Tuesday, February 23, 2010
The late Dale Hawkins and the need for a Rockabilly Museum in Shreveport, Louisiana
Shreveport wants a Museum of Rockabilly Music.
Hawkins recorded the original "Suzie Q" in Shreveport. Most of the first explosions of rockabilly surrounded the young Elvis Presley and his time on the Louisiana Hayride.
But I don't think we should aim for a normal museum of pop music history.
If it were designed by Moonbot Studios it would be strange and kinetic and a must-see stop on I-20.
It's easy to make a boring museum of pop music. I think the Experience Music Project (EMP) in Seattle is a yawner. The building itself is worth the admission. Love the aluminum skin, the steel trusses, the sky church lobby. But how to bring music to life escapes whoever designed the EMP.
The web site for the International Rock-A-Billy Hall of Fame Museum in Jackson, TN, implies that it is one heck of a predictable place.
I think Shreveport's Rockabilly Museum ought to be about movies, moving floors, stunning lights, fast cars and giggly surprises.
If you're thinking "Now, where are we going to get the money for that?!" then you've got Shreveportitis. Maybe you should retire to a house on a lake somewhere.
If you're thinking, "The rockabilly material should come under the display to be created by the Louisiana Hayride," I agree. But there's no huge reason the two could not co-exist. One would be an orthodox center. The other would be a head-shaking, skirt-blowing Telecaster explosion.
The real key to a successful design and execution of a Shreveport Rockabilly Museum is imagination.
And, by the way, the rockabilly cats who played here included Dale Hawkins, James Burton, Johnny Cash ("Get Rhythm," "Ballad of a Teenage Queen"), Johnny Horton ("The Battle of New Orleans"), Faron Young ("Going Steady"), Sonny James ("Young Love"), Claude King ("Wolverton Mountain"), Webb Pierce ("Teenage Boogie"), Bob Luman ("Red Hot") and Elvis Presley.
Is Shreveport deserving of a Rockabilly center? Ha. I hope to tell you so. Do we have the imagination to see it through? Well. Gulp. We'll never know til we try it.