“Dream’s at The Ryman – Magic at Druid City”
We all know the stories surrounding Anderson East’s career, how he started, and his big break with Dave Cobb that night at the Blue Bird Café. The albums, the tours, etc…. If you aren’t familiar with any of these, do a Google search because thisspecial night doesn’t need to be shared with any of those things.
This night Anderson writes another chapter in his history book. He is playing at a venue very dear to his heart’s dreams! The Ryman Stage at “The Mother Church”.
During his Encore Tour he and his band have played Iconic places such as The Vogue, the Fillmore, and Austin City Limits, but in his heart The Ryman is the ultimate venue. A musicians dream when hitting the streets of Music City and walking by those doors knowing the predecessors that have stood on that stage before you. On this very special night, Anderson was getting his dream to play the Ryman “The Mother Church” witha “sold out” show.
He is joining the Ryman family, his guest book signature signed, sealed and delivered. This is an incredibly special night, not only for him and his band, which is one of the tightest group of musicians around, but also for us fans who have followed his journey. To be a part of this night was a dream come true for us to watch his dream unfold.
This brings us to the very special night of Sept 28. Anderson had the Ryman stage, the crowd in the palm of his hand wanting more as he belted out each word with a soulful and passionate voice. The Alabama accent left back stage and only his love, fire and passion existed on this dream filled night. He opened his set with “Picking Up My Pieces” a Willie Nelson cover which was incredibly appropriate! As he finished, the crowd jumped to their feet, applauding, cheering and letting Anderson know how proud we were of him and from the look on his face, he was humbly appreciative. He jumped into “Satisfy Me” and paused after finishing the song smiling and telling the crowd “This is unreal for me….thank you for being here”. Always humble to acknowledge the thankfulness for his audiences, and tonight it was an extra appreciation for the sold out crowd! “When I first came to Nashville, my first show to see at the Ryman was Bob Dylan…. Years later, I get to play here…. Here’s a song about how I’m feeling tonight”. Anderson sang “King for a Day” with immense humbleness and gratitude. You could tell he was realizing that the dream was unfolding and he was living and enjoying every minute of it.
He took the stage alone for the next number, which happens to be a favorite among the ladies, and he even dedicated it to all the ladies in the audience, “What A Woman Wants To Hear” This happens to be one of my favorite’s and it’s been some time since I have experienced it live, so it was a joy to have it among the set list. He sang a few more ballads and then picked up the tempo with “Sorry Your Sick” a Ted Hawkins cover…. He was on his knees treating us to that infamous sultry growl, ending the song with a twirling microphone, and he had the crowd dancing! “Girlfriend”, another song with the famous Anderson East growl filled the walls of the Ryman next and “All on My Mind” followed. Then it came time for “House Is A Building” ending the show with Anderson conducting and acknowledging each member of his amazing band, as the instrumentals built, Anderson encouraged the crowd to applaud more, then it was time for the famous jump off the drum riser! I have seen Anderson do this numerous times and I will tell you, this was the highest jump I’ve ever seen in one of his shows. His energy was beyond spectacular.
The crowd was not finished with him. We wanted more and knew that we were going to get it when the he re-entered the stage. Anderson acknowledged his family and friends that were at the show saying “I do a lot of shows but tonight is different because my friends and family are here. This is a dream cometrue for me. Thank you all for being here and sharing this dream with me”. He began to sing “Cabinet Door”. A song that’s beenin his catalog for a while. The Encore album was the perfect home for the song which describes the grief of losing someone so close that had been in your life for years. A powerful and thought provoking ballad sang alone on the stage, just Anderson and his guitar, with the emotion as though he was actually feeling the pain of each word. Tears filled faces, and everyone became lost in remembering someone in their life who could fit the description.
We were blessed with two encore songs as Anderson brought the band out and sang “This Too Shall Last”. He told us that he wished he could play all night, but he was emotionally exhausted. This I am sure was incredibly true. The band started rehearsing for the show on Monday. Anderson strives for perfection. He was determined he was going to deliver it, and he definitely did.
He gave us the gift of his amazing and unique talent with 16 songs on the set list from Delilah (2015) and Encore (2018), a cherished gift for his fans and one that will be embedded in our memories forever! He dove into the depth of his soul while performing on The Ryman stage. We laughed, cried, danced, and left that auditorium wanting more, more, more!
On my travel back to Birmingham Sunday afternoon, I knew that I wanted to end the weekend with something special. I’ve never been to Athens, Al, which is Anderson’s hometown, so on this day, I decided to take that exit off I-65 and see the place that molded this talented performer. Athens is beautiful, many old homes and a lot of history surrounds downtown. I found a park called “Big Spring Park”. It was dedicated in August of 1989 when Anderson was two years old. I sat and thought about the weekend and how Anderson spent his childhood in such a small town to make his dream happen of playing the stage of the Ryman. It was a very peaceful and endearing moment. Dreams do come true, you have to want them, and I can tell you that through hard work and determination Anderson East made it happen. He is living his dream as a “Top-Notch” performer. Literally, his shows are perfect in each and every way.
Druid City Music Hall October 7th, 2018
Just 9 days later after the Ryman, I had the privilege of seeing Anderson and his band again at the well-known Druid City Music Hall in Tuscaloosa, AL. This would be my 7th and lastshow to see this year during the Encore Tour so I was looking forward to what the night would bring!
I arrived early, of course, (who doesn’t arrive early for an Anderson East show?). Front and Center stage is the place to be, the energy is so amazing! I landed my spot up front, hands literally touching the stage, I knew it was going to be a great night. As we waited for the opening band, I chatted with another fan who was making this her 9th show. Anderson has a very dedicated group of followers. Some call us crazy, we say we are just enjoying life, music, and his journey to the top.
The opening band finished and the equipment change began. I watched as each cord was wound, amps removed, the drum kit reveal, horns welcoming themselves to the stage. Watching each piece come together, then it hit me, and hit me hard, this would be the last show for me. No more Encore travels, or live shows for the rest of the year, luckily however, I will be attending the NYE show at the Historic Alabama Theatre in Birmingham, AL! If you can’t make it, don’t worry, there will definitely be a review of the eventful night that I will share!
The crowd was anxious but waiting patiently for our musical magician to arrive on stage and give us a stellar performance, which is always Anderson’s striving goal. He knows how much his audience loves him, and he appreciates each and every one of them for making the sacrifice to be there. Finally, we got the stage signal, a flashing of lights so we knew it was close, and then, one by one, they hit the stage, Philip Towns, Keyboards;Nate Heffron, Sax; Ben Clark, Trumpet; Darren Dodd, Drums;the Murray Brothers, Johnny on Bass guitar, and Scotty on Electric guitar; Whitney Coleman, Background vocals, and the man of the hour, Mr. Anderson East himself. It was time for the magic to happen and the crowd was ready!
The energy in the room was infectious and this show was going to be much different than the Ryman, this was going to exhibitAnderson’s rawest talent. He always knows how to accommodate each venue he plays, from the set list to his attire, and tonight he was paying homage to Tuscaloosa’s very own Crimson Tide with the perfect “Roll Tide” red t-shirt hidden under a black blazer, with black jeans and suede wingtip shoes.
Picking out the acoustic guitar from his collection, Andersonstarted the night with “Picking Up My Pieces” a Willie Nelson cover that has become quite popular among his audiences. Anderson’s remake to make it his own just fits, it’s the perfect song for an “Americana” artist, who has more R&B in him than Country to prepare the crowd for what’s to come.
Anderson didn’t keep the country vibe too long as he immediately went to “Surrender” and followed it with “Sorry Your Sick”. The crowd was so into his singing and ruling the stage, he was bringing the heat and the crowd was enthralled by his energy! Then it was time for three mellow tunes that really capture Anderson’s voice, “King for a Day”, “Devil In Me” and “If You Keep Leaving Me”…. The passion this man sings with is intense, and he makes you believe every word of each songs story. A talent that reaches into your soul so you feel the depth of his music.
He kicked into a retro-soul tune, “Hold On, I’m Comin” a Sam and Dave cover. Anderson also sang this one at the Ryman and had everyone on their feet! Anderson can make any cover song his own as if he originally wrote and sang it himself. One would never know it didn’t originally belong to him as he claims the songs vitality to entice you to get up and move!
Anderson took it down a notch with “Without You” and up again with “Girlfriend” infusing that notorious growl. There are very few artists that can incorporate such emotional and passionate vibes into a song like Anderson can, and when he lets go and gives us that growl, it comes from the depth of his being. He took us back to Delilah (2015) with “Satisfy Me” and thenEncore’s (2018) first release “All on My Mind”.
Then it was time, the notes from “House is A Building” kicked in, for those of us who have seen Anderson several times, we know this song brings the tears. Not only is the song one of the best about love and compassion, tonight it’s the final song of the set, prior to the encore. The night is coming to a close and we don’t want it to end.
The band exited the stage, but we weren’t finished with them. They appeased us and came out to give us two more encore songs. One was quite a surprise…. Prince – “I Would Die For You”. This was my first time to hear Anderson sing this and I will tell you Prince was applauding from Heaven! Then it was truly time, Anderson thanked everyone for being there. This was the last of the magic for the night, and Anderson began “This Too Shall Last”. He sings this song as if he would love to standon that stage and forever and sing. Performing his music is his passion, and we are so blessed in each and every way that he gives everything he was created to do to us fans. He is legendary, there is no artist that can deliver a show like Anderson, and can make you feel the intense energy, emotion, and substance that he is made of. As a huge admirer of his music, I feel so blessed that I have had the opportunity to attend seven shows this year. Each one very different, but all hold very special memories of the perfectly entertaining and precise talent of Anderson and each member of his band.
There are several more venues on the Encore Tour, if you get the chance, go see Anderson and his band. Anderson gives all of himself during his live shows. He knows how to magically captivate and command an audience with his mesmerizing vocals, sultry moves and humble heart. One thing is certain, no matter the venue, size of the stage, or type of audience, Anderson and his tight band know how to deliver the perfect show.
The future truly belongs to these guys!