Film crews took over Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium Monday (Oct. 9) to shoot a scene that will serve as the finale for the upcoming IMAX movie tentatively called Twang. In this segment, dozens of country stars sat in the front pews of the Ryman, once the home of the Grand Ole Opry, and sang “Will The Circle Be Unbroken.” Among the familiar faces were Trisha Yearwood, Charlie Daniels, Pam Tillis, Trace Adkins, Billy Gilman, Hal Ketchum, Ricky Skaggs, The Whites, Bill Anderson, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (reunited with long-time member John McEuen), Sara Evans, the Kinleys and Gary Allan.
“I like bringing a lot of artists together at the same time,” says Randy Scruggs, the film’s musical director. “And what better choice for this than ’Will The Circle Be Unbroken?'” Scruggs produced the Dirt Band’s 1989 Grammy-winning album, Will The Circle Be Unbroken, Volume 2, and won a best country instrumental performance Grammy himself that year for the “Amazing Grace” track from Circle. In 1998, he and Vince Gill shared another best country instrumental performance Grammy for “A Soldier’s Joy” from Scruggs’ multi-artist album, Crown of Jewels.
Twang, Scruggs explains, is being filmed at various sites around the U.S., as well as in Ireland. When completed and released next year, the film, he says, will include “16 or 17” performances by individual artists and have a running time of from “45 to 50” minutes. He stresses, however, that it isn’t a documentary. Steven Goldmann wrote and is directing the Gaylord Entertainment-commissioned project.
One of the most appealing elements of the film, Scruggs says, is that it not only spotlights different offshoots of country music but different historical periods as well. One of these, he notes, is set in New York during the Jimmie Rodgers era and features Dwight Yoakam singing Rodgers’ “Never No Mo’ Blues.”
The bluegrass segment, Scruggs reveals, will be a medley of three songs — “City of New Orleans,” “Rawhide” and “Foggy Mountain Breakdown.” Players include Scruggs, his father, Country Music Hall of Fame member Earl Scruggs, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, Bela Fleck, Alison Krauss, Glen Duncan and Marty Stuart.
Another musical scene, with Asleep at the Wheel and Lyle Lovett performing “You’re From Texas,” has been shot at Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, Texas.
“This is the most ambitious project I’ve ever taken on,” says Scruggs. “I love the feeling of artists getting together. You can sort of feel it as you mingle. It brings the level of music up to a really high place.”