No Worries

If he truly is a Worried Man, as suggested by the title of his full-length album debut this winter, it’s safe to say that Andrew Combs has fewer troubles by the week, professionally speaking.

Last year the songwriter was waiting tables and scraping the cash together to finish the recording. This year, he’s a staff writer for the groovy Razor & Tie company with festival bookings flying in. He’s on tour now with fellow Nashville rising star Caitlin Rose, following stints with Shovels & Rope and Jason Isbell this winter. He played the prestigious 30A Songwriters Festival, and he’s going to play at Newport Folk this summer. And yes, dear readers, he’s going to play a hotly anticipated 25 minutes of earthy, truthful music at Roots on Wednesday night.

The press is drawing close to Mr. Combs as well, as the full impact and quality of Worried Man reveals itself. Perhaps the Spring thaw needed to happen to appreciate music this warm and bountiful. His voice is wise and his songs sophisticated while still holding true to the country roots that inspire him. A very recent interview with blog Engine 145 covered the sounds Combs has immersed himself in, before and during the making of Worried Man. Combs said:

“My go-to guys will probably never change: Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Blaze Foley, and Kris Kristofferson. But I listened to a lot of Tony Joe White, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and a lot of Jackson Browne and the Eagles. I also love Southern Gothic literature. Flannery O’Connor is one of my favorite writers, so some of that is on here too.”

CMT’s Edge blogger Craig Shelburne sized up his overall appeal: “Maybe it’s because his songwriting doesn’t shy away from regret and heartbreak, or because there’s a little bit of crackle and rasp in his voice. Plus I’m drawn to the moodiness and blues influence in the melodies. When it all comes together, this Dallas native approaches music in a different way than any other newcomers I’ve heard lately.”

Combs is part of a five-pack of stellar artists that will begin with the straight-ahead, no apologies bluegrass of Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers and conclude with the earthy and soulful folk rock of the Allen Thompson Band. In between we’ll hear from newcomer Andrew Leahey with band The Homestead. Leahey is a Richmond, VA native who moved to Nashville with gut allegiances to Bob Dylan, Tom Petty and Whiskeytown. AllMusic has praised his band’s coherence and fullness of spirit. Then in a very special appearance we’ll welcome Janice Oliver and Kristine Arnold, sisters who helped improve the sound of country radio in the late 80s and early 90s as The Sweethearts of the Rodeo. Taking their name from a legendary Byrds/Gram Parsons album, you can tell they’re on the side of the country angels, and they sing like angels too. They’re sporting a new album from this winter – their first new music in more than a decade.

As for Allen Thompson, well we’ve been amazed at his growth and his band’s connectedness and spirit. We’ve included one of their previous performances for a best-of anthology we’ll be releasing soon, and we’re anticipating an uplifting, danceable set enriched by superior songs. If Hippie Radio is looking for new artists who fit every criteria of their timeless playlist, the ATB is a perfect candidate.

So come on out. Worry not. It’ll be a great time.

Craig H.

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