On December 1st, shortly after the invitation was posted here on Beyond Little House, I called my husband and asked him, “Would you go to Nashville with me on January 6th?”
His reply (I should note here that no details were given and he was in a hurry): “Sounds good.” I took him seriously. Today, 176 years ago, Charles Ingalls was born. Last Friday, on January 6th, we celebrated Pa, the fiddler, at the Loveless Barn just outside of Nashville, Tennessee.
I’ve tried to think of one single word to describe the whole experience. I can’t.
It was awesome and wow, touching and emotional, fun and funny. My hands hurt from clapping before the show even started. It was so amazing to be a part of something that will evolve into not only a documentary to further preserve the legacy of Laura and Pa and the music that they loved and shared with the world, but also an event for PBS (my all-time favorite station to watch).
After a “just like home” cooked meal with a wonderful group of friends at the Loveless Cafe, along with a visit from Dean Butler, we all walked over to the Loveless Barn. We (the Laura group :)) were one of the first to be seated, and next to the stage at that. After settling into our seats, I soon realized that the fiddler would be right there in front of us. Perfect seats, in my opinion! Throw into the mix the absolute coolness of watching and listening to the great producer, Dean Butler, the director at work, the cameramen, and all the other goings-on of filming this special production … again, no words.
When the first performer, Ronnie Milsap, sat down at his piano and started to play and then the fiddler joined in, I got goosebumps, swelled with pride, and thought I might cry (I had a hankie up my sleeve, just in case) all at the same time. As each song was performed, I felt such a range of emotions just hearing this music that I have known and loved for so long being played right there before me.
What a treat it was watching these great performers – – Ronnie Milsap, Randy Travis, Natalie Grant, Rodney Atkins, The Roys, Ashton Shepherd and Committed — all doing their versions of these songs. Pa’s songs. And the band? Award-winning musician and musical director Randy Scruggs along with the very talented Matt Combs, Dennis Crouch, Chad Cromwell, Hoot Hester and Shad Cobb. This was surely a highlight in my “Laura life”!
After the show, as we drove north back into Kentucky and toward home, I wondered: Which song did I love the most? Who was my favorite artist? While I can’t choose just one and could go on and on about each performer and performance, if pressed I would have to say that Randy Travis singing “Sweet By and By” resonates with me the most because it was Pa’s favorite and, after all, this was a celebration of Pa.
I’m not going to go over every detail because hopefully you all will be seeing it on PBS in just a few months and I don’t want to spoil if for you. If your PBS station doesn’t air it, by all means contact them and tell them that you want to see it!
Thank you, Dean Butler and Dale Cockrell, for putting this very special show together, for offering us the opportunity to be there and for all you both do to preserve the legacy of Laura Ingalls Wilder. And a special thank-you to Connie Neumann who put a lot of work into coordinating the attendees!