Friday, April 22, 2011

Grand Ole Opry

The last evening in Nashville we made our pilgrimage to the Mecca of country music - the Grand Ole Opry. Located since 1974 at the Opryland Resort about 10 miles northeast of downtown Nashville, the Opry is the premier stage for country artists.

The show is divided into four 30-minute acts, with one to two artists performing one to two songs each within each act. It plays like a like radio show, which is how it began back in 1943, with live commercial spots read for each act's sponsor.

After the show, we took the backstage tour, which goes back into the artists' entrance, the Opry post office (where artists still receive fan mail), the dressing rooms, the green room, and ultimately up on the stage.

The center "spotlight" of wood on the stage is actually from the original Opry stage at the Ryman Auditorium, which was carefully extracted when the Opry moved. When Nashville flooded last year, the Opry wasn't spared, and the most difficult restoration task was that original circle of wood, as it was the oldest component of the entire Opry House.

I'm not a huge fan of country music, but I appreciate it as an art form, and I certainly appreciate its role in American culture, so I'd be lying if I said I didn't get just a little chill standing on that stage.

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