Last night was another incredible evening of bluegrass at the Ryman.
The headliner was Rhonda Vincent and the Rage. Rhonda is one of the leaders in the bluegrass genre and she certainly showed it last night. I saw her last year as part of the series and came away a bit disappointed (part of it could have been the greatness of opening act Doyle Lawton and Quicksilver). This year was no disappointment, at all.
Rhonda and the Rage were very relaxed and easy going up on stage...they even took requests from the audience, which led to her playing one of my favorite songs she does--Jolene. It was an incredible performance. Another highlight was when she and the band did about two-thirds of a gospel song then freestyled several other songs throughout before finally coming back to finish out the song. The Rage all got a chance to shine and there was a tremendous energy to the entire show.
And to add to it, we got not one but TWO opening acts last evening. The first was Williams and Clark Expedition, who are based out of Sparta in our great state. This was their first time performing at the Ryman, but you wouldn't know it from the music. All good and they even had time for a few really bad jokes as well. Again, they did one of my favorite songs that was included on Vincent's last album that the group wrote--"Forever Ain't that Long Anymore." (Haunting song and one of the best songs I've heard in years....go and buy Vincent's album "American Bluegrass Girl" just for this one song and stick around for the other 11 great tracks...). Hearing it and "Jolene" performed made the evening.
The other group was Nothin' Fancy (that's their name). A bunch of guys who gathered around one microphone and did a great job. What I love about bluegrass is the sheer variety of songs--from one that was funny about meeting a girl in the line to the port-0-john to several moving gospel renditions. The guys even brought down a tourbus full of fans from their home base in Virginia. Again, part of the fun was their sense of humor and the personalities on stage. It may be part of the act, but it didn't feel rehearsed at all.
The show ended with a jam-session featuring all three acts doing a variety of gospel songs. I got chills when they did "Amazing Grace". Simply stunning.
Only thing that could have made it better--one of the original Osborne brothers was there and sang with Rhonda. If they'd broken out into "Rocky Top" (best song EVER!), that would have been beyond amazing.
Next week is Vince Gill....now, I know he's good and all, but he's going to have a hard time topping this show.
posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/29/2007 09:41:00 AM