Bluegrass Music One Of Kentucky's finest Resources

By Berk Bryant, The Country Gentleman

I've alluded to this before, spouted off at bluegrass festivals and l still can't find the answer. Why is Kentucky, of all places, so intent in suppressing one of its best-known resources?

They call themselves the Bluegrass state. It's bluegrass this, bluegrass that, bluegrass everything except ... except bluegrass music. This may come as a surprise to all the grand I Am's, but Kentucky is known and associated with bluegrass music around the world just as much and sometimes more, than it is for the bourbon, mint juleps. the horse race in May and all the roundballs ever tossed in a hoop.

Example or two from personal experience: The military carried me overseas and, of course, I sought out those of similar interest in music. l have corresponded by tape with a fellow in England for over 35 years. A recent issue of Bluegrass Unlimited carried quite an article on bluegrass groups from around the world. Most all bluegrass fans, groups, musicians and the like have at least one common thread, Bill Monroe and his Bluegrass Boys from Kentucky. They all know that FROM KENTUCKY.

A much more recent experience was a discussion on a Sunday night with one of our listeners who came to the station for a get-acquainted visit. (Mr. Bryant is the host of "Bluegrass Sunday" on WFPL -Editor) It seems that in a former job the man worked in music/record stores at various times. On one occasion a visitor from Europe asked for bluegrass records. He couldn't believe what he was hearing when told they didn't carry any. I am sure his reactions and feelings were similar to those I experienced when we first came to Kentucky. I had great anticipation of the bluegrass music to be heard on country radio.

The new license plates for cars registered in Kentucky evidently went through every possible concoction of design known to Kentucky legislature with careful avoidance of any reference to its music. Bluegrass music, Bill Monroe and the association with Kentucky have been recognized in the U.S. Senate. Perhaps it's a "prophet in his own land."

Must bluegrass music remain the orphaned stepchild of Kentucky? It is one of Kentucky's best-known "natural resources." Exploit it when you shout the wonders of Kentucky to the world and give it the recognition it deserves at home. Maybe some of the semi-country radio stations will begin to program its home-grown music as it should and stop turning their backs on the thousands of bluegrass fans available.