Tuesday night, March 4th, music lovers from across the board packed Club Nokia in Downtown Los Angeles for a long standing country music tradition…a guitar pull. This wasn’t just any guitar pull however, it was one led by Country Music Hall of Famers Vince Gill and Emmylou Harris to benefit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville. They brought along some pretty talented friends from well-known Rock n’ Roll duo Heart, to the popular singer/songwriter Jason Mraz and also a few special guests!
Rita Wilson was the night’s host, which started with a live auction benefiting the Hall of Fame. If you aren’t familiar with a guitar pull, they are really a special part of country music history and a must see live. All artists take the stage in a casual set up. They each take turns sharing songs, and swapping stories while the others on the stage add harmonies or play along on the guitar. This kind of setting allows for the artists to improvise, go with the feel of the night and really show the audience just how much they truly love the music they have come to share. Vince Gill kicked off the night mentioning Buck Owens and the west coast’s huge contribution to country music history. He then broke into his rendition of “Together Again” showcasing his love for traditional country as well as his flawless vocals. Emmylou Harris joined in with the harmonies and there couldn’t have been a better way to kick off a great night of music.
Vince then threw the spotlight over to his long time friend, and one of his musical heroes, Emmylou Harris. She sang a beautiful song about a Nashville Homeless Advocate, Charles Strobel, called “Home Sweet Home. Heart was up next and Vince introduced them sharing that he has known them since back in the 70’s when he played with Pure Prairie League. Heart was thrilled to be there, raving about how honored they were to share the stage with Vince and Emmylou. Seeing how much respect the artists have for each other’s craft is one of the very distinctive things about these “All for the Hall” guitar pulls. Heart proceeded with their song “Dog & Butterfly” showing off those powerful vocals that have landed them in the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Next up was Jason Mraz who also shared with the audience just how excited he was to be a part of event. He sang a song he had written about his grandfather called “Frank D Fixer” that told quite a compelling story.
Vince also had a few surprise guests on tap for the night. The first one was the night’s host…Rita Wilson. While she may be known for being married to Tom Hanks, she showed that she has a gift of her own. She spoke about her love for country music and how she has been spending a lot of time in Nashville songwriting. She sang a song she co-wrote about the loss of her father and some of her closet friends called, “You’re Still Gone.” Vince sang her praises saying what a compelling voice she had. Other special guests included the talented Holly Williams, granddaughter of Hank Williams Sr. If you have never heard Holly sing….you should go do that immediately! With her one of a kind voice, and truly gripping song lyrics she is a star in her own right. She sang a song she wrote about her maternal grandparents called “Waiting On June.” Vince told the crowd how Holly was one of his favorite singer/songwriters out right now. The last special guest was a young lady named Cam Ochs. Emmylou took notice of her voice at a private function the night before the show and decided her voice needed to be heard. She came out excited to share a song she wrote called, “Burning House.” After sharing a little banter back and forth with the always ready to joke Vince, she sang her song and showed the crowd just what she could do! When she left the stage Vince quipped, “That’s some good singing, kid.”
In between music, Vince also did something he said he learned from Amy Grant, his wife. He did what he called a “go around” question. He went around and asked all of the people on the stage who their first concert was. It was fun to hear everyone’s answers and I loved that Vince made sure to include the bass player as well. The answers were quite varied from Nancy Wilson’s (Heart) answer of The Beatles to Jason Mraz and his first concert with none other than Milli Vanilli.
Throughout the night all the artists continued to share some incredible songs with the crowd as their turn came around. Among some of them were Vince singing, “I Can’t Be Myself,” Emmylou’s version of the Eric Clapton classic “Tears in Heaven,” Hearts “Sand,” and Jason’s “I’m Yours.” Vince was a great and gracious host. He always knows how to make you feel like you are sitting in his living room just having a night with friends. He thanked each of the artists for being a part of the night and ended the memorable evening by mentioning country music’s great loss of George Jones and Ray Price. He then went right into “Bartender’s Blues” which was a perfect note to end on.
Los Angeles was so fortunate that the “All for the Hall” fundraiser stopped in our city this year. The experience of these guitar pulls is such a treat and knowing that the money goes to preserve country music history at the Hall of Fame makes the night just that much sweeter.
For more pictures from this event please check out our Facebook album HERE