Arts and Entertainment

Charlie Daniels

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country music firebrand and fiddler Charlie Daniels, who had a hit with "Devil Went Down to Georgia," has died at 83.

A statement from his publicist said the Country Music Hall of Famer died Monday at a hospital in Hermitage, Tennessee, after doctors said he had a stroke.

He had suffered what was described as a mild stroke in January 2010 and had a heart pacemaker implanted in 2013 but continued to perform.

Rodney Bursiel

Eliza Gilkyson turned 18 years old in 1968, the year many historians are pointing to as a precedent for the national turmoil of 2020. Those are formative years for anyone, but as a budding folk singer with a progressive outlook, it was a stirring, motivating time. Problem is, when Gilkyson watches the world now, she sees that famous era as one that produced a lot of consciousness-raising but too little actual change. “We really thought we were moving the ball down the court,” she says on The String. “We patted ourselves on the back prematurely.”

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Secondary Schools Athletic Association says football and girls soccer will not start on schedule because of the coronavirus pandemic.


Season openers had been set for Aug. 21 with jamborees a week earlier.


On Monday Gov. Bill Lee extended Tennessee’s state of emergency through August 29. Among other things, Lee’s order limits contact sports “with a requirement or substantial likelihood of routine close contact.”


One of the essential stories that will be told inside the new National Museum of African American Music, set to open in downtown Nashville this Fall, is the pivotal role of music in the Civil Rights Movement of the 60s. Yet the exterior of the building became part of that story in the present day as well. Early in Black Music Month for 2020, June 4 to be exact, one of the largest protest marches in the history of Nashville rolled past the front door of NMAAM, and its director Henry Beecher Hicks III tells WMOT that felt like a proud moment.

Episode #134 - Brandy Clark plus Eliza Gilkyson

Jun 29, 2020

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country artists have long been hesitant to address racial issues, but the rallies over racial injustice this year have become too important for the genre to ignore.


Black artists say the industry still needs to do the hard work of addressing the systematic racial barriers that have been entrenched in country music for decades.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  Nashville will host the first of a series of new drive in, live-music events next month arranged by concert powerhouse Live Nation.

Brad Paisley will headline the concert to be held in the Nissan Stadium parking lot. Darius Rucker and Jon Pardi will also perform.

Attendees will get their own block of space to set up what Live Nation is calling a social distancing tailgate zone next to their car. Each car will be allowed four passengers.

The Americana Music Association today offered its first look at this Fall’s annual gathering, starting with a new name. AmericanaFest has been recast as an online suite of events called Thriving Roots: A Virtual Community Music Conference and set for Sept. 16-18. The AMA is leaning in to high profile guest speakers and panelists to add value, announcing appearances by Rosanne Cash, John Leventhal, Mavis Staples, Jackson Browne, Rhiannon Giddens and T Bone Burnett to start. 

Episode #133 - David Bromberg plus Kingfish

Jun 18, 2020

Marla Keown for Dee's

This Thursday night, Tommy Womack will have the chance to feel somewhat in his element for the first time in months. “It’s my first show not on a screen since February and my first band show since February,” he says. “I’m looking forward to being on stage with a band and feeling a rock and roll beat.” That stage is at Dee’s Country Cocktail Lounge in Madison, and the ticketed show is just one part of the tentative return of live music to Nashville.

Joe Del Tufo

In the repertoire and the freedom and the spaces between the notes on David Bromberg’s new album Big Road, we hear signifiers of his whole story. There’s big band with electric guitar and pianistic ragtime solo acoustic guitar. Bromberg croons country and shouts the blues. We hear the bluegrass work song “Take This Hammer,” the gospel classic “Standing In The Need of Prayer” and an eleven-minute slow jam on the original “Diamond Lil.” No corner or tradition of Americana music goes untouched, and it has been thus for more than 50 years.

Collage by Americana Music Association

Without ceremony or comment, the Americana Music Association announced the nominees for its 2020 Honors & Awards on Monday. Brandi Carlile, 2019's Artist of the Year, continues to be among the format’s most recognized figures, with an individual nomination for Artist, a production credit on Tanya Tucker’s Album and Song, and a shared Duo/Group nod for her super-group The Highwomen.

PARIS, Tenn. (AP) — Police in Tennessee say the 27-year-old daughter of country singer Hank Williams Jr. has been killed in a highway accident.

Tennessee Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Brad Wilbanks says Katherine Williams-Dunning of Springville was the driver of a SUV that was towing a boat when it crossed the median and rolled over Saturday night.

The accident happened on U.S. Route 79 northeast of Paris.

After years in the popular music wilderness, the guitar has made a certifiable comeback, with a new generation of virtuoso players drawing big audiences beyond the roots music faithful. In bluegrass it’s Molly Tuttle and Billy Strings. Southern rock has Marcus King. And at last, after arguably a skipped generation or two, the blues has an emotive, rafter-rattling, soul-satisfying young guitar master with an old school blues name. Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, at 21 years old, is a star.

OWENSBORO, Ky. (AP) — The Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum in Owensboro, Kentucky, is reopening to the public this month after being closed for almost three months during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Hall of Fame’s exhibit space and museum store will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday beginning June 17.

The museum’s exhibits feature documentary-style films, artifacts and images. Exhibits on the second floor highlight the Hall of Fame and include additional items related to Hall of Fame members.

You can think outside the box all you like, but the important corollary to that advice is to never fall out of love with the box. Americana and roots music at its best plays and inside-outside game. It’s not a format that routinely embraces the avant-garde, but it’s a lot of fun when there’s a hint of the weird, the obscure or the brave in the mix. Here are six new albums featuring virtuoso musicians mingling the foundational and the free, ready to take you on some unexpected trips.  


Jake Blount - Spider Tales - Free Dirt Records

Nashville is remembering two key guitar-playing sidemen who’ve recently died. Jimmy Capps, who passed away early this week at the age of 81, earned his way into the Musicians Hall of Fame for his work with the Grand Ole Opry and on classic country records. William “Bucky” Baxter, who toured the world with Bob Dylan and played with Steve Earle, Jean Shepard and R.E.M, died on May 25 at age 65.

America’s music venues have been shuttered since March due to Covid-19, but on Tuesday, virtually the entire music industry is voluntarily going dark in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. The unprecedented work stoppage, promoted as #theshowmustbepaused on social media over the weekend, prompted industry figures from all sectors to speak out on behalf of racial justice during a weekend of demonstration nationwide.

Even before last weekend’s protests and melees around the nation, America’s political fault lines felt like grand canyons and open wounds. And while the caricature of the left-leaning folk singer is an ideologue who sings up-with-we and down-with-thee, an honest listen to socially conscious roots artists of the last few years is more likely to reveal despondency over our disconnections than scolding. If this is an emerging genre of radical empathy, this week’s String talks to the creators of two timely, important examples.

Val Hoeppner

It’s one thing to see America’s big music festivals cancel one after the other under the spectre of a viral pandemic. It hurts that much more when it’s your festival, and one that was just a fresh green shoot, ready for nurturing and another year of growth. But alas, 895 Fest, which would have taken place this weekend for the second time, is off. So we’re taking a cue from Merlefest and DelFest and going to the videotape, all weekend long. 

Years from now, when it all blurs together, Jason Isbell should easily remember the launch of Reunions, his seventh album as a band leader. The songwriter and his wife Amanda Shires walked out on the stage of the Brooklyn Bowl in Nashville on release night last Friday, waving to virtually no one in the cavernous room yet virtually to several thousand people around the world watching online.

Matt Spicher

Among country stars of a 1990s vintage, Pam Tillis has worked harder than most to stay open to new influences and change. Some of that expressed as a move to East Nashville in 2016. The proximate reason was that her husband and producer Matt Spicher has been a partner in a couple of restaurants over there, The Treehouse and The Pearl Diver. But the relocation came with some cultural reorientation as well.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Mike Osborne)  --  Nashville’s 4th of July celebration is still on, but it won’t look anything like what the mid-state’s come to expect.

In a press statement sent Tuesday, the Nashville Convention and Visitors Corp. says the fireworks will go off as usual, but the public won’t be allowed to attend due to social distancing concerns.

The riverfront area will be closed to discourage spectators. Instead, the show will be televised by WTVF, channel five.

Every day, if you are even remotely near social media, you’re invited to tune into numerous live performances streamed on the internet, the only concert venue that’s open during the Covid crisis. But what if you’re the artist? How does every day sound to you? While most musicians are spacing out their appearances out of concern for over-taxing the audience, some have decided the daily stream has more upside than down. Songwriter and guitarist Josh Daniel of Charlotte, NC will go live today for his 60th day in a row.

David McClister

The four albums released to date by Nashville’s Lilly Hiatt offer up a three-hour journey of self-discovery and voice-finding as concise and inspired as any you could find. Between 2014’s debut Let Down and 2020’s Walking Proof, I hear her letting go of something and giving in to something, from the accessories of being a daughter of a major roots/country songwriter to vulnerable storytelling that dances on a knife’s edge between sweet pop and garage rock. I ask if my theory has any merit in Episode 129 of The String.