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Joe Mullins introduces the Southwestern Ohio Bluegrass Music Heritage Project exhibit

The music isn’t over just because the Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers concert is done.

Beavercreek Community Library is hosting an exhibit from the Southwestern Ohio Bluegrass Music Heritage Project until March 3. That means you still have the chance to learn how bluegrass music has helped shape Greene County and southwestern Ohio.

The history of the Miami Valley is closely connected to bluegrass music. “The Osborne Brothers came to Dayton with their family as youths and built their musical career,” said Yellow Springs bluegrass scholar Fred Bartenstein. Many Hall of Fame bluegrass musicians—including Red Allen and Jimmy Martin—got their starts here. Other acts recorded major records in the area.

Bartenstein helped create the exhibit with Joe Mullins and Curt Ellison, professor of history emeritus at Miami University. The display’s nine panels trace the history and cultural significance of bluegrass music in the Miami Valley. It starts with Appalachian migration to Ohio, which laid the foundation for the development of bluegrass. It moves on to bluegrass’s “Golden Age” in the 1950s, and the artists that Ohio nurtured. The exhibit also highlights modern musicians keeping bluegrass traditions alive while exploring new musical frontiers.

According to Ellison, many Miami Valley families had a direct connection to bluegrass, either as artists or fans. “Recognizing that one’s autobiography is part of a larger historical experience can broaden one’s perspective and at times be personally moving,” Ellison said.

The Southwestern Ohio Bluegrass Music Heritage Project has information about more than 600 musicians and organizations from Ohio. It is a partnership of Miami University Regionals Appalachian Studies, the Smith Library of Regional History of the Lane Libraries, Greene County Public Library, and the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.

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