Anderson East crossed an important item off his bucket list last September when he played Nashville’s legendary Ryman Auditorium on his Encore World Tour. Even better, the sold-out show was captured for his first live album Alive in Tennessee. The 18-track set, out now, features songs from East’s 2015 Low Country Sound/Elektra debut album, Delilah, 2018’s Encore— including Grammy-nominated“All on My Mind,”— and a spirited cover of Sam & Dave’s “Hold On, I’m Comin’.”
East is playing fairs and festivals this summer and, in addition to headlining his own shows, is joining Dispatch at Vienna, Va.’s Wolf Trap June 29, and legendary Mavis Staples at LaGrange, Ga.’s Sweetland Amphitheater Aug. 3. “We change the set list pretty much every day,” East told Billboard of his live shows. “We move things in and out quite frequently and change arrangements. I know there is some arrangement stuff that we do now that isn’t on the live record. Maybe that will give people another incentive to come see us. We try to make every night a little bit different.”
Billboard: What made you decide to do a live record?
Anderson East: We’ve been talking about doing it for quite a while and we were fired up about it. Ultimately that’s who we are. We’re a live band. Over the past five years we’ve spent so much time on the road it kind of felt like a natural progression.
How did it feel recording this project at the Ryman?
It was a big milestone for me and the guys in the band. We wanted to capture that if nothing else, just for ourselves…[but] we were more concerned that this show what we do, no matter what the venue is. I felt like the energy and intensity was just like we would do at some random place in South Dakota.
What do you remember most about that night at the Ryman?
Just walking out for the first song. It doesn’t look that far, but it’s a pretty far walk to get to the center of that stage. I just remember looking around and saying [to myself], “Pay attention. Be aware of this moment.” The sheer amount of history that has taken place in that room and then for me, having lived in Nashville for 13 years and the people I’ve seen throughout the years there, to put our name on the list with them, you felt like you belong.
You’ve mentioned listening to Phish and Grateful Dead growing up. What was it about the live albums you listened to then that influenced how you approached your project?
It was just the spontaneity of them. You learn how they work a set list and work a song, and how to have a creative approach with the performance instead of just playing the song how the record is. I always loved that.
When you listen back to this project, what are the high points?
I’m kind of proud of the parts where vocally I’m a little sharp or flat. You’re supposed to fix that nowadays. There’s something about being uncomfortable about yourself that I kind of enjoy here recently—just accepting the shitty parts of yourself and being comfortable and okay with it or enjoy it. I’m one to embrace the flaws instead of trying to overcompensate.
How’s the next album coming along?
I’m writing songs and putting them in a pile. Eventually we’ll go back through them to see which ones have the strongest legs. Records are never done until you run out of time or money, so we haven’t done either one of those yet.
Alive in Tennessee track listing
Somebody Pick Up My Pieces
If You Keep Leaving Me
King For A Day
Devil In Me
Hold On, I’m Comin’
What A Woman Wants To Hear
Lying In Her Arms
Sorry You’re Sick
All On My Mind
House Is A Building
This Too Shall Last