Club Nokia set the stage for All for the Hall Los Angeles fundraising concert on Sept. 13. The concert is a hallmark for diversity, featuring mixed generations and genres and bringing together country music and other popular music styles. The artists to take the stage for the event this year included Kevin Cronin of REO Speedwagon, Sheryl Crow, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris and Zac Brown.
Zac, however, felt he was a bit out of place with the two Country Music Hall of Famers and two veteran rock stars sitting by him. “Me, being kind of the new guy, it’s just an honor being up here with all you people,” he said.
But as the “new guy” sang a solo acoustic version of his song “Free” and broke into Van Morrison’s “Into the Mystic,” the four other stars smiled and applauded.
This one-of-a-kind concert style is set up in a Nashville-style guitar pull, with all the performers lined up across the stage, playing one song at a time then moving to the next. This allows for a spirit of creative unity.
There is no set list for the concert either. The artists play what’s on their hearts and minds depending on the feel of the moment or the previous song performed. “You’ll hear some great songs, possibly some new songs, because we don’t really know which songs they’ll do, but then neither do the songwriters,” explained Kyle Young, director of the Country Music Hall of Fame® and Museum, in his opening remarks.
That proved to be so when Zac Brown told a story about growing up hiding behind his guitar; then performed “Martin,” about his favorite instrument and each of the others told stories about their guitars and sang songs accordingly.
But the concert opened with Vince Gill performing “Bartender’s Blues,” a George Jones hit, written by James Taylor, to dedicate to Jones, who turned 80 years old the previous day. This set the tone for the show and the other four writers joined in on harmony on the choruses.
This diverse concert is set up to bring together the different genres of music and generations of artists and different backgrounds. That idea for the show truly spoke to Kevin Cronin. He was initially invited to perform one song as a guest of the evening, but joined the guitar pull lineup instead. Cronin noted that his appearance might surprise some people. “When I got wind of the fact that I was being considered to be invited to this event, I was thinking to myself, ‘The Country Music Hall of Fame and iconic figures like Emmylou and Vince, and of course Sheryl who I’m a huge fan of,’ so I thought, ‘These guys must think I’m the singer from Diamond Rio. What the hell am I doing here?’” he said.
But when he started out in the 1960s, it was Nashville that led him to REO Speedwagon. The Illinois-based band recorded their second album, R.E.O/T.W.O. in 1972 at Columbia Rcords’ studio on Music Row.
Museum director Kyle Young used the occasion to announce the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s current expansion plans, which will take it to 350,000 square feet from its current 138,000 square feet. He also commented on the museum’s plans to open a special exhibit, The Bakersfield Sound: Buck Owens, Merle Haggard, and California Country, spotlighting California’s contribution to country music in March 2012.
Gibson Guitars also made a special announcement that the company has created a replica of the famous Gibson J-200, played by the late California country musician Ray Whitely. Gibson will donate proceeds from its sale to the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum’s Working on a Building capital campaign.
The concert was rounded to an end with the five artists performing the Carter Family’s “Wildwood Flower,” a song revered among guitarists because of Mother Maybelle Carter’s famous part of the song – played on a Gibson guitar.