Emmylou

By Jean Metcalfe

Another opening, another Lonesome Pine Specials Summer Festival.

From LPS Producer Dick Van Kleeck's July 21 welcome, through the touching final number of the first of ten specials, it was an evening of excellent musicianship from the lovely Emmylou Harris and her band, The Nash Ramblers.

Singing selections from her current album, Emmylou Harris and The Nash Ramblers at the Ryman, along with must-do classics "Blue Kentucky Girl," "Making Believe" and "Sweet Dreams," Ms. Harris demonstrated her talent for picking the right songs.

"I only steal from the best," she declared, demonstrating her boast by drawing from the likes of Bill Monroe and Nanci Griffith.

During the Ramblers' excellent instrumental breaks, the lovely Emmylou twirled round and round, displaying her flowing silvery hair and her flowing grey dress with its skirt of many layers. Sam Bush's sunshine-bright shirt and the kaleidoscope of light patterns displayed on the stage floor, combined with the LPS' trademark musical-instrument backdrop, added visual enjoyment to the performance.

Bush, who Emmylou described as perhaps "the best mandolin player in the world" (he's in Frets magazine's hall of fame) rose to the compliment, also skillfully playing the fiddle and providing backing vocals. Ms. Harris proved that she knows how to pick musicians as well as songs, with her selection of Bush, plus young Jon Randall Stewart to play acoustic guitar and lend pure tenor harmonies; Al Perkins on dobro, who was especially effective on "Making Believe"; Mark Winchester on upright bass; and "Larry Larue"Atamanuik on drums.

A rousing "Leaving Louisiana In The Broad Daylight" was the "final" number and it seemed to come much too soon. The two-song encore that followed was not of the obligatory variety; the audience stood and demanded it with their rhythmic applause. Their reward was Townes Van Zandt's "Pancho and Lefty" and Hank Sr.'s "Jambalaya," further proof of Emmylou's "I only steal from the best" declaration.

The fans still weren't ready to leave the building, so Emmylou returned to the stage without the Ramblers "They're out of steam, you know," she teased, then added, "The guys hate it when I say that."

Her final encore number was a touching rendition of Dolly Parton's "To Daddy." Not a pin was dropped.

Taping of the performance was done as discreetly and efficiently as five or so cameras can do it.

The fans who were turned away from the sold-out performance would be grateful for the opportunity to – catch Emmylou Harris and The Nash.

Ramblers later on the telly.

Emmylou said that the tape had run out before she began the final selection, but that she would do it anyway.

Let's just hope that "To Daddy" was somehow miraculously recorded, like that not-to-be-missed 25th photograph on a 24-exposure roll of film.