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Rock Exhibit Coming to Country Hall of Fame

Bob Dylan, 1969
Chris Wood/Express/Getty Images

Bob Dylan gives a press conference at his hotel during the Isle of Wight Festival on August 27 1969.

While country music has long been synonymous with Nashville, rock and folk musicians in the late '60s and early '70s made the Southern city the new hip spot to record.

The city's talented session musicians helped create some of the seminal country-influenced rock albums of the period, including Bob Dylan's "Blonde on Blonde" and "Nashville Skyline," The Byrds' "Sweetheart of the Rodeo" and Neil Young's "Harvest."

Nashville's rock period is the subject of the next exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, called "Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City," which opens in March 2015.

Michael Gray, museum editor and co-curator of the exhibit, said the exhibit is not only about the music made in Nashville during this period, but also the cultural changes the city experienced.

"It was sort of thought of as a conservative town, maybe not as hip as the music circles in New York, San Francisco, L.A. or London," he said.

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But Dylan's decision to record multiple albums in Nashville opened the floodgates for folk and rock musicians, he said. "It really did change perceptions about the city," Gray said.

Johnny Cash also had a big role in welcoming these new musicians to town through his television program "The Johnny Cash Show," which aired from 1969 to 1971 and featured both country and folk artists, including Dylan, Young, Joni Mitchell, Linda Ronstadt and Eric Clapton.

"He did help bridge some of those political and cultural gaps between the Nashville establishment and the outsiders, the folk rockers who identified with the counterculture," Gray said.

The exhibit will allow fans to compare Nashville session musicians performing on both country and folk albums, see the instruments used in the recordings and look at original pressings and lyrics.

"Nashville has always been a more nuanced music center than it commonly gets credit for, and the same thing could be said for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. We strive to tell the full story of country music’s evolving history using a mix of provocative learning experiences, and this exhibit is a great opportunity to talk about the early confluence of country and rock," said Museum Director Kyle Young.

The museum will have new merchandise and materials, speaker panels and shows to accompany the exhibit's run through Dec. 31, 2016.


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