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MTSU historian, acclaimed musician launch ‘T...

MTSU historian, acclaimed musician launch ‘The Road to Now’ podcast’s 2nd season

An MTSU historian and one of the co-founders of folk-rock’s The Avett Brothers launched the second season of their interview-based history podcast, “The Road to Now,” July 10.

Dr. Benjamin Sawyer

Musician and podcast co-host Bob Crawford

Bob Crawford

Dr. Benjamin Sawyer, a lecturer in MTSU’s Department of History, and Bob Crawford, the multi-instrumentalist best known for his exuberant bass playing in the Grammy-nominated band The Avett Brothers, began “The Road to Now” in May 2016 by investigating the history behind current events.

In the first 60 episodes of their podcast, they spoke with historians, journalists and politicians on topics ranging from President Donald Trump’s feud with the National Park Service to North Carolina’s controversial “bathroom bill” restricting transgender people’s restroom usage to allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

The second season of “The Road to Now” kicked off with a series investigating the energy industry that looks at the history of coal, oil, sustainable and nuclear energy.

Click on the logo for a link to the home page for “The Road to Now.”

“Politics and special interests have become almost as important as technology in shaping energy policy in the United States,” said Sawyer, who specializes in the history of economic systems with a geographic focus on Russia and the United States.

“We want to understand the history of these industries to see how this happened.”

Another series of interviews later this season will examine the causes and legacy of the Civil War.

Sawyer, who grew up with Avett Brothers co-founders Scott and Seth Avett and their tour manager, Dane Honeycutt, met Crawford through the band. The men quickly discovered that they share an obsession for events, characters and trends of American history.

“I would sit in the band van reading 700-page history book after 700-page history book, and Dane kept telling me about his friend studying history in Michigan who I just had to meet,” Crawford recalled.

“Ben and I finally met one night in Detroit a few hours before a show and drank coffee and talked pretty much until show time.”

A preview of “The Road to Now” second season is available below.

Portions of the video were shot on the MTSU campus during one of Sawyer’s classes in the Bragg Media and Entertainment Building and the co-hosts’ live podcast interview with former U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union Jack Matlock Jr., all with audio help from Department of Recording Industry professor John Merchant and his students and logistics assistance from Department of History professor Susan Myers-Shirk and executive aide Kelle Knight.

For more information about the show, including a list of episodes and listening links, visit www.theroadtonow.com.

— Gina E. Fann (gina.fann@mtsu.edu)

MTSU history lecturer Benjamin Sawyer, left, listens as his “The Road to Now” podcast co-host, musician Bob Crawford of The Avett Brothers, makes a point to students in Sawyer’s class in the university’s Bragg Media and Entertainment Building this past spring. (Photo courtesy of The Road to Now)

MTSU history lecturer Benjamin Sawyer, left, listens as his “The Road to Now” podcast co-host, musician Bob Crawford of The Avett Brothers, makes a point to students in Sawyer’s class in the university’s Bragg Media and Entertainment Building this past spring. (Photo courtesy of The Road to Now)


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