Touted to be the home of country, bluegrass and gospel music, I didn’t know it was also the largest radio broadcasting studio in the world. The Opry shows have been broadcast live since 1925. Folks … that is approaching 100 years. The show’s announcer with the golden voice, Eddie Stubbs, even inserts radio commercials between acts. Shows are performed on Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
The Grand Ole Opry was nothing like what I imagined. First, the Opry complex, which includes a hotel and shopping mall, is about 20 minutes from downtown Nashville … and just a short Uber ride away. Our Uber driver told us the mall actually used to be a waterpark but they tore it down and built the shopping mall. The Opry moved from the downtown Ryman Auditorium in 1974, where performances had been held since 1943. The current venue has a capacity of 4,400 seats. Since we purchased our tickets the night before, we sat in the nosebleed section! Not a complaint. Another interesting tidbit … the seats are actually long upholstered benches instead of individual seats. It felt like we were sitting with family members.
The format of the Opry shows is divided into four one-half hour segments. The format also lent itself time for occasional short radio commercials. Each 30-minute show had three or four performers. The night Katie and I attended we saw performers/groups like Larry Gatlin, John Conlee, Riders in the Sky, Ricky Skaggs and the Opry Square Dancers to name a few. Charlie Nagatani was also in attendance as an Asian cowboy singer and entertaining. I think it might have been his first performance, but don’t quote me on that.
We also purchased the Post-Show Backstage Tour held right after the show … because that is how we roll. We are curious people that love to know what goes on behind the scenes. The tour lasted well over an hour. Note to self … if I ever come with hubby to Nashville … don’t do the Backstage Tour. It would have been way too long for the dude!
So the tour included getting to stand on the famous wooden circle on the stage where so many legendary singers have performed. We were also treated to peeking into the 18-themed dressing rooms and private VIP areas. I loved the large guitar music picks on the floor noting the dressing room numbers. A quick walk past a wall filled with the nameplates of Grand Ole Opry members was also in the cue. The highlight for me was the video featuring Darius Rucker. It showed Rucker being invited to join the Opry in 2012 by Brad Paisley during an Opry performance.
Next post … our favorite Nashville museums!