In Tune With Tennessee: Memphis, Other Musical Magnets Pump Up The Volume

This appeared in USA Today - May 31, 2007

ALONG THE I-40 "MUSIC HIGHWAY," Tenn. — When American Idol withdrawal sets in for the summer, it strikes hard, strikes deep and silently carves a crater in your karaoke heart.

But listen up: There are cures to be found in Tennessee. Head for the hills, honky-tonks and hallowed museum halls of our most musical state and refresh your inner playlist. Revel in the immortal yearnings of guitar-slinging hillbilly cats. Study the social movement known as the Funky Chicken. Plink the piano that plunked countless country hits onto the charts. Receive the gospel via choir loft or AM radio.

Among the significant first-ever events this summer: Country music renaissance man Marty Stuart unveils his 20,000-piece collection of musical memorabilia to the public at the Tennessee State Museum in Nashville on Wednesday, June 6 (through Nov. 11). Highlights of the stash include Johnny Cash's first black stage suit, Patsy Cline's cosmetics case, a Merle Haggard guitar and Hank Williams' handwritten lyrics to Your Cheatin' Heart.

"Country music has always been aware of its heritage and history, and there were some passionate flame-keepers along the way," says Stuart, who is looking for a permanent home for the display. "But a lot have passed away, and I'm here to welcome anyone who wants to keep it alive. It's so important not to let it get away."

By Jerry Shriver

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