TV Documentary: Nashville 2.0

In the 4/1/14 issue’s column, “If Only Nashville Were More Like ‘Nashville’,” I explored the TV series Nashville and its relationship to Music City’s commercial country music industry and community. Nashville 2.0 looks at what might be thought of as “the other side of Nashville” even if that’s not an entirely accurate description of the Americana music scene that rose in the early 1990s but in truth has been an ongoing stylistic thread largely outside the mainstream since the country-rock of the late 1960s/early ‘70s. Not to quibble too much, but tagging the movement as Nashvillian doesn’t give due credit to other locales, especially the influence of Texas and Austin where I reside as well as Los Angeles and even Chicago. It celebrates the rather amorphous stylistic big tent of Americana music – something of a misnomer as such Brits as Billy Bragg, Richard Thompson and Mumford & Sons are all lumped in and paints a perhaps overly rosy picture of a movement that has had very little commercial impact (unlike, say, when it was called country-rock and yielded for better and a bit maybe worse The Eagles, the best selling popular musical group of all time). Nonetheless, it offers a primer and overview to where quality roots music can be found today.

CD: Bakersfield by Vince Gill and Paul Franklin

A while back I said of an Austin band that released a Buck Owens tribute album that their disc was an empty exercise, as one could simply listen to Owens’ own recordings for far better versions. Now I eat my words after listening to this very loving salute to the 1960s music of Owens and Merle Haggard that came out of the central California city by 1990s commercial country superstar Vince Gill and steel guitarist and multi-instrumentalist Paul Franklin. Their often sizzling, deliciously sincere and faithful yet still interpretative versions of songs by the influential artists is a gem of an album rich with life, love for the music and inspired instrumental and vocal ability by its makers that niftily pays homage to a past era and its icons while also carrying some contemporary potency, a stellar example of country music at its finest. And kudos to Gill for utilizing his post career peak years to make excellent music on this and other discs.

TV Documentary: Titanic’s Final Mystery

One of my huge quibbles with the blockbuster movie Titanic was how it ignored the profoundly dramatic true life tale of the ocean liner’s sinking for fluff and adolescent romanticism. This Smithsonian Channel show not only reminds how gripping the real story is but uses modern technology and scientific smarts to give new and far deeper insight to a major 20th Century tragic event.

From The Progressive Populist, April 15, 2014


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