Kentucky native Dwight Yoakam will be lending his voice and knowledge to the Country Music Hall of Fame as part of a new exhibit. The Bakersfield Sound: Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and California Country, will contain over 5,000 square feet of exhibits opening on Friday, March 23, 2012, and closing on December 31, 2013.
Narrated by Dwight Yoakam, the exhibit will explore the roots, heyday and impact of the Bakersfield Sound, the loud, stripped-down and radio-ready music most closely identified with the careers of Country Music Hall of Fame members Buck Owens and Merle Haggard. Co-curated by the institution’s Curatorial Director Mick Buck, Photo Collection Manager Tim Davis and Museum Editor Michael Gray, the Bakersfield Sound exhibit includes more than 100 artifacts and a generous overlay of audiovisual treasure.
“We are incredibly excited to explore the Bakersfield Sound story,” said Museum Director Kyle Young. “It’s an epic tale, born in the Great Depression, set two thousand miles from country music’s epicenter, and populated by a remarkably talented and tight-knit community of musicians who came together to invigorate and reinvent country music as they knew it. These colorful artists infused their work with an aural intensity and independent spirit, in the process creating a sound that reverberates through country music to this day.
“We are grateful to all of the artists, musicians and families who shared their knowledge, memories and artifacts with us,” Young continued. “An exhibit of this scope and magnitude would not have been possible without their cooperation. We would also like to thank Dwight Yoakam for his participation: Dwight is an iconoclast whose rich musical catalog embodies the Bakersfield Sound tradition; he’s also a historian and fan who reveres the bedrock of this genre. I can’t think of anyone better than Dwight to guide our visitors on the Bakersfield journey.”
Grand opening weekend will be highlighted by a Saturday, March 24 panel discussion featuring Dallas Frazier, Don Maddox, Rose Lee Maphis, Buddy Mize, Country Music Hall of Fame member Jean Shepard and Red Simpson. Later that afternoon, all of the panelists will participate in a concert, headlined by Simpson, backed by West Coast bandleader and guitarist Deke Dickerson and other noted musicians from Tennessee and California. Other opening weekend programs include a Bakersfield Sound book talk, a film screening and an instrument demonstration (see complete details below).
The exhibit will also be accompanied by a richly detailed, lavishly illustrated, 96-page companion book, titled The Bakersfield Sound: Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and California Country. Published by the Museum’s Country Music Foundation Press and exclusively distributed by the Hal Leonard Corporation, the volume will include essays by California-based music journalists/historians Scott B. Bomar, Randy Poe and Robert Price. Also included are dozens of archival photographs and beautiful color images of many of the artifacts included in the exhibit. The book will be available in the Museum Store and at www.countrymusichalloffame.org
Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website with over 20 years experience in music journalism, concert planning, photography, and promotion. Jessica is a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the 2019 Leadership Kentucky BRIGHT Class and a recipient of the Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award. Listen to her each week on WFKY on Friday mornings for the Nashville News Roundup.