This review of the July 21 Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman show is a contributions from Daniel Mullins, who we hope will become one of our new correspondents when we launch our expanded new site later this year.
It was a memorable night this past Thursday at the Ryman Auditorium as the stage was graced by Dailey & Vincent and Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers. Thursday was the second-to-last week of this summer’s edition of the annual Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman concert series sponsored by Springer Mountain Farms. The Mother Church of Country Music was cram-packed with eager bluegrass fans. After Vince Gill’s first week performance, this was the top-selling Bluegrass Night this season. The audience was not disappointed either!
The show was off to a rousing start as, first-time Ryman performers, Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers kicked off the evening. Earl Scruggs would have been proud as Joe Mullins’ banjo’s right-hand punch reverberated the walls of the birthplace of bluegrass. One of the brightest spots of the Ramblers’ set included an outstanding a cappella version of the old hymn Rock of Ages, Keep My Soul, which resulted in a standing ovation for this Ohio-based group, and an encore of the last verse and chorus. The tight harmonies this group brought to the stage really resonated with the audience.
The Ramblers are Joe Mullins (banjo and vocals), Adam McIntosh (guitar and vocals), Mike Terry (mandolin and vocals), Evan Macgegor (fiddle and vocals), and Tim Kidd (bass). They closed their show with Marty Stuart and Connie Smith’s Farmers’ Blues and Wynn Stewart’s Another Day, Another Dollar. The audience demanded a well-deserved encore, which resulted in one of the most memorable moments of the evening.
The Radio Ramblers paid tribute to fellow Dayton, OH bluegrass musicians, The Osborne Brothers, with a medley of classic Osborne tunes including Windy City, Makin’ Plans, Fair and Tender Ladies, and Kentucky. Mullins and the Ramblers then ended their portion of the program with a fiery rendition of a tune from one of Joe’s heroes, Don Reno, Charlotte Breakdown. The Ramblers did more than warm the crowd; they got them fired up and hungry for more great bluegrass music from the current IBMA Entertainers of the Year.
“Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers were outstanding.” –Darrin Vincent
“Having Joe Mullins and his fine band open for us was a huge plus. They carried their show and themselves with excellent professionalism and class.” –Jamie Dailey
Dailey & Vincent are entertainers extraordinaire, and on this night they proved why they have won the past three Entertainers of the Year Awards. The band’s lineup was slightly different this evening, as it was the first night with BJ Cherryholmes filling in on fiddle, with regular fiddle man Jesse Stockman away recovering from some wrist issues.
“I was proud of our band especially BJ Cherryholmes who worked his tail off to play nearly note for note the fiddle solos and fills with no band rehearsal and one day’s notice.” –Darrin Vincent
BJ fit seamlessly into Dailey & Vincent’s tight-knit show which featured a wide variety of material. They covered traditional bluegrass, southern Gospel, brother duets, and country favorites old and new such as Beneath Still Waters and Long Black Train. A crowd favorite was Jeff Parker’s rendition of Before The Next Teardrop Falls, complete with a verse sung in Spanish!
The crowd was definitely a fan of bluegrass Gospel. They gave Dailey & Vincent a standing ovation and demanded more after their first a cappella quartet number, Don’t You Wanna Go To Heaven. Well-deserved standing ovations were also delivered following other Gospel numbers, I Believe and By The Mark.
In addition to BJ, there were a number of other special guests on hand for this stellar performance. The standard lineup of Jamie Dailey (guitar and vocals), Darrin Vincent (bass and vocals), Jeff Parker (mandolin and vocals), Joe Dean (banjo and vocals), and Christian Davis (guitar and vocals) was augmented by Bob Memmert, a percussionist who has performed select dates with the group for the past couple years. The band also welcomed Les Butler, of Front Porch Fellowship, on piano and Kentucky Thunder’s Cody Kilby on guitar. Many celebrity guests were in the audience as well, including Mark Lowry of the Gaithers, Jere, Sandy, and Molly Cherryholmes, and Grand Ole Opry Stars Jan Howard, Larry Gatlin, and Vince Gill. Vince made for another highlight in this memorable evening as he shared the stage with Jamie and Darrin for a trio version of his In The Hills Of Caroline.
“Singing with Vince Gill was a dream come true. He is a good man and he has huge respect for Bluegrass music and its artists.” –Jamie Dailey
After Dailey & Vincent entertained the crowd for an hour and a half with their unique blend of musical variety and on-stage antics, the audience demanded an encore. First up was their Grammy-nominated version of the Statler Brothers’ Elizabeth, after which they called their friends the Radio Ramblers back on-stage for a grand finale rendition of the Flatt & Scruggs classic, Head Over Heels. This was the icing on the cake as both bands’ members took turns on instrumental breaks, and the magical vocal blend of Dailey and Mullins’ voices flew high as a kite through The Ryman Auditorium. A perfect end to a perfect evening of bluegrass at its birthplace with two class acts carrying on the tradition that Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt, and Earl Scruggs started on that stage sixty-five years ago.
“Our show at the Ryman was a special night, the excitement of performing where Mr. Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, Elvis, on and on [performed], along with [the] support of families– words can’t give out justice… My favorite moments were Vince Gill joining us and the band on his own song Hills of Caroline along with Cody Kilby, and when Jamie and I performed By The Mark in the same spot we started our careers nearly four years ago, December 29, 2007. I cried when the Holy Spirit overwhelmed me on the third verse, talking about Jesus’ promise. I feel so blessed.” –Darrin Vincent
“Thursday night at the Ryman Auditorium was one of the most exciting and fun nights of my career to this date. If my career were to end today, that night is a memory that I will carry with me from here on out.” –Jamie Dailey