Now is the perfect time to plan a trip to experience the diverse abundance of music shaping the Bluegrass State. Soulful blues, soothing jazz, lively country and the fastest bluegrass pickin’ ever are just a taste of the dynamic music scene found here.
The state has produced many music greats including Mary Ann Fisher, the first female backup singer for Ray Charles, Helen Humes, a genre bridging vocalist known for swinging between jazz and blues, and some of country’s hottest stars such as Loretta Lynn and Chris Stapleton, and of course, the father of bluegrass himself, Bill Monroe. Local haunts, international museums and world-class festivals all keep Kentucky’s music traditions alive for neighbors and newcomers alike.
The state’s largest city, Louisville, is home to the Kentucky Derby, legendary Horse Country, the grandstands of America’s most storied thoroughbred racing tracks and a large section of the acclaimed Kentucky Bourbon Trail, Louisville invites you to come and explore all it has to offer, and more.
The Kentucky Center for African American Heritage remembers the old Top Hat Club as a “legacy of black Louisville,” and though the Top Hat Club has closed, its legacy still vibrates through the city in these local venues.
- At Jimmy Can’t Dance local and touring artists take to the stage to innovate and entertain. This popular jazz joint is an homage to the rich jazz history of the city and is the epitome of underground, steamy jazz.
- Stevie Ray’s Blues Bar welcomes locals and travelers six nights a week for the best blues, rock and jazz music in Louisville. Weekly jam sessions uncover the city’s hidden talents and rocking, all-night events make Stevie Ray’s the place to jive like a true Louisville local.
Lexington’s dynamic music scene has produced musical genius in every genre from jazz to punk. Edgar Hayes, famed jazz pianist, carried a bit of Lexington with him through his career and echoes of his fast fingers can be heard at these long-standing jazz venues.
- The Big Band & Jazz concert series in the Moondance Amphitheatre is one of the city’s longest running and most beloved series. The audience is encouraged to bring a picnic and let the music wash away their cares every Tuesday from May through August.
- For those who think the blues sound best underground, Tee Dee’s Bluegrass Progressive Club has been the Monday spot for the last 30 years. This local staple is owned and named for guitar virtuoso and vocalist Tee Dee Young.
With legends like Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass and inductee of the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, hailing from Owensboro, the Kentucky town has cemented itself as a premier stop for music lovers.
- The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum is the only international museum dedicated to preserving and showcasing the history and artifacts of bluegrass music. Visitors can learn the history of the greats with engaging videos and fascinating stories and try their own hand in the Pickin’ Parlor, where they can play a variety of instruments including mandolins and banjos.
Known as the “Bluegrass State,” the nickname is actually based on the bluegrass found in many of its pastures due to the fertile soil. It is a land with diverse environments and abundant resources, including the world’s longest cave system, Mammoth Cave National Park, the greatest length of navigable waterways and streams in the contiguous United States, and the two largest man-made lakes east of the Mississippi River. Kentucky is also known for horse racing, bourbon distilleries, coal, the historic site My Old Kentucky Home, tobacco, and Kentucky Fried Chicken.