Roots Radio News

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.

Tim Easton's Modern Day Bristol Sessions

Apr 12, 2018
Michael Weintrob

 

Singer/songwriter Tim Easton this week self-releases Paco and the Melodic Polaroids, a ten song collection of spare solo acoustic folk music. Each performance was recorded in one unbroken, unedited take, for reasons that tie back to the origins of commercial country music in America and recording technology itself.

 

But let’s start with that title.

 

“Basically it’s a love letter to my guitar, which I’ve played for so many years,” Easton says.

 

Let’s be clear. When it comes to hangin’ out with Little Jimmy Dickens, the coolest cat who ever donned a rhinestone Nudie suit, unless you are Brad Paisley, you’ve got nothing to compare to our own Keith Bilbrey. Bilbrey was with WSM and/or the Grand Ole Opry for 35 years, and while it would be impolite for him to say that his dear friend Little Jimmy was his favorite star, we know Keith well enough to suspect it’s true.

Glenn Sweitzer

 

Becky Buller is as recognizable for her songwriting as she is for her mane of curly red hair and retro chic, cat-eye glasses. And the bluegrass multi-instrumentalist, singer and band leader is measurably more recognized by the music community today than she was just a few short years ago.

As a side musician for a relatively low profile band, Buller’s name was best known as composer of songs recorded by others, including Rhonda Vincent and Doyle Lawson. She’d made only one album under her own name way back in 2004 and she didn’t seem inclined to do so again.

The Rootsy Path Through Tin Pan South

Apr 2, 2018

The Tin Pan South Songwriters Festival, which returns for its 26th year this week, is mostly a showcase of country radio hits and commercial writers aspiring toward that goal. But the sprawling and popular event has diversified in recent years. Roots, Americana and bluegrass fans will find some strong shows if they know where to look.

 

erinraemusic.com/

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (Ann Powers)  --  Mention Erin Rae's name in Nashville indie music circles and you'll get a certain reaction: people's eyes light up, they sigh, and use words like "angelic" and "mesmerizing." Rae's gentle voice and subtle, deeply insightful songwriting have made her a standout among the city's folk and Americana artists for years.

 

 

It’s a good time to be - or to become - a fan of the late Doug Sahm, an artist some place among the very greatest and most overlooked pioneers of modern roots music. Two new live recordings will be released in April by New West Records, and an award winning documentary is available now on Amazon Prime.

 

 

Pages