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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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  • In the fall of 2022, we were proud to have the duo of Mike Compton and Joe Newberry perform at the first Old Fashioned String Band Throwdown kicking off AmericanaFest, because they represent the heart of the acoustic roots tradition we seek to celebrate. Compton is an icon of Monroe-style mandolin and a true blues man from Mississippi who won awards with the Nashville Bluegrass Band. Newberry is a banjo player, guitarist and singer with an unerring feel for good time entertainment. They’ve been playing together for quite a few years with only one live album to their name. So we were thrilled to get word of a new album coming this fall, and the first single is here: “Cherry River Line.” We’ve also got new songs from Thomas Cassell and the Red Camel Collective. And Amy sent in an audio postcard and curated a set of music inspired by a festival she’s playing in Rotterdam.
  • Ellen Angelico has emerged in the past few years as a go-to stringed instrument musician in the Americana and indie sectors of Nashville. Raised in Chicago, she was gigging in her teens, attended Berklee College of Music and came to Music City in 2010 with a full-time indie rock band gig. As she grew into more of a freelance life, Ellen carved out a niche and earned a ton of admiration earning an Americana Instrumentalist of the Year nomination in 2020. Her recent credits include shows and sessions with Cam, Adeem the Artist, Kyshona, Brandy Clark, Mickey Guyton and more. In this endearing hour, Ellen talks about getting established in Nashville, her high-visibility former job with Fanny’s House of Music in East Nashville and a card game about bro country lyrics that has to be heard to be believed.
  • We’ve been spinning singles in recent weeks from A.J. Lee & Blue Summit, the fast-rising Bay Area band fronted by the singer, songwriter and mandolin player who grew up as Molly Tuttle’s friend and bandmate. And this time, Molly joins her old amiga for a heart-stopping ballad called “I Can’t Find You At All.” It’s not that Lee and her band (which includes Molly’s brother Sullivan on impressive flatpick guitar) hasn’t released impressive albums before. But the upcoming City Of Glass, coming July 19, has the makings of a breakthrough. Also new this week is a lead-off single from powerhouse vocalist John Cowan. “Fiction” will be the title track of an album this Fall, which will pair with his new memoir about his life with New Grass Revival and other adventures. Del McCoury surprised us with the sprightly “She’s Heavenly,” again with Molly Tuttle lending support. Laurie Lewis leads an a cappella original. Nashville duo Paper Wings charms with the folk classic “Nine Hundred Miles.” And we call up the late and legendary James King showing how bluegrass is done.
  • In this special edition of The String, an audio postcard from Athens GA, a city of about 125,000 people just east of Atlanta that for forty years has been punching above its weight as a music city. As a teenager in the mid 1980s, I loved the B-52s and I about worshiped REM, and ever since, I’ve wondered what kind of place could produce those wildly different, highly progressive bands. My curiosity only grew as Athens continued to be a hotbed of art-forward rock and roll and creative roots music over the next forty years. So I came to listen and ask questions. We meet label owners George Fontaine Sr. and Jr., leading producer David Barbe, 40 Watt talent booker Velena Vego, artists Spencer Thomas and Hunter Pinkston, and more.
  • Cris Jacobs has been tagged the “King of Baltimore rock and roll” by a leading local publication, but a quick look at his catalog and certainly his newest album suggests there's more. He made his name as a guitarist, songwriter and singer with The Bridge, a soulful jam band that toured the nation and overseas between 2000 and 2010. His solo projects have been well regarded, but he’s not been a force in Americana until recently. After a bit of a mid-life crisis, he turned to his first love - bluegrass - and pulled together a wonderful album called One Of These Days, with the Infamous Stringdusters as his band and Jerry Douglas as his producer. It landed Cris a debut on the Grand Ole Opry. How did he get here? We find out. Also in the hour, some of my recent catch-up with roots power couple Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams.
  • We open this week with historic tape from the Telluride Bluegrass Festival featuring its “house band” – Jerry Douglas, Béla Fleck, and Sam Bush – to note the imminent return of that peerless high-altitude festy this coming weekend. I realized the timing only after Amy and I inadvertently pulled four artists set to play this year, including Sierra Hull, Big Richard, Danny Paisley and the innovative duo of Larry & Joe. That’s banjo master Joe Troop of Che Appalache and Venezuelan harpist Larry Bellorín, who offer a preview of their upcoming album with the fiery “Runnin’ From The Weather.” Hope that’s not the case in Telluride! Also, new music from the Vestal Brothers, the Wood Box Heroes, and Stephen and Jana Mougin. Amy Alvey, still in Europe, pulled an epic new Twisted Pine track and built a set featuring all women string bands from across the decades.
  • The 1980s alt-country underground in New York City - and yes there was such a thing - sparked iconic careers (Jim Lauderdale, John Leventhal and Shawn Colvin for example), and at least two great Americana love stories. Buddy and Julie Miller married there in 1981 in between gigs at the Lone Star Cafe. And when Larry Campbell laid eyes on Teresa Williams at the Bottom Line before a show they were to play together, he declared that he’d marry her, and the rest is history. Her story too. Here, Americana's 40-year couple talks about deciding to tour together, overcoming Covid, and their third studio album All This Time.
  • January 6 was the 100th birthday of Earl Scruggs, an event marked with a superb multi-artist concert at the Ryman Auditorium. Others are taking the centenary a few steps farther onto records and stages, and no one can do that for Earl with more thought and authority than Tony Trischka. We’ve been previewing his album Earl Jam for weeks, but now it’s here, a 15-song set inspired by a collection of home recordings from picking sessions by Earl and John Hartford that Trischka got hold of. With many top tier musicians and guests, it’s an inspiring and affectionate tribute. Also this week, a surprising new single from eccentric country soul artist Swamp Dogg, a superb cover of “Sixteen Tons” by Clay Hess, a take on The Band’s “Stage Fright” by fellow Canadians the Lonesome Ace String Band, and a call-in from Amy Alvey about her time at the Fire on the Mountain Festival in Wales.
  • I first heard Chris Smither as a fingerstyle guitar master who wrote good songs. With time I realized he’s a great songwriter who happens to be a standout guitarist. While never a household name, this 60-year veteran has long been a cherished icon of American folk and roots. His peers celebrated him in 2014 with the release of Link of Chain: A Songwriters’ Tribute to Chris Smither, featuring interpretations of his work by Dave Alvin, Peter Case, Patty Larkin, Mary Gauthier, Jorma Kaukonen, and Tim O'Brien. Now on the eve of his 80th birthday, Smither came by the studio to talk about his origins in New Orleans, his friendship with Bonnie Raitt, his boom times in the 1990s, and his newest album All About The Bones.
  • Laurie Lewis is an icon of bluegrass, especially the scene on the West coast where she’s made her base since launching her career in the 1970s as co-founder of the Good Ol’ Persons with Kathy Kallick. As singer, songwriter, fiddler and bandleader, she’s been a beacon of integrity and forward progress, winning two IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year awards and numerous others for a variety of collaborations. Artists like Molly Tuttle and AJ Lee have held her up as a mentor. So it’s awesome to feature music from her newest album Trees, made with Patrick Sauber on banjo, Brandon Godman on fiddle, Andrew Marlin on mandolin and Hasee Ciaccio on bass. New singles arrive this week from Andy Leftwich, the Po’ Ramblin’ Boys and the Lonesome River Band. And Amy Alvey phones in on the eve of her launch for a European tour.