I am still not quite sure how this works
Brentwood, TN (Vocus) November 1, 2010
Tokens will record its twelfth episode at the historic Ryman Auditorium on the Sunday evening prior to Thanksgiving, November 21 at 7:30 p.m. The show will feature IBMA Entertainer of the Year Cherryholmes, three-time Grammy winner Keb’ Mo’, the Nashville Choir, as well as Tokens regulars Buddy Greene and Odessa Settles.
Some have referred to Tokens as one of Nashville’s best kept secrets. And perhaps one reason is that Tokens does not fit any pre-existing market niche or musical genre.
Lee Camp, host and creator of the show, says Tokens is better experienced than described. Though now in its third year of recording live quarterly episodes, Camp still thinks any particular description of the show “sounds awful.” “I am still not quite sure how this works,” he wonders aloud. “And I am delighted to see that our ‘crazy experiment’ has ended up at the Ryman for our twelfth show.”
One reason it “works” is because Tokens features the very finest of Nashville artists, as the line-up for the Ryman show aptly attests.
Another reason Tokens has developed a devoted local following is the regular house band, “The Most Outstanding Horeb Mountain Boys,” featuring Jeff Taylor, Aubrey Haynie, Byron House, Pete Huttlinger, and Chris Brown.
“I am sometimes dumbfounded by their ability. It’s a level of artistic brilliance that is still difficult for me to comprehend,” Camp says speaking of the band, certain they hold all the parts and pieces of the show together.
It’s little wonder that “brilliance” is Camp’s term: Taylor, who serves as music director for the show, has most recently been touring in Elvis Costello’s band. Byron House is currently touring in Robert Plant’s “Band of Joy.” Aubrey Haynie is a recurring winner of the Academy of Country Music fiddle player and mandolin player of the year. Huttlinger and Brown have had outstanding musical careers in their own rights as well.
When pushed to give some sort of description of Tokens, Camp says, “it’s something like Garrison Keillor meets Bill Moyers; or Thomas Merton—the monk, activist, and writer—goes to the Grand Ol’ Opry; or like Mark Twain meets God, and likes the God he meets.”
When asked about the Ryman, Camp chuckles. “Less than four years ago, my wife and I took in Garrison Keillor’s New Year’s Eve show at the Ryman. We had such a great time that I thought, ‘that would be a fun experiment, to pick up the old-time radio format that Garrison and the Opry have employed, but with a different agenda.’ I thought it an insane idea,” he says, “because I am a college professor, and have absolutely no qualifications to do anything in ‘entertainment.’”
The show includes not only music, but author interviews and comedy and old-time radio vignettes. A typical episode will reflect a theme pertaining to social justice informed by what Camp likes to call a “hospitable theology.” The Ryman show will feature best-selling author and activist Shane Claiborne, as well as the Tokens Radio Players who dish up healthy doses of cultural, political, and religious satire.
To celebrate Thanksgiving, the Ryman show is entitled “The Welcome Table.” All proceeds benefit Room in the Inn, which ministers to Nashville’s homeless population through crisis support and hospitality. Room in the Inn recently opened a new campus in the heart of Nashville.
Tokens would like to thank Platinum Sponsor HCA/Tristar for its support of this show. They would also like to thank Gold Sponsors including The Nashville Scene, Lipscomb University, Beaman Automotive, Darrell & Stevie Waltrip, Doug & Nan Smith, Lipscomb University College of Business, DVL Public Relations and Advertising, and American Constructors. To find out how to become a sponsor, visit the Tokens website.
Tickets ($27.50; 10% discount for students and groups of 15 or more) are available through the Ryman Box Office (615-889-3060), the Allen Arena Box Office on the Lipscomb University campus (615-966-7075), or all Ticketmaster outlets. Visit Tokens for more details.
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