This week on Music City Roots, host Jim Lauderdale takes a quick respite from his usual hosting gig to perform! We’ll also hear sets by the likes of Sarah Jarosz, North Mississippi All-Stars, John Fullbright, and the legendary Bobby Rush with BlindDog Smokin’. Lock in for fabulous tunes from your favorite artists to get your weekend off to a great start!
About the artists:
Jim Lauderdale is a multi-talented performer and songwriter, with successes in both country and bluegrass music. His roots stem from the Carolinas, yet his career has taken him all over the United States and abroad, making him an international recording artist with an ever-growing fan base. Jim won “Artist of the Year” and “Song of the Year” at the first “Honors and Awards Show” held by the Americana Music Association in 2002. Subsequently, he has hosted this same show for the last seven years.
He is among Nashville’s A-list of songwriters, with songs recorded by artists such as: Patty Loveless, George Jones, The Dixie Chicks, Solomon Burke, Mark Chesnutt, Dave Edmunds, John Mayall, Kathy Mattea, Lee Ann Womack, Gary Allan, Blake Shelton. Vince Gill, and George Strait. He also contributed several songs to the successful soundtrack of the George Strait film, Pure Country. Not content to just write hits for the stars, he’s toured with the likes of Lucinda Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Rhonda Vincent and Elvis Costello, among others.
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. He is a 2 time Grammy winner, winning his first in 2002 with Dr. Ralph Stanley for “Lost in the Lonesome Pines” (Dualtone). His next one came for his second “solo” bluegrass album, The Bluegrass Diaries (Yep Roc 2007) at the 50th Grammy Awards! His first CD with Dr. Stanley, I Feel Like Singing Today ( Dualtone/Rebel 1999) received a Grammy nomination as did his first solo bluegrass CD titled Bluegrass (Yep Roc) from 2006.
As a performer his credits include production, writing and collaborating on albums such as Wait ‘Til Spring (SkyCrunch/Dualtone 2003) with Donna the Buffalo, and Headed for the Hills (Dualtone 2004) with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. The remainder of Jim’s 17 albums include: 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), and Could We Get Any Closer? (SkyCrunch 2009).
“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.”
Sarah Jarosz is a 22- year-old Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist who hails from just outside Austin, TX. A recent graduate from the prestigious New England Conservatory, she will release her third album, Build Me Up From Bones, for Sugar Hill Records on September 24th. Over the past four years, Jarosz, who musically fits comfortably where contemporary folk, Americana and roots music intersect, has covered a remarkable amount of ground thus far. She has toured the United States extensively, as well as Canada and the UK, taped Austin City Limits and the BBC Series The Transatlantic Sessions and appeared on A Prairie Home Companion. Her two previous records (Song Up In Her Head and Follow Me Down) received high praise from outlets including Rolling Stone, New York Times, USA Today, Paste, Mojo, Acoustic Guitar and American Songwriter, and she has received multiple Grammy and Americana Music Association nominations.
Sarah is supported on the road by stellar musicians Alex Hargreaves (fiddle) and Nathaniel Smith (cello). Hargreaves recently completed the prestigious Berklee Global Jazz Institute at the Berklee College of Music in Boston and has been tapped to perform and record with such musicians as Jerry Douglas and jazz master Danilo Perez. Smith has toured for years with renown Cape Breton fiddler Natalie MacMaster and, more recently, in various configurations with Jeremy Kittel. Jarosz, Hargreaves and Smith, who met at various music camps when they were much younger, have been performing together since 2010; the sheer joy they express on stage during performances is contagious. Hargreaves and Smith are both featured on Jarosz’s upcoming release Build Me Up From Bones.
North Mississippi Allstars formed in 1996; the product of a special time for modern Mississippi country blues. Brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson soaked up the music of their father, Memphis legend Jim Dickinson, and absorbed the North Mississippi legacy while playing and shaking it down in the juke joints with their blues ancestors. R.L. Burnside, Junior Kimbrough, Otha Turner and their musical families were at their peak, making classic records and touring the world. Eventually, Luther (guitar, vocals) and Cody (drums, vocals) formed the North Mississippi Allstars and pioneered their own brand of blues-infused rock and roll.
The North Mississippi Allstars released their debut album, Shake Hands With Shorty, in the spring of 2000. Their debut proved to be a success and earned them a Grammy nomination for ‘Best Contemporary Blues Album’. After earning 2 more Grammy nominations in the same category for 51 Phantom (2001) and Electric Blue Watermelon (2005), the North Mississippi Allstars earned the reputation as one of the most intriguing acts to emerge from the loam of Southern blues and roots rock.
In 2008, after five studio albums and more than a decade touring together, the Dickinsons decided to branch out and pursue other projects. In 2009 Luther teamed up with Alvin Youngblood Hart and Jimbo Mathus to form the South Memphis String Band. The trio has toured across the country and released two albums since then. In 2012, Luther formed The Wandering, a five-piece folk band featuring Shannon McNally, Amy LaVere, Valerie June and Sharde Thomas (Otha Turner’s granddaughter), and released their debut record Go On Now, You Can’t Stay Here. He also recorded and released a solo acoustic album, Hambone’s Meditations, which received a 2013 Grammy nomination for ‘Best Folk Album’.
Meanwhile, Cody broadened the scope of his musical career and became what one might call an artistic entrepreneur in the fields of music, film and TV. Cody has contributed to several major motion picture soundtracks, including Barnyard, Snoop’s Hood of Horror and Black Snake Moan. He had a recurring role on MTV’s $5 Dollar Cover series and appears in G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation. As a producer Cody has worked with a wide range of musicians including Lucero, Cisco Adler, and Les Claypool. He also produced British blues guitarist Ian Siegal’s last 2 albums, The Skinny (2011) and Candystore Kid (2012), both of which were nominated for ‘Best Contemporary Blues Album’ at the annual Blues Music Awards. Despite all his work as a producer, Cody continues to be one of the industry’s premier drummers, demonstrated by his 2013 Blues Music Awards nomination in the ‘Best Instrumentalist/Drums’ category.
The brothers reunited in 2010 to record Keys to the Kingdom after the passing of their father. Jim had always told them, “You need to be playing music together. You are better together than you will ever be apart.” Inspired by his words, Luther and Cody went into the family’s home recording studio Zebra Ranch, to create a record that could help them cope with the loss and rejoice in his honor.
Most recently, Luther and Cody have toured extensively with Robert Plant & The Band of Joy, headlined major festivals and toured internationally as a headliner and with Ian Siegal as part of The Mississippi Mudbloods. They also released two live bootleg records, 2011’s Live in the Hills and 2012’s Live in the Hills Volume II, both recorded at the annual North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic in Potts Camp, MS.
The North Mississippi Allstars are at times joined by Lightnin’ Malcolm, Alvin Youngblood Hart, the legendary Chris Chew, and a host of other talented musicians.
Luther and Cody continually expand the tradition of the Mississippi hill country blues that has inspired them from the beginning, but as Rolling Stone aptly notes, “the Allstars may be children of tradition, but they’re digging deep in undiscovered country”.
2012–2013 has been a groundbreaking period for John Fullbright, and the Grammy nomination for From The Ground Up was just one of many highlights. Since its release in May 2012, Fullbright’s first studio album has garnered high praise from peers and pundits alike, making the young Oklahoman the most talked about young singer/songwriter in music today. In December, Jimmy Webb presented John with the prestigious ASCAP Harold Adamson Lyric Writing Award, calling John “one of the best writers I have heard in a long, long time.” Earlier in the year, John was invited to sing for the Chuck Berry Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame Tribute. While the rest of the cast strapped on Fender guitars, John played “Downbound Train” on piano as Chuck sat twenty feet away.
Born in Bearden, Oklahoma, Fullbright went to school in nearby Okemah, also the hometown of Woody Guthrie. It was at the annual Woody Guthrie Folk Festival that John first started to make a name for himself in the picking circles on the festival campgrounds. In 2009, John burst upon the southwest music scene with a stellar live album recorded at Oklahoma City’s renowned Blue Door, a venerable Oklahoma venue that Fullbright has used as his home away from home. Live At The Blue Door was recorded as a calling card, a way to introduce John at the 2009 Folk Alliance conference. It did that—and more. In 2013, John will headline the Friday night show on the main stage at WoodyFest. Both Live at the Blue Door and From The Ground Up have set sales records for WoodyFest, making John the most popular artist in the history of the festival.
In From the Ground Up, Fullbright traverses an emotional and musical terrain that is extremely broad, showing equal acuity with tender ballads and songs that make you want to drive faster with the windows rolled down. Fullbright’s earliest songwriting heroes, Townes Van Zandt and Mickey Newbury, infuse this record, but so do Jimmy Webb, Randy Newman, and many of Fullbright’s songwriting compatriots from Oklahoma and Texas. Firmly rooted in a variety of musical styles, he draws on what has come before, but without imitation. Forget labels when you listen to John Fullbright. He is not folk, not Americana and not pop, but possibly the best fusion of them all.
Fullbright co-produced the album—the photo on the cover shows him on the front porch of the house where both he and his father grew up—with the owner of 115 Studios in Norman, Okla., Wes Sharon, who also played bass on the album. Fullbright played many of the instruments on the album: all of piano and harmonica, almost all of the organ parts and much of the guitar work. Musicians from the legendary to the infamous lent their talents: Terry “Buffalo” Ware and Andrew Hardin added guitar, while Fats Kaplin played violin and steel guitar. Other musicians on the album are Giovanni Carnuccio III (drums), John Knudson (organ), Jess Klein (background vocals) and Ryan Engleman (guitar).
John Fullbright is a young man who finds love, beauty and pain in the here and now, and skepticism and disdain for those who would take advantage of the dreams of those hoping for a better world. That he can articulate his worldview with an almost otherworldly precocity makes his debut studio album, From The Ground Up, worthy of attention. From the fertile ground of Oklahoma, another songwriting legend may be blooming.
he creator of a singular sound which he dubbed “folk-funk,” multi-instrumentalist Bobby Rush was among the most colorful characters on the contemporary chitlin circuit, honing a unique style which brought together a cracked lyrical bent with elements of blues, soul, and funk.
Born Emmit Ellis, Jr. in Homer, LA, on November 10, 1940, he and his family relocated to Chicago in 1953, where he emerged on the West Side blues circuit of the 1960s, fronting bands which included such notable alumni as Luther Allison and Freddie King. However, as Rush began to develop his own individual sound, he opted to forgo the blues market in favor of targeting the chitlin circuit, which offered a more receptive audience for his increasingly bawdy material; he notched his first hit in 1971 with his Galaxy label single “Chicken Heads,” and later scored with “Bow-Legged Woman” for Jewel.
He appeared on a wide variety of labels as the decade progressed, culminating in the 1979 LP Rush Hour, produced by Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff for their Philadelphia International imprint. During the early ’80s, Rush signed with the LaJam label, where he remained for a number of years; there his work became increasingly funky and deranged, with records like 1984′s Gotta Have Money and 1985′s What’s Good for the Goose Is Good for the Gander often featuring material so suggestive he refused to re-create it live. During the mid-’90s, Rush moved to Waldoxy, heralding a return to a soul-blues sound on LPs including 1995′s One Monkey Don’t Stop No Show, 1997′s Lovin’ a Big Fat Woman, and 2000′s Hoochie Man. In April 2001, his tour bus crashed, injuring several bandmembers and killing one, Latisha Brown. Rush was hospitalized for a short time, then returned home to recuperate.
Rush returned to action in 2003 with the release of the Live from Ground Zero CD and DVD on his own label, Deep Rush, followed by Folkfunk, also on Deep Rush, in 2004. Rush released two albums in 2005, Hen Pecked and Night Fishin’, and continued his prolific activity with 2008′s Look at What You Gettin’, which offered a mix of ballads, soul, and bluesy double entendres.
Bobby has released 259 records in 57 years in the music business, had a Certified Gold hit with “Chicken Heads” in the late-70s, was Grammy nominated in 2000, and was featured in Martin Scorcese’s recent 4-part documentary The Blues in The Road to Memphis, produced by Clint Eastwood.