Three of the most ideal things I am interested in are museums, Honky Tonk Music and the 1970’s, and once again a museum like The Birthplace Of Country Music Museum in Bristol is offering a good taste of history to us that salivate over it.

The reason why exhibits like this one are so greatly integral to Country Music is because many of the folks they feature have now passed on, and are gone. In my studies and my prospicience to preserve it for future Country Music fans, I ardently support exhibits like this one. As a historian at a younger age, I regretfully missed out on being able to see many of the people I idolize like Mr. Ernest Tubb and Marty Robbins live in their prime.

Photographers like Mr. Henry and Mr. Jerry Overcast and their ilk spent their entire lives following these big stars around and captured them out of their element, which makes it more amazing. You know, on stage you saw what THEY WANTED us to see..but behind that curtain this man captured what WE WERE NOT ALWAYS MEANT to see. If you go to his website HERE, you can kind of see my point of how random it all was and how he never meant to make it so significant..but it was.

Country Music in the 1970’s wasn’t found on innocent levels of places on Earth, and it wasn’t pure and clean cut as Hee Haw presented it to us on t.v. It was found in the dirty and dark beer joints across America, in the back alleys dives and it didn’t exemplify pure, or righteous living..but it was  honest living. These people had more baggage than the Dallas airport, and more drama than soap operas, but they spoke to us through songs of real life struggles.

I am heavily into the 1970’s and 1980’s Opry years, as well as the culmination of the Outlaw Movement and also the Nashville Sound eras. So much transpired during those times that shaped the genre into what it is today both locally and mainstream wise. It is with all of this in mind that I tell you all my dear readers I cannot stress how important it is to go up and see this exhibit for yourselves, as I plan to take a trip up there to see it myself SOON…here is the press release.

Honky Tonk: Portraits of Country Music, 1972-1981, a special exhibit of photographs by Henry Horenstein.

Dates: September 29, 2020 – March 28, 2021

Location: Special Exhibits Gallery, Birthplace of Country Music Museum

In the 1970s, photographer Henry Horenstein shot album covers for upstart bluegrass label Rounder Records. But in his off-hours, he soon became unofficial photographer to the culture of country musicians great and small, and their dedicated fans. It’s a world that looks quite a bit like country songs sound: full of hard-working operators and lonely dreamers, half-full glasses and scorpion belt buckles, and a few tall hats, boots, and bottles as well. It’s the world of the honky tonk.

A candid, affectionate glimpse into the real country music scene as it was performed and lived, Honky Tonk: Portraits of Country Music, 1972—1981 is a parade through the early years of future great performers like Dolly Parton and Del McCoury, and already established legends like Mother Maybelle Carter and Don Stover. It is a time capsule of an important era in country music set within family music parks and music festivals, the Grand Ole Opry, and Nashville’s Tootsies and other well-loved honky tonks. Horenstein’s lively portraits of the community preserve the scene where musicians and fans, cowboys and townies, converged to step out, strum, and strut their stuff.

The museum will be offering a variety of educational and engaging public programming to accompany the Honky Tonk exhibit. Keep an eye on our website or subscribe to our eNewsletter to learn more!

Special thanks to the Massengill-DeFriece Foundation for their support of the exhibit at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum.

About Henry Horenstein

Henry Horenstein has been a professional photographer, filmmaker, teacher, and author since the 1970s. He studied history at the University of Chicago and earned his BFA and MFA at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD), where he studied with Harry Callahan and Aaron Siskind.

Henry’s work is collected and exhibited internationally, and he has published over 30 books, including several monographs of his own work such as Histories, Show, Honky Tonk, Animalia, Humans, Racing Days, Close Relations, and many others. He has also authored Black & White Photography, Digital Photography, and Beyond Basic Photography, used by hundreds of thousands of college, university, high-school, and art school students as their introduction to photography. His Shoot What You Love serves both as a memoir and a personal history of photography over the past 50 years.




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