Since 2009, the folks behind weekly variety show Music City Roots have been bringing world-class Americana and roots musicians — many of them local — to the stage and to the airwaves to share songs, stories and musical traditions.
This year, the show moved from its longtime home at The Loveless Barn to reroot at Liberty Hall at the Factory at Franklin. And though the location has changed, the approach and vision hasn’t: Every Wednesday, roots music is celebrated and sustained by some of the best singers and players you’ll find on any stage in any city.
What’s all that have to do with East Nashville? For starters, our own — from Eric Brace and Peter Cooper to Cory Branan — grace the MCR stage regularly (the latter singer-songwriter’s scheduled for December 3’s show). And then, some Music City Roots news that’ll surely appeal to the many East Nashvillians who struggle to cross the river: a new, free Roots Shuttle — brought to us by Anchor Trailways & Tours and Blackstone Brewing Company — begins driving this week, picking East Siders up from The 5 Spot, shuffling us to the show and back home again, with refreshments thrown in to perk up the drive. So your $15 ticket now gets you a show, transportation and a local adult beverage.
On the eve of the Shuttle’s first week (Wednesday’s show features Devan Dubois, Kristina Train, Kim Logan and Dawn and Hawkes, with host Jim Lauderdale, and if you’re reading this before Wednesday a.m., we have a ticket giveaway going), we had a chat with Music City Roots associate producer artist relations Laurie Gregory about roots, changes and East Nashville.
The East Nashvillian: Music City Roots changed locations to The Factory at Franklin this year -- what was the process of changing to a new home like? Did you have designs on specific parts of town while that was being sorted out? (Or, more specifically, was there any draw toward East Nashville?)
Laurie Gregory: “As Franklin is becoming a center for the Americana community, we wanted to be part of helping to build it. We did look at several options but felt the Factory in Franklin offered us the best scenario all the way around — easy access for artist load-in, free parking, excellent acoustics, more space for seating…. All of these were important decision-makers for us to select the Factory.
“We are now neighbors with the Americana Music Association, Sugar Hill Records, Studio Tenn Theatre Company, the Farmers’ Market, as well as many artisans who sell their wares right there in the Factory. We also fulfilled our dream of opening our Roots Radio station and retail store, which is right outside the doors to Liberty Hall."
Do you feel like the new location brought any changes to the show?
“We had 4 1/2 great years at the Loveless Barn and appreciate all that the venue had to offer us. But inside Liberty Hall, we had the opportunity to install lighting and sound, have more flexibility with our seating, more space to showcase our sponsors, more space for concessions, and a larger green room and backstage area. The new space is incredibly artist- and fan-friendly. For example, if we have a line at the box office on a rainy night, our guests wait in line indoors.”
Why did you think it was important to offer East Nashvillians easier access to Music City Roots shows with the new shuttle?
“Although it is about the same distance to our show from East Nashville as it was to the previous location, we wanted to make sure our East Nashville friends know how much we miss them. We are enjoying getting to know our Franklin neighbors but miss some of our regulars from across the river. We know they have multiple options for live music every single night, so we wanted to do our part to make it effortless and safe for them to get to the Factory, and check out our new space. And there is something to be said for not having to fight traffic.”
From this vantage point, it feels like a lot of East Nashville musicians take part in Music City Roots -- have you noticed a healthy share of East Siders coming your way as well?
“We will always feature East Nashville artists on Music City Roots; they have been part of the soul of our show since day one. They are a vital thread in our fabric and we appreciate their friends coming out to support them. The East Nashville music community is one of the most creative, familial units in Middle Tennessee, and their influence is felt across all genres, from Americana to rock to straight-ahead country. We are proud that for five years we have been the platform for so many of these artists – well-known and newbies – to be seen and heard by the masses.
Do you expect the shuttle to carry forward to future seasons?
“We hope so! It will be there as long as the fans support it. We are blessed to have our amazing sponsors who believe in and support our show. For this effort we are grateful to Anchor Tours and Blackstone Brewing Company for helping us get the bus out there for our fans.”
Music City Roots shows are at The Factory at Franklin’s Liberty Hall (230 Franklin Rd, Franklin, Tenn.) every Wednesday night. Doors open at 6 p.m., and the shows start at 7. Tickets run $15 and include access to the Roots Shuttle, which picks riders up in East Nashville at The 5 Spot (1006 Forrest Ave.) at 5:30 p.m.
To save $5 on Music City Roots tickets, use the promo code “East Nashville” when you buy your tickets online.