Musical instrument museum promotes global theme, locally

The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona offers a look at the history of musical instruments from over 200 countries around the world. The interactive collection of instruments tells a story of musicians, instrument makers, recording studios, and musical traditions significant to our shared past, present, and future.

In 2012, the museum has a special focus on American Music. Specifically: music tagged to Arizona. A new exhibit includes artifacts, photographs, and audiovisual content designed to bring the subjects to life and ignite interest in the global, binding nature of music.

Some noteworthy objects in the I Am AZ Music exhibition include the gold dress worn by singer Jordin Sparks during the American Idol finale, instruments played by the Gin Blossoms and a double-neck guitar played by Duane Eddy on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” in 1960.

Typical of the past/present/future focus of the exhibit is an exact replica of a stage suit worn by rocker Alice Cooper in the 1970s, then also worn during the filming of Dark Shadows, a film slated to be released this year.

Also part of I Am AZ Music is an exhibit on Canyon Records, founded more than 60 years ago by Phoenix media pioneers Ray and Mary Boley, that highlights the production and distribution of Native American music. Another exhibit is dedicated to Floyd Ramsey, whose music studio hosted sessions in the 1950s by Duane Eddy, Waylon Jennings, Wayne Newton, and Alice Cooper.”Country fans will enjoy our tributes to Buck Owens and Waylon Jennings, while jazz enthusiasts are sure to love the exhibit centered on Russell ‘Big Chief’ Moore, a member of the Gila River Indian Community who played trombone with Louis Armstrong” said MIM curator Cullen Strawn.

Musical instrument
manufacturers of today that make Arizona their home are also featured, such as the Roberto-Venn School of Luthiery, Navajo-Ute flute maker Aaron White, Yaqui drum and rattle maker Alex Maldonado, White Mountain Banjo Works, Phoenix Guitar Company, classical guitar maker Brian Dunn, and Apache fiddle maker Anthony Belvado.

To make the exhibit interactive, visitors are given wireless headsets to wear throughout the museum. Approaching each display, they can hear the instruments being played, either solo or as an ensemble. Audio and video clips familiarize guests with the unique sounds of each musical culture, allowing them to “share a common experience”, very much the global theme of the Musical Instrument Museum, brought down to local, street level.

“Somewhere, out there, on the farthest rim of the earth, a sound wails into the night” begins this short video from the museum proposing that “from our first breath music is the instrument of the soul”.

The museum is also opening an African Piano exhibit in February that will examine the sanza and its musical tradition among Central and East African story tellers, historians and ceremonial or ritual experts.

Photos courtesy Musical Instrument Museum

Elvis road trip has more stops than Graceland

Themed road trips can take on a whole different meaning than simply loading up the car and heading out on the highway. Choosing to stop along the way at everything from each National Park for a photo by the entrance sign, every major sports venue and coming away with a home-team ball cap or all airports along the way just to watch planes take off can transform a simple drive into a memorable road trip of a lifetime. Whatever your interest, a well-planned and themed road trip can be a lot of fun. Even a tour devoted to Elvis Presley can work.

The Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) in Phoenix, Arizona will be All Shook Up next month with the introduction of an Elvis Presley exhibit in the museum’s newly renovated Artist Gallery on August 6th.

Guests will get to experience The King of Rock ‘n’ Roll through a collection of personal items, clothing, and musical instruments. One highlight of the exhibit will be the priceless 1975 Martin D-28 acoustic guitar that Elvis played during his 1977 tours, including his last concert on June 26 in Indianapolis, Indiana. In addition to displaying it, MIM has been chosen by Elvis Presley Enterprises to restore the guitar to the condition in which Elvis last played it.The new Elvis exhibit, opening August 6, 2011, will also feature a collection of items on loan from Elvis Presley’s Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee and is located at 4725 E. Mayo Boulevard in Phoenix .

Other choices for stops on an Elvis road trip might include a stop by Elvis’ favorite roller coaster, a classic wooden coaster known as the Zippin Pippin in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Earlier this year, Gadling’s Joel Bullock told us:

“It was known to be Elvis Presley’s favorite roller coaster as he often rented out the park so that he could ride it without being bothered by fans. Reports are that Presley rode Zippin Pippin eight days before he died. To support the ride’s history, Bay Beach Amusement Park is working on adding Elvis’ favorite food, peanut butter and banana sandwiches.”

Surely no Elvis road trip would be complete without a stop by Las Vegas to visit the city’s official Elvis, Jesse Garon. Garon sponsored rescued miner Edison Pena in 2010 after the music and movies of the King including the 1960s Elvis movie Viva Las Vegas and Jailhouse Rock were to pass the time and keep up the spirits of all the miners trapped underground. Stick around Vegas for a while too, Cirque du Soleil’s show Viva Elvis at ARIA Resort & Casino is worth the overnight.

Even Branson, Missouri has a Elvis stop to consider with their Elvis and the Superstars show where they throw in Tom Jones and Stevie Wonder (impersonators) for a two hour show that AOLTravel says “you will forget that the people on stage are not the real thing”.

As with any travel, planning is half the fun and a themed road trip is no exception.

I remember a high school road trip I took once: stopping at (what seemed like) every Ford dealership between Kansas City and St Louis for repairs. That wasn’t the original plan, a theme we had thought of in advance or realization of any dream but one we won’t forget any time soon.

Photo courtesy Elvis Presley Enterprizes