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Keeping a Nashville music tradition alive

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Up and coming Nashville singer-songwriter Sam Lewis (center) performs ‘I’m a River’ during ‘Music City Roots’ this month. Photo By W. Swann
Do your Wednesdays seem to drag on and never end? Are you bored and wish you had something the whole family could do? Would you like to see an impressive show with great music each week?

Well, look no further.

Live on Lightning 100.1 FM, “Music City Roots” has proven to be a fresh new take on Nashville’s tradition of historic radio broadcasting. And it won’t break your budget.

Every Wednesday night from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., people of all ages pack Bellevue’s Loveless Barn to experience local and international musicians in folk, country, Americana and many other genres.

“Old Saturday Night Barn Dance,” a radio show that evolved into the Grand Old Opry, sparked executive producer John Walker’s idea for the show.

“‘Music City Roots’ is a community of fans, bands and brands,” Walker said,  “As long as we take great care to make sure a strong match between those three entities is there the rising tide raises all ships.”

On Oct. 14, 2009, MCR launched its first show from the Loveless Barn on WSM 650 AM with announcer Eddie Stubbs and host Jim Lauderdale. The program went main stream Oct. 13, 2010, when it  affiliated with Lighting 100.1 FM.  

“‘Music City Roots’ has been a great opportunity for me to be a part of a new show like the Grand Old Opry that features a diverse range of roots artists,” Lauderdale said.

Each broadcast features four to six acts in 20-minute sets, along with live artist interviews and a few words from the show’s sponsors. The program wraps with the Loveless Jam, a one-time collaboration chosen before the show each week by the host.

“It’s different every week, and there’s great camaraderie among our artists,” Lauderdale said.

“Music City Roots” stands out from other, similar shows because it allows for up-and-coming bands and songwriters to play with industry greats like Emmy Lou Harris, J.D Souther, Marty Stuart, the Doobie Brothers and others.

“I see legends mingling with new artists, I see writing appointments being made between young and old,” Laurie Dashpher, director of artist relations and associate producer, said.

A few of the show’s younger shining stars include Brandi Carlile, Frontier Ruckus, Greensky Bluegrass, and Nashville’s own Farewell Drifters.

“Not to be cliché, but everyone tends to check their egos at the door,” Dashpher said.

This peaceful environment is what makes back stage at “Music City Roots” the coolest hangout in Nashville.

The program’s producers take care of the artists, as well as the audience from the time they walk in the door until they leave. Artists can sell merchandise without parting with any of the profit.

“All of the gate goes to the artists,” Dashper said. “But hopefully they mostly benefit from the show as a promotional tool.”

Walker added that Music City Roots’ vision is to be a broadcast “to provide a global platform to showcase the deep well of amazing and diverse talent that exists here in Tennessee.”

The program has captured artists in all forms of music including folk, bluegrass, alternative and rockabilly, with plans to cross over into rock and jazz.  

The program fuses technology with musicianship, making its show accessible over radio and the web.

“Radio as a point of discovery is not what is was in the ‘60s,” Walker said. “Young people rarely discover music from the radio rather the Internet.”

“Music City Roots” has adapted to new trends in live production by filming each broadcast under the direction of James Yockey.

“In 36 years of being in Nashville, ‘Music City Roots’ is by far the best music experience for a night on the town,” Yockey said.

The show is streamed live and archived on musiccityroots.com so viewers from across the globe can tune in from anywhere.

“We came out of the old school. We know what doesn’t work because we were there when it stopped working,” Walker said.

 MCR continues its expansion into the industry with the launch of RootsRadio, a full-service online station that listeners can tune into at any time.

“Week after week, Todd Mayo continues to amaze me with his booking talent,” Yockey said. “Artists over a broad spectrum of music, who are young artists for the most part, are carrying on old traditions.”
Tagged under  Arts, Entertainment, Music, Music City Roots, Nashville, Radio, Recording Industry, Sam Lewis

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