Rockabilly Revival to bring improvements to Selmer

Emily Pitts

Rockabilly Revival to bring improvements to Selmer

Artist Brian Tull’s inspiration for the new mural in Selmer is the honky tonk band The Silver Threads.

Plans for the 3rd Annual Rockabilly Highway Revival are well underway in Selmer, and so are the improvements to downtown that have come along with it.

Artist Brian Tull, who painted the existing mural in downtown Selmer, is scheduled to start a new mural in late summer or early fall on the wall at the unofficially named Rockabilly Park, along Front Street by the railroad tracks. He hopes to have it finished by next year’s Rockabilly Highway Revival.

The group Phil Hummer and the White Falcons provided the inspiration for his 2009 mural. This year, Tull plans to paint a group called The Silver Threads.

Although they can be found frequently touring the U.S. and Europe, singer/songwriter Eileen Rose and her band The Silver Threads are most at home playing music in the honky tonks of Nashville.

“I chose The Silver Threads for the subjects of the mural because of the lyrics and voice of Eileen Rose while wildly playing her battered, acoustic guitar with The Legendary Rich Gilbert’s steel guitar eerily crying,” said Tull. “I want to capture their nostalgia and create a story for the viewers.”

The Silver Threads say they feel honored to be painted on the new mural. 

“I think Brian Tull is an extraordinary artist who is going to make a big splash,” said The Silver Threads lead singer, Eileen Rose. “And I couldn’t be happier that he would be inspired enough by our music to see us as a worthy subject.  

“Brian’s art, like The Silver Threads, draws on his love and respect for the classic, but at the same time, he puts something new and original into it, part of who he is and how he views the world.”

Tull was not inspired solely by The Silver Threads, however. 

“My inspiration is also the Highway,” he said. “I hope to give this mural the nostalgic feel of an old, advertisement/billboard with The Silver Threads using Selmer and Highway 45 as a rest stop for their tired car, instruments, and their soon-to-be famous voices on their way to their next big — or small —  show somewhere on the road. Their next show might be all the way in California, but they are sure to get there through this small town and the hum of The Rockabilly Highway under their tires.”

According to Arts in McNairy’s heritage and culture chair, Shawn Pitts, roughly half of the cost of the mural is being paid by the Tennessee Arts Commission through a Rural Arts Project Support Grant. The city of Selmer and Arts in McNairy are also paying for part of the project, and they are asking for community support and donations to pay for the rest.

Also underway are plans to spruce up downtown Selmer by putting in new benches using money from the Tennessee Downtowns program. 

Local artists will be decorating the benches, which will hopefully be put in by the end of June, with music heritage paraphernalia to fit the theme of the two murals and Rockabilly Park, according to Tennessee Downtowns Committee member Sybil Dancer.

These improvements to downtown Selmer will be ready for next year’s Rockabilly Highway Revival. Brian Tull hopes to be on hand for this year’s festival, however, possibly making the ceremonial first brush stroke on the new mural.

Below is the full schedule for this year’s Rockabilly Highway Revival:


8:30 a.m. - Antique Car Show & Antique Tractor Show Starts.

9 a.m. - Vendors Open and Motorcycle Show/Ride Registration begins.

10 a.m. - Motorcycle Ride leaves from Courthouse Area (for more information, call Randy Fowler at 731-610-5248).

10 a.m. - Selmer Idol Winners perform at The Farmer’s Market (near the RR tracks).

1 p.m. - 3 p.m. - Picking at Pat’s & Live Music at The Farmer’s Market.

3 p.m. - 4:30 p.m. - Awards Presented for Car Show, Motorcycle Show and Rockabilly Queens Announced (Main Stage).

4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. “Original Sun Records Artist” Rayburn Anthony & Band on the Main Stage.

5:30 p.m. - 6:30 p.m. - Phil Hummer & The White Falcons on Main Stage.

7 p.m. - 8:30 p.m. - Brandon Giles & the Tricky Two on Main Stage.