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Tracing the Roots of Country Rock at the CMHOF in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

We were saddened to hear of the recent passing of David Stone - a man widely known as the late career manager of Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Richie Furay. Stone was heavily involved in curating the POCO portion of the Western Edge exhibit currently on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee. Also underway on Demonbreun Street is a selection called Eric Church: Country Heart, Restless Soul. Seeing that we had just seen The Chief at his residency on Broadway we had the perfect dual excuse to visit the local landmark and shrine to the stars of Country Music on Saturday, May 11, 2024.

Western Edge: The Roots and Reverberations of Los Angeles Country-Rock in Nashville.

We weren't alone as this was the first time we had been to the CMHOF on a weekend in tourist season. It was packed but also cool to see the destination being utilized and experienced to capacity. We were there first and foremost to find the space devoted to POCO - a band we were raised and indoctrinated to appreciate from a very young age. Most of the rest of the population joined the country rock craze through the Eagles - an act who widely influenced the scene and their immersion into rock still impacts the radio and various platforms today through their prodigious progeny.

What we learned at CMHOF - POCO begat the Eagles who begat many of today's modern country stars - and much more.

Just ask Eric Church who claims that he has always been more to the rock side of the country rock label. Thus, legacy acts such as Bob Seger took note of the performer early on in his career. Many milestones and mementoes mark the wall-long display located on the second floor of the museum. Also of note was a correspondence theme thoughout the facility featuring Tom Petty praising the under-rated Chris Hillman; Springsteen gushing over Eric Church's "Springsteen"; and, Taylor Swift thanking The Chief for giving her a big break - that gave us something to write home about or at least post on MCN!

Correspondence and the POCO display on the second floor.

Of course, it took one American master Thomas Hart Benton to depict the real origins of country music dating back to the 1800's and the themes of westward expansion, cowboys and the musicians and people who shared their lives and time. Benton painted a mural - the original of which is prominently placed overseeing the whole of the Hall of Fame Rotunda. "Sources of Country Music" at 50 explores Benton's process in creating his final painting, which was commissioned by the Museum in 1973. The exhibit includes sketches, drawings, lithographs, photographs, and a three-dimensional model of the painting - along with a 1975 video of Benton speaking about the mural.

Eric Church is a testament to the power of both country and rock music.

You still have time to catch Western Edge - that traces "The Roots and Reverberations of Los Angeles Country-Rock" until it wraps in May 2025. Come survey the rise of the Byrds, Buffalo Springfield, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Poco, Eagles, Emmylou Harris, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Linda Ronstadt and discover how the scene came to be. Eric Church: Country Heart, Restless Soul finishes soon available until June 16. An American Masterwork: Thomas Hart Benton's "Sources of Country Music" at 50 runs just until the New Year in Nashville.

Come trace the "Sources of Country Music" at CMHOF in Nashville.

Related Links: For more information on the COUNTRY MUSIC HALL OF FAME and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Country Music Hall of Fame | Eric Church Preaches to the Choir at Chief's on Broadway in Nashville | Visiting the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.A.


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