Following our article last week announcing that Rhonda Vincent would be performing the music from her upcoming Bluegrass Legends project at the Uncle Dave Macon Days Festival in July, we had a chance to talk with Rhonda about the live album and concert DVD which she will release at that show.
It’s a bluegrass superstar effort, with some of the biggest names in the history of our music. Rhonda and her band are joined by Jesse McReynolds, Mac Wiseman, and Sonny and Bobby Osborne for 19 songs, recorded at the Ryman Auditorium back in 2016.
Vincent said that it all started to just be a fun concert in Nashville, but grew to be a major release for her Upper Management Music label as plans progressed.
“My initial thought was to have them there for a Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman. I mean, how cool would it be to do the show with the Legends of Bluegrass? So I sent a note over to ask the Ryman to see what they thought, and they loved the idea. I called Mac, Jesse, and Bobby, and they all said that they would love to do it.
Then I called Sonny and told him what we were doing, and asked if he might want to come. He said let me think about it, and then called back and said he would love to do it.”
Sonny’s only proviso was that he didn’t want them to promote his appearance in pre-show advertising, so he showed up as a surprise guest. Since he retired in 2005, Sonny has been on stage only very few times. A shoulder issue had precluded him from playing banjo, and brother Bobby continued to perform the music of The Osborne Brothers on his own.
Rhonda had convinced Sonny to do the Nashville show based on a request that he reprise his role singing harmony with her on Mama Tried, a tribute to Merle Haggard that she cut following his passing in April of ’16. She figured she would get him to agree to that, and later bring up the notion of he and Bobby singing some together as well.
She also recalled the day when she called Sonny to ask him to sing a baritone part on Mama Tried. They were in the studio cutting the track, and a discussion ensued about who should sing that part. Her daughter, Sally Berry was doing one, and Rhonda said to herself, “Sonny would be the perfect voice for this,” so she called him up and asked. His response was along the lines of, “You want me to get in the car right now, and drive over there and sing one part?” When she told him that was exactly what she wanted, he agreed, hung up, and make the trip to the studio.
The song was a memorable tribute, and it has remained popular even past the emotional upwelling after losing The Hag.
Most of the work has been done, mixing the audio and editing the live video into a DVD-ready product. And Rhonda says that even after multiple viewings, it still strikes her as a unique concert event. “Being on stage with them was so very special. I’ve watched it over and over from a technical standpoint, and it still keeps my attention. I still find new things – and I was there!”
The folks who run Uncle Dave Macon Days are taking extra care to accommodate the legends on July 13. There will be a very protected atmosphere, giving them all the star treatment they deserve. A special van will transport Mac, now 93, to the festival site.
The audio CD will be released that day, and the DVD the day after. It will include the full 90 minute stage show, plus backstage interviews with the various legends, and Rhonda herself, all narrated by Eddie Stubbs. The story of the major contributions made by Mac Wiseman, Jesse McReynolds, and Sonny and Bobby Osborne are also told, which Vincent thinks will make it an excellent introduction to bluegrass for the uninitiated.
Look for more details as the release dates draw close.