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Roots Radio News

  • African drum and dance group the Yeli Ensemble recently arrived in Nashville, where they’re embarking on a three month artistic residency that will include drum and dance classes, workshops, recording sessions, collaborations, and public performances. The first of those takes place Sunday night at 3rd & Lindsley at a show billed as Country Music From Other Countries amid a local/global lineup featuring Raul Malo singing Cuban songs, Wu Fei playing the Chinese guzheng and sax innovator Jeff Coffin playing jazz.
  • Every January I brace myself for learning about really good albums released the previous year that eluded my attention, because it’s inevitable. In my defense, there are a lot of releases. In my prosecution, Power Up! by David Newbould is absolutely fantastic and I wish I’d covered it. I’ve known his name for years, but I should have been more zoned in on this formidable Nashville veteran. But you can get the crash course you’ve been needing or the fix you’ve been craving of the David Newbould thing on Friday at our weekly live 3rd & Lindsley showcase in a triple bill with country adventurers Lake & Lyndale and roots rocker Foster McGinty.
  • Folk singer Willi Carlisle is one of the most compelling and disarming young troubadours in the country. On his superb 2022 album Peculiar, Missouri, he’s empathetic, insightful, poignant and a little profane. On stage, he’s boisterous and whimsical and tender, a songster and raconteur in the lineage of Steve Goodman and Utah Phillips and Woody Guthrie.
  • Most often, famous artists hire bands to help them sound good, but then there are bands that happen to include famous artists - bands more interested in that all-for-one energy. That’s what I felt as Nashville’s newest high-level collaborative project, a six-piece fronted by John Cowan and Andrea Zonn called the HercuLeons took the stage at 3rd & Lindsley on a recent Tuesday night.
  • Economists, bummers that they are, will tell you there’s no such thing as a free lunch, but there is free music during lunch once again this week at 3rd & Lindsley, as Finally Friday returns with an interesting triple play: progressive bluegrass from California, tasty guitar skills and powerful singing from a Nashville songwriting fellow, and the edgy music of a fiery-haired, second-generation folk rocker.
  • The Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum has devoted its largest rotating exhibit space to three experiences in a row centered on different American places covering roughly the same period - the 1960s and 70s. Dylan, Cash and the Nashville Cats (2015-2018) looked at Music Row here in the capital of country music. Outlaws And Armadillos (2018-2022) touched on Nashville but was chiefly about the burgeoning scene in Austin, Texas. Now, the Hall’s curators have turned their attention to Los Angeles and the astonishing confluence of talent and cultural upheaval that gave us country-rock. It wasn’t designed as a trilogy, but now it feels like one.
  • To kick off the new year, our music journalist Craig Havighurst offers this in-depth analysis of how two great and sweeping genres - jazz and Americana - can have such different audiences and narratives in contemporary life despite their common origins in the blues. Reviewed are two releases - the 10th anniversary vinyl edition of Esperanza Spalding's Grammy Award-winning Radio Music Society and sax player JD Allen's new and provocatively titled Americana, Vol. 2.
  • Jazz and Americana share a common origin point in the blues, and while they are separate sectors of the music marketplace today, artists have been blending and mingling them for decades. This survey of some key crossover artists and albums offers some onramps into a vast and rewarding world of American music.
  • In today’s bluegrass and string band scene, John Hartford is a patron saint. With his honor for his elders, his hippie humor, and his relentless quest for new refinements and ideas, the late singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, archivist and raconteur may be the single greatest influence on pickers under 50 years old working in traditional Americana. For Sam Bush, himself a hero of modern bluegrass, Hartford was all that and more - a friend and picking buddy and sometimes a touring partner or boss in the studio. So there’s a feeling of inevitability about Bush’s new tribute Radio John.
  • Craig Havighurst and Amy Alvey launched The Old Fashioned this year to bring a dedicated hour of bluegrass, old-time and acoustic folk music to WMOT's Americana mix. Here they've selected twelve great albums that made 2022 a great year for the old sounds. Listen to The Old Fashioned Saturdays at 9 am and Tuesdays at 8 pm.