WRUR 88.5 Different Radio

Jewly Hight

Congregating in person for concerts is out of the question this spring and for the foreseeable future, so music fans have gotten used to watching performers livestream from home. What's less obvious is that segments of the Nashville music community that work out of view have been equally resourceful in finding virtual stopgaps during lockdown.

A few years back, a band called Hot Country Knights began opening amphitheater and arena dates for country star Dierks Bentley. The group stuck out as the most inept, inappropriate and unprofessional act in the lineup, with the most memorable hair, most energetic thrusting, and most zipper-straining Wrangler jeans.

While Nashville's standard studio music-making processes remain at a quarantined standstill, here's another roundup of compelling new and recent music from visitors, part-timers, newcomers and lifers alike.


Since new release season is rolling on while the Nashville music community and the rest of us remain holed up at home, here's another round-up of music that shouldn't be missed.


The arrival of the coronavirus to Nashville came early in March, but Joe Diffie's passing yesterday, at the age of 61 — just two days after releasing a statement about his diagnosis through his publicist — marked the first reported loss of a country star to coronavirus-related complications.

The fact that Nashville's famously bustling live music scene has temporarily gone silent — first partially interrupted by the March 3 tornadoes, then halted altogether in response to COVID-19 — makes this an opportune time to catch up with the loosies, EPs and albums that either went overlooked in the crowd of early 2020 releases or won't be getting signal boosts from now-canceled promotional performances.

One of the more remarkable features of Bobbie Gentry's recordings is their lavish embroidery of down-home sensibilities.

The circumstances of David Olney's death have been widely reported, not least because people were struck by what seemed like a poetic end for such a poetic presence. Onstage last Saturday during the 30A Songwriters Festival in the Florida panhandle, Olney reportedly paused mid-song and bowed his head to his chest, suffering another heart attack.

It's common practice for chart-topping Nashville songwriters to see their accomplishments celebrated with lawn signs in front of industry offices, but Jenee Fleenor arrived at Sound Emporium Studios for her NPR interview to see a banner congratulating her on a different kind of milestone. This November, she became not only the first woman to win the Country Music Association's Musician of the Year award, but the first fiddle player to be honored in more than two decades.

In any given year, Nashville's splashiest releases invariably benefit from name recognition and multi-pronged promotional muscle — so a lot of the music bubbling out of scenes that are slightly less visible, or more self-sufficient, might not get its due. In the interest of fairness, then: Here are seven strong debut projects from Music City this year that shouldn't escape notice.

Pages