About 20 bands and performers will venture to Rosine, Ky., this week for the third annual Bill Monroe Memorial Day Weekend Bluegrass Festival. The four-day event, which begins tomorrow (May 23), will

About 20 bands and performers will venture to Rosine, Ky., this week for the third annual Bill Monroe Memorial Day Weekend Bluegrass Festival. The four-day event, which begins tomorrow (May 23), will bring together generations of bluegrass artists, including the original members of Monroe's backing band -- the Blue Grass Boys.

Monroe, who died in 1996 at age 84, is credited with bringing bluegrass music wide popularity and giving the mandolin a new role as a lead instrument in country, pop and rock. "I wanted to have a memorial for my father, and I figured [Rosine] would be the right place to do it," said bluegrass artist James Monroe, Bill's son and the event's host. "[Rosine] is where my father was born, and it has a lot of music history."

Monroe said that although the Grammy-winning "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack (Lost Highway) has sparked new interest in bluegrass, public appreciation for the music has been growing for years. "Bluegrass has been gaining in momentum," he said. "My father saw some of that at the end of his life. Most of the bluegrass bands are pretty busy right now."

Last year's festival attracted 3,000 people, but Monroe hopes for more. "This festival has all the ingredients," he said. "I think, in time, it will be a gigantic festival."

Other festival performers include Eddie and Martha Adcock, the Lonesome Whistle Band, the Adairs, Jim Monroe and James Monroe, Tim Graves, J.D. Crowe and New South, 1946, Bluegrass Alliance, Gary Brewer, Larry Sparks, Rhonda Vincent, Jim and Jesse McReynolds, Dean Osborne, the Cumberland Highlanders, Ronnie Reno, Don Stanley and Middle Creek, and Vince Combs.


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