Kentucky Educational Television will screen its new documentary, "Big Family: The Story of Bluegrass Music," free at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum in downtown Owensboro.

Although it's free, people need to make reservations at https://www.ket.org/events/big-family-owensboro.

Carly Smith, marketing director for the Hall of Fame, said, "The Hall of Fame worked with KET on this project, providing access to our archives and collections. Their film crew was also on-hand during our grand opening last fall."

The two-hour show will be broadcast nationally at 8 p.m. CDT on Aug. 30.

"As the film is shown nationally across many public broadcasting markets, it will be an invaluable asset in promoting bluegrass music as well as Owensboro," Smith said. "We're seeing more visitors seeking out authentic American music, and bluegrass definitely fits the bill. Not only will the film appeal to current fans, but hopefully create new ones who may seek out western Kentucky to take a deeper dive into bluegrass music."

The film is narrated by actor Ed Helms, who plays banjo in The Lonesome Trio and is a self-proclaimed "bluegrass nerd."

A news release says the documentary "offers a comprehensive look at bluegrass -- its origins, the pioneers who shaped its sound and its worldwide appeal."

It says "Big Family" traces bluegrass' history, "outlining how Scots-Irish and African-American influences led Bill Monroe to develop the distinct musical genre to its foothold in popular culture through television and movies."

More than 50 musicians appear in the film, including Dale Ann Bradley, Alison Brown, Sam Bush, JD Crowe, Bela Fleck, Laurie Lewis, Del McCoury, Bobby Osborne, Ricky Skaggs and Chris Thile.

It begins with the life of Bill Monroe, an Ohio County native who got his start as a square dancer in Chicago.

The “classic bluegrass” sound, the film says, "gelled with the December 1945, line-up of the Blue Grass Boys: Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt, Chubby Wise, Cedric Rainwater and Monroe.

The documentary also explores how the Great Depression, World War II, the Civil Rights movement and other events impacted bluegrass -- including the creation of offshoots of bluegrass, such as newgrass in the 1970s.

It will also be screened in Paducah on Sunday, Lexington on July 16, Morehead on July 18, Murray on July 23, Louisville on July 30 and Prestonsburg on Aug. 1.

Keith Lawrence, 270-691-7301, klawrence@messenger-inquirer.com

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