Hillbilly-News.com attended WSM's Grand
Ole Opry during its visit to Nashville while attending the International
Country Music Conference. The visit to the Opry was a perfect way to
cap a weekend devoted to the study of Country Music history. And a chance
to see how the Opry had changed since our last visit, when stars such
as Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb and Roy Acuff were performing.
As we visited Nashville that weekend, we couldn't help but try to recall
what we had seen in previous visits, some going back a couple of decades
to compare to what one sees now. Gone are such shops as the Little Roy
Wiggins Steel Guitar City that was on Broadway, just a short walk away
from the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. But still there are such icons
aa Tootsie's Orchid Lounge.
We recalled past visits to the Opry - the hot summer weather reminded one
of those hot summer evenings standing outside the Ryman Auditorium
waiting to get in. Little boys and girls selling the little hand fans.
Music coming over the speakers at the record and souvenir shops that
were near by.
But in 2002 it's a new setting even from our last visit to the Opry
at the Opryland complex. Gone is Opryland the theme park. In its
place is suburban sprawl - the Opry Mills shopping complex that has
many music-themed areas. It seemed easier to park now for the show at
the Opryland theatre as one can park in the mall parking lot. What seems
missing are the little lounges that are near the old Ryman Auditorium
where fans could wait for showtime by hanging out and hearing some
music by up and coming talents.
We attended the first show Saturday night and our tickets were what any fan with a camera would have enjoyed.
On a center aisle, about 15-20 rows from the stage.
We came to see many of the stars that you will find on this site during
your visit - Little Jimmy Dickens, Porter Wagoner, Jumping Bill Carlisle,
Billy Walker Jeannie Seely and Jimmy C. Newman. Yes, they're a little
bit older now, but they're a part of the music's history, and certainly
a part of the Opry's history and can still get the audiences clapping
and foot-tapping to the music. Little Jimmy can keep the audience in the palm of his hand. Porter had
the crowd's attention during his rendition of the classic, "Green, Green
Grass of Home."
Stars of the new generation were also
there such as Lorrie Morgan and Sammy Kershaw, Mark Snider, the Whites,
Riders in the Sky, the Wilkinsons, Elizabeth Cook, Pinmonkey, the Del McCroury
Band, along with the Opry Square Dance band and the Ralph Sloan Dancers.
Handling the emcee chores that night was Hairl Hensley.
The fans still bring their cameras, some finding their way to the front of
the stage to kneel and get up close pictures of their favorites as
they perform. One can still hear the live renditions of many of the
radio commercials during the show.
We attended as a fan and hope you enjoy some of the photos from our
visit to the Grand Ole Opry.