I vividly remember discovering Kim Richey. It was 1995 and I was just starting to put it together in my brain that country music was way more diverse than “they” ever told us and that an entire movement was galvanizing around writers and artists who had nothing to do with the low-fat milky stuff that had taken over a radio format I’d once enjoyed. I was in the Tower Records in Manhattan (words to make a music fan cry) and one of the listening stations featured a kinky haired woman from Nashville who sounded like she’d been visited in turns by the muses of the Byrds, Emmylou Harris, Jackson Browne and Gail Davies. And there was that crystalline, emotion-laden voice. Sold. Fan for life.
Richey is actually from Ohio, and let it not be said this is a place without soul because plenty of its plain speaking and unadorned simplicity has made its way directly into Kim’s music. If she’d emerged a few years prior, during what Steve Earle has called the Great Credibility Scare of the Early 90s, she might have achieved even greater notoriety than she has. Nevertheless its safe to say she’s one of the most respected and worthy artists from her era. She’s made a string of smart, absorbing albums that fuse the best of Nashville writing and artistry with the sparkle and moodiness of British pop.
So Kim has been on our wish-list ever since the beginnings of Music City Roots and it is with pride and anticipation that we announce that she will be our musical guest this week. You’ll hear songs from her very new and unsurprisingly fantastic new CD Wreck Your Wheels. That voice is back after a too-long break, and we die-hard fans are most excited.
That’s not the only source of riches on this week’s bill. We also get to hear a set from one of the most dynamic and offbeat bands in bluegrass, a hard-traveling and relentlessly clever band called The Dixie Bee-Liners. Founding members Buddy Woodward and Brandi Hart are widely known and loved for their very crafty songwriting, their startling humor and their sweet fashion sense. Their albums get glowing reviews with words like “revolutionary” and “brilliant” and “transcendent” in them. All deserved. Their current album Susanville is a concept project that sketches stories of random people on the highway driving in and out of a fictional town – a portrait of America from its very circulatory system.
Rounding out our exciting bill will be a set from the superb and sublime Suzy Ragsdale. Her songs and voice have turned up on all kinds of projects over the years, from hit country albums to league-leading Americana projects. Her own piano pop is as delicious as her ambitious cooking. We’ll enjoy the return of Crystabel and the Jons, a swingy, rootsy outfit from East Tennessee. And we have a cool new artist in the person of Kara Clark, a West Virginia-reared songwriter with a love of true stories and a musical connection to Hank Williams.
It’s going to be great. And at ten bucks, you certainly don’t have to be rich to get in.