Country Music People December 2017 - Page 53

THE GRAND OLE OPRY Nashville, TN Every few years I find myself in Nashville. This trip was a family trip which began in the Smoky Mountains and ended in Nashville. The family agreed to attend the Opry while there. Those who have never gone should go, it is after all the most important show in country music history. And after you pass through the mass of people, be sure to buy an $11 draft “Opry” beer, find your seat, and enjoy the longest running radio show of its kind. Being a critic of most things, and a bit of a cynic, it may surprise you to know that I’ve been known to shed tears at the Opry. The first artist, on every night I’ve gone, is chosen, I believe, to get such a response from me. Tonight was the same. Pure, in the strongest sense of the word, emotion flooded my senses when Connie Smith appeared. The voice and the class both charmed me to a point where I didn’t take notes. I just enjoyed the set. She has been, and is, what others should strive to be. Besides Eddy Raven’s The Latest Shade of Blue, I cannot tell you the songs she sang. I was lost. Her and the her Sundowners are what it is all about. I found my pen and began note taking with Craig Morgan. Morgan has enjoyed several runs up the charts and his service to the military is commendable. And, I believe from all appearances, some semblance of peace has been attained after his personal loss. Between songs he showed his experience with crowds and seemed likable, and his voice seemed strong. However, with Morgan, it is the songs themselves, that chase me away. Redneck Yacht Club will never be good. According to Morgan, his wife agreed, but he pointedly answered, “yeah but it bought you a house.” Almost Home was not strong either. However, I Hate The Taste Of Whiskey, a new song, got my attention. But it still nags at me that I’ve heard it before from someone else, but maybe not. Josh Turner was next and was celebrating ten years of Opry membership. I remember ten years ago that his was a new but rooted approach to the music, and was anxious to hear more from him. Through the years he’s shown the same as he did tonight. Would You Go With Me, and Your Man, both good. But then newer stuff. Hometown Girl, reached number one but I could never explain why or how. Worse yet, was the almost rap of All About You. He finished his set with the good Long Black Train. It started well, and had a moment later, but the rest, in search of something nice to say, was… But then to bring back an emotional response from me, the Opry offered Bill Anderson. A fifty year plus member of the Opry, Anderson performed effortlessly. His trademark whispering vocals were in full display, and his songwriting prowess was highlighted in the choice of material. A walking legend whose pen hasn’t run out of ink. A true treat to see and hear. And as a personal aside, I was impressed that my daughter knew all the words to Peel Me A Nanner, City Lights, and Give It Away. But then, to show that the effort to completely kill all that is good is ongoing in Music City, Brooke Eden appeared. To have her follow Bill Anderson was insulting. Her rocked up Perfect Crime was a case of wrong time and wrong place. The lack of response from the crowd showed most were unimpressed. Will someone please stop young women from spending their allowances on bad rock moments the likes of early Carrie Underwood singles? They Say was supposed to be moving about peer pressure and following others. I was almost moved to leave the building. Then as an attempt to honour country’s past, she introduced Patsy Cline’s Crazy. The man seated behind me said, “Speaking of….” Surprise of the night for me was Christian Bush. Not being a fan of Sugarland and the always over singing Jennifer Nettles, I expected the worse. I was braced, but soon was able to relax. Bush is a good writer with well-crafted lyrics. Your Baby Girl (you know, that one decent Sugarland song) was done well and seemed much more smart than previous renditions. After The Wine Wears Off was really strong country soul done well. And even the beachy Southern Remedy was smart enough to show Bush as the true talent of Sugarland. The Del McCoury Band finished the show. I’ve seen them before and once again they showed to be timeless and classic while adding to past sounds. Harmony singing and instrument mastery at the highest level. I will be adding all they played to my collection soon. Rare is a band that performs and after each number you want to hear it again, but that is the Del McCoury Band. Forgot The Feeling I Had For You, Take Care Of Me, and Red Eyes On A Mad Dog all make me sorry you weren’t there. The Opry is an institution that doesn’t appear to be near its end. In celebrating the different sounds and periods of country music it has maintained its existence. I will return as long as it does so. However, the defining thing must be that the music is country and good. Next time, please have one or two of the acts tighten their sets a bit and have another maybe stay home. cmp Donnie Ayers DECEMBER 2017 - cmp 53