Music City Roots hosted by Jim Lauderdale feat. Charlie Parr, Brian Ashley Jones, The McCrary Sisters, Alanna Royale & The DanberrysPop/Rock
Many people play roots music, but few modern musicians live those roots like Minnesota's Charlie Parr. Recording since the earliest days of the 21st century, Parr's heartfelt and plaintive original folk blues and traditional spirituals don't strive for authenticity: They are authentic.
It's the music of a self-taught guitarist and banjo player who grew up without a TV but with his dad's recordings of America's musical founding fathers, including Charley Patton and Lightnin' Hopkins, Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly. With his long scraggly hair, father-time beard, thrift-store workingman's flannel and jeans, and emphatic, throaty voice, Parr looks and sounds like he would have fit right into Harry Smith's "Anthology of American Folk Music."
Parr uses three instruments, not including his own stomping foot. He got an 1890 banjo the first time he heard Dock Boggs. "I don't do claw hammer, I don't do Scruggs-style, it's just a version of me trying to play like Dock Boggs, I guess," Parr says.
He has two Nationals, a 12-string and a Resonator, which became an obsession when Parr saw a picture of Son House playing it. "The first time I got my paws on one, I went into debt to buy it," he says. "Nationals are fun because they are as much mechanical as instrumental, you can take them apart and put them back together again." On an overseas tour, the neck of the Resonator broke in baggage: he played the guitar by shimming the neck inside the body with popsicle sticks. "It solidifies your relationship with the instrument so much: It's as much part of you as anything else."
Most of his recordings, including Roustabout (2008), Jubilee (2007), Rooster (2005), King Earl (2004), 1922 (2002) and Criminals and Sinners (2001) eschew typical studio settings. He has recorded in warehouses, garages, basements and storefronts, usually on vintage equipment, which gives his work the historic feel of field recordings. It's not because he wants to sound like he was discovered 75 years ago by Alan Lomax; it's because most modern recording studios make the reticent and self-effacing Parr feel uncomfortable. He often works with engineer and mastering master Tom Herbers of Third Ear Studios in Minneapolis to give his recordings true fidelity no matter what the format, from mp3 to 180 gram vinyl to whatever is in between. Yet his music sounds so timeless that you half wonder if there's not a scratchy Paramount 78 of Charlie Parr singing and strumming somewhere.
His inspiration is drawn from the alternately fertile and frozen soil of Minnesota. Parr grew up in the Hormel company city of Austin, Minnesota (population 25,000) where most of the world's favorite tinned meat, Spam, is still manufactured. And he hasn't moved far, drawing sustenance from the surprisingly large, thriving and mutually supportive music scene of Duluth: Parr's 2011 album of traditional songs, Keep Your Hands on the Plow features locals including Charlie's wife, Emily Parr; old-timey banjo/fiddle band Four Mile Portage; and Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker of the renowned alternative rock band Low.
The combination of industrial meat factory where both of his parents worked proud union jobs, set in a largely rural environment, had a broad impact on Parr. "Every morning you'd hear the [factory] whistles blow, when I was a kid they had the stockyards and animals there, so you were surrounded by this atmosphere," Parr says. "My mom and dad would come home from work, their smocks would be covered by paprika and gore."
But out the back door were soybean fields, as far as they eye could see. "As a kid I thought it was kind of boring, but now I go and visit my mom and I think it's the most beautiful landscape there is."
What leisure time was available was spent at an uncle's farm a few miles away in Hollandale, where Charlie would pick the potatoes and other crops that would feed their families. Charlie's father and uncle would buy whole cows from a local cattle farm. The family rarely ate Spam.
Parr shows the same resourcefulness on the road, averaging 3 or 4 shows a week, year round. To stay in traveling shape, he eats home-prepared meals such as spicy lentil curry, black bean chili and mix vegetables that cook on the manifold of his van while he drives. "It's a good heat source and it's handy-25 miles on the manifold will cook about anything you want."
To many, Parr is considered a regional artist, which is another way of saying he doesn't like to travel far from his family's Depression era roots. "From Cleveland to Seattle and down to San Francisco and back is my area," he says, though the focus is unquestionably Minnesota and the Northern Plains. Yet he's built a big enough audience in both Ireland and Australia to tour both regularly. He's had especially good fortune Down Under, where his "1922 Blues" was used as the counterintuitive music behind a Vodafone mobile commercial and became a viral and radio success. Three of his songs added atmospheric resonance to the 2010 Australian western "Red Hill." On his last tour, his fourth of that continent, he was a guest DJ for three hours on a Melbourne roots music radio station, on which he played songs from his own mix CD. "The newest thing on it was some Bukka White recordings from the 1940s," Parr says with some incredulity. "People were calling all morning to say how much they like the music."
Quiet, thoughtful and humble, Parr has made two albums of spirituals, and a few traditional songs of the hard life and the hereafter are always in his live sets. Such music isn't necessarily rooted in the Methodist church in which he grew up: "It was more like, let's get the service over quick so we can get downstairs and drink coffee and have pie!" But faith, though undefined, underlines all of Charlie's music, both in the listening, the covering, the writing and performing.
"When you listen to Charley Patton playing something like 'Prayer of Death,' way over and above it just being a 'Charley Patton' song, or a 'spiritual' song, it's one of the most beautiful and haunting pieces of music you'll ever hear in your life. You can't quite put your thumb on it, you just want to do something like that so much...I don't think I ever have, but it's a weird, visceral thing. Any time I get a song like that right, I get kind of that weird feeling, you know?"
Nashville TN | Singer-Songwriter
JOHNNYSWIM is a Los Angeles based duo composed of Amanda Sudano and Abner Ramirez. The two began writing and singing together in the spring of 2006 and found that their similar influences of folk, soul, and rock blended together lusciously. Nashville's daily newspaper, The Tennessean, describes JOHNNYSWIM as "a mix of Lauryn Hill and John Mayer."
The McCrary Sisters
Nashville TN | Christian & Gospel
For the McCrary Sisters, music is a birthright, a lifelong love affair, a sometimes career, an indescribable joy, and occasionally, a cross to bear.Ann, Deborah, Regina, ad Alfreda, the four daughters of the Rev. Samuel McCrary, one of the original members of the legendary gospel quartet, The Fairfield Four, were raised in harmony, singing at home, at their father's church, and for the eldest Ann on the road by the time she was 3 years old. The McCrary home was filled with music, whether it was the Fairfield Four or frequent guests that included a pantheon of gospel greats, including Shirley Caesar or James Cleveland.
By 7, Regina was also touring, a star of the BC&M Mass Choir. There her featured solo was " I Made A Vow", a performance that lives on youTube.If she'd been born in the age of America's got talent and American Idol, She'd have been a star before she was a teen-ager. For a time, the sisters sang with their brother Ricky, and some cousins in the CBS(Cousins,Brother,Sisters) band. But not all four girls pursued music as a job. For Deborah, and Alfreda it was more of a part-time thing. Deborah became a Nurse, and Alfreda until recently could be heard rarely with her sisters. The rest of the time she was doing music ministry with her husband Narcisco Lee, at the Old Happy Day Church.
Regina is the best-known McCrary Sister outside the gospel world, famous for being part of BobDylan's group throughtout his Christain music era, recording three albums with the legendary folk-rocker--Slow Train Coming, Saved, and Shot of Love, and touring with him for 6 years. Along with Dylan and Elvis, she, also performed, and recorded with Stevie Wonder, and sang background along with Ann on Ray Steven classic, "Everything Is Beautiful".
Ann, meanwhile, performed with the who's who of contemporary gospel music, including The Winans, Donnie McClurkin, Yolanda Adams,and many more. Regina, Ann, and Alfreda have all performed in musical theater as well , and recorded with country music greats like Johnny Cash, Wynona Judd, The sisters list of recording sessions, and long association with Bobby Jones TV show spans genres and generations. Most recently, they have become Americana stars, recording and touring regularly with gospel-rock powerhouse Mike Farris, winning the Emerging Artist Award at the 2008 Americana Music Awards, also winning the 2010 Dove Award for Best Traditional Gospel Album for " Shout"! Live recorded at Nashville's Station Inn.
Ann and Regina McCrary was alson featured on Universal United House of Prayer, by Buddy Miller who was called The Americana Artist of the Decade by No Depression Magazine,the Americana journal of record. More recently,they were featured vocalits on Patty Griffin's acclaimed gospel project Downtown Church, recorded at Nashville's downtown Presbyterian Church. They are also featured on the new Cumberland Saints CD released by Mike Farris.
While bloodlines and resumes are all well and good, nothing can prepare you for the experience of hearing the McCrary Sisters live, though "Our Journey" may be the next best thing. No words can decribe the power, and passion and pure soulfulness of The McCrary Sisters--Ann, Regina, Deborah, and Alfreda. Hear them once, and you will never be the same
Nashville TN | Rock
we are alanna royale. (uh-lah-nuh) that's the name of our band. we are 6 people. let's get sweaty.
the six of us love to play music that shakes, swings, moves you, and grooves you. we hail from many different places but we met in nashville and now it is our home. we want to see you at our shows. come say hi!
Nashville TN | Singer-Songwriter
The story of The Danberrys begins in the late 1990's in Dickson, Tennessee, population just over 12,000.
Dorothy Daniel first discovered her soul mate and singing companion, Ben DeBerry, while in junior high school. "When Ben was in eighth grade, and I was in seventh grade,” Dorothy told Billboard, “(I saw him play) ’Knockin' On Heaven's Door’ at a talent show. He had this teal electric guitar, and I fell in love with him.”
Once they started dating in high school, they discovered their own musical connection not long before graduation, when Ben pulled out his guitar and strummed along while Dorothy sang a couple of Jewel tunes. During college, they went their separate ways until one fateful night when they crossed paths at a late night bar. The next day, they confessed what they both knew all along: they had always wanted to be together. Not long after that, they were married.
The five years they spent apart yielded the songs that would become the building blocks of The Danberrys. "I didn't write all that much during that time," says Ben of the years they were separated. "What little I wrote had more of a rockier, electric sound." Dorothy, however, came back to the relationship with a stack of songs on which she’d been working. "They were all songs about how much I missed Ben," she laughs, "And how I wanted to be with him."
Four of those cuts made it onto the band's 2011 EP, Company Store. Touted by Larry Vanderpool of The Examiner as a record steeped in Appalachian music tradition and oozing rich soulful harmonies, Company Store won The Danberrys a 2011 Independent Music Awards "People's Choice" trophy and the honor of appearing on stage at The Ryman with the legendary Robert Earl Keen.
"We put the EP out as a total experiment," says Ben. "It was like: we have these songs, we're here in Nashville, there are 300,000 studios available and players who want to play the stuff so let's see what happens. Then WSM Radio found it and liked it and thought we were perfect for the Robert Earl show. It was quite the honor."
Stoked by the success of Company Store, Dorothy and Ben returned to the studio this past winter with engineer Wilton Wall, mandolinist/co-producer Ethan Ballinger and friends to record their first full-length album, The Danberrys. Drawing on a broader palette of moods and sounds than existed on the EP, the couple chose to lead off the set with the gentle quiet of "Here We Go Round."
"We took a slight chance leading off with that tune," notes Dorothy, "especially in this day and age, when everyone wants to grab your attention with louder and faster." Following "Here We Go Round" is the careering drive of "Rain In The Rock," a cut that's one part country gospel and one part runaway train. There's more country gospel with "Blow On Wind," a tune that owes its inspiration to Neil Young and The Band, the godfathers of Americana who regularly inspire Ben and Dorothy’s songwriting.
The Danberrys also has a chant-like ballad ("Meet Me There"), a gorgeous country hymn worthy of comparison to Emmylou Harris ("Jordan"), a song about living the Southern life ("Jimmy") and an exuberant party song a la Stephen Stills' Manassas ("Come Give It"). There's even a trucker song ("Big Rig") that Ben wrote in the studio, picking up the terminology from the back of a compilation of old highway songs.
"I thought I'd make it nonsensical," says Ben of ’Big Rig,’ "except that it's not nonsense if you have the key to the terms. I hear from the truckers that the lingo is kosher,” he laughs, “so it's not too fraudulent."
Early reviews of The Danberrys are, naturally, 100% positive. “The vocals and the harmonies are outstanding, as is the instrumentation all over the disc,” says Chuck Dauphine of Music News Nashville. “I don’t know if you can define it, but all The Danberrys need is to be heard!”
“There’s a flavor of bluegrass that’s always worked on me,” says Music City Roots’ Craig H., adding that their music is “characterized by old world tonalities, polished, modern drive and jazz-smart instrumental work.”
For their part, The Danberrys – who are still a self-managed grassroots operation – are humble yet excited about their album and about the future. “We tried to arrange the record in different ways but what it came down to was making it more than just a bunch of songs. We wanted to make it a ride you could listen to from beginning to end.”
As for the future, Ben says: “We already have demos for three more tunes on tape, so we’re getting ready to do it again.” For current and future fans, that’s nothing but good news.
Nashville TN | Country
Jim Lauderdale is a Grammy® Award winning musician and one of the most respected artists working the Bluegrass, Country and Americana music communities today. He is considered one of Nashville's "A" list of songwriters with songs recorded by artists such as Patty Loveless, Shelby Lynne, Solomon Burke, The Dixie Chicks and George Strait, who has had numerous hits with Jim’s songs. Jim’s music has been featured recently on the ABC hit show “Nashville” and he had several tracks on the soundtrack of the successful film “Pure Country.” Jim is also in high demand as a player, touring with the likes of Lucinda Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Rhonda Vincent and Elvis Costello.
Jim, who frequently collaborates with legends like Ralph Stanley and Elvis Costello, is also a critically acclaimed solo artist with dozens of studio releases, including his latest Carolina Moonrise, written with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter and Buddy and Jim the critically acclaimed new duets album recorded with long time friend Buddy Miller of which Mojo states: “Miller and Lauderdale's duets has both the easy familiarity of old friends and the musicianship of old pros.”
In addition to making music together, Buddy and Jim also co-host “The Buddy & Jim Show,” recently described as “…highly entertaining…” by NPR’s Fresh Air. Each week Buddy and Jim invite artists to Buddy’s home studio in Nashville, where they tape performances and in depth interviews with a wide variety of artists and friends. Jim also hosts the popular Music City Roots each week from the Loveless Barn in Nashville and since winning "Artist of the Year" and "Song of the Year" at the first "Honors and Awards Show" held by the Americana Music Association in 2002, he has subsequently hosted the show each year.
Jim is the subject of a new documentary, directed by Australian filmmaker Jeremy Dylan called “The King Of Broken Hearts.” The feature length documentary tells Jim’s unconventional and prolific story from his North Carolina roots, being immersed in the country music scenes in both New York City and Los Angeles, to breaking through in Nashville as a songwriter.
Jim's musical influences, including the legendary Dr. Ralph Stanley and George Jones, can be heard in his songs with his unique sense of melody and lyrical expertise. He won his first Grammy Award in 2002 with Dr. Ralph Stanley for Lost in the Lonesome Pines (Dualtone) and then for The Bluegrass Diaries (Yep Roc) in 2007. In addition to previously mentioned releases, as a performer Jim is credited with production, writing and collaborating on over two dozen albums including Wait ’Til Spring (SkyCrunch/Dualtone 2003) with Donna the Buffalo and Headed for the Hills (Dualtone 2004) his first total project with Robert Hunter, Planet of Love (Reprise 1991,) Pretty Close to the Truth (Atlantic 1994,) Every Second Counts (Atlantic 1995,) Persimmons (Upstart 1998,) Whisper (BNA 1998,) Onward Through It All (RCA 1999,) The Other Sessions (Dualtone 2001,) The Hummingbirds (Dualtone 2002,) Bluegrass (Yep Roc 2006,) Country Super Hits, Volume 1 (Yep Roc 2006,) Honey Songs (Yep Roc 2008), Could We Get Any Closer? (SkyCrunch 2009,) Patchwork River (Thirty Tigers 2010) and Reason and Rhyme (Sugar Hill Records 2011.)
Jim's musical influences include the legendary Dr. Ralph Stanley and George Jones. These influences and his unique sense of melody and lyric help forge a sound that is truly his own. As a performer his credits include production, writing and collaborating on albums such as, "Wait 'Til Spring" with Donna the Buffalo, "Headed for the Hills” with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, "I Feel Like Singing Today" and the Grammy winning “Lost in the Lonesome Pines” with Ralph Stanley and The Clinch Mountain Boys.
His second solo bluegrass album, “Bluegrass Diaries” (Yep Roc 2007) won a Grammy in the “Bluegrass Album of the Year” category. His next album, “Honey Songs” was released in February 2008, and features an incredible lineup of musicians including James Burton, Garry Tallent, Al Perkins, Glen D. Hardin, Ron Tutt, Emmy Lou Harris, Patty Loveless, and many more.
Jim’s solo albums include “The Hummingbirds” (Dualtone 2002), “The Other Sessions” (Dualtone 2001), “Onward Through it All” (RCA 1999), “Whisper” (BNA 1998), “Persimmons” (Upstart 1996), “Every Second Counts” (Atlantic 1995), “Pretty Close to the Truth” (Atlantic 1994), and “Planet of Love” (Reprise 1991), as well as two releases in 2006, “Country Super Hits, Volume 1” and “Bluegrass” (Yep Roc), Grammy winner "The Bluegrass Diaries" (Yep Roc 2007), "Honey Songs" (Yep Roc 2008) "Could We Get Any Closer?" (Sky Crunch 2009) and "Patchwork River" (Thirty Tigers 2010).
"It's been a particularly great period for me," says Lauderdale. "Thanks to the records - I'm performing more and more, which I love. And I love that I can play the Opry one weekend, a jam-band festival the next and then a bluegrass festival the following week. That's really inspiring to me and I think there's a real thread there. The roots are the same for all of them and that's the music I'm interested in."