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We’re heading to one of those magical Music City places where legends are made. It's a storied place that's launched superstar after superstar - where music makers and music lovers travel hundreds and thousands of miles just to get their fix (because after all, isn't the sound and the stage one of the truest loves?).
It was a cold evening in a sleepy Tennessee town, November 28, 1925, when across the AM air waves a radio announcer introduced Uncle Jimmy Thompson as the first performer on a new show “The WSM Barn Dance.” It was the show that made country music famous....
Yes. It's the Grand Ole Opry.
About two years ago Ben & I had one of our first Nashville dates: a cocktail hour in the backstage dressing rooms of the Grand Ole Opry. It was MAGIC! This weekend we had our second Opry date night, this time at the Ryman, the famous former home and winter residence of the Opry, for the full show experience!
I'm asked regularly:
What should I do in Nashville if I'm a lover of style
I can only make it to one venue where should I go?
My people, ya know and I've shared a post about that.
I'm asked what should I do if I've only got a weekend, and I've got a post about that too (and lots more in my book). There's truly so many ways to enjoy the city! Today I'm giving you a peek inside one of the best date nights I've had, and one of the most dazzling places in Nashville.
Go On Tour
We started our evening early to get a little Opry history lesson. To experience it all there are three tour options available: Daytime Tour, Post-Show Tour and the ultimate VIP Tour, where you’ll get to be on stage as the red curtain goes up before being escorted to your seats. (BRILLIANT.)
We checked out famous set lists and guitars and perhaps my favorite part was seeing designer to the rhinestone cowboy stars, Nudie Cohn's embroidered and embellished suits up close and personal. Nudie was the tailor to everyone from Johnny Cash and Graham Parsons to Dolly Parton and Elvis.
It's Wine Time
After the tour we stepped into Cafe Lula - named for the secretary turned manager of the Ryman - Lula C. Naff. Lula was hired in 1904, eventually going into the booking business on her own and finally taking her business savvy skills into the top position at the Ryman before her retirement in 1955.
We sampled several small plates, and I'd go back for the Smoked Gouda Chips alone. Try them. You'll love 'em.
Magic in the Music
To me, the beauty in any given Opry night is seeing country music’s newest stars, superstars, and legends take to the stage one after the next. The Opry showcases all types of music under the country music umbrella: hit country, classic country, bluegrass, gospel, Western swing, and more. In addition to having welcomed to the Opry stage virtually every top artist in the genre, the show also introduces special guests every single week.
On our night we experienced a special moment as Rory Feek, who recently lost his wife (and musical partner) to cancer, was joined by his two daughters on stage to sing a tribute song to her. We sang along to a quirky and hilarious version of "Let It Snow" by Opry members since '82 - the Riders in the Sky. We reminisced to childhood days as Restless Heart played their #1 hits from the 80's.
The show, btw is live broadcast (just as it's always been) on 650 AM WSM (plus online, on Sirius and on the Opry app too) and it was a treat to see the behind the scenes moments involved in the making of the radio show.
Perhaps the highlight of the evening was the surprise collaboration as Jason Isbell joined his wife Amanda Shires on stage (a serious talent and star in her own right!) to play guitar alongside her headlining performance.
Ben & I left the night with a new appreciation for country music, and finding ourselves fans to several artists that were totally brand new to us. It was also a magnificent reminder of the starshine that is the musical community that Nashville is made of.
Interested in Planning Your Own Opry Date Night?
The Opry highlights country talent past and present, including the likes of Minnie Pearl, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Little Big Town, Carrie Underwood, Darius Rucker, Brad Paisley and countless others. The Grand Ole Opry hosts a rotating cast of talent at its live shows every Friday and Saturday year round. Additionally, Tuesday shows run from February to October and Wednesday shows from June through August.
During the winter months each year, the Opry moves back to its most famous former home, the Ryman Auditorium. Cafe Lula is open daily 9 a.m. - 5 p.m. and later on show nights.
Opry tickets, show information and tour details are available here.
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*this post was sponsored by the Grand Ole Opry; thank you to the Opry team for a brilliant evening. opinions as always, are mine.