Bluegrass bands from local and surrounding areas put on a 2-and-a-half hour performance for an enthralled audience of community members during the Grayson County Bluegrass Opry in the old Judicial Building in Leitchfield on Saturday, April 20.
The GC Bluegrass Opry has been putting on free shows in its current location once a month for four years, but it originated in the old courthouse on Leitchfield’s Public Square 15 years ago, according to Opry Organizer and bluegrass musician of 40 years Barry Downs.
The Opry originally put on weekly shows; however, as audience interest waned over time, to keep the Opry alive, its shows have been limited to the third Saturday of each month at 6 p.m., Downs said. Nevertheless, the Opry has maintained a devoted audience, often consisting of up to 125 people, Downs said.
One such audience member, Virginia Kiper, said she loves the Opry and has missed only one show during the current season.
“I wish they’d have it all summer long,” Kiper said. “I love bluegrass.”
Downs, whose own bluegrass band, Hickory Grove, is the host band for the Opry, said he was appointed to oversee the Opry two years ago by Grayson County Judge/Executive Gary Logsdon, and most of the musicians he brings in to perform are people he’s met through his years playing bluegrass.
All of the bands volunteer to play for free, as well, Downs said, and they travel from surrounding bluegrass-centered regions - some from as far as Louisville, Owensboro, and Indiana.
Downs is aided by his wife, Charlene, who provides free coffee to attendees and takes photos and videos for the Opry’s Facebook page and website, graysoncountybluegrassopry.com, he said. Downs’ fellow band members in Hickory Grove also assist with setting up equipment, including Bobby Horsley, who runs the public address (PA) system for the Opry, he said.
The final Bluegrass Opry performance of the current season will take place on Saturday, May 18. Acts scheduled to perform include Hickory Grove, McDonald Road Band, Higher Ground, and Fresh Cut Grass of Louisville.
The Opry will start its next season in September, Downs said.