Americana Music News – We’ve seen many special shows at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, but one of the most memorable was from a woman in her late ’70s whose biggest hits were recorded a half-century earlier.
Patti Page passed away this week, and obituaries inevitably mentioned ’50s hits “How Much Is That Doggie in the Window?” and “Tennessee Waltz.”
She did those favorites and songs from her then-new album Brand New Tennessee Waltz at the Ryman in the spring of 2000. She was in good voice and the show was remarkably contemporary. The concert and her album – a collaboration with Victoria Shaw and others in the Nashville music community – were reminders of Page’s enduring talent and charm.
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Eleven is the title of Martina McBride’s latest album, and those digits began the onscreen countdown for her performance at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville tonight.
That bit of stagecraft foreshadowed a generous two-hour set spanning most of her hits and a surprising number of covers. Martina told the audience from the outset that this would be a more intimate evening, allowing her to perform at her own pace and interact with the audience.
Despite her gift for ballads, the set was consistently up-tempo, with particularly driving performances of “This One’s For the Girls” and “When God-Fearin’ Women Get the Blues,” among others.
We’ve always admired McBride’s gravitation to songs with a social conscience and she delivered both Gretchen Peters’ “Independence Day” and Buzz Cason and Tom Douglas’ “Love’s the Only House” with passion and energy.
Most surprising was her remarkable arrays of covers, including “Rose Garden” and “Help Me Make It Through the Night” from her Timeless album. Her take on Roger Miller’s “King of the Road” was great fun, and her encore of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” and the Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” were as joyous as a 1984 prom.
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By Ken Paulson–I was surprised to run into Felix Cavaliere in the lobby of Ringo Starr’s concert at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium last night.
What were the odds, I thought, of coming across one of Ringo’s All-Starr Band alums at one of his shows?
Pretty good, it turns out. By evening’s end, the stage boasted three former All-Stars, including Joe Walsh (“Class of ’89,” he announced), Richard Marx and Cavaliere, plus former Roundhead Gary Burr.
It was all hands on deck for Ringo’s 72nd birthday. This was a special performance, in part because of the day, in part because of the storied venue and in part because the show was recorded on video. Ringo was energetic and entertaining throughout.
He opened the show with “Matchbox,” the Carl Perkins song that became a top 20 record for the Beatles. The band has been performing the song on this tour, but no place more appropriate than in Nashville, miles down the road from Perkins’ hometown of Jackson.
Ringo did many of the songs he’s performed on past tours, including the well-worn “Boys” and “I Wanna Be Your Man” and the relatively fresh “Don’t Pass Me By.” His takes on “Photograph” (co-written with George Harrison) and “I’m the Greatest” (written by John Lennon) were highlights, as always. The latter had a brand-new lyric: “Now I’m Only 72 and all I want to do is boogaloo.”
This year’s All-Starr Band includes Steve Lukather of Toto, Gregg Rolie of Journey and Santana, Richard Page of Mr. Mister, Todd Rundgren, Mark Rivera and Gregg Bissonette.
Rolie was a particularly pleasant surprise, reprising his vocals on three classic Santana songs “Evil Ways,” “Black Magic Woman” and “Everybody’s Everything.” Lukather contributed sizzling guitar solos.
Rundgren was also impressive, with “I Saw the Light,” “Bang the Drum All Day” and a particularly powerful take on “Love is the Answer.”
Joe Walsh, Ringo’s orther-in-law, dropped in to do “Rocky Mountain Way,” delivering the hardest rock of the evening and electrifying the audience.
The evening ended with a sing-along to “A Little Help From My Friends,” with Nashville ‘friends’ Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Brendan Benson and Kix Brooks among those joining in.
Happy birthday, Ringo. And may there be many more.
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We’ve seen Marc Cohn in concert a few times, but he’s never been better than last night at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville.
Actually it was a bit of a surprise that he was there at all. The night before, he had cancelled a show in nearby Franklin, TN.
Cohn apologized to anyone who had tickets to that show, and said that nothing gets you back on your feet more quickly than opening for Bonnie Raitt at the Ryman.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” he said.
His set was brief, but compelling. He said he set out one day years ago to explore new places as a cure for writer’s block and found his way to Memphis. That in turn inspired his biggest hit, “Walking in Memphis.”
Cohn laughed and said if he had dropped by Music City first, it could just as easily been “Walking in Nashville,” with Music Row supplanting Beale Street.
The evening’s highlight was “Listening to Levon,” his tribute to the late Levon Helm, which he recorded in 2007 on Join the Parade.
The only disappointment was that Cohn didn’t play anything from his outstanding 2010 album Listening Booth: 1970, a collection of covers from that year. Still, it’s hard to complain when Cohn packed so much great material in a 30-minute set, and closed with “Silver Thunderbird,” a song that should have been every bit as big as “Memphis.”
–Bonnie Raitt’s show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville last night was as loose as they come and every bit as entertaining.
Whether explaining that she hadn’t found time to do a set list, calling former band member Rick Vito to the stage or saluting Nashville’s songwriters, Raitt was casual, comfortable and in command.
She drew heavily from Slipstream, her excellent new album. Songs like “Marriage Made in Hollywood, “Split Decision” and “Down to You” stood up alongside her classics.
A surprise cover on the album and in concert is “Right Down the Line,” the 1978 Gerry Rafferty hit. Stripped of its ‘70s production sheen and infused with reggae, it was a bluesy highlight.
Raitt saluted John Prine and his manager Al Bunetta, and recalled her mom and grandmother in a touching introduction to Prine’s heart-rending “Angel from Montgomery.”
This was a generous set running more than two hours with an extraordinary encore.
Praising songwriters Allen Shamblin and Mike Reid, Raitt delivered their “I Can’t Make You Love Me” in stark and powerful fashion, followed by “Have a Heart.” She closed out the evening sharing vocals with Vito on a raucous version of the 1959 Elvis Presley hit “A Big Hunk O’ Love.”
Tonight Emmylou Harris will be honored at the Grand Old Opry, on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. She deserves that recognition and Nashville’s gratitude.
Today downtown Nashville is the home of a major arena, symphony hall, thriving restaurants and a restored and vibrant Ryman Auditorium. But that wasn’t the case in the early 1990s.
In a column this week, Peter Cooper of the Tennessean traces Nashville’s resurgence and the rebirth of the Ryman to Emmylou Harris and her decision to record At the Ryman, a live album at this long-neglected historic site. In Cooper’s words:
“The resulting album, At the Ryman, pointed attention to a building that hadn’t hosted a public performance since 1974, when the Opry left for the modern amenities (Air conditioning! Dressing rooms!) of the Grand Ole Opry House out by Briley Parkway. The album came out in January of 1992, the same month Harris became the 70th official member of the Opry.
“That album was the tipping point for getting the Ryman refurbished and making it a proud venue again,” said Richard Bennett, who co- produced (with Allen Reynolds) At the Ryman. “It brought the name ‘Ryman’ back to the rest of America.”
At the time, much of the rest of America would have been skittish about visiting the Ryman and its Lower Broadway neighbors after dark.
“Lower Broad was Tootsie’s, a few beer joints, the Ernest Tubb Record Shop and a lot of adult bookstores,” says Steve Buchanan, Gaylord Entertainment’s Grand Ole Opry Group president.
Back in 1991, Buchanan was in charge of marketing the Opry and the Ryman, and he was instrumental in green-lighting Harris’ and the Ramblers’ performance there. Buchanan’s efforts to market the Ryman were emboldened by Gaylord President and CEO Bud Wendell, who was insistent that the Ryman was an essential and irreplaceable building.
“The album came out in January of 1992, and we announced the renovation of the Ryman in March of 1993,” Buchanan says. “I think Emmylou was instrumental in multiple ways, and that album served to connect the dots and to introduce the Ryman to a whole new generation of fans.”
We reported here about Glen Campbell’s November 30 show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, but a return performance on Dec. 5 was postponed due to illness.
Campbell made up that date this week.
Here’s what Dave Paulson of the Tennessean said about the show:
“Little appeared to be impeding his performance Tuesday night. Teleprompters set up at the edge of the stage were glanced at for lyrical cues – almost a necessity for anyone tackling the songs of wordy popsmith Jimmy Webb – but Campbell remained in fine voice and proved to still be a staggeringly sharp and fluid guitarist, wowing the crowd early on with an explosive solo on “Gentle” and muscular melodic licks on his classic “Galveston.”"
“Glen Campbell has been forced to postpone his December 5 performance at the Ryman this evening due to a case of laryngitis. He will perform a make up date on Tuesday, January, 3 at 7:30 pm. Tickets for the December 5 show will be honored at the January 3 date. If ticket holders are unable to attend the rescheduled date, refunds are available at the point of purchase.”
The show was essentially sold out, so there’s a sliver of a silver lining here for those who didn’t want to miss Campbell’s final Nashville show.
It was a sad and exhilarating evening at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville tonight.
It’s wasn’t sad because Glen Campbell is suffering from Alzheimer’s or that his performance was part of his “Goodbye Tour.” He’s 75 and ailments strike us all.
It was sad because this is the last tour of one of America’s great pop singers, interpreters and guitarists, and it’s not realistic to expect anyone else to ever perform the work of Jimmy Webb with as much passion and joy.
Campbell had some challenges tonight, forgetting the lyrics to set opener “Gentle on My Mind” when a prompter malfunctioned and stumbling through some stage patter. But his guitar
playing was solid, and his solo on “Wichita Lineman” was stirring.
In full stride, singing the songs that dominated America’s pop and country charts from 1967 through 1977,he was impressive. He played his biggest hits, including “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Galveston,” but also lesser and still memorable hits, notably “Where’s The Playground Susie?” and “Dreams of the Everyday Housewife.” Haunting and beautiful stuff.
It was inspiring to see Campbell pepper the show with tracks from his outstanding final album Ghost on the Canvas. He’s been an artist all his life and he’s going to leave the stage playing new songs. That’s what artists – as opposed to oldies acts – do.
Tickets for the Moody Blues’ March 21 date at the Ryman Auditorium
in Nashville go on sale this Friday, Dec. 2.
The band that got its start with the 1964 hit “Go Now” still has
three long-time members, Graeme Edge, John Lodge and Justin Hayward, and puts on a good live show that spans more than four decades of music
What’s most surprising, though, is the band’s clear affinity for
Nashville and its music, and vice-versa. That’s clear on Moody Bluegrass Two… Much Love, the second album of Moody Blues songs recorded by some of bluegrass music’s biggest names. And a bonus for long-time Moody Blues fans is the participation of Hayward, Lodge, Edge and former band members Mike Pinder and Ray Thomas.
The material is not quite as familiar as on the first record, but it’s a nice mix of later hits and favorite album tracks. Highlights include Vince Gill on “ I Know You’re Out There,” Ricky Skaggs’ “You and Me,” Jan Harvey’s “Say It With Love” and Sam Bush, John Cowan and Russell Smith’s take on “Nice to Be Here.”
This was a terrific concept the first time and it’s nice to see it revisited in such a compelling way. It’s also a reminder of just how pastoral and softly melodic the Moody Blues could be.
The “Let Us In” concert at the Ryman Auditorium tonight was billed as a fundraiser for the Women and Cancer Fund, so let’s begin with a link to their site and a way to donate to the cause.
I’m sure it was a good cause, but it was also an odd evening. This was marketed as a tribute to Linda McCartney, and a concert featuring the music of Paul McCartney. Yet each guest artist was invited to perform his or her own material along with a pop classic written by Paul.
That meant McCartney’s music was at best just half of the evening, and there was very little flow to the show. Phil Vassar came out in a Sgt. Pepper-esque jacket, did one of his country hits, a reinterpretation of “Lady Madonna” and then an inexplicable version of “Help Me Make It Through the Night.” My thoughts exactly.
Not that it was a bad night. The artists, including former Wings guitarist Laurence Juber were all talented and earnest. It just felt like you were driving down the highway with someone who kept switching off the Beatles station to sample something on the pop country channel.
The Blue Sky Riders closed the show in a way that reflected the entire concert. We wrote here about the Blue Sky Riders’ debut last spring at the Tin Pan South Festival in Nashville. It’s a remarkable trio of singer-songwriters, including Kenny Loggins, Gary Burr and Georgia Middleman.
They did two original songs, including the anthemic “Dream,” and a lovely version of the rarely-heard “Junk,” from the first McCartney solo album. So far so good.
Their final song was “Help!,” a John Lennon song. Yes, we know that McCartney’s name was on the credits, but that was just the terms of the partnership.
As Lennon said of the song, “I just wrote the song because I was commissioned to write it for the movie. But later, I knew I was really crying out for help. So it was my Fat Elvis period.”
Most promising is a new CD out tomorrow featuring a selection of McCartney songs (no “Help!) bearing the same name as the concert.
Artists include Juliana Cole, Jeff Daniels, Kiki Dee, Tommy Emmanuel, Steel Magnolia, SheDaisy and more.
Television is a very big deal to the Americana music community.
For years, the Americana Music Association has worked to establish the genre with the general public, and TV is the key.
Any medium that can make Snooki a household name should do wonders for Buddy Miller.
That’s why news that WNPT, Nashville’s public television station, would broadcast the 2011 Americana Music Festival Honors and Awards show , and that Austin City Limits would do a show of highlights, was so welcome. A broader audience would finally see what Americana music was all about.
Yet the early results were discouraging. That initial live broadcast from the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville showed large expanses of empty seats early on, due to a late-arriving crowd. Unbelievably, the opening graphic noted that the evening was dedicated to the memory of “Jim” Hartford rather than John Hartford. And then early in the show, transmission difficulties meant audio and video drop-outs during performances by Justin Townes Earle and Elizabeth Cook. Ouch.
Things were better for a rebroadcast two days later, although the length of the show was apparently longer than the original estimate. If you have a TiVo, you didn’t see a dazzling finale.
But the good news is that the music overall was stunning, the performances passionate and even the presentations were well-paced. Austin City Limits should find it relatively easy to mine the two-plus hour show for an hour’s worth of great music, drawing on performances by Robert Plant, the Avett Brothers, Jim Lauderdale, Lucinda Williams, Emmylou Harris, Miller, Cook, Earle and more.
That kind of quality exposure will build awareness of Americana, but will also amplify the sales pitch to prospective music festival sponsors.
My guess is that Austin City Limits, scheduled for Nov. 19, will edit out acceptance speeches, which may be just as well. The message relayed by Mumford and Sons thanked “the Nashville community,” which is exactly what the Americana Music Association doesn’t need. Americana needs to be seen as a vibrant worldwide genre, which just happens to have an office in Nashville. National television exposure is critical to making that happen.
There on the stage of the legendary Ryman Auditorium tonight was a go-go dancer moving to the music of Elvis Costello and the Imposters. The dancer’s cage – and the multi-colored “Spectacular Spinning Songbook” that drove the setlist- contributed to a carnival-like atmosphere and an entertaining and outlandish show.
This was in sharp contrast to Costello’s performance on the same stage in 2008. That was a lethargic show, top-heavy with tracks from the then-current “Momofoku” album.
Tonight the Ryman’s karma must have taken over. Every time the wheel was spun, it turned to classics like “(I Don’t Want to Go to) Chelsea,” “Everyday I Write the Book” and “Clubland.”
Audience members were invited onstage to spin the wheel, dance and lounge. One woman bent the rules and requested a song that wasn’t on the wheel. She was rewarded with a striking version of “Almost Blue.”
The show began and ended with high points, book-ended by Nick Lowe songs. Costello opened with two songs from “Get Happy” – “I Can’t Stand Up for Falling Down” and “High Fidelity, and then played a driving cover of Lowe’s “Heart of the City.”
The show closed with Lowe’s “What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding” and a cover of the Who’s “Substitute.”
Today the new Americana Music Association Chart showed Matraca Berg still in the Top 20 with her “The Dreaming Fields” album. Tonight she sang her “You and Tequila” (number four in this week’s Billboard country charts) on stage at the Ryman Auditorium along with Grace Potter and Kenny Chesney. That’s a pretty good Monday.
The chart remained largely unchanged this week, with John Hiatt still at number one and no new Top 10 entries.
New to the Americana Music chart: Ry Cooder’s “Pull Up Some Dust and Sit Down,”(pictured) Girls Guns and Glory’s “Sweet Nothings,” Jimmie Dale Gilmore’s “Heirloom Music” and John Doe’s “Keeper.”
The biggest surprise for most attending tonight’s Grace Potter show at the Ryman was opening act the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Give a mini-skirted rocker credit for counter-programming.
You don’t expect to hear string tunes from the 19th century or an Ethel Waters cover at most rock shows. The audience seemed pleasantly surprised – and mesmerized. The show was outstanding.
During their Nashville stay, Chocolate Drops member Dom Flemons did an interview with the Star-Telegram. An excerpt:
The North Carolina-based quartet, one of just two known African-American “string bands” in existence, traffics in a style more evocative of Will Rogers than Lady Gaga, or what multi-instrumentalist Dom Flemons calls simply “old-time fiddle and banjo music.”
“What we do, as a whole, branches off in a lot of different directions,” Flemons says by phone from a Nashville tour stop. “There are a lot of different strains that are in there. It’s such a huge breadth of material.”
Tickets for Glen Campbell’s final show at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on Nov. 30 go on sale at 10 a.m. on Friday, Sept. 9. It’s part of the “Goodbye Tour,” Campbell’s farewell concert series in the wake of his Alzheimer’s diagnosis.
I respect Campbell and his family, and their decision to face his illness in a public and forthright way. They give the audience a clear understanding of the challenges Campbell faces, and provide context for his new and deeply personal music.
Campbell’s new album “Ghost on the Canvas,” billed as his final release, reflects his condition. The opening song “A Better Place” spells that out: “Some days I’m so confused Lord, my past gets in my way, I need the ones I love, Lord, more and more each day.”
It is a powerful and emotional album, and the last musical testament of a major figure in pop and country music. The songs document both his struggles and hopes, and even songs by Paul Westerberg and Jakob Dylan seem tailored for Campbell.
As fine as this album is, reflections on mortality are not everyone’s first download choice.
If you don’t know Campbell’s work, you might consider a collection of his early hits. In tandem with Jimmy Webb, Campbell created several pop masterpieces, including “By the Time I Get to Phoenix” and “Wichita Lineman,” that rank with anything of their era.
That was fast.
The Band Perry, a very young band with a very popular album, has been booked to headline the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville on Feb. 20, 2012.
Tcikets will go on sale on Aug.26.
From the Ryman website:
“While TBP has previously graced the Ryman stage during the Grand Ole Opry and other multi-artist events, this will be their debut as headliners on this revered stage.
“We are so excited to headline the Ryman, which holds a very special place in the heart of everyone in country music. It truly is an amazing experience to step on that stage – we can’t wait to spend a whole evening there, sharing our stories and becoming a part of its history,” said Kimberly, Reid and Neil Perry.
Nick Lowe, a remarkable songwriter and performer who rose to fame as a member of Brinsley Schwarz and as a New Wave artist and producer, will appear at the Country Music Hall of Fame at 11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 20, in an interview setting. It’s a treat to see him in any format, but the Country Music Hall of Fame goes to some lengths to explain why he’s a welcome guest in a country music setting:
British pop legend Nick Lowe could claim legitimate country credentials on the strength of having written “The Beast in Me,” recorded by Johnny Cash for 1994′s American Recordings, and having married Carlene Carter, daughter of Country Music Hall of Fame member Carl Smith and June Carter. That would be enough. But there’s a whole lot more that points to Lowe’s affinity for hillbilly fare: Cash also recorded his “Without Love,” and Lowe’s own recording of “Man That I’ve Become” bows deeply to Cash (and Luther Perkins). Over the years, Lowe’s repertoire has included covers of country pearls from Faron Young, Ray Price, and Charlie Feathers, among others. On The Old Magic, due Sept. 13, Lowe picks off another gem with a cover of Tom T. Hall’s “Shame on the Rain.” Lowe has graciously agreed to visit the museum to talk about his work in a special Songwriters Session that will combine interview and performance.
Lowe’s work spans almost four decades and the quality remains high. His new album “The Old Magic” will be released Sept. 13 and Lowe will be back in Nashville to open for Wilco at the Ryman Auditorium on Oct. 1 and 2.
A legendary music figure took the stage at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville tonight, performing his greatest songs in faithful, spirited versions. That was Leon Russell.
Of course, Bob Dylan took a different path.
Born just one year apart, Russell, 69, and Dylan, 70, were a study in contrasts.
Russell was determined to please. The newly-elected member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame did his hits and familiar covers, all at a brisk pace.
He opened with “Delta Lady,” the Rita Coolidge-inspired song that found its greatest success in the hands of Joe Cocker. He followed that up with the single from his first ‘Hank Wilson’s Back” LP,
“Rolling In My Sweet Baby’s Arms.”
He appeared frail, but you wouldn’t know it from the music. He covered the Beatles (“I’ve Just Seen A Face”) and the Rolling Stones. Despite the imagery, “Wild Horses” really shouldn’t be performed at a gallop.
Oddly, Russell began “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” the song that electrified audiences at the concert for Bangla Desh (and moviegoers thereafter,) but cut it short to repeat the refrain from “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” over and over again.
“A Song For You” was the absolute highlight, with Russell performing solo on piano.
And then there was Dylan. By now, we know what we’ll get: A terrific band, limited vocal range and dramatic re-intepretations of some of his greatest compositins.
For Dylan fans, that’s plenty.
More casual fans are left wondering whether Dylan is actually capable of performing his songs as they were originally recorded. It’s a lively set, but certainly doesn’t pander. I began with “Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat” and “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue,” before moving on to songs of more recent vintage, including “Things Have Changed” and “Thunder on the Mountain.”
I’ve always loved “All Along the Watchtower” by both Dylan and Jimi Hendrix and that song along would be worth the price of admission. Dylan’s re-working was so dramatic that I didn’t recognize it until I actually heard him sing the words in the title. Is that a daring re-invention or the waste of an extraordinary composition?
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