When they titled their 2020 album Tribulation, the guys in the bluegrass band Appalachian Road Show had no idea they’d be releasing it into the teeth of a global pandemic and an economic crisis. The veteran musicians did not intend to proclaim that the End Times are upon us, only to shine a light on the people and legacy of their home region, where resilience and fortitude are a way of life.


When Will Hoge needed the industry to listen to his music, the biz had its head, shall we say, elsewhere. In the late 1990s, Hoge was earning a regional following and respect as an unpretentious rock and roll songwriter in the tradition of Tom Petty and Bruce Springsteen. He was from Nashville and he wasn’t destined for country. But the rock and pop labels were cashing in on Korn, Blink-182 and Kid Rock. “If I had one conversation, I had 5,000 conversations about, ‘you need to sound more like any flavor of the week,’” Hoge says.


Del McCoury was approaching his 60th birthday in the late 1990s, but he and his family-anchored Del McCoury Band were as hot as an Airstream camper at a July festival. In those years, the lonesome voiced, pompadoured gentleman from Pennsylvania probably inspired more new young bluegrass bands to form than any other artist. One from Raleigh, NC that’s proven influential and durable in its own way is Chatham County Line.

Dr. Ken Blake / MTSU

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  Parents are facing some unwelcome news as Tennessee prepares to send its children back to school.

The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 among school age children is on the rise.

As of Friday, July 31, it’s been 149 days since Tennessee reported its first case of coronavirus.

However, in just the last 12 days the number of new coronavirus infections reported statewide among children 5 to 18 years of age jumped just over 36 percent.

Several mid-state counties are reporting even larger 12 day increases.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  Nashville police have issued a scam alert for Metro residents.

Police warn that scammers are making calls pretending to be officers with the department’s Domestic Violence Division.

Victims are told that they’ve been implicated in human trafficking cases, and are then asked to pay to stay out of jail.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  Nashville Mayor John Cooper continues to push Gov. Bill Lee to tighten pandemic restrictions statewide as COVID-19 cases continue to surge.

Cooper has repeatedly used his weekly press conferences to contrast Gov. Lee’s laissez-faire approach to infection control to more muscular efforts in other southern states.

A reporter on Thursday asked the mayor if he’s “frustrated” at Lee’s continuing resistance to additional restrictions.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  Vanderbilt now has hard evidence that Tennesseans are delaying critical medical care out of fear of coronavirus.

Vanderbilt Bioinformatics specialist Dr. Adam Wright has published a study that documents a roughly 81 to 90 percent drop in high blood sugar screenings at health centers in Nashville and Boston.

Treatment for blood sugar problems dropped by as much as 52 percent.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  New coronavirus guidelines for the isolation of symptom-free patients have been introduced in Tennessee.

The Centers for Disease Control last week changed its recommendation for virus positive individuals who show no signs of illness. The CDC dropped its isolation requirement from two weeks to ten days for those patients.

The CDC says patients who do show significant symptoms may need to be isolated for as long as 20 days.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Democratic head of a congressional coronavirus oversight panel has demanded that Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee and three other Republican governors provide documents showing how their states are combating the pandemic.

Similar letters were sent to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt.

The request Wednesday by Rep. James Clyburn comes just days after White House coronavirus task force leader Dr. Deborah Birx traveled to Nashville to implore leaders to close bars and residents to wear masks.


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  Nashville’s Coronavirus Task Force has asked Metro schools to postpone the start of sports until after Labor Day.

In a letter sent to schools Wednesday, the task force says its concerned about the spread of coronavirus between students, staff and spectators from different schools during intervarsity competition.

Practice sessions will be allowed to continue.


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Federal prosecutors say a Tennessee Democratic state senator has been charged with stealing more than $600,000 in federal funds received by a health care company she directed.


The U.S. attorney's office in Memphis said a criminal complaint was unsealed Wednesday charging Katrina Robinson with theft and embezzlement involving government programs and wire fraud.


Thomas R Machnitzki

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Supreme Court will hear oral arguments over whether to keep absentee voting open to all eligible voters for the November election due to the coronavirus pandemic.


The hearing Thursday comes on the last day to request absentee ballots for the Aug. 6 primary election.


Last month, a state court judge ordered the absentee expansion during the pandemic, and the Supreme Court decided against blocking it for the primary.



WASHINGTON, D.C. (Mike Osborne)  --  Tennessee Rep. Steve Cohen was among those grilling U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr in the nation’s capital Tuesday.

Under questioning by the West Tennessee Democrat, Barr testified that he knew President Donald Trump planned to walk out of the White House for a photo op later that day when the Attorney General ordered federal officers on June 1 to forcefully push demonstrators out of Lafayette Park.


Liner Notes

Alaina Broyles

Skylar Gregg exudes retro southern rock ‘n soul mixed with the country and blues sounds of the 60s and 70s. I first heard Skylar’s voice as a background singer on a few stages around Nashville, but she’s been writing and performing in this town for most of her life. Her sound was born out of a musical family, her parents came to Nashville both to pursue music careers. She worked with Nashville multi-instrumentalist and producer Jon Estes on her new album, Roses, a departure from her previous two releases which she produced with her husband, Taylor Lonardo at their home studio.

Boudica Photography

The Danberrys are Nashville husband and wife duo, Dorothy Daniel and Ben DeBerry. I first heard Dorothy’s commanding voice and Ben’s picking during a Grateful Dead tribute show at the 5 Spot several years back and I was drawn to their sound and pleased to discover their original music. Their new album, Shine was produced by drummer Marco Giovino (Band of Joy, Patty Griffin, Buddy Miller) and executive produced by Brian Brinkerhoff and it’s out today.

Courtesy of the Artist

Fresh songs from Grant-Lee Phillips and Bobby Rush, a stellar debut by S.G. Goodman, and an All-Star cast joins Ray Wylie Hubbard.

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WMOT Video: Live Sessions on NPR Music

Ben Christensen

Charley Crockett joins us for a Words and Music session via Zoom from his home in Austin, Texas. Crockett talks with Jessie Scott about the making of his new album 'Welcome to Hard Times', hip-hop music, and how he approaches cover songs.



Meredith Truax

S.G. Goodman joins Jessie Scott for a Words and Music session from her home in Murray, Kentucky. Goodman talks about her album 'Old Time Feeling' and living in her hometown as a musician and activist. 

Ray Benson joins Jessie Scott for a Words and Music session from his home in Austin, Texas. Benson talks about his bout with coronavirus, his livestream fundraiser and being at home after nearly 50 years on the road.

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The figure of a young Confederate soldier holding a rifle has gazed out from his pedestal in front of the Harrison County courthouse in the piney woods of northeast Texas for 114 years.

Alexea Gaffney battles health issues every day on multiple fronts. As an infectious disease doctor in Stony Brook, N.Y., she treats patients who have COVID-19. And two years ago, at age 37, she was diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer.


It's hard to believe that the hole President Trump dug for himself could get deeper, but it has.

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