Monday, January 22, 2007

Reason # 3,457 to live in Nashville

You get to see shows like this for free. In last week's taping of CMT's "Crossroads" Bruce Hornsby and Ricky Skaggs combined their formidable musical talents for one of the best unlikely combinations since peanut butter and chocolate.

When my friend and I first arrived we found it was standing room only (curses to my penchant for taking longer-than-intended naps!), and I thought "well, that's it, no way this will be worth standing up the whole time." I was wrong.

The music touched both ends of the spectrum from the ridiculous (bluegrass version of Rick James' "Super Freak") to the sublime (well, just about everything, but especially the minor-key and yet more introspective version of "Mandolin Rain").

They've done an album together already, so there was already a sense of camaraderie and mutual respect between the two. There was a moment of uncertainty after one of the fast bluegrass numbers, when Hornsby suggested they might want to do it again, since it had taken on a frenetic tempo toward the end. Skaggs' reply was basically "that's how it happens in bluegrass sometimes" and seemed happy with the first take, but he was open to Hornsby's opinion. After a slightly awkward and polite exchange ("what do you think?" and "well, if you want to"), they decided they would probably do it again, but after another song or two. Hornsby joked that he might as well take his pants off in front of everyone, given how exposed he felt having a conversation like that onstage in the middle of the show with the audience listening. Anyway, the 2nd time they did it, it was better though slightly less spontaneous, even though the crowd tried to recreate the enthusiasm as best we could. "Surprise" guest vocalist John Anderson got a better reception the 2nd time around (now that everyone realized who he was).

When it was over I felt the urge to go find a piano and write a bluegrass song. But since I don't have a piano I just went home.

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