Out with the truckers and the kickers and the cowboy angels…
— Gram Parsons/Beau Brown
The soundtrack of my life came out of Texas and California in the 1970s. The two strands of country music that tripped my trigger as a teenager and reverberate through my life to this day are being celebrated in ways that make my blood sing. All I can say is “Oh, HELL yes!”
Come September 30, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville will be opening a new exhibit, “Western Edge: The Roots and Reverberations of Los Angeles Country-Rock,” in a newly renovated, 5,000-square-foot gallery filled with artifacts, annotation and video largely collected from the scene of the crime in Cali. It covers three distinct decades in SoCal music history: the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s. L.A. scenesters who remember any of these eras fondly may have their lives flashing before their eyes, and they’ll only have to book a ticket to Tennessee to do it.
There’s no huge hurry to get there; “Western Edge” will be on display at the Hall of Fame for three years. But for those who’ve hankered for decades to see this kind of historical homage come together, the opening can’t come fast enough.
Yeah, that would be me. Better get over some Wheels.
Dwight Yoakam is playing a major role:
“It’s an honor to be part 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… They’re doing Ken Burns-level research.”
The exhibit does not neglect my own era, the 1980s. Michael McCall, the Hall of Fame’s senior editor notes:
“The ’80s people were all great. Dwight is doing the opening narration for an introduction to the exhibit, and we did more than two hours of interview with him. Los Lobos has been outstanding; Louis Perez was the interview, but we got instruments from all of ’em — and Cesar (Rosas)’s Ray-Bans! Dave Alvin was one of my best interviews; he just so articulate, the way he talked about the whole scene.”
Dave Alvin. Yep. The King of California.
I was in college in 1985 when I heard this one — Maria McKee — tell me that there are oh so many ways to be wicked. I think I fell in love. Or… something… Lordy.
“With Lone Justice, we met with Ryan Hedgecock and Marvin Etzioni, and Ryan in particular had like 20 manuscripts and 20 or 30 set lists that they wrote by hand from the early days… and the first flier, when they were opening for Rank and File and they went around the Universal Amphitheatre at a Blasters show and put them on everybody’s car windshields. And Maria McKee was an outstanding, outstanding interview — one of my favorites, really colorful. She dressed up in what she called her ‘Loretta Lynn gown’ — a floor-length, multicolored, Southern ball gown. She looked more like Scarlet O’Hara, almost. She was so passionate and gave so many good stories.”
And, there’ll be a book. Glory be.
There’s some serious synchronicity happening with my current obsession with Frontier History of Los Angeles. That Tom Joad Road ain’t nothing but Continuity & Persistence. Reckon Lady Marilyn and I will be making a pilgrimage. Compensation for missing the Under the Big Sky Festival this weekend…
A 12-hour full-immersion documentary on the Outlaw movement, produced by Jessi Colter? Are you kidding me? I’ll binge that like Waylon Jennings on a three-day coke bender. Buried in the man cave letting that Outlaw bit get completely out of hand. Again.
There’s a brand new, 12-hour documentary titled They Called Us Outlaws on the way, which was produced by country great Jessi Colter, who was of course married to a pioneer of the outlaw movement, Waylon Jennings.
In partnership with the Country Music Hall of Fame, the film was shot over the course of a decade by director Eric Geadelmann and his Shadowbrook Studios, and it will include six episodes in a 12-hour timespan.
The film will feature over 75 interviews with those who were there and played a massive role in the movement, like Willie Nelson, as well as those who carry the torch today, like Eric Church and Miranda Lambert.
Other interview subjects also include Kris Kristofferson, Matthew McConaughey, Emmylou Harris and Margo Price.
Some of the episodes will even include the last ever on-camera conversations had with late legends of the movement like Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker, Billy Joe Shaver and Tom T. Hall.
Patrick McGowan says
ALL of this!
Right? Maybe we should rent a van and a bunch of us roll out to Nashville. I’m serious.
Rick Schwertfeger says
I definitely will meet you there!
Frontier Partisans Summit.
5 hours from my house in NC. Meet ya there! Come on out to get a fix of music history and some real Spring when central Oregon is in the grips of Flowering Winter next April!