Music City Roots hosted by Jim Lauderdale feat. Keller Williams with The Travelin' McCourys, Altan, Shannon Whitworth, Derek St. Holmes & Great PeacockPop/Rock
Fredericksburg VA | Rock
Since he first appeared on the scene in the early ’90s, Keller Williams has defined the term independent artist. And his 16 recordings tell only half the story. Keller built his reputation initially on his engaging live performances, no two of which are ever alike. Williams’ solo live shows—and his ability to improvise to his determinedly quirky tunes despite the absence of an actual band—quickly became the stuff of legend, and his audience grew exponentially when word spread about this exciting, unpredictable performer.
Today, whether performing as a one-man band (a stage show constructed around Keller singing his compositions and choice cover songs while accompanying himself on an acoustic guitar connected to a Gibson Echoplex delay system that allows him to simulate a full band), with a backing band (of which he has many - Keller and The Keels, Williams with Moseley, Droll and Sipe, and most recently Keller Williams with The Travelin’ McCourys and with his new six–piece outfit More Than a Little, among others), or solo acoustic with simply he and his guitar, Keller always reveals himself as a is an artist of great stylistic breadth and infinite imagination.
He is a singer, songwriter and musician, always on a quest for the new. Keller Williams has never followed the prescribed path laid out by the conventional music business but rather one of his own making. It’s a path that has served him well.
The Travelin' McCourys
Nashville TN | Country
The Travelin’ McCourys do not stand still. They are on the road—and online—entertaining audiences with live shows that include some of the best musicians and singers from all genres. It’s always different, always exciting, and always great music.
No other band today has the same credentials for playing traditional and progressive music. As the sons of bluegrass legend Del McCoury, Ronnie McCoury on mandolin and Rob McCoury on banjo continue their father’s work—a lifelong dedication to the power of bluegrass music to bring joy into people’s lives. And with fiddler Jason Carter and bassist Alan Bartram, the ensemble is loved and respected by the bluegrass faithful. But the band is now combining their sound with others to make something fresh and rejuvenating.
They recently played with the Allman Brothers at Wanee Fest and then brought the house down at Warren Haynes’ Annual Christmas Jam, an invitation only Southern Rock homecoming. Their jam with the Lee Boys was hailed by many as the highlight of the evening, and once word of the live video hit the streets, sent new fans online to watch a supercharged combination of sacred steel, R&B, and bluegrass. They’ve also performed with Warren Haynes, Phish, and have a tour scheduled with the aforementioned Lee Boys. Ronnie McCoury described it as “peanut butter and jelly.” It was just right.
They can push forward so far because their roots are so deep. The band has a confidence that only comes with having paid their dues with twenty years on the bluegrass road. Other groups and new fans hear this immediately—the tight rhythm, the soulful material, and the confidence in taking bluegrass from the safety of the shore into uncharted waters.
Ronnie says, “We like to go in and play traditional bluegrass music the way we do it with Dad, but we also like to be able to step into situations where we can really stretch out. If we need to plug in, we’ll plug in. We’re open to anything.”
It’s that attitude, backed up by talent, that marks great musicians, traditional or progressive. The Travelin’ McCourys are twenty-first century musical pilgrims and adventurers. They’re onto something new, just like Bill Monroe was in the 1940s, but now we can see and hear that adventure live or online. Go see them, or—if you hold still long enough—they’ll come to you.
—Chris Stuart, Del Mar, California, 2009
Donegal Ireland | World/New Age
Altan celebrated 25 years together in 2010.
Over those years they have established themselves as one of the most important live acts to play traditional Irish music in Ireland and on the World stage. The Boston Globe has described them as “The hottest group in the Celtic realm!” Altan have toured all over the USA and Europe. They also enjoy popularity in Japan where they frequently tour and have hosted Altan festivals in the middle of Tokyo to thousands of enthusiastic fans.
Founding members, the late Frankie Kennedy and his partner Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, lead singer and fiddler with the band, began their musical career whilst teaching in a school in Malahide in North County Dublin, playing music for fun and enjoyment not knowing that it would end up as their main way of life and bring them all over the world! Frankie and Mairead started out by playing with and meeting older musicians from the Donegal tradition, like John Doherty, Con Cassidy, James Byrne, Dinny McLaughlin,Vincent Campbell and Mairéad’s own father Francie, who shared their music with them and most importantly, their friendship. The pair learned their music, tried to emulate their style and listened to their general philosophy of life, which, in retrospect was just as important as the music. Later it would be Francie who translated the beautiful Gaelic songs into English on all of the Altan recordings to date. Francie was also responsible for the translations of ’Barbara Allen’ and ’In the Sweet Bye and Bye’ on two projects with the legendary Dolly Parton which Altan were involved with. Frankie and Mairead made their first forays into live shows in the USA in 1985, releasing two albums together as a duo; 1983’s “Ceol Aduaidh” (Music of the North) and the self-titled “Altan” in 1987.
Brevard NC | Rock
Shannon Whitworth is on a musical journey, with no beginning and no end. Like the most astute and focused singer/songwriters, she doesn’t miss a thing along the way, and absorbs the best and the brightest of every experience.
Whitworth has deep Southern roots. The strangeness and charm of her music defies any sort of strict categorization, giving her a sound that is smoky-jazz feeling with hot flourishes and honeyed flashes of Patsy Cline.
She’s also a blues singer, with a sultry purr of a voice that can make a man – or a woman, for that matter – repent, capitulate or just plain fall in love.
After half a decade spinning wheels on the Great American Highway, through the brutal heartbreaks and dire sacrifices that come with chasing the mythical rock & roll dragon, Great Peacock’s Andrew Nelson and Blount Floyd have finally eased up on the throttle. Like rock & roll as it transitioned from the erratic abandon of the late ’60s to the country-tinged storytelling of the early ’70s—donning cowboy boots and dipping its bucket in the well of American folk music—they’ve put their electric guitars back in the case, rolled their stacks back from 11, and let a serene hush wash over them. Their sound now? Beautiful, unadorned, moving—the bountiful harvest of a deep friendship and an unbreakable musical bond.
“The hangover is definitely starting to wear off,” Nelson says. “The amps had gotten a little too loud.”
“With our old band, we’d been playing all this angsty downer rock,” Floyd explains. “So with Great Peacock, we wanted the songs to be simple, poppy—infectious.”
For the first time, Nelson and Floyd weren’t writing songs for themselves, but rather songs they hoped would connect with fans. With Great Peacock they would embrace an unselfish, unpretentious aesthetic. “I don’t want to alienate people any more,” Nelson says, laughing a bit as he recalls the darker, more confessional songs he used to write. “I’m at a point where I want as many people to like our music as possible.”
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."