Glitter And Gratitude With Tokens Thanksgiving At The Ryman
It was a show full of surprises, reflections, glitter and gratitude as Tokens presented their 6th annual Thanksgiving at the Ryman with Lee C. Camp and Friends on Sunday night.
The air was charged with joyful particles of expectation as we were seated on the robust wooden pews at the Mother Church of Country Music when from behind the curtain the host Lee C. Camp appeared. With him he had some excellent Nashville musicians and they started performing an unplugged version of "Green, Green Grass of Home" that made one feel transported back in time. Then all of a sudden a wave of cheers was heard as unannounced surprise guest Vince Gill joined them on stage momentarily. But that was just a little teaser of what was to come before the actual show started.
The production based on the Tokens radio show can be described as a dazzling spiritual music variety event seasoned with poems, humor and a perfect pinch of satire. Yet it feels very inviting and welcoming - like sharing a dinner table with the friends you enjoy conversing with the most while enjoying your favorite and curator selected songs.
For the grand entertainment the Lipscomb University professor and author Lee C. Camp had invited some of the area's finest: Mike Farris, Buddy Greene, Secret Sisters, Andrew Peterson, Odessa Settles and Jenny Littleton. All provided us with superb musical perfection and well timed sketches along with Music City Strings, Lipscomb Academy Concert Chorus, The Most Outstanding Horeb Mountain Boys and Vince Gill. The latter participated in the skits with natural compliance and skill. Gill also treated us with a song dedicated to his late harmony singer and Time Jumpers band mate Dawn Sears. The emotion he poured into the song was carried by his blessed voice reaching us in the audience producing tangible results: warmth in our hearts, water filled eyes and a warm, supportive applause.
We were presented a well produced variety show with gospel, mellowness, thoughtfulness, laughter inducing segments and spirit lifting songs as well as commentary to recent and ongoing social occurrences. Every player, picker, singer, musician and comedienne worked seamlessly in the production with ease and synchronicity.
The first standing ovation of the night was awarded to Music City Strings, a group of twenty concert violinists ages eight through eighteen who sparkle not only with their attire, but also with their performances: choreographed steps and movements to excellent musical execution in a very playful but still natural and relaxed manner. They presented innovative arrangements of traditional violin, classical and Irish pieces including their very unique performance of Pachelbel's Canon much to our and my delight.
Country and American roots music were well represented in the program with the Secret Sisters' distinctively traditional and groundbreaking style of folktale inspired bluegrass soul. Odessa Settles gave us a sacred moment with her performance, Andrew Peterson invited the Holy Spirit into the building, Buddy Greene served bluegrass and bluegrass hymns and the inimitable Mike Farris undoubtedly gave his all with both a rendition of Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" and the vocal equilibrists in Lipscomb Academy Concert Chorus let their ranges shine in one of their acts when they without amplification proved the auditorium's superb acoustics. The host himself served us the John Denver hit "Back Home Again" and lead the entire star cast in several numbers including the grand finale. Tokens' Thanksgiving table dished out only main courses without any side dishes.
It was not a Sunday Revival at the Ryman, but the Tokens Thanksgiving at the Ryman came extremely close.
Foot note: One of the event's sponsors was Agape, an organization caring about and for parents and their born and unborn children in all stages of life, and the show was recorded by and is going to be broadcasted two times on WSM 650 AM on Thanksgiving Day, Thursday November 26 between 12 to 2 pm and 8 to 10 pm. To listen online go to http://www.wsmonline.com/
Shelley Ridge for Country Music News International Magazine