It’s 8:40 p.m. on a Friday evening, five minutes before the O’Connor Band is slated to make their Grand Ole Opry debut. Fiddle legend Mark O’Connor is standing just offstage, wearing his trademark Fedora hat, smiling at the sight of the crowd, the lights, and his old friends in the Opry house band.
“It’s amazing to come full circle and return here,” says O’Connor. “I first performed on this stage when I was 12. Even though it was more than 40 years ago, I’ll always vividly remember Roy Acuff introducing me to the crowd. But this performance might be even more special, because I get to have my family out there on stage with me.”
As if on cue, Mark’s son, Forrest, walks up in earnest.
“Dad, we may have a slight problem,” says the younger O’Connor, wielding a mandolin in his left hand and a pick in his right. “I just realized that both our songs are in [the key of] E. Is that okay, or do we need to swap one of them out?”
“Whoops,” says Mark. “Well, at this point, let’s stick with what we decided, because I think the songs are different enough. I bet the audience will love ‘em!”
Within minutes, the full six-piece O’Connor Band is out on stage, launching into a cover of the old Osborne Brothers hit, “Ruby, Are You Mad At Your Man?” Forrest’s fiancée, Kate Lee (vocals, fiddle), is singing lead, and Mark’s wife, Maggie (vocals, fiddle), is chopping rhythm on the fiddle hard enough that, if you weren’t looking, you might think she was playing a snare drum. Joe Smart (guitar) and Geoff Saunders (bass) are also holding down a tight groove despite the breakneck pace. After a virtuosic vocal performance from Kate and blistering solos from father and son O’Connor, the song ends abruptly, and the audience erupts in what seems to be the loudest applause of the entire evening.
Tuesday, June 27, 2017
Doors: 7:00 pm | Show: 8:00 pm
Tickets on sale 10 a.m. Friday, March 17, 2017, at bouldertheater.com.