Arts and Culture | Nashville Public Radio

Arts and Culture

Nina Cardona / WPLN

The new exhibit at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts offers a glimpse into a grand English country estate called Houghton Hall. It was built by the first prime minister and has stayed in the same family ever since.

Stephen Jerkins

When Vee-Jay Records released The Beatles’ first American single, “Please Please Me” on a 45-RPM record in 1963, vinyl wasn’t the format of choice for audiophiles. It was the only format. 

Emily Siner / WPLN

Nashville has a new fund to help artists purchase affordable housing and studios. The Housing Fund, a nonprofit that finances affordable housing around Middle Tennessee, has received a $200,000 grant and pledged $400,000 of its own for loans.

Nina Cardona / WPLN

Nashville’s Music Row has been officially declared a National Treasure.  That means local groups trying to preserve the character of country music’s home neighborhood will have hands-on assistance from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

  The Trust helps local groups organize, plan and raise money. In some cases, it spearheads legal battles.  This year, it successfully lobbied Congress to add Oak Ridge and the other Manhattan Project sites to the National Parks system. It took the Army Corps of Engineers to court—and won—over a cruise ship port in Charleston’s historic district.

Anne Swoboda via Flickr

Little Jimmy Dickens’ hat, boots and guitar held center stage of the Grand Ole Opry Thursday as the country music community said a final goodbye to one of their mainstays.

The 4 foot 11 singer was known for his joke telling and novelty songs, but speakers like  Vince Gill remembered his kindness and longevity. “If only the good die young,” Gill said, “the greatest of all live to be 94 and sing two weeks before they pass on. And that’s pretty remarkable.”

Dickens was the last remaining Opry member to have performed with Uncle Dave Macon. Singer Connie Smith remembered him as always being quick to welcome new musicians to the fold. Calling Dickens “the heart of the Grand Ole Opry,” Smith said “I watched him so many times stand at the side of this Opry stage and assess everything. He was there to support and to love.”

Emil Moffat / WPLN

Sue Jordan and her father spent many years listening to Little Jimmy Dickens on the radio at the Grand Ole Opry. But their connection to the Opry legend was also personal.

Jordan, a school teacher, had Dickens’ granddaughter April as a student one year and it allowed her to arrange a meeting between her father and Dickens — two West Virginia natives with a passion for music.

“You would have thought he and my Dad had known each other for years,” said Jordan.

“My dad loved to play the harmonica and always listened to the Grand Ole Opry and Little Jimmy Dickens,” she said. “And that was the pleasure of my Dad to be able to meet him and speak with him and sing and play the harmonica with him.”

Grand Ole Opry

Since 1948, Little Jimmy Dickens was a mainstay at the Grand Ole Opry, including a show he played Dec. 20 to celebrate his 94th birthday.

The 4-foot-11 singer was known for his sense of humor, even in songs, often cracking jokes about his stature.

“I’m puny, short and little but I’m loud,” he sang in one of his oldest hits.

Other tunes had lines like “may the bird of paradise fly up your nose.” A song called “Take an Old Cold Tater and Wait” won him the nickname “Tater.”

Blake Farmer / WPLN (File photo)

The happy new year was also a happy birthday for hundreds of refugees who now call Nashville home. Many asylum seekers are assigned January 1st when they can’t prove their date of birth.

Hussien Mohamud had more friends than he could possibly handle celebrating birthdays this week. “On my Facebook, 1,056 friends of mine get their birthday on that particular day, so it’s ridiculous,” he says.

Chas Sisk / WPLN

Bluegrass fans lined up on a bitterly cold fall night outside the speakeasy-style door of the Station Inn, a tiny, decades-old club in Nashville’s hyper-developing Gulch neighborhood.

Nineteen-year-old Caleb Montgomery took his place near the front. A guitarist, Montgomery already had visited at least a half dozen times since moving to Nashville for college a little over a year ago.

The energy, he said, is incomparable.

“This is a great venue for hearing bluegrass. Best in town, by far,” Montgomery said. “There’s such a small amount of people in there and you’re so close to the performers.”

 

Michael Noirot via Flickr

Thomm Jutz, a Nashville songwriter from Germany (who is now a U.S. citizen), has put out a three-part album about one of America’s thorniest periods — the Civil War. Volume 3 of The 1861 Project, which features singers including Kim Richey and Bobby Bare, focuses on the Battle of Franklin. Take a listen to how Jutz crafted the folk music album.

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