By Jack Criss
The Bolivar Bullet
Deep Roots, Cleveland’s live local music initiative, began its twelve-week winter series on January 16 with the addition of three new performers to their artist roster, according to founder, Tricia Walker. This latest series will continue through early March, presenting live music in local, Cleveland venues five nights a week.
“We’re very pleased to have these three new outstanding artists on board with us,” said Walker. “Plus, we’re using Delta State audio tech students to staff what we’re doing at Deep Roots, so it’s a total win-win for our vibrant and growing music community here in Cleveland.” Two new venues have also been added for the new season, said Walker. “And we’ve had great relationships with our existing venue partners here and, through them, can offer live music five nights of the week.
The three new artists include singer/songwriter Billy Maines, whose repertoire spans the genres of Americana, Alternative Rock, and the Blues, describes his music as “Heinz 57.” Maines grew up in Saugerties, New York, a village on the Hudson River near Woodstock. After graduation from Cortland College in New York, Maines relocated to Boulder, Colorado, where the wide open music scene inspired his writing and encouraged his performing.
Maines relocated to Lake Beulah, Mississippi in 2004, where he learned to appreciate the rich heritage of the music of Mississippi and was inspired to form an original rock band called The Rind. After the band broke up, Billy began to perform as a solo artist and continues to do so today.
Alanna Mosley is a singer/songwriter from Carrollton. Her music—best described as Americana or roots—blurs genre lines, and her cover tune catalog spans decades. With guitar in hand, Mosley is an unstoppable jukebox of great music. She began playing guitar at the age of 12 and hasn’t quit since. At an early age, Mosley was soaking in her music education: 90s guitar queens Patty Griffin and Shawn Colvin, country rockers like Dwight Yoakam and Steve Earle, and the gauntlet of great singer/songwriters from Carole King to Brandi Carlile.
Mosley released an EP of original music in 2014, and in 2016 she was the winner of the prestigious Jimmie Rodgers Songwriting Competition. After living and gigging in Charlotte, North Carolina for several years, she returned to the Delta and continues to fill her calendar with festival, radio, restaurant, and private gigs.
Finally, Mississippi Marshall grew up a poor Delta farmer’s son in the 1960s and 70s. He began playing guitar before the age of ten and, by age eleven, he was playing professionally with his father, Ellis Hopper, and the family band. Marshall soon began blending country, blues, and rock and roll into a genre all his own.
Throughout his lifelong and stories career, he has made a name for himself as a solo artist and has also been fortunate enough to share the stage with big names such as Charlie Daniels, B.B. King, Jimmy Vaughn, Three Dog Night, Buddy Guy, Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, and countless other artists. Marshall continues performing across the Delta and beyond while writing new material for a fourth album due out soon. He is also taking the time to teach and influence younger blues musicians, including his grandson, Grayson Ackerland, who often shares the stage with him.
The Deep Roots initiative was conceptualized in early 2020 by Walker with the goal of building community through the development and promotion of local roots music and musicians. The global pandemic delayed the launch of live shows, but offered a timely opportunity to create a video series called “Music From The Ground Up,” which feature performances from the Deep Roots roster artists on stage at the historic Ellis Theatre in downtown Cleveland. “We made it easy for our performers to simply plug in and play,” she said. “Everything is taken care of, from pay to technical requirements and everything in between, and it’s been a success that I’m extremely proud.”
Artists on the Deep Roots roster each represent a particular style of music under the larger ‘roots music’ umbrella, which offers a platform to showcase multiple genres of music that evolved in the Americana Music Triangle, a slice of geography from Nashville to Memphis to New Orleans and Muscle Shoals, where so much great American music was developed. “And all genres and types of musical styles are included,” said Walker, “and that’s important to note.
“The Mississippi Delta sits squarely in the middle of this space and I think we’re in a great position, especially as we add and work with more artists and students,” she continued. “As home to GRAMMY Museum® Mississippi and Delta State’s Entertainment Industry Studies program, Cleveland is poised to become ‘Mississippi’s Music City’ with a focus on developing a creative economy within the storied region,” said Walker. A new Deep Roots songwriter festival is going to take place this summer, she added.
For more information on Deep Roots artists, venues, and a complete schedule for the upcoming Winter quarter, visit the Deep Roots website at https://www.deltadeeproots.com or the Deep Roots Facebook page.