Plans for curated music road map unveiled

Published 12:01 am Thursday, March 26, 2015

A group gathers at the Natchez Convention Center to listen to Tennessee preservationist Aubrey Preston speak about the American Music Triangle and to add their own feelings about Natchez’ musical history. The American Music Triangle is a group of destinations between New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville in which nine distinct musical genes were born. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

A group gathers at the Natchez Convention Center to listen to Tennessee preservationist Aubrey Preston speak about the American Music Triangle and to add their own feelings about Natchez’ musical history. The American Music Triangle is a group of destinations between New Orleans, Memphis and Nashville in which nine distinct musical genes were born. (Sam Gause / The Natchez Democrat)

NATCHEZ — The strum of a banjo, the rhythmic beat of a washboard, the bluesy hums of an old gospel tune — all these sounds were born in a small slice of Southern states, or what Aubrey Preston has started to call, the Americana Music Triangle.

Preston presented plans Wednesday at the Natchez Convention center for a curated roadmap that would include several stops between the music triangle’s three points — Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans.

On that route, travelers would pass through Natchez twice to get a taste of authentic music and learn the rich history of the Miss-Lou.

“We’re in the music Stonehenge of America,” said Preston, who is known as the visionary behind the rural village of Leiper’s Fork and the Franklin Theatre in Tennessee. “What we need to do is put places like Natchez on the musical map.”

By following what Preston has coined “the golden record road,” travelers would be able to discover the true roots of American music, which include blues, soul, country and bluegrass.

“Tourists from around the world have experienced the West Coast and the East Coast, but they’ve been missing out on this important triangle where popular music was born,” Preston said.

John Holyoak, general manager of Bowie’s Tavern on Main Street, said having something such as the Americana Music Triangle would be great for Bowie’s, as it would attract musicians to Natchez.

“What would be helpful for us, is to have more musicians who are traveling to New Orleans stop in Natchez to perform,” Holyoak said.

The route would also spotlight area attractions such as The Rhythm Night Club Museum. The museum serves as a memorial for the site of a deadly fire that killed more than 200 people in 1940.

“Most of our visitors come from overseas, but there are still a lot of people who don’t know we’re here,” said Betty Sago, who manages the museum with her husband, Monroe Sago. “Something like this would be wonderful.”

Preston said Natchez is often overshadowed by larger cities such as New Orleans, and the Americana Music Triangle would work to change that.

“People want authenticity, not tourist traps,” Preston said. “In New Orleans, you can experience Bourbon Street, but you can’t easily get authentic history — and Natchez has that.”

Other Mississippi cities that would be highlighted on the triangle’s travel route include Jackson, Greenwood, Tupelo, Oxford and Tunica.

Currently, Preston said the triangle idea is still in its beginning stages, and a comprehensive website would soon be available detailing the triangle’s routes and site-seeing opportunities.

“Natchez has the historical brand, now it’s time to get the musical brand,” Preston said.