If you were hoping that Ryan Adams’ apparent contemplation of a Whiskeytown reunion might signal a softening of feelings toward his native state, forget about it. U.S. tour dates are starting to come together for this spring, and once again North Carolina is nowhere to be found on his itinerary (at least not yet). A stretch in the first half of March finds Ryan playing two dates each in Virginia, South Carolina and Florida — but none in The Old North State, which he will presumably have to drive through to get from Richmond to Columbia.
This is pretty much standard operating procedure for Ryan on the road nowadays. During his last major stretch of touring in 2014-15, Ryan made it to every adjoining state without playing in North Carolina, where he’s not played a show since 2005. Come June 8, it will be an even dozen years since the last time.
Anyway, looks like road trips will once again be in order for anyone in North Carolina who wants to see a show this go-round. Maybe I’ll get lucky and he’ll do South By Southwest again this year, because I’d really love to hear the new Prisoner songs live. Here’s the schedule so far:
More than once in the years since Whiskeytown, Ryan Adams has declared that he hates country music and always has — a sentiment that I don’t really believe, even though he probably meant it at the time he said it (because he usually does). Be that as it may, apparently Ryan does not feel the same way about bluegrass. At last weekend’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival in Colorado, he was booked for what had initially been billed as a solo performance. Instead, he appeared with the Infamous Stringdusters and Nicki Bluhm backing him up. The set was well-received, and Ryan tweeted enthusiastically about it afterward (“Bluegrass is alive and wandering the hills like a blue moon yeti”).
There was not an online live stream of the show, to the disappointment of fans elsewhere who wanted to watch and listen. But below are a few fan-shot videos from the performance, of Dio’s “Holy Diver” and his own longtime signature “Come Pick Me Up.” Check them out while you can because I fully expect them both to disappear soon.
Meanwhile, if Ryan is really in a bluegrass frame of mind and maybe wanted to play more of it while breaking his North Carolina boycott… well, sir, IBMA’s World of Bluegrass in his old hometown of Raleigh is a great time. And it just so happens the Stringdusters are IBMA regulars, too, having played the festival two of the three years since it moved to Raleigh from Nashville. Just sayin’.
ADDENDUM (7/25/2016): Also, here they are at the Newport Folk Festival.
Tags: bluegrass, Come Pick Me Up, Country music, Dio, Holy Diver, IBMA, Infamous Stringdusters, Nicki Bluhm, North Carolina boycott, Ryan Adams, Telluride Bluegrass Festival, World of Bluegrass
Back in March, my Facebook friend Tony Sicilia (a public-school teacher in the greater Raleigh vicinity) made a plaintive Twitter plea for Ryan Adams to end his apparent North Carolina boycott and come back to his native state — promising the enticement of “the best homemade Italian dinner you’ve ever had,” cooked by his mom. And even though it was charming and heartfelt, it didn’t do the trick. Ryan’s last round of U.S. touring took him to every adjoining state without him ever setting foot on a stage in North Carolina.
But Tony, God bless him, has not given up. Below is a followup offer he made to Ryan, again by Twitter, promising that the dinner invitation still stands even if Ryan doesn’t play here; and darned if @TheRyanAdams didn’t favorite it. We’re pulling for you, Tony!