‘America at the Crossroads’ Exhibit Highlights Guitars’ Impact on Music and Culture

Published February 9, 2024

A fascinating exhibit titled ‘America at the Crossroads’ is shining a spotlight on guitars and their profound influence on American music and culture. The showcase is a traveling guitar exhibition that has made its way to the Mississippi Arts + Entertainment Experience (MAX) in Meridian, kicking off on February 10th and continuing through May 11th.

The Guitar's Role in American History

The guitar is not just a musical instrument; it's an emblematic piece of American identity that has been instrumental in shaping various music genres. H.P. Newquist, the founder and director of the National Guitar Museum, highlights that guitars have been a part of American history nearly as long as baseball, though they were initially seen as mere parlor instruments. The exhibition is set to underscore the transformation of the guitar into a symbol of musical revolution, showcasing its journey from a staple in Mississippi Delta blues to the driving force behind rock ‘n’ roll legends like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones.

Exemplary Guitars on Display

The MAX’s exhibition, which presents 40 guitars from the National Guitar Museum's wider collection of around 200 historic instruments, includes unique and iconic guitars—each with its own story. Visitors can witness the Rickenbacker Electro A-22, the first successful electric guitar, colloquially known as the 'frying pan,' and the Martin D-28 acoustic guitar which echoes the folk and protest anthems of the 60s by artists like Bob Dylan. Not to forget, a collection of iconic electric guitars such as the Fender Stratocaster and the Gibson Les Paul narrates the chronicles of rock ‘n’ roll's explosive influence on music.

Another local pride, the Peavey T-60 guitar, also features in the exhibit. Created in Meridian by Hartley Peavey, who employed pioneering CNC technology in its making, it exemplifies innovation in guitar manufacturing that is now a standard across the industry.

Engaging Companion Events

To complement the guitars on display and enrich the narrative, the MAX will host a series of events. From discussions on the evolution of blues and rock guitar to illustrated talks, guitar-making demonstrations, and performances by renowned blues artists, the exhibit intends to offer diverse, interactive experiences that engage visitors with the rich history of the guitar and Mississippi’s musical legacy.

exhibit, guitar, culture