe. The Jamboree is a Friday night staple at an authentic barn in the shadow of the restored homeplace where “Big Mon’” was born, raised and is buried in Ohio County. For more information, visit www.bluegrass-museum.org/visit/rosine.htm.

Among the meccas for country music fans in Kentucky are the Renfro Valley Entertainment Center and Prestonsburg’s Mountain Arts Center, home of Billie Jean Osborne’s Kentucky Opry. Renfro Valley, on Interstate 75 between Berea and London, showcases classic country, bluegrass and Southern gospel styles in two theaters throughout the year. At the 1,054-seat Mountain Arts Center in Prestonsburg, on Kentucky’s famous U.S. 23 Country Music Highway, the lineup includes Melvin Goins on April 5 and the Spring Gospel Concert on April 27.

For more information about artists and dates, visit www.renfrovalley.com and www.macarts.com.

Other popular venues in eastern Kentucky include Ashland’s Paramount Arts Center (www.paramountartscenter.com), Pikeville’s East Kentucky Expo Center (www.eastkyexpo.com), and the Jenny Wiley Theatre at a beautiful state park near Prestonsburg (www.jwtheatre.com).

If you’re traveling in western Kentucky, make a point to stop in Paducah for a performance at the sleek new Carson Center (www.thecarsoncenter.org). Upcoming acts range from the jazz fusion of Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band on March 11 to country superstar Josh Turner on March 15.

At Owensboro’s Riverpark Center (www.riverparkcenter.com), you can hear the Owensboro Symphony Orchestra performing a pops concert March 23, while March 25 you can experience Elvis Lives!, an unforgettable tribute to the rock ‘n’ roll legend.

Kentucky’s largest concert arenas, not surprisingly, are found in the two biggest cities, Louisville and Lexington. Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center and Lexington’s Rupp Arena boast capacity for about 22,000 concert goers each and attract big-name national touring acts. For example, the KFC Yum! Center will be hosting rockers Fleetwood Mac on April 11 and pop idol Taylor Swift on May 7. Swift will also perform at Rupp Arena on April 27. Find more information at www.kfcyumcenter.com and www.rupparena.com.

Both cities are hotbeds of musical activity. Venues like Louisville’s Kentucky Center for the Performing Arts, the Louisville Palace and Brown Theatre showcase an eclectic variety of performers. In Lexington, the Lyric Theatre is home base for WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour hosted by folk singer Michael Johnathon and heard on more than 500 radio stations nationwide. Score some tickets for a Monday night taping, and you’re in for an evening of Americana musical adventure. www.woodsongs.com

When it comes to music venues, Kentucky’s really “got game!”

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NOTE TO EDITORS:  Photos – including the Rosine Barn Jamboree – are available for download at http://www.kentuckytourism.com/media/image_library.aspx.

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The Kentucky Department of Travel and Tourism is an agency within the Tourism, Arts and Heritage Cabinet, which promotes the Commonwealth as a travel destination. Tourism in Kentucky has an economic impact of nearly $11.7 billion, supports about 170,000 jobs and generates more than $1.2 billion in taxes.