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Bakersfield Sound Exhibit New to Country Music Hall of Fame

During the late 1930s, waves of people headed to California for the promise of a better tomorrow. With much of the Heartland gripped in the Great Depression, it’s no surprise that the fertile lands of southern California were appealing to so many. It’s also no surprise that this great change in population brought with it some very talented musicians. In time, more musicians and artists moved to the Golden State and created the new sound of Country music–The Bakersfield Sound. Much of that sound was driven by the new innovation of the day–the solid body electric guitar. Pivotal figures in this new sound were none other than Paul Bigsby, Leo Fender, Buck Owens, and Merle Haggard. Instruments made by Paul Bigsby and Leo Fender helped to shape the sound we all know and love, and Merle and Buck wrote the songs we remember.

Paying homage and proudly showcasing this piece of American history is the new exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum in Nashville, TN. The Bakersfield Sound: Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and California Country opened March 23 and runs through December 31, 2013. This is an exhibit you don’t want to miss that includes everything from elaborate stage outfits to iconic musical instruments such as Telecasters belonging to Buck Owens and Don Rich; Speedy West’s Bigsby 1948 steel guitar (its whereabouts a mystery for decades); Ralph Mooney’s Fender double-neck pedal steel guitar; and Merle Travis’s electric guitar – one of the first solid-body electric guitars, designed by Travis and built by Paul Bigsby.  Check out the snapshot below of that Merle Travis Bigsby guitar taken on opening night . . . if that guitar could talk!

Next time you find yourself in Nashville, make sure to check out this exhibit. It not only does a great job of detailing the formation and success of The Bakersfield Sound, but also sheds an interesting light on American history through music.


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