Nashville is a music mecca for reasons that extend far beyond its commercial country persona. There's much more to Music City than crossover darlings and hokey hooks; it's an oasis for songwriters, session players and skilled songsters.
This year, a host of SXSW showcasing artists call Tennessee home — here are five options to catch the best of Music City, from seasoned songwriters to up-and-coming bluesy bands.
Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale
This pair of seasoned songwriters have been playing together for over 30 years. Their latest record Buddy and Jim, produced by Miller, continues the longstanding country tradition of male duets. Miller and Lauderdale play the Americana Music Association showcase at Antone's on Thursday, March 14 (you'll also catch Emmylou Harris at this one).
Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys
Mead and his band blend rockabilly, country and Western swing into a sound that maintains traditional honky-tonk elements. His energetic how has shared the stage with such iconic acts as Loretta Lynn, Old Crow Medicine Show and The Avett Brothers. Fittingly, Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys play The Stage on Sixth (sister to the Nashville venue) on Thursday, March 14.
Singer-songwriter Amanda Shires steps out of the Thrift Store Cowboys' shadow with her solo career — a career that, though based in Tennessee, shows plenty of her West Texas roots. Shires plays the ethereal setting of St. David's on March 14 in a showcase that also features her fiance, fellow songwriter Jason Isbell.
Luella & The Sun
A contemporary outfit compared to most of the other names on this list, Luella & The Sun is making a splash at SXSW with plenty of showcase and day party appearances. Luella & The Sun takes the country out of Nashville, playing a rootsy blend of rock, soul and blues. Catch Luella & The Sun Saturday, March 16 at Bungalow.
Bobby Bare's career has spanned over 50 years, starting with the 1962 hit "Shame On Me." After recording his 2012 album Darker Than The Light, Bare hits the ACL Live stage on Saturday, March 16 playing ahead of True Believers and John Fogerty, in a showcase presented by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.