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Some country artists were able to combine commercial and critical success in 2020. By comparing the critics’ voting for Artist of the Year and Billboard’s year-end list for Top Country Artists (based on sales, streams and airplay), we find that 12 of the top 25 in the Critics’ Poll also show…

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The past year has seen significant coverage about the scarcity of Black artists in country music. While this highlights crucial social and political problems, the music’s artistic significance often gets overlooked. And that’s a disservice to someone as gifted as Mickey Guyton, who dominated…

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On the title track of his 2018 album Last Man Standing, Willie Nelson sings: “It’s getting hard to watch my pals check out / Cuts like a wore-out knife / One thing I learned about running the road is forever don’t apply to life / Waylon and Ray and Merle and old Harlan lived just as fast as me.” 

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In a year when the global community had to find new ways to live, Nashville musicians got busy integrating jazz and improvised music into a variety of contexts. While our more mainstream jazz scene persevered, there was nothing monolithic about the jazz-adjacent records that Music City playe…

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Few of the social and political issues at the forefront of public conversation in 2020 were new, but this year came with unprecedented opportunities to clearly see what has been developing. With even the most routine parts of life altered by COVID-19, Americans had fewer chances to bury thei…

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In this year of almost no in-person shows, musicians, venues and fans have done their level best to address both the economic hardship and the numbing boredom by staging streaming concerts. The experience hasn’t been without its growing pains, but several different approaches have developed …

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Despite the unprecedented difficulties that the music industry has faced in 2020, it’s been one of the best years Nashville hip-hop has seen yet. We’ve seen key releases from major players, impressive debuts by up-and-comers and increased attention from national fans and tastemakers, making …

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It’s been very easy to feel overwhelmed in 2020, when it seems like the rules get rewritten every day — by a global pandemic, a long-overdue public conversation about systemic racism and more. But faced with an industry and a society undergoing all kinds of turbulence, musicians and business…

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At the beginning of 2020, it looked like we were in for a very, very busy year for live music in Nashville. But once COVID-19 arrived in March, followed by the rapid shuttering of nonessential businesses and public spaces, all bets were off. It’s been nine months since venues around town wer…

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Each year, Nashville copes with the loss of people who make our conglomeration of music scenes feel like a community and show us the greatness we can aspire to. Perhaps no loss was felt more deeply in Music City in 2020 than that of someone who did both. Songwriter’s songwriter John Prine di…

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On a Monday night not too long ago, the sounds of salsa, bachata and percussion-driven rhythms filled Rudy’s Jazz Room as 12 Manos tore through their weekly set of Latin music. A set of congas (or depending on the song, maybe timbales) built the foundation, a bass setting the pace as keyboar…

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Some country artists were able to combine commercial and critical success in 2019. By comparing the critics’ voting for Artist of the Year and Billboard’s year-end list of Top Country Artists (based on sales, streams and airplay), we find that nine of the top 25 in the Critics’ Poll also sho…

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Ken Burns’ Country Music series on PBS dominated discussion of the genre in 2019. The series covered country music from 1922’s first commercial country recording by Eck Robertson to Bill Monroe’s death in 1996 (though it stretched the finish line a bit to tidy up some loose ends, such as Joh…

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Perhaps nothing spoke more to the state of country music in 2019 than the final trophy given out at this year’s Country Music Awards. In a massive upset, the deserving woman (superstar Carrie Underwood) and the deserving man (“outsider” Eric Church) both lost out on Entertainer of the Year t…

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Like many attempts to explain the New New Nashville in terms of the old, string-tie-wearing city that produced classic country, calling the products of Nashville’s experimental rock scene “underground music” might seem dated. Doing so may evoke a pre-boom Nashville, when underground rock was…

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It’s been a little more than a year since singers R.LUM.R and Daniella Mason graced the cover of the Scene for our spotlight on the rise of locally grown pop music in Nashville. Since then, R.LUM.R dropped his debut album, a collection of thrumming, emotional slow jams called Surfacing, on m…

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Using a highly scientific formula (read: spreadsheet) concocted back in 2010, the Scene has once again tabulated ballots from our braintrust of ace music writers to compile our annual list of the 10 best local albums of the year. With another outstanding crop of releases, many worthy albums …

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This year, The Highwomen made an incredible impact on country music — commercially and, one hopes, culturally. The supergroup, featuring Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris and Amanda Shires, released its acclaimed self-titled debut album in September, with the explicit mission of te…

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For our annual Rock ’n’ Roll Poll, we once again surveyed a select group of Nashville’s finest rockers, rollers, bookers, bloggers and more, and asked them what got their attention — good and bad — in the local scene this year.

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Nashville’s jam-packed live music scene has undergone an extraordinary amount of movement — up, down and sideways — in 2019. One of the most exciting stories is the return of all-ages space Drkmttr, whose third incarnation opened in January on Dickerson Pike. Hopefully this will be a permane…

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There are tons of notable concerts in addition to Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit's World Series-sized run at the Ryman (get the full skinny on their opening acts right here). We've rounded up a smattering of them for you in a handy calendar. The full list is below, along with additional detai…

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This year, Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit’s nearly annual residency at the Ryman has expanded into a World Series of concerts, with seven sold-out nights. Per tradition, each night features an opening act that the expert songsmith and his crack band want to use their significant platform to h…

As AmericanaFest spreads across Music City, you’ll see lineups populated by artists with names (or nicknames) like Early James or King Corduroy. As it happens, the Americana world shares this tendency for folksy nomenclature with the universe of professional baseball. Below, find a list of 3…

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There are important conversations happening across the board about leveling the playing field for women, especially in country and roots music. If you’ve registered for the Americana conference, you can see a variety of panel discussions on ways the genre has helped and can continue to help …

The Scene previously spoke with Yola in February, when the British singer-songwriter was on the verge of releasing her full-length debut album, Walk Through Fire. That album announced Yola as a new musical powerhouse, one whose artistic voice is matched in strength only by her truly astoundi…

At Wednesday’s Americana Music Honors and Awards ceremony, Rhiannon Giddens will receive one of two inaugural Legacy of Americana Awards. The newly established honor was created in partnership with the National Museum of African American Music (which is set to open in Nashville in 2020), and…

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Though it’s not even half-over, 2019 has already been a banner year for country music in the U.S. and beyond. In large part, we have the runaway success of Kacey Musgraves’ 2018 album Golden Hour to thank for that. In a rare bit of synchronicity, a truly great album actually won a heap of tr…