Hatch Show Print: Going Old School in the Modern World

For many music lovers, Hatch Show Print posters are not just another piece of concert swag, they’re coveted pieces of art for their collections.  For those who have no clue what I’m talking about, Hatch Show Prints are posters created on a historic letterpress at a shop called Hatch Show Print in downtown Nashville. Currently located within the Country Music Hall of Fame, the roots of Hatch Show Print are much more humble.

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Charles and Herbert Hatch (sons of a press maker from Wisconsin) started HH Hatch in 1879 and began with small print jobs like flyers for various churches and county fairs. Business picked up quickly and their simple designs lived on. When Charles’ son Will T took over, the business boomed as the Hatch Show Print (HH Hatch) was printing posters for music, and in particular, country music. Their location, which was right next to the Ryman Auditorium at the time, helped the business grow as bands playing the Ryman could walk right in and get posters printed for their show.

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Along with this boom came international exposure. With big acts like Dolly Parton and Patsy Cline ordering Hatch prints, the posters gained recognition and picked up. On a recent tour we learned a cool story about one particular and free exposure from Mr. Elvis Presley. In the mid 1950s, Elvis’s popularity was at an all time high but many (particularly the older demographic) saw him as sinful for the way he danced and moved his hips on stage. Upon announcement of his concerts in Jacksonville Florida, outrage erupted in the city and Life Magazine covered the story. One iconic photo from this article featured a Baptist preacher condemning Elvis to his congregation and in his hand, he held The Hatch Show Print for the upcoming concert. That photo was seen in households across the nation. The ironic part was that all Elvis’s Grammy-winning albums were Gospel music, so perhaps if the preacher had opened his ears instead of focusing on Elvis’s hips, he might have seen the light.

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In the following years, Hatch Show Print changed ownership and location to Broadway Street and then to the Country Music Hall of Fame (their current home). While these changes have taken place however, not much has changed about the process since the 50s. Hatch Show Print uses historic letter presses to this day with the option to print in three colours. They have not added any fonts to their repertoire, ensuring the posters are still recognizable as Hatch prints.

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A visit (and tour) to the shop promises the chance to learn the history, see the historic presses and event print your own poster! The best part however, is checking out the amazing selection of posters that Hatch Show Print has created over the years. Everybody from The Beach Boys and Neil Young to FDR, Anderson Cooper and Taylor Swift line the walls. From country, pop and rock music to political campaign posters and adds for grocery stores and laundromats, Hatch Show has their mark on just about everything.

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If you get a chance, take the tour and the next time you see a Hatch Show Print at a concert you attend, consider getting one. They’ll sell out quick. Trust me.

Peace, love and history.

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