Arts and Entertainment

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Not every hobby gets its own national holiday, especially one in the seductive days of Spring. If there’s a “Souvenir Spoon Collectors Day” sweeping the nation each year, we haven’t heard of it. But vinyl junkies and music lovers have grown accustomed, in the manner of youngsters and Christmas, to the arrival of Record Store Day every April. For a dozen years now, fans have lined up before the sun rises to invest (yes, that’s the word) in their passion.

Jacqueline Justice

Zoë Eve Nutt, child of Knoxville TN, lost hearing in her right ear – all of it - by the time she was eight years old. So she had time to assimilate that fact into life as an adult and as a musician, singing in choir, studying voice and pursuing a performance degree at Belmont University. Her left ear’s troubles came as more of an unnerving surprise.

“It was kind of a funny turn of events, where I found out what I really wanted to do, and at the same time, the universe seemed to be telling me NO,” Nutt said in a recent interview.

If you’re a devotee of WMOT, then it’s likely you’ve spent a good bit of your radio life tuning in around the left side of the FM dial. That’s because back in the mid 20th century, the Federal Communications Commission designated the lower frequencies between 88.1 and 91.9 as home to non-commercial and so-called “educational” stations. Public radio’s ways and means have evolved a lot since then, but its point is largely unchanged: to broadcast news, thoughtful talk and genres of music that commercial station won’t.

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Spring brings with it a rush of music-themed events, and these jumped out at us as not-to-be missed shots of creativity, philanthropy and history.

On Thursday, April 11, Nashville’s Belcourt Theatre will host “An Evening of Stories and Songs” with southern novelists Lee Smith and Jill McCorkle holding down the literary side and songwriters Marshall Chapman and Matraca Berg anchoring the evening’s songwriting. Ticket proceeds benefit the Friends of Vanderbilt’s Libraries.

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On a sunny late afternoon last September, the band Nefesh Mountain prepared to take a stage in front of the North Carolina state capitol. They could see a half mile down Fayetteville Street, where tens of thousands of people mingled and moved among eight different stages at Raleigh’s Wide Open Bluegrass festival. A good crowd was left over from the prior act. It seemed like an ideal setting, but singer Doni Zasloff suddenly got uncharacteristically anxious.

Lucinda Williams and Car Wheels after 20 Years

Mar 8, 2019
Val Hoeppner / WMOT

Lucinda Williams recently sat down with WMOT host and program director, Jessie Scott to talk about the 20th anniversary of her groundbreaking album 'Car Wheels On A Gravel Road'. Williams is touring with her band in celebration of the 20 years of songs like "Jackson" and "Drunken Angel" which she played and recorded for WMOT at Colin Linden's Nashville studio. 

Williams will bring the Car Wheels tour to the Ryman Auditorium April 2, 2019.

Bob Delevante

Getting an early jump on pursuing your dreams is important, and it would be hard to jump earlier than did Colin Linden at his destiny in blues and roots music.

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On June 25, 2011 more than a dozen fire trucks sirened their way to a handsome brick and timber house on Nashville’s Belmont Boulevard, where a blaze was engulfing the second floor. It was a historic loss - The Cowboy Arms Hotel And Recording Spa, the fancifully named, fully-functioning studio (and home) of Cowboy Jack Clement, one of the few songwriters and record producers who could legitimately be called legendary.

Fairlight Hubbard

Songwriter Mindy Smith has announced her first tour dates in several years - a run of shows in May and June that will celebrate the release of her debut album on vinyl and ease her back into a relationship with her adoring, and patient, fans. An announcement says the tour will visit acoustic listening rooms such as Atlanta’s Eddie’s Attic and The Open Chord in Knoxville “so I could be as up close and personal as possible,” according to the artist.

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Mac Wiseman came to a fork in the road of history where country music and bluegrass parted ways, and he took both. The singer known as “The Voice With A Heart” died Sunday at age 93, leaving a wide-ranging body of acclaimed recorded work and a legacy in the business as well, having been a co-founder of both the Country Music Association and the International Bluegrass Music Association. He sang with Bill Monroe, but he also landed on the country charts between 1959 and 1979. He joined the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2014.

Jeff Fasano

Adam Wakefield has one of those voices that make some people think to themselves: “Lucky dude.” Or maybe a less polite word. His voice is envy-making, for those inclined to be envious. It’s got a velvet blue bottom end, a knife edge somewhere in the middle and rich overtones. It’s got strong shades of Chris Stapleton or Gary Nichols, and indeed Wakefield spent some time singing for the Grammy-winning bluegrass band that gave those guys a platform, the Steeldrivers. It sounds like a voice that must have come as a gift from on high. Not so, says its owner.

Grand Ole Opry

Backstage at the Grand Ole Opry is a convivial commotion of rehearsing and visiting, a friends-and-family ethos that infuses the show on stage with heart, even if the audience can’t see it directly. On February 13, that energy and affection was focused on a single performer, a gentleman with a beatific smile and a signature silver pompadour who slipped easily from conversation to the stage for multiple collaborations. A double-take birthday cake in the coffee lounge told the story.

A Tool For The Tour From Americana

Feb 15, 2019

On a January evening at Analog, the high tech venue in the Hutton Hotel on West End, Jed Hilly, executive director of the Americana Music Association, welcomed a full house. He talked about booking shows, routing tours, getting advance press and radio promotion.

“Those four components of the music business are critical when you’re out there on a tour,” he said. “It’s one thing to get a gig, but how are you going to get (people) to come to the gig? So we created this initiative.”

 

We’ve now been to the movie and we know how it ends. Two powerful women of country music, snubbed in recent years by the radio format their heroines helped build into America’s largest, showed the music industry – on that imperfect but necessary stage that is the Grammy Awards - that they are the voices and songwriters of now.  

David McClister

 

When Hayes Carll appeared on the roots music scene in the early 2000s, he was shaggy, slouchy, and blazingly smart and funny. He won over crowds with his droll drawl and his comic timing. He’d released his debut album on Compadre Records, out of his own hometown of Houston.

Rhiannon Giddens Spreads The Power Around

Jan 31, 2019
NPR

A photo taken for an album coming later in 2019 features Rhiannon Giddens and her collaborator Francesco Turrisi sitting on a red carpet, shot from above, with a global array of instruments around them. There are lutes, ouds, fiddles, various banjos, an accordion and drums from the Middle East fanned out in a circle like a mandala or a compass. Whether this makes you think of a voyage or an explosion, Rhiannon Giddens is certainly at the center of a lot of energy and movement these days.

 

MTSU

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (OSBORNE)  --  A group of traditional Chinese singers will make their American debut this weekend at Middle Tennessee State.

The Saturday performance by a choir of female singers of the Chinese Dong ethnic minority is part of a larger offering from the Center for Chinese Art and Culture. The chorus members all hail from a small, remote village located in the mountains of Southern China.

The traditional music of the Dong as performed by the chorus is listed as an "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity" by UNESCO.

The String: Ruthie Foster's Joyful Blues

Jan 29, 2019

If Americana values all American roots forms and the fusion thereof, then nobody's more Americana than Austin singer/songwriter Ruthie Foster. She grew up singing in church in rural Texas, developed a variety of skills in bands while serving in the US Navy, then became a folk troubadour who slips from country to soul to blues to gospel with ease.

 

 

AMA UK

 

Almost exactly a year ago, a gala multi-artist show at a century-old theater climaxed with Robert Plant and Mumford & Sons performing together. Awards were bestowed on Nashville’s Jason Isbell,  British folk quartet The Wandering Hearts and many others. The venue was the Hackney Empire theater in London, and it had a similar reverent energy to the Americana Honors & Awards held every Fall at the Ryman Auditorium.

The String: Rodney Crowell Changes His Mind

Jan 18, 2019

To kick off 2019 in its ongoing coverage of American music and its culture, The String features a true icon of authentic country/roots music, indeed one of the artists around whom the Americana format was conceived in the 1990s. Rodney Crowell is both a songwriter’s songwriter and an artist who’s reached and moved mainstream music fans since breaking out in the 80s. He embodies the honed edge of Texas folk poetry and the refinement of Nashville songcraft. And he’s stayed artistically ambitious across four decades of work.

Anthony Scarlati

Like Lower Broadway in Nashville, Memphis’s world famous Beale Street has, as if by some process of natural commercial accretion, grown into an entertainment and tourist destination somewhat removed from its roots music origins. But those interested in enjoying Beale Street as a wall-to-wall blues experience can do so next week, from Jan. 22 to 26, when the International Blues Challenge rocks and rolls for the 35th time.

Laura Partain

In late July, 2018, Maya de Vitry clicked “publish” on a Facebook message that took fans of acoustic trio The Stray Birds by surprise. “We have made the incredibly difficult but truly healthy decision to disband,” it said. It also announced that they’d completed an album called Let It Pass, which would be released later that Fall without a supporting tour. This is what she remembers as her own personal point of no return.

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