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Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Foundation Wins KY Supreme Court Ruling

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Bill MonroeIn the feud that just won't end, the Kentucky Supreme Court let stand a prior Appellate Court ruling that the Jerusalem Ridge Foundation can continue to use the Bill Monroe name to promote their annual bluegrass music festival. The feud between the Ohio County Industrial Foundation and the Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Music Foundation has been going on for over a decade and just won't die. The Kentucky Supreme Court declined to hear the case letting the Kentucky Court of Appeals ruling stand. The feud is centered around the use of the Father of Bluegrass Music's name, "Bill Monroe."

In the decade old battle over the right to use Bill Monroe's name for the Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Music Festival, the appeals court in Kentucky ruled earlier that the Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Music Festival can use "Bill Monroe" in promoting the festival that takes place each year in Rosine, Kentucky near the home place of the father of bluegrass music. This overturned a lower court ruling and was seen as a victory and, hopefully the end, of this nasty litigation.

The use of Monroe's name has become the rope in a power tug-of-war between Mercer and the Ohio County Industrial Foundation in Ohio County, Kentucky, the location of Bill Monroe's homeplace and the Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Music Festival. Cybergrass has been covering the ups and downs of this struggle since its early beginnings. This feud has been a black cloud over the Bill Monroe legacy for over a decade.

In September 2005, James Monroe filed a lawsuit to remove his father's name from the non-profit entity chartered to preserve Bill Monroe's home, farm, home town, Uncle Pen's cabin, construct a museum in his honor and preserve and spread his music, the Bill Monroe Foundation. Director Campbell Mercer changed the name of the foundation to its current Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Music Foundation and thereby removing "Bill Monroe" from the name.

Mercer's annual festival is a big attraction to bluegrass music fans and has been growing year after year in celebration of Bill Monroe's music. Held on a farm adjacent to Bill Monroe's homeplace, the festival brings fans of bluegrass and Bill Monroe to the small commuity of Rosine, Kentucky each year. This recent ruling is the first step in clearing the path for Mercer to once again use the name of the Father of Bluegrass Music as he celebrates Bill Monroe's legacy and the music he created for the world.

It was on Bill's birthday that the event began that few knew about. The Ohio County Industrial Foundation, the entity that formed the BMF and the foundation that was working to help James strip the Bill Monroe name from the BMF began depositions in the MERCER vs. OCIF case. This was a sad way for Ohio County, KY to celebrate Bill's birthday. Sadly, nothing the Ohio County Industrial Foundation has done in this feud has been a good thing for the legacy of the Father of Bluegrass Music, Bill Monroe.

While this most recent ruling is a great win for the Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Music Foundation, it is still not the end of this marathon feud. This ruling was a Kentucky ruling but there are still issues in neighboring Tennessee. Apparently, James Monroe and the Ohio County Industrial Foundation also obtained a temporary injuction prohibiting the use of "Bill Monroe" name by the Jerusalem Ridge Bluegrass Music Foundation. That injunction needs to be cleared for the foundation to continue its mission of preserving Bill Monroe's legacy, birthplace and the celebration of his music.

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