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Billy Strings, Molly Tuttle and a certain family named McCoury retained their dominant spots atop bluegrass music with multiple nominations for the 35th annual International Bluegrass Music Association Awards, which were announced Wednesday in Nashville. At the same time, fast-emerging bands East Nash Grass and AJ Lee & Blue Summit made surprising inroads with nominations in major categories as well as New Artist of the Year. The all-woman band Sister Sadie also stood out with eight total nominations, including for top Entertainer, Album, Song, Vocal Group, Female Vocalist, and Music Video, as well as nods in two instrumentalist categories.
  • In a nation beset by disinformation and division, Oklahoma country soul artist Jared Deck has taken his truth, quite deliberately, to the nexus of music and politics. While writing and recording his latest album, he also marched his faith in progressive ideas and civil process to the public stage of the statehouse in Oklahoma City as a Democratic representative from district 44. The crabby “shut up and sing” crowd simply won’t know what to do with him.
  • Ellen Angelico has emerged in the past few years as a go-to stringed instrument musician in the Americana and indie sectors of Nashville. Raised in Chicago, she was gigging in her teens, attended Berklee College of Music and came to Music City in 2010 with a full-time indie rock band gig. As she grew into more of a freelance life, Ellen carved out a niche and earned a ton of admiration earning an Americana Instrumentalist of the Year nomination in 2020. Her recent credits include shows and sessions with Cam, Adeem the Artist, Kyshona, Brandy Clark, Mickey Guyton and more. In this endearing hour, Ellen talks about getting established in Nashville, her high-visibility former job with Fanny’s House of Music in East Nashville and a card game about bro country lyrics that has to be heard to be believed.
  • In this special edition of The String, an audio postcard from Athens GA, a city of about 125,000 people just east of Atlanta that for forty years has been punching above its weight as a music city. As a teenager in the mid 1980s, I loved the B-52s and I about worshiped REM, and ever since, I’ve wondered what kind of place could produce those wildly different, highly progressive bands. My curiosity only grew as Athens continued to be a hotbed of art-forward rock and roll and creative roots music over the next forty years. So I came to listen and ask questions. We meet label owners George Fontaine Sr. and Jr., leading producer David Barbe, 40 Watt talent booker Velena Vego, artists Spencer Thomas and Hunter Pinkston, and more.
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