Country Music: Live at the Ryman

Country Music: Live at the Ryman

Sat, 04/11/2020 - 10:00pm - 11:00pm

Photo: Rhiannon Giddens and Ketch Secor performs at COUNTRY MUSIC LIVE AT THE RYMAN.

Courtesy of Erika Goldring

Paying tribute to the genre’s eclectic, layered history, this special provides viewers with a taste of everything from western swing and bluegrass to honkytonk and cowboy music.

Country Music: Live at the Ryman, airing Saturday, April 11 at 10 p.m. on WXXI-TV, features many of the artists who appear in the upcoming Ken Burns documentary Country Music. The concert, which took place at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium on Wednesday, March 27, 2019, was hosted by Burns and featured performances by Dierks Bentley, Rosanne Cash, Rodney Crowell, Rhiannon Giddens, Vince Gill, Kathy Mattea, Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Asleep at the Wheel, Holly Williams and Dwight Yoakam. The concert, which was shot live, explores country’s roots while also highlighting the diversity of musical styles and artists that fall under the country music label. 

“In country music, we found a love for storytelling that translates everyday experiences into universal truths that we can all identify with,” said Ken Burns. “We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to bring film excerpts of Country Music to those areas that gave birth to this most American of art forms. Ryman Auditorium, the Mother Church of Country Music, is a character itself in our film, and hosting this concert there was a dream come true for us. We are thrilled to now share this special evening with PBS viewers across the country.”

"All of the talented artists who performed at the Ryman also appear in our film, as commentators or as characters or as both," Duncan said. "But on this night, they sang and played the music they love, brought the crowd to tears and to their feet, and in one concert took us all on an unforgettable journey across time, one song at a time."

Audience members dubbed the evening “epic,” and Rolling Stone found it full of “remarkable performances.” Highlights include Vince Gill’s “breathtaking” and “sublime” cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor and Rhiannon Giddens’ “scorching” performance of “Ruby (Are You Mad at Your Man),” and Billboard noted that Holly Williams “breathed life into” her grandfather Hank Williams Sr.’s “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” Viewers can also look forward to “a rousing rendition” of country’s unofficial national anthem, The Carter Family’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.”