In conjunction with the September premiere of Ken Burns’ Country Music documentary series, SDPB and the National Music Museum (NMM) in Vermillion are partnering to showcase South Dakota’s own rich heritage and connections to country music. Storied instruments once owned and played by Johnny Cash, June Carter Cash, Marty Stuart and Earl Scruggs emerge from the National Music Museum’s unrivaled collection to be played by some of South Dakota’s finest country music musicians.
CHRIS GAGE - SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 7, RAMKOTA HOTEL & CONFERENCE Center
Chris Gage, a guitarist and songwriter born and bred in Pierre, is an alum of Hee Haw and Roy Clark’s band, and a founding member of The Red Willow Band. Now a musician and studio owner in Austin, Texas, Gage returns to his hometown to play the 1969 Martin D-28 guitar customized for country artist Merle Travis and passed down, respectively, to Marty Stuart, Johnny Cash, and Travis’ son Thom Bresh. “I’m honored to be asked and excited to be a part of this,” said Gage. “Pierre is still in my blood, of course.”
The last time the 1969 Travis/Stuart/Cash/Bresh Martin D-28 was heard was 14 years ago, when Bresh, a finger picker in his father’s Travis style, played at the museum’s guitar gallery opening. As a young man, Bresh was given the guitar by Cash, who urged him to play it, advising: “You’ll be able to say this guitar was owned by three great musicians and a poet.” Instruments like these often made the rounds, says Arian Sheets, NMM’s Curator of Stringed Instruments, as musicians of the era like to trade and collect instruments by players they admired. “They were also fans of country music and they really, deeply admired and respected their colleagues just as much as a fan would,” says Sheets.