Last Thursday, I made two further steps toward cementing my status as a Nashvillian--I had dinner at the Wild Horse (for those of you wondering, I didn't line dance and even if I had, there would be no YouTube posting of said dancing for your viewing pleasure) and then took in a show at the Ryman.
My dad and I went to hear Rhoda Vincent and the Rage and Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver as part of the Bluegrass Nights summer concert series.
I found out about the series last summer when I saw an ad in the paper. My father is notoriously difficult to buy a present for and I thought a bluegrass concert at the Ryman would be a great idea. I told my mom who agreed and then wanted to join me in the ticket purchase, buying him more than just one set of tickets. So, I went, got the tickets and took them back to my mom, who promptly thanked me, wrote me a check for ALL OF THEM and then left me in the same predicament I was before--what in the wide world of sports do I get my dad for his b'day?
Anyway, long story short--they had such a good time they ended up buying tickets to all the other shows in the series and then got season tickets for this year. And it's been so good this year, they've already got plans to get season tickets next year.
But my mom had heard Rhonda Vincent last year and she gave me her ticket last week so my dad and I could have some father/son bonding time.
First up, was Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver
, who I'd never really heard much about before. I figured these guys would be a nice warm-up but that Rhonda Vincnet would be the star of the show. An article about Doyle in last week's City Paper only kind of reinforced this. Oh, how wrong I was. After a long introduction, Doyle and his band took the stage and proceeded to blow me away for the next hour or so. One interesting thing was that as we walked up to the Ryman, a bluegrass band was outside putting on a pre-concert show. They were doing a song that Doyle and company would do in their set..but the difference was night and day.
One thing I liked about Quicksilver was how expressive they were. Each person in the band had a personality and it showed on stage. So, not only could you get lost in the music, but you could watch for the give and take of the band. There was so good natured ribbing--espeically from Darren Beachley
and Jamie Dailey
. In a lot of ways, it felt like the kind of give and take you'd get from an old radio comedy--esp. the Jack Benny show. And since the Jack Benny show is one of my favorites, I found it very appealing. Also, it seems as if Doyle has surrounded himself with the best talent out there and isn't afraid to let them show off and have their moment in the sun. He let each of his group have a moment to show what they bring to the group. And not just once but everyone got a couple of moments per song to shine.
Then, after a standing ovation and an encore, we had a break and it was time for Rhonda Vincent
to take the stage. Now, I'd only heard Rhonda on her CDs before now, but I'd liked what I'd heard and was looking forward to it. And yes, she and the Rage were good..but honeslty I think Doyle and Quicksilver were better. But it's really one of those things where you have two great groups that both could easily headline their own show and you're picking between great and really great.
As with Doyle and Quicksilver, we got to the end of her set and I went, "It's only been five minutes...surely there must be more."
But we were still in for a treat. Rhonda and the Rage got a standing ovation as well, came out for an encore and invited Doyle and company back out for a bluegrass jam session....which was nothing short of spectacular. They did a lot of great gospel favorites, changing keys and songs and watching them all take a moment to show off and the looks to try and keep up. It was amazing and a great capper to end the show. I tell you I could have stayed another hour listening to them just jam on stage.
But, as the old saying goes, "All good things must come to an end..."
Now, I will admit something--I used to listen to country music a good deal, but I admit my fandom has waned a bit in recent years. I think part of it is that it started to sound so homogenized on the radio. It wasn't that it wasn't good, it just all sounded the same. It's why I appreciate those artists who take chances and risks to sound different or to sound old-fashioned instead of just going for a song that can crossover multiple genres and sell a bazillion copies. Don't get me wrong--I know want the artists to be able to make a living at what they do, but I also encourage them to take a risk from time to time.
Which may be why I liked these two groups so much. They were traditional with a modern sensibility. They respected what the tradition of bluegrass but they each put their own mark on it. In short, it was a great concert and Vincent said she'll be back next year. I know I'm going to get my tickets to go...and cross my fingers Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver are back with her.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/20/2006 02:10:00 PM