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Roots Radio News

  • Darrell Scott emerged in the late 1990s as one of Nashville’s most complete folk/roots artists. He had the butter of James Taylor and the grease of Lowell George in his voice. He could pick numerous instruments like a practiced master. And his songs were stunning from the get go, including his widely-recorded “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive” and his crowd favorite “Great Day To Be Alive” on his debut project. Now, Scott lives mostly on a farm two hours from Nashville tending the land and playing 60-80 dates a year. Recently he issued Old Cane Back Rocker, his first studio album since 2016 and his most bluegrass leaning project ever. I road tripped to Darrell’s farm to record this week’s atmospheric conversation.
  • With a dash of history and nostalgia, Nashville multi-instrumentalist Fats Kaplin brokered a show this Wednesday by iconic blues man Roy Book Binder at Kaplin’s favorite Nashville club, the 5 Spot. It’ll bring a bit of medicine show razzle dazzle and a lot of string band swing to East Nashville. I spoke with Fats about his deep background with the patriarch they call Book.
  • Touring guitar phenom Billy Strings finds himself in an exalted place in roots music, having been named Entertainer of the Year at the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards for a third consecutive year one week after winning his second straight Artist of the Year prize at the Americana Honors and Awards. Fellow flatpicker Molly Tuttle also had a big night in Raleigh, NC, winning a standout three awards, including Album of the Year for Crooked Tree and Song of the Year for its title track.
  • On the two-year anniversary of her death, Concord Music has released two impressive packages in honor of Texas songwriter and Americana Trailblazer Nanci Griffith. More Than A Whisper: Celebrating The Music of Nanci Griffith brings together an all-star cast interpreting 14 Griffith songs. Working In Corners is a four-album box set covering the beginning of her recording career.
  • At some point during the past six years, WMOT’s AmericanaFest Day Stage went from being a tradition to an institution, if we may say so. Our program director Jessie Scott has been in music and radio for decades, so she’s got an address book and good will like few others. We always stand amazed at the stature of artists she’s able to wrangle for Nashville’s biggest week of roots music. Here share the memories with photos by the amazing John Partipilo.
  • For the second year in a row, bluegrass guitar innovator and live roots phenom Billy Strings was named Artist of the Year at the 22nd annual Americana Honors and Awards. Unlike last year, Strings was on hand to accept his custom trophy and then join the night's huge cast of assembled artists to play a snapping guitar solo on the show finale jam on "Cripple Creek," a salute to The Band's great songwriter and singer Robbie Robertson, who died in August.
  • When East Nashville emerged as a nationally important music scene in the early 2000s, Amelia White had a substantial role in that play. Like so many others, she’d migrated from elsewhere (Boston and Seattle) to find a nurturing community full of collaborators and enablers. She was included on a seminal anthology of East Nashville songs. And she set up a rhythm of writing, recording and touring domestically and increasingly overseas. Now she’s heading back to showcase at AmericanaFest 2023 and getting set to release an album this winter produced by Americana great Kim Richey. Amelia dropped by the studio for a friendly conversation that surveys her journey, with music from across her career.
  • Bass player Dave Roe, who laid down the sonic and rhythmic foundation for incalculable amounts of Nashville’s greatest music of the past five decades, died suddenly on Friday at the age of 71. Multiple accounts point to a massive heart attack at his Goodlettsville home. Roe’s musicianship, from his long tenure with Johnny Cash to his recent status as the pulse of Easy Eye Sound, defined the groove of Americana. A vast community of artists and fans he touched spent the weekend reeling from the unwelcome news.
  • AmericanaFest is a controlled explosion, a circus maximus, an idea so crazy that it just might work. The Americana Music Association has been pulling this thing off for 23 years, so it’s got staying power. It’s grown from a handful of shows at a few bars to a sprawl of 220 artists playing at 40+ venues from the far West End to far East Nashville, so it has drawing power too. And it’s back, between Tuesday, Sept. 19 and Saturday, Sept. 23. We’re as ready as we can be (including three afternoons of loaded Day Stage performances). How about you?
  • For a band that released its independent debut album in 2017, the Teskey Brothers have come a long way. From our perspective here in Nashville, that would be 9,700 miles, the distance from their home town of Warrandyte, New South Wales, Australia. Raised on classic soul and R&B music, Sam and Josh Teskey started making music together as kids and became staples of the Melbourne music scene. They didn’t have huge aspirations, but when their first record impressed folks close to home, they took their classic Stax/Muscle Shoals sound to the world and the world replied. This year they’ve toured Europe for five months and played major sold out venues, including the Ryman Auditorium behind their current album the Winding Way. Guitarist, songwriter, singer and recording engineer Sam Teskey is my guest.