Hear A 2011 Set by Vince Gill On Mountain Stage
Between 2006 and 2014, Mountain Stage made regular trips to the Paramount Center for the Arts in the Virginia/Tennessee border town of Bristol to raise awareness about the now completed Birthplace of Country Music Museum.
On August 21, 2011, Mountain Stage host Larry Groce welcomed one of the greatest and multi-talented country music artists – Vince Gill, who gave what Groce has described as one of the best sets ever performed on Mountain Stage.
“When we come to Bristol, we like to do some special things in celebration of the Birthplace of Country Music,” Groce said introducing Gill, who has won 21 country music Grammy Awards - the most of any country male artist. “Here is a man who has explored every part of country music and far beyond
He started out in bluegrass, got into mainstream country and pop. If there as anything as a triathlon for music he would no doubt win because he can not only sing wonderfully but he writes great songs, is a wonderful guitar player.”
The laid-back Norman, Oklahoma native showed why he’s such a welcomed and frequent performer on the Grand Ole Opry, interacting early and often with the audience with gentle and self-effacing humor. He then flows into a soulful, stripped down acoustic version of his 1991 hit “Liza Jane,” with his veteran band of Nashville cats, David Hungate on bass, Pete Wasner on keyboards and Billy Thomas on drums.
As a guitarist, Gill is so good he was asked to join Dire Straits at their height, and he’s been pulling double duty singing and playing with The Eagles since 2017. But his superpower throughout his career- from the 1980 No. 1 smash “Let Me Love You Tonight” with Pure Prairie League, to several of his chart-topping solo hits- is his ballad slaying vocal abilities. No male country star can more powerfully drip that vulnerable love ballad vocal honey like Gill. Evidenced here through his beautifully simple and powerful song, “Whenever You Come Around.”
A highlight of this set is the full-on Opry-style comedy routine, with vocal impressions leading up to the sweet song about his father, “The Key to Life.’ Gill described the towering, gruff character as Gen. Patton, John Wayne and Clint Eastwood rolled into one. “One of the best things he ever said to me was - ‘I’ll knock you through a wall and make you fix it,’” Gill said in a gruff voice to a laughing audience.
Gill then paid tribute to his father and to Bristol playing the first song his dad taught him on guitar, The Carter Family’s “Wildwood Flower,” before solemnly paying his respects to his pops.
“I wouldn’t play a guitar or sing songs if it wasn’t for my dad,” said Gill, who as a teenager and young man was in a series of bluegrass bands and these days has a regular Nashville gig with the Time Jumpers. “He sat me down and showed me G, C and D. He said you’re on your own that is all I know. The first thing I learned was recorded right here in this town.”
Gill shared two new songs during this 2011 set, “Threaten Me With Heaven,” which he dedicated to one of the song’s co-writers Will Owsley, who passed away earlier that year, and “Red Words,” a faith-filled tribute to his wife that wouldn’t be released until 2019.
It was grab-the-tissues time when Gill turned in a searing rendition of “Go High Rest On That Mountain” - a 1995 song he started writing after Keith Whitley died in 1989, then finished when his brother Bob died in 1993. “Driving over here I heard a gospel group singing it on the radio on a Sunday morning, and that made me feel pretty good,” Gill said.
Gill closed thanking Mountain Stage for bringing folks together to share in the magic of live music. “I love it when you share a stage with so many different kinds of people and so many different kinds of musicians,” Gill said. “This was a real gift today to get to meet some new friends to hear some people play music that I had never gotten the opportunity to do that with. So as I leave here and go home, I am the one that got the blessing, so thank you.”
- Liza Jane
- Whenever You Come Around
- Wildwood Flower
- The Key to Life
- Threaten Me with Heaven
- Go Rest High on that Mountain
- The Red Words
Recorded August 21, 2011 at the Paramount Bristol in Bristol, TN/VA.