Last week social media around Nashville was buzzing about the mysterious “Sam and Audrey” show at The Ryman downtown, the Mother Church of Country. The rumors seem to point to a joint show with Tim McGraw (given first name “Samuel”) and his superstar wife “Audrey” Faith Hill. They were going to promote something, a tour perhaps, on the eve of them both getting stars downtown at the Music City Walk of Fame.
We moved to Nashville to go to a unique event just like this, so eagerly waited to buy what was sure to be limited tickets Monday at 10 AM. The Ticketmaster listing updated to Tim and Faith, but after only 10 minutes the few tickets were gone. Sadly I was sure we wouldn’t go. Tuesday morning came and serendipitously our favorite Highway DJ, Storme Warren, said he had some tickets to give and somehow we were the lucky recipients of the last pair.
After traffic before Carrie, I (or Stacy) was determined we’d be a bit earlier, so even though as always there was tons of people and events downtown, we got to the Ryman before 7 PM for a 7:30 PM show and there were still lots of people filling in. (I will say the new scanners and security screening ran great at the Ryman.)
We made our way down to our seats, LITERALLY we could touch the stage on stage left and awaited our seat mates. While we sat there we saw the very distinctive hair of Kimberly Schlapman from Little Big Town, who was graciously taking pictures with fans in the balcony. Somebody said Big Machine label head Scott Borchetta was there, and I’m sure there were other notable guests present. We also noticed a lot of people wearing the intertwining triangle logo badges, turns out those were Tim and Faith fan club members, some who came from all over the country from this.
Right before 7:30 our seat mates arrived, and much to our surprise it was Storme Warren and his lovely wife Allison. Some of the other ticket recipients rushed over to take pics and I kept waiting for him to still be taking them when Tim and Faith came out.
The lights dimmed and they had a video across the white screen where the “Sam and Audrey” logo had been displayed, and it ended with the intertwined triangles and it came down and Faith strode across the stage opposite me looking amazing, as Tim came in almost directly in front of it. They came on singing “It’s Your Love” their 1997 duet. It gave me chills, they were so in sync, they sounded incredible, and for Stacy and I to share this moment, feet away from them, with the memory of the song playing at our 2003 wedding was incredible.
After “It’s Your Love” ended they said how happy they were to be there, and have so many family, friends, and longtime fans join them for a special announcement, that they were going on a worldwide tour, “Soul 2 Soul 2017.” After that, Tim left the stage for Faith to sing.
She sang “This Kiss” and “Mississippi Girl” and sounded amazing. She then launched into a very unexpected, bluesy rendition of an Aretha Franklin “Dr Feelgood.” We realized at that point this was a different Faith Hill than we expected. She was rocking, bluesy, twangy and all with still the most dynamic female voice in country. She did a few more songs and ended with the Janis Joplin song “Take Another Piece of my Heart” that the crowd enthusiastically sang back to her.
Tim came back out and sang “Angry all the Time” with Faith backing him. After she exited he did a short set starting with “Something Like That.” After he did “Humble and Kind,” he took the time to point out Lori McKenna, the songwriter, in the audience and the crowd applauded and he mentioned how incredible the songwriters in Nashville were. As he sang “Here Tonight” off his current album, Damn Country Music, I looked up to see him what felt like inches away. He finished with a rocking “Real Good Man” that he even played guitar on.
Faith came back out and they did “Like We Never Loved at All” and the duet “We’ve Got Tonight.” (The back story in our house is I had never heard it as a duet I only knew the Bob Seger version, while Stacy only knew the Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton version.) They harmonized so well together. If that was the end it would have been an amazing night.
They came back out and sat on these little chairs staring at each other and sang “I Need You.” At one point the whole place was quiet and it felt like it was just those two in this intimate moment we were witnessing of them singing to each other.
They said thank you, said they would see us across the street at the Bridgestone in August and said good night. With that the lights came up.
There is something magical about The Ryman, even Faith mentioned it from the stage; and tonight for Tim and Faith and Soul 2 Soul it really did touch you with the country spirit in the building and the connection those two share. Stacy has rarely said a show was life changing, but this one truly was awe inspiring and we can’t wait to see them on the road in 2017.