Does history still matter to today’s country music artists and fans? If responses from Jason Aldean, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, and others attending the All for the Hall benefit concert in New York City are any indication, the answer is a resounding yes.
Aldean, Gill, Harris, Rodney Crowell, Gregg Allman and Warren Haynes of The Allman Brothers Band, Ashley Monroe, Train’s Pat Monahan, and surprise guest Joan Osborne were all at New York City’s Best Buy Theater Tuesday night (Feb. 26) for the All for the Hall benefit concert honoring Nashville’s Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum.
Jason Aldean stressed the importance for country fans to learn the history of country music. He said that today’s country artists have a role to play in that as well.
“I think it’s important for us younger artists to represent that and say, ‘Hey, don’t forget about these guys over here,’” he told Radio.com during an interview backstage at the event. “They’re the ones that paved the way for us to be here.”
Vince Gill echoed Aldean’s sentiments. “I don’t know if the country music of today realizes in what esteem it will be held down the road,” he told Radio.com.
“I think it’s a great thing,” Aldean said about the Country Music Hall of Fame. “We donate stuff to it all the time, and they put it up for exhibits. We’ve done a couple of these All For the Hall deals. I think it’s important for us to carry on that legacy as artists. You never know, one day one of us may be enshrined in that building and hopefully it will be there for people 100 years from now to come and check it out and keep the story going.”
During the two-hour concert itself, the artists shared the stage and, in guitar-pull fashion, joined in with each other on every song played. Emmylou Harris, for instance, shared the microphone with Rodney Crowell, performing and telling the story behind the track selection on their new duet album, Old Yellow Moon.
Earlier, Harris stressed the necessity of learning from country music’s past.
“It’s really important to know where we came from and this music still inspires us. Obviously we have to bring something new to it, but you can’t bring something new to something unless you know what went before it,” she explained to Radio.com. “It’s important what the Country Music Hall of Fame does. It’s an extraordinary archive and that will keep on going. And one day if we’re lucky we will be in the archive.”
Throughout the performance, Allman and Haynes showcased their gritty Southern rock with slide guitar and impressive picking. Classic Allman Brothers tracks like “Melissa” and “Midnight Rider” had the audience screaming for more and nearly made Aldean, who followed their performance each time, speechless.
“I get to follow that? Awesome,” Aldean said after Allman and Haynes played the rarity “These Days,” a song penned by Jackson Browne.
Train frontman Pat Monahan was genuinely humbled by the talent around him. “What am I doing here?” he asked when he addressed the audience for the first time. “That’s what you guys were thinking, so I’ll just say it. Thank you for having me.”
But Monahan does belong, thanks in no small part to his beautiful new single “Bruises” with Ashley Monroe, which is currently on country radio.
Despite his relatively new foray into the genre, the audience gave Monahan a warm welcome as they sang along word for word to his monster hit “Drops of Jupiter.”
The night came full circle as each musician stressed the importance of learning from the acts before them.
“I want to say thanks to these guys Warren and Gregg,” Aldean said. “Growing up listening to these guys influenced me a ton.”
He wasn’t the only one. Gill cited Crowell’s impact.
“I spent so many hours as a young boy with my electric guitar trying to find out what they did on those records,” Gill said.
The concert, though, was just part of the evening set aside to raise money for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. A cocktail reception auctioned off rare items like autographed guitars, concert tickets, and limited edition framed and autographed photos.
The money raised Tuesday night will benefit the legacy of the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum as well as help open the doors to the expanded space in 2014.