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Craig Havighurst

Music News Producer

Craig Havighurst is WMOT's music news producer and host of The String, a show featuring conversations on culture, media and American music. New episodes of The String air on WMOT 89.5 in Middle Tennessee on Mondays at 8 pm, repeating Sundays at 7 am. Twitter and Instagram: @chavighurst.

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  • Amy hosts solo this week, so there’s a heavy old-time and trad folk vibe to Show #22. The very new Tall Poppy String Band features our pal George Jackson from Nashville with Portland, OR banjo player Cameron DeWhitt and Mark Harris of Fort Collins, CO on guitar. Also new is a beguiling rendition of an ancient tune called “Sixteen Kings’ Daughters” by versatile Nashville musician Libby Weitnauer. On the folk frontier, the fast-rising Willi Carlisle offers his original Tex Mex ballad “Este Mundo” and we hear vintage sound from Taj Mahal and the late great zydeco master Boozoo Chavis.
  • There haven’t been more than a handful of repeat guests on The String in these six years, but with Mary Gauthier it’s a no-brainer. She’s one of the most interesting figures in Nashville - a philosopher of song and a gifted teacher and speaker. A 2021 memoir allowed her to lay her remarkable story out end to end, mingling memoir with songwriting insights and laying bare her vulnerabilities and struggles. A new album ruminates on new love and the loss of friends with radical empathy.
  • Like a carrot dangling from the end of a stick in those old cartoons, Friday beckons us through the week and keeps us hopping forward. And there’s no carrot more tasty than Americana music, performed by sincere and excellent artists. This week’s root vegetable medley features progressive bluegrass from We Banjo 3 and vulnerable neo-country music from Jessica Willis Fisher.
  • On a recent morning, the atmosphere at Monique Ross’s East Nashville home is high energy. She and her sister Chauntee are here for a day between tour dates, having just arrived from the Newport Folk Festival where they played to thousands with Brandi Carlile and sat on stage during Joni Mitchell’s historic performance there. Monique’s 10-year-old daughter is heading out the door for the afternoon. Two small dogs, including a Chihuahua named Cello, scamper around the Victorian house. But things quiet down. The dogs curl up to sleep, and between gales of sisterly laughter Chauntee and Monique talk about what it’s been like to be on some of folk music’s biggest stages supporting Carlile and Allison Russell in the past whirlwind year.
  • We love hearing stories of folks raised overseas who became fascinated and then dedicated to American traditional music, whether German born songwriter Thomm Jutz or guitar maestro Beppe Gambetta from Italy. Another Italian who came to the US in search of a sound is fiddler, banjo player, singer and instrument maker Rafe Stefanini. Since his move in the 1980s, the Bologna native became a staple on the old time circuit, working out of a base in Pennsylvania. But recently he moved to Madison, TN, and we were lucky enough to present him with his family band at Dee’s in June. And you can hear some tracks from that set in episode #21 of The Old Fashioned.
  • It’s true that for many people Friday is the end of the work week and the weekend is a chance for rest and personal pursuits. Of course that’s not true for everyone so let’s remember the servers and drivers and cops and so forth who work weekends for the good of everyone. But hopefully what we all have in common is that we can take an hour at lunch time on Friday to enjoy killer music over our video feeds, phones, radios and smart speakers. Because we’re back at it on Aug. 5 with honest songwriting from Nashville’s Mabilene and midwestern folk rock band The Damn Quails.
  • In a casual, expansive conversation, Craig visits with his old friend Eric Brace, founder of alt-country band Last Train Home. Brace was a music journalist for the Washington Post when he formed the Washington, DC-based group in the mid 1990s. Then in the early 2000s, he and the rhythm section moved to Nashville, where LTH found a new life and Brace branched out as a label owner with Red Beet Records, which documented the rising East Nashville music scene. Brace has continued to tour with small acoustic groups, but Last Train Home keeps releasing albums, most recently 2022's Everything Will Be.
  • Tributes to Tony Rice have been bountiful since the legendary guitar player and singer died at home on Christmas Day 2020. The Punch Brothers issued a radically reimagined cut-for-cut cover of Tony’s Church Street Blues. Barry Waldrep steered a multi-artist collection. Now Dan Tyminski, singer and guitar man for Alison Krauss and Union Station has his own nod to his hero called One More Time Before You Go, a five-track EP. This week as I host solo while Amy Alvey is traveling and teaching, I bring you one fine cut from it, Dan and Billy Strings harmonizing luminously on “Where The Soul Of Man Never Dies,” a traditional tune that Rice arranged with Ricky Skaggs on their famous and stupendous duo album of 1980. This week features new cuts from Tim Stafford and Thomm Jutz, Gina Furtado and the Lonesome River Band, plus timeless tracks from James King, Bela Fleck and Irishman John Doyle.
  • Young stars Billy Strings and Molly Tuttle find themselves well represented in this year’s nominations for the 2022 International Bluegrass Music Association Awards, with six nods each, including Entertainer of the Year. But in an awards pool where new artists emerge slowly, the most refreshing and surprising name mentioned on repeat at Tuesday’s announcements is that of Topeka, KS-based Rick Faris.
  • Mellow tempos and thoughtful storytelling are on tap this week when our video stream points its gaze in the direction of a couple of experienced, bearded troubadours. Nick Nace sings a new lament about Nashville while Andrew Duhon brings the heart-swelling songwriting that’s made him a favorite in his home town of New Orleans.