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.

For all the songs about mother, trains and cabins in the mountains, bluegrass has a tradition of instrumental music that goes back to its very origins. Bill Monroe’s first bands recorded mandolin and fiddle-driven tunes like “Tennessee Blues” and “Back Up And Push.” After Earl Scruggs joined in late 1945, his banjo instrumentals became a staple. Several generations of players embellished on those models, and a rush of new albums suggests that instrumental string band music is as dynamic as ever.

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Well into a jovial conversation with the co-founders of Nashville’s Great Peacock, Andrew Nelson says something almost in passing that seems worth a pause and no small amount of awe. “We haven't paid ourselves in years,” he says of their aggressive touring life. Nelson and partner Blount Floyd cover their bills with day jobs at home then (in regular times) hit the road, pay their guys and sock the rest away. “That way whenever we need to record or anything we know, okay, we have money for that. It's always been saving up for the next album.”

 

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Violinist Jenny Scheinman was newly in New York, a twentysomething breaking into the jazz scene when she got her first big ask – to play a fourteen-show run at the Village Vanguard with guitar icon Bill Frisell. When she looked in the folio of charts he sent to prepare, she was surprised to see some old fiddle tunes and country songs, a mingling rare in jazz but in tune with her background. As she put it in a JazzTimes interview, “Hank Williams and Sonny Rollins, they’re right there with each other.”

Hannah Miller

In the regular cycles of our never-ending media traffic jam, most one-year-old albums have faded from attention, and the artists are often looking forward to the next thing. But every so often a record grows in relevance and we see with hindsight how the work of art met its moment. Listen, by Nashville’s Kyshona, which has its first anniversary this week, is such a project.

Kady Carter

Growing up in tiny Madisonville, TN, halfway between Knoxville and Chattanooga, Justin Moses lived in a home that was something of a bluegrass instrument petting zoo. His father always played the guitar, but as a trader/swapper type, he had various things with strings cycling in and out of the house. Dad probably wasn’t planning on raising a multi-instrumentalist bluegrass dynamo, but that’s kind of what happened.

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