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Honky Tonk

Harmonica playerFebruary 21, 2010- April 11, 2010

The photographs presented in this exhibition capture a fascinating, transitional period in country music. It was a time when its stars received little airplay, honky tonks and country music parks were still thriving, today’s popular bluegrass music festivals were just beginning, and some musicians were nearing their end. The photographer, Henry Horenstein (American, born 1948), set about to document not necessarily the famous artists (although he portrayed quite a few), but what he believed was a disappearing world.

Honky Tonks
The term “honky tonk” strictly refers to the type of bar that became popular after prohibition ended in the mid-1930s—a place that was at least a little seedy and usually located on the outskirts of town—away from churches, schools, and God-fearing folks. At a typical honky tonk, one could find live music, alcohol, romance, divorce, friendship, and brawling—and the amplified music of Hank Williams, Lefty Frizzell, and Hank Thompson.

The Photographer
Henry Horenstein had the good fortune to live across the street from Boston’s then upstart, now influential Rounder Records. By shooting album covers and publicity photographs for them, he gained backstage access at many venues including the most important for country music, the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee during its last years at the Ryman Auditorium. While it is true that many of the people and places he photographed are no longer here, in fact, the music itself is now stronger than ever and has even become big business. Dolly PartonHis photographs serve as a record of a time now past when country music performers were close to their audience.


And There's More!
The exhibition is supplemented in Longmont by rare and significant musical instruments, including the banjo that Colorado bluegrass legend Pete Wernick played in Hot Rize; a replica of the Gibson mandolin played by Bill Monroe; and other instruments from the honky tonk era. Also, try your hand at playing the classic song "You Are My Sunshine" on piano or guitar, with our hands-on instruments.


Organization: The exhibition tour was organized by Art2Art Circulating Exhibitions.

Sponsors: Special thanks to lenders to the exhibition: Hereford Percy, Kit Simon, Pete Wernick, and Chad Swiercinsky

Schedule: February 20 - April 11, 2010.