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Rounder Records continues to be a force in American roots music more than 50 years after its founding by three folk music fans in Massachusetts. A new book by North Carolina’s David Menconi tells the full story of the label for the first time. Rounder today, owned by the privately held conglomerate Concord Music, has a relatively new president and WMOT spoke with him and the head of A&R to take the pulse of the label today. Plus Rounder’s original founders have a new label of their own. Craig reports on the past and future of an Americana institution.
  • Lindsay Lou grew up surrounded by community folk music in Michigan, and when she connected with a scene and a band in East Lansing where she completed college, she set her plans for a career in medicine aside to hit the road and connect with her original dreams. But it’s pretty clear from her ravishing voice that she was born to sing, and she made quite an impression, especially in western newgrass circles, as the leader and songwriter of Lindsay Lou and the Flatbellys. Living in Nashville since 2015 though, change was inevitable, and she processes some big life shifts and stylistic evolution on her new album Queen of Time. It’s the most ambitious and enthralling release of her career, and there’s a lot to talk about.
  • It may not match the impact of O Brother, Where Art Thou? from 20 years ago, but a lot of folks will likely have their first exposure to old-time roots music through the new film The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, which opened Nov. 17 to big box office numbers. The soundtrack, released the same day, features some of Americana’s biggest names singing songs that suit the Appalachian setting of much of the film, including lyrics written by Suzanne Collins in the original novel, a prequel to the massively popular Hunger Games series of books and movies.
  • Cruz Contreras has been a key player in the East Tennessee music scene for twenty years, steering accomplished roots projects Robinella and the CCstringband and the Black Lillies. In 2019 he wrote and recorded his first solo album only to see the pandemic upend his plans for its big rollout. He made good use of the lost years, getting married, having a son and moving to a new place. But at last he thought it was time to release Cosmico, a sweeping, ambient country rock project that highlights his rich voice. Cruz and Craig spoke during AmericanaFest 2023.
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