Music City Roots Blog

The Soul of Country – MCR 5.4.16

Bo-Keys Image

When they write the history of roots and Americana music in the 21st century (or maybe when I write it, if somebody gives me funding) I think two broad themes will be front and center. One is the passing of the bluegrass/newgrass torch to a new generation of formally trained, deeply eclectic string bands, i.e…. Read more »

Group Dynamics – MCR 4.27.16

4.27.16 Jam

We had this incredible group, the Whiskey Buffalo Brothers String Band, at Music City Roots this week, and I have to wonder why we didn’t think of inviting these folks before; the show was simply stellar. Okay I jest, but our four bands did seem to fit together into some kind of platonic ideal of… Read more »

Merle’s Bandwagon


It’s the season of road trips, including many people’s favorite Spring pilgrimage to Merlefest in the hills of Western North Carolina. It was my ritual for a decade, my bluegrass and Americana graduate school. I learned about not just the music and its greatest practitioners but about the culture behind the music, from its families… Read more »

Working It – MCR 4.20.16


We have Merles much on our mind these days. Next week is our annual preview show featuring artists playing Merlefest (and boy you don’t want to miss it). And this week, with Jim back for his first show since the passing of Merle Haggard, he opened and closed the show with Merle Moments. His kick-off… Read more »

Mountain Climbers – MCR 4.20.16

Mountain Heart Correct

  The concept of a “band” goes way, way back. The Norsemen used the word to mean tying things or people together, and its reference to a group of musicians can be found in the middle 1600s. And here, all these years later, it’s still what we form when we want to make music together…. Read more »


How does an episode of Roots featuring sublime songwriters, an old-time string band and 80s country leave me waking up the next day thinking about Dug, the talking dog from the 2009 movie Up? Well let’s just say that I already had the gift/curse of being a non-linear thinker, and then there’s the whole internet,… Read more »

Blossoms Blooming

Wine Women and song Correct Image

We’ve had an early Spring here in Music City, with nary a frost to bruise the jonquils nor storms to strip the cherry blossoms. I have a coating of pollen in my raspy throat but it’s a small price to pay for all this beauty. Baseball is underway. The Masters brought sweet Southern ritual to… Read more »

Altogether Fitting – Review

3.23.16 Jam

Italians with harmonicas. Memphians with ukuleles. Chicagoans with dreadlocks. We’re up for anything that swings at Roots, and this week we experienced all that and more, including an audience that came with open minds and big ears. This was one of those weeks where I showed up as curious as anyone, having researched the artists… Read more »

Wanderers – MCR 3.23.16


  I never thought much of the melody, but that Christmas hymn penned by John Jacob Niles called “I Wonder As I Wander” always struck me as a worthy sentiment; we should all wander and wonder a lot. Later I learned of J.R.R. Tolkein’s quote that “Not all those who wander are lost,” and I… Read more »

Springtime Double Header

3-15-16 GW_DR

We’ve been having the kind of lovely days that used to inspire Chicago Cub great Ernie Banks to enthusiastically say “Let’s Play Two!” And even though it’s still only Spring Training for baseball, we had a rare MCR double header this week that encompassed our reasons for being as completely as any short stretch of… Read more »