A new group wants to bring more attention to the music made in Bowling Green.
The formation of the HearBG Music Committee was announced Tuesday at the Bowling Green Area Chamber of Commerce annual dinner. The committee, made up of industry professionals, retailers and city officials, wants to highlight Bowling Green’s music history, as well as its growing independent musicscene.
The committee also has the ambition of including Bowling Green on the Americana Music Trail, making it the second Kentucky city to join.
Such an idea offered a starting point for the committee in the fall after Owensboro joined the trail. The chamber reached out to the music community to form HearBG, said committee co-chair Chris Carmichael, an arranger and musician.
“It’s something that’s been on the minds of many for awhile now to create a historical retrospective of some of our distinguished music folks,” Carmichael said. “I think our primary objective is really for an economic boon to ourcommunity.
“We have a lot more claims to fame than even our own backyard is aware of.”
By joining the music trail, the committee hopes to make Bowling Green a destination, according to Keith Coffman, another committee co-chairman, who owns Lost River Pizza and organizes the Lost River Music Festival.
The Americana Music Trail crosses six states, including Kentucky, Tennessee, Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Arkansas, covering the history of nine genres: blues, jazz, country, rock ‘n’ roll, rockabilly, bluegrass, Cajun, zydeco and gospel.
Trail organizers aim to attract international tourists who take long vacations in the U.S., exploring the roots of American music.
Committee members said Bowling Green’s music heritage meets the Americana trail in Sam Bush – a member of New Grass Revival, a progressive bluegrass group founded in 1971. Bush, a Warren County native, is credited as the founder of newgrass music, making the county its birthplace.
HearBG aspires to coordinate with other tourist magnets in the area to convince visitors to stay longer and, consequently, spend more money. It also plans to work with the Southern Kentucky Performing Arts Center and Western Kentucky University to “impact” music education, Carmichael said.
“Basically we’re just trying to get our music industry working harmoniously with other entities and to impact culturally, as well,” he said. “It’s a pretty ambitious initiative. There are a lot of aspects to it. I hope this frees up some stagnant energy that’s present in our community with respect to the industry and music.”
Such a committee is “a long time coming,” said Matt Pfefferkorn, a committee member and owner of Mellow Matt’s Music and More.
Focusing on music to bring in tourists, revenue and economic growth is “really no different” than the city’s attention to manufacturing or other development, he said. The committee’s scope isn’t limited to music history but would include promoting groups and current musicians.
Bowling Green’s independent music scene has attracted attention in recent years with the success of groups like Cage the Elephant, which is nominated for a Grammy for its album “Melophobia,” Sleeper Agent, Black Stone Cherry and others.
“There’s so many good things that come out of here, and it would be great for the areas outside Bowling Green to see what we have to offer,” Pfefferkorn said.