Picks and Pans Review: Viewer's Choice

updated 01/20/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST

originally published 01/20/1992 AT 01:00 AM EST


EMMYLOU HARRIS DUSTS OFF THE SEATS AND TURNS ON THE LIGHTS AT NASHVILLE'S Ryman Auditorium this Wednesday on TNN (Jan. 15, 8 P.M. ET). The historic building, erected as a gospel tabernacle a century ago by repentant riverboat reprobate Tom Ryman, was the longtime home of the Grand Ole Opry (1943—74). Backed by the Nash Ramblers, Harris trains her pellucid voice on an acoustic set halfway between bluegrass and honkytonk, one that pays homage to some of the ghosts in the hall, including Hank Williams ("Half as Much"), Johnny Cash ("I Guess Things Happen That Way") and Stonewall Jackson ("Smoke Along the Track"). A flesh-and-blood Bill Monroe joins Harris for a little buck dancing.

Country's big buck, Garth Brooks, hasn't got time to look back, not when the here and now is so bright for this chart monster, award magnet and—looky here—network star. On NBC's This Is Garth Brooks (Fri., Jan. 17, 9 P.M. ET), Brooks proves he ain't no flash in the panhandle with a pumpedup, ready-for-prime-time concert taped in Dallas that takes in hits like "Not Counting You," "If Tomorrow Never Comes" and "Shameless." Brooks is a new breed of country performer: duck-walking like Chuck Berry, encoring with a Billy Joel rocker ("Big Shot") and—shades of the Who—smashing guitars on stage. Whoa, how contempo can you go?

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