Craig Havighurst

“Bluegrass is like classical music to me…”

Interview with Craig Havighurst, radio presenter and music writer
© Lilly Drumeva-O’Reilly.

On September 14th 2013, I had a pleasant lunch meeting with Craig Havighurst, host of “Music City Roots”, Nashville’s renowned live music radio and internet show. We ate Mexican food and talked about health care, bluegrass, classical music and life. Craig is also a board member of the International Bluegrass Music Association.

You have written a book about the Grand Old Opry, WSM? What made you interested?

My fascination was with everything beyond the Opry, because I have seen and heard the story of it many times. I conducted a deeper research of the facts and interviewed many people.
I was interested in broadcasting all my life. I grew up listening to public radio and loved everything on it.

What is your background?

I’m from North Carolina originally. I studied journalism in Chicago. I worked in Washington DC, reporting on health care and politics. I was a “hard core” news reporter.

The health care system in the US is undergoing a lot of reforms? Specifically, in the health insurance area?

Oh, don’t get me started on this. I can talk a whole day! (laughs)

How did you become a music journalist?

Health care writing brought me to Nashville. I worked for a hospital magazine. Gradually, I switched to music.

When did you hear country music first?

This is a long story. It started in North Carolina, in college. I was looking for an alternative to pop and rock music. I got familiar with the blues first. I worked for a blues record label in Chicago for a while. I was also doing graphic design. I learned about the independent labels and their music. I came across bluegrass, country and Americana.

What do you like about bluegrass?

In 1987, I bought a Rounder compilation CD which got me hooked. Then I got a duo record of Tony Rice and Norman Blake. At the time, I had a guitar, but really didn’t know what to do with it. When I heard Blake and Rice, I thought: “Well, that’s what you do with it.” It reminded me of the attention to nuances and detail that you find in classical music. There was a depth in it, a richness of tone, gorgeous timing and arpeggios. Bluegrass is like classical music to me.

How did you hear classical music?

My parents loved it. Eric Copland was one of my favorite composers. I also listened to jazz.

Thanks Craig. I’ll come and see the show next month. Good luck with everything.

Lilly Drumeva