Nashville entertainment tip: (Those who tune into the rexblog for magazine news, I promise, this post eventually has a magazine connection.) If you are in Nashville this weekend (wait, I can already think of a magazine-connection: perhaps you’re here for the AWA National Jamboree because you read Ride Magazine), here is a rexblog recommendation for Friday night: Go hear the bluegrass group King Wilkie at the “world famous” Station Inn.
King Wilkie plays traditional-style, rip-roaring, acoustical old-time music: to my ears, not pure Monroe, rather Monore filtered through the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. In other words, you don’t have to be into the hardcore twang-scene to enjoy what they’re doing. In fact, if you have a pulse, you’ll enjoy them. They’re officially up-and-coming as they recently signed a big-time record deal (well, as big-time as you get in bluegrass) and are getting into the CMT rotation (and on the bluegrass digital cable music station I receive at home via Comcast). You can download (free and legally) some cuts from their new CD, Broke, on their website or (and this is a really cool feature I just discovered) you can stream (WMP) the entire CD on CMT.com via something CMT calls a “Listening Party.” (Or, better yet, buy it from the rexblog music store).
So what is the magazine connection? I first heard of King Wilkie from a magazine friend of mine, Dick Burgess, former chairman of Chartwell Communications (until its sale to Watt Publishing last year). At a meeting a couple of years ago, Dick and I discovered a remarkably rare coincidence (unless, perhaps, you live somewhere in rural West Virginia): we both have off-spring who are talented bluegrass musicians. He told me his son, Reid, then a recent graduate of Kenyon College, played mandolin in a group in Virginia and I told him my two children (about 11 and 14 at the time) were in a fiddle group at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music (indeed, one still is). Fast forward a couple of years and Dick’s son’s band, King Wilkie, is beginning to be featured in magazine cover stories.
Tomorrow, the band will be playing (and not for the first time) the Station Inn, perhaps the nation’s pinnacle performance venue for bluegrass artists (appropriately housed in a cinder-block dive next to some railroad tracks in an area Nashvillians call, “The Gulch”). If you aren’t in Nashville this weekend, they’re back for the CMA festival (the event formerly known as “Fan Fair”) and are touring from Maine to California the rest of the year.