This evening will be the first Thursday in several weeks that there will be neither a Bluegrass at the Ryman concert nor a free-event "Pickin' on the Plaza" outside the (new) entrance. When Gaylord Corp. chose to renovate and enhance the Ryman Auditorium back into a viable performance venue in the 1990s, they commenced doing a summer series of concerts by renown artists of bluegrass music. What's significant about this is that bluegrass music was born on the stage of the Ryman, when Grand Ole Opry member Bill Monroe created it there after WW II.
Last Thursday was the finale of the Ought Nine series, with Dailey and Vincent. I had "met" these bluegrass artists thru Eddie Stubbs' "Intimate Evening" show on WSM-AM 650 early this year (see my posting of 12 February). Since I'd been so delighted with their music then and since I'd missed Darrin Vincent's sister Rhonda Vincent when SHE was the "Bluegrass at the Ryman" concert a month earlier, I really wanted to attend this finale.
But it wasn't to be. I just knew I didn't have the funds at hand to pay for a ticket, even as low-cost (under $30 after tax) as they are thanks to Spring Mtn. Farms underwriting the series. However, I did get some consolation, and that's where "Pickin' in the Plaza" enters this picture. You see, dear reader, this "Warm-up" outdoors for the show indoors is free, and so I decided I could take it in. I kind of was hoping that it really would be a warm-up for the performers of the main concert, but I seriously knew this was almost definitely not the case, that the pickin' in the little square in front of the new main entrance to the Ryman probably involved some local bluegrass artist.
And so it did. But what an artist! When I arrived I saw that a lovely young lady was the leader of the band, and was singing her heart out. When I inquired at the WSM table set up near the Ryman doors the staffer told me she was Donna Ulissee. I had heard her when she was a guest on "Coffee Country & Cody" back in the Spring (April, I think), and had really liked her. And here she was live & in person! And sounding even better than she had on the radio!
While I was enjoying Donna Ulissee and her band, the two guys whose names give the group name "Dailey and Vincent" came out from their tour bus, to head to the artist entrance of the Ryman. Both guys were nattily attired in blue suits and bright neckties. (When later I was listening to the "Bluegrass at the Ryman" show on WSM, the fact that I had gotten this glimpse of the two artists helped me visualize what was going on inside the historic building, at the concert I had wanted so badly to attend.)
To top all this off, one of the WSM staff whom I most esteem showed up. Eddie Stubbs is not only an Opry emcee and evening WSM show deejay but also the emcee for the Ryman summer bluegrass series. So I not only got Donna's autograph but also Eddie's! (I suppose if I'd been just a bit bold I could have gotten Dailey & Vincent's signatures, too.)
All this wasn't a huge consolation for not attending the concert, but it was most definitely some consolation. And a very enjoyable evening, which was concluded with listening to the concert on WSM! Thank you, "Air Castle of the South"!