Department of Tourism
Belle of Louisville Features Summer Bluegrass Cruises
Editor’s Note: This is the final news release in a series on Bluegrass Music Week in Kentucky.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – From the earliest flatboats to the grand floating palaces, to the waning days of steam packet boats, string band music has been the voice of the community along the Ohio River Valley. And the venerable Belle of Louisville is continuing that tradition with “Bluegrass Riverstyle” cruises this summer.
Every Sunday through Aug. 26, Bluegrass music is featured during the Belle’s popular afternoon cruises. The cruises start boarding at 1 p.m., during which the sternwheeler’s calliope welcomes passengers aboard.
Then, during the cruise upriver from the Belle’s dock at the wharf at the foot of Fourth Street, Bluegrass music provides lively accompaniment for passengers’ sightseeing along the Kentucky and Indiana shores. Berk Bryant, host of the well-known “Sunday Bluegrass” show on WFPK public radio in Louisville, emcees and provides commentary on the music during the cruise.
The cruises depart at 2 p.m. and return at 4 p.m. During the outings the bands play continuously with one break. The Belle, which has plied the Ohio since the early 1900s, provides an appropriate setting for the music that has developed as an indigenous Kentucky art form.
“There is no other steamboat featuring Kentucky Bluegrass music,” says LaDonna Miller, the Belle’s director of sales and marketing. “Each steamboat chooses to play the music of their state of origin. The Delta Queen features jazz because their home port is New Orleans.”
The bands scheduled to perform on the Belle this summer include Goober Says Hey (contemporary Bluegrass with three part harmony), Fresh Cut Grass (traditional Bluegrass with a touch of gospel), Pickin’ Time (contemporary Bluegrass with a touch of comedy and magic), and Easy Pickins’ (John Hartford-style contemporary river boat Bluegrass).
During September and October, the Belle will also feature Bluegrass band Next Exit, including on the steamboat’s birthday cruise in October. Even the Belle’s pilot, Bill H. Ray, is a Bluegrass aficionado, serving as a member of the Big Muddy String Band.
The Belle cruises upstream and turns around between 6 Mile and 12 Mile Islands. On the return trip, passengers get a sweeping panorama of the downtown Louisville skyline.
Tickets for the cruises cost $25 for sightseeing and lunch, and $15 for sightseeing only. Advance reservations are required 24 hours prior to the cruise to partake of the buffet lunch.
For more information on the Belle of Louisville’s Bluegrass cruises, call 800-832-0011 or 502-574-2992 or visit www.belleoflouisville.org.
The Kentucky Department of Tourism, an agency of the Kentucky Commerce Cabinet, exists to promote The Commonwealth as a travel destination, generate revenue and create jobs for Kentucky’s economy.