Attending the filming of a live concert for television or DVD can be a special treat. Sometimes, however, all of the extra preparation and retakes can make for an annoying experience. As far as I can remember, this musical celebration at the Ryman for the Coen Brothers film went off without a hitch.
In 2000, I was still somewhat new to town and not yet plugged in to the Ryman network. As a result, you can see above that I had a crappy seat for this one. Nonetheless, I was quite thrilled to just be in the same room with my favorite film makers, let alone the exciting cast of country and bluegrass artists on hand to recreate the music from the O Brother film. And, imagine my excitement on the way to the show when my friend and I wound up crossing the street to the Ryman with Ethan and Joel Coen and Joel’s wife, actress Frances McDormand. I was too surprised to even say anything.
This show was eventually documented on both the Down from the Mountain CD and DVD. Later, there was a tour bearing this same name that featured many of the players from the original Ryman event. In fact, in August 2002 it played the Ryman; and while great, it just didn’t match the thrill and excitement of the original event.
My fondest memories of this night were Ralph Stanley’s spine-chilling performance of “O Death,” and getting to see the late John Hartford serve as master of ceremonies. The O Brother concert was a fitting tribute to one of the Coen Brothers’ best films. The only disappointment was the absence of the original Soggy Bottom Boys to recreate their on screen hit “Man of Constant Sorrow.”