Music City Roots has been a staple in the Nashville community for a few years now, but its success each week from the Loveless Barn has paved the way for a new venue within the past year.
With a second home at Track 29 in Chattanooga, Tenn., the weekly live music series has spread its branches into a community on the move. The pairing is one that is mutually beneficial as Chattanooga provides a sense of the same culture that makes Nashville distinct but with a mountain vibe.
“I’m humbled and pleased with the way that both the local and international communities have embraced Music City Roots. We set out to create a global platform of discovery for the diverse and authentic music scene that exists here in Music City far beyond the commercial Country music we’re most known for. After 5 years, I’m very proud of the impact we’ve had. I can’t wait to see what happens as things continue to evolve,” Executive Producer John Walker said about the show’s achievements.
When visiting a show weeks ago, it was very unmistakable the admiration the Chattanooga crowd had for the show. The night opened with locals The 9th Street Stompers while other performers included Angel Snow, Sam Lewis and Kenny Vaughan.
The Stompers and Snow paved the way for Lewis while Vaughan was headlining the night with his wide-ranging guitar styles.
Lewis received a couple of standing ovations from the crowd during the end of his set as he rolled through a Bob Dylan cover of “To Ramona” and one of his own favorites. While visiting with him in the merchandise stand after his performance, many patrons spoke to him about the respect they had for his music in a heartfelt manner where one could tell they were truly respectful of him playing music for them on this occasion.
“We try to tap into the niche of fans that enjoy music of quality and integrity, and I think that’s what’s represented in our Chattanooga fan base. We look to eliminate the old-school music industry boundaries of age, genre and categories,” Walker added about the interaction among the fans and artists.
“Instead, our goal is to present eclectic and diverse lineups where someone might come to see a particular artist, but walk away as a fan of one or two others that they might never have discovered on their own. It’s like attending a musical buffet, and discovering that you like a flavor that you may have otherwise never sampled. Hopefully that’s how the audience will continue to grow.”
While the shows in Music City and Chattanooga appear to be big moves for the roots and Americana scene, the idea of expansion is one that has been in the forefront for Walker and fellow Roots organizer Todd Mayo for some time now.
“Mayo is a thoroughbred Tennessean. He was born in Memphis, went to college in Knoxville and lives in Nashville. He’s always had a vision to expand our concept to showcase the wide range of musical styles and cultures that have deep roots in Tennessee. From rock ‘n’ roll to bluegrass, it’s hard to deny that music is one of our primary cultural exports. Chattanooga was the first to come together, but our vision is to eventually have shows in Memphis, Knoxville and even Tri-Cities” Walker said.
While the shows are live each week, you always don’t have to be in Chattanooga or Nashville to enjoy the experience. The high-definition live stream is available on smart phones and computers while you can listen to the show on Hippie Radio 106.9 FM. It is available over the air or their app. The shows also remain available in the web archives, and each artist’s set is edited into a 30-minute episode that airs on statewide PBS television affiliate stations, locally in Chattanooga on WCTI.
There’s no doubt Walker is a busy man each week, but he admits that if he does his job correct six days a week then all he has to do is enjoy the show with friends and sponsors.
“The truth is, Todd and I wear a lot of different hats. We need to understand what everyone’s role is, cast the vision for how we want things to be presented, and then make sure our team has the resources they need to make it happen. We’re still very “hands-on” as compared to traditional EP’s. In a general sense Todd oversees the booking, I oversee operations, and we both collaborate on marketing and sales. We like to make sure that our sponsors are happy, because without them, there is no show,” Walker said about his daily duties.