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Craig Havighurst

Editorial Director

Craig Havighurst is WMOT's editorial director and host of The String, a weekly interview show airing Mondays at 8 pm, repeating Sundays at 7 am. He also co-hosts The Old Fashioned on Saturdays at 9 am and Tuesdays at 8 pm. Threads and Instagram: @chavighurst. Email: craig@wmot.org

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  • For the second year in a row, bluegrass guitar innovator and live roots phenom Billy Strings was named Artist of the Year at the 22nd annual Americana Honors and Awards. Unlike last year, Strings was on hand to accept his custom trophy and then join the night's huge cast of assembled artists to play a snapping guitar solo on the show finale jam on "Cripple Creek," a salute to The Band's great songwriter and singer Robbie Robertson, who died in August.
  • When East Nashville emerged as a nationally important music scene in the early 2000s, Amelia White had a substantial role in that play. Like so many others, she’d migrated from elsewhere (Boston and Seattle) to find a nurturing community full of collaborators and enablers. She was included on a seminal anthology of East Nashville songs. And she set up a rhythm of writing, recording and touring domestically and increasingly overseas. Now she’s heading back to showcase at AmericanaFest 2023 and getting set to release an album this winter produced by Americana great Kim Richey. Amelia dropped by the studio for a friendly conversation that surveys her journey, with music from across her career.
  • Bass player Dave Roe, who laid down the sonic and rhythmic foundation for incalculable amounts of Nashville’s greatest music of the past five decades, died suddenly on Friday at the age of 71. Multiple accounts point to a massive heart attack at his Goodlettsville home. Roe’s musicianship, from his long tenure with Johnny Cash to his recent status as the pulse of Easy Eye Sound, defined the groove of Americana. A vast community of artists and fans he touched spent the weekend reeling from the unwelcome news.
  • AmericanaFest is a controlled explosion, a circus maximus, an idea so crazy that it just might work. The Americana Music Association has been pulling this thing off for 23 years, so it’s got staying power. It’s grown from a handful of shows at a few bars to a sprawl of 220 artists playing at 40+ venues from the far West End to far East Nashville, so it has drawing power too. And it’s back, between Tuesday, Sept. 19 and Saturday, Sept. 23. We’re as ready as we can be (including three afternoons of loaded Day Stage performances). How about you?
  • For a band that released its independent debut album in 2017, the Teskey Brothers have come a long way. From our perspective here in Nashville, that would be 9,700 miles, the distance from their home town of Warrandyte, New South Wales, Australia. Raised on classic soul and R&B music, Sam and Josh Teskey started making music together as kids and became staples of the Melbourne music scene. They didn’t have huge aspirations, but when their first record impressed folks close to home, they took their classic Stax/Muscle Shoals sound to the world and the world replied. This year they’ve toured Europe for five months and played major sold out venues, including the Ryman Auditorium behind their current album the Winding Way. Guitarist, songwriter, singer and recording engineer Sam Teskey is my guest.
  • I was inspired this week by gearing up for the Earl Scruggs Music Festival in Polk County, NC. That meant pulling some Michael Cleveland, some Emmylou Harris (she headlined Sunday), and of course some Earls of Leicester. The band with the elaborate pun for a name was conceived in 2013 by dobro star and producer Jerry Douglas to pay tribute to the songs and sound of Flatt & Scruggs, arguably the most impactful and influential bluegrass band of all time. The Earls, who won four IBMA Awards including Entertainers of the Year and a Grammy Award, include magnificent vocals by Shawn Camp and Jeff White and the powerful fiddling of Johnny Warren. Also this week, Amy brought in tunes from Sami Braman, Joseph DeCosimo and the wonderfully named Corn Potato String Band. Throwback tracks come from Lynn Morris and the Nashville 80s supergroup the Dreadful Snakes.
  • Folks can debate about whether vinyl or streaming sounds better all they want, but I’ll maintain there’s no more emotionally impactful way to be introduced to an album than listening closely on an LP. I had the good fortune to get such an early listen to Modern Age, the newest offering from veteran songwriter Jill Andrews. She and her team came over with a test pressing some weeks ago and we let the project unfold in all its layered gorgeousness, with all the details worked out by Jill and producer Lucas Morton saturating the room. Jill brings an eye for detail and an unguarded candor to her music, and we’re fortunate that she’s part of a fine triple bill at this week’s Finally Friday at 3rd & Lindsley that includes funky string band Twisted Pine and country eclectic Erin Viancourt.
  • Last week we played a throwback duet between West Coast bluegrass icons Kathy Kallick and Laurie Lewis. Then we discovered that Kathy Kallick was releasing new music in advance of her first new album since 2018. The record will be called The Lonesome Chronicles, as it processes some of the ennui and isolation of the 2020s. Still it’s great to have Kallick’s lovely voice back on record, and she has a sharp band that includes fiddler Annie Staninec, whom we featured recently, plus Greg Booth (dobro, banjo), Tom Bekeny (mandolin), and Cary Black (bass). Other new music this show comes from Donna Ulisse, Sister Sadie and The Henhouse Prowlers. And we say happy birthday to Nashville’s Shawn Camp with a couple of his fine songs.
  • The blues are an inexhaustible American resource for music and humanism, but opportunities to understand this lineage and story beyond the superficial images in the media can be hard to find. Traveling in the deep South is one pathway for those willing to make the commitment, but sometimes through the efforts of scholars and preservationists, the blues in its regional authenticity comes to us. The upcoming Voices Of Mississippi tour is a good example.
  • Val Storey is one of those singers you discover when digging into Nashville’s layers, and you wonder how the whole world doesn’t know about her voice. She’s always been too country for the major country labels, though she’s done a lot of session harmony singing over the years. The in-crowd knows to check her out at New Mondays, the weekly Station Inn show she performs with her old friends Carl Jackson and Larry Cordle. Now Cordle has produced Storey’s first-ever solo secular album, Share Your Secrets With Me. Val and Larry came to the studio to talk about their histories and the choices that went into making one of the year’s best country records.