Rosanne Cash opened the first of her four Carnegie Hall Perspectives series of curated Carnegie Hall concerts Saturday night by recalling how she started noticing some “Carnegie people” at her shows.
“I thought they were stalking me!” she said. “But they were checking me out and invited me to be a Perspectives artist.”
So she put together a series of four Southern roots music concerts starting with Nashville’s renowned Western swing band The Time Jumpers, who took the Zankel Hall auditorium on a nonstop thrill ride of exemplary musicianship and vocals. As fiddler Kenny Sears noted at the beginning, “We’ve come to play timeless music,” and the repertoire, heavy on Bob Wills, was most certainly that.
Everyone in the 10-piece Time Jumpers (also including fiddlers Larry Franklin and Joe Spivey; guitarists Vince Gill, Andy Reiss and “Ranger Doug” Green; upright bassist Brad Albin, drummer Billy Thomas, accordionist/keyboardist Jeff Taylor and pedal steel player Paul Franklin) had a chance to take center stage, with Riders in the Sky’s Green regaling the house with one of the yodel tunes he turns in each night on his regular Riders gigs.
High points included Paul Franklin’s original intsrumental “All Aboard,” which balanced the three fiddles against the two guitars and steel in a rolling train approximation, and any song sung by Gill—who thanked Cash for hiring him for her band over 30 years ago. His songs included the Bob Wills/Western swing standard “Corrine, Corrina,” George Jones classic “Bartender’s Blues,” and Buck Owens’ “Together Again,” which he and Paul Franklin included on their 2013 album Bakersfield. Franklin and Gill also spurred each other on to dazzling heights of technical virtuosity on any number of songs.
Unforgettable, however, was Gill’s tribute to Time Jumpers vocalist Dawn Sears, Kenny’s wife, who died last December.
In addition to singing in the Time Jumpers, Sears sang in Gill’s road band for 22 years.
“One of the greatest thrills for a songwriter is for someone to like one of your songs enough to want to sing it,” said Gill, speaking of his song “Faint of Heart,” which Sears sang on the Time Jumpers’ self-titled 2012 album.
“She was one of the greatest singers to walk the earth,” he added, before singing it himself after a long applause that prompted Kenny Sears to tap his heart in acknowledgement.
Up next for Cash at Carnegie Hall is Cooder-White-Skaggs (Ry Cooder, Sharon White and Ricky Skaggs) on Nov. 14, St. Paul and The Broken Bones on Jan. 15, 2016, and Cash herself on Feb. 20.
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