Galena History Museum hosts ‘Roots Music’ exhibit

GALENA—Listen to America’s music and hear the story of freedom. It’s the story of people in a New World, the places they have left behind and ideas they have brought with them. It is the story of people who were already here, but whose world is re-made. Their music tracks the unique history of many people reshaping each other into one incredibly diverse and complex people: Americans.

From Sunday, March 18, through Saturday, April 28, the Galena History Museum will debut an interactive, 800-square-foot Smithsonian traveling exhibition titled “New Harmonies: Celebrating American Roots Music.”

American roots music is known by names like blues, country western, folk ballads and gospel. The sounds are as sweet as mountain air and as sultry as a summer night in Mississippi delta country. The instruments vary from fiddle to banjo to accordion to guitar to drum. But a drum in the hands of an African sounds different than one in the hands of a European. And neither is the drumbeat of an American Indian. Yet, all the rhythms merge, as do the melodies and harmonies, producing completely new sounds and new music. The music merges because this is America. New waves of music ride ashore in the hearts and heads of new immigrants, and they create still new sounds from what they have brought with them and what they find here. And nothing expresses the tensions—or the triumphs—of this journey into democracy quite like the music it spawns.

Grand opening ceremonies will kick off at 11:30 a.m., Sunday, March 18, with a brunch at Galena’s historic DeSoto House Hotel that will include a musical presentation featuring Clark Halkins and Chris Vallillo, Illinois Humanities Council musicians, plus Galena’s own Jim Post. Grand opening event tickets, including the all-you-can-eat brunch and musical entertainment, are $20 per person and may be purchased at the Galena History Museum or by phoning 815-777-9129. Reservations are required.

At 2 p.m., immediately following the grand opening brunch, a musical procession from the DeSoto House Hotel one block to the Galena History Museum will conclude with an exhibition ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by the Galena Area Chamber of Commerce. Local musicians will perform at the Museum the remainder of the afternoon.

The New Harmonies exhibition at the Galena History Museum is open to the public daily from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., March 18-April 28 (with one exception: closed Easter Sunday). Regular museum admission fees of $4.50 for adults, $3.50 for youth ages 10 to 18, and free for children younger than 10 apply; there is no additional fee to visit the Smithsonian exhibition. Senior and school groups may inquire about discounted rates by phoning 815-777-9129. Docents will be available to assist in interpreting the exhibition.

An exhibition-related concert is set for Saturday, March 24, at Galena’s historic Turner Hall. “Festivale! Concert & Dance Party” will celebrate Galena’s newest musical influence and immigrants: Hispanic and Latino. Three bands will play from 6:30 p.m. until 11:30 p.m.: Grupo Reventon, We’re Late and Smell Like Beer, and Orquesta Alto Maiz. Tickets are $12 for adults and $10 for students. A cash bar and light refreshments will be available for purchase. Tickets may be purchased at the door or in advance by phoning the museum at 815-777-9129.

Other museum-hosted events during the exhibition include a musical stroll in downtown Galena Saturday, April 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Various intimate venues will host musical jam sessions, concerts and workshops. There is no cover charge at any of the venues. Also, at 8 p.m., Friday, April 20, the Spirits of the Museum will sponsor a musical evening by Maurie Grafton playing period instruments. Grafton will perform on the second floor of the history museum. Tickets are $8; reservations are suggested by phoning 815-777-9129.

For further event information, contact the Galena-Jo Daviess County Historical Society at 815-777-9129 or For visitor information, including lodging availability, dining, shopping, attractions and more, call the Galena/Jo Daviess County Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-877-464-2536 or visit

from the issue March 14-20, 2007, issue

Enjoy The Rock River Times? Help spread the word!