Wednesday, July 10, 2024

Brandi Carlile and Tracy Gershon Rock City Winery

 Brandi Carlile and Tracy Gershon present Northern Lights Music

 City Winery, Thursday at 1p.m. (UPDATED)

     I arrived at City Winery 45 minutes early only to find the line extended to the back chain link fence behind the building. I doubted I would get in and pulled up the Americanafest App to see what other shows were at this time. The line started to move quickly and before I knew it, I was inside. I was alone, so I thought I might have a chance at finding a seat near the front. I did. Second seat in, front and center!

     Highlights of the two and a half hour show included Sean McConnell’s “Leave the Light On.”  This gospel drenched number was all the better for having Sista Strings and Brandi join on background vocals. The incredible Sista Strings, besides blowing us away with a classical, jazz, funk instrumental, sang a new song “The Reckoning.” This prayer-like number was written with McConnell.

     Brandi Carlile and the twins (Phil and Tim Hanseroth) started off acapella on “Right On Time,” the title cut on her latest album. Their harmonies make the hair on the back of my neck stand up! She also did an older song from 2007, the comforting, “Downpour.” 

     Newcomer Kish,who is 17 years old, performed “Michelle,” a ballad about a friend who keeps settling for the wrong kind of guy. She explained while driving after she got her driver’s license, she had a moment and had to pull over. She realized she was never going to be a young kid again. This prompted her to write the beautiful “Long Drive”.   

     Brandy Clark was up next. Carlile jokingly said that when she was producing Clark’s album, all of her songs were coming in at 3 ½ minutes. Carlile couldn’t understand how she did that. Clark said when she first came to town, it was drummed in her head that a song over 4 minutes would not get played on the radio. Carlile wasn’t too excited about Brandy’s “Tell Her You Don’t Love Her” until Kish, who was visiting the studio, said she loved the song. That made Carlile think she finally got it. “Tell her you don’t love her, because I do!”  Clark also sang the beautiful “Buried.”

     Last year’s special guest was Tanya Tucker. Carlile said she couldn’t be here this year because she was recovering from neck surgery, and asked us to pray for Tanya. This year’s special guests included Kate York, who sang the rebel rousing “Drive it Till the Wheels Fall Off” and Katie Pruitt, whose ballad “Blood Related” talked about choosing to love your family though the disagreements, something we all can relate to.  

     For the finale, Carlile and all of the songwriters joined in on Queen’s classic “Fat Bottom Girls.”  Way too much fun for one afternoon!

Saturday, September 30, 2023

Chuck’s Diary: Irish Guitarist and Singer-Songwriter John Doyle Brings Celtic Charm to McNamara Irish Pub

Irish guitarist and singer-songwriter John Doyle

OUT ON THE TOWN: “[John] Doyle on guitar has risen to a level occupied by him alone. No one in Irish traditional music is a better guitarist than him right now.” — Earle Hitchener, The Wall Street Journal (A friend and I enjoyed an evening of Irish food, beer and live music at McNamara Irish Pub, and it was outstanding. The star of the evening was Dublin-born guitarist and singer-songwriter John Doyle. He delighted the crowd with a mix of traditional Irish tunes, heartfelt originals, and instrumentals (with amazing finger work that drew applause after applause). According to Compass Records, John has collaborated with some of the most revered names in the genre, including Heidi Talbot, Tim O’Brien, and Karan Casey. The Grammy nominee served as band leader for folk icon Joan Baez’s world tour from 2008 to 2010. During Thursday night’s performance, he asked fans to sing along with him on a few choruses. Three fiddlers joined him onstage for several songs and an encore. If you love Irish music, you might want to check out John’s latest album, “Path of Stones.” I appreciate everything about this artist… smooth, Irish-accented vocals, expert songwriting, stellar musicianship, and friendly, easy-going Celtic demeanor. He embraces the tradition, taking listeners to the lush, green fields of Ireland. I’ll have another Irish beer, please. You can hear the title track from John’s project at YouTube: ) #ChuckWhiting #ChucksDiary #JohnDoyle #EarlHitchener #IrishMusic #TraditionalIrishMusic #Guitar #Violin #Fiddle #Mandolin #CompassRecords #Singers #Songwriters #Ireland #McNamaraIrishPub #McNamaraRestaurant #Nashville #OutOnTheTown #Art #Arts #MusicCityArts 9-30-23

Text and photos by Chuck Whiting

Follow Chuck on social media platforms @MusicCityArts

Friday, September 29, 2023

AmericanaFest 2023: Thirty Tigers Annual Gospel Show and Brunch Features Newcomers

By Wil Comstock

MCAU Contributing Writer 

The 11th Annual Gospel Brunch: Presented by Thirty Tigers

Sept. 23 at City Winery 

     Most folks have learned that if you want a good seat and be done with your chicken and waffles before the show starts, come early! 

     Australian DJ Henry Wagons emceed the program for the second year in a row, why does this guy annoy me so? 

Lauren Housley

     I must say from the top that I missed not seeing The McCrary Sisters and their band this year. I understand that change is good, and others need to have the opportunity. But why mess with it if it’s not broken?

     Highlights from the show include Maggie Antone’s “Departed Angel,” a song written for her cousin, who passed last Christmas. And her straight-to-the-heart rendition of “How Great Thou Art.” 

     Texan Pug Johnson treated us to “I’m Gonna Change Myself Today” with a little bit of twang and a litle bit of sincerity. 

     Logan Halstead, who was born in Kentucky and raised in West Virginia, sang “Angel on my Shoulder” with his rich baritone voice. 

     Canadian artist AHI asked us to let him come into our hearts and knock out the cobwebs. His “Danger” is a tribute to those who have died from an act of senseless violence. 

     AMA Emerging Artist of the Year Adeem the Artist performed “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” and ‘I will Burn in the Fire.” 

     Parker Milsap set a prayer of gratefulness that is used by Michigan indigenous nations to music. He came up with the beautiful “Now We Are One.” I especially enjoyed his number “Before the Curtain Closes” in 6/8 time. 

     Lauren Housley from Yorkshire, England, brought her band the Northern Cowboys. I knew it was going to be good when a trumpet and sax player were among the band. She had the audience swaying on the numbers “It’s the Only Way,” “High Time,” a song about the environment, and “Be Good to Me.”

     All of the performers returned to the stage for the Grand Finale “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” trading off verses as the Cowboys accompanied. 

     Did I mention that I missed the McCrary Sisters this year?

Text by Wil Comstock

Photos by Chuck Whiting

Follow us on Instagram and other platforms @MusicCityArts. 

Wednesday, September 27, 2023

Chuck’s Diary: A Hidden-Away Treasure of Nature on the Gulf Coast


“If it weren’t for the rocks in its bed, the stream would have no song.” — Carl Perkins, musician (I visited a lot of places during the summer months. One of my favorite stops was the Apalachicola National Estuarine Research Reserve on the Gulf Coast of Florida. This beautiful, hidden-away escape features trails and boardwalks that lead through a forest and savannah in the Apalachicola-Chattahooche-Flint watershed. There are several wandering paths with one leading to a pier on the bay (offering a view of the Saint George Island Bridge to the south). A 5,400-square-foot nature center includes aquariums with fish and reptiles; a discovery room with skeletons, fossils and preserved marine life; and historic artifacts from the fishing industry. The Watershed Walk features a 270-foot boardwalk scaled to match the 530 river miles (with markers denoting landmarks) from the headwaters of the watershed to Apalachicola Bay. Small signs provide plant information and quotes from famous people… a nice touch. A shop owner in Carrabelle suggested we stop on our way to Saint George Island. For more information, visit www dot Apalachicola Reserve dot com.) #ChuckWhiting #ChucksDiary #CarlPerkins #ApalachicolaReserve #NatureCenter #Eastpoint #Florida #ApalachicolaBay #Savannah #Forest #Boardwalks #Watershed #Nature #Outdoors #GulfCoast #SaintGeorgeIsland #Apalachicola #Fish #Reptiles #Aquariums #Plants #Fossils #Travel #Hiking #Outdoors #Art #Arts #MusicCityArts 9-27-23

AmericanaFest 2023: Emmylou Harris and Rufus Wainwright Tell Their Stories During Insightful Interview

By Wil Comstock

MCAU Contributing Writer

Friday (Sept. 22) at the Westin

Friends of Folk: 

A Conversation with Emmylou Harris and Rufus Wainwright  

Moderated by Celia Gregory

     Emmylou Harris and Rufus Wainwright told their stories during an insightful interview at The Westin in downtown Nashville. 

     Emmylou met Rufus’ mother, Kate McGarrigle, through Linda Ronstadt.  Kate of the folk duo The McGarrigle Sisters wrote “Heart Like a Wheel,” which Linda recorded in the 1970s.  Harris recorded the Kate’s and sister Anna’s “Love Is” in the early 1980s, inviting them to Nashville to sing backing vocals, where a friendship was born.  

     Celia asked what impression they had of folk music growing up.  Wainwright responded, “I had no concept of the real world other than folk. My first crib was a guitar case.” Rufus’ father is folk singer Loudon Wainwright.  His parents divorced when he was 3 and he was raised by his mother in Montreal. 

     Harris said she had no concept of folk music at all.  In her teens she listened to a radio show out of DC that played folk, and she was hooked.  She asked her parents for a guitar and began to play the songs off the radio.  

     Rufus injected that he started out in folk and then explored opera and show tunes.  He recently returned to folk with his new album “Folkocracy.

     Emmylou said that she wanted to write with people she loved.  She would invite Anna and Kate to Nashville to write and would travel to Montreal to visit them and write.  She loved that Kate and Loudon remained friends after their divorce and that their children all got along.  She felt embraced by this extended family that also included Richard and Linda Thompson.

     When asked if they felt their parents encouraged them in music, Rufus said his mother Kate gave him great confidence.  He told the story that when he was 6 months old, she would sing “Old McDonald,” and he would sing the “E, I, E, I, O.”  Rufus had his doubts if that was actually true.  

     Emmylou said her parents paid for piano and sax lessons when she was an adolescent. They knew she could carry a tune.  But they were strict.

     Celia asked if they encouraged their own children to go into music.  Wainwright admitted, “That is a difficult question. We live in LA, and the arts are all around us.  My daughter Viva, whose birth mother is Leonard Cohen’s daughter, has a nice voice.  We want her to make her own choices.” 

     Harris added, “The most important thing for your child, really all of us, is to find your passion.”

(Text by Wil Comstock)

(Photos by Chuck Whiting)

Follow us on all social media platforms @MusicCityArts

Monday, September 25, 2023

AmericanaFest 2023: An Enjoyable Evening of Bluegrass and More at the Hutton

By Wil Comstock

MCAU Contributing Writer

AmericanaFest 2023: 

Evening Show on Sept. 21

Analog at The Hutton Hotel 

     The founding members of Steep Canyon Rangers met at UNC Chapel Hill.  They played for fun never intending to become a professional bluegrass band.  Once college ended, they didn’t have any individual game plans, so they moved in togetherwrote songs, and kept on practicing and gigging.  This eventually led to a four-album deal with Rebel Records in 2004.  

     With each album release their popularity grew.  In 2008 long time supporter and friend Ann Stringfield invited them to a dinner party.  They brought their instruments and ended up playing in the backyard with Ann’s future husband, Steve Martin.  The Rangers toured as Martin’s backup band in 2009 supporting his album “The Crow: New Songs for the Five String Banjo.”  In 2011, they collaborated with Martin on their joint CD“Rare Bird Alert,” which also featured Paul McCartney.  The CD debuted at number one on the bluegrass chart and secured their place in Bluegrass history.

     Thursday evening’s show consisted mostly of songs from their early September release “Morning Shift.”  They dived off with “Jump in the Deep End” and immediately had the audience tapping their feet and nodding their heads.  They traded off on lead vocals within the same song reminding me of the early Beatles. Their musicianship is impeccable, and their harmonies soul satisfying. I especially liked “Second in Line,” “Harvest Queen,” and the hymnlike “Above my Burdens.”


     Phillip Bowen first came to fame on America’s Got Talent, where he surprised the judges and audience with his deft skills on the violin.   Bowen chose not to use the violin on his set at the Analog, possibly because he was sandwiched between two bluegrass acts with fiddles.  I wish he had. His playing is exciting and anything but bluegrass, but it would have been a welcome break between his self-penned songs on guitar and vocals.  Phillip lost the audience by the fourth song.  Some were looking at their cell phones while others were gathering at the bar.  This West Virginia native would benefit from co-writing here in Nashville.  Most of his songs just didn’t cut it for this discerning crowd.

     Grammy Award winning fiddler Michael Cleveland had us in the palm of his hand after the first few bars of Orange Blossom Special.”  He and his band The Flamekeepers kept us entertained with the upbeat “Sunny Days” and the high lonesome sound of “The Blues Are Close at Hand.” Maybe I’m not too observant, but in researching Cleveland, I read that he was blind at birth and as a child lost 80% of his hearing in one ear from an infection.  I was so caught up in the music, I did not notice his disability. I’m thinking this is as it should be.  Thank you, Michael!

     Dan Tyminski is a seasoned professional. He is part of Alison Krauss’ band Union Station, as well as an artist in his own rightHe didn’t bring a band, but he didn’t need to… just Dan and his acoustic singing from the depths of his soul and alternately making us laugh.  He kicked off with “Huckleberry,” drawing us in with each line.  He joked that he used to save his next song for last.  But most people left after the first couple of songs and were disappointed that he never did his most popular number. 

     After his stirring rendition of “Man of Constant Sorrow,” Tyminski shared a funny story. When he told his wife he was going to do a voiceover for the film “Brother Where Art Thou,” she asked him what a “voiceover” was.  When he told her she would see George Clooney while hearing her singer husband’s voice, her response was, “That’s my fantasy!” 

     Tyminski said he had a hard time after Tony Rice died in 2020. He and friend Josh Williams were mourning Rice when they came up with “One More Time Before You Go” in tribute to Tony.  He closed his set with the title cut from his new album, “God Fearing Heathen.” A well written, honest look at his life and hope for the future.  I left the Analog feeling like I had just consumed a delectable meal!


Text by Wil Comstock.

Photos by Chuck Whiting

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