Acuff gave Bush his push at the Ryman

Friday, August 10, 2012, Vol. 36, No. 32
By Tim Ghianni

Mandolin superstar Sam Bush – founding member of the groundbreaking New Grass Revival – says The Ryman Auditorium shaped his career.

“Growing up in Bowling Green, my dad and I would sometimes go to the Ryman Auditorium and go see the Grand Ole Opry, and I was fortunate enough to have seen the originators of country music such as Roy Acuff and Bill Monroe,” he recalls.

“Mr. Acuff befriended my father, and as a teen I was often invited to participate in fiddle jams in Mr. Acuff’s Opry dressing room. One night, at age 16, my father and I were standing side-stage at the Ryman when unbeknownst to me, Mr. Acuff told my father to ‘go get Sam’s fiddle,’ because he was going to put me on the show right then and there.

“My heart leapt into my throat when my father approached me with my fiddle and bow and said ‘Roy is putting you on the show, what are you going to play?’ With Charlie Collins (the great Smoky Mountain Boy, who died earlier this year) on guitar and myself on the fiddle, we played one of Mr. Acuff’s favorite tunes. Who would have imagined that years later I would be a part of Emmylou Harris’ band, The Nash Ramblers, and we would receive a Grammy for the Live at the Ryman album.”