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I wrote here in January about the newly energized Nashville Blues and Roots Alliance, a non-profit dedicated to cultivating blues careers and spreading its history through public schools. The group had just held its first-ever local competition to nominate contestant artists at the 2024 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. And in a nice Music City surprise, the NBRA’s delegate in the band category, Piper And The Hard Times, went to Memphis during the coldest week of the year, put on several sizzling sets, and came away with the grand prize. In this hour, we meet Al "Piper" Green and his bandmate/guitarist Steve Eagon to talk about their game changing win. Up first, Gulf Coast blues and R&B icon Marcia Ball talks about fifty years of rocking roadhouses and the occasional blues cruise.
  • Suzy Bogguss started playing and performing on a hand-me-down guitar from her sister in small-town Illinois. After almost a decade making a living out west playing at ski lodges and smaller venues, she moved to Nashville, where she carved out a special place in 1990s country music. Amid a time of diversity and vibrancy in the format, her sweet, folky voice took flight when she found the right songs, including the career-makers “Someday Soon” and “Outbound Plane.” She’s toured steadily ever since, though recordings have been selective since 2000. During the pandemic though, she took on her first album of new material with last fall’s Prayin’ For Sunshine, the first where she’d written all of the songs. In this hour, we cover every key stage of this award-winning career.
  • The Wonder Women of Country, a side project of busy Americana songwriter/artists Brennen Leigh, Kelly Willis and Melissa Carper, started in 2021 as a touring vehicle for three friends with compatible visions of country music. Fans have been loving it, and naturally they started asking if there was a recording to take home. The WWOC have made good on that desire with a self-titled EP, released on March 15.
  • After more than a decade helming her progressive acoustic band The New Hip, bass player Missy Raines has reconfigured and turned back to the music she was raised on and the genre for which she’s been named Bass Player of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association ten times, most recently in 2021. Her new band is called Allegheny, and her new album Highlander finds her singing about the lonesome wind, fast-moving trains, and more weighty and contemporary subjects in the old school style.
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