Keith Urban, Chris Stapleton, Vince Gill Kick Out the Multi-Guitar Jams at Country Radio Showcase

Lauren Alaina and Dierks Bentley also won standing ovations at Universal Nashville’s annual show for country radio programmers at Nashville’s Ryman.

Country music doesn’t have a lot of superstar singer/songwriters who also happen to double as guitar heroes, but all three figures that fall into that rarefied category ended up trading licks Thursday at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium. Keith Urban was closing out a Universal Nashville showcase with “Blue Ain’t Your Color” when he was joined for an epic instrumental coda by Chris Stapleton and Vince Gill. Where Johnny Cash once kicked out the footlights, it was the jams that were suddenly being kicked out.

Ironically, this electric finale was the conclusion of what was supposed to be an all-acoustic show, Universal’s eighth annual Ryman showcase for Country Radio Seminar attendees. But there were few purists complaining about the introduction of not-so-hollow-bodied guitars to cap off a concert that had normally big-production performers like Luke Bryan and Sam Hunt keeping it quiet.

Urban first reprised the salute to 2016’s fallen music stars that became a viral video when he did it at a New Year’s Eve show, bleeding George Michael into Leonard Cohen into Glenn Frey into David Bowie into Merle Haggard into Prince. Following it up with “Blue Ain’t Your Color” (which recently topped Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart for 12 weeks), the sharing extended to the living…

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