Emmy Award-Winning ‘Songbirds’ Documentary Out On VOD Aug. 9th

Songbirds Museum

Emmy Award-Winning ‘Songbirds’ Documentary On The World’s Largest Collection of Rare, Vintage & Celebrity Guitars On VOD August 9th

The Incredible Story of the World’s Largest Collection of Rare, Vintage & Celebrity Guitars Seen Through the Eyes of Those Who Loved it Most and Such Artists as Joe Bonamassa, John Schneider, Eric Johnson, Marty Stuart, Vince Gill, John 5 + More!

A heartfelt tribute to one of the world’s most-unique music collections and venues—a victim of the pandemic—Songbirds is a must-see for music lovers young and old, coming to VOD August 9 on iTunes.

Directed by Dagan W. Beckett—himself a long-time professional music artist before becoming a filmmaker–this Emmy Award®-winning documentary explores how the guitar helped shape pop culture history and the final tearful hours of this one-of-a-kind place. It’s a tale told through the eyes of those who loved it most, including its founders, historians, fans and such noted music artists, who also perform in the film, as Joe Bonamassa, John Schneider, Eric Johnson, Marty Stuart, Vince Gill and John 5among others.

Chattanooga Tennessee’s Songbirds Guitar Museum showcased an unparalleled collection—the world’s largest—of rare, vintage and celebrity guitars, a priceless array of instruments worth a fortune, each with a story to tell. But the iconic museum (which opened Feb. 2017) was forced to permanently close on Aug. 15, 2020due to the pandemic’s devastating effect on the music industry.

Watch The Songbirds Trailer

With the acquisition of its first guitar—a $25,000 purchase of a ’54 Fender Stratocaster, the year the model debuted—the Songbirds museum traced the pop culture impact of the guitar from as early as 1924 but focused on the solid-body, electric guitar , which changed the course of music. The museum traced its increasing popularity in the 1950s through The Beatles appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964—when every kid in America wanted a guitar or drums the next day—through the popularization of vintage guitars in the ’70s, driving the market to stunning values.

Included in the collection were about 1,500 guitars, many of them prototypes or one-of-a-kind, the single most-valuable instrument, a Gibson Explorer, worth $1 million. Only about 27 were made and the museum owned two. The museum also owned 36 Sunburst Les Paul guitars. just 1,700 were made between 1958-60, the value of each between $250,000 to $500,000.

In the collection were instruments owned by such renowned artists as Little Feat’s Lowell George, Buddy Guy, Roy Orbison, The Doors’ Robby Krieger, Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, the Beach Boy’s Carl Wilson, Cheap Trick’s Rick Nielsen and John Fogerty, among others. Yet through it’s The Player’s Experience program, aspiring musicians—and occasionally other visitors—were permitted to hold and play these iconic instruments. Laughs museum curator Irving Berner, “It’s like driving a Ferrari around the track a few times.”

Songbirds documentary poster

Songbirds documentary

Appearing on the Songbirds stage—a live-performance venue that not only hosted renowned artists but helped shape the local music scene, accommodating 200 concert goers in a living room-like setting—were such artists and groups as Lizzo, Vince Gill, John Schneider, Dick Dale, Tommy Emmanuel, John 5, Robben Ford, Keith Carlock, Eric Gales, Doyle Dykes, Dennis Chambers, Billy Cobham, Dave Weckl, Eric Johnson, Jerry Douglas, We Are Us, Todd Sharp , Jimmy Vivino and Bob Margolin, Kathy Mattea, Suzy Bogguss, Victor Wooten, Steve Earle, Christie Lenee, Shooter Jennings, Steve Wariner, Samantha Fish, Alien Love Child, Torpedoes Be Damned and many more.

“I’ve been astounded by the quality of the pieces they’ve collected over the years,” said 22-time Grammy® Award-winning artist Vince Gill. “I can’t imagine in my wildest dreams if there could be [another] collection of the magnitude of what I saw and I only saw the tip of the iceberg,” said actor and musician John Schneider (Dukes of Hazzard). “I don’t think there will be a collection like this ever publicly displayed again,” concurred Blues titan, guitarist Joe Bonamassa.

In addition to winning a 2022 mid-south regional Emmy Award for “Documentary Topical,” Songbirds won the Gold Award for “Best Music Documentary” at the 2022 Cinemafest; “Best Breakout Storyteller” at the 2022 California Music Video & Film Awards; “Best Documentary” at the 2021 Cannes Silk Road Film Awards; “Best Documentary” at the 2021 Oniros Film Awards New York; “Best Documentary” at the 2021 ARFF Barcelona Around International Film Awards; and “Best Tennessee Feature Film” at the 2021 Tennessee International Film Festival. The film was also a finalist at the 2022 Moondance International Film Festival and the 2021 Lonely Seal International Film Festival; and received an “Honorable Mention” at the 2022 Lookout Wild Film Festival.

Vince Gill Songbirds Museum photo

Vince Gill visiting Songbirds Museum

Additionally, it was an official selection at the 2022 International New York Film Festival, 2022 Long Island International Film Expo, 2022 Northern Virginia International Film & Music Festival, 2022 Bare Bones Music & Documentary Festival, 2021 Global Indie Film Fest, 2021 Lonely Seal International Film Screenplay and Music Festival, 2021 6th Music Film Festival and the 2021 Global Film and Music Festival USA.

A Chattanooga Live Music presentation of a Beckett Media Productions film, Songbirds was directed by Dagan W. Beckett from a story by Irv Berner, David Davison and Dagan W. Beckett. Original music by Brock McGarity. Produced by Dagan W. Beckett, Irv Berner, David Davidson and James Ganiere. Distributed by Gravitas Ventures, an Anthem Sports & Entertainment Company.

Today, the non-profit Songbirds Foundation occupies the former museum space, sharing the transformative experience of music in eastern Tennessee by delivering educational programming to youth through its Guitars for Kids programme, preserving music history, hosting enriching events and providing concrete resources to emerging artists.

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