Music City Roots Blog

Between Heaven And Earth

A Saturday night/Sunday morning dichotomy is oft cited as one reason why country and roots music so effectively captures the human condition. Artists from Hank Williams to Marty Stuart have been hailed for being reverent in one song and rascals in another. They sing of sin and its atonement. People are shown loving their families… Read more »

Guitar Faces


In between tunes, during his jaw-dropping set of masterful bluegrass guitar music, Bryan Sutton made a joke on stage this week about “Guitar Face,” the scrunchy, pouty, squinty guitar-gasm visage familiar across the guitar universe, from heavy metal shredders to acoustic bluegrass mashers. Guitar Face is mostly involuntary and delightfully embarrassing when caught by still… Read more »

New Thing! Roots Radio Interviews


Our new Roots Radio studio gives us more opportunity to visit with our guest artists, and this week our co-host Craig Havighurst brings back the Roots Radio Interviews. Stream or download these in-depth conversations. Enjoy. Dom Flemons talks about re-igniting his solo career after eight incredibly successful years with the Carolina Chocolate Drops.   Alanna… Read more »

Flatpickers Hall Of Fame

I’ve written in this space before about how the guitar changed my life and gave me an instrument I could make my own after getting started in a more traditional classical way as a kid. For a time I didn’t know what I wanted to do with the guitar, until I was introduced to the… Read more »

Walk It For Yourself

Dear Coen Brothers, I have this great idea for your next movie. A six-piece itinerant Italian bluegrass/folk band is driving the ribbons of highway and endless skyways of America, in search of their heroes, living and dead. The van gets a flat tire and they’re forced over to the shoulder (many hand gestures). And as… Read more »

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


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


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


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


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 »