WMOT | By Craig Havighurst

Published August 2, 2023 at 11:57 AM CDT

Somebody seems to have thrown a big bag of fertilizer on bluegrass during the pandemic, because the talent pool has been growing like crazy ever since. We’ve seen Dan Tyminski, who thrilled us recently at a WMOT Wired In, assemble a striking new band. Half of them are also in East Nash Grass, a “local” band that’s stepping on to the national stage with a new album this month. All-woman Big Richard is stirring up a viral buzz. There’s also an exciting new band in Music City called Wood Box Heroes, and they’ll be part of a dynamic showcase of roots at lunch that we like to call Finally Friday.

As tends to happen, the Wood Box Heroes formed out of friendship among top flight musicians who know each other’s ways and tastes. That said, when Nashville songwriter/artist Josh Martin assembled a band for a run of dates in Michigan that required an acoustic vibe, none of them expected it would lead to the kind of chemistry that would compel them to change their plans, but it did. Martin’s a deep-voiced singer from eastern Kentucky with “bluegrass in his blood,” and he’s also had the classic Nashville experience of getting involved in commercial country music enough that he realized it wasn’t his aim. “I was longing for something a little more real” after Covid eased up, Martin told me by phone this week. “And this project I think has really been an extension of that.”

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