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.

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

Jan. 18, 2017 w/ Cody Jinks, Colin Hay, Old Salt Union, Jesse Kramer and Peter Case

I got to meet country singer and songwriter Cody Jinks on Wednesday, and I am pleased to report that, as his album title asserts, he is Not The Devil. While his merch is full of flaming skulls and his web site depicts him as the black-bearded former death metal artist turned honky tonker that he is, the man himself is an open, smiling and considerate guy. He hung out after the show greeting and meeting with his fans and taking pictures as long as any artist I can remember. At the same time, he had a fire behind his eyes and about a million miles under his rings and tattoos, and our on stage conversation felt far too short. It was just one highlight of a flavorful night of music. Somebody must have brought some salt. And indeed it wasn’t just Old Salt Union who did so. Peter Case showed world weary wisdom. Jesse Kramer radiated. Colin Hay showed the power of reinvention. I can still taste it now.

Direct download: Jan._18_FullPod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:35am CDT

Jan. 11, 2017 w/ Travelin McCourys, Greyhounds, Piers Faccini, Mulligan Bros.

An extraordinary night of music with a travelin’ kind of vibe began with a foreign visitor who traffics in global sounds. Piers Faccini has one of the most imaginative musical minds I know in his ability to layer (and he was explicit about this in our interview) British folk tradition, Delta and Hill Country Mississippi blues and North African sounds.

The Mulligan Brothers presented the most straightforwardly Americana/roots set of the night with a quartet featuring acoustic guitar, fiddle, electric bass and drums.

In truth, the guys in Greyhounds didn’t really need my help to put on a spectacular set of shoe sliding soul anthems. Trube kicked things off with the wiry twang of his vintage guitar before Ferrell took the lead voice on “A War Is On For Your Mind,” the hot political take from their current album. Ineffable chemistry and a taste for what’s cool is what makes this band tick.

It’s never a surprise when the Travelin’ McCourys put on a great set, but my god, I was pinned to the wall by the power of the band this time both musically and vocally.

Direct download: Jan._11_FullPod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:42am CDT

The Kentucky Headhunters brought new songs from a new album and sounded no less feisty and committed than they did when they scored radio hits in the late 80s. They are eternal Southern rockers who know how to get the most out of classic solid body electric guitars. Hymn For Her swung through in their Airstream to rock our stage, with some twists. Wayne and Lucy’s daughter, who was just a babe when we first met her, is now old enough to sing “Sioux City Sue” with swing. And the duo offered a new 60s pop feeling with a song called “Milkweed” that I just flipped over. The Farmer & Adele brought classic country and western music to the stage with finesse and stagecraft. The Buckleys, a family band of all teens from Australia opened the night with brightness and innate talent.

Direct download: Dec._14_Ful_Pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:34am CDT

Dec. 7, 2016 w/ Kelsey Waldon, Ron Pope, Tattletale Saints and Rorey Carroll

Kelsey Waldon is a charming and heart-rending at the same time. With a twinkle in her eye she can pierce you with melancholy or shiv a rival with icy cool worthy of Loretta Lynn. The latter was more the feeling of opening song “False King” with a hook I love: “You can’t place a crown on the head of a clown and hope he turns out to be a king.” Kind of reminded me of current events. There were curtains of gorgeous steel guitar from Brett Resnick, notably the solo on set closer “All By Myself.” Also sweet was Walson’s slow rocking take on Bill Monroe’s “Travelin’ Down This Lonesome Road.” She knows lonesome and she showed it.

Direct download: Dec._7_Full_Pod.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:41pm CDT