The sounds from inside the Good Time Tent at St. Ann Street and Veterans Boulevard — the old American Legion property — were definitely bluegrass.

Banjo, fiddle, bass and guitar.

And high-lonesome vocals.

For the first time since February, bluegrass bands were playing live in downtown Owensboro.

Kentucky Shine, a local band, was kicking things off in the big tent.

“This is our first year as a band,” Jordan Wood, the guitar player, said before they went on stage. “Talk about great timing.”

“It’s been challenging,” Steven Stewart, the fiddle player, said of 2020, which will be remembered as the year of COVID-19.

Jordan Riehm, the banjo player, said, “It’s wiped out a significant part of my income. I wouldn’t want another year like this.”

Live music has been in short supply everywhere this year, with the restrictions that were created to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Bluegrass festivals and shows have been canceled across the country.

But Ben Skiadas, whose family owns the Lure Seafood & Grille and Famous Bistro downtown, is working to keep live music alive in the Good Time Tent on weekends with music Thursday through Saturday nights.

Saturday, he worked with the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum to present a mini-bluegrass festival with four bands in the tent from 3 p.m. to midnight.

Skiadas said earlier, “I’m trying to partner with the Hall of Fame to safely provide something we’ve all been missing this year.”

He had planned to raise the sides of the tent and let people sit on the lawn to listen.

But with cool temperatures and rain threatening, Skiadas opted to leave the sides down.

The crowd was slow to arrive for the nine-hour festival.

But Skiadas said, “I’ve had a lot of calls this week saying, ‘Thank you for doing this’.”

The tent, with tables placed more than six feet apart, he said, “Makes people feel safe and find something entertaining.”

Josh Booker was standing inside the tent, waiting for the music to begin, holding his 9-month-old son, Keller Booker.

“It’s exciting to have something like this just pop up,” he said. “We’re bluegrass fans. We’ve been to ROMP several times.”

Nodding at his son, Booker said, “I think he’s a bluegrass fan. But he hasn’t talked yet.”

The lineup Saturday also included Hancock and Shouse — Arthur Hancock formerly with The Wooks and Chris Shouse formerly with the 23 String Band; Hot Brown Smackdown, a Louisville-based band that describes its music as “bluegrass/rock/jamgrass with intermittent bursts of funk”; and The Gaslight Boys, a roots/string band.

Skiadas said downtown has been busy lately, especially since the new LED lights on the Glover H. Cary Bridge have been turned on.

Keith Lawrence 270-691-7301

Keith Lawrence 270-691-7301

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