Roots Culture Redefined

LISTEN: John Fizer, “Lady Lying Lovely”

Artist: John Fizer
Hometown: Berkeley, California
Song: “Lady Lying Lovely”
Album: Treasure Man
Release Date: January 20, 2023
Label: Scissor Tail Records

In Their Words: “John Fizer is a stellar songwriter, singer and acoustic guitarist. Often compared to Dylan, I hear a little Willie, but John is very, very much himself. I love this track. It was recorded in 1977 at the legendary Mountain Ears Studio in Boulder and captures John’s true spirit, in his prime, a hopeless romantic smitten by life. It’s a crack band. Ray Bonneville on harmonica is simply the one you want. Erik Johnson killed it on Fender fretless bass, an instrument this world needs more of. Brad Hayes is on electric guitar, everything he touches turns to gold. Brian Brown’s powerful drums and Elin and Judy on background vocals complete the dream. John Fizer is the dreamer.

“He is brilliant (he does the Sunday NYT crossword in 20 minutes) and has a fascinating story. I learned he started out playing the same Lower East Side folk scene as Dylan in the ’60s and has a song out on the Smithsonian Folkways CD Original Folk. When John learned that I am an immersive audio pioneer, with credits including a 3D sound remix of Jimi Hendrix and 3D sound designer for the LA production of the musical The Who’s Tommy, he handed me an old third-generation audio cassette tape and asked if I could make it sound better. When I listened, I was blown away. Such amazing songs, singing and guitar playing.

“I had cleaned up John’s old cassettes, making them sound as good as possible. Over the course of a year, on four different occasions, I asked John if he had the original master tapes. Each time he said ‘No.’ But one day, out the clear blue, John showed up with a 15-inches-per-second, quarter-inch, half-track, real deal master of some of his songs he recorded with the smokin’ hot Ray Bonneville Blues Band backing him. Now I knew the world was going to hear his music the way John intended: big, fat, analog and on vinyl.” — James Johnson, album producer

LISTEN: Channing Wilson, “Sunday Morning Blues”

Artist: Channing Wilson
Hometown: Lafayette, Georgia
Song: “Sunday Morning Blues”
Release Date: January 1, 2023
Label: Ol’ Dog Records/Soundly Music

In Their Words: “Being a real country music fan, you have to love the sad, depressing, heartache songs, too. They are important to the whole spectrum of the story. Depression and anxiety have been the roots of great songs long before we knew they were. In the past they just called it the blues. This song takes place in the character’s mind during the two hours of church service they are missing for reasons only known to them. Guilt is a funny thing that never makes you smile.” — Channing Wilson

Sixthman Sessions + BGS: Steve Poltz, “It’s Baseball Season”

Steve Poltz shares a solo version of his ode to love and baseball, from his album Stardust and Satellites, live from the 14th edition of Cayamo. Poltz will be returning for the 15th Journey Through Song as part of a lineup including Jeff Tweedy, Andrew Bird, Trampled by Turtles, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Neko Case, Shovels & Rope and more. Cayamo sets sail to St. Maarten and Tortola on February 10, 2023. There are still a few cabins available — grab ’em while you can to join the fun! Keep an eye out for more Sixthman Sessions aboard Cayamo, coming your way soon, and browse the archives at sixthmansessions.com.

WATCH: The Del McCoury Band Brings Joy to All With “Christmas Time’s a Comin'”

We received a wonderful holiday gift from The Del McCoury Band this winter when they surprised the Bluegrass Situation with a live performance video of a longtime bluegrass favorite, “Christmas Time’s a Comin’.” We’re proud to premiere it in our new Del in December series, alongside a decade-by-decade retrospective of McCoury’s career and an exclusive interview with the Bluegrass Hall of Fame member himself. Season’s greetings from the Bluegrass Situation!

Sixthman Sessions + BGS: Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams, “Turn Around”

Larry Campbell and Teresa Williams included a version of this Carl Perkins-penned honky-tonk tune on their 2017 album Contraband Love, done out with a full band including Levon Helm on drums. But earlier this spring, on the 14th edition of Cayamo: A Journey Through Song, the duo shared a stripped-down, acoustic version from a quiet corner of the ship in this Sixthman Session. “Turn Around” was the B-side to Carl Perkins’ first ever single during his time at Sun Records in 1955 (side A was the rockabilly “Movie Magg”) and it’s been covered by the likes of Jerry Lee Lewis and Sammi Smith.

Campbell and Williams will be returning for the 15th Journey Through Song as part of a lineup including Jeff Tweedy, Andrew Bird, Trampled by Turtles, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Neko Case, Shovels & Rope and more, setting sail to St. Maarten and Tortola on February 10, 2023. There are still a few cabins available – grab ’em while you can to join the fun! Keep an eye out for more Sixthman Sessions aboard Cayamo, coming your way soon, and browse the archives at sixthmansessions.com.

In “Lonely at Night,” Amanda Shires & Brittney Spencer Blend Beautifully

Amanda Shires’ new record Take It Like a Man is kicking ass and taking names. The latest name taken is that of Brittney Spencer, who sings backup on the track “Lonely at Night.” In the live performance video for the song, Spencer and Shires stand dressed like royalty on rose petals in front of a beautiful flowery backdrop and deliver a magical performance that pulls on the emotions. The song is about two lovers who are “star-crossed at best” and the fine thread that binds them together. Shires’ heartfelt performance is only enhanced by Spencer’s angelic harmonies. The two find a beautiful blend that is echoed by the soulful slide guitar played by Jason Isbell throughout the track.

“Here you’ll see us at historic Columbia Studio A in Nashville, TN,” Shires wrote when the video was released this fall. “The original garden is a place I often return to in thought, so my friend Lark Foster and I set the scene with flowers and branches and things from my home and garden. Be awed by Jimbo Hart’s bass playing, Julian Dorio’s sense of time, Jason Isbell’s ability to simultaneously play slide and levitate, Peter Levin’s command of those beautiful keys, and Brittney Spencer’s incredible voice. And know that this couldn’t have been done right without my great friend Lawrence Rothman’s careful handling, support and production. Thanks to all my friends for participating and thanks y’all for listening and watching.”

WATCH: Rising Appalachia, “The Long Haul” (Live From Preservation Hall)

Artist: Rising Appalachia
Hometown: Atlanta, Georgia
Song: “The Long Haul” (Live)
Album: Live From New Orleans at Preservation Hall
Release Date: November 18, 2022

In Their Words: “‘The Long Haul’ is a song written for the sake of love lost and treasures buried. It’s that sharp kind of loss that cuts deep and lingers long. The kind only music can speak to. I wrote it while walking in City Park while living in New Orleans, and its rendition on our new live album brought the song to its fullest life. Featuring the illustrious Aurora Nealand on accordion, the song welcomes you into an almost circus-like last waltz.” — Chloe Smith, Rising Appalachia

WATCH: Emily Ann Roberts, “The Building”

Artist: Emily Ann Roberts
Hometown: Knoxville, Tennessee
Song: “The Building”
Release Date: November 4, 2022
Label: Starstruck Records

In Their Words: “I grew up in East Tennessee and every Sunday and Wednesday night of my life I was at church. My great-grandfather was the pastor of the church and every Sunday felt like a family reunion. My grandmother was the church secretary and my mom and dad met there at vacation bible school when they were kids. It was the first place I ever sang publicly. Even more than the home I grew up in, that little church raised me up. It taught me right from wrong and laid a foundation for my life. It’s the place where I met Jesus and everything changed. No matter where this life takes me, that place will always bring me home.” — Emily Ann Roberts

WATCH: Allison Russell Feat. Brandi Carlile, “You’re Not Alone” (Live)

Headed into a holiday weekend, we’ll be seeking out moments of peace and joy. Lucky for us, we have already found both in this stunning rendition of Allison Russell’s “You’re Not Alone” featuring Brandi Carlile at the 21st Annual Americana Honors & Awards. We agree with Billboard that this performance is simply “soul-elevating.”

Filmed at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on September 14, 2022, the awards show will be broadcast on the Circle Network on Wednesday, November 23, at 9 p.m. CT. During the ceremony, Russell received Album of the Year for Outside Child. Carlile earned Song of the Year award for “Right on Time.” Additional performances include Carlile’s “You and Me on the Rock” with Lucius, as well as songs from Fairfield Four, Sierra Ferrell, Neal Francis, Indigo Girls, Chris Isaak, Lyle Lovett, The McCrary Sisters, James McMurtry, The Milk Carton Kids, Buddy Miller, Lukas Nelson, Phosphorescent, Adia Victoria, Morgan Wade, The War And Treaty and Lucinda Williams.

Circle Network is available across the United States on many cable providers’ channel line-ups or via digital antenna. Circle is also available on many streaming platforms including Peacock, the Roku Channel, XUMO and more. Viewers can check local listings and discover more streaming options here.


Photo Credit: Erika Goldring/Getty Images for the Americana Music Association

WATCH: 10 String Symphony, “Anxious Annie” (Live at Ear Trumpet Labs)

Artist: 10 String Symphony
Hometown: Nashville, Tennessee
Song: “Anxious Annie”
Album: Generation Frustration
Release Date: June 13, 2018
Label: Tasty Note Records/Distributed by Free Dirt Records

In Their Words: “10 String Symphony is a deeply beloved but niche musical project, and it’s been a few years since we’ve performed together. Christian and I played together so much during a really formative time in our careers, that whenever we reinvent the duo, it feels like riding a bicycle. Our playing styles are moulded to fit one another and it’s like no time has passed at all. Our friend Malachi at Ear Trumpet Labs let us know that they had discovered this long lost video in their archives and we thought it would be fun to release it in celebration of our plans to play a few shows this February! We will be joined on this tour by Vivian Leva & Riley Calcagno, one of our absolute favorite duos, and we can’t wait to do some collaborations with them.” — Rachel Baiman

Editor’s Note: Ear Trumpet Labs provided three Edwinas and a stereo pair of Delphinas as room mics for this video.