Cars and Music make a great combo!  Bad puns aside most of us enjoy music, in the house, listening at work and in our cars.  Music and cars have a long and storied history with the first "popular" songs being written about cars well over a century ago, when the very first automobiles were bouncing along the rutted and rigorous wagon paths that passed for roads and streets.  After World War I an explosion in consumer products inundated the American household and one of those items was the radio, soon to become a primary entertainment device that gathered families to listen to live broadcasts of music and vaudeville style acts.
 
Radio stations employed House Orchestras, Choruses, dancers and comedians all performing a live show. Much of this path was charted right here in the Cincy area through the efforts of the Crosley Company that built the radios and provided the programming through their powerhouse WLW.  Powell Crosley Jr. and his brother Lewis formed a team that produced many items aside from the radios including tire tube repair kits and other automotive accessories, later they produced the Crosley Cars that were some of the first small "economy" cars produced in America while most manufacturers modeled their products after the size of the country- BIG!    The tiny Crosley Hot Shot won the first race on the famed Central Florida Airport Race Course at Sebring, the 60th edition of the race starts at 10 am this Saturday.  Allow me to also add this thought; if we all drove cars like the Crosleys we wouldn't be struggling with the fossil fuel issues that befall us in 2012.  
 
However the credit for installing the first radios in cars goes to Bill Lear, of Lear Jet Fame and, Elmer Wavering, who installed a radio in Paul Galvin's Studebaker in 1929.  The whole idea was born out of trying to impress their girlfriends-girls and cars, that is several volumes of stories we will have to discuss at a later date!  Today's automobiles have sound systems that are technological wonders, delivering music with clarity that rivals live performances; brought to us by satellite, CD, iPod, and terrestrial radio with every imaginable programming choices ever conceived available.
Americans love their cars and use those vehicles for a raft of activities aside from driving.  We have drive-in movies, drive-in restaurants, drive-in Church services, drive-in wedding chapels, beverage drive-throughs, drive-in Funeral services; the list goes on and on.  While we drive, drive-in and drive-through, we are listening.  With the proliferation of huge sub-woofers installed in car trunks we can tell that some of us have much better taste in music than our fellow motorists, and that is why windows can be rolled up.
 
Music is the most prolific programming choice for in-car activities, this is why Willy Cunningham is not available on CD, but if those sharp eyed Clear Channel execs read this we could see that in the future.  Musicians have been singing about cars since Edison was recording on cylinders, songs about Oldsmobiles, Chevrolets, Cobras, Bitchin' Cameros, 92 Subarus, Corvettes, Cadillacs and just about every other make and models of cars.  We listen to tunes about building cars, Johnny Cash's 1976 classic One Piece at a Time about sneaking the Cadillac parts out of the plant in a lunch box comes to mind, the result being a unique conglomeration of model year components. Songs about driving are popular, Don McLean's American Pie, Springsteen's Darlington County, the classic Little Old Lady from Pasadena by the Beach Boys and of course Drive My Car from the Beatles.
 
Artists, singers, and songwriters have had a field day with the automobile, performing thousands of tunes with references to cars.  Some of these folks have been bitten by the car collecting bug that has captured so many of us.  Elvis Presley had a significant collection of vehicles, some of which are still on display at Graceland; he had a penchant for the big flashy Cadillacs and Harley Davidsons befitting his image.  Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top has created a number of custom cars and hot rods that grace the band's album covers.  Eric Clapton and Nick Mason (Pink Floyd) are renowned for their collections of Ferraris, as is local Cincy Guitarist/Bluesman Jimmie Ibold-probably the only musician that grew up listening to the tones of supercharged eight cylinder Alfa Romeos.
In 2011 philanthropists and car collectors Jack & Barbara Hahn hosted the first "Motors and Music May Festival Car Show" on the lawn at their home, it was one of the most enjoyable motoring events we have attended-ever!  Despite a constant rainy drizzle, collectors arrived in vintage and classic Ferraris, Cadillacs, Packards, Alfa Romeos, BMWs, Lincolns, Maseratis and may more Marques, even a vintage Police Paddy Wagon, displaying over 50 cars on the driveway and lawn in addition to the Hahn's collection of stunningly gorgeous automobiles, for May Festival patrons to enjoy.  The crowd was very engaged in the show and fascinated with the exemplary vehicles. The Hahn's hospitality in challenging conditions never wavered nor did the enthusiasm of the guests.
 
The Cincinnati May Festival pre-dates the automobile by more than a decade, and I have a suspicion that they have not added any of the aforementioned automotive centric tunes to the repertoire.  (In fact I am wondering how well being mentioned in the same article as Elvis and ZZ Top will pan out).  However with the long list of Premieres and outstanding performances attributed to the May Festival Chorus throughout the years, they have established a provenance that is unparalleled in the music world — another attribute of the Cincy area.  And much to our delight the Cincinnati May Festival Association is hosting holding another Motors & Music on April 22, 2012, again with the support of the Hahn family and many others that enjoy and appreciate the Cincinnati May Festival Chorus.  This year's event will take place at the Porsche of Village on Plainville Road in Mariemont from 1-4 pm, which will be easier on the car owners and patrons if the weather is less than spectacular.  
 
Mark your calendar now, Jack Hahn has told us that this year's list of invited cars is set to raise the bar even further. For information about this very special showing of significant automobiles and to support the Cincinnati May Festival contact Steven Sunderman at 513.744.3284 or ssunderman@mayfestival.com.  We hope to see you there and at the performances of the Cincinnati May Festival Chorus-enjoy!  Kurt Niemeyer-Editor.