Summer sizzles with Bluegrass Nights at The Ryman
Jul 3, 2012, 2:41 p.m.
Nashville, TN Music City’s famed Ryman Auditorium is known the world over as the “Mother Church of Country Music,” but it is also considered the birthplace of bluegrass – a distinctively American musical genre.
On a Saturday night in December of 1945, Grand Ole Opry star Bill Monroe – mandolin in hand – stepped onto the hallowed stage along with Earl Scruggs, Lester Flatt, Chubby Wise and Cedric Rainwater. Performing as Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, this super-group would create a new American musical form that would ultimately become what is today known as bluegrass. According to the Ryman’s Lisaann Dupont, the ensemble became known as “The Original Bluegrass Band” and was the prototype for countless groups to follow.
The rest, as the familiar saying goes, is history.
For the past 18 years, the Ryman has celebrated its role in the birth of bluegrass with Bluegrass Nights at The Ryman, a series of bluegrass concerts that have become a summer staple for fans across the United States. Fittingly, for the first Bluegrass Nights series in 1994, the Father of Bluegrass himself, Bill Monroe, was the headlining performer.
The 2012 Springer Mountain Farms Bluegrass Nights at The Ryman kicked off on June 21 with Vince Gill, one of Nashville’s favorite vocalists (and an incredibly talented guitar picker). Gill’s appearance with singer-songwriter Sarah Jarosz was followed by Chris Thile & Michael Daves and The Boxcars on June 28 – a group that has earned critical acclaim for its well-honed bluegrass performances.
And the popular annual concert series will continue throughout July. The Ryman’s ‘Red, White & Bluegrass’ show kicks the month off on July 5 with performances by the Gibson Brothers, Steep Canyon Rangers and The Roys. If the Steep Canyon Rangers sound like a familiar name, it’s likely because they spent over a year performing with actor-turned-musician Steve Martin. The triple-billed concert is certain to raise the rafters at the Ryman with stellar performances from start to finish.
On July 12, the Ryman will welcome Rhonda Vincent – also known as the Queen of Bluegrass – and Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers, who are known for their traditional bluegrass and gospel performances as well as their vocal arrangements and folk humor.
One week later on July 19, Dailey & Vincent will take to the stage. The super duo stormed the bluegrass and gospel scenes in 2008 with their self-titled debut album. That same year, they took home seven awards at the International Bluegrass Music Awards, including Album of the Year and Entertainer of the Year.
Bluegrass Nights at The Ryman wraps up its 2012 run on July 26 with a performance by the multi-talented Ricky Skaggs. From the time he was a young boy, Skaggs has demonstrated a unique knack for bluegrass music – he performed on stage with Monroe at age six. In the decades that have followed, Skaggs has become one of the most influential artists in not only bluegrass but country music as well. Since the early 1980s he has regularly garnered critical acclaim, and he has won numerous Grammy Awards, Country Music Association Awards, and International Bluegrass Music Association Awards. He was also named one of the Top 100 guitarists of the century by Musician Magazine.
Dupont noted guests at Bluegrass Nights at The Ryman are invited to arrive early for the Pickin’ on the Plaza showcase. Each week, a top area bluegrass band will perform on the Ryman plaza at 6 p.m. as part of the showcase. For the remainder of the Bluegrass Nights at The Ryman series, artists scheduled to perform at Pickin’ on the Plaza are: Todd Grebe & Cold Country (July 5), Jake Cox (July 12), the Travis Wetzel Trio (July 19), and A Step Ahead (July 26).
The Pickin’ on the Plaza showcase is free and, new this year, Puckett Grocery’s Trolley Parton will be on site for the showcase, offering up plenty of good, down-home, southern cuisine.
All tickets to Bluegrass Nights at The Ryman are $26.50. For more information, or to purchase tickets, please visit www.ryman.com/bluegrass.
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