Roots Radio News

Lance Cowan

This week's episode of The String (#63) is about a sense of place and how we stand up for the places we cherish. Nashville has thrived as the epicenter of country music songwriting in part because of its own strong sense of place. It was a mid South crossroads city that welcomed art and music from the 19th century on. It became a pioneer in radio in the 20s and 30s by reflecting and broadcasting local values and sounds.

Tyler Hughes

 

There are two meanings behind the title Shout and Shine, the debut album of the trio Fink, Marxer and Gleaves. The title track captures the spirit of the diversity and inclusion movement sweeping through bluegrass, as covered here last Fall. The other, expressed in the original "Moonshine" by Sam Gleaves, is literally about spirits. As a child and student of Appalachia, he knows whereof he sings.

 

womensrefugeecommission.org

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Acclaimed singer-songwriters including Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne, Steve Earle will lead a five-city concert series to support families who have been separated at the border due to immigration policies put into place by the Trump administration.

 

The Women's Refugee Commission announced "The Lantern Tour: Concerts for Migrant and Refugee Families," will also feature Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shawn Colvin, Lila Downs and Graham Nash.

 

While nominations for this year’s major annual awards continued to recycle longstanding industry stars, much of the energy at Wednesday’s International Bluegrass Music Association Awards nominations event was generated by a raft of bluegrass hall of fame inductees. Besides a bigger than usual class, IBMA spotlighted a new place to enshrine them, a new Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame & Museum opening this October in Owensboro, KY.

Erin Rae’s sound is soothing and dreamy but her lyrics wrestle candidly with struggle and regret. That bewitching combination, plus a decade of patient development and experience in the supportive artistic community of her native Nashville, has made Rae's new album Putting On Airs one of the more anticipated and widely covered releases so far in 2018.

Covers of pop songs have been commonplace in bluegrass music since the late 1960s, when The Dillards, Flatt & Scruggs, The Country Gentlemen and others adapted songs by The Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Lovin’ Spoonful. For Charlottesville, VA band Love Canon, it’s a way of life, a “mission statement” according to my conversation last week with lead singer and guitarist Jesse Harper.

 

It’s still a year and a half away from opening, but there is every reason to start getting excited now about the National Museum of African American Music. You may have been hearing about this project for years, because it’s been on the drawing board for years, as far back as 2002. Its location at the very heart of the city’s tourism and business district will help bring some balance and perspective to a city famous for galvanizing country and bluegrass.

Gina Binkely

 

 

A new Gretchen Peters album is always cause for celebration and contemplation. Dancing With The Beast, her ninth studio project, released this spring to rave reviews, is no exception. Peters is back home in Nashville after multiple tours that included the UK and Ireland. She brings her pensive, story-driven songs to the Franklin Theatre this Saturday night. The CD release show is her only local one of the year.

Billy Strings and his band had played their last song. The Ryman Auditorium audience was on its feet emitting every manner of happy exultation at explosive volume. The quartet had taken a group bow and put their instruments to rest. Then emcee Eddie Stubbs, from his podium, suggested Billy Strings do one more song - a rare encore for an opening act.

In Episode 61 of The String, Craig H. and producer companion Gina Frary Bacon sit down with iconic Nashville Cat Wayne Moss.

Timothy Duffy

 

 

In 2005, Dom Flemons’s life changed when he and his musical collaborators attended the Black Banjo Gathering in Boone, NC and forged the vision that produced the landmark band The Carolina Chocolate Drops. For the past three years, Flemons, now a former CCD, has had his world rocked by a different gathering - the Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, NV.  

In the winter of 1978, a quartet called Hot Rize, newly formed in Boulder, CO, played its first gig. The name was deftly plucked from the annals of bluegrass and the slogan of Grand Ole Opry sponsor Martha White Self Rising Flour. Within a few months, a permanent lineup had taken shape: Tim O’Brien on mandolin, Peter Wernick on banjo, Nick Forster on bass and Charles Sawtelle on guitar. They began their own yeasty leavening into one of the most influential and beloved bluegrass bands of the modern era.

Katrina Barber

The symbiotic relationship of music cities Austin, TX and Nashville TN goes back more than four decades. It’s a curious story that mingles art, commerce, the counter-culture and the birth of the Outlaw country movement, which brought unprecedented artist autonomy to Nashville. The story is told in loving detail in the new exhibit Outlaws & Armadillos: Country’s Roaring 70s, which just opened at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. In Episode 59 of The String we dive deep into the Austin/Nashville dynamic in a feature interview with Michael Martin Murphey.

Lera Lynn Releases Immersive Audio Play Date

Jun 19, 2018
Sean Money + Elizabeth Faye

The title of Lera Lynn’s new album, out this Friday, is both oblique and matter of fact. Plays Well With Others is a duets project, featuring seven original songs and a couple of covers recorded and/or written with eight different collaborators. Among them Dylan LeBlanc, Nicole Atkins, Shovels & Rope, JD McPherson and Andrew Combs.

The Grand Ole Opry Returns To New York City, This Time With Plans To Stay

Jun 18, 2018
photos by the authors

The Grand Ole Opry has entertained music fans for more than 90 years. And with the exception of some package and tent shows in the early days, that’s almost exclusively been generated out of Nashville, TN. Now with the opening of the Opry City Stage in Times Square, the brand is bringing Nashville vibes to New York City and likely beyond. It’s part of a deliberate business strategy rooted in recent and historical success.

We turn to guest reporter/producers Matt Follet and Brady Watson for this report:

  John Hartford died seventeen years ago today, but his influence on today’s bluegrass and acoustic scene remains as strong and direct as any other founding figure in the music, including Bill Monroe himself. That’s because Hartford, a multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, singer, showman and historian, was a ground breaking pioneer of progressive, individualistic string band music from the 1960s until his untimely death from Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Illustration by Jim Franklin

There are 858 highway miles between Austin, TX and Nashville, TN. Musicians have been wearing deep ruts in the road in both directions for almost 50 years, fostering an artistically rich symbiotic relationship. Musicians have migrated back and forth. Songs and stories and ideas about art were exchanged, influencing American music and Southern culture. And that fascinating, colorful dichotomy is going on display at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum this week.

Chris Phelps

Just days after she was nominated for three Americana Music Awards, Margo Price began a three-night run at the Ryman Auditorium. Landing even one headlining show at the Mother Church is part of the holy trinity of country music career landmarks, falling in stature and difficulty between playing the Grand Ole Opry and induction into the Hall of Fame. So when Price said “I feel like I’m dreaming” early in the show, we understood.

 

 

If power comes with responsibility, like Voltaire and Spiderman said, then legacy comes with scrutiny. So many eyes and ears are trained on 31-year-old Ashley Campbell. The multi-talented artist spent the early 2010s as a band member supporting her father Glen Campbell’s long farewell tour. Through his final years of decline with Alzheimer’s disease, she helped with a documentary about the star, landed and wrangled out of a major label record deal, and wrote the songs that would become her solo debut.

 

Rick Diamond/Getty Images for Americana Music

It’s a format that generally favors songwriters and veterans, but young instrumentalists were given starring roles at the nominations announcements for the 17th annual Americana Honors & Awards on Tuesday.

“I'm just a traveler on this earth / Sure as my heart's behind the pocket of my shirt / I'll just keep rolling til I'm in the dirt / 'Cause I'm a traveler, oh, I'm a traveler”

 

Scott Willis

Tommy Womack is Nashville’s wittiest roots rock and roller, a songwriter who can compose with an acid dipped pen or a lovely set of watercolors. He’s also an author, a DJ for WXNA and a columnist for the East Nashvillian magazine, where he further refines his persona as a good guy gadfly. Tommy is on a lot of folks’ minds these days because he’s been through a rough patch. No sooner had he recovered from a serious auto accident, he was diagnosed with cancer.

In Nashville, arguably the greatest guitar town in the world, Guthrie Trapp is at the top of the mountain. He can range across every style, improvise with endless invention and subtlety. He can shred or twang or drift elegantly. And most of the time, he’s seen or heard as a sideman and studio player. Through the 2000s, he's been in demand for being able to serve and enhance a song and do no more than what’s called for. But he’s also a mind-bending solo artist. And his second LP as a leader and composer came out this spring.

Jamie Harmon

 

Songwriter John Paul Keith is a fixture in today’s Memphis scene - a roots rocker and a regular contributor to the Beale Street Caravan radio show. His new album, his fourth since a 2009 debut, is called Heart Shaped Shadow.

Keith is also part of Motel Mirrors, a four-piece he co-fronts with noted Americana bass player/ songwriter Amy LaVere. That band released its first full length album, In The Meantime, on the same day.

Pages