Does Texas Need an Official Museum of Texas Music?

Sometimes emotional testimony before a State Senate committee today on the question of whether Texas needs a government-sponsored official Museum of Texas Music to highlight the state' s varied musical traditions, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

State Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) says since Austin bills itself as the 'Live Music Capital of the World' and is also the Capitol City, visitors come to Austin looking for some way to check out the state's music history.

"The purpose of establishing an official Texas State Music Museum is to help preserve and celebrate the heritage of Texas music, and educate the citizens and visitors  of our state of the history and tradition of the great music that we have," Watson said.

The idea for a Texas Music Museum is based on the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, a place where the history and evolution of music can be explored in one location.

With the possible exception of Louisiana, there is no state in the country that has such a rich pageant of musical history as Texas can claim.

From the Germans who brought the accordion to Texas in the 1840s to the Tejanos who used it to create an entirely new musical form, Texas music also embraces Black blues legends like Leadbelly and Big Mama Thornton.

From Bob Willis to Lefty Frizell, Texas' country music history is as rich as any state, and Texas musicians from Buddy Holly to Janis Joplin to Stevie Ray Vaughn helped popularize and develop Rock and Roll.

Just a short list of musicians who were either born in Texas or who prospered here could be a lot longer than this: Scott Joplin, Gene Austin, Waylon Jennings, Garry P. Nunn, Willie Nelson, Tex Ritter, Augie Meyers, Jim Reeves, Van Cliburn, Kenny Rogers, George Strait, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Selena, Lightnin' Hopkins, Johnny and Edgar Winter,  Clarence Gatemouth Brown, Billy Gibbons, Don Henley, Blind Lemon Jefferson, T-Bone Walker, Roy Orbison, Bill Haley, Beyonce, Doug Sahm, Flaco Jimenez, Freddy Fender, the Big Bopper, Robert Earl Keen,  Gene Autry, Michael Martin Murphy, Barbara Mandrell, Michael Nesmith, George Jones, Emilio, Peter Bey, Reckless Kelly, Jerry Jeff Walker, and on and on.

But the proposal was not without opposition, and some of it was dramatic.

Tammy Huerta, the daughter of Tejano legend Freddy Fender, said the establishment of a Texas Museum of Music would damage her goal of preserving a museum in her father's memory in his hometown of San Benito.

"Every town in the state deserves to honor their artists, their stars," she said.

The committee also heard opposition from existing museums dedicated to music.

Tom Creeson and his wife fun the Texas Musicians Museum, and he said he's afraid that an official state, taxpayer funded museum would put him out of business and put his collection of items at risk.

"We have Willie Nelson stuff, we even have Willie's pigtails from back in the day," he said.  "We have Waylong Jennings stuff, we even have Blind Lemon Jefferson's guitar."

One musician said the idea of establishing one statewide museum to incorporate all Texas music 'makes me want to puke.

'The Committee left the issue pending without taking a vote.

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