A note from Micol Davis was a reminder that Music City Roots: Live From The Loveless Cafe is about far more than just two hours of great live music on Wednesday nights.
Micol is the female half of the husband and wife duo Blue Mother Tupelo. She and Ricky Davis are a bracing blues/rock team who can lay it down as a self-contained unit or scale up with a band. They’ve truly become friends of the show; we see them in the audience most weeks, hanging out and taking in the music and the atmosphere. This coming week, however, as Roots begins its Spring 2010 season, they will grace our stage for the first time as featured artists.
So when I asked Micol to share some thoughts about the show, it was a thrill to get the following reply: “Today I hopped in the car and had been on the road for five minutes when I heard something familiar. It was our song “Tupelo”! I got chills and had a little personal celebration; I wanted to roll down the windows and shout to the drivers beside me to tune in to 650 AM because ‘WSM is playing us on the radio!’ We’ll be playing that song next Wednesday night.”
Now that’s encouraging stuff. It wasn’t Ricky and Micol’s first time being played on the radio by any means, but anyone who loves and studies American music like they do has got to be taken up short hearing themselves on WSM, a station that shaped more careers than you could count, from across a vast musical spectrum. And you have to think about the larger context, which is that bands like Blue Mother Tupelo, who embrace and embody Americana, can look to only a handful of radio stations nationwide that will even consider playing their music. Whereas if they’d come along in decades past, they’d have been able to visit stations that had local autonomy over what to play and that weren’t fixated on charts and formats or how many people might tune out upon hearing an unfamiliar song.
Yes, fans and artists alike are muddling forward in this age of corporate radio, and while the internet is amazing, not everyone really wants to make it their new music source. Some would love to think that with that tried and true box that’s been in their homes and their cars for decades, they could find beacons of inspiration and passionate musical people spinning music to reach people’s hearts. And that’s exactly what’s been happening at WSM. The venerable Air Castle of the South has picked up that torch of history (a torch it lit) as part of its relationship with Music City Roots. You see from the beginning, MCR was seen as part of a larger revival at the station. It doesn’t just sell the show two hours of time. WSM embraces the artists playing MCR with spins of their music and on-air interviews. They’ve taken part of our mission and made it part of theirs – to build bridges between a diverse audience and diverse but always excellent music. And to tell the stories of the artists who put their heart and soul into their songs and sound.
That’s just food for thought as we return for another run of shows, and of course we’re excited to welcome Blue Mother Tupelo as well as our entire rangy lineup of artistry. Kingbilly is a big brash band out of Nashville that straddles the line between mainstream country music, jam band groove, and back porch folk-grass. Jill Andrews was a member of the much loved but now broken-up Everybodyfields, and now she’s a solo artist with a winning take on classic country and indie folk. Big Daddy Love is a fiercely fun bluegrass-tinged band from North Carolina high country that has a new album coming out in April and a huge year of amazing festival gigs ahead of it.
So we’re looking forward to warm weather, twilight shows, lightning bugs and amazing musicians, sent out over the analog airwaves with loads of respect and love. Ain’t that the way it ought to be? See you at the Barn.