On Sunday night, Trey Anastasio continued his ongoing solo acoustic tour with a performance at Nashville, TN’s legendary Ryman Auditorium. The performance featured renditions of numbers from throughout Trey’s long and varied catalog, from numerous Phish and Trey Anastasio Band tunes to the Ghosts of the Forest title track to a pair of Kasvot Växt favorites to a song from the Hands on a Hardbody musical. The Trey Anastasio Ryman show also featured the first solo acoustic “Possum” in nine years.
However, as is often the case at Trey’s acoustic shows, the highlight of the show was storytime. Acknowledging the rich history of the evening’s venue, Anastasio mused,
Man, it’s just a funny thing. I was thinking of all these times that we’ve spent in this town. Everyone’s kind of met so many musicians, and when you walk in here to the backstage area, at least, there’s all these photos on the wall. It’s pretty intimidating, you walk in and it’s like, “whoa, there’s Bill Monroe, like, onstage… Hank Williams…” It’s really…heavy. But the funny thing is about it, is they’re all kind of badasses. So there’s this picture in my dressing room of Hank Williams, like, kicking this guys ass. No kidding! …
And then I remembered, we got this gig at [nearby Amsouth Amphitheatre in Antioch, TN on 6/22/00], all of those musicians came down. Ricky Skaggs was there… and Sam Bush… Del McCoury… all at this gig. First of all, story number one, they all came in the band room—I’m not f*ckin making this up—and they, like had their instruments and stuff. Ricky Skaggs! … So these guys all come in the band room [and are like], “You guys wanna play some tunes?” Sure! And I said, “You guys wanna do ‘Country Boy’? You know that song, ‘Country Boy’?” … Ricky Skaggs!… and he, like, counted it off [mimics Ricky Skaggs playing ‘Country Boy’]. Aw, man! In the band room! Two inches from my head! Unbelievable! I think we did it later on the stage [Note: They didn’t], but I’m tellin’ you, it was better in the band room. Sorry [laughs]. And then, I think, Wynonna Judd, and we ended up doing “Free Bird”. You remember that? [crowd cheers]. And she, like, grabbed this half-naked frat boy out of the front row and pulled him up onstage… singing “Free Bird” to him. So funny!
Continuing on the tangent of mind-blowing experiences with legendary artists, Trey explained,
Last story, this is a good one… Lessons we learned from our elders [laughs]. So there’s a picture of Willie [Nelson] backstage on the wall… He’s been here a million times. And I remember when we played at Farm Aid… So this is the music lesson that I learned from Willie and Neil Young that day. So, we’re playing at Farm Aid, and Willie first invited me on his bus [laughs]. This is how this whole thing started. So we go on Willie’s bus, and he’s just [mimes smoking a joint]. So it begins just completely obliterated with Willie on his bus, which is cool enough. He’s like, “Are we gonna play a song or something?” I said, “How about ‘Moonlight In Vermont’, since we’re from Vermont.” And he says, “OK, we’re gonna do ‘Moonlight In Vermont’.” So then, you know, I’m like, crippled [laughs], trying to get off the bus, trying to find the door. … OK, “Moonlight In Vermont”, I gotta learn this song, learn the chords…
And then, right next to his bus is Neil Young’s bus. So I go on Neil Young’s bus, and he’s on there, and Woody Harrelson is on the bus. So there I get high on Neil’s bus [laughs], so now I’m getting more crippled. … So then he’s like, “You wanna play a song?” And I’m like, “Yea, ‘Powderfinger’.” So we practice it, and we get it, and it’s, like, good. Now it’s like, alright, I gotta get off that bus, gotta find the door. Holy sh*t, we’re gonna play… Excuse my language in church [laughs]. I don’t think any of these guys would mind.
So we practiced it, it’s ready, we’ve got the two songs ready, right? All I’ve gotta do is, like, keep myself together. I start walking off the bus, and just as I’m walking off, Neil says, “You know, I don’t like to… I’m not that good at plannin’ stuff.” Whatever that means. I’m like, okay, cool. ‘Cus, like, I’m not really either [laughs]. So he’s gonna do his solo acoustic set right before ours. So it’s like, I walk off the bus, he’s gonna walk on, and then we’re gonna go on and do “Powderfinger”. So he walks out with his acoustic guitar and… he starts playing “Powderfinger”! Like, in his set! I’m kinda like [exasperated], well, hey! OK, whatever. He’s not coming on, that’s my message, forget the whole thing, right?
So we go on, we just start playing, we get into this jam, and we sort of veer off into this, like, ‘la la’ jam, and I gave up on the Neil Young thing ‘cus he already played the song, so we’re not gonna do that. And I hear this sound behind me, and it’s my guitar, I know how that sounds. I’m trying to figure out where it’s coming from and all that sh*t. And then, like, I turn around, and Neil had heard this jam and was kinda really into it and was like, ‘wow, that’s a cool jam,’ [and] he just walked out onstage behind me and picked up my spare guitar and plugged it into the amp and just started rocking out on whatever we were doing [laughs]. And I think we went into “Down By The River” or something, we just made something up. And the final part of the story is, everybody’s standing over at the side, and he started kinda getting mad because this was going on for a long time [laughs]. We were supposed to stop. This is, like, a TV show, you know?
“Anyway, what did I learn from that?” Trey concluded. “Never plan anything.”
Watch this amusing Ryman edition of “Storytime with Trey” below:
Trey Anastasio – Hank Williams/ Willie Nelson/Neil Young Story – Ryman Auditorium – 10/27/19
Trey Anastasio’s fall 2019 solo acoustic tour will wrap up on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 29th and 30th, with two sold-out performances at New York City’s revered Carnegie Hall. For more information on upcoming Trey Anastasio tour dates, head here.
Setlist: Trey Anastasio (Solo Acoustic) | Ryman Auditorium | Nashville, TN | 10/27/19
Set: Theme From the Bottom , Water in the Sky, Brian and Robert, Free, Snowflakes in the Sand, Summer of ’89, Limb By Limb, Blaze On, If I Could, Turtle in the Clouds, The Inlaw Josie Wales, Ghosts of the Forest, Back on the Train, Sample in a Jar, AC/DC Bag, Lifeboy, Backwards Down the Number Line, Possum, Waste, Bathtub Gin
ENCORE: A Life Beyond The Dream , The Wedge, My Problem Right There, Say It To Me S.A.N.T.O.S., More
 Trey solo acoustic
 Preceded by ending notes of Bathtub Gin (crowd sang Bathtub Gin during encore break)