Marty Stuart Exhibit Planned At Museum

This appeared in The Neshoba Democrat - August 6, 2008

Country music star Marty Stuart returned here to his hometown last week to help plan an exhibit at the Philadelphia-Neshoba County Historical Museum on Water Avenue.

Stuart met with the museum council to discuss plans for a "Marty Stuart Room" which would contain such memorabilia as costumes, guitars, and possibly a mandolin he used throughout his career in the music industry.

Stuart said he might even donate his old Busy Bee cafe sign to the collection.

He and a number of other famous Mississippi musicians performed, at times, at the Busy Bee, a restaurant which was open in the 1960s and 70s on Church Avenue across from Dees.

"The Busy Bee was an old restaurant in Philadelphia where a lot of famous Mississippi musicians would play their music," Alice Rowe, a member of the Museum Council, said. "Marty spent a lot of time there and the sign is a symbol of his inspiration."

Stuart recorded an album in 1982 entitled Busy Bee Cafe.

The idea for a Marty Stuart Room at the museum stemmed nearly a year ago when two council members toured a similar exhibit in Tennessee.

William Hamill and Pat Alford visited the Sparkle and Twang: Marty Stuart's American Musical Odyssey exhibit at the Tennessee State Museum.

The exhibit highlighted musical memorabilia that Stuart has collected over the years.

Included in the collection were things like handwritten lyrics to Hank Williams's "Your Cheatin Heart", Johnny Cash's guitars, Buck Owen's boots, and rhinestone cowboy suits from Nudie Cohen.

After visiting the exhibit, the Museum Council was inspired to create a similar exhibit here.

Stuart and his manager, Marc Dottore, met here with the members of the museum council last Wednesday to talk about the design for the room which will feature artifacts and memorabilia of the famous country music artist.

Hamill said that the meeting "got the ball rolling" on the creation of the exhibit.

"We talked about what Marty visioned for the room and he measured the room to get the exact dimensions," said Hamill. "He told us that he has a designer that has set up several things for him in the past, and she will come to meet with us next in order to design the exhibit."

Karen Cronin will design the room and then the Museum Council will have to hire someone to fabricate the exhibit.

Unlike the other parts of the Historical Museum, the new exhibit will feature audio and video clips in addition to the other objects on display.

Rowe said the exhibit will be "a lot fancier" than anything else that is at the museum. It is expected to attract a lot more visitors, she said.

Over the past month, about 80 people signed the museum's guest book, in addition to all those who toured the facility with groups.

"We have been seeing a rise in interest lately and an exhibit like this will only increase the flow of traffic through the museum," she said.

While the exhibit will be centered mostly around Stuart, other musical history from the county will be featured as well.

Not only will it follow Stuart's life and career, but it will also encompass the music and artists that influenced him and those whose roots are found in Neshoba County such as Foots Baxstrum and Otis Rush.

Hamill said Stuart was proud of his roots in Philadelphia and Neshoba County.

"Marty has been promising a local concert for a couple of years, and when we finish the room, he would like to have a concert for the grand opening of the exhibit," he said.

Before the exhibit is constructed, the Museum Council will have to install a security system in the facility.

"We want the exhibit to be of the highest quality, so we are going to do it right," Rowe said. "This will be a little more complicated to build and design than the exhibits that are already at the museum, so that might mean we have to take a little longer than usual to complete it."

By T. J. Jernigan

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