• 70°

Mountain Heart rocks Saturday night crowd at the Ritz

Five-member band Mountain Heart shared their musical virtuosity and versatility with an appreciative Ritz audience Saturday night as part of the Greenville Area Arts Council’s artistic season for 2016-2017.

Five-member band Mountain Heart shared their musical virtuosity and versatility with an appreciative Ritz audience Saturday night as part of the Greenville Area Arts Council’s artistic season for 2016-2017.

It was a case of a mountain moving hearts and souls Saturday night in the Camellia City. The versatile Nashville-based band Mountain Heart brought their signature mix of bluesy bluegrass, haunting folk,  pure acoustic country and a hard-rockin’ energy to the stage of the Ritz—and the audience loved it. The concert was the third of four productions for the Greenville Area Arts Council’s 2016-17 season.

“This group was unbelievable—and amazingly talented,” said attendee Regina Grayson. “Just an awesome concert!”

The band’s members, collectively some of the Music City’s best songwriters, music producers and studio musicians, earned hearty applause and shouts of approval throughout their performance.

Band members Josh Shilling, Aaron Ramsey, Seth Taylor, Jeff Partin and Molly Cherryholmes displayed their virtuosity on an array of instruments, including keyboard, acoustic guitar, mandolin, dobro, bass fiddle and fiddle, all the while sharing some heavenly harmonies.

Along with original Mountain Heart tunes from earlier albums and their most recent CD, “Blue Sky,” the group also performed classics made famous by Hank Williams, Sr. and Patti Page and faith-based songs penned by Shilling and Ramsey.

Band frontman Shilling remarked with pride that the multi-talented musicians could go into a studio “and pick up any instrument and play it well.”

Mountain Heart earned one of the Ritz’s relatively rare standing ovations. Calls for an encore brought the band back onto the stage, earning their enthusiastic audience two high-octane performances of requested cover songs, Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years” and the Allman Brothers Band’s “Whipping Post.”

During the concert Shilling praised the GAAC for making their first visit to Greenville a positive one. “They fed us well, this theater is beautiful . . . I can’t remember all the names, but your crew did an outstanding job and let’s give them a round of applause,” Shilling said.

He also pointed out that the band was gratified to know there were audience members who had traveled from as far away as Mobile and from close to the Alabama-Tennessee line for the concert.

The band spent the night in the Camellia City, allowing them time to stop in and fully enjoy the show’s after party, held at First Realty of Greenville’s spacious offices right across the street from the Ritz.

As is customary, Nancy Idland and the GAAC members mounted a sumptuous feast of finger foods for attendees, including all manner of savory appetizers and sweet treats. One of the most eye-catching items: an array of heart-shaped iced sugar cookies decorated with musical notes and the band’s name.

“Aren’t those amazing? Susie McIntyre baked and decorated those for us,” said GAAC member Mary Ann Hamilton.

The centerpiece for the after party had a striking “mountain winter” theme, complete with evergreens and red berries tucked into tiny glass vials suspended from its branches, surrounded by white fairy lights, pine cones, weathered wood, greenery and red and white flameless candles, all adding to the warm rustic ambiance. 

“I really appreciate Nancy Idland and the GAAC for bring Mountain Heart to Greenville and the Ritz . . . and I can’t wait to listen to my CD!” Regina Grayson said after the show.

The final performance of the GAAC artistic season is set for Saturday, February 18, when “Embraceable You: The Music of George Gershwin” comes to the stage of the Ritz.