Last year when COVID-19 put the live touring industry on hold, guitar hero Joe Bonamassa did something unprecedented for his fans — he put together a one-night-only show at the iconic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee to be livestreamed for fans everywhere. That night he united people across 44 countries worldwide for a phenomenal live music presentation of his brand-new album "Royal Tea" before it was even released.
The concert was re-mixed and mastered for physical release as "Now Serving: Royal Tea Live From The Ryman" on June 11 and will be available to own on CD, DVD, Blu-ray and double LP. The DVD will include a film introduction narrated by actor Jeff Daniels.
The stellar performance includes 12 incredible live tracks, featuring the best from "Royal Tea", Joe's 24th #1 record on the Billboard Blues chart, which was recorded at Abbey Road Studios in London. It also includes three electrifying tracks from his 20th-anniversary album "A New Day Now". Get your serving and relive the excitement time and time again with this once-in-a-lifetime release from one of the most celebrated blues rock entertainers!
Recalling the magical night, Bonamassa shares: "I have always wanted to film a show at the legendary Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. Our band has had the honor of playing there now 8 1/2 times over the past 10 years. 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 and selfishly close to my house.
"Here's where I get to the 1/2 part. We missed you. As great as it is to be on that stage in any capacity, YOU the fans make it special. You are part of the show and a big part of it. As this show was being filmed live, almost 100,000 eyes were on us in various forms around the world in front of TVs and computers alike. But you were not in the room with us."
In normal times, the legendary venue typically seats 2,300, but for one night only, the real crowd was the size of a major stadium, and in-house nearly every seat was filled with a custom cardboard cutout of a fan. The event sold over 17,000 tickets, reaching a global audience and bringing people of all different cultures together during a time when it often felt like the world was falling apart. Considering the number of households watching concerts together from home, one ticket could actually account for an entire family, so the true number of viewers would likely skyrocket.
Joe continues: "We played as good as we could in front of those 1700 cardboard cutouts of your faces and tried to imagine you there. For split seconds, I would catch a glimpse of the room and it almost felt normal. Then the song would end and there would be dead silence. Only the footsteps of our crew could be heard. With all of that said, this DVD is a snapshot of a concert performance within the confines a vast sea change of the world. A world that had temporarily deemed us unnecessary. Nobody knows when I will ever get back to this stage in front of a full house again, but I sure do know that I do love it and miss you greatly. This show counts as a 1/2."
The night at the Ryman should also be celebrated as an event that brought the music industry together. Between ticket sales and donations during his After 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. This past weekend, Joe hosted his second annual Stream-A-Thon event, featuring over 35 stunning performances and 3+ hours of music to continue raising money for the cause. The event featured a star-studded lineup including Bonamassa, TOTO, Dion, Ana Popovic, Warren Haynes, Bobby Rush, Jared James Nichols, Emily Wolfe and many more.
As for the amazing setlist for "Now Serving: Royal Tea Live From The Ryman", Bonamassa has made a career out of taking risks and venturing into uncharted territory throughout his wide-ranging career and outstanding live shows, and the delivery at Ryman Auditorium was nothing short of perfection. Bonamassa shines brighter than ever, always adding new genre-bending flavor in his guitar playing and his trademark spin on the vocals. It's no wonder he's often praised for bringing new audiences to the blues rock universe. Bonamassa already has an incredible catalogue of live and studio releases that continue to evolve over the years and catch the ears of music critics far and wide. "Now Serving: Royal Tea Live From The Ryman" provides much-needed invigoration for live music fans and will give them back the unbelievable feeling of being at a live concert event. With the audio/visual experience they'll get with this release, they'll get front row seats for one of the best touring acts around.
01. When One Door Opens
02. Royal Tea
03. High Class Girl
04. Lookout Man!
05. Why Does It Take So Long To Say Goodbye
06. A Conversation With Alice
07. I Didn't Think She Would Do It
08. Beyond The Silence
09. Lonely Boy
10. Cradle Rock
11. Walk In My Shadow
12. A New Day Yesterday / Starship Trooper – Wurm