“Electrifying” museum spotlights rock music history: When you hear the words “guitar gods,” who comes to mind? Jimi Hendrix…Eric Clapton…or Peter Frampton? Well, long before those rockers became stars, another “guitar god” changed the course of popular music, without even knowing how to play the instrument.
The work of Leo Fender to create an electric guitar and the subsequent explosion of rock music is the story behind Songbirds Guitar Museum, a Chattanooga destination that boasts one of the most extensive and varied guitar collections in the world. Museum CEO and curator David Davidson has spent decades as a guitar dealer, and built the collection which is now housed in the old luggage hold of the Chattanooga Choo Choo Terminal Station. Of amassing the stunning collection, Davidson says, “I was fortunate to be very involved in the vintage guitar business and over the last 21 years I worked with the benefactors to put this collection together…we specialize really in the ‘50s through the ‘70s, but we have lots of instruments that go back to the ‘20s, and we have instruments that are more modern, as well.”
Most of the museum is arranged chronologically, beginning with inventor Leo Fender’s first lap steel guitars and his 1950 Esquire (Fender’s first solid-body guitar) and moving through the addition of other manufacturers to the market and the color explosion of the 1960s. The museum’s complete collection totals more than 2,000 guitars, although the museum displays only a fraction of those at any given time. As to the appeal of the museum, Davidson says, “I can tell you where I was when I heard that The Beatles broke up. I can tell you what song I heard when I got my first kiss, okay? Music is important…People come in here and they’re looking for a memory. And we’re good at that. We’re good at helping them find that memory.”
Good Day Atlanta’s Paul Milliken spent some time exploring the collection at Songbirds Guitar Museum, learning more about the fascinating history of the electric guitar and how it revolutionized popular music.
Blindspotting: It made a splash at Sundance Festival and Variety calls it "the most exciting cinematic take on contemporary race relations since Do The Right Thing." Blindspotting stars Daveed Diggs, of Hamilton's Original Cast, and Rafael Casal stop by Good Day Atlanta to talk about their lifelong friendship and new movie. For more information on the viewing at The Atlanta Film Festival click here.