Introducing CMT Edge

by Craig Shelburne,

Wanda Jackson put on a surprise pop-up show in a hotel bar in Nashville during the launch week for CMT Edge, CMT’s new music blog. (Photo: Brian Tipton/

I’m not much for living on the edge, being a relatively safe guy, but in Nashville recently, I was living totally on CMT Edge – our new roots music blog. The blog will be a home for artists on the fringe of country music and a hub to such gritty performance series as CMT’s CONCRETE COUNTRY, and will feature exclusive performances, interviews and more with established and indie artists.

Most of the year, I write for – concert reviews, interviews, Top 10 lists, etc. Now I’m also leading the charge for CMT Edge, and as anyone who’s ever blogged knows, you’ve got to have an arsenal of material to keep it current. If our inaugural week is any indication, we shouldn’t have any problem.

Launch week brought forth exclusive content and previews from artists including The Avett Brothers, Trampled By Turtles, Sara Watkins and Dwight Yoakam. Plus, as part of the Americana Music Festival & Conference, we taped performances from more than a dozen artists. Here’s a rundown of the week, which was like my personal fantasy camp:

  • Our first posts were an exclusive track from Dwight Yoakam’s new record and our Concrete Country sessions with Trampled by Turtles. A strong start!
  • We booked one of my new favorite bands, Turnpike Troubadours, to film Concrete Country on the streets of Lower Broadway. All the neon honky-tonk signs were glowing behind them. Very nice visuals. Later the band told me this was their first-ever trip to Nashville! Check ’emm out if you like some red dirt in your country music.
  • We were treated to six songs from the very creative acoustic band Punch Brothers in our CMT Studio. These guys know how to put on a show. After their set, we brought my favorite artist right now, Brandi Carlile, who knocked us out with “Keep Your Heart Young.”
  • Do you know that classic Wanda Jackson tune, “Let’s Have a Party”? Well, I took that title and ran with it – and booked the one and only Queen of Rockabilly herself for a surprise pop-up show in a hotel bar. I’ll never forget it. She totally brought her A-game. Her new album arrives on Oct. 9 on Sugar Hill Records (which presented the party with us) so keep an eye out for the interview we conducted right after her set. Her music drew as many raves as her hot pink fringed jacket. Without question, she’s a deserving Rock and Roll Hall of Famer!

We also hosted the world premiere for The Avett Brothers’ new music video, “Live and Die.” That was a true privilege because I’ve been following their career since I saw them at Merlefest in 2006 – plus I think their new album The Carpenter is the most enjoyable one they’ve ever done.

Later this year we’ll be posting some single-song performances on CMT Edge, and because so many out-of-towners happened to be passing through, I booked a bunch of them. Look for upcoming spots with Kasey Chambers & Shane Nicholson, Delta Rae, The Dunwells, Corb Lund & Hayes Carll, Shovels & Rope and Sara Watkins, as well as local talent Mockingbird Sun and Holly Williams. Eight bands in eight hours!

We closed out launch week with stunning solo acoustic performances by two of the most talented Americana artists out there – Jason Isbell and Justin Townes Earle – in our studio, as well as a happy hour. The wine and catering were delicious, but I have to say, it’s the music that really nourished me.

For the new and best music from a multitude of established, emerging and indie country artists, visit

Craig Shelburne curates and is a writer/producer for

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