It’s a funny kind of week at Music City Roots, as we say goodbye sadly to the legendary Charlie Louvin, whom we’d hoped to have with us for the show until pancreatic cancer took him at the end of January, and, in a happier—and temporary—way to interviewer Craig Havighurst, off to claim a new addition to his family (and ours) in the form of a daughter. Until he returns in a few weeks, his duties will be handled first by me, and then by my virtual twin, Larry Nager—both of us bluegrass bass-playing music journalists transplanted to Music City from Cincinnati, though I freely admit that Larry has a much finer head of hair than I.
It’s perhaps a bit ironic then that this week’s lineup is a bit less ‘grassy than usual, but I’m welcoming the opportunity to expand my horizons, for in large part, that’s what Music City Roots has been about from the start—the cross-fertilization of down-to-earth musical styles that have always resisted fences and walls. That’s certainly the case here, with a set of artists who not only add up to a sweeping mix of sounds, but embody that kind of variety on their own. New Orleans-based MyNameIsJohnMichael rocks hard with a horn-driven sound that reflects the city’s dynamism, while The Carter Brothers bring a kind of Appalachian funk that can swing from the snarl of Jimi Hendrix guitar to the glitter of Earl Scruggs banjo in the twinkling of an eye. The Band Of Heathens—always MCR favorites, and now set to follow last year’s Americana radio favorite One Foot In The Ether with a new March release—will be here with their own brand of roots rock, and then there’s that Two Man Gentleman Band, who make an elegantly swinging kind of music that throws you back to a dozen different kinds of olden days.
So maybe, even though it’s a funny kind of week, it’s also kind of a typical one—some old friends, some new ones, a boatload of music that will probably make you laugh a bit, and just might bring a tear or two sneaking along behind. I was privileged to get to write about the show back when its first anniversary was celebrated in October, and privileged, too, to perform a couple of times—and from either of those perspectives, as well as that of a plain old fan, Music City Roots is one special deal. Come on out and see why.