Sam not only rhymes with Jam, it’s the same dang word with one extra kink in one of the letters. This is the kind of nonsense that occurs to me as I giddily reflect on this week’s Music City Roots, truly an inspired lineup if ever there was one, capped off by a raging, multi-dimensional “Up On Cripple Creek” jam, presided over by Sam, Bush that is.
Proving that last week was not beginner’s luck, MCR truly hit its stride tonight, showcasing as complimentary a foursome as you could put on one stage. Kudos to Todd Mayo for pulling this one together. Sam Bush and Mike Farris were relatively easy calls; anyone with a few neurons invested in Nashville music knows how good they are every time they get on stage. But in landing Boston’s Miss Tess and Nashville’s Caitlin Rose, the yang found its yin and a good show became a great show.
Caitlin Rose was this week’s emerging artist, and her smart, melodious songs cut through with a commanding voice and large doses of winsome charm. Sharp band too with weeping steel guitar. You might have read about her in a recent Scene cover story about up-and-coming Nashville female artists, and she’s worthy of the fuss. I got to interview her on tape before the show, and we’ll be posting that soon.
Miss Tess and her super-skilled Bon Ton Parade band embodied the MCR spirit by proving that music from the past ain’t old if its good. It’s just timeless. Drawing on the templates and textures of the 1930s, she swung and crooned through a set of original songs, adding some tasty licks on her 1920s archtop guitar.
And the night was bookended with righteousness. Mike Farris and his group raised the roof, sounding like a band three times their size and rocking the world with no drummer. The reigning king of Americana gospel says he’s getting near done with a new studio album to follow up the amazing Salvation In Lights, and we’re all waiting.
Sam Bush’s appearance was special for a lot of reasons. One day before he’d released his latest album, Circles Around Me, and celebrated his 25th wedding anniversary. The album might be his best solo project ever, with inspired songwriting and a hard-hitting bluegrass punch. “The Ballad of Stringbean and Estelle” was spooky and vivid, producing audible gasps with its final verse. And Blue Mountain provided the perfect jammy showcase for his crack band.
And we get to do this again next week?