Twenty-six years after her three-night stint onstage at Nashville’s dark and dilapidated Ryman Auditorium helped spearhead efforts to refurbish the century-old former home of the Grand Ole Opry, Emmylou Harris and her acoustic band, the Nash Ramblers, returned to the Ryman for a sold-out show Tuesday night. Harris, now 70, and the Ryman, celebrating 125 years of live entertainment, proved they both remain vibrant and vital elements in
Backed by mandolin and fiddle player Sam Bush, with Jon Randall on guitar, Al Perkins on Dobro and Larry Atamanuik on drums – just as she had been for the Grammy-winning At the Ryman album, released in January 1992, nine days before she became an official member of the Opry – Harris and her bandmates re-created that mesmerizing 1992 concert. However, they did so missing one original member: bassist Roy Huskey Jr., who died in 1997. A photo of Huskey was placed on stage in tribute to the late musician, with veteran player Byron House taking his spot for the 90-minute show, which will air as a PBS special in August.
The set list consisted of all the songs from the At the Ryman LP, played in the same order as they originally appeared on record, with the exception of “Song for
The more contemporary material she chose 25 years ago remains as powerful years later, especially Bruce Springsteen’s stark “Mansion on the Hill,” and the politically charged Nanci Griffith-penned “It’s a Hard Life Wherever You Go,” performed in a medley with Dion’s still-trenchant 1968 tune “Abraham, Martin and John.” Following the PBS-filmed portion of the evening, Harris and band performed a pair of additional songs. The first was Buddy and Julie Miller’s “The River’s Gonna Run,” which spotlighted Bush, whom Harris noted is the “King of Telluride,”a reference to his many performances at that
The At the Ryman anniversary is being celebrated with the vinyl release of the original LP, and the 125th anniversary of the Ryman Auditorium will be marked by special events throughout the year. Tours of the Ryman are available daily and include a filmed presentation of the Ryman’s remarkable history featuring vintage and contemporary clips as well as images of the iconic show posters that have been a trademark of the venue’s history.