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Roots Radio News

Roots Radio News

  • I first heard Chris Smither as a fingerstyle guitar master who wrote good songs. With time I realized he’s a great songwriter who happens to be a standout guitarist. While never a household name, this 60-year veteran has long been a cherished icon of American folk and roots. His peers celebrated him in 2014 with the release of Link of Chain: A Songwriters’ Tribute to Chris Smither, featuring interpretations of his work by Dave Alvin, Peter Case, Patty Larkin, Mary Gauthier, Jorma Kaukonen, and Tim O'Brien. Now on the eve of his 80th birthday, Smither came by the studio to talk about his origins in New Orleans, his friendship with Bonnie Raitt, his boom times in the 1990s, and his newest album All About The Bones.
  • It’s one thing to get applause for your songs, and it’s another to get laughs. John Craigie of Portland, OR has quietly built a robust touring career because he’s an excellent songwriter who also keeps his audiences in stitches between songs. His newest album is a collaboration called Pagan Church with TK and the Holy Know-Nothings, the Portland band fronted by admired songwriter Taylor Kingman. We talk about how Craigie developed his stagecraft under the influence of artists like Arlo Guthrie and his friend Todd Snider, as well as his unlikely path to performing while getting a math degree in California. No surprise, it’s a lot of fun. Also in the hour, Dave Wilson and John Teer reflect on 25 years as Chatham County Line and the new directions baked into the new album Hiyo.
  • Maggie Rose returns to the String for a full hour this time, because her new album No One Gets Out Alive marks yet another leap for this magnificent singer and songwriter from Nashville. As we heard back in Episode 180, the Maryland native was scouted by major labels while still in college, leading to a country deal in the early 2010s. She fell through the cracks in that restrictive format but regrouped as a fully indie artist working as a business team with her husband. She’s built a following by working the road and a series of albums that split the difference between soul, country, pop, and rock and roll. And as the host of her own podcast, she’s also a great conversationalist.
  • There was plenty of shade to go around as WMOT’s third annual Roots On The Rivers festival took place under cool, overcast skies on Saturday. Our radio family and a close-knit community of culture-keepers enjoyed a Nashville-centric lineup of Americana, ending with rockin’ country sets by Chuck Mead and Elizabeth Cook. WMOT is grateful to the artists, crew, sponsors, volunteers and patrons who made it possible. These images by award-winning Nashville photojournalist John Partipilo tell some of the story.
  • WMOT's Roots On The Rivers returns this Saturday, June 1 for a third year on the shady grounds of Two Rivers Mansion in Donelson. Here, Craig H. has notes on our Nashville-centric lineup, which includes Elizabeth Cook, Chuck Mead and the Stalwarts, Devon Gilfillian, Chatham County Line, Jaime Wyatt, Mary Gauthier with Jaimee Harris, and Farmer Jason. The grounds open at noon.
  • If you’re of a certain age, it’s likely that when you read the title of Chatham County Line’s new album Hiyo, you’ll hear it in the voice of Ed McMahon, who used to punctuate Johnny Carson’s edgier jokes on the Tonight Show with his trademark exclamation. Dave Wilson and John Teer, founding members of the band, agree in a Zoom interview that McMahon was indeed one inspiration for the title, but not the only one. “It’s just a phrase that kind of means different things at different times,” says Wilson.
  • When filmmakers Jeremey and Abby Lavoi started shooting video of young Cajun and Zydeco musicians around 2013, they didn’t know what story they wanted to tell, only that they were captivated by the music and the people making it. Jeremey, then based with his production partner wife in San Francisco, was guided, he says now, by a certain homesickness. He grew up in southwest Louisiana, and the sound of fiddles, accordions, washboards, and clanging triangles spoke to him, despite having come of age on punk rock in the suburbs. More than a decade later, after a long and winding road, they’ve made their movie, and it’s what the Cajuns might call a cri de coeur, a cry from the heart.
  • For a duo called the Secret Sisters, Laura Rogers and Lydia Slagle let their relationship hang right out there on stage. At a packed late April show at Nashville’s Basement East, amid masterful renditions of their new and familiar songs for a spellbound audience, the sisters niggled each other, rolled their eyes, and came off at times like siblings who’d maybe been cooped up together in a van too long. And at the same time, this banter, which gets laughs, is an endearing part of their show and their relationship with their fans. On record and in performance, the Secret Sisters have been all about harmony since launching on their rollercoaster ride in the music business around 2010. But in Episode 283 of the String, we get into the unique challenges and blessings of sharing everything with each other and the audience, year in and year out.
  • The music industry has been promising music credits on the streaming services for more than a decade. They’re having another conference about it in Nashville this week, where some well-meaning people will once again discuss the nerdy, vexing challenge of “metadata.” To be fair, it’s not an easy problem, and the business can point to some progress. But in this special report, Craig Havighurst finds that in a world where public-facing databases can track 20 million UPS packages a day, baseball career statistics from 100 years ago to last night, and millions of global Bitcoin transactions, musician credits remain incomplete and hard to access. Left hurting are Nashville's working musicians, arrangers, producers and engineers who are trying to build resumes and reputation - and in some cases get paid.
  • The Americana Music Association released its nominees for the 2024 Honors And Awards on Tuesday in a music-rich ceremony at the National Museum of African American Music. Tyler Childers and Sierra Ferrell led the list with nods for Artist, Album and Song of the Year. Familiar past winners will also be eligible for 2024 awards, including Allison Russell, Jason Isbell, and The War and Treaty.