Foremost among the "Country Takes NYC" events was last night's Grand Ole Opry 80th Anniversary Performance at Carnegie Hall.
Country music is making itself comfortable all around New York this week. The Country Music Association is holding its 39th annual CMA Awards show tonight (Nov. 15) at Madison Square Garden and that has attracted country performers and Nashville execs to the Big Apple for 10 days of concerts and receptions.
Foremost among the "Country Takes NYC" events was last night's Grand Ole Opry 80th Anniversary Performance at Carnegie Hall. The show brought legendary acts and current stars to the stage for a classic Opry mix of story songs, cheating songs, drinking songs, inspirational ballads and country witticisms. Absent was any attempt to recreate the barnyard backdrop of the Opry's Nashville home.
In typical Opry fashion, the show featured a parade of performers, each taking center stage for a handful of songs, then handing off the microphone to the next act with just a brief break for instrument changes. The artists ranged from 6-foot-6 Trace Adkins, who kicked off the show with his recent hit, "Songs About Me," to 4-foot-11 Little Jimmy Dickens, who flicked off ancient one-liners and his signature tune, "May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose."
There were memorable covers of country chart-toppers: Alison Krauss on Patsy Cline's "She's Got You" and Martina McBride on Tammy Wynette's "'Til I Can Make it on My Own," and pleasing pairings, including Brad Paisley and Krauss reprising their hit "Whiskey Lullaby" and McBride and Vince Gill together on Buck Owens' "Together Again." And in a nod to New York, Ricky Skaggs brought along local clarinetist Andy Statman to join him for Bill Monroe's bluegrass classic, "Walls of Time."
The ubiquitous Gill was an affable host for the evening, which also spotlighted country legends Bill Anderson and Charley Pride and contemporary hitmakers Trisha Yearwood and Alan Jackson. The latter artist closed the show, save for the obligatory ensemble medley.
The show was broadcast live on WSM-AM Nashville, Sirius Satellite Radio and Opry.com. It will be televised in March on the Great American Country network.