The Imaginaries in Nashville Tennessee

    Out of the driveway, onto the highway/The day has finally come/Feeling so strong after waiting so long/I know we’re gonna get there from here

    Lyrics from “Blue Sky” by The Imaginaries

    “Blue Sky,” by Oklahoma’s The Imaginaries, is actually about their literal trek to start the band. However, the lyrics sync perfectly with the band’s path to their recent show at Nashville’s The Basement.  The husband-and-wife duo, comprised of Shane Henry and Maggie McClure (supported by full band), used their time well, giving fans a broad taste of their musical offerings and their journey. 

    It has indeed been a tale worth telling about challenges, perseverance, and a lot of love. The question is where to start.  The concert was of course filled with songs from their recent self-titled album.  The release itself was met with several challenges including a health crisis and the financial impact of COVID closures. The pair used the time of isolation to their advantage, making music videos and promoting their new songs. As the crowd listened to the intensity of the opener, “Geronimo,” tapped toes to the follower, “Thinking ‘Bout You,” and bathed in the couple’s harmonies on, “Trust Falling,” these relatively new songs already felt like classics because we’ve listened to them so many times.  Later in the show, it was impossible not to feel hairs rise as Henry fiercely strummed the opening chords to their epic single, “Walking on a Wire.” 

    With you by my side/As we watch the world go by/All I need in this life/Is you and the blue sky

    However, the night wasn’t just about the present.  As they shared, the self-titled LP holds a gateway to the band’s past.  Near the end of the set, while the crowd nodded along to the infectious rhythm, the duo played the first song they wrote together as The Imaginaries, “There Will Come a Day.” Continuing to reflect on their history together, they quickly followed with the swaying, soulful sounds of their latest release, “You Already Know,” originally written together by the couple for their wedding. The crowd applauded as McClure shared this story, along with the fact that the couple just celebrated their 10th anniversary.  Throughout the night, the bond between the duo was palpable, adding deep authenticity to their oft-romanticized lyrics.

    The Imaginaries Performing At Nashville's The Basement

    Mile after mile, turning the dial/To a small-town serenade/Smilin’ in silence, Each state line reminds of/Just how far we came

    Together, The Imaginaries have made it to the other side and are back on the road sharing their new music across the country. This show at The Basement was the final stop on the current tour leg that has kept them traveling for two months and taken them over 15,000 miles. Fortunately for us, they didn’t show any signs of slowing down.  As the band prepared to close the set, Henry only had to play a few sticky blues notes on his guitar for everyone to know their hit single, “Revival,” was on its way.  By the end of the song, its big, foot-stomping beat was firmly implanted in our heads.  The song’s message of new beginnings made for a fitting end to the story…for now.

    No matter what happens, I know we’ll be fine/We’re writing this story one page at a time. 

    Shane Henry and Maggie McClure of The Imaginaries

    Connect with The Imaginaries:

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify

    Listen to The Imaginaries:


    Tall Tales & Fables Album Art - Haunted Like Human

    Even the familiar can become eerie when bathed in shadow.  Tall Tales & Fables, the third release by Nashville’s Haunted Like Human, takes classic folk themes down a haunting, southern gothic path, thanks to its oft-ominous instrumentation and lyrical exploration of dark places.  

    While the honed musicianship may be the first thing you notice, the duo, comprised of Cody Clark (multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter) and Dale Chapman (lead singer, lyricist), keeps your attention thanks to the lyrical detail throughout the twelve-song track list. With topics ranging from mental health, good battling evil, challenges the LGBTQ+ community faces in finding acceptance, and leaving the past behind, the pair explore a lot of emotional ground.  Its notable that the group takes on the challenge of parsing through so many timely issues yet keeps the album consistent and flowing. 

    Haunted Like Human Band Photo
    Haunted Like Human Photo By Caroline Voisine

    Album opener, “September,” serves as a preview of the harmony-heavy focus of the record.  Chapman and Clark’s timing are on point, making sure the paired voices build on each other and meld as a collective thought. However, it’s with the increased pep of the second track, “Ohio,” that the album takes off.  Well-placed touches of fiddle, a jaunty beat, and judicious use of Clark’s harmonies spin the longing tale.  It’s on the fourth track, “Run Devil Run,” that the real gothic tones of the album shine through as the classic battle between good and evil looks to a mysterious female force as the champion. This trio of songs sets the tone for the remainder of the record.

    Other highlights include the return to a more banjo folk sound on “Bruised Feet;” the dark exploration of forbidden love on “Whistling Tree;” and the haunting “Ghost Towns.” Although the entire album relies on the duo’s woven vocal harmonies, the minimalist album closer, “Things Fall Apart,” does the best job of letting the vocals shine. 

    On Tall Tales & Fables, Haunted Like Human struck the perfect balance between recognizable folk music themes that draw you in and gothic diversions that keep your ears alert.  Quality storytelling is matched with fine fiddle playing, nimble banjo strumming, refined guitar work, and smartly restrained percussion to craft an album that garners repeat listens—both for enjoyment and to capture the full tapestry of the work.

    You can purchase Tall Tales & Fables here or listen to it on your preferred platform including Spotify.

    Connect with Haunted Like Human:

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify

    Featured Image and other band photos by Caroline Voisine


    Angus Gill - The Scrapbook Album Cover

    Oftentimes, “place” pays a large role in an artist’s sound and style—for example, when you think about the blues, the Mississippi Delta, Memphis, or Chicago usually come to mind. And, when thinking of bluegrass, images of the verdant Appalachian Mountains or the rolling hills of Kentucky dance through the imagination. For Australian prodigy Angus Gill, who recently released his new bluegrass LP The Scrapbook, “place” is straight from the heart.

    Angus Gill Artist Photo By Jackson James
    Angus Gill Artist Photo By Jackson James

    The Scrapbook is a brilliant example of how the pandemic forced us to become more creative in how we, well, create. Gill assembled a star-studded lineup to bring his vision to life while 2500 miles away from his collaborators. Throughout its 11 tracks, the album takes the listener on a rollicking adventure full of intricate musicianship, wit, and a gamut of emotion. The album begins with “Always On The Run,” an energetic tune full of bright banjo licks that playfully intertwine with guitar and fiddle. Gill shows us his tender side with tracks like “Samson,” a song about bullying with a sweet resolution, and “Whittling Away,” a duet with grassy icon Jim Lauderdale inspired by the struggles Gill’s mother endured and strength she displayed when wrestling with the decision to move her mother to an assisted living facility.

    Gill’s charm and cleverness come through in album tracks “Let’s Have A Drink (To Not Drinking Again),” a high, lonesome waltz performed with award-winning songwriter Jerry Salley, and in title track The Scrapbook,” where he walks us through the pictures on the pages of his grandmother’s keepsake album.

    In “Heartquake,” we get an ample dose of traditional grass as the song moves at a lightning pace, leaving the listener breathless in time to receive haunting, hymn-like album closer “Forget Me Not,” an a cappella beauty featuring exquisite four-part harmonies.

    With The Scrapbook, Gill’s plethora of talents are in the spotlight; he amply proves he’s not only a prodigious creator, but a gifted storyteller that puts his heart on the line in every turn of phrase.  

    Connect with Angus Gill:

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify

    Featured Image and additional photo of Angus Gill by Jackson James


    Americana Playlist Update Pics of Added Artists

    After a brief hiatus, we’re pleased to bring you a new update for the The Pew Playlist! We’ve got a whole new roundup of tracks added to our Spotify playlist! Please enjoy our curated selection of the latest Americana, folk, alt-country, and bluegrass tracks. (And make sure to connect with the artists on social media!)

    Angela Perley – “Here For You”

    Angela Perley - photo by Lindsay Jordan.
    Photo of Angela Perley by Lindsay Jordan.

    Like countless other artists, Columbus, Ohio native Angela Perley was set to tour in celebration of her 2019 LP 4:30 when the reality of COVID-19 brought everything to a grinding halt. Written and produced by Perley, the “Here For You” is a different kind of love song – being here for and taking care of yourself. With its slinky psychedelia and reverb-laden riffs, Perley delivers an amplified pep talk in her timeless voice, giving us an electrified taste of the album to come. Climb into the convertible, roll the windows down, and crank it to 11.

    Connect with Angela Perley:

    Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify

    Alicia Stockman – “Halfway To Houston”

    Alicia Stockman Artist Photo

    “I was halfway to Houston when I broke down,” sings Alicia Stockman in her wistful break-up song “Halfway To Houston.” The track appears on the Utah-based singer/songwriter’s forthcoming LP These Four Walls, produced by MCP fave Mary Bragg -its smartly-crafted lyrics and unfussy accompaniment provide an expansive space for Stockman’s emotive and angelic vocals to shine.

    Connect with Alicia Stockman:

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify

    Spencer LaJoye – “Breathing”

    Artist Photo of Spencer Lajoye
    Photo of Spencer LaJoye by Whitney Wilson and Hannah LaJoye Photography

    Violinist and vocal loop artist Spencer LaJoye recently released “Breathing,” the latest track from their forthcoming EP Remember The Oxygen, out November 5th. The song is a powerful and moving story of LaJoye learning to “breathe my own air again, so to speak,” says the Boston-based folk-pop songcrafter of the track’s inspiration. “When I remembered to breathe my own oxygen rather than meeting and anticipating everyone else’s needs first, I learned a lot of things (for one: I am not a girl. Oops!). It’s the story of me grabbing my own oxygen mask.” LaJoye’s pure, crystalline vocals deliver their truth in the most heart-wrenchingly vulnerable way as they offer experience proudly for the whole world to hear.

    Connect with Spencer LaJoye:

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify

    Charles Wesley Godwin – “Strong”

    Charles Wesley Godwin courtesy of Harry Ilyer
    Photo of Charles Wesley Godwin by Harry Ilyer

    Charles Wesley Godwin channels the grit of his West Virginia upbringing into his music, using his strong vocals to gently deliver character-driven, stories of the everyman. Relatable, smartly crafted, and poetic, “Strong” is an anthem of encouragement and perseverance, wrapped in lush textures that dance across a sonically cinematic landscape.

    Connect with Charles Wesley Godwin:

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify

    Naomi Keyte – “Greenhill”

    Naomi Keyte Artist Photo

    Listening to Australian folk artist Naomi Keyte’s new single “Greenhill” is unexpected sunshine a cloudy day, a daydream on a quiet afternoon, or blowing on the fluffy white seeds of a dandelion. It’s the sound of possibility. Written during lockdown, “Greenhill”
    Is a love song to a home and what’s inside that makes it special. Keyte’s style brims with airy, acoustic grace, and reminds us that there is beauty all around us.

    Connect with Naomi Keyte:

    Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify


    Kashena Sampson Time Machine Album Art

    Reflection, perspective, and determination are at the heart of Time Machine, the second album from Nashville’s Kashena Sampson. That description, coupled with the unsurprising saturation of COVID-era songwriting inspiration, would make one think that her record likely comes from soul searching that has been thrust upon us over the last year and a half.  Perhaps it’s ironic that the tracks for Time Machine were mastered prior to Sampson’s life being turned upside down in early 2020—first by the tornado that decimated her source of income bartending at Nashville’s Basement East and later by the devastating impact the pandemic had on the music industry.  In reality, her album is all about dealing with codependency, finding a way to move on, and growing from life experiences.  However, it may also be possible that Sampson has the most apt album title of all time for a collection of songs that inspire discovery and resolve, almost as if her songwriting senses knew this was a record we would need in 2021. 

    Kashena Sampson Artist Photo By Laura Partain
    Photo By Laura E. Partain

    Fittingly, no song embraces the theme of Time Machine better than its title track. Over a gentle acoustic guitar riff and a piano melody, Sampson looks upon the past and finds that many dreams are simply delusion in disguise.  However, she doesn’t approach this wisdom in a state of melancholy.  Instead, she finds strength while embracing reality.

    Sampson, a familiar face behind the bar for many of us Nashville concert-goers, may be one of the most visible examples of the grit that it takes to persevere in an industry where talent, exposure, and quality songs often still mean hours of work tending bars, waiting tables, or pushing paperwork to keep the dream alive. The slow-build folk-country-rocker, “From the Outside,” paints a vivid picture of the dichotomy between the pure joy the artist gets from performing clashing with the struggle behind the curtain.  The addition of the ominous guitar and Sampson’s wonderful use of inflection in her vocals drives home the song’s turmoil. 

    Time Machine may dole out a healthy dose of introspection but never feels heavy.  Part of this is due to the fact that Sampson packages her biggest emotional punches in her words yet keeps the music upbeat enough that you never feel mired in melancholy.  However, it also benefits from bright, hopeful tracks like, “Little Spot of Sun.” As Sampson preaches about seeking out and embracing the good side of any moment, the song lays down a classic country vibe that would feel right at home on your father’s VHS tapes of the Grand Ole Opry. Somehow the track feels like its being played on vinyl…even if you’re cheating and listening on Spotify.

    There are little surprises throughout the album to keep your interest. You’ll have to listen to put together all the pieces that add up to her vision.  There’s the opening cover of Shocking Blue’s “Hello Darkness.” Here Sampson goes more groovy country rock with vocals that inspire comparison to when Margo Price kicks up the tempo.  A more notable twist comes late in the album with, “The Black Sea.”  The track feels like a bard’s tale reimagined as a building rocker.  Sampson showcases her vocal power, adding a dramatic pageantry that would make Nick Cave take notice.

    Her 2017 album, Wild Heart, gave most of us our first chance to hear Sampson’s traditional, country-soul sound.  While she had been performing for several years on the cruise ship circuit, Wild Heart was something distinctive and distinctly her own.  Time Machine has many of the elements of Kashena Sampson’s prior work, most notably her classic vocals with the range to carry a world of lyrical emotion.  However, it shows clear progression as well—a maturity in both lyrical crafting and smart production. 

    Connect with Kashena Sampson:

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify

    Images of Kashena Sampson by Laura E. Partain


    Byrd's Creek Music Festival Setting
    Photo Credit: Sammi Maifair

    With the first two days of the 2021 Byrd’s Creek Music Festival already behind us, it was hard to believe that we were almost to the end of our first festival of the year.  We were certainly excited for the day’s lineup, but sad that it was almost time to go home. 

    Sunday at Byrd’s Creek ended up being a day of adaptability.  It also highlighted the family atmosphere that embodies what’s special about this event—something that’s often hard to describe while writing about it.

    Mose Wilson & Friends

    The first surprise of the day was the unfortunate cancellation of one of the acts.  However, that couldn’t put a damper on a festival with a campground loaded with musical talent.  Pulling together musicians from across the festival setlists, Mose Wilson returned to the stage for an Americana and classic country jam session including members of the West King String Band, Hannah Juanita, Chelsea Lovitt, and more.

    Mose Wilson and Friends at Byrd's Creek Music Festival
    Mose Wilson and Friends at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (5)
    Mose Wilson and Friends at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (4)
    Mose Wilson and Friends at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (3)
    Mose Wilson and Friends at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (6)
    Mose Wilson and Friends at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (2)

    Check out more on Mose Wilson in our coverage of Day 1 of Byrd’s Creek 2021

    Sad Daddy ft. Melissa Carper

    Earlier this year, the award-winning Arkansas bluegrass band (that’s not entirely a bluegrass band), Sad Daddy, announced that they were working on their first album since 2016’s Fresh Catch.  The setlist included their hit, “Mountainside,” a country-classic styled number from band member Melissa Carper’s recent solo album, and an encore with fan-favorite, “Bigboned & Buttugly.”

    Sad Daddy at Byrd's Creek Music Festival
    Melissa Carper at Byrd's Creek Music Festival
    Sad Daddy at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (2)

    Connect with Sad Daddy:

    Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify

    Connect with Melissa Carper:

    Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify | Bandcamp

    Momma Molasses

    Dusty vocals and traditional country storytelling took center stage as the Byrd’s Creek Music Festival welcomed Bristol’s Momma Molasses. Showcasing a talent for making new music sound vintage, the band played several tracks from their album Anthems From A Broken Heart as well as the latest single, “C-A-R.”  Momma Molasses had the audience swaying along to her combination of classic country-western swing and soul-grass sounds. 

    Momma Molasses at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (3)
    Momma Molasses at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (2)
    Momma Molasses at Byrd's Creek Music Festival

    Connect with Momma Molasses:

    Website | Facebook | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify

    If Birds Court Fly

    In a weekend rich with full-acoustic sets or minimal instrumentation, Virginia’s If Bird’s Could Fly brought a welcome change up with the hum of electric bass and rhythm led by a full drum set. This added an alt-country edge to their soulful folk performance.  The set featured a mix of songs from their recent album Long Gone Songs, as well as their 2012 record, Ghosts.

    If Birds Could Fly at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (3)
    If Birds Could Fly at Byrd's Creek Music Festival

    Connect with If Birds Could Fly:

    Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify

    The Rainstorm – As in a real actual storm.

    Fortunately, the festival had eluded several storms that had come through the region throughout the weekend.  Unfortunately, the odds of probability were no longer in our favor, and we finally were caught by a solid downpour.  Normally, this wouldn’t even make it into a festival recap; however, what happened next highlighted the family feel of Byrd’s Creek.

    Inside the event barn located on the festival grounds, sound equipment was already being set up so that we wouldn’t have to miss the night’s headliner, Sierra Ferrell.  With the vendors having closed, festival owner Jason Kemmer fired up some catering sized grills.  Hot dogs and sausages were made available for free to the soaking wet festival crowd in a gesture you don’t see at…well, any other festival.  As more people came to the barn, early arrivals helped set up additional chairs. Pretty soon everyone was inside, fed, and ready for more great music.

    Sierra Ferrell

    The event barn, in many ways, made the perfect setting for the post-rain Sierra Ferrell concert.  The rustic, classic instrumentation fit so well echoing in the rafters of the well-appointed barn. Her beckoning vocals matched the intimacy created by the dimmed lights and seated crowd—like a sepia-toned scene out of an old movie where the road-tested troubadour holds the townsfolk in rapt silence.  Of course, the spell was put on hold between each song as the appreciative audience roared with applause after favorites like “Jeramiah,” “Why’d You Do It,” and many more from her now released album Long Time Coming.

    Sierral Ferrell at Byrd's Creek Music Festival
    Sierral Ferrell at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (2)

    Connect with Sierra Ferrell:

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify

    End of Day 3 of the 2021 Byrd’s Creek Music Festival…And a look at upcoming events at Oaklawn Farms:

    We may not have been ready for the weekend to end, but it was unfortunately time to head back to the real world.  This edition of Byrd’s Creek Music Festival checked all the boxes: plenty of high-quality roots music, a fun return to live performances, and a promise of more great events in the future! 

    During the festival, it was announced that the Oaklawn Farms, the home of Byrd’s Creek, will be hosting a fall concert series. Called Music at the Manor, it refers to the once-beautiful estate house on the grounds which owner Jason Kemmer is restoring to its former glory. The shows run from September 15th to October 6th on Wednesday evenings.  The lineup includes Bella White, Kelly Hunt, Logan Halstead, and The Local Honeys.  Ticketing is donation based—pay what you can to support the show—and can be purchased here.  

    Connect with Byrd’s Creek Music Festival:

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    AJ Lee and Blue Summit I'll Be Back Album Art

    Bluegrass music has spanned centuries; its ability to penetrate the soul and send shivers down the spine only contributes to its staying power. In their brilliant new LP I’ll Come Back, Bay Area roots powerhouse AJ Lee and Blue Summit thrust their musical flag into the grassy landscape, coming back to the style they love the most. This theme is laced throughout the album, from its title to standout tracks like “Back To Bluegrass,” where the group wears their collective heart on their musical sleeve as they pay homage to their roots.

    Band photo of AJLBS

    Led by award-winning mandolin prodigy Lee, who began her professional career at the ripe old age of seven when she joined Palo Alto family band the Tuttles, (formed by Tuttle patriarch Jack with his children Molly, Sullivan and Michael as members) Blue Summit begins the adventure with the sassy swagger of album opener “Lemons and Tangerines.” The was song purportedly inspired by a grafted fruit tree in Lee’s San Jose backyard, though the tree could easily be a lyrical metaphor for a lover. Either way, Lee’s silky vocals are accentuated by gorgeous, sun-drenched harmonies, with Chad Bowen holding down the rocking low-end, as Sullivan Tuttle and Jesse Fichman provide texture with their respective guitars allowing Jan Purat’s fiddle to sing.

    In the playful turns of “Something Special,” a love song that eases the listener into the band’s interpretation of the traditional, Purat steps into the spotlight and delivers as his fiddle swells and swirls, dancing with Lee’s twinkling mandolin licks supported by strong harmonies swelling in the background. Lee leans on the storytelling aspect of the genre in “Monongah Mine,” relaying the gut-wrenching tale of a mining accident in 1907 West Virginia. Most of the miners were immigrants; she tenderly sings of the heartbreak and loss of hope as miners were trapped in the depths of the earth, declaring “There’s no American Dream in mine number six.” 

    With “Put Your Head Down,” a barn-burner awash in minor chords, the momentum moves like a freight train into “Faithful,” a Flatt and Scruggs-style heartbreak-oriented yet playful romp that keeps the energy headed towards the rafters. After the instrumental “Rodney Dangerfield,” a track penned by fiddler Purat and well-suited to sawdust-covered dance floors, we’re introduced to “Magdalene,” written from the perspective of a woman in love with another woman, ending the album on a wistful note.

    Throughout the album’s 11 tracks, each member’s mind-blowing talent is showcased as the band delivers tight yet expansive jams, making the listening experience a joy from cover to cover. With I’ll Come Back, AJ Lee and Blue Summit powerfully propel the genre forward, their influences of country, soul, swing, rock, and rock on full display as they deftly weave their contribution into the tapestry of the bluegrass tradition.

    You can listen to I’ll Come Back by AJ Lee and Blue Summit on Spotify, or even better, purchase it from the band.

    Connect with AJ Lee and Blue Summit:

    Website | Tour Dates | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify


    Sunrise at Byrd’s Creek Music Festival brought with it the promise of a day packed with Americana, bluegrass, and traditional country music.  At the risk of a spoiler: it didn’t disappoint!

    As the sound of bacon sizzling in the campsites gave way to the distant hum of the festival’s stages coming to life, there was a distinct feeling of anticipation throughout the grounds. 

    The Hill Country Devil

    At the main stage inside the festival village, the crowd had already gathered to take in the enjoyably depressive sounds of The Hill Country Devil.  The project of singer-songwriter Hayden Allen Karchmer, The Hill Country Devil is a self-described “scumbag troubadour.” The crowd soaked in the honest song crafting on his hits including, “Rats Get Fat,” and, “New Kind of Lonely,” and met him with a roar of applause following his cover of, “Greengrass,” from Tom Waits.  His painfully exposed lyrics were powerful enough to create a delightfully dreary musical cloud to fight back the sun’s rays.

    Hill Country Devil at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (3)
    Hill Country Devil at Byrd's Creek Music Festival
    Hill Country Devil at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (2)

    Connect with The Hill Country Devil:

    Website | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify

    Adeem the Artist

    Over at the festival’s Dogwood Stage, Knoxville’s Adeem the Artist had just finished tuning and was ready for a set in the sun.  Playing several songs from the recently released album Cast Iron Pansexual, Adeem didn’t miss any opportunity to share some cynical wit—both between and in each song. The set also included the best (maybe only) song about Weigel’s convenience stores, a reference true to Adeem’s Marble City home.

    Adeem the Artist At Byrd's Creek Music Festival
    Adeem the Artist At Byrd's Creek Music Festival (2)
    Adeem the Artist At Byrd's Creek Music Festival (3)

    Connect with Adeem the Artist:

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify

    Matt Heckler

    One of the best parts about the Byrd’s Creek Music Festival is the intimacy of the sets.  It feels like you’re surrounded by old friends sitting around a campfire or watching an artist play a house show.  This was highlighted during the early afternoon set by Matt Heckler.  There’s something special about seeing an artist who has toured with bands such as Devil Makes Three, Lost Dog Street Band, and Flogging Molly in a setting where people felt comfortable making requests—and the artist responded.  Heckler’s set featured his brand of dark Appalachian bluegrass but included several extended fiddle interludes which merged classic violin influences into the mix.  He was met with a roar of applause when he played crowd-favorite, “Blue Eyes Dancing,” and several of his songs inspired people to clap along—with a few even dancing through a brief mid-set downpour. 

    Matt Heckler at Byrd's Creek Music Festival
    Matt Heckler at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (3)
    Matt Heckler at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (2)

    Connect with Matt Heckler

    Website | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify

    Jennifer Jane Nicely

    Classic country & western honky-tonk vibes returned to Byrd’s Creek Music Festival when Jennifer Jane Nicely took the Dogwood Stage.  With a setlist exploring most of her tracks from her Depending on the Light EP, Angels, Demons, Red-Tail Hawks and many of her prior singles, Nicely pulled the crowd into her songs, thanks to the slightly twangy, aching inflection of her vocals.

    Jennifer Jane Nicely at Byrd's Creek Music Festival
    Jennifer Jane Nicely at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (3)
    Jennifer Jane Nicely at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (2)

    Connect with Jennifer Jane Nicely:

    Website | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify

    Chelsea Lovitt

    Back at the festival’s main stage, Nashville’s Chelsea Lovitt gathered an all-star band to give her meaning-loaded rocking country a lighter honky-tonk feel. Songs like, “If I Had A Dollar,” and, “Beanstalk,” from her recent album, You Had Your Cake, So Lie in It, still didn’t pull any punches, but thanks to the fiddle playing of Nate Leath, the harmony/background vocals from Audrey MacAlpine, and the pedal steel from Will Ellis, the set had a buoyancy that was perfect for the end of a hot afternoon. 

    Chelsea Lovitt and Audrey McAlpine At Byrd's Creek Music Festival
    Chelsea Lovitt At Byrd's Creek Music Festival (3)
    Chelsea Lovitt At Byrd's Creek Music Festival (2)
    Audrey McAlpine at Byrd's Creek Music Festival
    Chelsea Lovitt At Byrd's Creek Music Festival (4)

    Connect with Chelsea Lovitt:

    Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube | Spotify

    Hannah Juanita

    Over nine hours of music had already come and gone on Saturday of Byrd’s Creek Music Festival, and they weren’t done giving us classic country songs just yet.  With the sun set and the stage lights coming to life, Nashville’s Hannah Juanita shared several of her songs from her recent album Hardliner—a record full of traditional country sounds and strong lyrical narratives. With her own Patsy Cline and Loretta Lynn influenced honky-tonk numbers filling the air with two-step vibes, it felt like we were right at home in our favorite western bar.

    Hannah Juanita at Byrd's Creek Music Festival
    Hannah Juanita at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (2)

    Connect with Hannah Juanita

    Website | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify

    Lost Dog Street Band

    It was now time for the evening’s headliner and the start of the late-night party.  The festival crowd made their way to the Byrd’s Creek mainstage for the emotionally hard-hitting roots music of the Lost Dog Street Band. The audience bathed in the band’s painfully honest lyrics, nimbly strummed acoustic guitar riffs, and intimate fiddle accompaniment.  Dark, brooding melodies like, “Terrible and True,” were balanced by still-pensive, yet more jaunty numbers like their hit, “September Doves,” during their thoughtfully curated set.

    Lost Dog Street Band Byrd's Creek Music Festival (6)
    Lost Dog Street Band Byrd's Creek Music Festival (2)
    Lost Dog Street Band Byrd's Creek Music Festival (5)

    Connect with Lost Dog Street Band:

    Website| Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify

    West King String Band

    Once again, the festival knew we would need some high-energy music to keep us going strong into the late-night sets. They didn’t have to look further than the fast-picking stylings of Nashville by way of St. Augustine, West King String Band. Not quite newgrass—more folk grass—WKSB put on a set that was high in classic bluegrass influences, but felt modern and relaxed.  Featuring well-picked mandolin solos merged with rambling acoustic guitar and plucked bass, the band performed several songs fans knew well from both Staring At The Sun and Achin’.

    West King String Band at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (2)
    West King String Band at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (3)
    West King String Band at Byrd's Creek Music Festival

    Connect with West King String Band:

    Website | Facebook | Instagram | Spotify

    End of Day 2 at Byrd’s Creek Music Festival

    Eight bands and twelve hours of music later, it was time to call an end (at least for us) to the second day of the 2021 Byrd’s Creek Music Festival.  As we walked back to our campsite, we could tell that there was still music and a heck of a good time going on at the Dogwood Stage.  However, we needed to be ready for another great day of Americana music still coming our way.

    Read About Day 1 of the 2021 Byrd’s Creek Music Festival

    Connect with Byrd’s Creek Music Festival:

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  • NATHAN EVANS FOX: “Carolina Boy” Premiere

    This Friday, singer/songwriter Nathan Evans Fox is set to release “Carolina Boy,” the first single from his newly announced, upcoming album Wasted Love.

    Nathan Evans Fox Artist Photo By Alys Barrow
    Photos of Nathan Evans Fox taken by Alys Barrow

    Today, Nashville-by-way-of-North Carolina (and a few points in between), troubadour Nathan Evans Fox presents Mother Church Pew with the premiere of “Carolina Boy,” the first track from his forthcoming album Wasted Love.  Synthesizing his Appalachian upbringing, his early training as a hospital chaplain, and his collection of road worn memories as an artist, Fox creates music that comes with a unique blend of sounds and perspectives. That continues with this latest release.

    “This is mostly autobiographical except for the parts that may incriminate me or anyone I know,” Fox shares about the new song. Indeed, there’s a distinct honesty in Fox’s voice as he sings the track’s contemplative lyrics. 

    Nathan Evans Fox Wasted Love Album Art

    “This song,” Fox continues, “spells out the complicated relationship I have to my hometown. No matter how much I love the hills of North Carolina, leaving my hometown meant making better decisions instead of falling into well-worn pitfalls. The tag ‘stick to beer’ comes from a conversation I had with my mother a few years ago when we were discussing why I didn’t see myself moving back to my hometown.”

    “Carolina Boy” is instantly relatable, connecting with the listener both emotionally and musically. Fox’s conflicted relationship with his childhood home is a sentiment that comes through with his gifted songwriting and is a feeling that many of us share.  The song features a traditional country sound where acoustic gets a back glow of electric guitar and a dusty drumbeat, but also links to our love of introspective folk in the vein of John Hiatt.  It all fits well with Fox’s “cosmopolitan country” description of his style—full of country notes, but willing to reflect on cultural, religious, and political strife.   

    Mother Church Pew fans can join Nathan Evans Fox as he ruminates about where he’s from…and how far he’s come now with this early premiere of “Carolina Boy.”


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    Photos of Nathan Evans Fox taken by Alys Barrow


    Music festivals are back!  With the live entertainment world reopening, there’s no shortage of options to start making up for lost time.  However, we’re all still trying to find that balance between keeping ourselves safe and “getting back to normal.”

    Ready to get the Americana party started, but mindful of the apprehension that we all have, Byrd’s Creek Music Festival stuck a perfect balance for this 2021 festival season.  A unique lineup of rising and established talent, capped ticket sales to keep everyone safe, and a neighborly festival scene that welcomed us out of our sheltered lives.

    Mother Church Pew first made the short trip from Nashville to Crossville, Tennessee for the Byrd’s Creek Music Festival in 2018.  Enticed by an expanded roster of bluegrass, Appalachian folk, and honky-tonk country artists, we were excited to make it our first stop of the year.  While the attendance was intentionally small, the festival itself has shown tremendous growth.  There are now two stages allowing for even more music.

    Arriving at the festival grounds in early evening, we did an expedited campsite setup to get to the music ASAP.

    Anna Kline

    Fortunately, we arrived in Byrd’s Creek’s “music village” just in time to watch Anna Kline.  A vet of the roots music scene, many of you will know Kline from her most recent project, Swift Silver.  The air was full of swampy blues as she belted out, “Come On Home To Yourself,” somehow packing even more emotion into it than the album version.  Her set also included some surprises by way of an unreleased song dedicated to her father, a Townes Van Zandt cover, and a guest appearance from Linda Jean Stokely of The Local Honeys.  The set was the perfect mood-setter for a weekend of great music.

    Anna Kline At Byrd's Creek Music Festival (3)
    Anna Kline At Byrd's Creek Music Festival (2)
    Anna Kline At Byrd's Creek Music Festival

    Connect with Anna Kline (As Part of Swift Silver)

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    Mose Wilson

    Later, on the same stage, Byrd’s Creek welcomed Nashville’s Mose Wilson.  Brining a touch of Music City’s honky-tonk life to Crossville, Wilson played a toe-tapping mix of originals like his, “Tennessee Rag,” and covers like a string-bending jam on Del McCoury’s, “Rain & Snow.” As the final glow of the sun finally set, Wilson’s playing even inspired some dancing in front of the stage.

    Mose Wilson at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (2)
    Mose Wilson at Byrd's Creek Music Festival

    Connnect with Mose Wilson:

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    John R. Miller & the Engine Lights

    After a short walk to the main stage, we found earnest Americana artist John R. Miller had pulled the full festival crowd from the campgrounds to hear his set.  Only a few songs in, it was already clear why Miller counts Tyler Childers among his fanbase.  Honest storytelling lyrics met country-tinged roots influences on songs such as, “Shenandoah Shakedown,” as the Byrd’s Creek crowd nodded along in enjoyment. 

    John R. Miller at Byrd's Creek Music Festival
    John R. Miller at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (3)
    John R. Miller at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (4)
    John R. Miller at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (2)

    Connect With John R. Miller:

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    The Fumblebuckers

    With late-night upon us and a touch of exhaustion setting in, I was worried that it would already be an end to the first night back at a music festival.  However, Cookeville’s The Fumblebuckers always play with the energy of a double cup of coffee.  Feeling refreshed, I joined the Byrd Creek crowd enjoying the stand-up bass thumping, banjo picking, guitar bluegrass jam.  A band that doesn’t need an excuse to bring the musical party, they fed off the crowd’s energy, picking into the early hours of the next day.

    Fumblebuckers at Byrd's Creek Music Festival
    Fumblebuckers at Byrd's Creek Music Festival (2)

    Connect with the Fumblebuckers

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    End of Day 1 of Byrd’s Creek Music Festival 2021

    Resisting the urge to stay up even later, it was time to recharge for a packed schedule of music coming up on second day of the Byrd’s Creek Music Festival.  During the short walk back to the campsite, there was only way to summarize the day: thank goodness live music is back!

    Watch for our coverage of Day 2 of Byrd’s Creek coming soon!

    Connect with Byrd’s Creek Music Festival:

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