It was one hour before showtime at the Ryman Auditorium, the mother church of country music, and my heart was racing. Seeing a show at this historic theater has been on my bucket list for quite some time now and tonight was the night! Country music is such a huge part of my life – the music, the performers and the history – it is part of who I am.
The historic Grand Ole Opry called the Ryman ‘home’ from June 1943 to March 1974 and its return to Downtown Nashville during the winter months timed perfectly with our recent trip to the Music City.
As I sat down in my seat at The Ryman Auditorium, the older couple next to me introduced themselves. Also from out of town, they told me they made the trip to town often just to see shows here. They were thrilled when I told them it was my first show there and that I had many great memories of seeing shows at the Grand Ole Opry House across town.
With that sort of welcome, I knew it was the beginning of a special night. One that felt like home.
Instead of your typical theater seating or chairs, The Ryman has church pews – and I couldn’t help but think about all of the Grand Ole Opry shows that had taken place in the building. If only those pews could talk…. the history and the stories they could share. Someone pass me the tissues and cue the waterworks.
More Than Just A Concert, It’s a Radio Show
What’s really special about the Grand Ole Opry is that in addition to a great show for the audience, it is actually a live radio show! What began back in 1925 as a small radio broadcast now brings millions of listeners with Opry broadcasts available via SiriusXM Satellite Radio, Nashville’s 650 AM WSM, and online at www.opry.com and wsmonline.com. (I actually listen to the show online quite a bit.)
The live show takes radio commercial breaks (while everyone in-house gets to watch them read the commercials), the show hosts describe things a bit more for the listeners at home and from our seat in the audience, we could watch the crew set up the stage for the next performers.
On our particular night, we saw Riders in the Sky, Bill Anderson, Mike Snider, Bela Fleck, Charles Esten (from the show, Nashville!), LoCash, The Whites and Ricky Skaggs. It was a great mix of traditional country music and new artists too. We happened to be there right before the holidays, so many of the songs were Christmas-themed, definitely a bonus!
There is such great history within the Grand Ole Opry and you can feel the pride and excitement of the musicians that have the honor of performing on the stage.
Experience the History
And yep, I cried when Ricky Skaggs stood up on the stage and shared his feelings for the incredible tradition that is the Grand Ole Opry. From Elvis Presley to hosting presidents to the Ryman being the birthplace of bluegrass music — you can’t help but feel a connection with this building and the show itself.
Earlier in the day, we took a tour of the Ryman Auditorium and learned more about the history and the stories behind this historic building. If you are a music fan, you need to do this tour — there is such rich history in how this building has played a part in shaping so many genres of music.
Tours are held throughout the day and you can either purchase tickets in advanced on the website or just buy them upon arrival. You can choose from the self-guided tour or the guided tour that includes backstage access. I’m glad we did the tour on the same day we saw the show, as it really brought things full circle that evening as we watched the show.
Plan Your Trip to the Grand Ole Opry
Ready to make your way to Nashville for the Grand Ole Opry? Check out the calendar of events, they update it often with new performers and finalize the schedule the week of the performance.
When planning your trip, keep in mind the Grand Ole Opry is typically at the Grand Ole Opry House over near the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Opry Mills shopping area. Tours are also available at the Grand Ole Opry House too. (Putting that on my ‘must do list’ for our next trip.) The show moves to The Ryman Auditorium for November and December.
You can buy tickets to the Grand Ole Opry right on the site and even choose your exact seat – that’s a huge plus for me! For the latest news, be sure to follow the Grand Ole Opry on Twitter and check out their active Facebook page too.
Have you been to the Grand Ole Opry?
** I received two complimentary tickets to the Grand Ole Opry and tickets to The Ryman Auditorium daytime tour. Thoughts and opinions here are my own. **