The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum is shining a light on the musical contributions of Dick […] in a new exhibit focused on his life and career. The new exhibit, “Dick Curless: Hard Traveling Man from Maine,” opens Jan. 13 and will run through Jan. 7, 2024.
Best known for his 1965 national hit, the truck-driving anthem “A Tombstone Every Mile,” Curless was also known for his expressive baritone voice and authenticity, and placed more than 20 hits on the Billboard charts.
The exhibit will trace Curless’s life and legacy from his rural northeast upbringing and popular truck-driving songs of the 1960s and ‘70s, to his 1995 return to recording with his acclaimed final album, Traveling Through.
It will feature a selection of instruments, stage wear and personal artifacts donated by the Curless family and is guest co-curated by music historian and award-winning author Peter Guralnick, who wrote an extensive profile on Curless in his 2020 book Looking to Get Lost: Adventures in Music and Writing.
Some of the artifacts on display in the exhibit will include:
- Regal Archtop Guitar – Curless’ first guitar, which was given to him when he was a boy by his father’s friend Emery Fields, who taught him how to play the instrument.
- Martin Guitar – The 1964 Martin D-28 guitar with rosewood back and sides, was owned and used extensively by Curless.
- Jacket – Curless wore the blue and black floral brocade jacket at his shows and on the cover of The Soul of Dick Curless, his 1966 album of bluesy material reflecting the influence of blues guitarist and singer Josh White.
- Stage Wear – The three-piece, pinstriped western suit, with contrasting piping and decorative stitching, was designed for Curless by rodeo tailor Nathan Turk.
- Leather Boots – Curless wore the custom-made patent leather boots, which are embellished with Curless’s nickname, “The Baron,” after the title of one of his songs.
- Adamas Acoustic-Electric Guitar – Curless owned and played the Adamas 1687 acoustic-electric guitar often in the latter part of his career.
- Suede Jacket & Hat – Curless wore the Pioneer-brand suede jacket with fringe and Stetson hat on the cover of his final album, Traveling Through (1995).
“Dick Curless sang country music with conviction and commitment,” shares Kyle Young, CEO of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “Though he was not a household name, he was admired by his musical peers from Nashville to Bakersfield, and of course by his many fans nationwide. He created memorable and distinctive music that reflected his working-class roots and life experiences.”
In support of the exhibit opening, Guralnick will lead a discussion exploring Curless’s life and music on Feb. 18 in the museum’s Ford Theater. Joining the conversation will be musician, producer and artist manager Jake Guralnick, Peter’s son, who produced Traveling Through for Rounder Records.
Chuck Mead, co-founder of country band BR549 and longtime Americana solo artist, will perform briefly in tribute to Curless. Tickets are available here.
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