Arts and Entertainment

Ed Rode

The first time Ketch Secor and Old Crow Medicine Show played at the Ryman Auditorium, it was early in the morning, a time when the room glows with a holy light and every step on the hardwood floor, every word, reverberates with uncanny clarity. It was the year 2000, and the band of twentysomethings was new to town and a bit dazzled at their own unfolding story.


In keeping with the standard version of history, the new Ken Burns Country Music documentary spotlights the 1927 Bristol Sessions, when Victor Records producer Ralph Peer discovered The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. But Johnson City, 25 miles away, is part of the larger story of field recording in early country music, and it's celebrating a 90th anniversary this month, says Ted Olson, a professor in the department of Appalachian Studies at East Tennessee State University.


Laura Partain

You could say that John Prine has changed Kelsey Waldon's life at least twice now, in episodes separated by more than a decade. First, she was a teenager figuring out music in western Kentucky. A vintage 1971 LP came her way with a blue collar man on a blue cover sitting on hay bales. In the grooves, she heard wit and pathos and characters that redefined what seemed possible in a song.


The sentiment that the future of bluegrass is in good hands is as perennial as, well, grass. It's music that does indeed grow its new generations from the ground up with a formal and informal support system for youth musicians in training and emerging artists in the professional realm. Last week's World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, NC proved that once again.


Joe Mullins is a banjo player and vocalist acclaimed for his old school manner and classic-sounding bluegrass, as well as 2016's IBMA Broadcaster of the Year. Now he and his band the Radio Ramblers are Entertainers of the Year. The group is no stranger to IBMA awards, having won Emerging Artist in 2012 and last year's album prize, but now the traditional-leaning, Ohio-based ensemble has the top prize in the industry.

Del McCoury is a bluegrass Hall of Famer and repeat host of the International Bluegrass Music Association Awards show. Jim Lauderdale is a beloved Nashville songwriter whose wide range of projects and songs includes Grammy Awards in bluegrass and a veteran emcee as well, having hosted the Americana Honors & Awards for more than a decade. Their personalities are as big as their resumes, so they'll make memorable co-hosts of the 30th IBMA Awards, set to take place in Raleigh this Thursday night.

Sandra Davidson for Come Hear North Carolina

The folk duo Mandolin Orange announced its first headlining engagement at the Ryman Auditorium early this year, and tickets sold so fast that the hallowed venue added a second night. On a recent hot September weekend, the shows offered a cocoon of string-band heart and refined songcraft amid the blaring bars of downtown. And it was a landmark for the artists, married couple Emily Frantz and Andrew Marlin, who launched their musical union ten years ago in Chapel Hill, NC.

Les Leverett / PBS

In 1996, I sat transfixed through a six-hour docu-series on TBS called America's Music: The Roots Of Country. I'd become a fan of country and bluegrass, but my knowledge was spotty. I'd never seen the story laid out as a cohesive narrative, connecting eras and influences, so that film was a slow-motion epiphany and a life-changing experience. With 16 hours of run time and the intellectual and artistic firepower of Ken Burns behind it, Country Music, premiering Sunday on PBS, is poised to be an even more dazzling and comprehensive revelation for millions of people.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- More wins like Sunday’s 43-13 blowout against Cleveland could change the calculus, but a new survey ranks the Tennessee Titans one of the least valuable teams in the NFL.


Forbes magazine released its latest look at team dollar values this past week. The Titans ranked at No. 29 — down from No. 27 a year ago.

Forbes estimates that the team, whose lead owner is Amy Adams Strunk, is now worth $2.15 billion — a five percent increase from a year ago.

Erika Goldring/Getty Images

When the founders of the brand-new Americana Music Association first met in Nashville in 1999, there was no Third Man Records, no 5 Spot and no Mercy Lounge. The Country Music Hall of Fame was under construction, but high-rise cranes were a rarity on the skyline. Artist showcases came along a year later, and what's now called AmericanaFest began a journey of growth that's paralleled its home city, which is to say surprisingly fast and nearly out of control.

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- The Tennessee Walking Horse Celebration says paid attendance at last weekend’s contest was up slightly, but a photo by the local Times-Gazette shows large open sections in the event’s 30,000 seat arena.


The Big Lick, held in Shelbyville every year since 1939, was once one of Tennessee’s largest tourism draws pumping millions of dollars annually into the mid-state economy.


Ed Rode

So far, the artists who've been embraced into the exotic and exclusive world of Easy Eye Sound, the studio and label run by rock star producer Dan Auerbach, have had little if anything to do with Music Row. The Gibson Brothers, Yola, Dee White and others were already pursuing roots music careers, and their Easy Eye projects represented subtle shifts of style. With Kendell Marvel, we hear a successful veteran country music songwriter having his shackles removed.



MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- A Tennessee park ranger and folklorist has been named a 2019 National Heritage Fellow by the National Endowment for the Arts.


Ranger Bobby Fulcher has spent four decades documenting the work of Tennessee’s traditional artists. One of his biggest finds was musician Dee Hicks. Fulcher learned that Hicks had more than 100 folk songs committed to memory.


Fulcher explained to WMOT in 2014 why he found the work rewarding.

Curtis Wayne Millard

In a power move for the ages, Taylor Swift said last week she plans to re-record her first five albums, after her back-catalog masters were sold to an industry mogul whom she does not like one bit. If this comes to pass, it will be an interesting exercise in rethinking, reworking and re-hearing some important country/pop albums. But the thing is, songwriter Aaron Lee Tasjan already had a similar idea.


Neilson Hubbard

Plans change. Flash back to the early 2000s, and you'd have found Amy Speace living the bohemian life in New York, wholly absorbed in theater and comparative literature, studying to be a Shakespearian actress. Then, as she recounts in this week's String, some of her colleagues heard her sing, and it started a chain reaction.

Wilde Co. Muddy Roots

Over a decade of revelry in rural middle Tennessee, the Muddy Roots Music Festival has booked Bobby Bare and Black Flag, Del McCoury and the Dead Kennedys. Only somebody with bravery and faith in their audience would throw such strong and contrasting flavors - outlaw Americana, string band punk and heavy metal -  into one pot, but founder Jason Galaz has built a mini-indie empire of festivals under the Muddy Roots brand doing just that.


Nate Burrell

St. Louis, MO has a semi-secret history in the rise of the Americana music movement. Some of the most active members of an early "" on-line forum called Postcard 2 lived in the city and agreed to help create a live get-together. That led to Twangfest, a club-based festival that launched in 1997 and just held its 23rd edition in June.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (OSBORNE) -- Nashville based Getty Music gets its 2019 “Sing!” Conference for Christian worship leaders underway Monday at Opryland.

Conference hosts Keith and Kristyn Getty’s say they’re expecting 13,000 people to attend. Keith Getty’s says he’s looking forward to the night the entire conference will sing a challenging work together.

Misael Arriaga

Being a fan and follower of Nashville's Lillie Mae has long been a three-way race of fascination between her style, her sound and her story. Each is a facet of a complex, beguiling artist.

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. (AP) — Dale Earnhardt Jr. will take the weekend off from broadcasting to be with his wife and daughter after the three were in a plane crash landing Thursday near Bristol Motor Speedway.

The 44-year-old television analyst and retired driver was taken to a hospital for evaluation after the crash in east Tennessee. Earnhardt was with wife Amy, 15-month-old daughter Isla, a dog and two pilots.


"I'm from San Benito, TX down a dirty dusty road," sings Charley Crockett on the title track of his upcoming album The Valley. As he goes on, we learn of an absentee father, a hard-working mamma, dangerous gambles, gun barrels and "trouble everywhere I turned." There's not an untrue or embellished line in the song. Yet as literal as it is, the narrative sounds more like something from Woody Guthrie's time than 21st century America. Crockett's country blues is neither appropriated nor contrived.

Just over twenty years ago, songwriter Grant-Lee Phillips reclaimed his last name and wound down his successful Los Angeles-based band Grant Lee Buffalo. Now he's nine albums into a solo career and living in Nashville. He'll launch a guest-filled residency at the City Winery on August 14.



The NAMM Show is the nation’s biggest and most important trade expo for musical instruments and gear. Yet even on the crowded and cacophonous show floor in July at the Music City Center, Gibson Brands, Inc., formerly Gibson Guitar Corp., was dead center and impossible to miss.

Rhiannon Giddens, Frank Johnson to get Americana award

Aug 7, 2019

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Grammy-winning folk singer and musician Rhiannon Giddens and the late Frank Johnson, the leader of a 19th century black brass band, will be the first recipients of the inaugural Legacy of Americana Award.

The Americana Music Association announced the new award on Wednesday in partnership with the National Museum of African American Music. The award will be presented during the Americana Honors & Awards show in Nashville, Tennessee, on September 11.

Hayden Goodridge

The Local, a bar one block away from Nashville’s Centennial Park in midtown, hums with a beckoning light, open garage doors and roots music on a recent Monday night. Sound check is over. A woman steps on stage, pulls the microphone down to her height and greets the murmuring Monday night audience.


“Welcome to the Local Brew Live,” she says. “I’m your host, Ana Lee.”