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Staff photo by Troy Stolt / Reed Caldwell stands inside of the Songbirds Foundation, formerly the Songbirds Guitar Museum. The space is now offering new interactive exhibits as part of the nonprofit entity of the same name, which is dedicated to guitar education for children throughout the South.

Perhaps Songbirds could just as easily been called Phoenix because the name continues to garner attention nearly a year after the Songbirds Guitar Museum and related live music venues closed.

The Songbirds Foundation, which has been around for almost as long as the museum was, moved its operation into the old museum space and opened its doors mid-September. Later that month, word came that "Songbirds: A Documentary Film" is making the rounds at several independent film festivals.

Losing the museum was a pretty significant blow for many people in the city because, quite frankly — it was just cool; it was unique; and it was ours. So too is the foundation, which to date has impacted nearly 5,000 middle- to high-school-aged students as part of its Guitars for Kids program.

Executive Director Reed Caldwell said the program now reaches kids across Tennessee and down into Georgia and Alabama, and his goal is to continue to grow it.

To do that, he envisions utilizing the already great space as a fundraising venue for the program. While it might be confusing to some, the "new" space will in many ways resemble the old space with guitars and a stage for live music, but it is very different.

The displays have been retooled with hands-on learning in mind, and the entire space is focused on being accessible, interesting and fun for everyone whether they love guitars or not.

Visitors will learn not only how a guitar or an amplifier work, but they can strum, pluck and create their own sound on real instruments.

The stage is slightly bigger, and a series of shows are already planned, though the pandemic has put many on hold. As before, the space is also available for rent for special events, "and every dollar raised whether for admission, a show, a beer, a T-shirt, whatever, will go to the program," Caldwell said.

Dagan Beckett created the documentary with the help of former Songbirds staff members and uber guitar fans Irving Berner and David Davidson with the help of many former employees and musicians who played the venue or sat for one of Songbirds' Vault Sessions interviews.

It has been chosen for screening or an award at five festivals to date, and has been submitted to at least that many more. It was a quarter finalist at the Oniros Film Festival in New York and selected for screening at the Franklin International Indie Film Festival in Franklin, Tennessee and the Lonely Seal International Film, Screenplay and Music Festival in Boston. It was also an official selection by the Silk Road Film Awards at SRFA Cannes, the Oniros Film Awards in New York and the Global Indie Film Festival in Glasgow.

Beckett said he hopes to screen the film locally when the festival season is over.

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