Dierks Bentley / Marty Stuart / On TV / Ricky Skaggs

Country Music: Live at the Ryman, A Concert Celebrating The Film by Ken Burns to Air on PBS

Ken Burns

COUNTRY MUSIC: LIVE AT THE RYMAN, A CONCERT CELEBRATING THE FILM BY KEN BURNS, featuring many of the artists who appear in the upcoming Ken Burns documentary COUNTRY MUSIC, will air on Sunday, September 8 from 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET, PBS announced today. The concert, which took place at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium on Wednesday, March 27, 2019, was hosted by Burns and featured performances by Dierks Bentley, Rosanne Cash, Rodney Crowell, Rhiannon Giddens, Vince Gill, Kathy Mattea, Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Asleep at the Wheel, Holly Williams and Dwight Yoakam.

In addition to live performances of iconic country songs, select clips from the film were highlighted throughout the evening. The event was produced by Opry Entertainment and Florentine Films, and made possible thanks to the support from Bank of America, Burns’s corporate underwriter.

COUNTRY MUSIC: LIVE AT THE RYMAN will stream on station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and PBS apps, timed to the Sunday, September 8 broadcast.

The separate eight-part, 16-hour documentary, directed by Burns, written by Dayton Duncan, and produced by Duncan, Burns and Julie Dunfey, premieres Sunday, September 15 through Wednesday, September 18 and Sunday, September 22 through Wednesday, September 25 from 8:00-10:00 p.m. ET each night. The first four episodes will stream on station-branded PBS platforms, including PBS.org and PBS apps, timed to the Sunday, September 15 premiere, and the second four timed to the broadcast of Episode 5 on Sunday, September 22 (each episode will stream for a period of three weeks). PBS Passport members will be able to stream the entire series for a period of six months beginning Sunday, September 15.  

The concert, which was shot live, explores country’s roots while also highlighting the diversity of musical styles and artists that fall under the country music label. Paying tribute to the genre’s eclectic, layered history, COUNTRY MUSIC: LIVE AT THE RYMAN provides viewers with a taste of everything from western swing and bluegrass to honkytonk and cowboy music.

“In country music, we found a love for storytelling that translates everyday experiences into universal truths that we can all identify with,” said Ken Burns. “We are thrilled to have had the opportunity to bring film excerpts of COUNTRY MUSIC to those areas that gave birth to this most American of art forms. Ryman Auditorium, the Mother Church of Country Music, is a character itself in our film, and hosting this concert there was a dream come true for us. We are thrilled to now share this special evening with PBS viewers across the country.”

“All of the talented artists who performed at the Ryman also appear in our film, as commentators or as characters or as both,” Duncan said. “But on this night, they sang and played the music they love, brought the crowd to tears and to their feet, and in one concert took us all on an unforgettable journey across time, one song at a time.”

Audience members dubbed the evening “epic,” and Rolling Stone found it full of “remarkable performances.” Highlights include Vince Gill’s “breathtaking” and “sublime” cover of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” Old Crow Medicine Show’s Ketch Secor and Rhiannon Giddens’ “scorching” performance of “Ruby (Are You Mad at Your Man),” and Billboard noted that Holly Williams “breathed life into” her grandfather Hank Williams Sr.’s “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry.” Viewers can also look forward to “a rousing rendition” of country’s unofficial national anthem, The Carter Family’s “Will the Circle Be Unbroken.” The concert’s full set list is below.

Set List:

“Ruby, Are You Mad at Your Man” – Rhiannon Giddens and Ketch Secor

“In the Jailhouse Now” – Ketch Secor

“Tumbling Tumbleweeds” – Riders in the Sky

“New San Antonio Rose” – Asleep at the Wheel

“Uncle Pen” – Marty Stuart and Ricky Skaggs

“I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry” – Holly Williams

“Orange Blossom Special” – Marty Stuart

“Crazy” – Rhiannon Giddens

“Hungry Eyes” – Dwight Yoakam

“Streets of Bakersfield” – Dwight Yoakam and Dierks Bentley

“Coal Miner’s Daughter” – Kathy Mattea

“Sunday Morning Coming Down” – Larry Gatlin

“Pancho & Lefty” – Rodney Crowell

“Are You Sure Hank Done It This Way” – Dierks Bentley

“I Will Always Love You” – Vince Gill

“Don’t Get Above Your Raisin’” – Ricky Skaggs

“I Still Miss Someone” – Rosanne Cash

“Will the Circle Be Unbroken” – Full Cast

COUNTRY MUSIC was directed by Ken Burns, written by Dayton Duncan, and produced by Duncan, Burns and Julie Dunfey. They spent eight years researching and producing the film, conducting interviews with more than 100 people, including 40 members of the Country Music Hall of Fame (20 of those interviewed have since passed on). Among those storytellers are historian Bill Malone and a wide range of country artists, such as Marty Stuart, Rosanne Cash, Vince Gill, Reba McEntire, Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Dwight Yoakam, Emmylou Harris, Kris Kristofferson, and Naomi and Wynonna Judd, as well as studio musicians, record producers and others. The film uses more than 3,200 photographs and over two hours of archival footage, including rare and never-before-seen photos and footage of Jimmie Rodgers, Johnny Cash and others.

Funding for COUNTRY MUSIC was provided by Bank of America, the Annenberg Foundation, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, Belmont University, Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County, Rosalind P. Walter, and by members of “The Better Angels Society,” including: The Blavatnik Family Foundation, the Schwartz/Reisman Foundation, the Pfeil Foundation, Diane and Hal Brierley, John and Catherine Debs, the Fullerton Family Charitable Fund, the Perry and Donna Golkin Family Foundation, Jay Alix and Una Jackman, Mercedes T. Bass, Fred and Donna Seigel, Gilchrist and Amy Berg, James R. Berdell Foundation, David Bonderman, Deborah P. and Jonathan T. Dawson, Senator Bill and Tracy Frist, Susan and David Kreisman, Rocco and Debby Landesman, Lillian Lovelace, John and Leslie McQuown, the Segal Family Foundation, Michelle Smith. Major funding was provided by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting and PBS.

COUNTRY MUSIC is a production of Florentine Films and WETA, Washington, DC. Directed by Ken Burns, written by Dayton Duncan, and produced by Duncan, Julie Dunfey and Burns.

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