Country a part of AMERICANA family


Country is part of the Americana family, in a great big melting pot says Norman Warwick

Browse the web site of the Music Americana Association and I´ll wager you will make a number of return visits. The first item you will see is Live At The Hall, a film of Conversation And Performance by  Night Train To Nashville.Frank Howard and Peggy Gaines Walker, artists instrumental in Nashville’s soul music scene of the 1960s, join the Museum’s Michael Gray and the National Museum of African AmericanMusic’s Dr. Bryan Pierce, to share their memories of the city’s  vibrant R&B community. That community included pioneering television shows like “Night Train” and “The!!!!Beat”;  influential radio stations including WLAC, WSOK, and WVOL;and venerated Black music venues such as New Era Club, Club Del Morocco, and Club Baron.

After the conversation, Howard and Walker each perform with the Jimmy Church band, as do their fellow veterans of Nashville’s R&B golden age, Charles “Wigg” Walker and Levert Allison of the Fairfield Four. Contemporary recording duo the War and Treaty also perform. This program was recorded on January 25, 2023, and is presented in support of the launch of the Museum’s online exhibition “Night Train to Nashville: Music City Rhythm & Blues 1945-1970” and in partnership with the National Museum of African American Music.

Adapted from the Museum’s 2004-2005 physical exhibition of the same name, “Night Train to Nashville” examines the impact of the R&B music that emerged from a city typically identified with country music and looks at the interplay between the two musical genres. The original exhibition earned a NAACP Bridging the Gap Award for the promotion of interracial understanding, and a compilation album coinciding with the exhibit won a Grammy award for Best Historical Album.

Panel Discussions seem to be a fourive presentational format for the CMA and a browse are here will show you films of such events featuring, for instance ,  multi-instrumentalist Herb Pedersen who plays songs and shares stories from his life and career as part of the Museum’s “Nashville Cats” series, which spotlights musicians who have made significant contributions to country music. This program was recorded on February 4, 2023, and is presented in support of the exhibition “Western Edge: The Roots and Reverberations of Los Angeles Country-Rock,” presented by City National Bank.

In this ninety-minute program, Herb Pedersen (right) talks about his sixty-year music career as a recording artist, an in-demand banjo player, and as one of the most requested harmony singers in American roots music. He recalls growing up in Berkeley, California, becoming interested in bluegrass while in his teens, and how his talents led to being a member of the Dillards and the Desert Rose Band—as well as filling in briefly for Earl Scruggs on the road with the famous bluegrass band Flatt & Scruggs. He also explains how Linda Ronstadt helped launch his recording session career by hiring him to play banjo and sing harmonies on her albums, steering him to become one of the most recorded harmony vocalists of the 1970s through the 2010s.

Pedersen also discusses his long-running creative collaboration with Chris Hillman and his work with artists such as the Flying Burrito Brothers, Dan Fogelberg, Emmylou Harris, New Kentucky Colonels, Gram Parsons, Tom Petty, and Dwight Yoakam. Accompanied by Jim Buchanan on fiddle, Mark Fain on upright bass, and Rob Ickes on resonator guitar, Pedersen concludes the program with performances of “Wait a Minute,” “A Heart Always True,” and “Making Plans,” featuring Cheryl and Sharon White.

In another slot, Kay West (left) discusses her wide-ranging career in music and media as the 2022 honoree in the annual Louise Scruggs Memorial Forum series at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. In looking back over her multi-faceted career, West emphasizes that she considers herself an author and journalist, first and foremost. She recalls her important work as a regular contributor to People and TV Guide magazines and as a staff writer at the daily Nashville Banner and weekly Nashville Scene newspapers. Her well-received books include How to Raise a Lady and How to Raise a Gentleman and the cookbook Around the Opry Table.

Witty and insightful,  Kay West recalls her surprise at being offered high-profile publicity positions at the major recording companies RCA and MCA. It was being hired by RCA that brought her to Nashville after several years working as a staff editor and writer at successful magazines based in New York. In the interview, she spins tales about her unusual approach to media representation when delving into her work with George Strait, Alan Jackson, and Patty Loveless. Other interesting stories emerge as she talks about her many years as the most respected and read restaurant reviewer in Nashville, and how her positions as a feature newsprint columnist led to her to take on roles as an event and project manager for philanthropic organizations, nonprofits, and politicians (Rep. Jim Cooper, former Nashville mayor Megan).

You could also check out accomplished fiddler and violinist Andrea Zonn—who has toured with Vince Gill, James Taylor, and Lyle Lovett, among others—discusses her career as a backing musician and solo artist during this June 17, 2017, program, part of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Nashville Cats series.

The daughter of classical musicians, Zonn (right) grew up in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois, with a passion for playing the violin. By age ten, she had discovered bluegrass music and competed in her first fiddle contest against fellow Urbana resident Alison Krauss. Now lifelong friends, the two musicians frequently competed and collaborated in their early years.

After moving to Nashville while still in her teens, Zonn built her career playing in bluegrass bands before cold-calling VinceGill to ask for an audition. She has since toured extensively with Gill and appeared on his recordings. James Taylor, one of Zonn’s childhood idols, sought her out to perform in his band and sing in his vocal section.

Andrea Zonn also has an extensive career as a studio musician and backup singer (for artists such as Linda Ronstadt, Neil Diamond, Kenny Chesney, and Lee Ann Womack), and has released two solo albums. During the program, Zonn performs three songs she co-wrote for her 2015 album, “Rise,” including the title track.

Carlene Carter (left), Shawn Colvin, Amythyst Kiah, and Maria Muldaur share a conversation with NPR’s Ann Powers, highlighting women who inspire them as musicians and taking turns performing on stage at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.

Held on September 12, 2019 (during that year’s AmericanaFest and in partnership with NPR Music), the program nods to season three of the NPR series “Turning the Tables,” which explores female performers considered crucial to the development of American music.

Maria Muldaur begins by describing her discovery of blues artists such as Bessie Smith, Victoria Spivey, and Memphis Minnie, and sings a “dirty blues” song titled “My Handy Man” to a pre-recorded track.

Carlene Carter shares memories of her grandmother, Country Music Hall of Fame member Mother Maybelle Carter, and points toward her ingenuity in creating a picking style that simultaneously feels like rhythm guitar and lead guitar. Carter sings “Foggy Mountain Top” (recorded and released by the Carter Family in 1929 and again by the Carter Sisters & Mother Maybelle in 1952) on an autoharp from her family’s collection.

Shawn Colvin reflects on the recording of her 1992 album “Fat City” with producer Larry Klein, who was married to Joni Mitchell at the time. In addition to reminiscing about her interactions with Mitchell, Colvin talks about how she had to give herself some distance from Mitchell’s music at one point to find her own voice, then performs Mitchell’s “For the Roses.”

Amythyst Kiah provides her background as a student at East Tennessee State University as a student of old-time and country music. After a discussion of lesser-known blues musician Precious Bryant, Kiah performs “Broke and Ain’t Got a Dime” on acoustic guitar.

Continuing the round in reverse, Kiah performs her song “Firewater,” which is followed by Colvin’s “Polaroids,” Carter’s “The Bitter End,” and Muldaur’s rendition of Blu Lu Barker’s “Don’t You Feel My Leg.”

So the CMA web site is one that will reward your visit.

So that´s three articles all built on reader Peter Pearson´s recommendations of the music of Cooper Brace Jutz, and we have another six articles to go based on his opinions of Mark Knopfler.

Cheers Peter !

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