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Country Music, Cosmic And Domestic, On Finally Friday

This week’s Finally Friday is the last one before Thanksgiving, which got me thinking about how much we have to be grateful for. So many wonderful and busy artists agree to make lunch dates with us to play over the airwaves of WMOT and for the visitors to 3rd & Lindsley. It means the world. Take this week for example, with Nashville roots staple Nora Jane Struthers, master guitarist Daniel Donato and songwriter Davie Borné. With its blend of songcraft and instrumental fireworks, this should be one of the best of the year.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Nora Jane Struthers since soon after she arrived in Nashville in 2008 and I’ve loved following her evolution from the country/bluegrass on which she was raised to the more dynamic and eclectic roots rock she’s pursued on recent albums. She has a disarmingly honest voice and a straight-shooting approach to songwriting that takes a look around her life and finds gem-like observations that need saying - Bike rides are nice! Nookie in the morning is good! More recently, she’s documented the complexities of life as a mom of two who tours and the support of her fine feller and musical partner Joe. On her very new Back To Cast Iron, produced by Neilson Hubbard, Nora Jane celebrates home and the road, the eternal paradox of the artist’s life. It sounds great as always, and we’re excited to share this release celebration with her and with y’all.

Finally Friday will get loud and fiery with a concluding set by guitar phenom Daniel Donato, the insurgent claimant to the throne of cosmic country in the 21st century. When I profiled him for a String interview in 2020, I said that “his journey is so cinematically Nashville that it may enter the realm of myth. As a 16-year-old, he hustled and landed the most auspicious gig for an up-and-coming guitar player in Music City, the 6-10 slot presided over for more than 20 years by The Don Kelley Band at Robert’s Western World in the heart of downtown. There, Donato learned his craft, sharpened his tools and put in thousands of hours of stage time.” Since then he’s become a touring jam band staple and a social media star. With boundless energy and an infectious enthusiasm, he’s one of the coolest musicians to keep up with, because he has a philosophy and he can shred. The arrival last week of Reflector, his second all-originals album is a cause to pause and put on the headphones. I love its fusion of trippy swirls and Lower Broadway Telecaster magic.

This all gets started at noon with the songs of David Borné. He has a French sounding name because he’s from Baton Rouge, LA, where, he told an interviewer, his dad was the stadium announcer for the LSU Tigers, a pretty cool-sounding claim to local fame, if you ask me. Borné’s worked a different kind of microphone since arriving in Nashville in 2010, but only now has he released a full-length debut album called Genesis because it dwells on the theme of personal rebirth after trials. Glide magazine calls it “a satisfying and important listen,” and I’m getting into it. It’s a really nice collection of folk pop with surprising textures and a fine lead voice. Geaux tiger!

Craig Havighurst is WMOT's editorial director and host of The String, a weekly interview show airing Mondays at 8 pm, repeating Sundays at 7 am. He also co-hosts The Old Fashioned on Saturdays at 9 am and Tuesdays at 8 pm. Threads and Instagram: @chavighurst. Email: craig@wmot.org