Like Lightning, One Hundred

We humans just LOVE to count things, and we have ten fingers and ten toes, so tens and any number divisible by ten feels important to us. And ten tens makes that juicy round number 100, a constant source of fascination. We commemorate one hundreds. Live to 100 and you’re considered smashingly lucky. Centenaries are big news. So forgive us for feeling a wee bit proud that when we return for the opening of the 2012 year and its Winter Season, Music City Roots will be staging its 100th show since going on the air in October of 2009.

Roughly the first half of our radio adventure took place over WSM, the historic radio station that changed country music and Nashville for the better during the vibrant 20th century. After a year, we saw a better path with the locally owned, independently operated WRLT, Lightning 100. They’ve been a great voice for progressive music and local Nashville artistry over the years, and we feel like the fit is perfect and we look forward to a bright future with Lightning as our local partner, even as we look for radio affiliates around the country.

But enough of this. We have a season to launch and shows to put on. And we’ll get it going this Wednesday back at the Loveless Café Barn, with a show that features two young guys who are carving out important places in neo-traditional music.

On the country side of things, we have Derek Hoke, the stylin’ honky-tonker from East Nashville. Raised in Georgia and the Carolinas, Hoke says he was tuned into country music by his grandfather, and in a few years in Nashville he’s worked with, played with and impressed a whole bunch of cool folk. There was a long jag with Ricky Skaggs that I’ll have to ask about. And recently he’s set up a swinging Two Dollar Tuesday residency at the fabulous Five Spot on the east side, where the city’s nouveau country aficionados hang out. A lot of them wound up helping Derek with his exceptional album Good Bye Rock And Roll, including Chris Scruggs, Luke Bulla and Pat Bergeson. His voice has an easy-does-it authority and his band always grooves. We’re excited to welcome Derek Hoke back to the stage.

From another angle on Americana comes the eye-popping talent of David Jacobs-Strain. He was one of those finds our booker Todd comes up with every now and then, where the question ‘who’s that?’ quickly gives way to ‘Holy Smoke!’ DJS’s two appearances on Roots have been triumphs, with transfixed crowds and standing Os. Part of it comes from the audacity of his embrace of the deep blues, straight from the mysterious and foundational schools of Robert Johnson, Son House and their ilk. I love how Pop Matters put it: “The kid can sing and play guitar like he is 60 years old and had a lifetime of pain, pressure, and whiskey.” The other half is his assured presence and nourishing voice and his spankin’ acoustic guitar. The blues world may not have seen such a convincing young mod revivalist since Rory Block and Stephan Grossman. This will be his first show-closing set, and I have a feeling we’re in for a rousing roundup.

The night will be made complete with our usual eclecticism. We have Julie Gribble, a folkette songwriter with an impressive track record in the film/TV world and the LA music scene. The Snyder Family Band – dad and two co-ed kids – make bluegrass out of North Carolina. And Anderson East is a fascinating, challenging artist who’s clearly got a lot of sides if his online music is any indication.

It’s never easy when the holidays come to and end and the Jan. 1 hangover lingers its way into months of cold and short days. Great music is the best antidote and we’ve got a bunch of it coming up this season. Try to savor every minute of it, because if the last 100 shows are any indication, this bright new year will be over like lightning.

Craig H

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