The Texas Musicians Museum has been more than a decade in the making. The brainchild of Tom Kreason and local radio legend George Gimarc, the privately run museum has previously been housed in Hillsboro and Waxahatchie, but this weekend it opens with new digs in Irving and an impressive collection of stuff from people like Willie Nelson, Bobby Fuller, Hank Thompson and Eric Johnson.
Previously housed in smaller locations in Hillsboro and Waxahachie, the hope is that the new location will be permanent. Significantly larger in size (and with room to grow), the TMM is already impressive. During a private showing and silent auction for a few hundred people on Thursday night, anticipation was high. It was an older crowd, and attendees were happy to share stories of the yesteryears: the shows they'd been to, the radio stations they'd listened to and the records they'd bought.
The new location of the TMM sticks out quite a bit as you drive down Irving Boulevard. Nestled close to downtown Irving, it’s housed in a former Toyota dealership. Its façade is a breath of fresh air after countless convenience stores, used car lots and bail bonds offices. The place looks brand new, outfitted with a large patio area and stage to the side. The size of the patio and concert stage is comparable to Gas Monkey Bar N Grill's, and the museum will host an all-day opening day party for the public on Saturday with various acts.
Since 2004, Kreason and Gimarc have collected items from Ebay auctions and private collections. It's a wide variety of stuff representing an equally diverse array of artists. One has to wonder how long this stuff was just lying around in storage. Everything has been well restored, and nothing reeks of old age here. From gold and platinum Don Henley and Meat Loaf records on the walls, to Barbara Mandrell posters, to Leadbelly records, to Buddy Holly pictures to one of Dimebag Darrell’s guitars, the place covers much of
Spend time talking to Gimarc and it's obvious what a passion project this has been for him. His stories are endless, and some of his favorite items aren't even on display yet. One of the big ones, a collection of Kelly Clarkson memorabilia, wasn't ready. Another piece is a suit that allegedly belonged to Barry White. Gimarc found it on Ebay, and after noticing the name of the tailor on the suit, he tracked the tailor down, who verified that the suit was indeed for the legendary singer. Gimarc then bought it and prepped it for the museum.
One of the more peculiar items on display is very close to Gimarc's heart: one of the doors from the original KZEW/The Zoo, the station he was on before the Edge. For many years, the door to the legendary rock station sat in a Coppell building owned by WFAA. Gimarc, who loves to hunt for rare items, says he put up the display right before the showing on Thursday. He hopes to eventually paint it in the original color scheme of the old Zoo bumper stickers.
Also on display is an original banner for the Edge, then at 94.5 FM. Offered to Gimarc for free and featuring signatures from many of the original personalities, it hangs above double doors in the middle of the museum.
While there are some pieces for Selena, Destiny’s Child and Erykah Badu, there's much less R&B and Tejano memorabilia than rock, country and pop. The collection's glaring holes are in the punk, hip-hop and gospel genres. Local artist/producer/disc jockey Bobby Patterson has a suit on display (and he was happy to take many pictures in front of it on opening night), but there's room for a lot more. Gimarc doesn’t bristle at that criticism; he encourages donations, especially ones that are dimensional, for future displays.
But the museum isn't steeped exclusively in the distant past, as shown by a large shelf at the back of the hall, devoted to heavy metal. There are early pictures of Pantera and platinum awards won by them and Drowning Pool, but there's also stuff from lesser-known bands like Gammacide and Hammer Witch, too. It's not what you’d usually see in a music museum, but it’s great to see nonetheless.
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Some items might look very familiar to Deep Ellum regulars. A stand-up bass belonging to Jim "Jimbo" Wallace from Rev. Horton Heat was a longtime fixture at the Curtain Club. Still wrapped in Christmas lights from its tenure in that Deep Ellum club, it now sits in the back of the museum.
The Texas Musicians Museum's debut collection is impressive, and a good starting point.