Music City Roots Spotlights The Sweet Sounds of Nashville
In this loosely informal and spontaneous live radio variety show styled after the Grand Ole Opry, a legion of music lovers cram into the huge barn behind the Loveless Cafe, ready for a night of discovery. Every Wednesday night from 7:00-9:30 p.m., up-and-coming artists share the stage with legendary musicians. In this blending of new technology with old values, the younger generation has the opportunity to learn from its predecessors and gain new mentors.
The light flashes ON AIR and the show begins, introduced by announcer Keith Bilbrey. The first group is an established name and the music has the fans spellbound. Is it the atmosphere, the intimacy, the acoustics in a barn, shoulders touching in wooden chairs packed tightly for the overflow audience? The music may be jazz, bluegrass, rockabilly, folk, gospel – all roots of Americana music.
Typical of live radio shows, there is plenty of informal chatting, as sponsors are thanked and artists take a turn perched on stools for an interview in one corner of the stage. If you haven’t been before, you really don’t know what to expect next!
Out in the wings, the Loveless Café keeps the regional flavor of food alive for all who come to sample authentic Americana. You can purchase locally made Moonshine – yep, it’s not illegal anymore! – to go along with their famous fried chicken and all the trimmings.
Back on stage, the second segment features an aspiring artist, many self-styled after well-known names. Music City Roots is the place to discover the new trends in music style, where backyard meets sophistication and new genres evolve.
The Vietti Chili girl is a well-recognized icon, even as far away as Japan. She dances on to the stage singing a little jingle Grand Ole Opry-style and segues into the next segment for an emerging artist, who has 10 minutes and three songs to introduce themselves to the world. This is the moment the scouts and music industry people are watching and listening to with special attention. Who will be the next great find signed by a local agent or record company?
“This is a point of discovery for new talent,” enthuses Executive Producer John Walker. “The whole purpose of the show is to create a platform on a global scale that could broadcast the talent of Music City.”
Global? Yes indeed! Music City Roots is broadcast worldwide on live streaming internet and syndicated radio in 30 cities across America. It has just moved its local Nashville flagship to 94.5 Hippie Radio. The show’s creators and executive producers, Todd Mayo and John Walker, recently signed a TV and syndicated radio deal in Australia, expanding their global vision to cross-pollinate musical talent with different cultures.
“In June, representatives from Tamworth, Australia’s capital of country music, are coming here to sign a sister city proclamation with Nashville and Mayor Karl Dean,” said Walker. “We’re planning an Australian-themed night at Music City Roots to celebrate.” Being an Aussie-American, you can bet I’ll return for that occasion! Check out their schedule online for coming details.
Mayo and Walker also created the runaway success Bluegrass Underground, where Americana music is performed in a cave 300 feet below ground, and are now taking Music City Roots to the next level. March 2013 began their new spin-off, Scenic City Roots, in Chattanooga. This monthly version of the Loveless Barn event is performed live at Track 29, on the historic Chattanooga Choo Choo campus, with the purpose of showcasing Chattanooga as a city rich in history and musical culture.
Music City Roots host Jim Lauderdale gathers all the artists on stage and wraps up the evening with the Loveless Jam. It’s a little bit of everything, all harmonizing together. A reminder that we are all connected, if we just take the time to discover our roots.
Who’s your favorite new group or artist that you’ve only recently discovered? Where did your first hear them?