You really can't lose with something like this - a real down-home,
boots to the floor hootenanny featuring some of the greatest bluegrass
and newgrass artists ever to grace the stage at the historic Ryman
Auditorium. PBS has a history of putting together some great music
television shows, and this is by no means an exception to that
rule. To begin with, when you've lined up Ricky Skaggs
to host a night of bluegrass music, you can pretty well bet that
it's going to be a night of fun and extremely brilliant talent
And it is.
Skaggs kicks off the show with his band, Kentucky Thunder,
rolling out a track from his newly released Brand New Strings
record. I am simply amazed by the young talent that exists in
the world, this teenage mandolin player is superb, and "Shady
Grove" is a fine showcase for his talent. Vince Gill
makes an appearance with the Del McCoury Band, singing
his way through an old gospel standard better than just about
any current Nashville cat could. "1952 Vincent Black Lightning"
is simply an amazing song, and Del McCoury gives it a new flash
of life in his stirring rendition. Alison Krauss makes
a brief appearance to play an amazing version of her classic "Let
Me Touch You For Awhile" with Union Station wailing
away behind her, and a little bit of Jerry Douglas on the
dobro never hurt anyone either! And, let me tell you, Alison is
one of the most beautiful voices - and women - in contemporary
music. An angel with an angelic voice.
Earl Scruggs gives a fine performance of "Foggy Mountain
Breakdown", a song that may as well be his own signature
piece. Travis Tritt shows he's not just a new country popstar
by kicking out an amazing 5-string banjo solo, Vince Gill jumps
in on mandolin, the Scruggs boys fly through some smoking guitar
solos, and Jerry Douglas chimes in with the dobro. This song alone
is worth the entire night of music - One hundred percent pure
bluegrass magic. "Passin' Thru" is a cool country tune
with a great Scruggs banjo solo, and the thing to note here is
that it is only available on the DVD release
the first of
three songs not available on the CD - A real good reason to spring
for the DVD.
Ralph Stanley was not only in attendance, but made a stellar
performance completely on his own. Imagine one man on stage with
no instruments, belting out "O Death" in his hauntingly
spooky breaking voice. It sends chills up my spine, and Stanley
proves again why he is the source of the "high lonesome"
sound. The Clinch Mountain Boys play on his two other songs,
and it's easy to see Ralph still picks the finest to play in his
band. Ricky Skaggs pulls out the stops on a great version of "Uncle
Pen", joined by Patty Loveless and Travis Tritt, and
backed once again by the amazing talents of Kentucky Thunder.
Bruce Hornsby makes an odd appearance, playing his trademark
piano, and making an excellent go at "Darlin' Corey",
proving again that he is an artist of great merit, able to play
anything you can throw at him. Newgrass's brightest young stars
Nickel Creek give a beautiful performance of "Seven Wonders"
from their This Side record. It is a fantastic performance,
uncluttered by the need for the energetic frenzy that they usually
possess while playing live.
And then, all stops are loosed, and everyone who has played
the evening comes on stage for the grand hootenanny! Three songs
of bluegrass madness, led off by the Earl Scruggs magic of "Lonesome
Ruben". Then Ralph Stanley sings lead on one of his classic
tunes, "Little Maggie" (which I confess is my first
memory of hearing Ricky Skaggs play bluegrass), which is a blistering
group of solos
A really fine showcase for what bluegrass
music is really all about - a group of friends enjoying each
other's company and playing their instruments together, the
music bonding them into one big family. And ending the night
with a killer rendition of "Rawhide" is certainly
no bad thing. Sit back and watch the fingers fly on this track!
Once again, this is worth the price of admission alone! I guarantee
you will find yourself smiling along with everyone that is on
I suppose you could just get the CD
it has most of the
songs, and is definitely worth every moment
I couldn't get
it out of my cd player for well over a week. But the real gem
is the DVD. Being able to see the songs performed, catching the
nuances of posture and the joy in the face of all the players
makes the music even more enjoyable. Plus, in addition to the
three extra tracks, the DVD includes some behind the scenes footage
with the artists, as well as a heart-warming and informative tribute
to Bill Monroe, to whom we may really owe everything to
when it comes to bluegrass music.
Oh, and you get to actually SEE Alison Krauss! I think I'll
watch that song again.
1. Shady Grove - Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder
2. Crying Holy (Unto My Lord) - Vince Gill with the Del McCoury
3. 1952 Vincent Black Lightning - Del McCoury Band
4. Get Down On Your Knees And Pray - Del McCoury Band
5. Let Me Touch You For Awhile - Alison Krauss & Union Station
6. Foggy Mountain Breakdown - Earl Scruggs
7. Passin' Thru - Earl Scruggs (DVD only)
8. Daniel Prayed - Patty Loveless with Ricky Skaggs
9. Little Georgia Rose - Travis Tritt with Ricky Skaggs
10. Rocky Island - Ralph Stanley (DVD only)
11. Pretty Polly - Ralph Stanley with Patty Loveless
12. O Death - Ralph Stanley
13. Uncle Pen - Ricky Skaggs, Patty Loveless and Travis Tritt
14. Darlin' Corey - Bruce Hornsby with Ricky Skaggs
15. Seven Wonders - Nickel Creek
16. Lonesome Ruben - Group finale
17. Little Maggie - Group finale (DVD only)
18. Rawhide - Group Finale
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