Music City Roots Live from Madison Station

Music City Roots Live from Madison Station

the ROOTS Barn at night (Rendering July 10, 2019)

the ROOTS Barn at night (Rendering July 10, 2019)

Remarks by Hon. Nancy VanReece at the Music City Roots Press Conference at Amqui Station on July 10, 2019


Realization - Opportunity - Obligation - Tenacity - Strategic Support

JoAnn North, Nancy VanReece, Kitty Wells,; 2011

JoAnn North, Nancy VanReece, Kitty Wells,; 2011

Realization:  When I first met Kitty Wells in 2011 at the invitation of the equally legendary, Joann North, I was thrilled, naturally.  But what happened was deeper than that. I knew that Madison’s future had to be deeply rooted in its historic country and bluegrass past.

After all, Johnny Wright and Kitty called this place home, so did John Hartford, Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe, June Carter, and Hank Snow.  And so did DeFord Bailey, an American country music and blues star from the 1920s until 1941. He was the first performer to be introduced on the Grand Ole Opry and the first African-American performer on the show.  Loretta Lynn and Mooney rented a 1955 ranch house on Barbara Ave. from 1961-1963. Madison has awakened its roots with new soon-to-be legends living here like Elizabeth Cook, The Farmer & Adele, Allen Thompson and many others. 

The opportunity here has been recognized on a national scale; The National Endowment for the Arts is working with the Office of Nashville Arts & Culture on an examination of the creative class in 37115 to ensure tools are available to have attainable housing and help momentum here to encourage what has been referred to as the Madison renaissance.  

With every community meeting the last ten years, Metro planners have asked, “Where is the geographic heart of Madison?”  Every time the question was asked, old-timers and new neighbors alike, would point on the map to Amqui Station and Fifty Forward.  Within the first few months of my first term as District 8’s Councilmember in 2015, I met with Mayor Barry and we talked about city infrastructure investment and vision as it related to what we now know to be Madison Station Blvd.  With Mayor Briley’s ongoing enthusiastic support, construction will begin within a few weeks. 

A beautiful complete street designed with active community feedback also generated an obligation. The powerful obligation to have the public investment of nearly $6 million dollars to build this beautiful street all the way to Old Hickory Blvd. achieve economic development that we are seeing begin here today. 

Tenacity - Todd Mayo and I both have it.  A LOT of it. The last couple of years have been quite a journey.  I wanted to see Music City Roots return to Davidson County where it belonged.  At first, it looked like downtown was going to work, but Todd Mayo and John Walker both have this amazing instinct and it said Roots music doesn't belong in the neon, it belongs surrounded by barn wood.

The ROOTS Barn on Madison Station Blvd next to Historic Amqui Station ( rendering July 10, 2019)

The ROOTS Barn on Madison Station Blvd next to Historic Amqui Station ( rendering July 10, 2019)

Meanwhile, a tenacious all-volunteer Discover Madison, Inc.(DMI) board was diligently doing grunt work trying to raise funds to get out of organizational debt and raise money to upkeep the historic property and community space.  No matter how hard Todd an I tried to shake it loose, we knew the best place for MCR was on Madison Station Blvd. I spoke to AT&T, the additional one-acre of land they generously donated in 2014 was done so with the express intent to benefit the community.  They agreed to allow Discover Madison to enter into a relationship with All Aboard Madison that will now preserve the historic structure, increase programming for DMI. Indeed, $1 for every ticket sold to a MCR show will go to Discover Madison in perpetuity. Further,  a shared bus entrance to the property will allow Fifty Forward transportation, tour buses, and anticipated shuttles from downtown conventions and Opryland Hotel easy access. We are giving Nashville visitors a reason to stay one more night and to get out of the honkey-tonks and into the MRC Barn at Madison Station.  When they broadcast on public radio or by video on public television, they will be “Live from Madison Station next to Amqui Station, the train station Johnny Cash saved” and hopefully … soon -- across the street from the Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright Park behind the recently renovated Madison Library.

Ample parking for the events has been made possible through a partnership with Fifty Forward Madison Station.  That arrangement further financially supports the programming of this important and vital Madison facility. All these strategic support elements make this possible.

ROOTS  - Realization - Opportunity - Obligation - Tenacity - Strategic Support

Something absolutely epic is happening here. I'm reminded of the voice of  Brandi Carlisle singing; “Wherever is your heart, I call home.” -- Welcome home, Music City Roots.  

Welcome home.

Inside the ROOTS Barn ( rendering July 10, 2019)

Inside the ROOTS Barn ( rendering July 10, 2019)


FOR RELEASE - Thursday, July 11, 10:00 am.

Contact: John Walker, Music City Roots - 615.305.8279 -

Music City Roots, the acclaimed, taste-making live showcase, radio broadcast and public television series, is reviving and rebooting in the fast-growing cultural scene of Madison, TN.

On July 11, the Music City Roots team joined Nashville Mayor David Briley, Madison’s Metro City Councilmember Nancy VanReece and other community leaders to reveal plans for a new venue next to historic Amqui Station. The Roots Barn, scheduled for a grand opening in the Fall of 2020, will be part of a larger Madison Station development, with new housing and street plans poised to solidify Madison as an epicenter of life, work, arts and travel in the growing Metro Nashville area.

The Roots Barn will be one of the premiere mid-sized music venues in the South, with state of the art audio by Sound Image. Its timber and barn wood interior is inspired in part by The Barns at Wolftrap. Capacity is projected as 750 seated or 1,000+ standing. The bars, food service and ticketing areas will be isolated from the music hall, creating optimal conditions for performers and music lovers alike.

Nashville Mayor David Briley said: “For years, Music City Roots has helped Nashville showcase new talent while carrying on and sharing our deepest musical heritage. Reviving this institution in a neighborhood as vibrant as Madison, where it will complement historic Amqui Station and help establish a walkable neighborhood center, is definitely cause for celebration.”

The Barn will present ticketed shows, private events on request and “Music City Roots - Live from Madison Station” on a weekly basis. Adjacent to the barn, a separate building will house a remote studio for MCR partner WMOT Roots Radio 89.5 FM, the 100,000 watt Americana-format public radio station out of Middle Tennessee State University.

Historic Amqui Station makes a charming and appropriate companion to the Roots Barn. Built in 1910, it was the last stop north of Nashville before passenger trains reached Union Station downtown. When passenger service was discontinued, Johnny Cash acquired the structure to save it from demolition and moved it to his property in Hendersonville. After his death, it emerged that Johnny had made provisions to return the antique station and its contents to its original home. It stands there now, not far from its once-functional place along the tracks as a museum and visitors welcome center, operated by Discover Madison, Inc., a 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. The potential synergies for local or city-wide events are many.

The Roots Barn was made possible through a transaction between Music City Roots and Discover Madison, Inc. The property is part of a public/private relationship giving community benefit for generations to come, explained Councilmember VanReece: “The land was originally donated to Discover Madison, Inc. by AT&T with the help of US Rep. Jim Cooper and TN Rep. Bill Beck, with the express intent for such an ongoing benefit. This amazing opportunity not only celebrates our history but ensures our renaissance.”

Ample parking for Roots Barn events has been made possible through a partnership with FiftyForward, the premier provider of innovative and comprehensive services for adults 50+ in Middle Tennessee, with one of its seven locations next door.

Madison has become one of the most exciting growth neighborhoods in Nashville as it builds on its rich history in music. Madison has been the home to an array of country and bluegrass music notables, including Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright, John Hartford, Earl Scruggs, Bill Monroe, June Carter and Hank Snow.

Correction: This story originally indicated that Johnny Cash had made financial provisions to have historic Amqui Station returned to Madison, TN after his death. This was incorrect. The non-profit Discover Madison, Inc. was established as a vehicle to raise funds for the recovery and reconstruction of the building, along with the patio and second event building that now sit at 303 Madison Station Blvd. A community effort tapping private, public and foundation funding raised more than $1 million for that effort.

Quotes from Key Partners

“I’m really excited about Music City Roots getting started on this Madison music venue and the opportunity for WMOT to be a part of it. WMOT and Music City Roots have worked together for nearly three years to bring Americana and Roots music to middle Tennessee on WMOT 89.5. This new space will allow that partnership to continue to grow and expand, while growing our music community in Madison, middle Tennessee and beyond.”
- Val Hoeppner, Executive Director, WMOT 89.5 FM

“The three greatest exports of Southern culture are music, food and whiskey. Ask anyone from around the world about Tennessee, and their answers will most definitely revolve around these things. Of course, our focus is on broadcasting real music - past, present and future - but in the spirit of true Southern hospitality, we will offer an authentic experience combining the best of all these elements to our visitors.”
- John Walker, Executive Producer, Music City Roots

"The Music City Roots focus on preserving grass-roots music and Discover Madison Inc.’s mission to protect and preserve Madison, TN’s rich music history go hand in hand. We are excited to create a space in which, our neighbors and friends, as well as future generations, will experience the music culture that Madison has to offer."
- Christie Cooper, Executive Director, Discover Madison, Inc.

"We are happy to have a new next-door neighbor like Music City Roots! FiftyForward has always worked to partner with other organizations, and this is such a great opportunity for all of us. Many FiftyForward Madison Station members are part of the rich music history of Madison, so we’re eager to welcome Music City Roots and be part of the fun."
- Sallie Hussey, Executive Director, FiftyForward.

“One of the areas of improvement we are excited to see in Madison is entertainment options. We want Madison to be a well-rounded area where its residents can live, work, and play. MCR will be an exciting and notable addition, especially considering its unique location next to Historic Amqui Station and Madison's rich musical history. We are so excited that All Aboard Madison has chosen to bring Music City Roots here, and we cannot wait to see the attention and tourism it adds to Madison.”
- Laura Knots Jennings, Madison Rivergate Chamber of Commerce

“The construction of a music and entertainment facility as the new home of Music City Roots at the historic Madison train depot is a thrilling prospect for music lovers throughout Middle Tennessee. Madison itself is extremely rich in musical history, making it the perfect location for Music City Roots to showcase the best in roots music and Americana in its down-home, old-school format. At the Center for Popular Music and WMOT Roots Radio we celebrate the musical heritage of our region and our nation every day, and look forward to many exciting events at this wonderful new development.”
- Gregory Reish, PhD, Director, Center for Popular Music, MTSU

About Music City Roots:
Founded in October of 2009, Music City Roots is a weekly live musical variety radio show created to shine a light on the variety and diversity of roots and Americana music from and passing through Nashville, TN. Roots has hosted Grammy winning artists like Chris Stapleton, Sturgill Simpson and Emmylou Harris as well as iconic American acts like The Doobie Brothers and features a weekly emerging artist as well. A community of fans, bands and brands, Music City Roots hearkens back to the golden age of live radio via traditional and contemporary platforms of discovery: radio, television and streaming both live and on demand. Its American Public Television series has reached up to 80% of the nation. The show was housed at the Loveless Cafe Barn from 2009 to 2014 and the Factory in Franklin from 2014 to the end of 2017.

About WMOT Roots Radio:
WMOT-Roots Radio 89.5 is a listener-supported National Public Radio (NPR) station based at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. As Middle Tennessee’s most powerful music station, WMOT has a 100,000-watt signal that reaches north to Bowling Green, Kentucky and south to the Alabama border. WMOT is located in the Center for Innovation in Media in MTSU’s College of Media and Entertainment, where students work alongside industry professionals in a dynamic, collaborative environment. WMOT Roots Radio features original Americana programming and is dedicated to the music most deeply connected to Music City’s legacy: classic country music, bluegrass, singer/songwriter, folk, soul, R&B and old-school rock and roll. WMOT also continues to offer award-winning jazz programming on secondary channels (89.5HD, 92.3FM in Rutherford County and 104.9 in Williamson County). Please visit for more information.

About Discover Madison, Inc.:
Discover Madison is a non-profit organization whose mission is to begin "laying new tracks" toward reviving Madison’s rich history and rebuilding a strong sense of hometown pride. Its mission is to celebrate, educate, promote, and preserve Madison, Tennessee through the historic Amqui Station and Visitor's Center.

About FiftyForward:
FiftyForward supports, champions and enhances life for those 50 and older. FiftyForward Madison Station is located in the heart of Madison, Tennessee approximately 11 miles from downtown Nashville. As the initial grant of The Memorial Foundation, Madison Station was designed and opened in response to a documented community need for a senior center. FiftyForward Madison Station opened in 1996 and serves adults 50+ who primarily reside in Madison, East Nashville, Inglewood, Old Hickory and segments of Goodlettsville and Hendersonville.

I voted for equity

Wednesday, June 19, 2019


We need to be equitable in the distribution of any new property tax dollars and I did not see that equity in the Vercher/Mendes Budget.

Not in the mix for more than the 3% already in the Mayor’s budget, was the other 10,000 metro employees that aren’t teachers. To raise one boat wouldn’t be equitable. So much misinformation was out there and even the sponsors would admit that it only is a small part of that we should be doing.

Under the proposed amendment, the Vercher/Mendes plan, a teacher making $40,000 a year would have ended up taking home about $13 more per paycheck than what the Briley plan gave them, That isn’t even close to being enough. There was no discussion about how some teachers may lose their jobs in the coming year. Also not discussed, was the pending case concerning sexual harassment claims that suggest MNPS failed to act to protect students that I believe will result in substantial legal fees and settlements that the School Board will have to navigate. There was no discussion about how some schools are on deck to be closed because of lack of enrollment and we spoke nothing at all about how to hold accountable the State Legislature that gutted the school funding this year, not the Mayor.

It increased job positions for police, but there are over 100 positions currently open that are not being filled. Based on my feedback, this is about morale more than pay. However, make no mistake, I believe they should be paid more.

And, also not discussed, it would have gutted out the small business incentive work that needs to happen to stop the bleeding on small business gentrification that is taking place.

A moral budget? The moral thing to do is to hold the next council, of which I certainly hope to be a part of, accountable for completing the pay plan study and working with the Mayor’s office for not just 3 months but 12 months on having a solution discussed by the public. The School Board should be working with the State on school funding solutions and continue getting their house in order to build the county-wide confidence that Interim Director Battle deserves.


All of us, no matter where we work, should encourage more public-private engagements for all of our nonprofits that are doing such vital, important and life-changing work. Having spent over ten years in non-profit management, I can tell you that relying on government funding for stability is not wise. Smart organizations know this. If you are reading this and had hoped that more would have been done for transit, buy $364 ( the average your taxes would have been raised) worth of free bus passes this year and give them to a nonprofit for distribution. Wish that a particular nonprofit had received funding? Make a direct donation of $364. Wish we had more books? Donate to the National Library Foundation. Call book publishers and ask them to donate books. There are hundreds of options to put your $364 to work this year:

My work as a Councilmember is not to make everyone happy, but to strike a balance that is satisfactory. When I spoke to the CLC I told them, what still believe to be true: District 8 is ready to tolerate a tax rate increase if they know where the money is going and it is equitably distributed.

Everyone is obsessing about the one-time revenue from the Parking Modernization and I’m over here cheering for upgraded infrastructure and evolved use and understanding of our right-of-way and how it is used/wasted. The mayor's parking proposal will allow people to easily find and pay for affordable street parking spaces and is expected to generate $337 million in revenue for the city (over 30 years) from meter rates and compliance. No asset is being sold - a partner (ParkNashville) was selected through a bid process to take on the costs to modernize the parking system and to manage the day-to-day operation and maintenance. To me, this sounds like smart government.

Mayor Briley has said he said he wants to have a clear understanding of all of the city's needs and what revenue is available, before making a suggestion to raise property taxes.  The metro pay plan is under review. This is a step in the right direction for providing equity and raising all boats.

I will challenge this administration, and/or the next, to continue to have monthly budget conversations about new revenue streams. I will hold us all accountable to be kind and fair to all of our neighbors.

Hon. Nancy VanReece, District 8

Oakwood Park. It's About Respect.

Oakwood Park. It's About Respect.


Remarks by Councilmember Nancy VanReece from the Oakwood Park Ribbon Cutting, April 13, 2019

Many of you here today have grown up with Oakwood Park, but I didn’t learn about it until the summer of 2011.

I learned that the district that I planned to represent, contained a hilly, 26-acre park with what’s perhaps the city’s most majestic view of downtown Nashville.

Unfortunately, its reputation didn’t end there. My research into Oakwood turned up a review from the Nashville Scene, which contained this memorable description: “We all stood in the Oakwood playground, looking up into the wooded area, and were convinced we were seeing possibly the most unsafe park in Nashville — two paltry swings, a strange elevated pyramid, and a crumbling basketball court, with plenty of places for you to be out of sight if you fell and therefore plenty of places for bad folks to be unseen.”

When I was elected in 2015, I was determined to work with all of you to change that reputation and make Oakwood Park the gem it could be. 

As I began meeting with the neighbors about park improvements. It was clear, after four community meetings, that the original idea to enhance access to the top of the hill and a possible dog park, would need to be in Phase 2.  Phase 1, which we celebrate the completion of today is built for people, for families.

I want to thank the mountain bikers from SORBA of Middle TN whose diligence to preserve trails may have actually saved this park from extinction.  A primitive trail was blazed on the eastern slope to the top of the hill where it ties to one of those existing trails that wraps back down on the west creating a one mile loop for bikers, pedestrians, and yes, dogs (on a leash).

The basketball courts have always been used and they will continue to be.  I want to thank the newly formed Friends of Oakwood Park whose first project will be to continue enhancements to the basketball courts.

We kept the park layout so that you who live here can simply walk over from your homes and start enjoying it, which is what I’m sure all of you will do.  But this work isn’t just helping those of you who live here. The construction agreement for this city project went to a local, minority-owned business.   I want to acknowledge and thank Janet Shands and Pearl Sims from Mutual Contractors for making this park a true destination. In particular, thank you for your work with Tim Netsch and Mark Bradfield of Nashville Parks to save what may be one of the most beautiful collections of natural hardwood forest in the urban core.

But, this work is not just about green space, this is about respect.  The Shephardwood communities surrounding this park have been as forgotten as the park.  It has been my pleasure to  influence  public investment in this place called home.  Now the children that live on Bethwood can walk safely through the park to catch the school bus on Oakwood.  The WeGo bus stop on Oakwood can bring friends to play basketball with after school.

You may have noticed the new, large development in neighboring District 5 bringing hundreds of new families workforce and affordable housing that will also have this amazing park to enjoy.  This balance of mixed income housing is imperative as we work to slow gentrification every time we make an investment for the people that already live here.

The city and I plan to keep improving Oakwood Park in future years. And who knows? Maybe someday we will see that Phase 2 funded to enhance the access to the top of this beautiful protected landscape.

I am overwhelmed by what we have all built together here.

Let’s take care of it,

Let’s use it, 

Let’s respect it, 

Let’s claim Oakwood Park as part of our beautiful city,  at last.

Photos: Chad McClarnon

featured: Councilmember Nancy VanReece, Mayor David Briley, Nashville Metro Parks Director, Monique Odom, Commander Imoff, East Nashville Police Precinct, Shephardwood Neighbors and Friends of Oakwood Park.


Share your Voice - Next is Now

Share your Voice - Next is Now

The most asked question I have received has been overwhelming "How do we extend the line from Briley Parkway to Old Hickory Blvd?"  My response is this, "Let's give them a reason to do so."

Nashville Nine 2016

Nashville Nine 2016

I am happy indeed to see the Madison Bowl property and the Star-Day King Studios in District 8's Madison, have been added to the Historic Nashviile, Inc's Nashville Nine list for 2016.  I hope that the energy about their stories will  bring restoration and attention to  their part in the Madtown/Madison renaissance.

The Renaissance

The Renaissance

Momentum is building in Madison.  Can you feel it?  Madtown moves me. With the late JD Elliot's inspirational challenge to "get all together on this" a roundtable of community leaders has been gathering to make sure that all opportunities are explored and all momentum is fanned with respect. The work of Randall Gross is now entering its 6th month and I’m confident that this strategic planning effort will move Madison forward. The Mayor's office of Economic and Community Development is highly engaged as is the Nashville Chamber of Commerce.

Most of Madison will pay lower property tax rates after the reappraisal

Most of Madison will pay lower property tax rates after the reappraisal


Good news, most of our property tax rates are expected to go down in Madison at very much the same rate of any increase that would happen with the USD so we are not expected to pay a higher rate.

The Domino Effect

The Domino Effect

UPDATE May 16, 2016: The Neely's Bend / Amqui Station Blvd six million dollar investment is in the spending plan. Join me in thanking Mayor Barry and encouraging Metro Council's Support

Amqui Station Blvd. at Gallatin Pike

We've all seen them, those videos of teams of people working hours and hours to set up elaborate domino patterns.  The ultimate goal is to set something into motion.  With Mayor Barry's new Capital Improvement Budget (CIB) proposed for Nashville Metro Council's review, the domino pattern is ready for launch.  There is a $6 million dollar Public Works project for Madison that has been well over ten years in the making.

The Neely's Bend Road /Amqui Station Blvd extension from Neely's Bend through to Madison Street and the complete streetscaping for what is known as "downtown Madison" to Old Hickory Blvd. has been something that the communities of both District 7, 8 and 9 have asked for.

The Nashville Next plan placed the area squarely into a Tier One development support. The dedication of the owners of the properties of Madison Square Shopping, the Madison/Rivergate Chamber and tenacity, along with countless hours of domino-setting, is about to result in a beautiful chain reaction of development happening  for us and not just to us.

We'll be working diligently to  keep this in the budget and get the community involved in this project as soon as it is approved and content is prepared for feedback.  I know you want more information, I do too! It's coming soon.  There will be a month for the reviews to take place. Please encourage all the Metro Council members to support this investment.

Oakwood Park

Metro Parks has successfully requested $969k for a major improvement to Oakwood Park. Oakwood is the only park in District 8 and its neglect has finally been recognized.  With more residential development coming to the area, there is even more reason to support this as a destination park with an amazing view of the downtown skyline that sits just off Ellington Parkway between Trinity Lane and Hart Lane. If the budget is approved, the community will have a major say in the direction of the improvements which could include: a road the top of the hill, lighting,  playground, dog park, band shell, dirt bike trails, hiking trails, the resurfacing of the basketball courts and more.  Please encourage all the Metro Council members to support this investment.

Please keep in mind that this is purely conceptual for budgeting purposes only.  No design has occurred.  Should funding be allocated, we would include the community in any planning process.  CLICK HERE TO SEE THE PROPOSAL

I will continue to work hard on the many projects happening around District 8 and rely on your feedback along the way.

 Click here to see the District 8 CIB Projects