About the Film
About the Film
The story of bluegrass music isn’t simple. Bluegrass is old and young, traditional and progressive, heartfelt and technical. It’s from the Appalachian Mountains, the big cities, the whole world. Some say bluegrass is stubborn music, best bound in tradition. Others love it for its unfettered possibilities, an empty canvas for the next generation. But everybody agrees with Bill Monroe, the father of this musical family: “Bluegrass has brought more people together and made more friends than any music in the world.”
Narrated by actor and bluegrass enthusiast Ed Helms, Big Family: The Story of Bluegrass Music, produced by KET (Kentucky Educational Television) for national distribution via PBS in August 2019, provides a comprehensive look at bluegrass music — what it is, key musicians who have shaped its sound, and its worldwide appeal. The film explores the evolution of the bluegrass sound through generations of musicians, from early pioneers to young contemporary performers.
At the heart of the two-hour film is the music itself, as recordings and performance footage showcase and celebrate its unique sound. More than 50 musicians appear in the film, including Alison Brown, Dale Ann Bradley, Sam Bush, JD Crowe, Bela Fleck, Laurie Lewis, Del McCoury, Bobby Osborne, Ricky Skaggs, Chris Thile, and many more.
KET has a history of sharing bluegrass music with its viewers, dating back to the 1970s when it produced its first bluegrass specials. In the 1980s, the nationally distributed The Lonesome Pine Specials featured several prominent bluegrass acts. KET’s popular music series, Jubilee, followed in the 1990s and 2000s. The series filmed live at music festivals, including the River of Music Party (ROMP), IBMA Fan Fest, Festival of the Bluegrass, the International Newgrass Festival, W.C. Handy Blues & Barbecue Festival, J.D. Crowe & the New South Bluegrass Festival, and many more, for more than 15 seasons.
Big Family: The Story of Bluegrass Music continues this tradition. KET produces and provides innovative and relevant programs and services, giving all citizens access to in-depth information and to cultural and educational opportunities.