"Hello Nashville, it's good to be home," Patty greeted the audience as she took the stage. "Tonight we will share with you songs about real people in real life situations. I think you can relate to this one," she added, as she opened her set with the Lucinda Williams tune 'The Night's Too Long.'
Throughout the evening, Patty wove her songs together like a loose-knit tapestry, filling in corners with stories and comments. "Consider yourself in my living room," she told the audience. Her stage already gave that illusion, with lamps, carpet and an old battery-operated radio that played Patsy Cline and Flatt and Scruggs music prior to Patty taking the stage.
Patty revealed that when she first came to Nashville, she was employed in a record store located across Fifth Avenue from the Ryman Auditorium. The store was co-owned by Doyle Wilburn, one half of the Wilburn Brothers, who helped Patty when she moved to Nashville. She would work there when she wasn't traveling with their road show. "I guess he thought I could sell a few records. I'm not going to tell y'all how long ago that was!" Patty explained with a laugh, pausing and then admitting, "We're all friends here. That was in the 70's. I've been recording for 23 years. I've had a wonderful career and shared the stage with Vince Gill, who was my second love. My first was George Jones, and we won Recorded Event of the Year with this song, written by Jim Lauderdale." She then performed 'You Don't Seem to Miss Me.'
Patty kept the mood light for the most part, talking easily with the audience as she moved through her repertoire. "I was 14 when I first got to see this place, courtesy of Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner," she said of the Ryman. "Later it was a very proud moment for my family when I became the 65th member of the Grand Ole Opry. I have an appreciation for those artists who are members of the Opry and wanted to honor them when I recorded my album 'Sleepless Nights.'"
The songstress then launched into Ray Price's 'Crazy Arms,' followed by George Jones' 'Color of the Blues' and Webb Pierce's 'Why Baby Why.'
There were several poignant moments during the concert, one when Patty explained that the first 'Mountain Heart' album was so special to her because the late Gene Wooten had played on it. Another time, she talked about the year 1996 and the ups and downs of those months. "I lost my sister. Then my husband Emory Gordy was battling with health issues and I thought I was going to lose him."
She went on to say that the late Stephen Bruton brought her a song, 'Too Many Memories,' which she recorded for her 'The Trouble with the Truth' album. She dedicated the song to him.
People had been calling for Patty to sing 'I'll Never Leave Harlan Alone' all evening, but before she performed it, the singer talked about her mother and father. "My dad never missed a day of work, and he was always smiling when he came home," she said. Her father was a coal miner who died of black lung disease. A few years later, her mother passed away. "Now they are together again," Patty said of her parents, "and tonight they have the best seat in the house."
Although she performed for nearly two hours, the crowd asked for an encore. Patty obliged by singing the Emmylou Harris classic, 'Diamond in My Crown.'
The Black Lillies from Knoxville, Tenn. opened the show. They won a local talent contest to take the opening spot. Newcomers Joey & Rory followed. The husband and wife duo performed their hit 'Cheater Cheater' and other songs from their debut album, 'Life of a Song.'