Emily Scott Robinson
With her crystalline soprano and plainspoken, deeply personal lyrics, Emily Scott Robinson sounds like a Millennial Dolly Parton. I spoke to her about religion, songwriting, suicide, and signing with John Prine’s record label in this story for No Depression.
A creative approach to mental health
Music can elevate spirits and soothe troubled souls. But many of the people who create it can’t afford help for their own problems with mental health or substance abuse. A group of musicians from across North Carolina and beyond teamed up to make Be Good to Yourself, a benefit album aimed at making that help accessible. Contributors included members of the dB’s, Let’s Active, Southern Culture on the Skids, Mipso, and Foster and Lloyd. I interviewed the people who made it for the Winston-Salem Journal.
Brick, mortar, art
A unique sculpture in Andy Griffith’s hometown honors working (and even non-working) people alongside country music legends. I wrote about Mount Airy’s Whittling Wall for Our State magazine.
Guitarist Bill Frisell has worked with everyone from Paul Simon and McCoy Tyner to Lucinda Williams and “Far Side” cartoonist Gary Larson. I talked to him about his recent Harmony project for the Winston-Salem Journal.
Singer Cashavelly Morrison splits the difference between Americana and psychedelic indie-rock on her latest record. She draws from a deep emotional well, writing songs inspired by everything from a miscarriage to nights spent alone in the wilderness. I wrote about her 2021 album Metamorphosis for the Winston-Salem Journal.
Music grows at Doodad Farm
A Greensboro family converted an old tobacco barn into a stage, creating one of the most unusual music venues in North Carolina. I wrote about Doodad Farm for Our State magazine, speaking to the Driver family and the friends and musicians who helped them build an artistic oasis.
Capoeira: martial art meets dance
They called it “sexy dance fighting” on an episode of “Bob’s Burgers,” but capoeira has a rich, complex history in Brazil. UNC-Greensboro dance instructor Ana Paula Höfling explores that history in the book Staging Brazil: Choreographies of Capoeira. I spoke to Höfling for UNCG’s Research magazine.
Great googley moogley
Logie Meachum was a blues singer, songwriter, children’s book author, educator, father, firefighter, Marine, and much more. Greensboro bade farewell to one of its most interesting native sons as 2019 dawned. I spoke to people who knew and loved him for the Greensboro News & Record.
“Across the Blue Ridge”
Veteran NPR host and reporter Paul Brown produced “Across the Blue Ridge” for WFDD on and off for decades. The show presented “music as a window onto a culture and to people and to a state,” according to the executive director of the N.C. Arts Council. I spoke to Brown for the Winston-Salem Journal as he prepared to sign off for the last time.
Viento de Agua
Hurricane Maria hasn’t stopped the members of Viento de Agua from exporting vintage Puerto Rican music styles to the rest of the world. Hector “Tito” Matos and his group specialize in plena and bomba, both of which have deep roots on the island. I interviewed Matos for the Greensboro News & Record to preview Viento de Agua’s appearance at the inaugural N.C. Folk Festival.
He’s a photographer, historian, TV host, hitmaker, and keeper of the country music flame. He has toured with everyone from Lester Flatt and Doc Watson to Johnny Cash and members of the Byrds. I spoke to Marty Stuart for the Winston-Salem Journal about his long, varied career.
CMA has named Miranda Lambert Female Vocalist of the Year for seven straight years, and she knows how to work a coliseum crowd. A review I wrote for the Winston-Salem Journal.
WPAQ: 70 years of country radio tradition
This station in Mount Airy, North Carolina, had roots in pirate radio before going legit shortly after World War II. In the decades since it has hosted Flatt and Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers, Andy Griffith, and other legends. Announcers have included bluegrass veteran Mac Wiseman and Paul Brown, a former NPR host and the voice behind “Across the Blue Ridge.” A story I wrote for the Winston-Salem Journal.
This Nashville duo returned to their Virginia roots for their latest album, Galax, recorded in a shed on a family farm outside the record’s namesake city. The sessions blended the talents of local pickers with Nashville hotshots such as Fats Kaplin and Will Kimbrough. A story I wrote for the Winston-Salem Journal.
Wayne Henderson and Presley Barker
Wayne Henderson and Presley Barker were born decades apart, but the legendary luthier and the teenage guitarslinger have some important things in common: a gift for flatpicking and a shared love for the music Doc Watson. A story I wrote for the Winston-Salem Journal.
Rising star Caleb Caudle recently landed an album in the Americana Top 40 for the first time. A story I wrote for Caudle’s hometown paper, the Winston-Salem Journal.
Andy Griffith and “What It Was, Was Football”
A look back at the hit comedy record that put Andy Griffith on the map, recorded in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1953. A story I wrote for the Greensboro News and Record.
Amythyst Kiah is a traditional singer who studied old-time music at East Tennessee State, but she defies stereotypes about old-time performers. A story I wrote for the Winston-Salem Journal.
Earls of Leicester
Jerry Douglas and friends keep the sound and spirit of bluegrass legends Flatt and Scruggs alive with the Earls of Leicester. A story I wrote for the Winston-Salem Journal.
Dom Flemons, AKA the American Songster, is a former Carolina Chocolate Drop, writes songs about black cowboys in the Old West, curates collections for Smithsonian Folkways, and performs everywhere from a Leadbelly tribute at Carnegie Hall to the opening ceremonies of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. A story I wrote for the Winston-Salem Journal.
An interview with a young gun guitarist who grew up with his dad “spoon feeding me Doc Watson’s music.” A story I wrote for the Winston-Salem Journal.
Peter Asher and Albert Lee
Reflections on working with the Beatles, Elton John, James Taylor, the Everly Brothers, and more from two veteran English rockers who now work together. A story I wrote for Relish, the weekly entertainment section published by the Winston-Salem Journal.
Mavis Staples reflects on more than half a century as a singer. A profile for the National Folk Festival published in The Carolina Peacemaker.
Rising bluegrass stars Mipso have deep roots in North Carolina’s Piedmont Triad. A profile of the band for Go Triad.
James Taylor’s generosity toward his fans was evident in a Greensboro Coliseum concert I reviewed for the News & Record.
“Just because you use a hammer to build a house don’t mean it’s an old house.” A profile of traditional country singer Dale Watson for the National Folk Festival, published in the News & Record.
New River Trail
A ride through Virginia’s “longest and skinniest state park” on the New River Trail. A travel feature for 1808.
“The world of music is so huge, and I like to explore.” A Relish profile of Winston-Salem singer Martha Bassett, a classically trained vocalist and jazz singer who reinvented herself as a roots singer-songwriter.
Piedmont Triad Jazz Orchestra
The Piedmont Triad Jazz Orchestra has brought big band jazz into the 21st century. One of my music columns for 1808 magazine.
The Church Sisters
“They’ve got such a God-given talent, and I know good and well that he didn’t give it to ’em not wanting people to know about it.” A Relish profile of the Church Sisters, 18-year-old twins who have begun to make their mark in the world of country music.
“Can you take that steak and sorta run it through the blender?” A story for the Greensboro News & Record about my unforgettable lunch with the Hardest Working Man in Show Business.
“When T Bone says, ‘Let’s do your first solo record,’ it’s hard to say no.” For my February 2015 column in 1808: Greensboro’s Magazine, I talked to Rhiannon Giddens of Carolina Chocolate Drops about her new album, produced by the man behind the soundtrack to “O Brother, Where Art Thou?”
“David Holt’s State of Music”
“We just thought that would be the perfect place to introduce drone photography to old-time music.” David Holt was in a teenage surf band produced by Kim Fowley, played for years with Doc Watson, and now has a a new show on UNC-TV called “David Holt’s State of Music.” Here’s my Relish cover story about the show.
“The ballads always really move people, and they move me, as well.” I interviewed Raitt for Go Triad in 2013 before her show at the old War Memorial Auditorium in Greensboro. The story also included a sidebar about a memorable day for Raitt in Chapel Hill 40 years earlier.
Sound designer Lindsay Jones
“He has a sense of grandeur that a lot of us strive to achieve.” A story for the Winston-Salem Journal about theatrical sound designer Lindsay Jones.
“This record is definitely a coming-of-age record for me personally, just because it’s me facing down what was really keeping me down.” A Relish story previewing an American Aquarium appearance in Winston-Salem.
A review of the final show on Paul McCartney’s Out There tour: “Beatle boots and McCartney’s familiar bent-knee stance drew a direct line to the Beatles’ first appearance on ‘The Ed Sullivan Show’ half a century ago, and a crowd that clearly came to hear Fab Four songs got its fill.”
“He was just a wonderful little munchkin of a guy. I would go listen to him play all the time.” A look back at Steve Goodman’s time on St. Croix for the Virgin Islands Source.
“I tell people all the time I’m a North Carolina guitar player but a Texas songwriter.” A profile of internationally renowned singer-songwriter Jonathan Byrd.
The Mamas and the Papas
“He was a sweetheart. I have a lot of stories — maybe not stories I could tell.” The death of Denny Doherty inspired this reflection on how the Mamas and the Papas got their act together in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The “5” Royales
The “5” Royales were a pioneering R&B group, influencing James Brown, Steve Cropper, Motown, and Eric Clapton. I interviewed the four surviving Royales for this Goldmine story in 1993, along with Cropper, King Records producer Ralph Bass, Motown producer Clarence Paul, and others.
“I must admit that I’ve been willing to make some ugly commercial compromises.” One of my earliest musician interviews was with one of my heroes: Warren Zevon.
Other pieces archived here.