Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Arts and Entertainment

  • Bluegrass fans who love to stay home in the winter aren’t left out in the cold, because of a bumper crop of excellent new albums. Mostly by women and younger artists, they tell a gratifying story about where today’s music is going, and we’ve been reveling in these neo-traditional sounds over on The Old Fashioned (Saturdays 9 am / Tuesdays 8 pm).
  • Thirty years ago, legendary R&B singer Delbert McClinton proved he was ahead of his time by launching his Sandy Beaches Cruise, a January festival at sea that featured his friends and associated artists from the bluesy side of Americana. Since then, the music cruise business has flourished across many genres. A company called Star Vista Live bought Sandy Beaches from Delbert a few years ago and now does the management while Delbert himself acts as host. I got a fortunate invitation to act as artist interviewer on this year’s cruise, and they let me report my own account of this luxurious but accessible experience. In this hour you’ll hear from Delbert himself, Mavericks lead singer Raul Malo, cruise lifer Marcia Ball, emerging artist Yates McKendree, singer Etta Britt, gospel great Anne McCrary, and more.
  • Lola Kirke got on America’s cultural radar as an actress - starring in the Amazon series Mozart in the Jungle, along with roles in Gone Girl and Mistress America alongside Greta Gerwig. But during those years, she was also quietly nurturing her passion for songwriting and music - specifically country music. The pandemic brought her to Nashville where her album Lady for Sale was released by Third Man Records to great acclaim. Now she’s about to release the new EP Country Curious and make her debut on the Grand Ole Opry. She’s a bold, dynamic personality and this was a really fun conversation that bridges New York, Nashville and Hollywood.
  • On a Grammy Awards when some popular genres of music represented themselves with swords and blood, the smashing of folding chairs, and a literal on-stage dumpster fire (and when classical and jazz seemed to not exist), country and roots music offered the world some moving examples of obligation, homage and collaboration. Between Joni Mitchell’s triumphant, first-ever Grammy performance and a Luke Combs/Tracy Chapman duet that stirred hearts on social media, this year’s ceremony, from a Los Angeles arena named for imaginary money, made the simplest songs look like the source of lasting value.
  • Nashville's Rod Picott is a veteran troubadour, with 12 studio releases to his credit and a trail of great reviews, though not the recognition his steady hand and persistence deserve. We do know that he’s playing the hallowed stage of 3rd & Lindsley on Finally Friday where he’ll be celebrating release day for his new album Starlight Tour, produced with East Nashville guru Nielson Hubbard. Also on this Friday’s bill are 1970s throwback country-rock band Gwen Levey & The Breakdown, vocally gifted English trio The Wandering Hearts. While you make plans to join us, here’s a catch-up conversation I had early this week with Rod Picott.
  • In just five years, including the pandemic shut-down, Nashville native Gabe Lee has grown from an unknown “hometown kid,” as one of his titles proclaims, to a debut last year on the Grand Ole Opry. Working independently with boutique Torrez Music Group, Lee has released four albums, earning the admiration of critics and a grassroots fan base that’s adding up to something special and sustainable. The most recent opus is Drink The River, which Lee took in a more acoustic and nuanced direction than his prior release, and which might be emerging as his career record.
  • While there’s no way to measure it, no Americana album debut of last year had more visibility, impact or critical acclaim than Whiplash by Nashville-based, Colorado-raised Jobi Riccio. Jobi’s name was everywhere for months before the record’s release. She played a jam-packed preview show to release her breakout single “For Me It’s You” at Nashville’s Basement in January of last year, eight months before her album date. And when the album did arrive, it received huge acclaim and landed on numerous year-end lists, including ours at WMOT. Craig Havighurst speaks with the artist in an audio feature.
  • The winter weather has been tumultuous across the country, including in Nashville, where we plunged to single digits for days before a warm snap that brought a week of rain. But believe me, none of our team had any foresight about this when they booked the talent for this week’s Finally Friday, where we’ll open with a singer named Sunshine and close with an acoustic roots trio named for stormy weather.
  • The recently revitalized Nashville Blues and Roots Alliance, a non-profit dedicated to preserving and promoting the blues, is sending three winning artists from its recent battle of the bands to Memphis next week for the International Blues Challenge. They’ll meet and in some cases compete with blues artists from across the planet in the world’s biggest gathering of blues fanatics and professionals. Nashville’s youngest delegate/winner is 16-year-old harmonica playing Kiersi Joli.
  • Rosanne Cash says she’s a forward-looking artist and thinker, not prone to looking back. But when she regained control over the master recording of her 1993 album The Wheel, it prompted an idea. She’s launched the new label Rumble Strip Records with John Leventhal, the producer and guitarist she fell in love with while working on it with him. Cash, one of the most fascinating and sophisticated roots musicians and a founding figure of the Americana movement, calls The Wheel a “watershed” for her in many ways beyond her new life with Leventhal. She’d moved to New York where she’s lived ever since. And she branched away from the country mainstream. The re-issue of The Wheel, now out for the first time on vinyl, prompted a riveting conversation. Also in the hour, Colorado-reared newcomer Jobi Riccio.