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Luthier's Craft: Instrument Making Traditions of the Blue Ridge

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Luthier Wayne Henderson in his workshop in Mouth of Wilson, VABristol, VA (November 3, 2017) — Luthiers—skilled makers of stringed musical instruments—are both keepers of tradition and innovators. They carry on the old ways of working wood and string to create beautiful and functional instruments, while also bringing new creativity and technology to the fore in their pieces. The Luthier's Craft: Instrument Making Traditions of the Blue Ridge is a new special exhibit at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum that explores and documents the traditional arts of fiddle, guitar, banjo, and dulcimer making in Southern Appalachia and the Blue Ridge Mountains. The special exhibit is on display now through March 4, 2018.

“The Luthier’s Craft offers an inside look at the work of master craftspeople, carrying on the instrument-making heritage while also bringing innovation to design and decoration and creating functional works of art,” says Jessica Turner, director of the Birthplace of Country Music Museum. “We are excited to be sharing this exhibit with our visitors—by partnering with cultural institutions like the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History and local luthiers, we are able to bring interesting and educational resources to our community, and it is a wonderful opportunity to learn more about local music and craft traditions.”

Featured craftspeople include guitar makers Wayne Henderson, fiddle makers Audrey Hash Ham and Chris Testerman, banjo maker Johnny Gentry, and dulcimer maker Ernest Combs. The exhibit offers visitors a hands-on, interactive exploration of the rich history of this traditional craft. The Birthplace of Country Music Museum will supplement the special exhibit with instruments from and panels about several local luthiers, including Jimmy Edmonds, Kevin Fore, Randal Eller, and Chuck Tipton. The Luthier's Craft highlights the deep connection between music and craft in the Southern Appalachias.

The Luthier's Craft was produced by the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History with financial support provided by The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, Interlam, Hibco Plastics, and Dr. Mac and Becky Sumner.
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The Birthplace of Country Music Museum, an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, explores the history of the 1927 Bristol Sessions and their lasting impact on our music heritage. From the Bristol Sessions and beyond, our region continues to influence music around the world.

The 24,000 square foot museum is located at 520 Birthplace of Country Music Way (corner of Moore & Cumberland Streets) in Historic Downtown Bristol, Virginia. Through multiple theater experiences, film and sound, and interactive, technology-infused displays—along with a variety of educational programs, music programs, and community events—the exciting story of this music and its far-reaching influence comes alive. Rotating exhibitions from guest curators and other institutions, including the Smithsonian, will be featured throughout the year in the Special Exhibits Gallery. The museum is also home to an extensive digital archive.

The Birthplace of Country Music Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. through 6:00 p.m. and Sunday, 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. The museum is closed on Mondays and most major holidays; call ahead for clarification at 423-573-1927. Admission is $13.65 for adults, $11.55 for seniors, students, military, children ages 6—17, and groups of 20 or more. Children 5 and under are free. Admission prices include Virginia admission tax.

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