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The Road to Now

Bob Crawford (The Avett Brothers) & Dr. Ben Sawyer (MTSU History) share conversations with great thinkers from a variety of backgrounds – historians, artists, legal scholars, political figures and more –who help us uncover the many roads that run between past and present. For more information, visit TheRoadToNow.com If you'd like to support our work, join us on Patreon: Patreon.com/TheRoadToNow
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Now displaying: September, 2023
Sep 25, 2023

What is Americana music? Is it a genre? A community? A refuge? Twenty four years after the founding of the Americana Music Association and thirteen years since the first Grammy was awarded for Best Americana Album, defining “Americana” remains tricky. In our experience, the most common answer has been “you know it when you hear it.”

 

However you define it, however, there is one thing everyone agrees on: Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell are Americana legends.

 

In this episode, recorded in front of a live audience in Nashville, TN, Emmylou and Rodney discuss their musical careers, how they became associated with Americana music, and what Americana means to them. Bob too shares his musical journey both before and after joining the Avett Brothers and the ways that genre (Americana and otherwise) has been part of that story.

 

Bob, Gary and I would like to thank Paul Lohr at New Frontier Touring for helping us get such incredible guests for the show, Adam Botner at Riverside Revival for making both the live show and the audio on this episode sound so good, Austin Sawyer of Drumming Bird & Annie DiRusso for opening the show with their incredible talent, and everyone who came out to make this such a special night.

 

We’d also like to give a special thanks to Jefferson Cowie for helping us prepare for the show.

 

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher. Live audio recording and mixing by Adam Botner.

 

Sep 18, 2023

Although he passed away a decade ago, Levon Helm is still the voice of Americana music. Always will be, in my opinion. Levon was drummer for The Band, collaborator with Bob Dylan, actor, husband, father, and friend. In his new book, Levon Helm: Rock, Roll, Ramble, author John Barry gives a first-hand account of Levon’s struggles with cancer and financial ruin that led to the legendary Midnight Rambles concerts at his home in Woodstock, New York.

On this episode of the Road to Now, Bob celebrates the life of Levon Helm with John, and musician and producer Larry Campbell who has worked with Levon, as well as Bob Dylan, Sheryl Crow, K.D. Lang, and Willie Nelson..­

This is a rebroadcast of RTN #250, which originally aired on October 22, 2022. This rebroadcast was edited by Otto Schroth.

Sep 11, 2023

Jason Thomas Gordon spent nearly a decade interviewing some of the greatest vocalists in modern music to find out about their earliest experiences singing, the voices that influenced them growing up, and how they learned to find their own unique voice. In his new book, The Singers Talk: The Greatest Singers of Our Time Discuss the One Thing They're Never Asked About: Their Voices, Jason shares some of the insights from his conversations with more than seventy artists from diverse genres, including Emmylou Harris, Chuck D, Lionel Ritchie, and Ozzy Osbourne, and where they fit within their generation and in the greater history of music.

Jason also shares with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which was founded by his grandfather, Danny Thomas. 100% of the royalties from The Singers Talk will go to Music Gives to St. Jude Kids, an organization that Jason created to support St. Jude. Click here to buy the book!

This episode was edited by Gary Fletcher.

Sep 4, 2023

The Kinks are one of the great rock bands of the 20th century and, like all artists, they reflect the times and places they’ve inhabited. In this episode, we speak with Mark Doyle about his excellent book  The Kinks: Songs of the Semi-Detached (Reaktion Books, 2020) and how the band, their origins, and Ray Davies’ lyrics reveal a lot about both the real and imagined spaces of mid-20th Century England.

Dr. Mark Doyle is Professor of History at Middle Tennessee State University, where he specializes in the history of the British Empire. His research and teaching have won him numerous awards including the Stansky Book Prize (co-winner, 2017) and MTSU’s Outstanding Teacher Award (2014-15). Ben once described him as “the Patton Oswalt of academic twitter,” so we recommend you follow him there at @DrMarkDoyle.  

We’re excited to announce that Ben & Bob will be recording a live episode of RTN on the history of Americana music in Nashville on September 18, 2023 w/ guests Emmy Lou Harris, Rodney Crowell and Jefferson Cowie! Click here for tickets. Hope to see you there!

This is a rebroadcast of the Road to Now #169, which originally aired on April 27, 2020. This version was fully re-cut and edited by Ben Sawyer.

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