The Wildhorse Saloon was the venue for this very special occasion, where true legends of country music were celebrated as well as their hit songs. To say that magic was in the air is an understatement. On the line up were Johnny Lee, T. Graham Brown, Tim Rushlow , Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, Eddy Raven, Larry Stewart, Marty Raybon, Exile, Lee Greenwood, David Frizzell, Mickey Gilley, Bellamy Brothers and The Oak Ridge Boys. The "Queen of Long Island Country" Lisa Matassa was singing duets with the legends and the songs have also been recorded for her upcoming album "Why I'm Here - Legendary Duets" that will be released in two volumes. Proceeds from the event benefitted Monroe Carell Jr. Children's Hospital at Vanderbilt.
Country Music News International Magazine had the privilege of talking to some of the artists before the star packed show started. The Long Island country singer Lisa Matassa was one, and she stated that this concert truly was the highlight of her career: "It's a wonderful, wonderful experience for me and I'm just trying to sink in, all of it".
With T. Graham Brown she is singing his big hit "Tell It Like It Use To Be" and they are doing a very soulful version. They met at the George Jones tribute concert - T. Graham and his wife were good friend's of George and still is with Nancy, and Matassa asked him if he wanted to sing the song with her on this project. About the concert Brown said: "Vanderbilt Children's Hospital is a good place and I get to hang out with some of my old friends, it's all good, all positive." He is currently working on his next project which is going to be a Christmas album. He said it's easy to be in the right spirit for that, since "I'm such a kid I'm into Christmas spirit all year long every year anyway". When we asked him to tell us about any significant events and what he is most proud over in his career, he told us "I'm most proud of this song I wrote 'Wine Into Water', it's helped so many people get sober, 'cause that's what I'm about these days, trying to do what God wants me to and help people in their sobriety."
Speaking of God doing things in your life and Christmas, we also sat down to speak with in gospel/bluegrass/country thoroughly skilled Marty Raybon, who has - in addition to his solo bookings - 23 concerts booked for the year with reunited Shenandoah. In November Raybon and the group released their first project together in 17 years which was a Christmas EP. About the process of getting back together he is saying "Time has a way of fixing things for you"; "The guys that I'm working with [in Shenandoah] we all have a deeper relationship with the Lord, because time has allowed that to happen. We talked about getting back together on several, several occasions, but you know, I did always get a check in my spirit, I'd always think, nah, it's not time for this". When they started talking about getting back together a year and a half ago, Marty said he didn't get a check in his spirit that time like he had in the past and he also asked his wife to pray about it and she felt good about it too. "After that, we [the Shenandoah members] started talking about how we would work this out and everything, and again, I've seen God start moving and doing things and start shaping and molding things and making this happen and having this fall in place." Jay DeMarcus of Rascal Flatts has started producing five tunes for Shenandoah and a record label is ready to listen once they are finished.
When he spoke about the show, he said "I'm tickled to death to be a part of it" and "what an absolutely wonderful thing to do - I know everybody's got a place in their heart for children and to be able to, you know to be a part of something that's going to be a part of saving a life, changing a childhood illness, whatever it may be, you know, to be a part of that is really a good thing." The conversation ended with Raybon referencing the Bible: "Prove [your faith] to God and God will prove Himself to you."
This was a show of mostly duets, and one of the collaborations was on the hit song "You're The Reason God Made Oklahoma" originally recorded by David Frizzell and Shelly West. He is very energetic, creative and fast paced. We asked him what still motivates him to keep going and his answer was "Music". He continued: "I love to make music, I love to write it, actually play it. I love the whole idea of playing music". He considers himself to be lucky to be a part of it. This summer he is going to Ireland for the first time to play some shows; he's heard they like country music over there. David has recently finished a Buddy Holly tribute project with some friends of his like Merle Haggard, Jimmy Fortune and Helen Cornelius among others. This is an artist that always has something going on; once he has finished one project, he's on to the next, always asking himself "What else can I do know?" even as he was in the middle of writing his book about his legendary brother Lefty Frizzell, so he wrote a screenplay based on the book that will become a movie. Next up is a concert and trail ride in Montana that will be filmed for RFD-TV.
The Wildhorse Saloon was a perfect fit for this type of show and it was also being taped for a future TV broadcast and from what we experienced this night with legends singing hit song after hit song and Lisa Matassa coming out and joining them dressed in different and very stylish outfits every time, it is going to be spectacular. According to the reactions and actions of the audience, it already was.
Shelley Ridge for Country Music News International Magazine