A forthcoming Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum exhibit focuses on the cultural and creative interchange between Texas and Tennessee that fueled the well-chronicled outlaw movement of the 1970s.
Titled Outlaws and Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ’70’s, the exhibit opens May 25 and runs through Feb. 14, 2021. It follows long-running exhibit Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats, thematically and otherwise.
An internal revolt against the polished Nashville Sound began in Texas. Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and other home-grown talents found creative inspiration at Austin’s Armadillo World Headquarters and other laid-back venues. A movement built around individual expression soon spread northeast to Nashville. There, Tompall Glaser’s “Hillbilly Central” recording studio provided refuge for the free spirits that broke country music’s clean-cut mold.
“This was an era in which renegades Bobby Bare, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson fought for and won creative control of their own songs and sounds,” says museum CEO Kyle Young in a press release. “It was a time when melodic poets Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt and Billy Joe Shaver elevated public perception of what a country song could be. It was a time when the Austin, Texas, music and arts scenes blossomed, and when characters like singer-songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker, Hondo Crouch (who bought his own town, Luckenbach, Texas), armadillo art specialist Jim Franklin and University of Texas football coach Darrell Royal changed Lone Star culture. At the time, some of these things seemed unusual, even insane. Now, they all seem essential to any understanding of this great American art form, country music.”
Austin-based filmmaker and exhibit co-curator Eric Geadelmann provides film content, including exclusive interviews and concert footage. The exhibit also incorporates artwork and other relevant artifacts from the time period.
Special programming will include live music, panel discussions and films. In addition, a companion book hits gift shop shelves in time for the Country Music Hall of Fame exhibit opening. Plans are in place for CD and LP sets of relevant music issued by Legacy Recordings.