Cardboard history of Blue Ridge Music exhibit opens

Published 10:42 am Wednesday, January 17, 2024

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A new special exhibit, “A Cardboard History of Blue Ridge Music,” opened this week at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Historic Downtown Bristol. The exhibit highlights the history of old-time, bluegrass, and country music through vintage concert posters and ephemera that gives visitors a window into the careers and impact of numerous well-known musicians such as Roy Acuff, Kitty Wells, Flatt & Scruggs, The Monroe Brothers, and many more. The exhibit will be on display through July 21.
“This special exhibit is from the vast collection of Tom Murphy, a collector out of Raleigh, N.C.,” said museum Head Curator Dr. Rene Rodgers. “Anyone interested in early country and bluegrass music and vintage letterpress typography will especially appreciate this exhibit.”
The display features rare, original concert announcements, vintage show cards, and related objects dating back to as early as 1939. By design, the posters were printed on inexpensive paper or cardboard to be discarded after promotion of entertainment events staged by traveling performers.
“It’s really amazing that so many of them survived,” adds Rodgers.
The connection between many of these artists to early radio and barn-dance shows, including WCYB’s original Farm and Fun Time – which now broadcasts on WBCM’s Radio Bristol from the museum – is also explored.
Murphy began collecting movie posters as a teenager growing up in Montgomery, Ala. For more than 50 years, he has continued to seek out these kinds of ephemera, including broadsides and even billboard-sized advertisements.
Tours of the special exhibit “A Cardboard History of Blue Ridge Music” are included in the price of regular museum admission to the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, or you may visit the special exhibit only at a reduced cost. Reduced museum admission pricing for seniors, students, active military, and groups of 20 people or more are available. Additionally, the museum is a participating member of Museums for All, supporting those receiving food assistance (SNAP) benefits who may tour the museum for a minimal fee of $3 per person for up to four people.

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