The Ryman Auditorium and Grand Ole Opry in Nashville

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Have you ever had plans to do something that you were totally looking forward to and then had them change abruptly? Depending on your mind set that can be a blessing in disguise or a total disappointment. Which one it is becomes your choice. Well, we had that experience when we had plans to go to a concert and do a backstage tour of the Ryman Auditorium.

We could see the Ryman from our hotel window and were looking forward to the concert and tour. We decided to wear our fancy new boots since it was a short walk and they were in that break in stage. We arrived about 15 minutes before the scheduled show time and thought it was odd that there wasn’t anyone other than us headed to the entrance.

We opened the doors and were surprised to be quickly greeted by a not so happy security guard. She stated that the Ryman was closed! Sue quickly pulled out our tickets and proceeded to explain that we had tickets for an event tonight. As she opened the computer generated paperwork we all noticed the bold black printing at the top said Grand Ole Opry. Somewhat disappointed we quickly headed back to the doors and called for an Uber to take us to the Opry House.

At times like this I try to look for an unexpected blessing. Sometimes it is obvious and others not so much. It was a short ride to the Opry House and we arrived a few minutes after the show started. The show was fantastic and the backstage tour was very educational. Despite our initial disappointment we had a great time. Moral of the story is if you plan on purchasing tickets for either the Ryman or the Opry be sure you click the correct venue since you can get tickets to either on the same website. Apparently they are owned by the same company and have a joint website for ticket purchases.

I learned that the Grand Ole Opry show started in 1925. Performances on the Opry show has launched a number of country music careers and today many musicians find it a milestone when they are invited to play on the show. The show started out in a downtown office building and has had many homes since that time. During the 1940’s the Opry moved to the Ryman Auditorium. During the 1970’s they moved to what is now known as the Grand Ole Opry House. In May of 2010 the Opry had to broadcast from a number of areas around town, including the Ryman Auditorium after the divesting flood that hit Nashville. The flood waters did a lot of damage and the stage was under water. During the tour there was a mural on the wall that still shows the height of the water level damage. You will find this picture in the photo gallery section of my website.

We were able to get tickets to tour the Ryman on a different day. I found it very interesting that the Ryman started out as a building for a place of worship. It opened its door in 1892 and could seat about 2,300. The acoustics are so good that some say they are better than Carnegie Hall and thus it became known as ‘Carnegie Hall of the South’. Another name it is known as is ‘Mother Church of Country Music’ since it started out as a place of worship before transitioning to a building for music concerts. For a time in 1943 it also was the home of the Grand Ole Opry. The original oak pews still line the auditorium. I would love to go back there for a concert on my next trip to Nashville.

I am going to close the Nashville blogs with a few fun facts about the area.

  • Nashville was founded in 1779
  • The AT&T tower downtown is nick named the “Batman Building” due to its resemblance to bat ears
  • Theodore Roosevelt coined the phrase ‘good to the last drop’ after drinking a cup of locally produced coffee in Nashville at the Maxwell House Hotel
  • Tennessee’s Capitol building is one of the oldest operating capitols in America and its tower is designed after the monument of Lysicates in Athens Greece
  • In 1941 Nashville was the first city to be granted a FM broadcasting license
  • The candy made of peanuts, Carmel, marshmallow and milk chocolate; GooGoos were founded in 1901 in Nashville and believed that GOO stands for Grand Ole Opry
  • Elvis recorded over 200 of his songs at RCA’s historic Studio B on Music Row.       A string of Christmas lights still hangs in the studio to this day. These lights were put up when Elvis had a hard time getting into the holiday spirit while recording a Christmas album.
  • Other things to do in the area are visit the Country Music Hall of Fame and Studio B and try Hattie B’s hot chicken. (We ran out of time for Studio B and hot chicken at Hattie B’s but those will be on my list for next time.)

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