From back roads honky tonks to backstage at the Grand Ole Opry, Henry Horenstein’s lens captured an era of country music that many wish still existed. A special exhibit of his work is now on display at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Historic Downtown Bristol, Virginia-Tennessee. Fans of Horenstein’s work will now have the opportunity to meet the man behind the photographs during a free online program, A Conversation with Henry Horenstein, Tuesday, November 17, at 7 p.m., via Zoom. Pre-registration is required.
“My approach, if you can call it that, was random,” Horenstein says. “I shot what I could when I could. For myself, mostly. And sometimes for low-paying magazines and clients. In a way, it mirrored the approach of many of the musicians. Few of them had investors and marketing teams to direct their careers. They just went out, sang their songs, and hoped it would keep them from mining, farming, or factory work. Sometimes the music was great, sometimes not so great. But it usually came from the heart.”
Horenstein has been a professional photographer, filmmaker, educator, and author since the 1970s. Now a professor at the Rhode Island School of Design, many of his writings have served as classroom textbooks to photography students across the country. His work is collected and exhibited internationally, and he has published over 30 books.
Horenstein’s Honky Tonk: Portraits of Country Music, 1972-1981, is a candid, affectionate glimpse into the real country music scene as it was performed and lived—a parade through the early years of future great performers like Dolly Parton and Waylon Jennings and established legends like Mother Maybelle Carter and Archie Campbell. The exhibit runs through March 28.
To pre-register for the event, visit BirthplaceOfCountryMusic.org. The event is free, but donations to the museum are appreciated.