Any time groups of musical people get together on a regular basis to share music among themselves and others, the metaphor of family usually comes up. The Grand Ole Opry team has been spoken of as a family for decades. Bands often refer to themselves as ‘like family’ with all the affection and/or strife that implies. And we’ve felt like family at Music City Roots since those early shows when we realized how much we depended on one another and how much love we had for each other and the overall enterprise.
Our opening artists this week took it all the way and named themselves the Kopecky Family Band, even though only gal singer Kelsey is a Kopecky by birth. This septet of musicians, which grew out of musical friendships at Belmont University, always look very chummy and involved with each other on stage and in their videos. And that chemistry comes across in the music, which is multi-colored and whimsical, powerful and melodic. I asked Todd to book Kopecky after they’d made a big splash at Next Big Nashville and were getting talked about in the major music media and the hipster blogs. I did so even though this band as much as any other we’ve had stretches the definition of Americana. They’re a modern rock band to be sure, with self-proclaimed influences like Sigur Ros and Radiohead. But I feel an underlying folk sensibility and organic quality in their sometimes challenging sound. There are also marks of classical chamber music and avant garde jazz. So sure, some folks who just like simple songs may find KFB a bit wide of their tastes. But these guys are getting national attention for good reasons, and I’m excited they’ll be showing one more side of the Music City soundscape on the Root stage.
We also celebrate family with an appearance by Jim Avett, a singer/songwriter, working guy and family man. That family happened to include sons Seth and Scott who, as The Avett Brothers, have lit up the acoustic music world and brought fiery folk to the larger pop/rock universe. The Avett boys regularly cite their dad and his lifelong love of country music as a core influence, so it’ll be fun to hear that first hand. Jim has a couple of recordings out, which his sons encouraged and helped him to make. It will also be fun to talk to Jim about his fascinating life, which includes time as a welder, farmer, Navy man and social worker. He sounds like a good influence.
The rest of our large lineup this week is rangy and fun, with the fiery fiddle-driven Celtic/Gypsy hybrid of Scythian. They apparently blew people away at Merlefest with their energy and precision. We’ve got sons from Nashville Americana guy Don Gallardo and old-timey passion from The Tillers. And our very large array of music end with the larger than life Webb Wilder, the Last of the Full-Grown Men. We’ve had Webb out before and we love his character-filled songs and greasy Mississippi-inspired backbeats. One can dance hard to Webb’s music, or just sip a beverage and listen. Come on out. Join the family reunion.