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 Sundays at 8 am, repeating Mondays at 9 pm.

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Inevitably, somebody was going to make a documentary about the late great Texas songwriter Guy Clark. It was far less likely that it would place a strong, fascinating and lesser-known woman at the heart of the story. Viewers will be grateful that writer/director Tamara Saviano emphasizes Guy’s creative, vivacious wife Susanna. For she makes Guy’s flinty, lone-wolf persona more complex and believable.

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The special exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum celebrating the Station Inn sat mute behind glass on Monday morning as it has since it opened in January. A trickle of masked visitors paused to look and read, most perhaps unaware that the man pictured at the center of the display, the man whose patient tenacity made the Station Inn museum-worthy in the first place, had died over the weekend.

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On paper, it doesn’t seem like a plausible plan for storming onto the Americana radio chart. Start a brand new band with members based on two continents, with gently surreal songs written by a fifty-ish fingerstyle folk/classical guitarist and a lyricist/singer who’s a generation younger from Denmark. That is however the basic origin story of The Burnt Pines, and it appears to be working.

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Bill Kirchen’s big 35-song box set from his years on Proper Records opens with a song not about his journey or his outlook on life but about the tool he’s taken to work for fifty years. The Fender Telecaster, he sings, was “born at the junction of form and function, it’s the hammer of the honky tonk gods.” No other single track could teach you more about Kirchen’s inspired career. He’s a witty songwriter, a virtuoso picker and a larger-than-life showman.

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Nearly a year after he died from Covid-19 and just over a year after he was granted a Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award, the late John Prine hovered angelically over this year’s American Roots field with two Grammy wins on Sunday. His posthumously released single “I Remember Everything” was named Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song, a songwriter trophy shared with Nashville’s Pat McLaughlin. Prine now has four career Grammys.

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