The Americana Week that Was: 2/8 – 2/14


It’s time once again for our weekly look back on some cool events, stories, and sounds from the week that was in Americana music.

First off, the Grammy Awards were handed out Sunday, and several roots and Americana based artists took home trophies. We’ll start with Rosanne Cash who added three Grammys to her collection with wins for Best American Roots Song, Best American Roots Performance, and Best Americana Album. The album award was for the CD The River & the Thread. The other two were for the song “A Feather’s Not a Bird” from that record.

While I may have been rooting for Sturgill Simpson to take home the Americana trophy, Rosanne certainly was deserving of the recognition she received. The River & the Thread was a nuanced and personal record based around Rosanne’s musical and spiritual reconnection to her southern roots. It was my second choice, for sure.

Other roots-based winners you’ve been hearing on WDVX include The Earls of Leicester’s self titled disc for Best Bluegrass Album, Remedy by The Old Crow Medicine Show for Best Folk Album, Morning Phase by Beck for Best Rock Album and Album of the Year, and Shine for All the People by Mike Farris for Best Roots Gospel Album.

Among that group, I am especially happy for Mike Farris on his win. I had the chance to speak with Farris about his album last fall, and the emotion with which he spoke about the record got to me. He is now the only artist who as ever won an Americana Music Award, a Dove Award, and a Grammy.

brandy dwight

As far as performances go, three acts who were billed as “Country” artists were included in the festivities. Miranda Lambert came out with fireworks and color coordinated instruments early in the show. Then, Eric Church… well… I’m not really sure what Eric Church did. I fell asleep after the first verse of his song. Literally.

That’s when Brandy Clark and Dwight Yoakam stepped out on stage with nothing but two acoustic guitars, strong harmonies, and a great song. Clark sang “Hold My Hand” from her Best Country Album nominated 13 Stories, and reminded people what Country music can still sound like. The best part of it is that people responded. First of all, I woke up. Then, Brandy received a bigger growth in sales than any other Grammy performer.

A more in-depth Grammy report can be found over at Twang Nation.

Now… for the week in WDVX.

As a reminder: Two full weeks worth of archived WDVX programming can always be found on our website under the On Demand heading. You can pull up the program/performance you want to listen to by selecting the day and hour it originally aired.

*Monday 2/9 at 7pm – John Myers Band on Tennessee Shines: John Myers is an elder statesman on the Knoxville music scene who also spent time in Motown back in the day. He now fronts a killer R&B and blues band made up of some stellar local musicians. Stick around until the end of the hour to hear his powerhouse take on Mary Gauthier’s “Mercy Now.”

*Friday 2/13 at Noon – Brandy Robinson & Darin and Brook Aldridge on the Blue Plate Special: IBMA and SPBGMA Award nominated bluegrass musicians Darin and Brook Aldridge shared the Blue Plate stage with Knoxville-turned-to-California songwriter Brandy Robinson. It’s a bill that shows the range of music the Blue Plate can host each day, and one worth checking out.

*Show Spotlight: Mondays at 11pm – The New Show with Sam Quinn: Sam Quinn is a local musician known for his work with bands like the everbodyfields and Sam Quinn & The Japan Ten. Every Monday from 11:00-Midnight, Quinn spends an hour playing album cuts from classic rock acts ranging from Big Star to Zappa. The first time I listened to The New Show, Quinn played a track from the West Coast Pop Art Experimental Band… and my life was forever changed.

*Wednesday 2/11 6pm to 11pm – The Americana Pulse: I did things a little differently on the show this week. Instead of a Classic Album spotlight on an older record, I devoted those segments to Rosanne Cash’s The River & the Thread and called it an Instant Classic. I played tracks from the Grammy winning record mixed in sets with other winners, nominees, and artists who appeared on the record. I also aired two separate Three Songs interviews. A new episode with Robby Hecht aired at 7:00, and a repeat of my conversation with Mike Farris aired around 10:15.

Once again, all these shows can be found On Demand on the WDVX website.


Finally, here are a few links to some new and noteworthy songs that were released around the internet this week. It was a big week for former Knoxvillians releasing new tunes.

*First up is a new song from former Knoxvillian Sam Lewis and an announcement of a new album from Lewis in April. The website for Guitar World was given the exclusive track “3/4 Time” from the upcoming record Waiting On You. The players on Lewis’ new album include names like Darrell Scott, Kenny Vaughan, Will Kimbrough, Mickey Raphael, & the McCrary Sisters. About a month ago, I spoke with someone who has already heard the full album and said it could be one of the year’s best. I’m looking forward to it.

*Just a few days after I featured Knoxville native Robby Hecht on Three Songs, Hecht and songwriter Caroline Spence released a new duet through The Bluegrass Situation. The song is also available on iTunes. We’ve just started featuring Spence’s new solo record on WDVX, and she’ll be joining us for a Blue Plate Special on March 4. The BG Sitch also released one of Spence’s solo tunes a couple weeks ago.

*Annalisa Tornfelt of Black Prairie also debuted a track from an upcoming record on Bluegrass Situation. Tornfelt’s first solo effort The Number 8 will be out March 10 and features 1:49 of heartbreak in the form of a song called “Scared You’re Gonna Leave.”

*Oh yeah… a couple of kids named Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires released a couple of songs to iTunes this week. The “digital single” is called Sea Songs and features covers of Lykke Li’s “I Follow Rivers” and Warren Zevon’s “Mutineers.”

Finally, I leave you with video from Sturgill Simpson’s second appearance on Late Night with David Letterman. Simpson’s Metamodern Sounds in Country Music topped the 100,000 units sold mark this week, and he celebrated with a return trip to The Ed Sullivan Theater.

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