Jewly Hight: A lot has happened since we last spoke. In last week’s issue of the Scene, you ran another roundup of recent Nashville releases, and I would love to touch on four of the albums that your contributors highlighted as doing inspired things with familiar musical forms. One of those is a project the WNXP listeners have been hearing a lot, Daisha McBride’s, Let Me Get This Off My Chest. You wrote about it. What stood out about that album to you?
Stephen Trageser: She’s always been very personal, but this time it’s kind of like she dug to a new layer with that, just got very deep into heartbreak and healing and ways that she’s experienced that and lessons she’s learned from those experiences. And it’s just a great-sounding record on top of that.
JH: And how about Emily Scott Robinson’s first album for John Prine’s label, Oh Boy, and the latest from Kristen Ford and from Halfnoise? What are they each doing with storytelling or with style?
ST: Well, with Emily Scott Robinson, her record American Siren brings in a lot of these influences from around the Americana world to help push her storytelling forward. Kristen Ford, her record War In the Living Room was co-produced by June Millington from Fanny, if folks are familiar with that rock band. War In the Living Room kind of goes all over the rock world, from R&B to power pop and beyond. And then Halfnoise, that is the project of Zac Farro, who you know from Paramore. He also has done some production work with Becca Mancari, her 2020 record The Greatest Part. His new LP is called Motif, and it’s very much playing on sort of a ’70s, post-Beatles pop kind of sound, and they’re just really gorgeously rendered love songs.
JH: Last week you also got an update on the record store The Groove. The house it’s in in East Nashville is being sold. So what did the Scene learn from the store’s owners about what their plans are at this point in time?
ST: At the moment, they’re just continuing this campaign to try to raise money to buy the building. They’ve got until the end of January to make that happen. It’s just kind of another story of this increasing pressure that real estate’s putting on small business.
JH: This week you have a feature on a kind of related topic: what’s happening in the vinyl supply chain. What are the big factors in manufacturing capacity and demand, and how is all of that impacting small labels and stores here in town?
ST: The impact is that if you’re an independent artist, independent label, independent record store, things are just tough. The industry conditions make it very tough to predict when you’re going to be able to get the records that you have ordered from a distributor or that you’re having pressed, and not being able to plan like that just wreaks havoc on being able to run the business side of what you do.
JH Also in this week’s issue of the Scene, you have a preview of the Black Opry Revue that may sound familiar to listeners since they heard a feature from me about the Black Opry as a grassroots hub for Black and queer folks in roots music and country music not too long ago. So what can we expect from the show coming to town?
ST: This is [Black Opry founder] Holly G’s plan to expand this brand and push it out into the world globally, starting with this [revue] as a next step. You’ve got six artists [on the bill], some of whom have played Black Opry events before, and they’re also going to have a special guest, Frankie Staton, a longtime country singer-songwriter helped start the Black Country Music Association in Nashville in the 1990s. And [they’re] really just bringing home that there needs to be a space and a home made for Black country music artists in Nashville.