On April 23, the Bluegrass, Old Time, Celtic & Country Music program at East Tennessee State University hosted a special concert at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Bristol, TN. It was a tribute to Bobby and his more than 60 years performing bluegrass music all over the world, which he continues to do at 84 years of age.
Following the retirement of his brother and longtime professional partner Sonny Osborne in 2003, Bobby tours with his own group, Rocky Top X-Press. He also teaches each week at the Kentucky School of Bluegrass & Traditional Music at Hazard Community and Technical College in Hazard, KY.
The April 23 show featured sets from several of the student bands at ETSU and a closing performance by Bobby and special band of friends, which included Daniel Grindstaff, who toured regularly with Bobby when he was in college a few years ago.
“The Osborne Brothers are the reason I wanted to play banjo as a child. My first show with them was August of 2004 at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN, celebrating their 40th Opry anniversary, I was a blessed 21 year old to say the least! I have been fortunate through the years to gain a wealth of knowledge from masters of bluegrass music, such as the Osborne Brothers. Sonny and Bobby were very kind to mentor a young musician such as myself and are dear friends to me. I want to personally thank Daniel Boner and ETSU for honoring a hero of mine, and Bobby for asking me to be there and help with the show. I was proud to be a part of the celebration and share the stage with Bobby again, it was a great evening!”
Osborne was touched by being invited to this special tribute.
“I really appreciate the opportunity and the privilege to be honored by East Tennessee State University. The University honoring me for my contributions to Bluegrass and Country music means a great deal to me. I want to thank Dan Boner for having a well organized evening of music and setting in on fiddle with us. I also want to thank the other guys that helped me with my portion of the show that evening, Bobby Osborne Jr (guitar), Daniel Grindstaff (banjo), and Matthew Madden (bass). It was a great evening that I will continue to remember for many years. Thank you!”
And Dan Boner, Director of the ETSU Bluegrass, Old Time, Celtic & Country Music program, hopes that his students will learn from the example Bobby and Sonny have left us.
“Just the other day I went back listening through his musical catalog of the past six decades and sat there admiring how his style was in a constant state of change. It was such a great experience for our students to meet Bobby and hear him perform. Hopefully, that experience will inspire them to take bluegrass in new directions just like the Osborne Brothers did so successfully”
Thanks to Ben Bateson from ETSU for these photos from the show.