Joe Bonamassa at the Ryman Image by Kit Wood

BONAMASSA Gives Paradigm-Shifting Nashville Performance

The consistently impeccable blues-rock overachiever & flawless international guitar-hero JOE BONAMASSA recently gave a paradigm-shifting performance from Nashville’s most iconic live concert venue, the venerable and distinguished Ryman Auditorium (aka the Grand Ole Opry House).

You now have the opportunity of owning a re-mixed and mastered physical recording of this very special show.

The Ryman Auditorium first opened its doors as the “Union Gospel Tabernacle” in 1892 with a congregational building constructed by riverboat entrepreneur Thomas Ryman (1843-1904). It was an idea that was inspired, in part, by the influential tent crusade activistist Samuel Porter Jones.


Primarily a place of worship, the building was often rented-out to promoters for non-religious events. And because it was the largest indoor gathering space in Nashville, it soon gained a reputation as a cultural center for the performing arts. Among the many stars who performed at the venue in the early days, some of the best known include: Hank Williams, The Carter Sisters, Elvis, Johnny Cash, Louis Armstrong, Patsy Cline, Minnie Pearl and bluegrass boys Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs. In fact, the venue became known as the home of bluegrass.

“ the place is a national treasure…”

The Grand Ole Opry show first aired from Ryman on June 5, 1943 and every week thereafter for 31 years.

Following the Opry’s departure, the Ryman remained virtually empty and deteriorating for nearly twenty years until improvements to the exterior of the building began in 1989. In October 1998, the Opry held a benefit show in the Auditorium, marking its return as a music venue for the first time since the Grand Ole Opry’s final show in March, 1974.

Auditorium windows

The renovation of the Ryman helped revitalize Nashville’s downtown district and enabled the city to become the world-class tourist destination it is today.  Commentators have often praised Ryman’s acoustics, suggesting they are among the best in the world.

Now Serving Photo Credit © Kit Wood
Photo Credit: Kit Wood

So when COVID-19 suspended all live tours, and musicians began to concern themselves about what would happen next to live music, the celebrated guitar hero Joe Bonamassa decided to do something entrepreneurial for his fans: He conceived a one-night stand at the iconic Nashville Auditorium, an event that could be streamed live, everywhere, but that would not require a conventional “seated” audience.

On that special night, he brought together people from 44 countries for an extraordinary live performance of his latest album, “Royal Tea” — before it was even released.

Ryman stage

The concert has now been remixed and mastered, ready for physical release and will be offered to the public as: “Now Serving: Royal Tea Live From The Ryman” — due out June 11th 2021 and made available  on CD, DVD, Blu-Ray and Double LP. The DVD will include a film introduction narrated by actor Jeff Daniels.

Pre-order here:

Now Serving Royal Tea: packages

Remembering the remarkable night, Bonamassa says, “I always wanted to film a show at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville […] The audience is always alive and electric, hanging on every word and phrase. It feels like the greatest, most intimate gig you will ever do but there are 2,300 people sharing this joy and musical journey…” 

I love the place as it is a national treasure…”

Between ticket sales and donations during a post-party showcase, the event raised $32,000 for Bonamassa’s Fueling Musicians program, presented by his non-profit Keeping the Blues Alive Foundation (KTBA). Supporting artists for over a year amid the pandemic, to date the program has secured $460,000 in funding for qualifying touring musicians who are suffering financial hardship since their careers have been put on hold. The program provides immediate $1,500 cash payments for essential living expenses to help musicians stay afloat until they can get back out on the road. 

Bonamassa has professionalized risk-taking show-craftsmanship for years with his outstanding performances and recordings, and he’s famed for taking blues guitar expressiveness beyond the traditional frontiers and into uncharted territories.  The actualization of “Royal Tea” at this legendary auditorium is yet another incomparable and superlative move.  Bonamassa’s guitarwork dazzles in this show and there’s an unanticipated zest to his vocals. It’s a phenomenal live-recording that you will want to own. 

Royal Tea

When One Door Opens” has a haunting guitar riff and is nostalgic, without sounding cheesy, as it explores endings that must (naturally) occur before we can ever experience new beginnings. The number soon blooms into something that is not only impressive but majestic. Eager listeners will notice, hidden in the harmonic shimmers, Maurice Ravel’s Bolero (or is it Beck’s bolero?) and an ingenious brush with Cohen.

The title song “Royal Tea” is like something that might have been taken from the Beatles White Album: a murmur of vibrant sounds and unbalanced rhythm block shapes that seem to collide with sips of organ and perfectly coordinated rhythms. Here the guitar is amorphous, like an arctic fox caught in a snowstorm.

Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye” is a lament with brilliant antiphonal guitar and aristocratic, waltzing atmosphere. It comes with soft cadences and a contemplative voice. Here the soulful guitar sounds like it was inspired by Gary Moore (it probably was) — it’s observant and contemplative in all aspects.

This is a significant milestone for Bonamassa. A genuine revelation.

Main photo credit: Joe Bonamassa at the Ryman, Kit Wood

Track Listing

  1. When One Door Opens
  2. Royal Tea
  3. High Class Girl
  4. Lookout Man!
  5. Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye
  6. A Conversation With Alice
  7. I Didn’t Think She Would Do It
  8. Beyond The Silence
  9. Lonely Boy
  10. Cradle Rock
  11. Walk In My Shadow
  12. A New Day Yesterday / Starship Trooper – Wurm

Now Serving: Royal Tea Live from the Ryman” is released Friday June 11th, 2021 and out on Provogue/Mascot Label Group

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