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With Rhonda Vincent, IIIrd Tyme out, Daly & Vincent, doesn't getter than that

Ryman, Nashville, July 11, 2008

Reviewed by Jessica Phillips

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Bluegrass at the Ryman featured some of the best bands in bluegrass - Daly and Vincent, IIIrd Tyme Out, and Rhonda Vincent and the Rage - at the "Home of Bluegrass." It doesn't get better than that.

Much like the Ryman itself, the history of bluegrass music is steeped in gospel music traditions and harmonies. Jamie Dailey and Darren Vincent, dressed in dark suits and pastel shirts, garnered a standing ovation with their rendition of the classic "Don't You Want to Go to Heaven," with their smooth high harmonies. They later dedicated "More Than a Name on a Wall" to all the war veterans in attendance, asking them to stand for recognition. Known for their ear-splitting high harmonies, they later quipped, "It takes a real man to sing like a woman."

During their half-hour set, the International Bluegrass Music Association's Vocal Group of the Year for seven years straight, IIIrd Tyme Out blazed through some of older and newer hits. Russell Moore (lead vocals/guitar), Wayne Benson (mandolin), Edgar Loudermilk (bass), Steve Dilling (banjo), and Justen Haynes (fiddle) easily traded off improvisations and clearly enjoyed making music together, with Benson repeatedly receiving special praise for his lightening-fast, dexterous mandolin picking. Dilling's plucky and adroit banjo line was great during "Erase the Miles," the band's very first number one song on the bluegrass charts, while Moore's soulful voice was reminiscent of Craig Morgan during "John and Mary and "Hard Rock Motion Prison."

Rhonda Vincent and the Rage started off their nearly hour-long set with "Is the Grass Any Bluer on the Other Side," with Vincent showing off her mandolin skills and a ritzy gold dress. Banjoist Kenny Ingram showcased his amazing banjo pickin' in a Ryman tribute on the classic "Foggy Mountain Breakdown."

The band featured songs including the title track from Vincent's album "All American Bluegrass Girl," "God Bless the Soldier" and "All My Love to You," a duet written with Vincent's husband. Other highlights included the a capella/acoustic version of "I Will See You Again," "Pray, Pray, Pray" and the Martha White theme song.

Later in the evening, bassist Mickey Harris and guitarist Darrell Webb revealed their talents for imitation comedy as well as music, with Webb mimicking John Anderson on "Swinging" Willie Nelson on "On the Road Again," and Gene Watson's "Farewell Party." Ingram declined the offer to join in. "At my age, I'd like to keep my job," he quipped. The show ended with a rendition of "You Don't Love God if You Don't Love Your Neighbor."

The night wrapped up with a presentation to Vincent by Spring Mountain Farms for her commitment to performing at the Ryman Bluegrass Series. Then, after a standing ovation, Vincent, the Rage, IIIrd Tyme Out, and special guest Jeannie Pruett were welcomed back to the stage for a group singing of "I Saw the Light," "Will the Circle Be Unbroken" and "Swing Low Sweet Chariot."