The String is weekly think radio featuring conversations and features on culture, media and American music - anchored by veteran journalist and broadcaster Craig Havighurst. Music makers, enablers, instigators and documentarians are featured with enough time to go deep and burrow into issues, while letting the music play too. Music news, previews, Time Machine Tape and 90 Second Spins round out the hour.
Sierra Ferrell plus Brittney Spencer
Episode 182: To spotlight the 2021 AmericanaFest, returning after a year off, I reached out to two of the most interesting artists showcasing during the week. Sierra Ferrell is a rambling free spirit from West Virginia who found her way to Nashville and its new era honky tonk scene way off of Broadway. Rounder Records heard her arresting old-world voice and feel for songs and signed her to a deal, and her debut is remarkable. Live, she's a brilliantly energetic and unusual singer songwriter. From the other end of the country music spectrum comes newcomer Brittney Spencer, who deftly rides the line between the commercial mainstream and roots. From the Opry stage to the ACM Honors live broadcast, she's knocking Nashville out.
The Delevantes plus The Connells
Episode 181: It’s a jangle pop special with two bands of brothers who are back on record after two-decade breaks. The Delevantes, Bob and Mike, are pioneers of Americana, chart toppers when the format was born thanks to their Everly Brothers harmony and country twang. Their enchanting new album will be called A Thousand Turns. Also in the hour, also with a brother named Mike, Raleigh, NC band The Connells on their work with REM producer Mitch Easter then and now. They take me back to turning 19 in Chapel Hill when my world was defined by southern college radio rock and roll.
Maggie Rose plus Connie Smith
Episode 180: When Maggie Rose held her album release party in late August for her third album Have A Seat, she filled one of the city's largest music halls with wildly enthusiastic fans, testimony to her 13 years of work and resilience and acclaim. She's a bold and emotive singer who has forged a unique fusion of roots, soul and pop, and her recording sessions at FAME Studio in Muscle Shoals picked up just the right amount of vintage vibe. We get to know an artist who will surely be on ever bigger stages as the coming years unfold. Also, a legendary voice from country music, as I catch up with Opry star Connie Smith on the release of her new project, The Cry of the Heart.
Episode 179: He goes by "Ferg" and he's one of the most interesting and influential creative forces in Nashville, whether you've heard of him or not. David Ferguson grew up in town, connected as a teenager with the great producer Cowboy Jack Clement and learned the mystic arts of recording and producing records. He engineered Johnny Cash's iconic comeback albums with Rick Rubin. He's worked the board or produced for John Prine, Sturgill Simpson, Margo Price and recently become a creative partner at Dan Auerbach's Easy Eye Records. Now he's made an album of his own, featuring easy country arrangements of classic and favorite songs. He's the most interesting man in Music City.
Episode 178: East Nashville's J.P. Harris has been a train-hopper, a logger, a shepherd, a honky tonker and a historic home carpenter. Indeed he was getting up from this early morning interview to work on an old home. It's a mix that makes him the most interesting man in roots music. And now, he's turned his attention back to the music that first drew him into country, old-time fiddle and banjo ballads. His new album Don't You Marry No Railroad Man brings a fresh reading to some ancient songs and a vivid partnership with album producer and fiddler Chance McCoy. This was a remarkable conversation.
Episode 177: This year marks the 30th anniversary of Jim Lauderdale's solo debut album Planet Of Love, but he was a veteran even then of the burgeoning alternative country music scenes in New York and Los Angeles. In his Nashville decades, he's been cherished as a leader and spokesperson for Americana music, a very successful hit songwriter, a collaborator with giants and an artist who just kicks out incredible album after album. In this laid back conversation, Jim talks about how his first album came to be, how he pursued a long-running writing relationship with the legendary Robert Hunter and his new album Hope.
I loved the episode on Tulsa. Looking forward to the Blonde on Blonde episode as well as many others.
So glad I found this show. Thoughtful, respectful interviews with important artists. Just great!
Good, good stuff
Craig Havighurst is one of the smartest guys around and, luckily for us, he's not afraid to show it. He also has great taste in music. Tie those two things together and, yeah, that's the String.