Ashley McBryde brought her spectacular Lindeville project to the Ryman Auditorium last week for two sold-out crowds.
McBryde and her collaborators staged a carnival of sights and sounds to the music of her Grammy-nominated project Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville. The album is a look at the town of Lindeville, created by McBryde and her co-writers, that is the home to vibrant characters with engrossing storylines. A collaborative project, McBryde is joined by a host of talents on the album, including Brothers Osborne,Brandy Clark, Pillbox Patti, Caylee Hammack, Aaron Raitiere and more. It was nominated for Best Country Album at the 2023 Grammy Awards.
The Ryman stage looked like the set of a play, with “Lindeville” written out on a banner behind the band, the album’s trademark purple dinosaur set up by the steel guitarist and a special radio station booth in the corner set for Storme Warren. The radio exec put on his acting hat to play the part of radio announcer for Lindeville’s WTF (What The Fuzz) radio.
The evening started with the album’s cover star, Audrey Byrd, dancing across the stage and plopping down on a chair to begin to read a story. As she read, narration from McBryde played.
McBryde said, “Three little misfits had an idea one muggy as hell afternoon. The idea, it was weird, but they weren’t ‘a-feared,’ for they knew another weirdo or two. They figured they knew just exactly the few they would call to chorale and explore. The phone calls were made and if you ask them, they’ll say, ‘The stars lined up too good to ignore.’ Soon there were six at a small kitchen table in a cabin, mysterious and quirky. They toiled away all hours of the day, helping themselves to tequila and jerky. It wasn’t long before song after song came falling right out of the ether – onto sketch pads and laptops and guitars and keyboards about pawn shops and strippers and preachers. What they had on their hands, through some kind of plan, was so magic, it grew legs and wings. So Ash called a friend who said he was in, he built the band and asked her who should sing. There was just one more dream these weirdos could dream, and it’s all yours tonight. You’ve got good timing. Ladies and gents, we proudly present: ‘Lindeville Live.'”
Hilarity ensued when McBryde appeared to perform “Brenda Put Your Bra On” alongside Pillbox Pattiand Lainey Wilson. Bras of all shapes, colors and sizes were flung up on stage while the women kicked off the night’s music.
Next, Aaron Raitiere appeared to perform “Jesus Jenny.” A scorned lover heckled Raitiere from the crowd as he sang the witty tune.
There were several moments of transition through the evening as the next slate of performers got ready to entertain. Like on the album, McBryde crafted several commercials for the businesses in Lindeville. A bluegrass band comprised of Charlie Worsham, TJ Osborne, Tim Sergent, Dan Hochhalter, Ben Helsonand Jerry Pentecost joined McBryde to promote Lindeville’s Dandelion Diner, Ronnie’s Pawnshop and Forkem Family Funeral Home while everyone else got set for the next number. Each commercial was funny, hokey and delightful.
Speaking of bands, the Lindeville house band was electric. Brothers Osborne‘s John Osborne served as the eager bandleader. Chris Harris, Matt Helmkamp, Joe Andrews, Caleb Hooper, Quinn Hill and Preston Wait joined him.
TJ Osborne appeared at one point to sing the sincere “Play Ball.” He sounded beautiful singing about a caretaker of the local baseball park, who has been through trials but feels blessed to be alive.
Another impactful moment came when Benjy Davis gave a stoic performance of “Gospel Night At The Strip Club.” As Davis sang the first chorus of the tune, “Jesus loves the drunkards and the whores and the queers,” a dazzling group of local drag queens showed up in various sections of the Ryman. They smiled out at the crowd and sang along. It was enough to make audience members cry.
One of the night’s funniest moments came when Raitiere and Shelly Fairchild acted out “The Missed Connection Section of the Lindeville Gazette.” While pretending to grocery shop, the two traded verses about missing their connection with each other at the store. “Man seeking woman who won’t tell his wife,” Raitiere sang while Fairchild echoed, “Woman seeking man who won’t tell her husband.”
McBryde was joined by her fellow female performers for an epic rendition of “Bonfire At Tina’s.” The anthem about small town women gathering together in solidarity for a drunken bonfire was one of the rowdiest points of the night, with audience members raising their fists and singing along.
To tribute the album’s namesake, the illustrious songwriter Dennis Linde, McBryde led a performance of one of his beloved tunes, The Chicks‘ “Goodbye Earl.” The campy spirit of the song fit the night’s setlist perfectly.
Before closing, McBryde performed her breakout hit, “Girl Goin’ Nowhere.” McBryde paused at the line, “I hear the crowd,” to soak in the community she has built with her music, before concluding the event with a heartfelt thank you.
McBryde’s Lindeville album is undoubtedly one that will stand up as time passes. The un-barred artistic expresion, brilliant songwriting and camaraderie between herself and her collaborators will draw listeners for decades to come.