The rich musical heritage and traditions of Tennessee will take center stage in four upcoming episodes of PBS series Music Voyager, hosted by musicologist Jacob Edgar. The world premiere of Nashville’s episode was shown last night (Feb. 15) at a special event at Franklin Theatre, which was emceed by Edgar with musical entertainment by Vince Gill, Keb’ Mo’ and more.
Music Voyager is a music and travel series that spans the globe for intimate access to popular music, and is shown in 170 million homes worldwide. Music Voyager: Tennessee will take viewers largely along the state’s “Music Highway” Interstate 40 from Bristol to Memphis. The series was put together in part by the support of the Tennessee Dept. of Tourist Development, and is only the second state (after Louisiana) to be featured. Episodes for East Tennessee and Memphis will be premiered at a later date.
“Tennessee and Music Voyager is a match made in music heaven,” said Commissioner Susan Whitaker, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development. “There’s no doubt that Music Voyager: Tennessee will help showcase the already enormous significance of the music of Tennessee on the world stage.”
The Middle Tennessee episode features appearances by artist/performers Gill, Elizabeth Cook, Gabe Dixon, Those Darlins, banjo player/Compass Records co-founder Alison Brown, Keb’ Mo’, and The Grascals’ Jamie Johnson. Familiar Nashville area landmarks also pop up, including the Grand Ole Opry, Robert’s Western World, Tootsie’s, Gruhn Guitars, the Franklin Theatre, and the Bluebird Café, whose COO Erika Wollam Nichols is interviewed. A special second Middle Tennessee episode, simply called “The Round,” was also previewed and features Cook, Buddy Miller, Darrell Scott, and Guy Clark (who was in attendance at the event).
Alison Brown and dobro maestro Rob Ickes also performed at the event, backed by Brown’s bass-playing husband Garry West. The trio romped through a medley of Stephen Foster songs as well as “Dear Old Dixie” popularized by Earl Scruggs.
After the episode premiere, Gill and Keb’ Mo’ took the stage. The always-affable Gill joked they were, “The best you could get for free on short notice.” Gill delivered his “The Old Lucky Diamond Hotel,” followed by Keb’ on “Hand It Over.” Gill also revealed that he’s producing Pistol Annie member Ashley Monroe’s new album. For the finale, they invited Guy Clark onstage and the trio performed “Old Friends.”
There’s no official air date yet for Music Voyager: Tennessee, but it will also be shown as in-flight television programming for 13 airlines and in-room at several resort hotels.