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Seven Reasons For Rollin’ Into Rosine KY

The essence of Bill Monroe

Photo: LTTL

Rosine Kentucky

Bill Monroe’s Legacy

GrassRoots Music Tour

Images: Jim Jacob

Words: Rob Dickens

Introduction

The inspiration for my first visit to Rosine, Kentucky was singer Bill Jackson‘s terrific homage to the town through his song “Rollin’ Into Rosine’ (see clip below).

The inspiration for my return visit was Rosine itself.

Here’s seven reasons to recommend you coming here.

1.Bill Monroe Homeplace

Bill Monroe Homeplace – Photo: LTTL

The journey starts here, at the Bill Monroe Homeplace on Highway 62 East, Beaver Dam KY. This is Bill’s boyhood home that the family of six boys and two girls shared, where he learned to play the mandolin with his brothers and Uncle Pen.

Up on Jerusalem Ridge – Photo: LTTL

It is high up on Jerusalem Ridge overlooking Rosine. The family farm spans 930 acres and was owned by the Monroe family from 1801 through much of 1965.  The farm was sold to a local businessman and later fell into disrepair.  Monroe tried unsuccessfully many times to purchase the property before his death in 1996. Campbell Mercer formed the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Music Foundation to celebrate the life and legacy of Bill and his brothers. The foundation bought the property and in 2001 began a restoration of the home.

Bill Monroe Homeplace – Photo: LTTL

The rooms house memorabilia, an amazing quilt that reflects key parts of his career – songs, history, Emmy, record label and induction into the Country Music Hall Of Fame.

Bill Monroe Homeplace – Photo: LTTL

2. Uncle Pen’s Cabin

Bill Monroe’s uncle was James Pendleton Vandiver. The song “Uncle Pen” was written by Monroe in 1950 and recorded by Porter Wagoner and Ricky Skaggs.

A gifted fiddle player, Vandiver took teenager Bill into his home when his parents passed away about six years apart in the mid-1920s. Bill’s son James has dedicated a memorial, a loose replica of Vandiver’s two-room cabin, erected on the spot it had originally stood on the Monroe family property.

3. Rosine Cemetery

Bill Monroe’s funeral was held here in 1996. Among those paying their respects were Ricky Scaggs, Vince Gill and Ralph Stanley. The casket was hand carried to the cemetery.

Rosine Cemetery – Photo: LTTL

The monument is a fitting tribute to a music legend and is lined up with the resting places for most of the immediate family and Uncle Pen’s plot is only a few steps away.

4. Bill Monroe Museum

Bill Monroe Museum – Photo: LTTL

The Bill Monroe Museum opened in April 2018. A Governor’s grant provided enough to build the shell and the rest was the result of fund raising.

The site features original furniture from Bill’s office and artifacts from his last home, plus equipment, Awards, instruments and many art works created and donated by fans in honour of the man and his music. On the far wall is an illustrative family tree and a tribute to his influential Uncle Pen.

There’s a replica of the Rosine Barn (see below) and Monroe’s last car (a 1992 Cadillac Sedan de Ville) as well as two Jersualem Ridge mandolins made from local timber, a fascinating scrapbook which includes photos from his funeral. I was fascinated by the 1994 touring schedule typed out and framed – a busy life just two years before he died.

Bill Monroe Museum – Photo: LTTL

Every exhibit in the Museum was owned by Bill Monroe.

There’s more work to be done but there is a persistent band of volunteers and the Ohio County to further this facility – songs about Bill, a church exhibit and some detail about the procession of performers that came through as Blue Grass Boys are just some of the things planned, plus a walkway and statue out front.

Bill Monroe Museum – Photo: LTTL

5. Slick Back at the Store

The Store Rosine – Photo: LTTL

The Store in Rosine offers a lot more than you might think from the humble exterior. The place was jumping just before the Barn show started. Slick Back put on a great BBQ. Luckily, I chose the beef brisket, beans, slaw and Texas Toast. Luckily also, I passed on the root beer mash which had a tub of ice cream in a monster stein.

6. Rosine Barn Jamboree

The Rosine Barn – Photo: LTTL

In 2016 The New York Times listed the little Barn here as one of the best 52 places in the US to visit. We were fortunate to be here on a Friday where the weekly Jamboree takes place from April to mid-December. And it’s free, just tip whenever you can to support this critical event.

The Rosine Barn – Photo: LTTL

There is a star on the stage floor with footprints where Bill Monroe stood when he played the Barn. Bands come from all over to stand in those footprints which are just a couple of blocks from where he was finally laid to rest. The bands this Friday were locals or came from Nashville and Northern Alabama, the latter pair travelling seven hours there and back for just this show.

Tonight there was a 90 minute open mic from locals or anyone else who wanted to have a go. The quality varied, but not the spirit of collaboration, nor the goodwill and warm atmosphere. There were characters (‘Flip Flop Floyd’, ‘Possum Lips’, ‘Big Foot’) and plenty of wise cracks (‘I’m just hanging like a rusty nail’).

The Rosine Barn – Photo: LTTL

Some say a senior in the audience was 96, others reckon 97. Whatever his age, he was up on the dance floor cutting a graceful presence. The bands Caney Creek Gang and Bitter Root entertained us thoroughly.

This was a night we won’t forget for a long while.

The Rosine Barn – Photo: LTTL

7. Friendly People

The welcome in this community was overwhelming. From the time we arrived until we bade farewell, we were treated so well and with great courtesy. Special thanks to Jody Flener, Executive Director Ohio County, Tourism Commission who gave up much of her day for us.

About Bill Monroe

Bill Monroe Homeplace – Photo: LTTL

Bill Monroe is the father of bluegrass.

Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys lasted 58 years and saw more than 150 different musicians pass through the band. For more than half a century, being a Blue Grass Boy was the crowning achievement of many musicians’ careers; for others, a stepping stone to establishing their own bands.

Mandolinist, singer, songwriter, band leader.  A star of the Grand Ole Opry for over fifty years and a recording artist for more than forty years.  The first person to be inducted into The International Bluegrass Hall of Fame.  He has also been inducted into three other Halls of Fame – Country, Songwriters and Rock and Roll.  He was presented with the National Medal of Arts by President Bill Clinton in 1995.

His started out with his brothers Birch and Charlie and moved on to the band The Blue Grass Boys which was a nursery for the best stars of the genre – Earl Scruggs and Lester Flatt (who left to form The Foggy Mountain Boys),  Jimmy MartinVassar ClementsCarter StanleyPeter Rowan and Bill Keith.

Bill Jackson’s song and video of “Rollin’ Into Rosine” tells the story of his visit to Rosine:

BILL MONROE MUSEUM SITE

ADVERTISE ON LTTL

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The essence of Bill Monroe

The essence of Bill Monroe

The essence of Bill Monroe

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Author: Rob Dickens

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2 Comments

  1. That looks like an excellent choice to visit. Thanks for posting Rollin’ into Rosine, I’d never heard it. Did you get a photo of the 1994 tour list? Because I saw Monroe once, in the 1990s, in Lawrence, Kansas at a 4th of July celebration; I don’t recall the year. My boss was from TN and told me that Bill Monroe was the grandfather of bluegrass. I felt privileged to get to see him once.

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    • No, didn’t get a photo. You are very fortunate indeed to have seen the great man.

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