Music City Roots goes Live with new label

bellesMusic City Roots, Nashville’s roots radio and television program focusing on live performance, is stepping into the record label business, releasing live sets from a variety of artists who have appeared on the show. Calling the series Live!, each will include a full set from a MCR appearance, typically shorter than a full studio album, offered to as through CDs and downloads and available through the artists on tour.

First up will be a 7-song EP from Bill and the Belles, an interesting group of young musicians based in Johnson City, TN who play a very authentic reproduction of the sort of pre-bluegrass string band music that was also a precursor to our contemporary country genre. Bill is actually Kris Truelsen on guitar, and his Belles are his wife Grace Van’t Hof on banjo, and Kalia Yeagle on fiddle. Karl Zerfas accompanies them on bass.

They dress in period-appropriate clothing and utilize the sort of broad humor, emphatic facial gestures, and affected voices that were common in the vaudeville circuit where this music found a home in American entertainment in the 1920s. The music also retains a bit of the Tin Pan Alley sound, something we hear only rarely these days.

Live! Bill and the Belles on Music City Roots will be released digitally on June 17, and CDs will be available on June 24 when the band returns to Nashville for a special, free Music City Roots Concert.

Here’s a taste from the MCR show that is included on the upcoming audio CD…


Hats off to Music City Roots for this idea, demonstrating their commitment to independent artists trying to establish themselves in our industry. It gives them a chance to offer recorded music to their fans, captured by a professional team in a nearly ideal live environment. Let’s hope they include more bluegrass going forward.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.