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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David Byrne once wrote that music’s evolution is shaped by the spaces it occupies, filling rooms and halls the way water takes the shape of its vessel. Artists, he observed, “work backward, either consciously or unconsciously, creating work that fits the venue available to us.” And what if no venues were available? He doesn’t say, because before the horrible, terrible, never-to-be-forgotten year of 2020, it would have seemed like a preposterous thought.

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America’s out-of-control Coronavirus pandemic has claimed the life of another music legend, the iconic country singer Charley Pride. One of the great song interpreters of all time, Pride’s sensitive but resounding baritone delivered him every accolade possible in the industry, including the Country Music Hall of Fame, the Grand Ole Opry and a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. He died in Dallas on Saturday at age 86, his PR firm said.

Rick Diamond for Americana Music Assn.

I believe I first heard Margo Price sing in person at Music City Roots in 2013 when she and husband Jeremy Ivey were making their first wide impressions with their band Buffalo Clover, one of several iterations of their musical identity on the way to Margo’s 2016 breakout. They hit the stage at the Loveless Barn with a three-man horn section, two electric guitars, keys and harmony vocals.

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Music historians don’t even try to assign a specific inception date for the blues, jazz or rock and roll. But country music loves its birthdays, and there are plausible, evidence-based stories to tell about some of its “Big Bang” moments, especially for one genre. On December 8, 1945, Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys played the Grand Ole Opry at the Ryman Auditorium with a new lineup and thus a new sound, making this week the 75th anniversary of bluegrass music.

Val Hoeppner

Consistent with his novel-ready name, Joe Firstman is a vortex of intensity and a fountain of words, most of them extravagant and declamatory. As bass player and singer in Nashville’s meticulous roots rock band Cordovas, Firstman is first among equals, a front man with no façade. Reached on a Zoom call, a mane of hair flairs out from a vintage Atlanta Braves cap and fills the screen. Nine months into the Covid statis, he hasn’t lost his verve.

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