“Nashville Cats” wasn’t just a huge Lovin’ Spoonful hit from 1966. It’s also the name given to a group of A-list musicians who, from the late Sixties on, backed not only some of the greatest country artists of the era but a number of acts outside the genre as well. Now, the Country Music Hall of Fame is getting ready to spotlight many of those artists in a new exhibit called “Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats: A New Music City.” Opening Friday, March 27, 2015, the exhibit is slated to run at the newly expanded museum through December 31, 2016.
Among the artists whose work with Music City musicians will be spotlighted are Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Joan Baez, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, J.J. Cale, Linda Ronstadt, Leon Russell, Leonard Cohen, Gordon Lightfoot, Steve Miller, Ian & Sylvia, Simon & Garfunkel, the Monkees and the Byrds.
From the groundbreaking albums Dylan made in Nashville, including Blonde on Blonde and Nashville Skyline, to the Byrds’ country-rock masterwork, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, and Neil Young’s classic Harvest, Nashville has proved its influence beyond the country hits of the time period. For his part, Johnny Cash used the platform of his ABC variety series from 1969 to 1971 to bring such unlikely acts as Derek & the Dominos and Joni Mitchell to Music City to perform on the show.
Fred Carter, Jr., Charlie Daniels, Pete Drake, Grady Martin, Charlie McCoy, Weldon Myrick, Norbert Putnam, Jerry Reed, Hargus “Pig” Robbins and Buddy Spicher were among the famed studio musicians who came to prominence as Nashville session players during this fertile period.
“Dylan, Cash, and the Nashville Cats” will be accompanied by a series of educational programs, including live performances, panel discussions, films, instrument demonstrations and more. The exhibition will follow the nearly three-year run of “The Bakersfield Sound: Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and California Country,” which closes December 31st.