Arts and Entertainment

Balsam Range of North Carolina and Nashville's Earls of Leicester find themselves positioned to possibly extend their dynastic dominance of the International Bluegrass Music Awards with nominations for Entertainer of the Year and then some. The suite of nominees was announced Wednesday morning by radio host Kyle Cantrell. Balsam Range and the Earls have traded top honors at the awards since 2014. Also nominated in the category are nine-time winners The Del McCoury Band, the Sam Bush Band and Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers.


The track "Too Much," which falls in the middle of Courtney Harman's solo debut album Ready Reckoner, begins with Hartman's own footfalls from the middle of a much bigger journey. We hear her boots crunching on a gravel trail, one after the other, with a walking stick playing counter-rhythm, before the spare guitar and voice comes in. It's an audio postcard from the Camino De Santiago, a 500-mile trail across northern Spain comprising one of the most significant pilgrimage routes in the Western world. In the Spring of 2017, Hartman walked the walk.


On The String: Dara Tucker’s Colorful Fusion

Jul 16, 2019
Kira Hooks

One of the hardest things to describe in music is what makes a melody excellent. It’s a bit like design; success is supposed to be somewhat self-evident. But in general, one listens for an inner balance and a confident arc, like a good story. Too many skimp on these values, composing notes to fit chord changes, when it’s wiser to work in the opposite direction. Nashville’s Dara Tucker could give clinics in melody.


Recently I stepped up to an electronic keyboard at the Adventure Science Center in Nashville. On the wall in front of me were tubes of various lengths half filled with styrofoam pellets. The boss of the place, President and CEO Steve Hinkley, described what happened next. 


“And then depending on what key that you hit, those pellets resonate perfectly and you can see the sound wave right in front of you,” he said. Sure enough, at different pitches, groups of beads clustered up in neat rows and danced in the standing waves.

Music City Roots, the 10-year-old live radio show and public television series, announced plans for a new venue on Thursday. Co-founder John Walker and community leaders unveiled The Roots Barn, a new concert venue to be built next year in the growing music scene of Madison, TN. When live broadcasts return to the WMOT airwaves, scheduled for late 2020, it will be known as Music City Roots - Live From Madison Station.

Erika Goldring/Getty Images

Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium will usher in the next decade with a residency by acclaimed Americana songwriter Brandi Carlile in the opening weeks of 2020, the artist revealed this week. In a video announcement, Carlile previewed the Ryman run with excitement and reverence, calling it “My favorite venue in the country,” and “A dream come true of mine.”


There are several ways to take the measure of a music career as it advances and grows. From the artists' point of view few things matter more than the hard-won amenities of the road. A few years ago, Caroline Spence released the true-story song "Hotel Amarillo" in which she's traveling solo, doing 500 miles in a day, eking out enough scratch to end a tough day with a room and a bottle of wine.

She sings a music biz double entendre: "I've been playing shows out west with no guarantee/ That anybody's ever gonna give a damn about me."

VIDEO: Chuck Mead's Wired In Full Set

Jul 3, 2019

Watch the full Wired In session from Chuck Mead and his Grassy Knoll Boys from The Nashville Palace.  Mead's most recent album is 'Close to Home' which was released June 21, 2019.

Chuck Mead’s fourth solo album comes out Friday, June 21. And while the title track “Close To Home” is about the power of music to tell uncomfortable truths, it could also apply to Mead's all Nashville album release tour this week, starting Tuesday night, as Mead explained to WMOT last week.


"It's nice to have a gig every day for five days and sleep in your own bed,” he said.


Alysse Gafkjen

There’s been an aura of awe and expectation around Dylan LeBlanc since his first batch of recordings, virtually demos made with a friend in Muscle Shoals AL, was discovered and released by England’s Rough Trade Records in 2010. The Smiths, arguably that label’s most famous artists, offer a glimpse of a comparison to LeBlanc, with their gloomy emotionalism and drama on and off the microphone.


Dr. John, an ambassador of New Orleans music and heritage as iconic as Mardis Gras Indians and brass bands, has died at age 77. Since emerging in the late 1960s as the mystical Night Tripper bedecked in feathers, jewels and bones, the pianist, songwriter and session musician born as Malcom John Rebennack, Jr. led a long parade of joy, propelled by swampy funk, primal R&B and an instantly recognizable voice.

Ryan Nolan

Grammy nominated string band Della Mae was busy in Nashville last week, performing at 3rd & Lindsley and cutting tracks for a new album. The sessions mark another step back to full-time status for the group, following a roughly two year hiatus.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- It’s shaping up to be a soggy CMA Fest this week in Music City.

Middle Tennessee's stretch of dry weather comes to end beginning Wednesday.

Meteorologist John Cohen with the National Weather Service Office in Nashville says the mid-state can expect showers and thunderstorms each day Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

All photos by Val Hoeppner

Two of the biggest music festivals in the country - CMA Music Fest and Bonnaroo - are about to arrive in Middle Tennessee. Crowds of 50-70,000 people will assemble to commune with artists most of them can barely see, other than via huge video screens. We're partial to more intimate relationships with our music and our fellow fans.

Historic Trust calls Music Row "endangered"

May 30, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- Music Row has been named to a list of the nation’s most endangered historical treasures, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation is asking Nashvillians to get involved.

The Washington DC based Trust ranked Music Row second on it’s List of America’s Most Endangered Historic Places for 2019.

Amy Richmond

There is said to be a tape recording, made by Lee Roy Parnell's mother listening on the radio at home in the early 60s, of her six-year-old son being invited on stage to sing by the King of Western Swing himself. Bob Wills says into the radio, "Let's bring little Lee Roy up here. He don't back down to nothin'." The 62-year-old Parnell, who performs at 9 pm this Friday night at 895 Fest, is happy to own that early branding.


Songwriter, guitarist and band leader Liz Brasher - who performs Saturday at 9 pm as part of 895 Fest - was WMOT’s first nominee to NPR’s national Slingshot talent discovery pipeline. When Brasher was selected in 2018’s inaugural class, it brought her debut EP Outcast to global attention and led to tour dates with Blondie, The Psychedelic Furs and The Mavericks.


895 Fest: Molly Tuttle Is More Than Ready

May 25, 2019

When we profiled Molly Tuttle last Summer, we knew she was a pioneering female winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association Guitar Player of the Year award and that the wider roots world was watching her as an especially promising singer/songwriter. But we didn’t know what she was conjuring up in the studio as her official album debut. Now we know, and it’s dramatic.


Michael and Tanya Trotter, the married duo known as The War and Treaty, played the Hope Givers Mental Wellness & Music Festival in LaGrange, GA recently. It wasn’t their highest profile set of the past year by any means, but with a theme and setting like that, the Trotters seemed destined to be there. They radiate hope and joy. Their debut album is entitled Healing Tide. They are a love delivery vehicle.

It’s been one of the most unusual yet entirely rational career trajectories in the history of popular music. Most artists do one thing, get hot for a while, crest and then resign themselves to nostalgia tours of their heyday. Ricky Skaggs rode bluegrass to one tier of fame, country to another and then returned to the music that launched him - music that allows him to stay fully alive and relevant.

895 Fest: Cordovas Are Closers

May 21, 2019
Val Hoeppner

  More than perhaps any time I can remember, Americana music is defined by songwriter/artists or duos, with fewer bands emerging as contenders for the headlining slots. That’s an observation not a criticism, but it’s worth noting that while artists like Jason Isbell and Margo Price have terrific bands, ensembles branded as bands with collective names tend to think a bit differently about music making and to offer a particular experience for the listener.


For the first time in its 18-year history, four women were nominated as the Americana Music Association's Artist of the Year on Tuesday afternoon. And that wasn't the only way past patterns were disrupted in anticipation of the 2019 Honors & Awards show this Fall. No Album of the Year nominees were among the prospects for Artist of the Year or Duo/Group of the Year. New acts turned up in the Album and Duo/Group category, giving hope for first-time winners.


In “Rock Billy Boogie,” a classic 1957 record by the Rock and Roll trio, Johnny Burnette name-checks a Memphis honky tonk.

Well, I know a little spot on the edge of town/Where you can really dig 'em up and set 'em down/It's a little place called, The Hideaway/You do the rockabilly till the break of day...

That little spot has gone by the name Hernando’s Hideaway for so many decades that nobody reliably remembers when it opened. But it re-opens this summer, with hard country singer/songwriter Dale Watson as the new proprietor.

Smithsonian Folkways

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival just wrapped its 50th edition. If you've never attended, there's no way to effectively convey the feeling of entering the grounds and hearing the energy surging at you from multiple stages. It's a roots music and American culture life goal. Those memories get a stir on a new silver anniversary box set, out today from Smithsonian Folkways. It's a trove of unreleased recordings drawn from the years 1974 to 2016.

Paul Schatzkin for Guitar Mash

  The talent lineup set for next Saturday afternoon at the City Winery, including Jason Isbell, Gretchen Peters and Buddy Miller, would be a can't miss Americana card in any event. But since it's the second annual Urban Campfire, you are on the bill as well. At least if you want to be.