Country Music HoF opening major Bakersfield Sound exhibit

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (KBAK/KBFX) The Bakersfield Sound will be featured beginning this weekend at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Calling it their "major new exhibition," museum officials said "The Bakersfield Sound: Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and California Country" opens Friday and runs through Dec. 31, 2013.

The exhibit will have narration by Dwight Yoakam and explore the roots, heyday and impact of the Bakersfield Sound, "the loud, stripped-down and radio-ready music most closely identified with the careers of Country Music Hall of Fame members Buck Owens and Merle Haggard," the museum said in announcing the exhibit last September.

"From its earliest chapters on through to today, California has played a significant role in country music history," said museum director Kyle Young in a news release. "Long before the Outlaws or alternative country, the Bakersfield Sound evolved specifically to suit a time and a place, made an indelible mark on popular music, and spawned two of the most charismatic stars in the firmament."

Both the Owens and Haggard families were blue-collar transplants from Texas and Oklahoma during the mass migration of the Dust Bowl. Bakersfield, with its oil fields and farming, was a prime landing spot for those looking for work.

The Bakersfield Sound was born out of the 1940s and 1950s honky-tonks of Bakersfield, filled with country-music loving working men and women. The sound was popularized across the world in the 1960s with Owens and Haggard and the nearly 60 No. 1 hits they combined to produce.

The hall of fame's exhibit will include the history of the less-acclaimed major players and sidemen, such as Capitol Records producer Ken Nelson, steel guitar innovator Ralph Mooney, Telecaster ace Roy Nichols, and lead guitarist and harmony vocalist Don Rich. It will also feature Bill Woods, widely regarded as "The Father of the Bakersfield Sound," and the city's other musical architects: "Cousin" Herb Henson, Billy Mize, Fuzzy Owen, Bonnie Owens, Red Simpson and Lewis Talley, the museum said.

The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum was founded in 1967 and opened a $37 million landmark new building in May 2001 on the west bank of the Cumberland River, just a few steps from the historic Ryman Auditorium and the honky-tonks of Lower Broadway in Nashville, according to the museum's online description.