Just down the road from downtown Franklin’s Main Street — in a cavernous building that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places — a different sort of history is being made every Wednesday night. The legacy is being strung together by banjo strings, piano keys and acoustic cadences; inspired by similar musical radio productions of years past; and spurred on by performances by the legendary likes of Emmylou Harris and The Doobie Brothers.
We’re talking about Music City Roots: Live From The Factory, a weekly, two-hour radio show in the heart of downtown Franklin that showcases the astounding Nashville-area music scene and promises to be a point of discovery for Americana fans. Broadcast seasonally on Wednesdays from 7 to 9 p.m., Music City Roots has an ambitious vision to serve as a global platform to showcase Middle Tennessee’s deep well of artistic talent.
Just recently, Music City Roots relocated to the Factory at Franklin to help accommodate a larger crowd and better acoustics. A quirky show that has survived against all odds, it celebrated a fifth birthday during the Oct. 15 broadcast featuring Selwyn Birchwood, Whiskey Shivers, Keelen Donovan and Whiskey Bent Valley Boys.
“We’re a real taste of Nashville,” says Roots’ Associate Producer Laurie Gregory, formerly with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. “You walk in for one artist, and leave a fan of someone else. We’re hip, affordable, appeal to all ages… and we’ll have you home by the 10 o’clock news.”
Through a progressive interpretation of an old-school format that includes multiple-artist performances and interviews, Music City Roots has a knack for bringing together fans of different tastes and generations.
Add the ingenuity of the show’s collaborative variety format and combine that with announcer Keith Bilbrey and host Jim Lauderdale (both legends in the community), and you’ve got a show that could soon entertain long-lasting national recognition similar to the Grand Ole Opry.
“Nothing represents ‘Music City’ like we do. We want to think of Music City as the culture of Middle Tennessee’s music, with Nashville and Franklin as its nexus,” says Senior Producer and interview co-host Craig Havighurst. “We’re doing a couple things: we’re trusted tastemakers who look to the future of music in all its forms; and we’re nurturing a community of artists while we’re at it.”
Over the past decade the Americana music scene has caught fire, with popularity accelerating in recent years thanks to breakouts like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers. But the folks at Music City Roots aren’t just riding the wave — they’re instigating the movement.
“We’re combining everything that made the music business work during the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s. Plus we’re this weird hybrid of cultural philanthropists meshed with business mindsets,” Havighurst says. “I think people will look back and realize how important this has become to the music community.”
What Havighurst is getting at is this: if you want to be part of history, it’s as easy as gathering a group of friends — or your family of five — and heading over to the Factory on a Wednesday night. Your $15 ticket gives you a front-row seat to a celebrated experience that music lovers across the country are clamoring for… and you can find it in the heart of downtown Franklin.
For more information on upcoming shows or to purchase a ticket, go to www.musiccityroots.com.
“Faces of Franklin” is part of a series on merchants and small business owners in downtown Franklin, Tenn., that runs in the Williamson Herald. To read more, go to www.williamsonherald.com.