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Kentucky’s Unmistakable Music

Mountain Arts Center


Each summer and holiday season, bluegrass, gospel, rock and country songs ring out during Billy Jean Osborne’s Kentucky Opry at the Mountain Arts Center. The variety show draws from the talented musicians of the area to entertain in the same vein as the Carolina Opry.

Groups enjoy the in-house productions that change each year with new themes. Last year, the production’s theme was “Coming Home.” Loretta Lynn’s mountain homeplace provided the backdrop.

When groups arrive, local comedian Freddie Goble, known as Munroe, gets them laughing right from the start. From there, group leaders can choose from various options, among them a meet-and-greet with the cast, tours of the facility and a performance. Besides the Kentucky Opry, the center also offers several other acts, such as Broadway productions and headliner concerts, throughout the year.

“People love the very friendly atmosphere here,” said Clayton Case, executive director of the Mountain Arts Center. “We have beautiful scenery with the mountains in view. There is a rich talent from eastern Kentucky. We know a lot of folks that went from here to Nashville to find fame. There are so many stars from eastern Kentucky.”

Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum


At the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum, groups can make their own music, even if their members have never touched an instrument.

“We offer a Saturday Lesson music program where there is a large supply of instruments on hand,” said Carly Smith, marketing director of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “Our instructors can lead group music tutorials. They can pull people out of the crowd and place an instrument into their hands. You can have a band of novices who have never played an instrument before cobble together a song.”

Originally called the International Bluegrass Music Museum, the rebranded museum will reopen in the fall in a new space a few blocks away. The move will allow for more exhibit space, a full-size concert theater, an outdoor concert space and a restaurant. The $15.3 million venue will host regular concerts, as well as the hall of fame itself, with inductees chosen by the International Bluegrass Music Association.

The museum will showcase recorded interviews with hundreds of bluegrass musicians and industry members at interactive kiosks.

“There is plenty to learn about how the music started, but you can also experience it,” said Smith. “We plan to mix it up with the artists we feature. We’ll feature any music with roots in bluegrass, which encompasses more Americana genres. You’ll see some country and all kinds of genres we can tie in because they are all related to each other.”