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Saving Country Music

Updated: Mar 1, 2023


Hey ya’ll, Jennie Hayes Kurtz here from Brother and The Hayes. I have a double name, kind of like Emmylou or Ray Wylie. My band mate, David Bingaman, is also my brother so voià, Brother and The Hayes. David and I grew up in the Dallas/Fort Worth area and we both moved away after high school. I’m now based in Nashville and he is in Chattanooga, Tennessee but I hold on tight to my Texas roots. I’m writing this on an unusually warm February afternoon in Nashville and it almost feels like a spring day in the Hill Country, making me all the more excited to visit Austin in March.


I was thrilled to hear we’d be opening for the lovely Kimmie Rhodes at Austin Acoustical

Cafe. I met her several years ago at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum when she

was consulting on the “Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring ‘70s” exhibit. I’m sure she

doesn't remember me since I was the twenty-three year old tucked in the corner taking notes.

My job at the time was assistant to the vice president of museum services. My boss managed

the Country Music Hall of Fame archive and planned exhibitions. I felt like I was her sidekick in a

great mission to save country music and it was amazing. She frequently met with people like

Kimmie Rhodes who knew the stories first hand, who were at the live shows and lived the

songs.


I’ve got stories of my own from that job. Like the time we were sent to clean out Charlie

Daniels’s storage shed and came back with a stuffed, fiddle playing raccoon. Or another time

we collected an evidence box that the county was releasing from the murder of an Opry

member in the 1960’s. The poor soul was still wearing his stage clothes and someone decided

they should be donated to the archive. I knew the music by heart but at the museum I learned

the stories behind the performers and songwriters. That job only strengthened my love of music

and I eventually left to pursue my own dreams to write and play. My old boss tragically passed

away last year and it didn’t take me long to write a song about her. I’d love to play it for you on

March 11th. See you then.

-- Jennie Hayes

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