This week on Music City Roots, we go back to our February 6th, 2013 show while MCR is on a short break. This archived show is a smasher, featuring sets by Taylor Brashears, Jon Weisberger, The SteelDrivers, Randy Kours, and the Troubadour Kings. Jim Lauderdale hosts.
About the bands:
Taylor Brashears is a singer, songwriter, and multi-intstrumentalist born and raised in Nashville, TN. She fell in love with bluegrass music at the age of nine and began playing shows at sixteen.
She was the lead singer of The Supple Station Trio, but this past year, she teamed up with Tammy Rogers (of The Steeldrivers) to make her debut, solo EP. This was Tammy’s first production project and the final product was above anything they expected including special guests such as the McCrary sisters, Jim Lauderdale, and Mike Witcher.
Her enchanting melodies and knack for sinister come from a bluegrass background but her unique approach on songwriting definitely brings something to the table that Nashville hasn’t seen before.
Though he’s a classically trained composer and award winning music journalist who performs regularly as a bass player with bluegrass artists Chris Jones & The Night Drivers, Roland White and others, Jon Weisberger is probably best known these days as the first recipient of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Songwriter of the Year award. Starting with his first song, written some 20 years ago, he has become one of the music’s most prolific and frequently recorded writers.
Jon first gained prominence as a songwriter in 2001, when The Chapmans recorded two of his songs on their Follow Me release for Pinecastle records; one of them, “Losing Again,” became one of the most widely aired songs of the year on bluegrass radio, earning him a nomination for SPBGMA’s Songwriter Of The Year award. Still, it took several years before he scored his next major cut, placing “Blown Away And Gone” on the Del McCoury Band’s Grammy-winning The Company We Keep.
By that time, Weisberger’s catalog was beginning to grow, thanks to co-writing sessions with collaborators like Mark Simos, Mountain Heart’s Jim Van Cleve, and Blue Highway’s Tim Stafford. By 2008, he’d accumulated more than enough material to produce an album of original songs, If This Road Could Talk, featuring a dazzling array of co-writers and guests like Stafford, the Infamous Stringdusters’ Jeremy Garrett and Andy Falco, Alison Krauss & Union Station’s Ron Block, mandolin whiz Jesse Brock and many more. Over the next two years, artists like Blue Highway, Doyle Lawson, the Dixie Bee-Liners, the Stringdusters and his long-term employer, Chris Jones & The Night Drivers, joined the list of artists who have recorded his material.
Since then, Jon has seen an unsurpassed number of his songs recorded—more than 40 between 2010 and 2012—by an even wider array of artists, from jamgrass favorites the Infamous Stringdusters (who put four of his songs on their Silver Sky release alone) to hard core traditionalists Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers, and from veterans like Special Consensus and Blue Highway to newcomers such as Nu-Blu and NewTown, and even with overseas artists like Italy’s Red Wine. And late in 2011, Jon scored his first bluegrass #1—both as a player and as a songwriter—when Chris Jones & The Night Drivers’ “Final Farewell,” co-written with Jones, topped the Bluegrass Today airplay chart, remaining on the chart for the next 6 months.
Nashville, Tennessee is a nexus – a point where tradition and innovation intersect, where commerce collides with art. It may be the only town around where salaried songwriters and full-time session musicians are as common as accountants and schoolteachers. Music is the product, and the factories line the street, from the swank Music Row mini-high-rises to the low-slung Sylvan Park bungalows. And only Nashville could give birth to a band like the SteelDrivers: a group of seasoned veterans -each distinguished in his or her own right, each valued in the town’s commercial community – who are seizing an opportunity to follow their hearts to their souls¡¦ reward. In doing so, they are braiding their bluegrass roots with new threads of their own design, bringing together country, soul, and other contemporary influences to create an unapologetic hybrid that is old as the hills but fresh as the morning dew. This is new music with the old feeling. SteelDrivers fan Vince Gill describes the band¡¦s fusion as simply “an incredible combination.”
Since the release of The SteelDrivers (2008) and Reckless (2010), The SteelDrivers have been nominated for three Grammys, four IBMA awards and the Americana Music Association’s New Artist of the Year. They were presented the International Bluegrass Music Association¡¦s award for Emerging Artist of the Year in 2009. That same year the band spent a week in Georgia as part of the cast in the movie “Get Low”. The movie, that starred Robert Duvall, Sissy Spacek and Bill Murray, featured a soundtrack that included four tunes by The ‘Drivers. In 2011 the English pop star Adele began performing the SteelDriver song “If It Hadn’t Been For Love” in her live performances. Her opinion of The SteelDrivers is: “They’re a blues, country, bluegrass, swagger band and they are brilliant.” They have been invited to perform on numerous radio and TV shows ranging from The Grand Ole Opry to NPR’s Mountain Stage to the Conan O’Brien show.
2012 has found The SteelDrivers traveling throughout the USA and branching out into Canada and Europe. They have recently completed their third album entitled Hammer Down which is due to be released February 5, 2013.
With the release of Old Photograph on Rural Rhythm Records, multi-instrumentalist Randy Kohrs has also arrived as a first-rate vocalist, songwriter and producer. With a 2008 Grammy win for producing, engineering, mixing, singing harmony, and playing on Americana icon Jim Lauderdale’s latest, The Bluegrass Diaries, he has now solidified his standing as one of the strongest all-around musical forces coming up on the Nashville scene. Kohrs has long been celebrated for his inventive, mood-setting work as a dobroist (that’s him providing the dramatic framework on Dierks Bentley’s No. 1 hit, “What Was I Thinking.”) But his flashes of instrumental wizardry have often diverted attention from his wider musicianship.
Old Photograph has received much critical acclaim and chart-topping success. A #1 video on CMTPure for the single, “Who’s Goin’ With Me,” proved that the mainstream country audience welcomes his progressive acoustic sound, too. An appearance on the Rachael Ray Show further introduced him to the mainstream audience. In May of 2008, he made his debut appearance as a solo artist on the Grand Ole Opry, and has since performed on the hallowed stage numerous times.
Growing up on a farm in the rural town of New Virginia, Iowa, Kohrs was raised like every other kid in the area, getting up early to feed the animals before school and performing various other chores until the sun went down. At the age of eight, however, it became clear that he was not destined to spend his life on a farm when his Uncle Jack brought over an acoustic guitar, showed him a few techniques and promptly enchanted the eager youngster.
Having been taught always to pay his own way, Kohrs bought the guitar for about $100. Around the age of 10, he became more fascinated with his Uncle Jack’s main instrument, the resophonic guitar, or dobro, and resolved to learn to play that, too. So, in his typically industrious style, he raised and sold a feeder calf within the year to purchase his first reso.
In two practice-packed years, Kohrs became accomplished enough to begin playing full-time with the Missouri-based band, Possum Trot. He remained with them for 10 years. At 15, he began playing country music with a local band, as well, which he later fronted in and around Des Moines. During this time, he had been developing his uniquely soulful and powerful tenor voice, along with his repertoire of other instruments, including electric guitar, drums, mandolin, banjo, pedal steel, and bass.
Kohrs’ popularity continued to grow throughout the Midwest, and soon he realized that the next logical move was to Nashville. In 1994, shortly after the passing of his father, the grieving, yet hopeful, young artist loaded up a moving truck and headed to Music City.
In three short weeks, Kohrs found himself playing an incredibly grueling schedule at a club on Nashville’s fabled Lower Broadway called Maggie Magee’s (now the Nashville Crossroads). To supplement the minuscule income that gig yielded, he did auto detailing and light collision work from his home.
In 1995, during one of his nightly solo gigs, Kohrs so impressed Hank Williams III that he hired him on the spot for his own band. On his nights off, Kohrs continued to dazzle the folks on Lower Broad. When the legendary Tom T. Hall decided he needed a multi-instrumentalist for the band he was forming, he dispatched his personal assistant to check out this newcomer who was creating such a buzz. A week later, Kohrs was off on his first major tour with “The Storyteller,” a circuit that took him to Australia for a month.
In the spring of 1997, Hall retired from the road and Kohrs found himself back on Lower Broad. That summer, bluegrass stalwart David Parmley went to hear Kohrs play, and at 7 o’clock the next morning, he was on a bus headed to Canada as a member of Continental Divide. For the next two years, he sang tenor and occasional lead and played dobro with the band. He recorded on the album Feel Good Day, which made it to the Top 5 on the bluegrass charts and the Top 20 on the Americana charts.
Subsequently, Kohrs toured with Holly Dunn for two years and performed regularly with her on her Grand Ole Opry appearances. In late 2000, John Cowan offered Kohrs a gig playing dobro and lap steel and singing tenor, a task few people in this world have the voice to do. Yet, he performed exquisitely and can be heard on Cowan’s Always Take Me Back.
While grateful to be working with so many great acts, it had always been Kohrs’ dream to have a solo career. In 2001, he released his debut solo album, A Crack In My Armour, on Junction Records. Containing several original songs, it earned him new respect among the Nashville songwriting community and acclaim within the larger music industry. He followed it with a traditional country album, Now It’s Empty, on his own label, Left Of Center Records.
In 2003, Kohrs accepted a gig with the unsinkable Dolly Parton, singing and playing dobro in her band, the Blueniques for the next two years. In addition to playing on three of Parton’s CDs, he also performed as her opening act. In 2004, Parton recorded a duet with him, “It Looked Good On Paper,” for his third album, I’m Torn, on Lonesome Day Records. It spent eight months on the bluegrass charts, rising into the Top 5. Followed by the success Old Photograph, it’s clear he has found a winning formula.
Throughout his touring career, Kohrs has gained much success as a top Nashville session musician. To date, he has played on more than 500 albums, ranging from those by such legends as Hank Thompson and Jerry Reed to current chart-toppers Little Big Town, Dierks Bentley and The Wreckers.
It’s a lot of credits in a short time. But you can bet Randy Kohrs is just getting started.
James House had found success penning hits for major country, rock and pop artists, but in 2009 he decided it was time to make an album that draws from his passion for blues, alt county and rock.
House’s songs have been recorded by Dwight Yoakum (Ain’t that Lonely Yet), Martina Mcbride (A Broken Wing), and he recently Co/Wrote The Mavericks new single (Born to Be Blue) with lead singer Raul Malo. Other artists to record his songs include Rod Stewart and Tina Turner.
Along with hit songwriter/producer/bass player Michael Bradford (Kid Rock, Uncle Kracker), Chris Eddy on drums (Lynyrd Skynyrd, Brothers Van Zandt) and Lou Toomey on guitar (Keith Whitley, Brooks & Dunn, Faith Hill and Ronnie Dunn), what explodes when these joined forces hit the stage is a visceral live show of passionate songs that take you on a ride into a world where the torch never dies, lost highways moan, and where if you’re lucky, you don’t have to be good.
Ride Records is a full-functioning independent record company with two offices in Nashville, TN and Greenville, MS. It is home to an amazing group of singer/songwriters and performers including Steve Azar, Walt Wilkins, Dave Hardin, Kallie North and the Troubadour Kings.
Ride Records is distributed nationally and internationally by Redeye USA Distributing.