I grew up with a pretty interesting mix of music as the soundtrack to my childhood. Despite growing up in a very traditional lower-middle class neighborhood, my dad was the first of his family and friends to head out to live ‘in the sticks’ … and he took my mom with him. It was the late 1970s and, in addition to the move, he bought a pick-up truck, you know … before that was cool. And when we were riding in my dad’s truck, the music was undoubtedly the likes of Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams Jr., Alabama, or George Strait. My mom, on the other hand, was all about Tina Turner, The Pointer Sisters, and neon spandex Jazzercise routines. Somehow, out of all of this, I found an appreciation for lots of different types of music, as well as pick up trucks and neon spandex (neither of which I own … you’re welcome.) But a quick browsing of the music in my iTunes accounts typically raises a few eyebrows. Mayhem appreciates it though, and I’m happy to report that her taste in music is equally eclectic.
So when the opportunity arose for us to see a Grand Ole Opry show live, the response was, “Yes! Please! And thank you! When can we come?! Today?!”
If you’re reading this, chances are pretty good you’ve heard of the Grand Ole Opry. You know, the show that made country music famous. There are few genres of music that respect and celebrate their history in such a way, but clearly, country reigns supreme. I mean, just think about the fact that a radio show that began in 1925 is still going strong 70 plus years later, with live performances on multiple days each week. Fun fact: the performances are still streamed live via radio (650 AM WSM), opry.com, the (free)Opry app, and also on Sirius XM Satellite Radio (on Saturdays).
And not only does the Opry celebrate where it’s been, but the performances clearly embrace the future of country music as well. Let me give you an idea of what I mean – on the night we visited, there were eight different artists performing: Bill Anderson, Old Dominion, Charlie Worsham, Terri Clark, Dustin Lynch, Lauren Alaina, Dailey & Vincent, and Chris Janson.
Before arriving, I hadn’t realized that there would be that many different artists performing, but then it all made perfect sense! As a ‘radio show’, the format is that each artist comes out and performs (about) 3 songs before heading off stage for the next artist to be welcomed. So what’s it like to be in the Opry House? It’s like having a two hour party with 4400 of your closest friends, who all appreciate your taste in music. There will be singing. There will be dancing. There will be storytelling. There will be laughing. And there is not a bad seat in the house.
It may start off, as our show did, with a few Bill Anderson classics, and move to having Dustin Lynch announce that he’d like everyone dancing in the aisles. And when Dustin Lynch asks you to dance, you dance. Yep yep.
Midway through Lauren Alaina’s set I received a text message asking if Mayhem might like to meet Lauren, backstage … (Lauren was the runner up on season 10 of American Idol and was just nominated for three ACM awards!!!)
That would be a yes.
So we headed backstage, and got a little peek behind the scenes. By the way, Opry offers several backstage tours (daytime, post-show, and VIP) so everyone has the opportunity to see where the stars hang out and get a more in depth history of the iconic show.
And then it was time to meet Lauren.
Truth be told, Mayhem was so overwhelmed at the idea of meeting Lauren, that she couldn’t hold back the tears. When Lauren entered the room, she walked in to find a sobbing Mayhem awaiting her. But being the kind and lovely southern girl that she is, she took Mayhem by the hand, walked her to the mirror, and dried her tears.
Then they hugged, and decided to become BFFs 😉
After that, they sat down and went live on Facebook for an episode of ‘Girl Talk’ which the Opry often hosts on their page. You can see the full video here:
You can see the nerves (hello new nail biting habit!) were getting the best of Mayhem early on, but chatting with Lauren quickly became more fun then Mayhem could have imagined. It was all over too quickly, and the two exchanged more hugs before Lauren headed back to her own dressing room, since she was performing in a second show that night!
As for us, we had one more stop on the behind the scenes tour – the stage!
And more specifically for Mayhem, the circle.
Before the Opry found it’s current home at the Grand Ole Opry House, it’s home was, for many years, the historic Ryman Auditorium. And when the Opry changed venues, they took a piece of the Ryman with them – an eight-foot circle of hardwood was taken from the Ryman and placed center stage at the Opry House. It’s hallowed ground for country artists and stepping into that circle is when many country artists feel they’ve truly ‘made it’.
I can honestly say that I left the Grand Ole Opry with an unwavering respect for the iconic institution that it is. And if you haven’t been to an Opry performance, put it on your list! When in Nashville …
Massive thanks to the Grand Ole Opry for the invitation and for sponsoring this post. As always, opinions are all ours, and all honest!