I expected that the second Wednesday of the New Year would make me a little bit blue. Under ordinary circumstances we’d be puttering away getting ready for another season premiere of Music City Roots. But as you probably know, we’ve entered a season of change - change that will require patience and fortitude for those of us who rely on our weekly mid-week dose of great live roots music and community.
As we announced in December, Roots is uprooting, fulfilling a long-held dream of moving to downtown Nashville. Some time this summer we’ll be taking up residence in the lovely new Yee Haw Brewing Co. tasting room and venue in the SoBro (South of Broadway) district, the hippest new zone of our rapidly changing city. Besides weekly MCRs, uur team will program live music most nights of the week there, and WMOT will have a studio built into the facility so our DJs can broadcast our recorded music programming and we can set up daytime acoustic performances as well. It will be Nashville’s new headquarters for Roots culture, and we couldn’t be more excited.
In the meantime, we’re launching Roots On The Road, a series of roughly monthly MCR broadcasts that will go out live on the radio and the web via streaming video. It’ll be our usual good stuff, on new nights in new places. And it’s time to save the date and pick up tickets for ROTR show #1, taking place Saturday night, Jan. 27 at the City Winery Nashville. Like sommeliers, we’ve lined up a sweet suite of Nashville-based artists from diverse backgrounds that will pair well with the ambience, food and drink of the CW.
We’ve been hearing inklings from the recording studio as John Oates worked on his latest album as a folk/roots front man. And now we have the goods, the classy, comfortable Arkansas, a collection of classic blues and folk songs from some of John’s original music heroes, including Blind Blake and Mississippi John Hurt. Mr. Oates, perhaps the most famous and successful American pop star ever to take up a pure folk/roots career in mid life, has been interpreting some of these songs (“Pallet Soft and Low” “Spike Driver Blues”) in shows for a while. On Arkansas he cut them with his stellar Good Road Band featuring Guthrie Trapp on guitar Russ Pahl on pedal steel and others. It’s as pure and well executed as anything going on in traditional music right now. It will be very exciting to help John roll out this superb new project.
Nobody needs to tell Greg Garing about revivals. He’s been a one-man wrecking crew for traditional country music since he took up residence in the honky tonks of Lower Broadway in the mid 1990s. Where there had been a boarded up urban wasteland, Greg joined BR549, Paul Burch and a few others in playing Tootsie’s and Robert’s when few came. And then when quite a few came. And then when the floodgates opened and downtown was a downtown again. Garing brings a mystical inscrutability to the stage. His allusions to Hank Williams and Jimmie Rodgers have been earned through ups and downs in real life. When he performs, time stands still, so this is a sensational addition to this City Winery bill.
It’s not a perfect analogy, but when the Gentle Giant Don Williams passed away last year, I thought how grand it is to have two mid-career Americana artists at work in Nashville who embody the same kind of ease, intimacy and lyricism. And those would be Jon Byrd and Derek Hoke. Both have been beloved Roots artists, and Hoke is coming to entertain us on this special Saturday night show. There are also elements of Roy Orbison, JJ Cale and Nick Lowe in Hoke’s deceptively simple delivery. He pulls you in and shares stories into your ear. His newest album arrived at the end of a busy 2017 and I’m just getting to know it now, but it’s exceptional and perfectly Americana in its elusive blend of soul, country, blues and rock and roll. It’s called Bring The Flood, and it’s darker and more directly reflective of American life and times than he’s offered before. So listen for new music on 1.27.
And rounding out the night will a Roots debut, not for the musicians involved but for the super-trio they’ve formed. Ms. Adventure is comprised of Vicki Vaughan (band leader/songwriter), Kimber Ludiker (Della Mae fiddler and founder) and Avril Smith (award-winning singer and multi-instrumentalist). The vibe seems to be classic folk with an old time vibe and heavy emphasis on vocal harmony. But they’re just getting started. A City Winery launch pad ought to suit these experienced artists well.
Please rush and get tickets for this limited capacity sit-down show. And put these dates on your calendars, because artists will be announced soon: March 1 at 3rd & Lindsley, March 15 at The Basement East and April 11 at The Nashville Palace. See you on the road.