Rolling Stone magazine says there are seven “Must-Visit Places Country Music Fans Should Flock to Now.”

And Owensboro is one of them.

The article, published last Thursday, also lists Nashville, of course; Southwest Virginia; Austin,
Texas; Cheyenne, Wyoming; Branson, Missouri; and Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
The article says, “This year, fill up your gas tank, sing along with the radio and take a drive down
country roads. A country music trip is about more than just great entertainment (although you’ll find
plenty of that, too). With these seven destinations, you’ll take a closer look at how country music
came to be. Learn about its roots in folk music and bluegrass, commemorate musical legends and
discover up-and-coming artists.”
It says of Owensboro, “What this western Kentucky town lacks in fame, it makes up for in music. As
the home of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum, it’s the ideal place to dig into country
music’s roots. This signature attraction teaches visitors about bluegrass sounds and rhythms,
famous musicians and hosts power performers for on-site concerts.”
The article adds, “You can tour Owensboro as a day trip from Nashville if time is short, but spending
the weekend lets you stay for the Friday After 5 concert series. Owensboro also hosts the annual
ROMP Fest, with workshops on songwriting, instruments, clogging, jamming and more.
Performances range from nationally acclaimed artists to more casual jam sessions. Bluegrass fans
should schedule their trip accordingly and plan on staying a few days to take it all in.”
“It’s a big deal,” Chris Joslin, executive director of the Hall of Fame, said Monday. “This was our plan
all along. To take Owensboro from a hidden gem to a destination. To be mentioned in the same
breath with Nashville and other music cities. It makes me feel good that that’s happening.”
He said, “We’re being recognized as a music town. It’s time for us to work to make it easier for
people to come here. I didn’t reach out to Rolling Stone. They found us on their own. It’s time to
exploit this. I’m already having people reach out to us with ideas for innovative events that their
artists could participate in.”
The Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau has committed to a push to make
Owensboro known as “The Bluegrass Music Capital of the World.”
Mark Calitri, CVB president, said, “Visit Owensboro (the CVB’s brand name) has continued to drive
home the message that staking our claim will create an awesome economic impact to our
community. It’s so important that our board’s strategic planning committee identified this area as one
of our key pillars to future success.”
He said, “Being featured in Rolling Stone is a big deal and highlights our successful efforts in staking
Owensboro’s claim as the ‘Bluegrass Music Capital of the World,’ Being named in the same breath
as Nashville, Branson and Austin shows that Owensboro has something authentic to offer. Our
downtown and riverfront scene is thriving and drawing in more visitors as we begin the long climb
out of the pandemic.”
Calitri said, “This is time to take advantage of this national recognition and not take our foot off the
accelerator. Now is the opportunity to fully live out what is already true about our community, that we
are a premier destination for the bluegrass music experience.”
Francine Marseille, executive director of Friday After 5, said, “That’s exciting. Rolling Stone has put
Owensboro on the map. Entertainment folks really pay attention to what’s in Rolling Stone.”
Friday After 5 offers “a mile of music,” with artists on seven stages for 16 weeks from May 21 to
Labor Day Weekend. And it’s all free.
Owensboro has been building credibility as a “music city” for much of the past decade.
In 2013, ConventionSouth magazine — described as “a national multimedia resource for planning
events that are held within the South” — named Owensboro as one of its 20 “South’s Top Cities For
Music & Meetings.”
In 2018, Select Traveler, a Lexington-based publication that calls itself “America’s only magazine for
bank, alumni and chamber travel planners,” named Owensboro as a music town that “gave birth to
music movements and helped raise the musicians who played major roles in our lives.”
The other cities were Macon, Georgia; Branson, Missouri; Cleveland, Ohio; and Seattle,
And that same year, Brand USA selected Owensboro as one of its Top 10 American music cities.
The agency promotes U.S. tourism in other countries.
Joslin said with Friday After 5 and several other events, there’s already a lot of music in Owensboro
with more to come.

Andy Brasher and his fiancé, Tamarra Miller, are planning to open Brasher’s Little Nashville at 123
W. Second St. later this year.
The couple said they plan to feature country music, along with rock, blues and bluegrass.
They also created PorchFest, a free music festival on porches on Griffith Avenue, in 2018.
It returns on June 12.

The city sponsors Live on the Banks, two free concerts every Saturday night from 7 to 9 p.m. from
May 15 to Sept. 25 in Smothers Park on the banks of the Ohio River.
Several bars and restaurants in town feature live music and most festivals include it.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301 [email protected]