Sr. Producer and co-host Craig Havighurst describes Music City Roots: Live From The Loveless Cafe as Nashville’s version “4.0 or 5.0” music scene. He explains, “I wrote a book [Air Castle of the South] about how WSM grew and how it spawned the first publishing, tour management, record company, and recording studio in the ‘20s. With the demise of The Nashville Network and the loss of Opryland, a global platform for Nashville was missing. Music City Roots has become that. The show gives the chance to hear a natural sounding guitar and a vocal performance not auto-tuned for audiences who crave an honest performance of music. Guests come for old favorites and hear two artists they have probably never heard of, and many times they purchase their CDs before they leave.”
The weekly live radio and web broadcast overseen by Havighurst, and Executive Producers Todd Mayo and John Walker, celebrates its third season when it debuts for the fall season on Wednesday (10/10). Barely changed in format, the show remains rooted in the premise that it generates excitement for the Americana, Folk and Roots music scene, whether the artists live here or are passing through. Organizers have used a clever combination of technology to achieve this goal.
Originally broadcast on WSM-AM, the live program changed hands after its first season to current partner, WRLT/Lightening 100. Now syndicated to roughly 20 national radio stations in addition to public radio, the program mingles legends with up-and-coming artists, sometimes unheard of even by aficionados of the genre.
Last month, Roots Radio launched as a free, mobile-friendly, continual stream of archived performances from live shows. Live HD video footage of the performances are available through Livestream musiccityroots.com, thanks to video director Jim Yockey, who has experience at PBS and TNN.
Additional avenues are being explored to bring programming to television. A recent deal includes a thirteen episode 1-hour series ordered by CMC Television in Australia, which begins in December 2012. To pair with the international exposure, the MCR’s production crew will travel to the country in early 2013 to record a program with Elizabeth Cook and co-host Jim Lauderdale. The trip will take place around the time of the Tamworth Music Festival.
“Our No. 1 export as a city is our musical culture,” said Mayo. “Our goal is to send it out in the best possible light, through every medium possible.”
It takes a full-time crew of 4-5 employees, together with 6-8 part-time, to run the show. They hosted and recorded the first-ever Americana Music Association pre-show for the September awards. Additionally, the crew broadcasted the International Bluegrass Music Association’s (IBMA) Awards for the first time in its history, and has begun producing the “Fiddle/Sticks” ongoing series expected in October.
“For years I have met people through Nashville who have great ideas with their heart in the right place, but it isn’t the most lucrative,” said Havighurst. “I’ve been knocked out by both [Walker and Mayo’s] passion to find ways to reach new people, and close deals for long-lasting sponsors.”
“We are thrilled to reach this milestone and are so excited about the days to come,” said Walker. “Todd Mayo and I had a vision from its inception, and in the three years since our first show, we found the warmth, support and participation we have received from sponsors, attendees and artists to be overwhelming and energizing.”
The 2012 season will feature upgrades to the Roots set, lighting and video production. As the third anniversary unfolds, audiences will be treated to emerging talent and musical legends, along with co-host Lauderdale and veteran Grand Ole Opry announcer Keith Bilbrey as emcee.
For information about shows, tickets, schedules, and sponsors, please visit: www.musiccityroots.com.
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