Roots On The Road Returns March 1
Let us tip our hats and earplugs to the iconic, timeless 3rd & Lindsley, a musical crossroad named after a cross street. Wow, have I seen a lot of shows there, before and after its amazing expansion a couple of years ago. I saw Richard Thompson (my utmost songwriter/guitar hero) there, while seated behind Steve Earle. Jack Pearson, a guitarist of similar stature, warps time and space there regularly. The Irish folk band Altan took my breath away on a night that was frustratingly under-attended for such a badass visit from across the pond. The Time Jumpers hold court there every Monday night, representing Nashville at its very best. The Wooten Brothers became a Nashville institution there, helping the club generally developed a rep as arguably the city’s premiere spot for soul, blues and R&B.
So for our second Roots on the Road show, coming up March 1, we’re proud add a little part to their musical legacy with some live radio barn dance-itude. Once again, we’re keeping it Nashville and keeping it all-star with a roots super-group, one of the best songwriters to ever hail from Louisiana, a veteran side musician who’s become a show-stopping country solo artist and a bright newcomer who’s very special to the Roots Tribe.
Let’s take that list in reverse order by way of getting to know our performers. Katie Pruitt walked into our lives in the early days of WMOT Roots Radio. We were auditioning voices for station identity and one of our team members brought in her friend Katie who A) became one of our signature voices and B) offered us her demo. Boss man John was impressed and helped her land a slot on Music City Roots. We fervently hope she explodes into the wider world the way she exploded in ours that night. The Belmont University grad was recognized with a BMI scholarship, but that’s just academic compared to her impact on our stage. Her voice has smoke and power. Her songs cut through emotional fog and shine bright lights on the human condition. Her guitar playing is kind of shocking for a woman of her years. She’s since landed a publishing deal and is sharing stages with our faves. This set will move you or you can’t be moved.
You’ll meet few musical lifers quite as lifer as Lillie Mae. Literally born into a family band and on stage steadily since the age of three, the singer/songwriter and fiddle player has done her proverbial 10,000 hours several times over, and she’s only about 26. Many of us first encountered her sibling bluegrass and classic country band on Lower Broadway, where they held court every day at Layla’s. They got signed to a slightly surreal major record deal and proved too unique and edgy for country radio. But each musician has found his and her own path, Lillie Mae’s led to the world of Jack White and Third Man Records. After playing and singing in his band for some years, he produced some singles and then a full album on her. Forever And Then Some was widely seen as one of the special debuts of last year. We just enjoyed Lillie Mae’s company and talent in Greg Garing’s set at the City Winery. We’re thrilled to present her featuring her own crafty and memorable country songs.
When we talk about Nashville as a place where you can hear the world’s best songwriters and artists in humble, cozy spots with a handful of other die-hard music fanatics, we mean staples like Kevin Gordon at Betty’s on the West Side or at the Five Spot on the East Side. Whatever side, we’re lucky to have such intimate access to this low-key literary master whose work has inspired Levon Helm, Lucinda Williams and Keith Richards, among many others. He’s been recognized abundantly by elite media, including a prominent spot in one of the early Oxford American southern music samplers. But it’s our private processing of his songs and stories that makes Kevin Gordon special and meaningful. If you’ve heard “Colfax (Step In Time),” perhaps under a tree at a micro-festival one Fall as I did, you understand the mind-expanding, heart-enlarging phenomenon of which I speak.
And from the same general part of town and musical creative pool, comes the essential Music City talents of Tommy Womack and Will Kimbrough, long time brothers in arms who’ve collaborated under a variety of names and guises, the most recent and vital being the band known as DADDY. But they’d be quick to tell you the band is much more than just themselves. It’s also the singular voices of bass player Dave Jacques, drummer Paul Griffith, keyboardist John Deaderick and singer Lisa Oliver Gray. This would seem too hot a chemistry to be a mere side project, but such are the limits of real life. Happily, DADDY got worked up to make a new album, and this show will serve as one of several coming-out parties for Let’s Do This, another tuneful, visceral roots pop outing from the band.
We have much to learn from them, and all our guests. The great sound system and table seating at 3rd and Lindley will be a classy venue for class.