Music City Roots Blog

American Songsters

In the liner notes to his superb, hand-hewn new album Prospect Hill, self-described “American Songster” Dom Flemons proclaims 2014 the Year of the Folksinger. “There are so many elements coming together,” he wrote. “And that hunch, hope, feeling or dream are what guide this album for me. I was not sure if my proclamation would… Read more »

Nominee Jamboree

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When the bluegrass family gets together, the stories abound. Everything seems connected and relationships flow beneath the musical surface like the rivers they say are down there underground running through the Tennessee and Kentucky limestone. Jim Lauderdale’s first banjo teacher from North Carolina was on stage with Balsam Range, playing with more pure joy and… Read more »

The Road To Raleigh

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Perhaps you followed the drama that surrounded the International Bluegrass Music Association moving its annual World Of Bluegrass convention from Nashville to Raleigh, NC last year. The group, which supports the art and business of bluegrass worldwide, wrestled with declining attendance and many complicated pros and cons of Nashville. We were courted by officials from… Read more »

Lonesome Fiddle

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In a large room with an attentive audience, it takes a special kind of assurance and purpose to stand alone on stage and make music, even with six strings and a voice. But how about four strings and a bow? The violin/fiddle has been renowned for centuries as a vocal, emotional instrument. But that doesn’t… Read more »

Flames, Old and New

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Most of the band leaders who play Roots and who ply the highways and byways of the Americana scene are singer/songwriters who may or may not have extra flair as an instrumentalist. But Michael Cleveland is so powerful and so seductive on his fiddle that he’s got enough firepower to lead Flamekeeper as a picker… Read more »

Our Very Own Soul Train

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It’s impossible to imagine – even for the historians and curators who researched the Night Train To Nashville exhibit at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum – the accumulated experience of the artists who graced our stage Wednesday night. Between them were hundreds and hundreds of life years full of roads, crowds, hotels,… Read more »

The Soul of Nashville

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The world knows Nashville because of people like Alan Jackson and Taylor Swift. Nashville knows itself because of people like Michael Gray. He’s a curator at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum who’s helped us put this week’s special show together. We’re celebrating the tenth anniversary of a truly revelatory and game-changing exhibit… Read more »

Characters

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What do y’all think at this point about Twitter? I used to fear it. I spent a few years squinting at it with perplexed befuddlement. Then I gradually got more interested and involved, and today I’m kind of in awe that it exists. Contrary to certain cynics, it’s NOT people telling you what they had… Read more »

Coal Miner’s Granddaughter

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As a staff music writer for The Tennessean in the early 2000s, I got a crash course in the Music City system, from the sublime to the ridiculous. Quite a few publicists could not understand why I did not share their conviction that Shania Twain and Garth Brooks were the most important things ever to… Read more »

The Range

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When we music nerds talk about vocalists having range, we mean they can sing from way down low to way up high, with a lot of notes in between. But sometimes Music City Roots shows a different kind of vocal range, like this Wednesday night’s show, in the astonishing diversity of ways humans can emit… Read more »