March 24, 2012 - December 31, 2014
The working-class city of Bakersfield, California, gave birth to an exciting, raw-edged style of country music that enjoyed tremendous popularity in the 1960s and continues to resonate with musicians and fans today. Buck Owens and Merle Haggard were the most successful exponents of the Bakersfield Sound, with its piercing electric guitars, unsweetened barroom feel, and honest, down-to-earth songs.
Owens and Haggard rose to iconic status on the shoulders of a Bakersfield music scene created by broad cultural changes from the 1930s through the 1950s. Southerners seeking work in Bakersfield's abundant farmlands and oil fields made up an audience hungry for the sounds of home. Western swing and honky-tonk proved particularly popular, and with time Bakersfield musicians created their own distinctive, influential sound-two thousand miles from country music's epicenter in Nashville.