>Bluegrass at the Ryman: Vince Gill

>After last week’s great show, I made the bold prediction that this week’s act, Vince Gill, had some big shoes to fill when he took the stage this week.

Arriving at the Ryman last night, you got the feeling that a superstar was in the house. There were people outside, looking to buy tickets for the sold-out show. There was a large contingent of Vince Gill fans there and there was an electricity in the air as the show began.

This week’s show opened with Jessie McReynolds and the Virginia Boys. Again, my knowledge of bluegrass is limited so I didn’t recognize the name. That said, I was impressed by McReynolds and his group. McReynolds played the mandolin extremely well and he did a wide variety of songs. One memorable song was an acoustic song about a lake down in Florida. As I listened, I could imagine being on the lake, out with my fishing pole on a warm summer afternoon with my Grandpa. As is the case with a lot of bluegrass bands, McReynolds group had a family connection–his grandson played with him and he got his granddaughter to join him for a couple of numbers. McReynolds even got Vince Gill to come out to play a song with him.

Gill arrived on stage in jeans and a t-shirt. During intermission, my parents speculated on if Gill would change before he came on stage or if we’d seen his outfit for the evening.

Apparently, we’d seen his outfit for the evening. Gill took the stage and was very relaxed. He was up there, having a good time with himself, the group and the audience. Gill talked amiably with the audience between numbers. He spoke about the danger of a hot mike (“those Dixie Chicks found about it that, didn’t they?” he quipped), his new bluegrass aerobics program (“play a fast songs four times a day, lose that ass.”) his history in bluegrass and his love of the songs. He talked about hearing families sing together in natural harmony and said one of the great fulfillments of his career was getting to sing on records with his daughter Jenny and hearing that natural blending of voices.

It was a very laid back, comfortable show. Almost as if Gill were playing some bluegrass with some good friends and we’d been invited into the room to hang out. There were times he’d forget the words or where he was in the song–and his encore in which he had to figure out how to go bluegrass on “Go Rest High on That Mountain” was a treat.

About the only two things that disappointed me were–that while he bragged about his singing and harmonies with his daughter, she wasn’t there or didn’t join him for us to hear. And that while he talked about Amy Grant being there, she never joined him on stage. That’s probably just an expectation and it’s not fair to judge the show on that, but it would have been a lot of fun of hear the two of them sing together.

And you’re probably wondering now–so, did he live up to the great show I saw last week? I’m going to have to say, almost. The show this week was good, but last week’s just had something extra to it.

Of course, next week is one I am really looking forward to–Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, who were incredible last year and Cherryholmes, who I’ve heard their first CD and I can’t wait to hear them in person.


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