In Ashley McBryde’s perfect world, her critically acclaimed collaborative project Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville is best served as a live show.
“In my heart, it would be at the Ryman, done in the style of a community theater,” the recent GRAMMY Award winner shared with Esquire upon the album’s release. “To deliver those performances in that way I think would be really beautiful and a lot of fun.”
Nearly five months later, McBryde and the cast of ‘Lindeville’ are fulfilling that dream as they kicked off one of two sold-out shows at Ryman Auditorium last week with POLLSTAR praising, “An ambitious live staging of the quirky, genius small town reality masterclass Ashley McBryde Presents: Lindeville…McBryde takes the caricatures and injects so much humanity into every stereotype.”
Joined by Aaron Raitiere, Benjy Davis, Caylee Hammack, Connie Harrington, bandleader John Osborne, Pillbox Patti, Shelly Fairchild and TJ Osborne, McBryde and company displayed not only their songwriting abilities that “resonate on a deep, emotional level” (Stereogum), but their creative chops, creating a musical theater experience based on the GRAMMY-nominated “loose, joy-filled exercise in letting creativity, humor, and friendship serve as one’s muse” (Vulture).
Backed by the Lindeville band, McBryde, Hammack and Patti launched into album opener ‘Brenda Put Your Bra On’ as multiple brassieres were thrown on stage from the audience before the set was interrupted by Jenny as Raitiere took the stage to deliver ‘Jesus Jenny’ “with rakish charm and concern” (Rolling Stone).
With the Bluegrass band taking the stage for each jingle, McBryde donned an apron for ‘Danelion Diner’ followed by Patti’s riveting performance of ‘The Girl In The Picture,’ a heartfelt power ballad for a missing woman named Caroline, with backing vocals from Hammack.
Fairchild captured the “wry wit” (Billboard) of ‘If These Dogs Could Talk’ with ease as McBryde provided background vocals from a park bench, accompanied by Pete and his dog from Brothers Osborne’s sentimental ballad, with TJ Osborne’s rich, resonating voice reminding us “go to church, love your momma and ‘Play Ball.’”
Queued up by What Fuzz Radio DJ Storme Warren, Raitiere with his avocados and Fairchild in her sparkly top indulged the audience with “a wobbly tale of not-so-singles searching for a little company” (Arkansas Democrat-Gazette) in ‘The Missed Connection Section of the Lindeville Gazette.’
As both a fan and critic favorite, Davis captivated with “total showstopper” and “soulful hymn” (Stereogum) ‘Gospel Night At The Strip Club’ as a trio of drag queens brought the at-capacity crowd to their feet for the chorus of Hallelujahs, affirming Outsider’s observation: “It’s the spiritual message at the heart of the song that makes it so powerful. It’s a stark reminder that Jesus loves the sinners that so many look down on.”
The audience remained on their feet as McBryde returned to the stage with Fairchild, Hammack and Patti for a rousing rendition of “When Will I Be Loved,” followed by the awesome “Bonfire At Tina’s,” with fists pumping in the air with every “light it up.”
As McBryde perched solo on a stool, the Arkansas native “ties together the preceding stories into a moment of peaceful clarity” (Billboard) with title track and album closer ‘Lindeville’ set to a background of stars.
Written by the album’s namesake Dennis Linde, the entire cast returned to the stage for a cover of The Chicks’ ‘Goodbye Earl’ as an homage to the songwriter whose methods inspired the entire project.