Close-knit singer-songwriter communities blazed a new trails when they embraced elements of country music in Los Angeles, California. Throughout the 1960s through the 1980s, these influential artists played local night clubs and fused the genre with rock, solidifying a lasting impact on the music industry and paving new paths for generations of country and Americana artists.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum will chronicle that history in its next major exhibit: Western Edge: The Roots and Reverberations of Los Angeles Country-Rock, presented by Citi National Bank.
The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum announced the upcoming exhibit during an event at the museum’s Ford Theater in Nashville, Tennessee. A separate event was held at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. Each announcement event featured performances by some of the artists who are “central to the exhibit’s narrative,” including multi Grammy Award-winner Dwight Yoakam, Chris Hillman (the Byrds, Flying Burrito Brothers, Desert Rose Band and more), Hall of Fame member Emmylou Harris, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s Jeff Hanna and singer-songwriter Matraca Berg.
“A new hybrid sound grew from humble beginnings in a few small L.A. nightclubs and quickly emerged as one of the most popular musical styles across the world,” said Kyle Young, chief executive officer for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “Inspired by the likes of Bob Dylan and the Beatles, these artists and musicians also found community in their appreciation of traditional country, folk and bluegrass music. They built on this foundation, crafting songs of uncommon lyrical depth and layered musical richness – adding new textures to rock sounds that resulted in a completely original form of American music.”
Curators and creative teams conducted more than 40 hours of interviews and collected tons of artifacts — including wardrobe pieces, instruments, original song manuscripts and other items — to bring the interactive exhibit to life in the newly-transformed 5,000-square-foot gallery, according to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Visitors can relive the rise of the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco, Eagles, Emmylou Harris, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Linda Ronstadt and many other artists who blended rock and country elements. Those artists paved new paths for artists like the Blasters, Rosie Flores, Los Lobos, Lone Justice, Dwight Yoakam. The museum noted in a press release:
“The Western Edge exhibit traces the story of young musicians who, in the 1960s, gravitated to Los Angeles as a bastion of youth-driven counterculture and a rising recording center. New arrivals found a rich local music scene anchored by clubs such as the Ash Grove, which featured young bluegrass bands including the Dillards and the Kentucky Colonels alongside earlier generations of American roots music masters.
“Also highlighted in the exhibit is the historical significance of the Troubadour in West Hollywood, which served as an important haven for like-minded artists. It provided a space for creators to collaborate with a healthy dose of competition, spurring one another to write better songs, craft tighter harmonies and master their instruments.”
Western Edge: The Roots and reverberations of Los Angeles Country-Rock is set to kick off a nearly three-year run on September 30. Find more info about the exhibit here.