Tucson Musicians Museum Lands Home Downtown
April 3, 2015
By Christy Krueger
Thanks to the never-give-up ambitions of two local artists, the Tucson Musicians Museum has found a permanent home at last. And its grand opening will be celebrated with inductions of 11 southern Arizona musicians, including Linda Ronstadt.
In 2007, musician and professional photographer George Howard joined Tucson visual artist Susan French to create the Tucson Musicians Museum. Their dream was to honor local musicians and their contributions to the community; establish a place where people can go to learn about these local legends; and develop a music education program to teach youth about the culture and heritage of music.
Music classes in schools have “gone by the wayside,” Howard noted. “That’s what we’re trying to do – fill in.”
The youth education program, directed by Ruben Moreno and Dennis Bourret, has been running steady for eight years, with professional musicians mentoring kids who might not otherwise be able to afford traditional music lessons. Mentors also provide guidance in everything related to becoming a professional musician: “How to practice, how to market themselves, dealing with copyrighting, booking and taxes. We try to get them started out there,” Howard said.
To date, 138 musicians have been inducted into the museum, each one commemorated by Howard’s beautifully created black-and-white framed photographs. But until now, the inductee photos were moved around between Rialto Theatre, JW Marriott Starr Pass Resort and 17th Street Market.
On Sunday, April 12, the museum will hold its official opening at Tucson Convention Center as part of the eighth TMM Celebration of Music and Culture. Mayor Jonathan Rothschild will lead the ribbon-cutting ceremony in the concourse-level north administration lobby before heading downstairs to the museum.
Attendees of the ceremony will enjoy performances by a number of musicians representing various genres, including 2015 inductees Bill Ronstadt, Hermanos Perez and Adalberto Gallegos. Curtis Salgado, 2010 and 2012 Soul Blues Male Artist of the Year, will make a special guest appearance with the George Howard Band. Providing comic relief between presentations will be local funny man Elliot Glicksman; Bud Foster serves as the evening’s emcee.
Howard credits the museum’s relocation to Mayor Rothschild and Fletcher McCusker, chairman of Rio Nuevo. The agreement to move into the north exhibit hall was a win-win for both the City of Tucson and TMM.
“The mayor and Fletcher McCusker were instrumental in getting us in TCC. Rio Nuevo serves as a landlord; we are improving and activating the space for them,” Howard explained.
In addition to the 20”x 24” inductee photographs, arranged in different musical genres, the museum will have memorabilia on display. “We’ll have videos playing, we’ll have a listening station and people can buy any music they like at the commerce store. Everyone will have their schedule up on our website of where they’re playing around town or where they’re touring,” Howard added. There’s also an art wall with the work of artists commissioned to create paintings of Tucson’s music scene.
Having the new space will allow TMM to expand on its fundraising efforts by presenting shows – both stand-alone and in conjunction with concerts in the arena. More fundraising activities mean more student opportunities – such as being able to accept more kids into the mentorship program (there are currently 60-70 on the waiting list) and acquiring classroom space.
French and Howard are elated about having a permanent home for the museum. “Now we have room to show people what we’re about and see the lineage of our music in Tucson,” Howard said. “People will hopefully have a nice experience and see the great musicians we have in Tucson who are still playing.”
Regular museum hours: daily 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; admission is free. For additional information, visit the website at tucsonmusiciansmuseum.org.
2015 Tucson Musicians Museum Grand Opening and Induction
Sunday, April 12: 5-8 p.m.
Tucson Convention Center North Lobby, 260 S. Church Avenue
Parking is available in the TCC east lot
Tickets $25 at the door or at tucsonmusiciansmuseum.org
Proceeds benefit TMM youth mentoring
Dr. Jeffry Jahn – posthumous
James Glasgow – posthumous
Kenneth Mayer – rock/jazz
Yvonne Ervin – jazz
Slim Edelman – blues/folk
Linda Ronstadt – folk
Bill Ronstadt – folk
Brian Davies –folk/bluegrass
Hermanos Perez – Latin/mariachi
Adalberto Gallegos – Latin/Tejano singer
Dr. Herschel Kreloff – classical conductor