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Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers Return to the Ryman

[The Tennessean]

By Juli Thanki

When Emmylou Harris and the Nash Ramblers recorded their live album “At the Ryman,” the small audience wasn’t permitted to sit in or under the then-dilapidated venue’s balcony due to safety concerns.

Tuesday night, things were a little different.

Harris and the Ramblers (Sam Bush, Jon Randall, Al Perkins, Larry Atamanuik and Byron House) returned to a full and fully-restored Mother Church of Country Music to celebrate the 25th anniversary of “At the Ryman,” a project that found the top-notch acoustic band covering a collection of American music that ranged from Stephen Foster to Bruce Springsteen.

The concert, in which the band performed the album in its entirety, was filmed, and is slated to air on PBS stations beginning Aug. 5.

Though the night got off to a rough-sounding start, by the fourth song, the Cowboy Jack Clement toe-tapper “Guess Things Happen That Way,” Harris and the Nash Ramblers were sounding as good as they did all those years ago. (At the end of the 90-minute show, the band redid six songs, including the rocky first three, for the film.

oy Huskey Jr., the Ramblers’ original bassist, died in 1997, but he was still very much a part of Tuesday’s show. A portrait of Huskey watched over the performance from the stage, and, in the only diversion from the original “At the Ryman” track listing, Bush, Randall and Harris performed the moving “Song for Roy.”

Released in early 1992, the Grammy-winning album “At the Ryman” drew attention to the dormant venue – which turns 125 this year – and helped lead to its restoration. On Tuesday, as she looked around the historic auditorium, Harris mused, “The old girl looks pretty good for 125, don’t you think?”

Thanks to her, it sure does.