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New Harmonies are heard in Thomson

New Harmonies are heard in Thomson

The Smithsonian exhibition New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music opened in Thomson on March 30th, the eighth stop in Georgia on the tour.  The exhibition will be at the McDuffie Museum in Thomson at 121 Main Street through May 11th.

The Thomson area is home to an range of musical traditions, from church camp singings to bluegrass and the blues.  The popular “First Family of Bluegrass Gospel Music,” The Lewis Family, has their “home place” in nearby Lincolnton. 

The community was also the birthplace of blues legend Blind Willie McTell, one of the great bluesmen of the twentieth century.  McTell used his twelve string, finger-picking guitar to play the blues and compose songs.  He had a successful recording career, recording his first album in 1927. His music would go on to inspire contemporary musicians such as the Allman Brothers Band and Bob Dylan.  Each year the annual Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival in Thomson celebrates his legacy. This year, the 20th anniversary of the festival, it will be held May 18th, following the exhibition tour.

The McDuffie Museum  hosted a special pre-grand opening on March 29  featuring music journalist and author of the award-winning Last Train to Memphis, Careless Love and Searching for Robert Johnson, Peter Guralnick. Following Mr. Guralnick’s talk there was a musical presentation by the Chris Crenshaw Quartet. 

Thomson is hosting a variety of events to accompany the New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music tour including: an Evening of Bluegrass with the group, Chatham County Line on April 11th, a Gospel Sing with the Harmony Harmoneers and Decorus on April 24th, “Exploring the Art of Southern Songwriting” with former member of Sea Level, Randall Bramblett” on May 2, and “A Musical History of Country Blues” with musical artist, Steve James on May 10. 

For more information on exhibition hours and other activities associated with the Thomson New Harmonies tour, call 706-595-9923 or visit:

The exhibition tour in Georgia is made possible by the Georgia Humanities Council in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution/Museum on Main Street program. For more information visit us on the 

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