Anne Williams on WNRN
Ease into your day with the best music around, every weekday from 6am until 10am. Hosted by Anne Williams. Anne has been with the station for over 16 years. The Acoustic CD of the Month Club has become a staple of WNRN’s fund drives and grows in members each year.
Anne Williams News & Updates
In 2015 on a cold, January night in Washington DC, friends, fans, and some country music royalty came together at DAR Constitution Hall to play the songs of Emmylou Harris. She is known to music lovers as not only a fine songwriter, band leader and singer, but a tastemaker who has covered songwriters like Gillian Welch and Lucinda Williams bringing them to prominence. On display was the love of her fellow musicians of her as a person, but also how she influence them. Rodney Crowell, who as lead guitarist turned successful songwriter and singer came of age as a member of Harris’s Hot Band, sings “You’re Still On My Mind.” In the tribute Alison Krauss sings “Til I Gain Control Again”. This Rodney Crowell song has been covered by many, but it was Harris that first sang it in 1975.
This sense of back and forth between Emmylou Harris, songwriters and musicians, is brought forth over and over during the course of an evening. Buddy Miller and Don Was are part of the house band. Other favorites like Sara Watkins and Sam Bush play on most tracks.
Not only does this tribute cover the early years with Graham Parsons, and the Hot Band, but some of the eras where Emmylou Harris “reinvents” herself. She won a Grammy for her album that she did with Daniel Lanois, Wrecking Ball. She also did an album with Mark Knopfler, “All the Roadrunning.”
Most of the music during this evening is played and sung by others. WNRN has been playing a lesser known song from Wrecking Ball, “Blackhawk,” featuring her along with Daniel Lanois from the tribute, The Life and Songs of Emmylou Harris.
Singer-Songwriter, and former lead singer of The Bridge, Cris Jacobs has joined forces with two Richmond natives, Todd Herrington on bass and Dusty Ray Simmons on drums, to release the new album, Dust to Gold. They blend together their Americana influences of blues, country and gospel along with rock and roll to reflect on love, salvation, and hope. “Shine Your Weary Light” brings some illumination to this dark time of year.
Jamestown Revival remains a favorite of the morning at WNRN. Their last CD, Utah, was an Acoustic CD of the Month. This new one, The Education of a Wandering Man, has less of a demo feel and is more polished on all levels: production, songwriting, and playing. Zach and Jonathan have been friends since high school. They are able to write for and about their collective and individual experiences. “Journeyman” keeps in the spirit of two friends on this musical journey together.
Adam Carroll is a vivid songwriter’s songwriter who has been inspiring many Texas songwriters, new and old, for decades. The tribute called Highway Prayer: A Tribute to Adam Carroll has many Texas favorites covering Carroll’s songs. We thought this was so good that we added both James McMurtry’s version of “Screen Door” and Slaid Cleaves singing “South of Town”, but there are so many to enjoy. We encourage you to dig in and find some more gems.
In early 2015 musicians gathered in DC to pay tribute to the music of Emmylou Harris. The result is a CD/DVD package called The Life & Songs of Emmylou Harris: An All-Star Concert Celebration (Live) with a lineup including former bandmate Rodney Crowell, producer Daniel Lanois, and folks who have been steady friends over the years like Buddy Miller and Patty Griffin. Lots of other notables contributed as well including Alison Krauss, Steve Earle, Lee Ann Womack and Vince Gill. Our own tribute to the Wrecking Ball era takes place while we play Emmylou Harris and Daniel Lanois together on “Blackhawk.”
Blue Rodeo is one of the best Canadian “Americana” bands. Formed before that USA-centric term was coined, this new album, 1000 Arms, is a continuation of over 30 years of fine music and performance. “Hard to Remember” kicks of the solid release. (photo: Dustin Rubin)
It has been over a decade since Matt Pond PA put out Winter Songs EP. To add some warmth musically to your winter days, Matt Pond PA released Winter Lives on vinyl, CD as well as digitally earlier this month. They cover Cocteau Twins and Beach House, but I like the originals as well. “The Glow” has been added to the morning playlist.
John Prine‘s For Better For Worse is the November 2016 Acoustic CD of the Month.
John Prine has released another album of country duets called For Better, Or Worse. Prine teams up with an all-star array of female singers to cover vintage country tunes. In a sense, it is a follow up to 1999’s In Spite Of Ourselves. This album is Prine’s first album since emerging victorious from his second struggle with the cancer. His voice is rougher with time and treatment for the illness, but in this context it serves to make him more like the guy next door.
While other artists use duets or cover albums to a strategically attempt to make themselves commercially relevant again, Prine has been recording for his own label since the 1980s and answers to no one. The cast on this new CD includes a ‘re’-pairing of Prine along with Iris DeMent and Fiona Prine. The talent also includes Alison Krauss, Kacey Musgraves, Susan Tedeschi, Amanda Shires, as well as Miranda Lambert, Lee Ann Womack and Kathy Mattea.
Prine sings one of the three Hank Williams songs with Hank’s granddaughter Holly Williams in “I’m Telling You.” He also takes on the Ernest Tubb/Loretta honky-tonk classic “Who’s Gonna Take Your Garbage Out.” On a happier note, the pairing of Morgane Stapleton and Prine on “Look At Us” reassures us that there can be songs about domestic bliss that fit into this profile of partnership.
Although some fans may miss hearing new songs from Prine, he does use his voice and delivery to bring these songs to life as if they were his own. This fan is grateful for the new role John Prine is playing: curator of classic country music at its best. (Photo: Josh Britt)
Hiss Golden Messenger’s Heart Like a Levee is the Acoustic CD of the Month for October 2016.
Hiss Golden Messenger return on October 7 with Heart Like a Levee, their 7th studio album, the first in two years. WNRN added “Biloxi” this summer and has been anxiously awaiting the whole album.
M.C. Taylor says about Heart Like a Levee, “I wrote these songs during a time of transition and doubt. The process was raw, but also joyous. I spent a lot of time with these words and chords in all types of weather. In the end I learned more about myself making this record than any in the past, and that’s one important way for me to gauge whether an album was worth making.”
The new release was self-produced by Taylor and Bradley Cook and recorded in Durham, NC, with Taylor’s close-knit North Carolina collaborators: brothers Phil and Bradley Cook on piano and bass, respectively; Matt McCaughan on drums; Tift Merritt and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig on backing vocals; and Matt Douglas and Michael Lewis on horns.
There is so much to dig into on Heart Like a Levee. The songs deal with leaving and returning, belief and trust, guilt, honesty, and life on the road. “Say It Like You Mean It” sounds like the next radio single.
No matter if you call him Modern Bakersfield Country or New Traditionalist, Dwight Yoakam has been releasing good music from LA since 1986. (He has also been on the big screen in Sling Blade and Panic Room.) The newest is a new bluegrass record, Swimmin’ Pools, Movie Stars…. There is a country ballad version of “Purple Rain.” Who knew Prince could write a country song? Dwight turns it into one. We play his bluegrass version of the classic “These Arms” that was originally released on A Long Way Home in 1989.
A year after the birth of her first child, Amanda Shires is out with a new release, My Piece of Land. Known as a fiddler and singer, she does a majority of the songwriting on this new release. Some on her own as well as with her husband, Jason Isbell. She gets help from Isbell’s producer, Dave Cobb, who seems to bring out the best in her voice and songs. Mornings will features “The Way It Dimmed.”
Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin is the producer of the new (pronounced green sky) Greensky Bluegrass CD, Shouted, Written Down & Quoted. Trying to straddle the line between the highly disciplined bluegrass genre and the long form jam world has been hard to translate onto a record. Steve Berlin made that happen. WNRN plays “Merely Avoiding.” You can catch them at the National in Richmond on September 28.
Stand out live folk band of the 1960s, the Jim Kweskin Jug Band blended country, ragtime, jazz, and rock ‘n’ roll. Geoff Muldaur got his start there as a singer and guitarist. Kweskin and Muldaur reunited the jug band for a tour in 2015. They follow up with their own CD and tour this year. Listening to the new CD, Penny’s Farm, is trip through folk classics with their signature playing style. I hope you dig into this one and hear their version of traditional ‘Down On Penny’s Farm’ and Vera Hall’s ‘The Boll Weevil.’ (Vera Hall is the voice that is sampled on Moby’s Play CD singing ‘Natural Blues.’) “Sweet to Mama” is a bluesy number that captures the exquisite playing and singing of Muldaur.