Roots Radio News

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.

On a recent evening at Parnassus Books in Nashville, the music came from Robyn Hitchcock, Abigail Washburn and Rayna Gellert. The songs came from Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. And the history and ideas came from award winning author Daniel Wolff, who spoke about his latest.

Grown Up Anger: The Connected Mysteries of Bob Dylan, Woody Guthrie and the Calumet Massacre of 1913 is part musicology, part social scholarship and part coming to terms with American progress and protest.

The new album Edgeland from Kim Richey is the eighth in a string of country/pop albums that are remarkable for their consistency in tone and quality. While she was initially inspired by the song poetry of Joni Mitchell and Karla Bonoff, her college forays with future power pop star Bill Lloyd lit the fire for what, years later, would become one of the freshest sounds coming from Music Row in the 1990s and beyond.

 

In late 2016, Penguin books published Forever Words, featuring previously unseen poetry by the late Johnny Cash. The icon’s son John Carter Cash, who read one of those poems in an interview with WMOT, indicated at the time that some artists had begun to set some of the poems to music.

This has now come to pass, and this being the Cash estate, it’s not been done half way.

A Quiet Giant of Roots Music, Randy Scruggs, Is Dead at 64

Apr 18, 2018

Randy Scruggs, a soft-spoken, multi-talented musician and artist from a great American music family, died on Tuesday at age 64, reportedly from an illness.

A Guitar Pull Of Greatness For A Merle Travis Centennial

Apr 16, 2018

As birthday parties go, this one’s a bit on the late side, but nobody, least of all the late great Merle Travis, will notice or care. He was born on Nov. 17, 1917 in Rosewood, Kentucky, so this week’s tribute show on April 18, 2018 at the City Winery is more of a centenary celebration, but there’s a lot to acknowledge and the lineup of musicians pulled together by the Grammy Museum and Travis’s son Thom Bresh is a guitar pull of the gods.

Kelly Christine Sutton

The critical reception to Golden Hour, the third major-label, non-holiday album from Kacey Musgraves, reminds me of a particle accelerator - an atom smasher they used to call them - where we learn about something invisible by observing where the sparks fly after a collision. The quantum system at issue involves a unique artistic vision colliding with the ways music writers tend to frame the music business.

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