Saturday Portfolio: Freeman Kitchens, The Carter Family, and Drake Vintage Music and Curios

Mr. Kitchens in front of his store in Drake, Kentucky; Jennifer Joy Jameson

Today we’d like to offer a small portfolio relating to a forthcoming exhibit that promises to interest many of our readers. Yours For The Carters: Vintage Sound Collections of Freeman Kitchens, is an exhibit curated by Jennifer Joy Jameson that is set to open at the Kentucky Library & Museum on the campus of Western Kentucky University on Saturday, August 27th. The event begin at 3 pm, with The Hogslop String Band coming in from Nashville to help with the festivities. Following this, Ms. Jameson, who is a Masters student in the WKU Folk Studies program, will be leading a field-trip to Drake Music and Curios.
As Ms. Jameson would tell us, if you love The Carter Family, country/folk music, or if you are joyfully immersed in the music and art of the vernacular reissue movement, you owe a debt of gratitude to Mr. Kitchens. Aside from his contributions on these fronts, Mr. Kitchens has also served a valuable role within his Drake, Kentucky community–as his Drake Vintage Music and Curios is at once a record store, general store, and United States Post Office. Here’s Ms. Jameson elaborating upon the how the Yours For The Carters exhibit will work to share this story with us:

Since the mid-1940s, Freeman Kitchens has collected and sold early country music recordings out of his general store/post office in Drake, Ky., a small village about one hour north of Nashville, Tenn.

As founding member and president emeritus of the official fan club of the Carter Family, Kitchens and his club members have published and circulated some of the earliest forms of music journalism and grassroots documentation surrounding America’s beloved country music family, as well as other important country, blues, and country-western artists of the 20th Century.

With original images and artifacts from Mr. Kitchens’ shop, and from the collections of the Kentucky Library & Museum, this exhibit explores the wide reach of this local man, his small country store, and its legacy in contemporary music history.

Folks can follow this link to the Ms. Jameson’s digital index of the vintage sound collection which consists of 250 7-inch reel-to-reel tapes of everything from recorded radio programs to his own field recordings. It’s hard not to view the attached pdf file of this material and not get excited for the gems that this exhibit promises to share.
Included below are a few of Ms. Jameson’s photographs from Drake Music and Curios. Far more, at far greater scale and resolution, are to be found on her flickr page. We encourage folks to visit the Yours For The Carters site, which offers a rich collection of images, sound files, interviews and archival material ahead of the exhibit. We will be sharing more information on this later in the month as well. Until then, here’s some of Ms. Jameson’s photography: