When the great Charlie Louvin visited Music City Roots on October 28 to sing a Loveless Jam duet with guest artist Dex Romweber it offered just a hint of the purity and authenticity we have in store on November 18 when Charlie joins us as one of our featured artists on what promises to be an exciting, eclectic evening of live radio.
Charlie was of course half of the Louvin Brothers, and of the many important acts from that golden 1950s and 60s era of country music, the Louvin Brothers have had a special power over many people. When Gram Parsons became Emmylou Harris’s country music mentor in the 1970s for example, one of the acts that lit her up was the Louvins, and she wound up cutting numerous Louvin Brothers songs that became radio hits. The Byrds cut the Louvin’s “I Like The Christian Life” on their seminal Sweethearts of the Rodeo Album. Later, a 2003 tribute album called Livin’, Lovin’, Losin’ won a much-deserved Grammy Award for Best Country Album. And for what it’s worth, when I finally took the plunge and bought my first $100-plus Bear Family box set, it was the complete Louvin Brothers.
It’s not hard to fathom why the Louvin Brothers remained relevant long after their 1964 breakup and why Charlie Louvin is still kicking it on the road well into his 80s. It’s the songs and the harmonies. The Louvins let their voices lock together and weave around each other like nobody had ever done before, directly inspiring pop crossover legends the Everly Brothers and others. And if you want a clinic in perfect country songs, just seek out the many versions that have been cut over the years of “My Baby’s Gone,” “When I Stop Dreaming,” “How’s The World Treating You” and “I Wish You Knew.”
Charlie took it easy for some years, but recently he’s gone back to music with a vengeance, recording four albums for the Thompkins Square and touring like crazy. (For more, I got to catch up with Charlie after his show at the 2007 Bonnaroo and produced this story for NPR: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=11749265)
With such a legend to focus on, I don’t mean to leave out our other fabulous artists coming up at Music City Roots #6. We’ve got the bold, quirky and ultra-twangy country rock of Webb Wilder, a Nashville underground legend. Master guitarist Steve Kimock has a huge bag of tricks, so we’ll just have to see whether he leans toward his jam-band side or his hillbilly side. And we’re all in for a treat with emerging artist Angela Esaterling. Her newest CD Black Top Road was produced by Will Kimbrough and bears all the hallmarks of a smart songwriter with a sharp eye for both the past and future.
Come join us at the barn. You can’t believe how fun this is until you’ve experienced it.