Written By | Michael Jenkins
“Bluegrass Night at The Ryman”is like advertising “Fried Chicken at Grandma’s House”. It just sounds and feels warm and welcoming. This past Wednesday, two bands made a sold out crowd at the historical venue in Nashville, Tennessee feel just that way. But instead of fried chicken, they both served up hot and tasty bluegrass licks that surely made the ghosts of the Mother Church smile down with great admiration and appreciation. Musical comfort food indeed.
Kicking off the night in fiery, raucous manner was Wisconsin based quintet Horseshoes and Hand Grenades. Consisting of David C. Lynch [harmonica, accordion, spoons, vocals], Collin Mettelka [fiddle, mandolin, vocals], Russell Pedersen [banjo, fiddle, vocals], Adam Greuel [guitar, dobro, vocals], and Samual Odin [bass], this exciting and energetic group might be what Lynyrd Skynyrd would have sounded like had they used banjos and fiddles instead of triple guitars. You can clearly hear traditional Bill Monroe inspired vocals mixed with rock attitude and swag. The crowd ate it up and asked for second helpings.
Next up was headliner Leftover Salmon. This legendary Colorado based jam band consisting of Vince Herman (vocals, guitar, washboard), Drew Emmitt (vocals, mandolin, fiddle, electric guitar),Greg Garrison (bass, vocals), Alwyn Robinson (drums, vocals), Andy Thorn (acoustic and electric banjo, vocals) and Erik Deutsch (keyboards) performs an eclectic blend of bluegrass, country, rock, and zydeco. If the Grateful Dead had hailed from Lexington, Kentucky instead of San Francisco, they may have sounded a bit like Leftover Salmon. As a wonderful contrast to the intense Horseshoes and Handgrenade’s, Leftover Salmon provided a relaxed, ethereal atmosphere for the Ryman crowd.
Though The Ryman Auditorium now hosts concerts for all genres of music, it was cool to sit among 2,500 hardcore bluegrass fans listening to a 2019 hybrid of the music that helped make this venue such an American icon. Much like listening to a punk band at CBGB’s or seeing an electrifying soul singer at The Apollo, hearing great bluegrass at The Ryman just feels right and tastes great. Like fried chicken at Grandmas house.
Photo Credit: Michael Jenkins