KAFM TUNED IN: The hottest new roots acts you won’t hear on mainstream radio

with Lance Lewis


• Pineapple Crackers Farewell Show at Mesa Theater & Lounge 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 6.

• Darden Smith plays the Roper Music Ballroom 7:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13.

Editor’s note: Lance Lewis covers the emerging artist scene for KAFM Community Radio.

TText ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/SolidText ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/SolidText ColorText ColorText ColorText Colorhe history of roots influence in mainstream music is a long and storied one, populated with names like Carter, Guthrie, Seeger, Dylan, The Ozark Mountain Daredevils and The Eagles. One has but to look at The Carolina Chocolate Drops, Mumford and Sons, and Colorado’s own The Lumineers to witness resurgence in the popularity of roots music in today’s new releases.

If you like your roots planted deep in the rich soil of music history but with a contemporary twist, we’re digging a few new and emerging roots artists you may want to check out. And to keep up with all the new music at KAFM 88.1, visit our New Music Blog at

Artist: Mother Merey and the Black Dirt

Title: “Down to the River”

Release date: May 22, 2013

Organic and earthy, this Austin, Texas, trio is true to their name. Houston native Kevin Allen and Arkansas transplants “Mother” Merey Kimbrough and Eric Witthans combine talents and serve up gritty, down-home country blues and rootsy folk on their debut release. Sunny-voiced Merey supplies lead vocals and raspy washboard strokes, Eric thumps a rhythmic backdrop on the kick drum while deftly picking, sliding, and strumming the round neck dobro. Kevin adds the edge with a chugging blues harp attack and primary vocal harmonies. Along with a cover of Big Bill Broonzy’s “Trouble in Mind” and a salute to “John Henry,” are nine original tracks recalling a simpler time. Authentic down to the whoops and hollers, Mother Merey and the Black Dirt are as fresh as rain on dry soil.

For more information, visit: or

Artist: Smooth Hound Smith

Title: Smooth Hound Smith

Release date: May 1, 2013

Splitting time between Los Angeles and Nashville, Smooth Hound Smith is the diverse and richly talented multi-instrumentalist Zach Smith and sultry-voiced percussion maven Caitlin Doyle. There are no musical missteps here on this superb debut as the duo mix soulful blues, folk, rock and old time with 10 tracks that range from reverent to rollicking that will have you head-bobbing and finger-snapping. Zach makes this a finger-picking playground featuring dobro, twinkling guitar arpeggios, banjo and bopping bass. Caitlin adds percussive punctuation and perfect harmonies. Hints of syncopated bossa nova, zydeco and gospel add spice.

For more information, visit: or

Artist: Yellow Red Sparks

Title: Yellow Red Sparks

Release date: Jan. 29, 2013

People make their own luck. Or perhaps better put another way, people position themselves for good things to happen. And so it is with Joshua Hanson of Yellow Red Sparks, who recently was announced as The International Songwriting Competition’s grand prize winner for the 2012 Song of the Year for “Monsters with Misdemeanors” entered in the folk singer-songwriter category.

Hanson grew up in Yellow Pine, Idaho (pop. 32) and later moved to Southern California, writing and performing solo as Yellow Red Sparks. He eventually self-released an EP on iTunes before expanding the Yellow Red Sparks line-up by adding “Goldy” (percussion and vocals) and Sara Lynn Nishikawa (banjo, piano, harmonica and vocals). Performing Hanson-penned songs, together they blend wondrous, tender indie folk. Artfully crafted, succinct in nature, Hanson’s lyrics are a well-aimed arrow to a pained heart.

For more information, visit: or

Thanks to KAFM Music Coordinator Alicia Mitchell and programmer Joanie Leinbach for getting Yellow Red Sparks and Smooth Hound Smith, respectively, to KAFM’s new rack.

Lance Lewis is a volunteer programmer and Music Bureau member with KAFM Community Radio. You can catch him on KAFM’s Radio Rapture alternating Thursdays from 4 to 6:30 p.m.

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