Maybe the holiday spirit was in the air or maybe the chemistry among the bands was just right, but from Jessi Alexander’s opening notes of “Late Night Ramble” with the phenomenal 18 South, something felt elevated about tonight’s Music City Roots. As good as it’s been since we launched in October, we may look back on this as the night the show found its voice and its soul. The crowd, our biggest yet, was keyed up from the top. The music flowed, song to song, act to act. The vocals from every act were just spot on. It sent everyone off to the Thanksgiving weekend in the best possible way.
After 18 South got their well-deserved standing ovation for their set of roots rocking, New Orleans-meets-Nashville country soul, we heard from Green On The Vyne, the very young but very talented bluegrass band who played the emerging artist segment. I loved hearing them powerhouse through Blue Highway’s “In The Gravel Yard,” and they offered a nice take on “Summertime.” We’ll be hearing more from them for sure.
Shawn Camp has long been one of my favorite songwriters, but tonight’s show with a tight acoustic band proved he’s come into his own as a performer too. The unassuming Camp now has a confidence that brings his amazing deep country vocals to a new level, and of course the songs are always there. We heard “Sis Draper,” which he co-wrote with Guy Clark and the now widely covered “My Love Will Not Change.” He told me in our interview segment that a new album has begun to take shape. Yee haw.
Our closer tonight, John Cowan, always brings it with his music, but he also came through spiritually, with a set built around songs from his new Christmas album and gospel material. Though he didn’t disappoint his long-time fans from the New Grass Revival Days with a strong “Calling Baton Rouge.” He got the whole crowd singing at the top of their lungs, and one couldn’t help but wonder how great that sounded on the radio. And to cap things off, he led a stage full of musicians (including surprise guests Mary Gauthier and Mickey Raphael) in a slow rocking rendition of “Go Tell It On The Mountain.”
Tell it they did.