KET's bluegrass documentary 'Big Family' premieres Friday night

KET’s documentary film Big Family: The Story of Bluegrass Music premieres on KET this Friday night, Aug. 30, at 9/8 p.m. EST.

The two-hour film, narrated by actor and bluegrass aficionado Ed Helms, tells the story of Kentucky’s signature music and the pioneers who shaped its sound. It explores the life of Bill Monroe, from Rosine, Ky., who helped popularize the music, becoming a regular at the Grand Ole Opry.

The film features performances and interviews from dozens of bluegrass’ biggest names: Bela Fleck, Ricky Skaggs, Chris Thile, Alison Brown, Sam Bush, JD Crowe, Del McCoury, Bobby Osborne, Laurie Lewis, and many more. 

Written by Teresa Day and produced by Matt Grimm and Nick Helton, the film originally was slated to air locally on KET. But the documentary found a receptive audience at PBS, which agreed to distribute the film nationally, making it available to hundreds of public television networks across the country. 

The film has garnered rave reviews from fans and critics alike. John Lawless, of Bluegrass Today, said: “All in all, this film is a masterpiece that will inform those curious about the style, bring a smile to the face of dedicated bluegrass nerds, and possibly set off a fascination with the music for a new generation of young boys and girls getting their first exposure to its magic.”

Following its national premiere this Friday, the film will subsequently be available for streaming during the month of September at PBS.org.