One of my favorite weekends of the year has come and gone, but what a special time it was. At this year's Southern Festival of Books, I was joined by country music icon Naomi Judd to discuss A Few Honest Words, which she is featured in. After reading a couple of passages from her chapter, we had a forty-minute onstage discussion about the influence of Kentucky on the Judds and what it means to be an Appalachian. We even joined in singing a few bars of "Hello, Stranger," the old Hazel & Alice/Carter Family song that was one of the first Naomi and Wynonna learned, and demonstrated a holler call for the audience. The event will soon be available as a podcast on Chapter 16, so stay tuned for those of you who couldn't make it to Nashville.
The next evening, I was honored to set in on a couple of songs at Marshall Chapman's annual Literary in the Round, held each year at the legendary Bluebird Cafe during the weekend of Southern Fest. This time around, Marshall was joined by singer-songwriter Matraca Berg (also featured in A Few Honest Words) and authors Silas House and George Singleton. An especially poignant moment came when Matraca's niece, who turned seventeen that day, assisted her on "Strawberry Wine." There wasn't a dry eye in the house. To read more about the show, check out the brilliant Holly Gleason's post over at No Depression.
Photo by Silas House
Yesterday marked the debut of A Few Honest Words at the annual Americana Music Association Festival in Nashville. There couldn't have been a more appropriate place for my first reading from the book, which profiles sixteen artists from a variety of roots genres.
As Jim Lauderdale said onstage at the AMA awards ceremony on Wednesday evening, "boundaries are for cowards." That's one of the main points of A Few Honest Words--to move beyond constricting categories and simply embrace the music.
Thanks to the good folks at Parnassus Books, who were on-hand to sell the first available copies of the book. If you're ever in Nashville, please stop by their store and support a wonderful independent retailer.
Since the book officially releases in October--and ships from online retails outlets on 25 September--the next reading will also be in Nashville, this time at the Southern Festival of Books, where I will be sharing the stage with Naomi Judd on 12 October. We'll do an onstage interview and discussion, and then a signing. Hope to see you there--or out on the road at other dates.