Three and a half stars
Clarian Health Concerts on the Canal; Indiana History Center; Aug. 16
Outstanding renditions of Bill Monroe’s wide spectrum of compositions featuring members of Monroe’s band, The Bluegrass Boys, were a finger-snapping, toe-tapping, hand-clapping tribute to another of “Indiana’s Musical Legends.” Credited as “The Father of Bluegrass,” Monroe transformed his childhood country and folk music into an international concert hall career from the 1930s until his death in 1996 at age 84. The group playing Aug. 16 carried forward Monroe’s impeccable sense of trading off instruments and spacing vocals for dynamic variety within each song. The concert equally showcased the 30-year span of masterful growth of arrangements, including the legendary 1940s Monroe hit, “Blue Moon of Kentucky,” which Elvis Presley “jumped-up” in his 1954 Sun recording. Monroe, an unsurpassed mandolin player, encouraged Elvis to develop his own style, and equally helped another 150 players move into acoustical string careers. Cary Allen Fields made a guest appearance as a commentator. Hear his Fields of Bluegrass Fridays at 9 p.m. on WICR-fm 88.7. Log on to www.fieldsofbluegrass.com for upcoming events. The 33rd annual Uncle Pen Festival runs Sept. 19-22 in Bean Blossom, Ind. Log on to www.beanblossom.com. Also read Neil Rosenberg’s Bluegrass and R.D. Smith’s biography. Monroe’s discography is extensive.