Brian Smith, chairman of the Owensboro-Daviess County Convention & Visitors, says the community needs to embrace bluegrass music to help draw more people to Owensboro.
And he’s doing his part.
Smith, who owns Diamond Lake Resort near West Louisville with his wife, Janice, has bought bluegrass instruments for campers and others to check out and play.
“I bought a banjo and a mandolin,” he said. “I collect guitars, so I have a guitar too. And I’m looking for an upright bass.”
Smith said, “I want to have them available for the public to see up close and personal. I’m excited about the idea.”
It’s not just campers who can check out the instruments, he said.
“It’s for anybody,” Smith said. “We’ll have to have some kind of deposit though.”
He’s hoping that when the weather warms up, campers who know how to play will check out the instruments and play them in the campground.
“Most of my campers now are people who are working,” Smith said. “They don’t have much spare time. I look for it to pick up when the weather warms up. Bluegrassers love to sit outside and jam.”
He hopes that people who have never held an instrument can come into the office and hold them.
Maybe even take a picture.
“Being from southern California, I’ve always enjoyed bluegrass music,” Smith said. “It’s very comforting. It’s like a hug. It feels good. It’s not my favorite genre, but I love listening to it.”
He said he’s spent less than $500 on the instruments.
“It’s worth it to me,” Smith said.
And he’s hoping other businesses will do something similar.
Smith said, “80% of my campers are from the area. The other 20% are from more than a day’s drive away. I’ve had them from California, Canada and even a couple from Germany. They shipped their campers to the United States.”
He said he wants to tell his campers about other bluegrass events in the community.
Diamond Lake has seen several bluegrass events through the years, including the Lanham Brothers Jamboree in recent years.
Back in 1989, former ‘’Hee Haw’’ star Buck Trent, a 30-year veteran of country and bluegrass music, took over operations of what was then the 900-seat Diamond Lake Jubilee Hall for a twice-weekly country-bluegrass show.
The show didn’t last long, but it brought in quite a few country and bluegrass fans from out of town.