Music City Roots
"Music City Roots: Live From The Factory" is a weekly live musical variety show based just outside of Nashville, Tennessee in historic Franklin. We feature the best in americana, roots and bluegrass music. From 2009 to June of 2014, the show was staged at the Loveless Cafe Barn. As of July 2014, it moves into its new venue, Liberty Hall in The Factory At Franklin. For those near Nashville, the show is live each Wednesday night starting at 7 pm central time. For those abroad, watch the live video stream at Americana, blues, rock and roll, gospel, jazz, rockabilly, bluegrass, newgrass, western, folk, singer songwriter, country, soul, vintage, ragtime, cow punk, honky tonk, big band, swing, acoustic, celtic, and more! We've got it all right here folks! Many names you know and some you've never heard of but sure ought to know! We're throwing out lots of rules and getting back to what music is all about, MUSIC.

A special charismatic energy always attends the arrival of La Terza Classe, the old time string band quintet from Naples Italy. I’ve rarely seen people who seem so glad to be alive, on the road, playing music. And they were just part of a gathering tribe of visitors on a rapturously gorgeous spring evening this week. Beloved Nashville bass player Dave Roe and drummer Rick Lonow were on hand. Friendly Mike Webb was in the green room too. My good Tulsa-based friend Jared Tyler was in town to play and sing with Malcolm Holcombe. And I even had my own family on hand to supplement my Roots family, with my wife and daughter accompanying relatives from Texas. So the stage was set for a warm and sunny show at the end of a warm and sunny day.

In order:

Ana Cristina Cash

La Terza Classe

Kenny & Amanda Smith

Malcolm Holcombe

Direct download: April_12_Full_Pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:08pm CDT

It’s a big country, this America, and Americana music is concomitantly enriched by its host nation’s geography and diversity. That was on display Wednesday night as Roots hosted artists from New York, Texas, Massachusetts and Washington. Strings were stretched, along with rules and genre boundaries. There’s no point in reaching for a fancy way to say it. This one was a delight and the crowd seemed to agree, what with all the frequent standing and applauding.

Direct download: April_5_Full_Pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:23am CDT

There’s a new eatery in The Factory at Franklin that’s offering what is, for Williamson County, a slightly exotic new pre-show dinner option. Funk Seoul Brother has a hip hop esthetic and a Korean/Japanese menu with poke (PO-kay), the rice bowl featuring raw fish. My tuna and seaweed this week was zesty and contrasty and a tiny offering to the gods of global cultural exchange. With the right taking illiberal positions against pluralism and the left taking illiberal positions against what it calls “cultural appropriation,” I’m up for anything that affirms the values of dialogue and, well, cultural appropriation, because without that, we’d not have the grand American music legacy. Melting pots make a lot of sound, and we aim to be there with microphones. Which brings me to 7 pm on Wednesday night.

Direct download: March_29_Full_Pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00am CDT

Spring springs eternal, and it was renewing to return to the Factory with the recent freeze behind us and new sprouts sprouting for some of our kind of living roots. It was a night that left some of our regulars buzzing with the sweet feeling of trust and vindication. I mean they may not have known most of the artists on the bill, but they gave of themselves and met these artists halfway and found charm, grit and beauty over two and a half efficient hours. 

I got to speak at length with Guy Davis in the afternoon and he was just full of soul and humanity and enthusiasm. But even his bright personality was a hard match for harmonica man Fabrizio Poggi, who whooped and dug into his arsenal of harps on material largely drawn from the repertoire of Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee. This made a high-energy acoustic pairing to close the night.




Direct download: March_22_Full_Pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:32am CDT

I don’t often lead these reports with our Nashville Jam, but sometimes our show-closing, all-hands feature goes exceptionally well. And this week it felt like some cathartic starburst that brought together all of the energies and chemistries of the nights four acts. And that is exactly what it’s supposed to do under ideal circumstances. The song was “Why You Been Gone So Long?” from the pen of Mickey Newbury. A lot of us bluegrass heads glommed on to the song as recorded by Tony Rice. But my research says it was first recorded by the long forgotten Johnny Darrell in 1969 with a dank electric guitar twang and a twisty beat. And that’s the beat that Jim Lauderdale (who was back after a few weeks of being gone so long – why?) set up as Nikki Lane, Michaela Anne, Paul McDonald and Parker Gispert brought their distinctive voices to the verses. The choruses were huge and tight and joyful. Sometimes we really nail it. But it had been a special night all around by that point anyway.

Direct download: Feb_15_2017_Pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:18pm CDT

Some artists who write instrumental tunes claim that naming them is difficult. I don’t know. I’m always coming up with weird phrases that seem to have no other purpose on Earth other than to be a jazz or fiddle tune, some of which are named with surreal panache. Consider two of the tunes April Verch played in her show-opening set of Canada-inspired traditional music: “Spider Bit The Baby” and “Joke On The Puppy.” One has to wonder what circumstances way back wherever in time led somebody to affix those words to those churning bundles of notes and rhythms. In my mystery lies stories of our own making. That’s what’s fun about instrumental music in general; we can bring a lot of ourselves to a tune’s meaning when the singer isn’t telling us what to think. Even so, on this balmy March 1 night as we closed our winter 2017 season, the singers and songwriters gave us plenty to think about as well. It was a well-rounded, head bobbing kind of an evening that started in Canada and ended up in South Carolina.

Direct download: March_1_2017_Full_Pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:17pm CDT

Even with all of the cool country music fashion we’ve seen over the years, Jim Lauderdale’s Manuel suits included, nobody has ever made me drop my jaw and exclaim out loud like Ward Hayden’s Tex-Mex suit of flowers and jewels on Wednesday night. It was black with tightly embroidered vines and blooms and just covered like a mirror ball with rhinestones. He wore it well and led Girls Guns and Glory in a set that easily justified the audacious accouterments. It was one quarter of a night that delivered half bluegrass and half rocking country and 100% well written songs.

Direct download: Feb_22_Full_Pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:52am CDT

Later this month (2/23), the series SUN Records premieres on CMT, with music supervision by friend of the show and friend of hillbilly music Chuck Mead. We’ve been thrilled to follow Chuck’s journey on this unexpectedly large gig. Years ago he was hired to keep the music real in the then off-Broadway production of Million Dollar Quartet. It grew into a global award winning phenomenon. This week we got to hear Chuck perform his own music again for the first time in a while, and he was part of our own quartet of Nashville artists. Worth a million? Who’s to say. What’s fair to notice, I think, is that for ten bucks, it was a very good deal.

Direct download: Feb_8_2017_Full_Pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:15am CDT

Feb. 1, 2017 w/ The Isaacs, Lonesome River Band, Foghorn Stringband, Joe Mullins

We at Roots probably have you conditioned by now so that when we say “bluegrass” you know we mean the whole range, from roots to branches. Our all-bluegrass shows generally include a Greensky or a Sam Bush Band, because one of the greatest things about the field is its freedom. It’s one of the ultimate artist-driven, innovation-friendly genres and we’ll always celebrate that. But this week was different – a turn toward bluegrass fundamentalism if you will. It was all trad. No rad. And boy was it excellent. Lineup in order:

The Lonesome River Band

Foghorn String Band

Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers

The Isaacs

Direct download: Feb._1_2017_Full_Pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:38am CDT

Jan. 25, 2016 w/ Cicada Rhythm, Waker, Southern Ave. and Mingo Fishtrap

This week on MCR a showcase of bands from four music cities. From Nashville, big sweeping pop melodies and a skilled instrumental attack from Waker. From Athens GA, the haunting alt-Appalachian music of Cicada Rhythm. And from Memphis, an acclaimed ensemble that's about to release new music on the legendary STAX Records label - Southern Avenue. Also on the show, a spectacular archival set from our Loveless Cafe days featuring one of the finest and funkiest bands from Austin, Mingo Fishtrap.


Direct download: Jan._25_Full_Pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:30pm CDT