Roots Radio News

 

 

 

Gibson, legally known these days as Gibson Brands, Inc., couldn’t be a bigger deal in American music. Its iconic electric guitars, banjos and mandolins changed the world in the hands of greats like Bill Monroe, Earl Scruggs and Mother Maybelle Carter.

But lately the lead story at Gibson isn’t about music. It’s about staggering amounts of debt and observers warning of impending bankruptcy.

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.

 

 

 

 

With the announcement of his induction to the Country Music Hall of Fame on Tuesday, Ricky Skaggs has become one of a small handful of artists so recognized who’ve made historic marks on both country and bluegrass music.

 

 

If you’re a fan of bluegrass or acoustic folk music, you’ve seen them proliferate on stages in recent years. With their brass fittings, selectively exposed wires and retro design, they look like a steampunk accessory in an early radio radio station. They are the unique looking and sounding microphones from Ear Trumpet Labs.

Ear Trumpet mics are made by hand in Portland, OR, where they were invented by company owner Philip Graham, almost a decade ago.

Since launching in 2009, the Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, TN has become world renowned for its boundary blurring showcases of experimental, avant garde and progressive art music. This year’s festival, which runs Thursday through Sunday, will add a new suite of events dedicated to the folk culture of its East Tennessee locale.

But this being Big Ears, it won’t be strictly your grandpa and grandma’s bluegrass and old time music.

Liz Brasher Video from WMOT Studio A

Mar 12, 2018

Liz Brasher stopped by the WMOT studios for an on-air session with host Jessie Scott and the WMOT Video Crew. Brasher, an NPR Slingshot artist, has a new EP, Outcast that will drop April 27, 2018. The first single from the EP "Body of Mine" is one of four she recorded for WMOT.

Brasher and her band head to SXSW in Austin, Texas where she will perform for WMOT at El Mercado, and on the NPR Stage at Stubbs.

Julian Lage, Standing Astride Jazz and Roots

Mar 11, 2018

The world of roots music has been made wider and deeper through the contributions of some key instrumentalists who’ve drawn heavily on jazz to create a new American acoustic music we might call string band fusion. Among them: Béla Fleck, Sam Bush and David Grisman. Those names all came up prominently in my recent conversation with guitarist Julian Lage.

WMOT's SXSW 2018 Lineup

Mar 11, 2018

  

WMOT's Jessie Scott and Val Hoeppner will be broadcasting live from SXSW in Austin, Texas March 13-17. Program director, Jessie Scott has booked 30 bands you will hear live on the radio or, you can drop in and see them in person at The Backstage at El Mercado, 1302 S. 1st Street in Austin. 

WMOT at SXSW 2018 will be live from Noon to 6 p.m. each day on 89.5 FM in the Nashville/Middle Tennessee area, on the WMOT Roots Radio app, Tune-In app, WMOT.org or if you have Alexa, just ask her to play WMOT.

WMOT at SXSW 2018 Lineup:

If you love WMOT and want to support our WMOT student internship program you can purchase tickets to a special fundraising event with Dierks Bentley and Billy Strings. 

The show is March 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the City Winery in Nashville. Tickets are $100 each and listeners can purchase up to four tickets.

Dierks will perform songs from his upcoming album The Mountain in an intimate setting in the City Winery Lounge, which seats 110 people.

Streaming has become a huge force in music, and as Brave New Worlds go, it’s pretty cool. Yet even with the convenience and staggering choice of Spotify, Pandora, etc., these services play a growing role in shaping our national musical diet and taste, and that’s a concern. Discovery of new artists (contemporary or historic), terrain once guided largely by DJs, record stores and press, is becoming the purview of computer algorithms. What does that mean for fans on their Americana/roots journey, and how can they get the most out of the streaming experience?

 

Last November, Concord Music, the world’s largest independent music company, announced that musician turned attorney John Strohm would be the new president of Rounder Records and its associated Sugar Hill Records. For roots music fans and artists, this is a big deal because each label has a distinguished and influential history.

 

 

This Path Tonight, the most recent album from two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Graham Nash, had ten songs focused on changing seasons in his life and a new relationship. A deluxe edition of that album though included three bonus tracks, including some of the pointed social commentary for which Nash became so famous.

“Many a good soul lost their life and we were just three of them

Arm in arm we stood our ground for something to believe in.”

The 30th annual Folk Alliance International conference recently wrapped in Kansas City. It’s a confab like no other, with countless showcase performances large and small, with a deep ethos of human connection and artistic freedom. And it’s the subject of this week’s multi-artist edition of The String. Of the interviews I did on site, these emerged as the best cross section of this unique and intense event. Listen to the full show here.

 

 

 

Roots musicians Keiran Kane and Rayna Gellert visited MTSU and WMOT’s Wired In sessions to play songs from their new album The Ledges, a spare duo recording made by themselves last summer in a cabin in upstate New York.

In the new feature film American Folk, the character Joni (played by Amber Rubarth), on an unplanned cross-country road trip in the days after 9/11, makes a pact with her traveling companion and fellow musician Elliott (Joe Purdy), to “bring back the folk.” She shouts it out the window to a passing America - a cry for communication, unity and empathy invigorated through music.

Sierra Hull's Bluegrass Odyssey on The String

Feb 14, 2018
Jacqueline Justice

Sierra Hull resolved that bluegrass music would be her life’s work when she wasn’t even ten years old. Growing up in tiny Byrdstown, TN, the music was all around her, not at concert venues but in jams at the local cafe and at homes, including her own and her uncle’s next door. The precocious young talent was signed to Rounder Records and released her debut album at 16 years old. Less than ten years later, she was named the first female IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year, an honor she’s won twice in a row.

 

 

 

 

Chris and Oliver Wood built their singular sibling duo patiently, transitioning over several years from divergent and distant musical careers. Since moving from separate cities to Nashville and adding drummer Jano Rix about five years ago however, The Wood Brothers have enjoyed accelerating success.

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