Review: Various Artists – Music City Roots: Live from the Loveless Cafe (Compass, 2012)
If you don’t already love Jim Lauderdale for his songs, picking and singing, you’ve got to love him for hosting the weekly Music City Roots live show and radio/webcast. Reaching back to the golden age of the Opry, Hayride and Barn Dance, Music City Roots operates out of the Loveless Barn, just behind the legendary Loveless Café. The show is played before an audience of four-hundred, broadcast live on WRLT-FM (100.1 MHz, for those of you in the area) and streamed on the Internet. Lauderdale hosts legends and newcomers, with help from WSM’s Keith Bilbrey and NPR’s Craig Havighurst.
Over the show’s two years, they’ve featured Charlie Louvin, Darrell Scott, Matraca Berg, Buddy Miller, Tom T. Hall, Duane Eddy, Marty Stuart, Rodney Crowell, Doyle Lawson, Sarah Jarosz, Rodney Dillard, Dale Watson, Rhonda Vincent, Chris Hillman, Gurf Morlix, Suzy Bogguss and Nanci Griffith. The latter’s “Listen to the Radio,” included here, could well be the show’s theme song with its romantic interlacing of radio, the road and roots music, not to mention its pointed dismissal of Clear Channel. Perhaps even more interesting are the dozens of new acts, across a broad range of styles, whose profiles have been raised through the show and broadcast.
This initial volume highlights both stars and newcomers, ranging through country, blues, folk, gospel and early rock sounds with plenty of talent, heart, soul and full-throated singing. The set closes with the show’s customary jam, this time featuring Jim Lauderdale, Sam Bush, Mike Farris and Scott Vestal getting a workout on “Up on Cripple Creek.” These performances are a lively and satisfying musical experience, though no substitute for tuning in to the congeniality and artistic harmony of the live show. If you’re not convenient to Nashville, check out the live video feed Wednesday nights at 7pm Central.