Courier October Courier - Page 32

CITY SPOTLIGHT NASHVILLE My country roots—exposed Country Music Hall of Fame It turns out that I’m more of a country music fan that I thought. We visited three museums dedicated to legendary performers—Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline and George Jones—and each struck a chord within me. The NTA-member Johnny Cash and Patsy Cline Museums are housed in the same building. The ground floor holds an impressive assortment of The Man in Black’s stage costumes, gold and platinum records, guitars, and memorabilia. I espe- cially like the postcard that a young Cash wrote to his parents in Arkansas during a high school trip to Nashville. “Having a good time” was his entire message. Upstairs, I was fascinated by Patsy Cline’s personal items— knickknacks on her dining room cupboard and her sketches of stage costumes. Mark Logsdon, our host at the museum explained the difference in the two collections: “Patsy Cline’s career lasted only six years, compared to Johnny Cash’s six decades.” Exhibits at both museums cover the feature films that ele- vated the public awareness of each artist: “Walk the Line” (Cash) and “Sweet Dreams” (Cline). I’ve seen both movies several times, and I know their greatest hits; that’s why I appreciated seeing the tangible tokens of their lives. I’m not as familiar with Jones, but I still enjoyed learning about his life and, well, hard times. Opened in 2015 and curated by his wife, The George Jones features his outlandish costumes and a sing-along room. My favorite, “He Stopped Loving Her Today,” is not one of the sing-along songs, but that didn’t stop me from singing it to myself as I viewed the exhibits. But the granddaddy of Nashville’s music museums—the paramount portrayer—is the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum. This multi-level attraction gives visitors the full his- tory of country music while providing intimate portraits of its most accomplished stars. The NTA-member museum draws more than a million visitors a year. “We get lots of student groups—bands, choruses and orchestras—along with adult groups,” says Dana Romanello, museum sales manager. “We offer exclusive tours, and we can also bring in a Nashville songwriter who will write a song with the group, and they record it before they leave.” The collaborative program, called “Sharing the Art of Songwriting,” is available for groups of 30 or more. country More music and museums We visited three other attractions that spotlight Nashville as the middle-C center of not only country music, but just music. The tag line of the Musicians Hall of Fame & Museum is “Come see what you’ve heard,” and the attraction showcases the artists who created music across America in Los Angeles; Memphis; Muscle Shoals, Alabama; New York; and Detroit, along with Nashville. “When you buy a song, you think of the person who’s sing- ing, but there might have been 500 people that went into the making of that recording,” says Jay McDowell, the museum’s multimedia curator. I would advise any tour operator to make RCA Studio B 30 October 2017 sure it’s McDowell who leads their group through the facility; his industry background and acquisition acumen lend an incredible authenticity to the experience. The Gallery of Iconic Guitars, jauntily referred to as The GIG, opened just this spring on the campus of Belmont University. The collection’s 500 historically significant instru- ments, worth an estimated $10 million, were donated to the college by the late Steven Kern Shaw. Displayed on a rotating basis, the instruments include a 1939 Martin acoustic guitar, valued at $350,000; a mandolin from the 1920s considered to be more rare than a Stradivarius violin; and a 1960 Gibson Les Paul electric guitar valued at $225,000. “The collection celebrates the instrument, not the star who played it,” says George Gruh, a vintage instrument expert and friend of Shaw. “The real stars are the makers of the in