Onstage was Ricky Skaggs. He was playing bluegrass music, and I was amazed to be transported back to the Lighthouse.
I had expected to hear a quaint variety of country music, but Skaggs and his band were ripping through the tunes with jaw-dropping improvisations. Their flights of imagination, ferocious and note-rich, were quite different from those I had heard at the Lighthouse, but they were nevertheless masterful.
It reminded me of something I’d been told by my friend Tony Plog. It seems that in Sweden, where Tony lived for several years, the term they use for country music, translated literally, is “horse jazz.”
Following that remarkable evening, Yvonne and I bought tickets to the Ryman’s annual six-concert series, Bluegrass Nights, which we have attended ever since. I love that high, lonesome sound and the tight vocal harmonies, but it’s the instrumentalists I most enjoy—including musicians such as Skaggs, Rhonda Vincent, Del McCoury, Jerry Douglas, and the two wildly talented fiddle players we heard last week, Maddie Denton and Brittany Haas.
We’ll be at the Ryman again next Thursday night, sitting on those hard wooden seats and listening to horse jazz.