Just over a year ago, with Fall in full color and the air apple crisp as it has been here of late, I spent a wonderful weekend at The Festy, the annual music throwdown hosted by the Infamous Stringdusters in a Blue Ridge valley not far from Charlottesville, Virginia. Among the many musical surprises and delights, a snappy little combo called Lake Street Dive took the stage and emphatically confirmed every bit of hype and praise I had heard about them. Efficient and nimble they were, making improbably large music with just four members – one of them not even an instrumentalist. She was lead singer Rachael Price, who has the pipes and charisma to slay a large crowd. Jazz-infused, she has that muted trumpet tone that made Billie Holiday so seductive, plus a groove-awareness and a sunny disposition that comes off to me like Amy Winehouse without the baggage. Lake Street Dive, on our bill this week after many months of trying, makes its music for Signature Sounds, the incredibly astute and tasteful folk label out of Boston. I think you’ll find this one of the freshest and most surprising bands you’ve discovered in a long time, if you’re not already a fan.
But there is a LOT to dive into this week at Roots. I’m kind of astonished at the range and sophistication of this particular lineup. Stepping up first will be one of the great country artists of a golden era, the immensely important Bobby Bare Sr. Iconoclastic and edgy even in his day, he’s continued to elude categorization and boredom. “All my first hits were based on the fact that I was young and the young pop girls loved me,” Bare told the Nashville Scene’s Jewly Hight this week. “The benchmark was Elvis. But my [philosophy] has always been what everybody else is doing, don’t do it. Do the exact opposite.” He’s still doing that with his new album Darker Than Light, which will be released the day before our show.
Then we’ll hear from the extraordinary and imaginative Matuto, a band that fuses Appalachian folk, New York City jazz and traditional music from Brazil. What? Yes. It’s true. Mastermind Clay Ross is an acclaimed guitarist who cites Tony Rice and Bill Frisell as major influences. (What is he trying to make me fall in love with him or something?) And in NYC he connected with accordionist Rob Curto, an expert in Brazilian forro music, which translates as “burning hot.” Oh yeah. These are the kinds of expansive, adventuresome musicians we seek out.
We also have a set from the Delta Saints, about whom their native Nashville is buzzing in a big way. A gig at Live on the Green this fall helped bounce these guys into the Music City big time after a couple years of being beloved by music insiders. The sound is full and rocking blues, by way of New Orleans. Expect a brash extravaganza of harmonica and groove. They’ll be releasing their newest album Death Letter Jubilee at the end of this month, so we shall celebrate.
And speaking of new releases, we welcome back the poetic and piercing David Olney, one of Nashville’s legendary rockers and writers. He’s sliding into the third release of a trilogy of EPs that have explored the moody (Film Noir), the holy (The Stone) and now the complexities of love on Robbery & Murder. If you sense that Olney chooses dark and heavy images as he tries to illuminate life’s truths, you’re on to something. Olney is entertaining but also deep, yet never pretentious. We’re excited by his return.
Lake Street Dive will close the show, and we think it’ll be swoons all around. What kind of song these diverse artists settle on for the Loveless Jam should be interesting, shouldn’t it? But interesting is one of our core missions. See you there!