All of the guitars in Songbirds Guitar Museum share several things in common. They are all beautiful, and they all are part of music history in some way.
Also, they all are playable. They are not mere relics meant to spend the rest of their days in a glass case.
"Not only do they look cool, they sound great," said Reed Caldwell, Songbirds Foundation director. "Every one of them can be played."
To showcase the guitars, guitarist Chris Blackwell will give a mini concert on Saturday afternoon, Aug. 12, as part of Second Saturdays on Station Street. His performance will feature four electric guitars from the collection.
The foundation produces the free concert series on the street in front of the museum. Station Street is blocked off, creating a block party atmosphere with food and drink from restuarants in the Choo Choo complex and nearby Main Street.
Also performing will be the Power Players, who perform a blend of jazz, classic rock, Motown soul and funk. Band members are Michael Andrews, Johnny Smith, Vincent Canion, Gerald Massengale and Jordan Adams.
The Beaters with Randy Clark, Terryl Greene, David Turner, Rick Lane, Ranse Whitworth, Randy Johnston and David Brown will close out the evening playing pop and rock hits from the '60s, '70s and '80s.
Blackwell is an Atlanta-based musician. He will play a 1956 Gibson TV Special, a '57 Stratocaster, a '56 Les Paul Jr. and a '68 Telecaster. He said he is thrilled and honored to have been chosen for the show.
"These are just some of the guitars in the collection," Caldwell said. "We thought they'd be fun for him to play. It's just a random selection, but they are super cool."
Blackwell said he has been to the museum on a couple of occasions and has been impressed with everyone involved.
"Those guys care so much and they know the stories behind every guitar. This collection is about the history of the guitar and its place in American history. The electric guitar changed culture, and it is still doing it today. Just think about when the Beatles appeared on 'Ed Sullivan,' parents across the globe freaked out.
"The museum is about that, but it is also about creating a scene right there in Chattanooga."
Blackwell said he is still figuring out what songs he will play, but feels certain it will be some blues and country numbers given the instruments he will be playing.
"And, you can't get a Telecaster and not play some country. Guys like Merle Haggard and Jerry Reed loved that guitar."
Blackwell said Songbirds is an incredible place to visit for guitar geeks like himself.
"To see them all in one place is amazing. We normally just see them in magazines."