"I know that what I do doesn't exactly fit the mold, but I'm trying to break the mold."
This was the sentiment at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium last night (May 16) as Ian Munsick made his debut at the legendary venue.
Marking the last stop on his headlining Long Live Cowgirls Tour, the Wyoming native gave the sold-out crowd a nonstop stream of more than 20 tunes, nearly all of which came from his recently released sophomore album, White Buffalo. Starting with the pulsating 'From the Horse's Mouth', from there on in, the Nashville audience was on their feet and screaming along to Munsick's signature Rocky Mountain Western country.
Rolling through track after track, Munsick showed fans the gypsy-inspired 'River Run,' vengeful 'Barn Burner,' anthemic 'Dig,' raunchy (or, as he described it, ranchey) 'Cowshit in the Morning' and more, while also dedicating several songs to the people close to him, like 'Little Man,' 'Blazin'' and 'Field of Dreams'.
One of the standout moments of the evening came as the first notes of 'Long Live Cowgirls' sounded throughout the Mother Church of Country Music. Serving as a lot of people's first introduction to the modern-day Western singer, the recorded version finds labelmate Cody Johnson lending his vocals.
"God bless Cody Johnson and long live cowgirls!" Munsick screamed before singing the first line. "This is the last night of the Long Live Cowgirls Tour and Cody Johnson is at home babysitting. So I guess y'all will have to sing it for him!"
They happily did.
Later on in the night, Munsick revealed to the audience that before the show, his label team at Warner Music Nashville had surprised him with some exciting news about the dreamy tune.
“About an hour ago, my label had a party backstage and they gave me a plaque because 'Long Live Cowgirls' went Gold. To my surprise, they gave me another plaque because it turns out that 'Long Haul' just went Gold as well,” he shared, earning a roar of cheers from the crowd. “Neither of those songs were on the radio very often. There were a few stations, but that means that you guys made those songs go Gold all by yourself. It's because of you guys that I get to be on this stage and I could never thank you enough”.
In celebration of the news, fans got a special, stripped-down version of 'Long Haul,' which was one of the first songs that got Munsick's name onto the country music radar. A notable favorite, the crowd screamed the words back to him and broke out their flashlights, lighting up the Mother Church.
The energy in the Ryman hit a fever pitch when it came to the last two songs of the night. From the first notes of the fiddle for 'Horses Are Faster,' which was Munsick's formal introduction as an artist in 2017, the audience was on fire and ready to show out.
The crowd, with thunderous approval, was treated to a little jam session from Munsick’s band, Rocky Mountain Fever, before he returned to the mic to begin his closing remarks. “I promise you, Nashville, as long as I'm making country music, there will be fiddle in country music. There will be Western in country music. There will be Wyoming in country music. There will be country in country music!”
Mere seconds after he exited the stage, the crowd was already ravenous for an encore. With ear-splitting screams and applause ushering him back to center stage, Munsick brought out the members of his old family band - his father and two brothers - to play a special version of Wyoming artist Wade Montgomery's 'Weakness' to close out the show.
Since his entry into the country music world, Munsick's mission has been to "bring the West to the rest," and he fulfilled that goal with his Ryman debut. Over the course of two hours, Munsick delivered a performance unlike any from recent memory, showcasing his unique brand of artistry, raw talent and a type of connection with his fans that is truly awe-inspiring.
As Warner Music Nashville co-head Cris Lacey put it ahead of the show, "Everyone who sees Ian, loves him". That couldn't be truer.
Ian Munsick - Setlist
Take from his concert at the Ryman Auditorium, Nashville - Tuesday, May 16th 2023:
For more on Ian Munsick, see below: