Country Music Hall of Fame announces Western Edge exhibition

Exhibit opens this fall for three years

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has announced its next major exhibition, Western Edge: The Roots and Reverberations of Los Angeles Country-Rock, presented by City National Bank. Western Edge explores a musical movement that developed in Los Angeles in the 1960s and transformed mainstream country music.

The exhibit will examine the close-knit communities of Los Angeles-based singers, songwriters and musicians who, from the 1960s through the 1980s, embraced country music, frequented local night clubs and created and shaped the musical fusion known as country-rock. The exhibit will survey the rise of the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco, Eagles, Emmylou Harris, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Linda Ronstadt, and many others who found commercial success by merging rock and roll rhythms and attitude with country and bluegrass instrumentation and melodies.

The music continued its expansion with the next generation of Los Angeles roots music performers, including Los Lobos, Dwight Yoakam and other. Blending hard-edged honky-tonk, Mexican folk music, rockabilly and punk rock, these artists — along with their country-rock predecessors — provided inspiration to future generations of country and American artists.

The exhibit was unveiled today (Wed, June 22nd) during two separate press events that happened simultaneously at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville and The Troubadour in Los Angeles. Emmylou Harris sang “The Road” in tribute to Gram Parsons with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Jeff Hanna taking the stage with singer/songwriter Matraca Berg for a performance of “Mr. Bojangles.”

The Music Universe was in attendance at the LA event where Dwight Yoakam and Chris Hillman of The Byrds and Desert Rose Band performed “Sin City” and “Time Between” together on the iconic stage in West Hollywood.

“The [Country Music] Hall of Fame is the best thing about Nashville,” Yoakam shares during the press conference. “The Country Music Hall of Fame is what should be the template for any musical hall of fame anywhere. For the amount of reverence that they show toward the foundational creators of the genre and all those that come after. So it’s an honor to be apart of this exhibit that has to do with that next stage of the Tom Joad road that led to California’s version of country music, California country-rock, California country music and Chris Hillman is the king of country rock.”

The exhibit highlights The Troubadour for serving as an important haven for like-minded artists. It provided a space for creators to collaborate with a healthy dose of competition, spurring one another to write better songs, craft tighter harmonies and master their instruments.

“That bar here, The Troubadour — more music came through that door and into this room, Joni Mitchell and Elton John,” Hillman states. “The Birds played here one night when we started out — The Flying Burrito Brothers played here. It was so interconnected, and such as [Yoakam] well put for many years, the edge of the continent — the Tom Joad Road — and everybody comes out be they musicians or actors or writers or artists, they stop there at the Pacific Ocean and that’s it. All of these wildly creative people and that’s when you have this wonderful period of time that we celebrate through the Country Music Hall of Fame — country-rock, California country music.”

The museum’s curatorial and creative teams have conducted more than 40 hours of filmed interviews and collected an array of significant artifacts from central figures in the musical movement for display. The exhibit will feature stage wear, instruments, original song manuscripts and more. Interactive elements will illustrate the connections between artists that made up the musical communities explored in the exhibit, allowing access to audio recordings, performance clips, original interview footage and historic photographs.

The exhibit opens on Friday, September 30th for a three-year run in a newly renovated 5,000 square foot gallery in the museum in Nashville. Opening weekend will include two concerts. The first, on September 30th, features an all-star lineup of musical luminaries associated with country-rock, along with torchbearers who have been influenced by the sounds and artists from the Los Angeles music scene. Performers include Hanna, Hillman, Wendy Moten, and more with additional artists forthcoming. The second concert will be on Sunday, October 2nd with the Desert Rose Band reuniting for a special concert. Original members of the band will take the stage for the highly anticipated event.

Tickets to the events go on sale Friday, June 24th at 10 am via the Country Music Hall of Fame’s website.

The exhibit will also be supported by multiple educational programs, and the release of an illustrated and thoroughly researched book featuring an essay penned by Los Angeles music journalist Randy Lewis, among others.

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Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email: info@themusicuniverse.com

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