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Darien to host traveling exhibit
The city of Darien will soon host a traveling exhibit putting the early traditions of American music on display.

The Smithsonian Institution exhibit, "New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music," will put American roots music in the spotlight.

The exhibit will run from July 21 until Sept. 1 at the historic Darien Hotel on the corner of First Street West and Walton Street. It will be open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.

Eight exhibits will give visitors an understanding of American history and culture through the origins and evolution of American music with displays that feature photographs and musical objects. Visitors can also listen to a sample of roots music.

"It basically talks about how all of the various people that have come to America...brought their own traditions with them, musical, cultural... from Africa and Europe and how these traditions blended together over time to become American music," said Patrick Saylor, site manager.

The exhibit covers close to a dozen different genres of American roots music that range from sacred music through the folk revival, working songs, country music and different ethnic music, he said.

The exhibit will visit 12 communities in Georgia as a part of the Museum on Main Street Project, designed to bring the museum experience to rural areas. Darien is the only coastal town on the traveling exhibit.

Saylor hopes that it will be a catalyst that draws visitors to the seat of McIntosh County.

"We are hoping to attract people from the entire coast," he said. "There's just a tremendous musical heritage here. This is where our state was born. It's certainly appropriate to have it here."

Saylor expects that the exhibit, which focuses on how different cultures moved to America and created a new style of music, will have something for all ages.

"I think older people will look at this and they'll see photos and they'll be able to hear recordings of things from the past, from the '20s right on up into the late '50s and early '60s. They'll see things that they recognize and it will bring back some," Saylor said "I think younger folks who want to know a little more about their heritage and how we got to where we are today will learn some things."

A grand opening celebration is scheduled for 10 a.m. July 21 next to the Darien Hotel, where community leaders will deliver remarks and costumed re-enactors will lead a march to the front of the hotel for a ribbon cutting. Musical performances will take place throughout the day.

Other programs have been planned to complement the exhibit, including a Lunch and Learn Speaker Series, children's workshop, film screening and musical performances.

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