The Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum is set to open its next major exhibit, “Western Edge: The Roots and Reverberations of Los Angeles Country-Rock,” presented by City National Bank, on Friday, September 30, for the duration of nearly three-year run.
“Western Edge” will trace the communities of singers, songwriters and visionary musicians in Los Angeles who, between the 1960s and 1980s, frequented local nightclubs, embraced country music, created and shaped musical fusion “country-rock” and ultimately had a lasting impact on popular music.
The exhibit studies the rise of the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, Eagles, Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt and others who found commercial success with a hybrid of rock sensibilities and country instrumentation and harmonies. The musical contributions of these pioneers were expanded upon by the next generation of Los Angeles roots music performers – the Blasters, Los Lobos, Lone Justice, Dwight Yoakam and many more – who once again drew inspiration from the traditional American music, mixing hard honky-tonk, Mexican folk music, rockabilly and punk rock. These artists – along with their country-rock predecessors – inspired future generations of country and American artists.
“Western Edge examines an era of boundary crossing and great community creativity,” said Kyle Young, executive director of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “This adventurous synthesis of traditional and contemporary sounds not only fueled the creativity of generations of LA musicians, but became an American phenomenon that still reverberates in music today. Along with the exhibit, we offer a official playlist, a companion book, special concerts, and public programs that will be scheduled throughout the run. Through these multiple avenues, we look forward to sharing the rich, multi-layered story of country’s lasting impact. -rock.
The museum’s curatorial and creative teams conducted over 40 hours of filmed interviews and collected an array of significant artifacts for display at Western Edge, which will be housed in a new 5,000 square foot gallery.
An introductory film narrated by multi-Grammy Award-winning artist Dwight Yoakam, a key figure in the history of the exhibit, will be shown inside the gallery, along with stage clothing, instruments , original song scripts and more. Interactive elements will allow visitors to explore the connections between the artists who make up these musical communities through audio recordings, performance clips, original interview footage and historic photographs.
A selection of artifacts featured in Western Edge include:
- Flying Burrito Brothers Stage Costumes — The exhibit will feature three of Nudie’s four custom Rodeo Tailors featured on the cover of the band’s 1969 debut album The Gilded Palace of Sin, including Sneaky Pete Kleinow’s black velvet suit featuring embroidered dinosaurs and a rhinestone-embellished pterosaur, Gram Parsons’ suit with chain-stitched marijuana leaves, poppies, pills, pin-ups and a beaming cross, and Chris Hillman’s blue velvet suit – decorated with peacocks, seahorses, the Greek god Poseidon and a shining sun.
- Bernie Leadon’s Guitar – From 1972 to 1975, Leadon played an extensively modified 1962 Fender Telecaster with the Eagles on stage and on recordings including ‘Take It Easy’, ‘Peaceful Easy Feeling’ and ‘Tequila Sunrise.’
- Dwight Yoakam Jacket – This Mex Tex brand jacket, adorned with fringe, conchos and cowhide yoke, was worn by Yoakam in the 1986 music video for his debut single, ‘Honky Tonk Man’, which is went to No. 3 on Billboard’s country singles chart. .
Emmylou Harris Stage Costume – Harris wore this cowgirl Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors outfit on stage with Gram Parsons and during her solo career.
- Louie Pérez manuscript – Pérez’s handwritten lyrics to the title track of Los Lobos’ 1984 album, How Will the Wolf Survive? , co-written by David Hidalgo.
Michael Nesmith Stage Costume – Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors designed the elaborately embroidered, rhinestone-accented ensemble for Michael Nesmith of The Monkees, c. 1967. It is decorated with peacocks, orchids, musical notes and American flag motifs in chain stitch.
- Dave Alvin Guitar – The battle-scarred 1964 Fender Mustang was Alvin’s primary guitar along with the Blasters and Knitters. The first electric guitar he owned, it still contains bits of glass from beer bottles thrown at Alvin by rowdy onlookers.
Jeff Hanna Stage Costume — These leather chaps and vest, adorned with silver conchos, were part of the cowboy outfit worn by Jeff Hanna on the cover of the Nitty Gritty’s All the Good Times (1971) album Dirt Band.
Opening weekend concerts and programming
In support of the exhibit’s debut, the museum will host two weekend opening concerts, including the reunion and closing performance of the Desert Rose Band, as well as a host of newly added talks and performances. The concerts and programs are made possible in part by the Academy of Country Music and its travel partner American Airlines. Family programs will also be offered at the Taylor Swift Education Center.
To purchase admission to the opening weekend lineup, visit the museum’s website here