Five unforgettable 'United States of Americana' moments

bill deville julie carl and pearl butler
'United States of Americana' host Bill DeVille and his wife Julie celebrate Halloween as Carl and Pearl Butler. (courtesy Bill DeVille)

Looking back on the United States of Americana's first five years, there are five in-studio sessions that really stand out for me, plus I've got a particular show highlight.

Do you remember these? Here goes:

1. Justin Townes Earle



First one has to be the fact I've been lucky enough to have Justin Townes Earle drop by twice. It's funny, because I've never missed a Justin Townes Earle show in the Twin Cities, and every time he'd come through, I kept bugging him at his show: "Can you come up to the studio?" I'd ask. He was always like, "Naw, can't do it."

But then he came up the first time and that was really fun. And then the second time he came up, it was just fantastic. (By the way, Justin has somewhat of a reputation for being a tough interview, but I didn't get that.) In fact, Jim McGuinn played it at the staff meeting because the interview went well.

Justin Townes Earle is fun to watch play guitar because he has a solo-bluesman kind of style. And I didn't really ever ask him a question, I'd just throw a couple things at him and he just took off and ran with it. He was just a blast to talk to, and musically, it was really interesting, too. So that has to be a highlight.

2. The Avett Brothers



We were lucky enough to have the Avett Brothers drop by. That was just a blast, too, because here they are, one of the hottest bands in the country, and the whole band came up for a full in-studio performance, all plugged in and everything. They even debuted a brand-new song that had never been played out to that point, so that was a very special deal.

3. Rosanne Cash



As I mentioned in my story about US of A, on the very first show, Rosanne Cash dropped by. She's of course, the daughter of Jonny Cash, but she is such a talent in her own right, and she had to kind of find her own way.

The most interesting thing about that visit is that Rosanne Cash was touring in support of The List, which was the 100 songs that her dad said she should know, so she was playing songs from that. For me, being a huge Johnny Cash fan, it was so great to talk to her. She's royalty to me. That was pretty fun.

4. JD McPherson



The JD McPherson in-studio when we had some staffers come in to add their hand-clapping talents to a couple of tracks. JD is just a fun guy and he loves doing these in-studio performances. So that was just a blast.

5. First Aid Kit



First Aid Kit — whose music often times moves me to tears — they dropped by the last time through and it was so fun to talk to them. They were so chatty and so fun to talk to, and their depth of knowledge on the history of American music is so interesting. We talked about the song "Emmylou" — and then they played it. It was just a very moving experience.

Bonus Highlight


Another highlight that wasn't a special guest happened during summer 2013. The family and I took a road trip to Missouri, and on the way back we ended up driving through Iowa — the world's largest truck stop is there. So we stopped, and I had to go in to see what they had for CDs you'd find in a truck stop.

Why? Because truck-driving music is kind of a subgenre of country music that was sort of popular in the '50s and '60s, but it kind of ended when C.W. McCall did "Convoy." On that day in Iowa, I was looking for a really good truck-driver's compilation. As luck would have it, I found one there, so I celebrated a couple weeks later on United States of Americana during National Truck Driver Appreciation Week — about a third of the songs that I played on the show were truck-driving tunes. I played a bunch of tracks from that CD; that was a lot of fun, because I love that stuff.

So that was another highlight beyond in-studio sessions. Looking forward to all kinds of additional US of A highlights as the program continues!

Related Stories

  • The long road to 'United States of Americana' Bill DeVille's Sunday-morning Americana program went on the air in 2009, but it turns out the show had been percolating for at least 20 years before then. Bill shares the story as 'US of A' celebrates five years on the air.
  • The long road to 'United States of Americana' Bill DeVille's Sunday-morning Americana program went on the air in 2009, but it turns out the show had been percolating for at least 20 years before then. Bill shares the story as 'US of A' celebrates five years on the air.

comments powered by Disqus