Keep talkin’ about the woman next door I caught her boogie-woogyin’ down on the floor. —Kokomo Arnold, “Busy Bootin’,” 1935
Wendy and I have booked a tour of the Grand Ole Opry. Bernie and Hoff are not coming on this one and are off to do a bit more exploring by foot.
It is about a twenty-minute drive to the Opry. I know this is not the original building. However, when in Nashville it is a must-visit. “The Grand Ole Opry is a weekly American country music stage concert in Nashville, Tennessee, founded on November 28, 1925, by George D. Hay as a one-hour radio “barn dance” on WSM. Currently owned and operated by Opry Entertainment (a division of Ryman Hospitality Properties, Inc.), it is the longest-running radio broadcast in U.S. history. Dedicated to honoring country music and its history, the Opry showcases a mix of famous singers and contemporary chart-toppers performing country, bluegrass, Americana, folk, and gospel music as well as comedic performances and skits. It attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors from around the world and millions of radio and internet listeners.” – Wikipedia
The tour starts with a short video giving us some background history. Along one of the walls are gold plaques denoting the 228 artists who are members of the Grand Ole Opry.
‘The Opry’s management team selects a handful of new members each year, taking into consideration the standards that measure success in a country artist’s career: radio airplay, record sales, touring, and recognition by their industry peers. There are currently 70 Grand Ole Opry members, seven of whom have retired from performing but are still listed as standing members. Over the course of the program’s history, 228 acts have held Opry membership since the show’s inception.
We then went on a backstage tour. I found the tour fascinating as we stopped at the artist’s entrance, the many dressing rooms. All were given a unique name, then onto the green room (which they called the family room.) There is a line on the wall indicating the height the water reached during the 2010 flood. ‘On May 1-2, 2010, more than 13 inches of rain fell on Music City, causing massive flooding all across the area. The Cumberland River, which runs close to the Grand Ole Opry, overflowed, resulting in severe destruction at the Opry as well as at the nearby Opryland Hotel, which evacuated all 1,500 of its guests.
Next, we move onto the stage itself. I mentioned that we are not in the original building. The Oprey moved here in 1975. They cut a large circle out of the old stage and embedded it into the new stage. We have our photo taken standing in the very circle that thousands of legends have graced. “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” Our tour ends with another raid on a Gift Shop. For a detailed history check out:
We headed over to a nearby Mall for lunch. We found a food outlet, Kelly’s Cajun Grill and the food was not bad at all.
We got back to our apartment around 1:30 and Bernie and Hoff arrived a few minutes later. Looks like a restful afternoon for all before we head out for dinner and a band. It gave me a chance to catch up with the Blog as I am a couple of days behind. Bernie has been doing the editing for me. He has very high standards when it comes to punctuation!
We have tickets pre-booked for Canadian Bluesman Colin Janes and his band who will be performing at the Nashville Winery. We got there at 6 to have dinner. Doors are slotted to open at 7:30 with the show starting at 8:30. The dining area is more upmarket than what we have been experiencing but that did not equate with the service or food they provided. For an establishment that calls itself a winery (albeit a franchise) the wine that Bernie was served was very ordinary. They have a severe staff shortage as well. Meals come out to the wrong tables and Hoff was delivered a beer he did not order. Not a good start.
We are allowed into the band room just after 7:30 and get a front stage table. The place is full of ex-pat Canadians. I have a couple of Colin James C.D.s and so I am confident about a good show.
‘From the prairies of Saskatchewan to sharing the stage with arguably the greatest and most influential guitarists of all time, Colin James still remembers those words of advice given to him by the late, great, Stevie Ray Vaughan. Colin James has taken those words to heart. His career has spanned over 30 years, with a track record that includes 20 studio albums, 8 Juno Awards, 27 Maple Blues Awards, and multi-platinum record sales. His latest release, Open Road, is a celebration of personal connections. It includes original tunes written with long-time collaborators such as Colin Linden, Craig Northey, and Tom Wilson and reinterpretations of covers by a diverse group of songwriters including Bob Dylan, Albert King, Tony Joe White, and others.‘
The band comes on stage right on time, with drums, rhythm guitar, and bass/harp. Colin himself comes on a few seconds later with the guitar blazing. He has all the tricks and rock star poses. Wendy should get some awesome photos. Bernie and Hoff moved back to some seats near the sound desk for a more relaxed listen. I must admit that there are some dumb-ass, screaming Canadians carrying on way too much. We listen to originals and covers of Freddie King, Tony Joe White, Albert King, and Otis Rush. The hardest working man is the Guitar Tech as Colin seems to change guitar after every song. Blues/Rock, Boogie, and even a little funk are thrown into the mix. The Rhythm Guitarist is no slouch either when ripping out a solo. The crowd sings along to all the songs. He did a very good version of Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Oh Well’ and for an encore threw in Van Morrisons’s ‘Into the Mystic’. I thoroughly enjoyed the gig. We have had three days of great music and all so different. Western Swing, Bluegrass, and now Blues Rock. Nashville sure is Music City.
My advice for anyone coming to Nashville is to stay away from Broadway’s cliched Honky Tonks and search out legit music venues. Much like New Orleans, stay away from Bourbon Street cover bands and instead head to Frenchman St or one of the legit music venues around town.