Authentic Unlimited debut on the Grand Ole Opry

Authentic Unlimited debut on the Grand Ole Opry (11/24/23) – photo © Laci Mack

Authentic Unlimited took their original, contemporary bluegrass to Nashville on Friday for their debut performance on the Grand Ole Opry. The band performed two songs on their own, then received the honor of supporting Vince Gill on one of his.

Banjo man Eli Johnston tells us that it all came off quite well.

“First we played one written by Jerry Cole called Big Wheels, and then we debuted our newest song, Reflection, written by our own John Meador. The audience was electric and I feel like we were very well received.

To put the icing on the cake, we were invited to join Vince Gill on a bluegrass number called High Lonesome Sound.”

When I heard them with Vince, it was clear that they were taking the song much faster than he had originally recorded it. Eli said that Vince asked them to kick it off that way, as he had actually meant to cut it like that back in 1996.

Gill recounted his early bluegrass days in introducing Authentic Unlimited to join him on stage.

In addition to Meador on guitar, Johnston on banjo, and Cole on bass, the band includes Stephen Burwell on fiddle and Jesse Brock on mandolin.

Well done Authentic Unlimited! I doubt that this will be their last appearance on the Opry.

All photos © Laci Mack.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.