Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman 2013

The line-up for each of the Springer Mountain Farms Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman for 2013 has been announced.

The annual summer fair of bluegrass music at Nashville’s famous Ryman Auditorium begins this evening, June 20, and continues weekly on Thursdays through to July 25.

First on the stage where it is claimed that bluegrass music began in December 1945 will be 20-time Grammy award winning singer-songwriter and Country Music Hall of Fame member Vince Gill.

Although Gill has had a long and very rewarding career in mainstream country music, selling more than 26 million albums and earning 18 CMA Awards, including Entertainer of the Year in 1993 and 1994, and more recently with western swing band, The Time Jumpers, his links with bluegrass music go back to the time when at his Norman, Oklahoma, high school he played in the bluegrass band Mountain Smoke.

Playing with Gill (mandolin) recently in his bluegrass band have been Jeff White (guitar) Jim Mills (banjo), Dennis Crouch (bass) and Stuart Duncan (fiddle).

On June 27 the entertainment will be provided by Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. They will be supported by Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice.

Lawson is one of the most awarded bluegrass and gospel artists in the genre. With almost 40 albums to their credit, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver have multiple Grammy, Dove, ICM, IBMA and SPBGMA Award nominations, and are seven-time winners of IBMA’s Vocal Group of the Year Award.

The current members include Josh Swift (resophonic guitar), Jason Barie (fiddle), Dustin Pyrtle (guitar), Joe Dean (banjo), and Corey Hensley (bass).

Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice have received SPBGMA’s Album of the Year Award for the CD, The Heart of A Song. Sisk also received the Contemporary Male Vocalist of the Year Honor for 2013. A Far Cry from Lester and Earl was named SPBGMA’s 2013 Song of the Year.

The current members of this excellent quintet are Junior Sisk (guitar), Jason Tomlin (bass), Billy Hawks (fiddle), Chris Davis (mandolin), and Jason Davis (banjo).

On July 4 the honors are shared by the Gibson Brothers and Balsam Range.

The Gibson Brothers took home the 2012 Entertainer of the Year Award at the 23rd annual International Bluegrass Music Awards, also held at the Ryman Auditorium. The same night they won the Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year award for Singing As We Rise. Help My Brother, their tenth album, won the prestigious 2011 IBMA Album of the Year Award. Also they were named the 2011 IBMA Vocal Group of the Year, the first time a brother duet has won this award.

They are currently accompanied by Mike Barber (bass), Jesse Brock (mandolin), and Clayton Campbell (fiddle).

Balsam Range is noted for creatively blending bluegrass, folk, gospel, and jazz music styles into a new American acoustic music experience.

The band is made up of five outstanding musicians and singers who all hail from Haywood County, North Carolina; Caleb Smith (guitar), Marc Pruett (banjo), Buddy Melton (fiddle) Tim Surrett (bass), and Darren Nicholson (mandolin).

On July 11, mountain and bluegrass music legend Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys will be the headline act with Jim Lauderdale.

Ralph Stanley has for over six decades become one of the most influential American artists of all time. Born in 1927 in Big Spraddle, Virginia, Stanley was the second child of Lucy Jane and Lee Stanley. In 1946, along with his older brother Carter Stanley, they formed the legendary Stanley Brothers duo. The Stanley Brothers and the Clinch Mountain Boys became one of the most popular brother acts in country music history.

Stanley is accompanied by his grandson Nathan Stanley (mandolin), his son Ralph Stanley II (guitar), Dewey Brown (fiddle), Jimmy Cameron (bass), James Alan Shelton (guitar), and Mitchell van Dyke (banjo).

Lauderdale is a Grammy Award-winning musician and one of the most respected artists working in the bluegrass, country, and Americana music communities today. He is considered one of Nashville’s A list of songwriters with songs recorded by artists such as Patty Loveless, Shelby Lynne, Solomon Burke, The Dixie Chicks, and George Strait, who has had numerous hits with Jim Lauderdale songs.

On July 18 treading the boards at the Ryman Auditorium will be Dailey & Vincent.

Dailey & Vincent is one of the top bluegrass bands in America. From the very beginning of their partnership in late 2007, Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent quickly established themselves as fresh voices in their genre. The concoction of their fantastically powerful vocal blends, four award-winning studio albums, and heavy touring schedules has earned them well-deserved attention from bluegrass, country, and gospel music critics and fans alike.

Current members of the band include Jeff Parker (mandolin), Christian Davis (guitar), B.J. Cherryholmes (fiddle) and Jessie Baker (banjo).

Finally, on July 25 Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder will be performing their own brand of well-rooted bluegrass music.

Skaggs started playing and singing bluegrass music with Keith Whitley opening a show Clinch Mountain Boys, and subsequently as a member of that band. He has played with the Country Gentlemen, the New South, Emmylou Harris’s Hot band, and his own Boone Creek, before enjoying a very successful period as a neo-traditional country music artist. He formed Kentucky Thunder in the late 1990s.

The current line-up consists of Skaggs (mandolin), with Andy Leftwich (fiddle), Cody Kilby (lead guitar), Paul Brewster (rhythm guitar), Eddie Faris (guitar), Scott Mulvahill (bass), and Justin Moses (banjo).

The inaugural Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman series took place in 1994 at the then newly renovated Ryman Auditorium. The first show featured the father of bluegrass himself, Bill Monroe, and the angelic Alison Krauss. Over the last twenty years, the series has become a Nashville summertime tradition as it regularly presents the biggest names in bluegrass.

Tickets to each individual show, all of which commence at 7:30 p.m., are $27.50 or season passes are available for $147.00.

All shows are preceded by 650 AM WSM’s Pickin’ on the Plaza featuring regional bluegrass bands from 6:00 to 6:45 p.m. The free showcases take place just outside the main entrance on the plaza near the statue of Captain Thomas G. Ryman.

For more information and tickets visit the Ryman Auditorium website.

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About the Author

Richard Thompson

Richard F. Thompson is a long-standing free-lance writer specialising in bluegrass music topics. A two-time Editor of British Bluegrass News, he has been seriously interested in bluegrass music since about 1970. As well as contributing to that magazine, he has, in the past 30 plus years, had articles published by Country Music World, International Country Music News, Country Music People, Bluegrass Unlimited, MoonShiner (the Japanese bluegrass music journal) and Bluegrass Europe. He wrote the annotated series I'm On My Way Back To Old Kentucky, a daily memorial to Bill Monroe that culminated with an acknowledgement of what would have been his 100th birthday, on September 13, 2011.