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.


The Grateful Dead spawned not one but two jam band movements. Its electric, psychedelic rock and roll road was followed by Phish, Widespread Panic and others. But the band regularly unplugged in tribute to its jug band and bluegrass origins, creating a template for freewheeling acoustic bands like New Grass Revival and Greensky Bluegrass. Leftover Salmon, among the most eclectic and beloved veterans of jamgrass, turned 30 years old on New Year’s Day.

Claire Marie Vogel

There’s a moment, about three minutes into Madison Cunningham’s song “Plain Letters,” that crystalizes the ambition and execution in her intricate folk pop. She’s just sung the second high-intensity chorus when the band’s roar suddenly collapses to an atmospheric whisper. Then the electric guitar – Madison’s electric guitar, not some sideman – interjects a rising scale so pristine and luminous it feels like fireflies in formation. Its timing, touch and its resolution into the final verse is other-worldly.

Dylan Ladds

Instrumental music faces headwinds in the music business, but hawks rise fast and high on headwinds, so Hawktail has a decent chance of soaring. The Nashville-based quartet recently packed out the capacious Harpeth Brewing Company for its release show of the new album Formations. They debuted on the Grand Ole Opry that same weekend. And they’ve just announced some high profile festival slots alongside their more vocally oriented colleagues, including Telluride Bluegrass and Newport Folk.


Marcus Finnie

The pristine white sanctuary of East Nashville’s St. Teresa Holiness Science Church glowed with morning light and gospel music on a recent Sunday morning. Up front and off to the left, a woman I’ve recently had the pleasure of meeting named Mabel Pleasure played a Hammond organ through a Lelise speaker cabinet. She looks almost too hip for church in a fedora and cat-eye glasses. Her instrumental setup is one I see much more frequently on stage with southern R&B, jazz and rock and roll bands.


It’s a long, long way from New Zealand to Nashville – 24 hours of flights and layovers one doesn’t want to make in reverse after Music City has kicked your butt. Happily, songwriters Cy Winstanley and Vanessa McGowan go home to Auckland when they want to and on their own terms. Their stature, back home and back here, is secure as working side musicians and as the roots duo called The Tattletale Saints. They’re a parable of modern Nashville’s global reach and open arms.

Dylan Estes for WMOT

Aubrie Sellers, daughter of Nashville, has released two albums so far, one today and one in 2016 called New City Blues. To compliment and explain that debut, she wrote some notes that read like a young creator’s manifesto, with a few choice callouts of cultural nonsense that may or may not have been going on in her front yard.