It’s been 20 years since Bill Monroe passed away, and his hometown of Rosine hosts bluegrass music fans from the world over at his boyhood home and at the Rosine Barn Jamboree.
The boyhood home of the father of bluegrass music is open to visitors, and there’s no charge for tours. The home is furnished with period pieces, some of which are the originals.
“Mr. Monroe did not live to see the restoration of the home place. But he did have input on it, wanted it done, and it was being talked about for years,” said David Johnston, judge-executive of Ohio County. Monroe even drew a picture of what he remembered from his boyhood home for the restoration.
People from all 50 states and many foreign countries have visited the home. “If you’re a bluegrass fan, this is the place that you’d want to come,” Johnston said.
The Rosine Barn Jamboree has been hosting musicians on Friday nights, April through mid-December, since 1992.
“We have musicians come from all over the country, all over the world,” said Bill Burden, chairman of the Rosine Association and the Jamboree. “And then we have local musicians…. And they come for one thing, just the love of music, because we don’t pay anything. As I said before, we just run the barn, we don’t charge anybody anything to get through the doors. We take up a donation. And it will be 25 years next year here in the Barn. So far it’s worked just fine for us.”
Monroe himself made two appearances at the Rosine Barn, once with a U.S. Navy band, and a second time playing with local musicians. The spot on stage where Monroe stood for one of his last performances in 1995 is immortalized with shoeprints painted on the stage floor. “People come here, that‘s the first thing they want to do is stand in the footsteps of Bill Monroe,” Burden said.
Monroe loved Rosine, Burden said. “He never failed to mention Rosine on the Grand Ol’ Opry when he was on there, and when he was in different places. He always s knew where he came from,” he said.
Monroe lived to see his music played the world over, Johnston said. “He did get to see that, that it was popular in Japan, and in many places that couldn’t speak English, but they could sing ‘Blue Moon of Kentucky,’ fluently,” Johnston said.
Burden said everybody wanted to copy Monroe’s style. “Now anywhere you go, college kids, all types of people, are playing bluegrass music,” he said.