With the Lake-a-Palooza! Music Festival coming up on April 28, Ann Ranson, the Bath House Cultural Center’s co-chair for the second annual event, sat down with Thomas Kreason to learn about the Texas Musicians Museum. TK is the executive director of the Texas Musicians Museum and has been very instrumental in the success of Lake-a-Palooza! events.
AR: Tell me how the vision for Texas Musicians Museum came about. Where did you come up with this idea?
TK: Because I was in the memorabilia installation and display business, I was hired by Sun Studio in 1996 to assist in developing their museum. During the process of developing the museum and other shows, I traveled cross-country finding incredible pieces related to Texas music history. Many of these artifacts were being purchased for private collections, domestic and overseas.
I thought, “These articles may never be seen again by the public, and — WOW — this is a shame, somebody should be doing something about this.” I already owned a sizable, personal collection, so in 2004, I began searching for more Texas-related items while seeking a location to create this museum.
AR: Tell me about how you came to be located in Irving.
TK: We originally wanted to open it in Hillsboro with interest from Willie Nelson and a billionaire investor, but the plans fell through. So, we opened a temporary site in Waxahachie where we were visited by a gentleman associated with the City of Irving. He introduced the City of Irving’s economic development representative and its Chamber of Commerce to the museum, and ultimately, they persuaded us to relocate to our current site here in Irving, Texas. Because the building was in bad shape, the city tore it down to its framework and rebuilt it, so we could safely occupy it.
AR: Is there an interesting story about how you came up with the name?
TK: In our minds, we thought, “Well, before you can have the music, you got to have the musicians and our mission was to honor these artists.” We then decided, “Hey, let’s just call it the “Texas Musicians Museum.”
AR: How do you curate the museum and decide what goes up?
TK: When we first moved in we had an abundance of space and we acquired items, either through loans, donations or through auctions. To us, it’s important to display memorabilia that is significant in nature that the public may enjoy.
AR: What makes a piece special to you?
TK: The story behind it; the objects tell stories. For instance, we have Buddy Holly’s sixth grade annual. It’s unique because he signed it on the page that said “autograph.” Historically speaking, this is a reflection of what is probably Buddy’s first autograph.
AR: Do you have a favorite piece?
TK: All of them are kind of special to me but there are some pieces that, because of their rarity or uniqueness, are favorites. One of them is the Blind Lemon Jefferson guitar. You just do not find instruments from bluesmen dating from the 1920s! In the past, these items were not considered important or historical.
AR: Do you have a staff?
TK: Everyone here is a volunteer, including my wife and myself. Volunteers keep the museum operating and functioning well.
AR: Is there anything you want people not familiar with the museum to know?
TK: We suggest that visitors who come on Saturdays take the later tour so they can hang out a bit, grab some dinner and then stay for the evening’s show. People have commented on how much they love this — a complete deal to see the museum and then experience live music. It’s perfect. We also offer guided tours on Saturdays, so that visitors learn interesting information and anecdotal stories from our docents.
AR: How can people find out more about the Texas Musician’s Museum?
TK: Visitors can go to our website, tmmtexas.com, where they will find about events, hours of operation, location, and even order tickets and buy merchandise in our online store.
AR: Is there anything else that you would like to mention?
TK: Yes, our orbs.
AR: What? The orbs?
TK: Well, we have a medium who says she can connect with people by being around the musicians’ related objects. We’re arranging a tour with her for 20 or so people. The concept is the medium will connect with four artists so our guests can listen to her communicate with these past musicians. She reveals details that there is no way she would have known.
An example of her conversations is when she held Buddy Holly’s sweater in her hands. She told us, “Buddy said that there’s a guy on the other side that came up to him and said that if it wasn’t for his band, “The Crickets,” we would have never named our band “The Beatles.” Then Buddy asked her, “Who’s John Lennon?”
AR: Oh my God, isn’t that incredible?
TK: He wasn’t around when John Lennon was around, so he wouldn’t have known who he was, nor his band.