Soft Gyrations

A prediction for February, 2004: I’ve been trying to blog this since Saturday, but my music critiquing skills are too limited to do justice to what I was lucky enough to experience Friday night. So, I’ll skip the review and just say I saw a Grammy Award CD being created. The CD won’t come out until the end of 2003, yet there is no doubt it will win a Grammy. How, do I know? I just do.

Mark O’Connor is releasing the “live” double-CD as a retrospective of his 30 years as a recording artist. The concert was held in the new (and accoustically awesome) Ingram Performance Hall at Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music.

Mark O’Connor, Chris Thile, Bryan Sutton and Byron House came as close as four artists can to perfection. (It didn’t hurt that we got there early and got front-row, center seats.)

Bryan Sutton on guitar is worth travelling anywhere to see. Byron House on bass is unbeatable. Mark O’Connor is legendary. But Chris Thile. How does one begin to describe his talent. Other-worldly? Godlike? On a stage with three other titans of accoustical music, Chris Thile tranformed his mandolin into something beyond magical. Chris Thile reminds me of Pete Maravich. In the way Pistol Pete redefined what ball handling is all about, Chris Thile is in the process of changing the way the world perceives the mandolin. His name should be Chris Thrille.

Two ninety minutes sets left the audience exhausted but the musicians appeared energized, even joyful.

In a rare brush with greatness, the next morning I saw Mark O’Connor in the parking lot of The Violin Shop in Bellevue. It would have been like having a conversation with Michael Jordan the morning after a championship game. I was able to ask him ten minutes of questions about the performance and he seemed eager to indulge the kids and me.

Nashville is that kind of amazing place.