Seasons come and seasons go, but I don’t think we’ve ever been so ready to say goodbye to winter as we are in Nashville this year. Cold, snowy, dark and long it was, and while we had some wonderful warm Wednesday nights in the Barn, it’s going to be a whole lot nicer with the doors open and the balmy breezes blowing in. To celebrate this transition, we’ve lined up a big time, six-act, three-hour extravaganza as we close out our 2011 winter season this week. And we could hardly have found more celebratory music to bring to the party.
If you’ve hung out with us at all, you know Mike Farris. He’ll close out the show with his chicken-fried, sanctified gospel rock. By merging the power of his former life as a rock and roller with his passion for the spiritual jazz of John Coltrane and the gospel uplift of the Staples Singers, Farris has found his own sweet spot in Americana music. He ran away with the Americana Music Association’s 2008 Best New or Emerging Artist award, and in the few years since, he’s become beloved around the nation for his searing soulful voice, his songwriting and the loving way he showcases all the amazing support musicians who help him out, like the remarkable McCrary Sisters.
If Mike Farris is the familiar note on this show, we’re proud to perhaps turn you on to somebody new as well. Before a couple weeks ago, I’d not heard of Joey Morant. Our fearless booking guy Todd met him on a trip to New York and heard his story, and now that we’ve been enlightened, it seems he’s been there in our music-scape all along. A native of Charleston, SC, Morant picked up the trumpet at an early age and his talents earned him support and training from some major figures in the jazz world. His career as a horn player and singer has taken him around the world numerous times. He’s played with Ray Charles, James Brown, Tina Turner and Paul McCartney. In the 1960s, he told Todd, he came regularly to Nashville to play on sessions with guys like Harold Bradley. He’s a living bridge between the classic jazz traditions of Louis Armstrong and the wide-open history of Music City. And just to really bring home how beloved he is, Morant was invited to play “Taps” at the memorial service at Ground Zero after 9/11. No somberness this week, though, as Morant joins a band of Nashville all-stars led by bassist Mike Bub.
And there’s so much more! Too much to go into detail. But I can tell you we’re excited to be revisited by Lissy Rosemont and her band the Junior League. We’ll hear the exceptional songs and voice of John Francis. The quirky duo Hymn for Her will occupy the Vietti Chili slot this week. You’ll get a quick set from the colorful and youthful Vespers, who will be on hand to announce the winner of our latest House Concert contest. And in addition to the return of regular host Jim Lauderdale after some hard weeks of winter world touring, we’ll kick the show off with a solo acoustic set from the iconic Jason Ringenberg. So there’s hardly a flavor of Americana we won’t be serving up this week. Come enjoy the smorgasbord.