March 23rd, 2017
The song title is "Heart on the Floor", it's a song about two people at the end of a relationship reminiscing on promises to always stay together. - Devon
The Highland Reunion
March 9th, 2017
"The three of us grew up in the same home town in Indiana. After moving away we each found our way to Nashville at separate times and eventually crossed paths with Jamie (bass), who was born and raised here. We recorded our first EP direct to tape at Battletapes Studio over on the East side in 2015 and now we're gearing up to hit the studio again with a bunch of new songs we've been playing out this past year and a half."
More info at www.thehighlandreunion.com.
March 1st, 2017
Chancy (Adjective) - Involving luck, risk or uncertainty
Chancey is a soulful, Rhythm and blues trio, named after it's frontman and principal songwriter Matt Chancey. Pairing his efforts with drummer/percussionist Michael Mann and keyboard player Nathaniel Melville, they share a diverse range of musical backgrounds to create a truly unique, yet endearingly familiar sound.
For more info + tour dates check out https://www.facebook.com/chanceyband/.
Sylvia Rose Novak
FEBRUARY 23rd, 2017
For more info + tour dates check out https://sylviarosenovak.com/.
Phoebe Hunt & The Gatherers
FEBRUARY 16th, 2017
We spent a day in Nashville with Phoebe Hunt and the Gatherers. Check out her visit below.
1pm at the Roots Radio Studio with Whit "Witness" Hubner
7:30pm at The Basement
10am at a West Nashville Studio
11am -- A stripped-down performance on the studio's porch
So it’s been almost a year since the release of your third record, can you tell us about both the writing and recording process for your most recent, self-titled record?
It took a long time to write and finish because I was on the road most of the time. Not to be dodgy or anything but I’ve always thought the specifics on the entire process are kind of boring. It’s like explaining a magic trick in a way, and kind of takes some magic away for me. There is no one point of reference to build an outline exactly from with writing, inspiration, and reasons and everything. You live you’re life then it’s pen to paper to instrument to microphone. Beyond that is heady engineering stuff that I’m even worse at explaining with any sense of flow.
I know you produced it yourself, what was that like, seeing the album through the initial writing stages to the final end product?
You mentioned being finished with a new album. What are your plans for the release of that? Are you producing it yourself? How does it part both musically and lyrically from the self-titled record?
It should come out this fall. I did produce it myself. It’s less personal in many ways. It’s more outside looking in on this one and the sound is altogether more musical than the last record in my opinion. It’s another step in the conversation of life for me with music and it feels like a step forward but perhaps for some it’s more of a tango, or a dirge, or a waltz. I guess I’ll see.
What was the transition like, jumping straight from touring with Old Crow Medicine Show to releasing your own record and touring as a solo artist?
You’ve been posting images in different cities reading 1984 and Brave New World. What has your experience been like reading these dystopian novels while traveling across the country and seeing so many different parts of the world? Has this been influential in your writing, or even your personal experience while touring?
It’s definitely got the alarm bells ringing on what it means to live in this country with what’s happening right now. The hypocrisy is violent. I believe most people despite their differences are good and want the same things but the conversation is misdirected, distracted, and moving in a thousand directions. I tour mostly alone by car these days because that’s how I like it. Mostly because I can go where I want, when I please, and get to know the places I go to and the people and places along the way. Once you get off the interstate onto the 10’s of thousands of back roads and highways, this country can look third world poor in a whole lot of places, and yet those populations are still holding on (by an invisible thread) to dreams of a future that’s built on the past industrial model which to me, and them I believe, seems more hopeless and unsustainable in many ways. Not to mention the cities which is the same in many ways but the dreaming wage slaves can see the illusive promise of the mansion on the hill a little clearer and so the hopeful illusion’s of grandeur perhaps seem more attainable to keep following the old carrot on a stick. To me the problems are primarily between have and have nots, same as always. I agree with Orwell on one thing for certain… that slight of hand game of blaming color, religion, gender, or sexual preference is being used to turn brother against brother while some very rich people consolidate their power. I guarantee while you’re looking at one hand they’re going to pick your pocket with the other.
You also traveled with the crew of the Austin to Boston tour and narrated the film. How was traveling with these four different artists, and developing a narrative to define the experience?
That was the kind of adventure that got me hooked on traveling in the first place only I started with less destination, so the narrative was easy in that it’s written in every tour and journey if you’re doing it right. That particular tour was exceptional in that all the bands related to it have since gone on to really wonderful things with their careers and lives and the beauty of catching them together in that time was that green fire that was burning in each of them.
What’s it like now, being on tour with Bear’s Den, coming from this unique experience that seemed to take place in a sort-of time warp with the VW busses and campsites, to a tour that I imagine is more typical routing, venues, and travel arrangements?
It’s really not all that different. Same adventure, same road, different day, revolving cast. They’ve obviously grown quite a bit since then but their spirit is still very passionate and excited about what they’re doing and I’m still doing whatever it is that I’m doing.
What’s your impression of the current state of Americana music and where do you see it going?
Honestly, I’m not entirely sure what Americana Music is exactly, but from what I’ve gathered from it’s awards, radio, etc… there’s some great people making great work, but I couldn’t say honestly I’ve been overly inspired by the bulk of what’s come down the pike. I like songs to challenge me if someone’s going to sing and that’s what I hope to hear more of. I’m hoping now that there’s more interesting things to sing about than white people having a good time or having their hearts broken (which I’m also quite guilty of) and more people will start writing more challenging concepts lyrically and take some of the car commercial appeal and nostalgia out of the music. I hope they try to set fire to any dormant hearts or minds out there rather than push units.
February 2nd, 2017
K Phillips’ life has been like a country song. Born in West Texas and raised by his grandparents in the Concho Valley, K’s grandfather was both a cattle rancher and a criminal court judge. His mother was a radio disc jockey who named her only son after her favorite Texan, Kris Kristofferson. K began playing guitar at age 5 and began writing songs at 6. At age 18 he lost both his best friend and his girlfriend in two separate drowning instances. In the wake of these tragedies, music understandably took on a deeper resonance. It became how he processed life and heartache.
His latest album, Dirty Wonder (Rock Ridge Music), out March 10, 2017, is a breakup record that’s part autobiographical, part imagined, and part observational, chronicling a third-party breakup K witnessed firsthand. It’s a redemptive album, brimming with clever allusions, pent-up sexual tension, and loveable roguish characters. The album was produced by award-winning songwriter Gordy Quist of The Band of Heathens and features a vocal cameo from Adam Duritz from Counting Crows.
Check out more from K at http://www.kphillipsmusic.com/.
JANUARY 26TH, 2017
You recorded your debut record “Medicine For Birds” last Winter in Nashville with producer, Charlie Peacock, for a September release. Why did you decide it to record in Nashville and can you talk about the experience of working with Charlie and the recording process?
I actually recorded with Charlie the winter of 2015. It's been a bit of a slow, steady build getting up to this point. I chose Charlie because I felt like he would balance out some of my oddities. He's a very knowledgeable producer and I thought it'd be a great experiment to work with someone that came from the other end of the spectrum.
At the time I was freshly 21 and without a band, so working with someone like Charlie was vital to the project. In addition to having precise musical abilities and his own beautiful studio, he has a network of amazing players he's able to call in Nashville. I learned firsthand that Nashville is the place to find world-class musicians.
What has the reaction to the album been like for you? What were you most surprised about post-release, finally having a complete record available to the public?
I honestly have trouble trying to explain the feeling. I know it's been said a million times, but it's completely surreal. I never thought I'd see my 20-something year old face occupying such space in The NY Times or any of the other great publications that had something to say about it. I guess I'm just honored to be invited to the table.
One of the most surprising realizations post release was the wide range of listeners. There are those who are partial to folkish storytelling and even some who just love to dance. Sometimes it feels a little strange having people come up and comment on a song's meaning -- it at times feels like an evaluation of my diary. I prefer to listen instead of speak though. I know what I wrote the song about, but I love when people have their own ideas as to what it means or why it was written. I think of songs as a snapshot soundtrack to their writer's personal journey. That being said, I'm incredibly happy that people can relate to songs written by a stranger like me.
I know you spent some time on both coasts, living in L.A. for high school and on the Eastern Shore of Virginia. Were there drastically different musical influences in these distinct areas? Are there certain lyrical elements or sounds to your music that you can attribute back to the direct influence of one of these locations?
I had completely different musical influences in LA and on The Eastern Shore.
In LA I was surrounded by Latino culture on a daily basis. I would visit my family and hear mariachi or merengue music coming from the streets or the radio. In the city I would see shows and hear music that was a modernized version of rock or pop.
On the Eastern Shore, I often found myself looking backwards - in a way, embracing the original instruments of the region. I think that's why a good bit of the album has fiddle, harmonica and acoustic picking. My move to Virginia changed what I wrote about as well. I don't think I could've written 'Magnolia is Medicine' or 'Woman I'm Hollerin'' in LA.
Who is the voice in the outro of Orange Flower? What does closing the song in a proverbial woman-to-woman conversation, in such a casual and light-hearted tone conclude about the song?
The woman I'm speaking to is Ruby Amanfu! She's a phenomenal vocalist who sang backup on several of my tracks. I geeked out so hard when I met her ( I was a fan since I first heard her on 'Love Interruption')
I think the best thing about that outro is that in a very nonchalant way, it shows that us women singing are not victims. Even though 'Orange Flower' can be seen by some as 'venting about guy problems' I'm glad to have ended the song in a way that's very clear. Almost as if we're saying, "no, no. We're just fine. And this lame bouquet isn't where my story ends” haha.
This is the first date on your tour with Lydia Loveless. What are you most excited about for this tour? Is there anything you’re nervous about?
I honestly can't wait to share the travel stories and remedies with fellow artists. I'm really looking forward to meeting Lydia and hearing her point of view. I'm also happy to say that this is the first big run of dates for my guys and me. None of us have ever been gone from home this long playing music. Of course it'll be sweet to play in towns we've never been to before as well.
Can you talk about the inspiration behind “Loretta Lynn”. The inclusive “we” pairs you and Loretta together as at odds against what seems to be an oppressive power. Lynn is known to have lyrically spoken out about the liberation of birth control and the double-standards for divorced women, a feminist before the time of widely-accepted feminism. Did she influence you in this capacity and can you speak to that influence both musically and as a female growing up in the midst of a new wave of feminism?
I was first struck by Loretta when I was a teenager listening to her song "Don't Come Home A-Drinkin". I saw this beautiful woman boldly stick up for herself during a time period where the ideal women were usually fashioned up to be sweet, complacent and angelic. I thought it was so badass of her. I guess that's how I came to envision myself having a conversation with her in my song 'Loretta Lynn'.
And yes. Since my song 'Loretta Lynn' was thought up as a dialogue between me and her, I tried to draw a lot of parallels, to show that while it may have been awhile since Loretta first personally expressed the need for feminism , there are still a lot of unhealthy expectations placed on women today. Her bravery helped me fully realize that it was good for us women to tell our stories and that we should never be ashamed of sharing our experiences. Most importantly, sharing our frustrations or disappointment is not a sign of weakness-- I think it's quite the opposite. It's a firsthand recount of endurance.
Furthermore, what has your experience been like being a young, female, solo artist in the music industry?
It's been a bittersweet experience for me. The wonderful side is getting to meet new people, visiting places I've never seen with my best friends, and having a shot at having heroes actually hear my music. The strange part has been growing up alongside it and sometimes not knowing what's normal-- not totally being able to gauge when someone is asking just a bit too much of you.
Check out Angelica's music, bio, tour dates, and more at http://www.angelicagarcia.net/.
Adrian + Meredith
January 19th, 2017
How did you meet and start making music together?
We first met in Washington, DC where Adrian and had been living for 7+ years. He was already scheduled to move to Nashville, TN the summer that Meredith took an internship at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. They met through an open mic community called Modern Times. While we dabbled in playing music together, it took almost 2 years into dating before they started performing together. Eventually Meredith left her full-time time in Lansing, MI to move down to Nashville and tour full time with Adrian. Our first duo tour was out on the west coast in 2014, and the project Adrian+Meredith was born.
You recently released your debut album, “More Than a Little”. Can you tell us about the process of making it?
We had a list of songs that fell into that "rootsy-racquet" people are calling, and it was important to find the right Producer for the sound we wanted.. It kind of came together naturally, as Mark Robertson (of Th'Legendary Shackshakers) has a long history in the sounds we were shooting for, and he also was a regular, playing with Derek Hoke at The 5 Spot on $2 Tuesday, where we would hang on a weekly basis. So we got to chat over Tuesdays for a while, about the sound.. which really helped with pre-production.
Once we got into the studio, we tracked it all in one room, live, to 2" analog tape. Scott at Fry Pharmacy is great at using the tape as recording device and initial sounds, and bouncing everything to a computer once we're done in the studio. Fry Pharmacy is a dark, hard-floored, high-ceiling room with a ton of old recording equipment, and our studio time felt like we were playing in a dark basement club, like so many nights before. So it was really easy to get into a dark, heavy, groove that we were going for.
What story does the title track tell, and what prompted you to name the album after it?
The song More Than A Little was the first song that we co-wrote. Originally Adrian was going to scrap the chords, but when Meredith came up with the driving rhythm, we knew the song was going to stick; so it made sense for this song to become the title track to our Adrian+Meredith debut record.
What does the genre “Americana” mean to you? How does being labeled within this genre influence your songwriting?
Americana seems to be the new tagline for Alt-Country, which has been around for decades. Musically and lyrically, we've been inspired by Americana over the years, via anything from topic, to arrangements, to instrumentation, but we still have a hard time understanding if we're Americana or not. Our punk-folk side isn't very Americana. Our chord-progressions are definitely not Americana. More Than A Little is bordering on protest themes, which after this record is out, is becoming a popular Americana topic again. It seems more that we continue to write music the way we always have, and it's been up to everyone else to label it Americana.
Can you tell us about your different musical tastes and backgrounds and how you blended those together into the cohesive hardcore folk sound on this album?
We both came from very different musical backgrounds which has made both of us stronger musicians and performers. Adrian grew up on Motown Records and Springsteen, and started his music career playing punk music in the DIY town of Washington DC. Meredith grew up on Eileen Ivers and Peter Ostroushko with a sprinkle of Mary Chapin Carpenter, while her performance career got started in the old time music and dance scene in Michigan. Both influences are very apparent in our songs. The hard-edge of punk with it’s prolific lyrics and chip-on-the-shoulder performances, combined with the rootsy-racquet of fiddle and anchor melodies of traditional folk.
What has your experience with the Americana community, and greater songwriting community been like in Nashville?
There is no question that our music doesn’t really have a home in any genre, and that includes Americana. Being on the outside of a community that is very focused on country, rock, and songwriter-folk, has its moments on both ends of the spectrum. But at the end of the day, we are 100% at home in a community where full-time musicians & industry balances work, life, creativity, and professionalism. We are completely inspired by this city’s work ethic and the amount of do-ers we find ourselves amongst.
What does the new year look like for you, after an album release and some months of touring?
It feels like after every record there comes a time of reflection and re-focus and 2017 holds a lot of that, but it doesn’t mean we’re slowing down. We’re taking the first couple months of the year to write a new batch of songs and re-connect with our Nashville community. Then we’re off to Folk Alliance in February, West Coast in the spring, and Festivals throughout the country for our summer tours, and we’ll be wrapping up 2017 hopefully with our first European tour. We got a lot of great press, airplay, and momentum for this record, and we’re ready to keep that momentum going well into 2017.
Check out Adrian + Meredith's website, http://www.adriankrygowski.com/.
Ian Randall Thorton
DECEMBER 29ND, 2016
Ian Randall Thornton is a locally grown musician and song writer from Norfolk, Virginia. He grew up learning classical instruments (such as upright bass, classical guitar, percussion and piano), but has more recently honed in on the craft of song writing. Thornton plays many instruments in multiple genres, but prefers the unadulterated simplicity of folk music as the setting to display his more weighty lyrical content and concepts. Ian carefully writes and arranges beautiful and compelling folk compositions that lead the listener through emotional cinematic feeling narratives. Though Thornton is still in his early twenties, his sound, maturity, insights and experience are far beyond his years.
Stay tuned for Ian's soon to be released album, coming this Spring.
DECEMBER 22nd, 2016
Roanoke is a rising folk/americana band formed/based out of Nashville, TN. Lead by Joey Beesley (lead vocals, guitar) and Taylor Dupuis (lead vocals), the two come together to create rich harmonies and unforgettable songs of love, heartbreak, and exploration.
You released your first full length album, Shine on a Rainy Day, earlier this year. Can you talk about the process of making that album? What was the most difficult part of the process? What inspired your sound for this record?
The process of making the album was all natural. When I write songs I tend to wait for the songs to write themselves. When Dave produces he lets the music make itself. We'd go in the studio around 1:00 every day. I'd play a few of the songs acoustically for everyone and then we'd all go in, hit record, and play them three or four times.
You’ve talked a lot about the concept of feeling at home, particularly in reference to recording with your cousin, Dave Cobb. Can you tell us a bit about the dynamic of recording with family and how you came into contact with him and got to the point that you wanted him to produce this album?
I had wanted to record another record with since the first one we did together in '06. We had met in '05 at my great aunt (his grandmother's) funeral. He produces the same way I write. On the spot and not over thought. Life sort of kept us apart for a few years between. Finally, when we got together to record my song "down home" for the Southern family we felt the time was write for us to do a full length album together again.
We’ve heard you praise Kris Kristofferson for capturing the present moment in Nashville in a way that no one else could seem to do. How would you define the present moment in Nashville right now?
It's hard for me to describe our present moment in Nashville when I'm not putting it in a song. I guess I'd say we're in a transition period. Not only in music but also the infrastructure of our city. The good news is good art always seems to come out of periods like these.
Your music rides that line between Southern Rock and Country, not really fitting entirely into either category. We like to see Americana as picking up the music that can’t quite be categorized by these genres, among others. What elements of Americana do you think your music most relates to? How would you define Americana music?
I know it’s simple but Americana music is just that, American. It's a little of this and a little of that and everything between. Thank goodness there have been troubadours on the music side as well as the business who have cared enough over the years to build a real foundation for artists like myself to be accepted.
We’ve been delighted to see the Americana community grow in Nashville. Have you worked a lot with other Americana artists here? What is your view of the emerging Americana community in Nashville, and how do you foresee it influencing your work?
I've worked with a few Americana artists. First to mind are Andrew Combs, Lucette, Chris Knight and more.. it's like working with anyone. We don't really think about that label when we go in to create. We just try to be natural.
You’re closing out this tour now, so what’s in the works for the future? More touring? Another album? What does 2017 look like for you?
This has been a great year. Too soon to think about another album. Although, I do look forward to it. Yes, a lot more touring. It's the first time in my life I've been able to look a year ahead and know exactly what I'm doing this Christmas. It's a blessing to be able to see that.
December 8th, 2016
Your new record, The Education of a Wandering Man, was released this October. Can you tell me a bit about making and recording it?
Jonathan: Utah was really about our move to California and everything we felt when we moved there, from homesickness, to the excitement of that city, to just heading West, the adventure of that. And then we started writing The Education when we got back to Texas so the writing had a different feel for us. A lot of it was about heading back home, putting down roots, having to get to know your home again because you’ve been gone. You know we stayed out in L.A. for three and half years - we were planning on moving there for a year and seeing what happened. And a lot of things happened. I had a kid so I experienced fatherhood and welcomed a new baby boy in the world. We wrote songs about the trials and tribulations of home ownership. We write from a very autobiographical, first-hand perspective.
Zach: Some of the songs we had accrued travelling around. We toured on Utah for two and a half years, so there were a lot of travel stories.
Jon: We’re a lot older than we were when we wrote Utah. We wrote some of those songs a year or two before we even recorded the album and the album was recorded in 2012 and came out in 2013. We wrote some of the songs in 2010 and 2011, so that was six years ago. It doesn’t feel that because the album was re-released by Republic in 2014. But when you really think about where we were in our lives when we wrote those songs, it was a very different head space. Whereas we recorded the last one in a cabin, for this one we wanted to use the same methodology to record it, meaning we didn’t want to get into a normal studio. We still wanted to record it ourselves and produce it ourselves, so we took over a guest house in the hill country of Austin and got the band in and we lived there for a couple weeks and did the same thing we did in Utah, just in Austin this time around. So a lot of it was tracked live and maybe not quite as much as the last album, but a lot of it was. I think we maybe explored a little bit more on this album - a little grittier guitar tones, the production is a little more thoughtful.
Zach: A little cleaner, I would say. For Utah we just had a tape machine and we would do these live takes but we were really limited on what we had there so there’s so much bleed into everything, so it’s really kind of trashy in an endearing way, but we wanted to try cleaning it up a bit this time around.
So you’re both from Texas?
Jon: I’m from Magnolia, that’s where the line “Old Magnolia” comes from.
Zach: I grew up all over Texas and then when I was 15 I moved to Magnolia so that’s how John and I met. So we’ve known each other since we were 15 and started playing songs and dabbling in music shortly after.
Jon: We might’ve actually met when we were 14.
Zach: My first day of Freshman year was my birthday so I was 15 that day.
Jon: We wrote our first song together before we could drive.
Zach: We were writing songs together before we could drive to Best Buy and buy shitty recording software.
Jon: I think the other thing on this record when I listen to it, which I don’t do very often now, but musical influences were a lot more diverse on this one, it reminds me of just being on tour. Whoever’s driving has control of the radio so there’s old soul on one minute, old country the next, there’s rock. So it’s cool I think listening to bunch of different types of music that we like and the band likes, that influence the style of songs on this record, whereas the last record was more folk-centric.
Can you tell me about the name of the album?
Jon: Louis L’Amore was this American Western novelist. His autobiography is like a memoir. He lived this fascinating life. He was a sailor, worked all these different jobs, read copious amounts of books and had all these experiences. Then he wrote these Western stories that were very much based in some sort of truth. He’d travel these little towns and he’d collect these stories about the old West and build his characters out of these stories he had heard and that book really moved us. We wrote the song “Wandering Man” because of it. And when it came time to name this record that seemed really appropriate after traveling three years.
So would you say most of the ideas behind the album title derive from being on tour and the emotions and thought processes surrounding that?
Jon: Touring is a facet of the inspiration for it but The Education of the Wandering of a Man, that phrase to us means not knowing exactly the path - I mean no one knows their future - it’s not knowing your future and kind of accepting it and embracing the things as they come and as they happen and really living for experience and embracing just the experience of life. We can make all these plans, we can try to adhere to these plans, but we’re all just kinda wandering through life just making use of the best things we got when we got ‘em.
You’re headed back to Texas for the last leg of your tour now. What has been the most memorable experience of the tour thus far?
Zach: Boston was pretty fun, as a show. The crowd was amazing but our show was really early because it was Halloween night, so as soon as we were done it turned into this huge club so there were all these Halloween costumes and all these people like clubbing. It was such a drastic difference so that was very memorable. We were in Chicago when the Cubs won to go to the World Series so we started in the Golden Age and people starting cheering really loudly and at first we were both like “man, they love this song,” and we quickly realized that they were just really excited that the Cubs had won, so we had a moment to celebrate with them, then we got back into the concert. We were in both of these large towns where these events were taking place which was interesting.
What’s in store for you when you get back? More touring?
Jon: We are not touring anymore this year. We’ve been going at it pretty hard for a pretty long time and my wife and I are actually taking a vacation. We haven’t taken a vacation in years so I’m trying to spend some time with family - Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sometimes stepping away is as important as staying determined. Sometimes part of being a successful creative does incorporate time away. You come back and you’re actually excited to play more shows and get back on the road.
Zach: Yeah, get some time at home, travel for leisure, not for music-centric stuff. Travel for the love of the outdoors or just to get your mind off of things. Fire it back up in the new year.
“Company Man” is based on a true story? Do you want to explain the story behind that and how that song came into being?
Jon: So it’s about how for us, there’s a piece of land in Huntsville, Texas. We’ve been going there since we’ve known each other. Basically, a pipeline company appraocehs us and says they’re putting a pipeline through the property and there’s nothing we could do about it, essentially what’s happening with the North Dakota stuff and it was the biggest headache. In the name of imminent domain, it’s about the feeling of powerlessness, it’s a classic little man versus the big man, it’s the powerless feeling of the little man sometimes. We didn’t have a herd of buffalo to march on the pipeline.
Zach: No, we could maybe get some cows.
Jon: A few deer.
Zach: Six cows.
Jon: You know, it’s about the frustration of feeling powerless. You would think if there’s anything sovereign, it’s the land that you own, right? But that’s not even the case.
What do you see Americana music as?
Zach: It means so many different things. What kind of definition could you give it that’s not general? But I guess if I had to define it, to me Americana has become music with pop sensibility that’s not pop music. You have these songs with really good pop sensibilities. A lot of Americana songs you want to sing to. They have good melodies, it’s music with real instruments, but it’s not pop music per say. So it creates a home for that kind of music.
Jon: It’s tough because I think for a long time Americana was just perceived as kind of bluegrass, folk, very guitar, banjo, mandolin driven, and it’s evolved. It’s fun to see it take on a different name. You know, American roots music whether it be blues or bluegrass, the scope has changed. But I think it’s all sort of rooted in music that was founded here.
Zach: I think Americana has become a very general moniker. But I think it’s almost serving as this haven for musicians that don’t really feel at home or comfortable with just a pop classification. It’s created a home for that kind of music.
Jon: It’s funny because an indie band used to be just be an unsigned band but now it’s a form of like indie rock and another side of music.
Zach: And it probably falls under Americana too.
Billboard just put out an article saying that Americana charts surpassed Country charts for the first time in history, prompted heavily be the release of Bon Iver’s new album.
Zach: I think it’s more like an honesty that people find in the music too.
Jon: I was even thinking about, traditionally you think of real instruments, but at what point do people consider synths and things real instruments as well?
Zach: How long do they have to be around to qualify?
Jon: Americana is by definition rooted in American heritage music. So I think it’s like Blues music is like a 1-4-5 progression and that is what Blues is. Maybe Bon Iver will push the envelope. Or maybe the term Americana will get more and more diluted.
Maybe diluted or maybe more of a scope. What I do like is it’s providing an outlet; seeing Americana radio stations pop up, another outlet for music that you wouldn’t hear on a traditional country station. So it’s cool to see that there’s a movement of people hearing cool song writing and not just dirt roads.
It’s definitely cool for us to see people like Emmylou Harris, that are legendary in their own respects but traditionally haven’t gotten much airplay.
Jon: Look at Guy Clark. He’s not unknown, but to a lot of people he is, and he’s legendary, was legendary, still is legendary.
Zach: Will continue to be.
Jon: Just people like that. He was playing a 300 cap room in Dallas a couple years before he died and I could not believe Guy Clark was playing this small of a venue. And I was like, “Are you kidding me? Guy Clark is here?” This guy is like…
Jon: Yeah! He’s like a hero. Well in my opinion, the sea is changing in a positive way.
Zach: I agree. People like Emmylou and Lauderdale pioneered it and now it’s finally paying dividends to them.
Jon: You know, so many people disagree but I credit a lot of it to Mumford and Sons. First time in decades a banjo got on the radio. Those guys really did change the culture of music.
Zach: They changed the whole scope.
Jon: It took a young, different, fresh, unique band to blast everyone’s eyes open again. And that to me changed the landscape.
Zach: And from Britain!
And a lot of their fame, along with the Lumineers was from specific DJs at radio stations. I know with the Lumineers, it was one DJ at one radio station who repeatedly played their first single until it caught on...
Zach: It’s a spark, all it needs is a spark.
Jon: You know there’s people playing like deep cuts off of our new album.
Zach: Our good friend that lives here texted me the other day like “Yeah I heard Midnight Hour on the radio”. And I was like “No way, which station?” And he told me it was a new Americana station that plays whatever the fuck they want.
Jon: That’s so cool and I think there’s a hunger for that. It’s like why people stopped buying magazines - the curation is so regimented. It’s like I’d rather get on Spotify and dig around until I find something good. But if you can actually start providing worthwhile curation for people, people want to listen. You give people a reason and really help them discover new music.
Arts Fishing Club
December 1st, 2016
Arts Fishing Club is a group of folk/rock musicians fronted by Christopher Kessenich. In 2015, he went on an adventure of a tour, walking from Portland, Maine, to Nashville, Tennessee. Four months, 1600 miles, and 50+ shows later, Kessenich ended the walking tour with a renewed perspective.
To listen to Arts Fishing Club's EP, visit www.noisetrade.com.
Colin Elmore & The Danville Train
November 24th, 2016
Q: So The Wild Blue was your debut EP? Can you talk about the process of making that album? What was the most difficult part of the process? What inspired your sound for this record?
A: It was certainly a learning experience. It’s almost been 3 years since initially tracked the Wild Blue with our producer Teddy Morgan. The first night of tracking was supposed to be strictly for pre-production and song selection but we ended up getting two of the 4 tracks in the first and second takes that night and just kept them. I’d say if we did it over again we would’ve spent a little more time and set a few more boundaries for ourselves but we had only been playing together for about 6 months at the time.
Q: You also have some versions of “Hail Mary” floating around the internet. Do you plan a release for that track, or better yet, an accompanying album in the future?
A: Yeah there are probably three, very different, versions of that song on youtube/soundcloud/etc… We actually just signed with Sony Music Nashville a couple months ago and are in the process with them on cutting an EP that’s slated for a spring 2017 release. We’re still picking which tunes we will do but I have a feeling Hail Mary will be on there.
Q: Can you tell us what exactly the Danville Train is? Where did you get that name from?
A: The Danville Train started out more as a writing community that sort of morphed into a backing band. It’s been through several different iterations over the last 3 years… The current members are Jake Finch (drums), Dylan Jones (keys), Austin Webb (bass), and Collin Pastore (pedal steel) and they back several different artists here in town. There are several shows we’ve played with 4 different artists on the bill where the band doesn’t change. So I think those fellas are kinda central to our creative circle. The name comes from the song “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”. “Virgil Caine is the name, and I served on the Danville Train”. We would have weekly viewings of the Last Waltz in my garage when we were starting out so beyond that there’s no real meaning behind the name for us.
Q: Americana music seems to be quickly catching traction in the Southern region, and even nationally, with Americana charts surpassing Country charts in recent weeks. What does the genre “Americana” mean to you? How does being labeled within this genre influence your songwriting?
A: Great question. I grew up in the Ozarks of Missouri so traditional/roots/bluegrass music was a big part of the culture and my upbringing. What I love about Americana music is that, by nature, it’s a blends several different genres. There could be any combination of Rock and roll, country, folk, or rhythm and blues in there… there’s a lot of different colors to work with in the Americana palette so it gives you a lot of freedom.
Q: Americana seems to be particularly booming in Nashville, after a legendary Americana Fest and a growing tradition of many nationally recognized Americana artists emerging from this area. What has your experience with the Americana community in Nashville been like?
A: I’m insanely proud of the Americana community in Nashville. There is something special happening here. Obviously there are artists that have broken out of Nashville recently (Chris Stapleton, Jason Isbell, Kacey Musgraves and the like)… but I look around at my peers (they’re really more like family) and am blown away by how original, and genuine, and brilliant they are. I suppose that’s why people are moving here in droves… It’s a rich time to be alive in Nashville.
You can check out more of Colin Elmore & the Danville Train by going to colinelmore.com.
November 17th, 2o16
Born in East Texas and raised in Arkansas, Kirby Brown recorded his latest project, Out of Exile, at the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
"His formative years were spent on the farm where his taste for music was fostered, being exposed to gospel, bluegrass, and the classic country his grandfather would strum in the evenings. With the influence of his father, a closeted poet, he became interested in reading Whitman and Frost. This fresh form of expression would become the bedrock on which Kirby’s artistic life would be built."
To learn more about Kirby and his Texas sound, visit his website KirbyBrownMusic.com. Be sure to watch the video for his song "Joni." It's beautiful.
WMOT Roots Radio 89.5 is thankful for Shure for providing the audio equipment used in making this video.
November 10th, 2016
Roots Radio sat down with J.R. Wyatt before his 10/10 Family Wash show to discuss his take on the Americana scene and his new album, “Staying Gold”, released earlier this summer.
Q: You put out a new album this summer, can you tell me a bit about the process of making it?
A: A few of the songs I had for a few years. I had been playing them but I hadn’t really recorded them because it was such an undertaking to do a full length album, and I just never had enough money to do it or anything like that. Some of them I wrote close to when we decided to record. So when I moved down to Nashville, I met all these guys in my band and I met my producer, Alex and it made sense to do a DIY approach. Alex’s parents have this pool house and they let us do it in that space for free, which is awesome. Then we had the band come in for three days to record and then we just did overdubs and solo stuff later. I tried to have a narrative thread through the album, it’s not a concept album but I still wanted to make a narrative thread going throughout the whole thing. I wanted to make the songs make sense, like they’re all coming from the same place and we just kinda laid it down and then the editing process and all that took awhile because we didn’t know what we were doing. Somehow we found our footing and made it happen and now it’s out and we’re trying to work on more stuff.
Q: What would you say was the most difficult part of recording it was? What was your biggest inspiration for the sound and themes behind this record?
A: The most difficult part was probably mixing it. Alex Martin and I spent a lot of time making sure it was exactly what I wanted. We didn’t have a “professional” room to mix in, per se, so sometimes it was a little wonky. Looking back, though, the whole thing was pretty easy, which is surprising, given that we were figuring it out as we went along.
For inspiration, the list is pretty endless. Both sonically and lyrically, I wanted to make the album cohesive. I was aiming for something that sounded tight, but not too polished. At a certain point you just have to go wherever the song and sound is taking you. If you fight it too much, I think it becomes unnatural. From a songwriting aspect, the themes and lyrical content is largely either autobiographical, or relates to my life in some way. Again, I wanted to have a cohesive narrative thread throughout the album. At the risk of sounding utterly pretentious, the album is about life. It’s a coming of age tale that delves into the heartache and beauty of growing up.
Q: Your title track is called “Staying Gold” and you put it as the last track on the album - I feel like that’s a bit different.
A: It is a little different. So like I said before, with the narrative thread throughout the whole thing - the first song is called “Settle Down, Son” which is kinda like people giving me advice while I’m growing up and I think that’s probably the oldest song on the album. And then “Staying Gold” is the newest one and it’s kinda like me giving advice to my little brother. It’s like if I had to do it again or give any advice to him, what would I say, and that’s the song I came up with. You know when people say “Stay gold” like from The Outsiders - I always thought it’s not easy to stay gold. How do you do that? How do you maintain this bright disposition in this life that keeps getting harder and harder? The whole album made sense to be called that because it’s a struggle to do that and the whole album is about how it’s a struggle to maintain your composure through this crazy life.
Q: Who were some of your biggest musical influences for the album?
A: Ryan Adams, Bruce Springsteen, Ray LaMontagne, Jackson Browne. A lot of people have told me it sounds like a Jackson Browne album which I find kinda strange but I guess I can hear some of it in there. So that kinds of stuff, and like 70s singer-songwriters.
Q: What would you say Americana music is in your opinion?
A: To me it’s a mix of like rock, country, folk, bluegrass. All of those things, but the fringe of those genres that come together to make Americana. And a lot of people have different ideas on the interpretation of it. I think mostly it’s just easy to say Americana because everyone kinda has something in their head as to what Americana is and to me it seems that Nashville is turning into the Americana scene which is like these misfits who are trying to make their way into the mainstream - I guess that’s my best interpretation.
Q: How does being labeled within the Americana genre influence your songwriting?
A: I don’t think it really does. I just write songs and they come out how they come out. I have sounds and ideas in mind, but I don’t think genre really changes my writing. To me, a good song is a good song. You can make it sound a million different ways depending on who’s playing it, but at the end of the day it should defy genre.
Q: Americana is steadily growing in Nashville. Even we are still grasping how large and diverse this community is. What has your experience with the Americana community in Nashville been like?
A: Overall, it’s a very supportive community. I’m still on the fringe of the whole scene. I feel like a lot of people in this genre are misfits, and that’s part of what makes it beautiful and diverse.
Q: When you were a kid and lip-synching in front of the mirror, what were you singing along to?
A: My mom was a Whitney Houston fan and I would sing along to that, but my dad was a huge John Denver fan, so I used to sing along to his songs and watch his tapes and sing along to that. And then a little later in life, I was really into N’Sync and I’m not ashamed to say that.
J.R. Wyatt’s debut full-length album, "Staying Gold", is available now. Give it a listen below.
November 3rd, 2016
WMOT 89.5 Roots Radio is excited to introduce our first video in a new series we call Young Americana. Each week we'll be introducing an artist through live videos and interviews.
We kicked things off with Forlorn Strangers, an all acoustic band from Nashville, TN, with great harmonies and bluegrass riffs.