Music City Roots, broadcast live on WSM weekly from The Loveless Barn outside of Nashville, is sort of a low-rent Grand Ole Opry. Low-rent in the best, most glorious sense of the term. There are no bells and whistles, just great musicians performing live music for an appreciative audience. This disc compiles 11 performances from the show’s first season.
The album does a fine job of providing an overview of what the program is all about. It’s an eclectic mix of traditional country artists, buzz-generating younger acts and relative unknowns. Among these are: Holy Ghost Revival, whose “Walking Over My Grave” is reminiscent of Mumford and Sons; Nanci Griffith (“Listen to the Radio”); Miss Tess and The Bon Ton Parade with the Manhattan Transfer style vocal jazz of “That Oo Oo Oo”; Mike Farris, showing why he is a gospel/soul singer everyone needs to hear on “I’m Gonna Get There”; up-and-comers The Black Lillies (Little Darlin'”) and the recently deceased Charlie Louvin with a moving version of “See The Big Man Cry”.
This record, and the broadcast it memorializes, is a testament to what’s great about American music. Here’s hoping there are many more volumes to follow.
– Steve Frazier