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Roots Radio News

Wired In Serves Country Music Three Ways

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all photos Val Hoeppner
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Kendell Marvel and band closed out Wired In Tuesday night.

If the recent Ken Burns PBS documentary about country music conveyed one over-arching take-away, it’s that country music isn’t one thing. Not only has it changed and adapted and evolved over the decades, any given era will contain multiple sub-genres and ways of mingling lyrical concision and musical blues. And Tuesday’s all-star WMOT Wired In show and broadcast proved it, with country music served three ways at Nashville’s 3rd & Lindsley.

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Logan Ledger opened the show with the backing of only Luke Reynolds on electric guitar. Bay area native Ledger’s recorded sound is luxurious with groove and texture, but his voice is so outstanding that he can convey his dark Roy Orbison kind of vibe without drums or bass or keys, as on the Bakersfield noir number “Invisible Blue.” The song “River of Fools” had more swing and boogie, with some scat lyrics that called Roger Miller to mind. Leger’s voice fit the classic Jim Reeves ballad “He’ll Have To Go” like a well-worn boot. And his surreal number “Let The Mermaids Flirt With Me,” a teaser of this year’s T Bone Burnett produced debut album, produced a great vocal and a long lyrical solo by Reynolds that got its own round of applause. 

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Kelsey Waldon’s country comes from northwest Kentucky with an esthetic born in Nashville’s studios in the 1970s. Her acoustic guitar was bolstered by Telecaster and pedal steel, the ideal cocktail for her stories of growing up (“Kentucky 1988”), the road (“White Noise / White Lines”) and tobacco farming (“Black Patch”). “Sunday’s Children” is possibly the bravest song on her Oh Boy Records album of last year, given that its warnings about church brainwashing would certainly not be taken to heart in her native terrain. But Waldon has proven in these years of growth in Nashville that she’s secure in her story. 

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The night rounded out with the full-force honky tonk rock and roll of veteran Kendell Marvel. With a baritone bazooka of a voice, his sound splits the difference between Hank Williams Jr. and Gregg Allman. Heads were banged during the opening number “Good For Me,” but that wasn’t the only tone, with the barroom swing of “Untangle My Mind” (co-written with Chris Stapelton) following close behind. And “Cadillac’n’” is a cruiser’s delight saturated with the electric blues. “Rock and roll country, come as you are” is how Marvell put it while offering equal servings from his two albums Lowdown & Lonesome (2017) and Solid Gold Sounds (2019). That’s not a bad life credo and we lived it for a while. 

 

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