Jim and I have been to the Grand Ole Opry Show more times than I can count. And I’m not even that much of a fan of Country music. I like music in general, but very few CDs in my collection are of the Country genre. (Jim’s collection is a whole ‘nother story.) Sure, I like a lot of individual songs performed by various Country artists, but rarely enough to buy a whole CD of ’em.
That said, I also wasn’t introduced to Bluegrass and Folk and other forms of music like that until I moved to Nashville with Jim 7 years ago.
So why in the world would I want to go to the Grand Ole Opry so much, you ask? And how do I justify spending upwards of $50 a ticket for the experience?
Here’s the scoop…
See Artists In A Whole New Light
Most recently, we went to the Grand Ole Opry specifically to see James Otto on February 2nd.
You may not know this…
During the winter months, Grand Ole Opry performances are moved from the Opry House (located near the Opry Mills Mall) to the Ryman Auditorium (located smack dab in the middle of downtown Nashville) instead. The Ryman is the original home of the Grand Ole Opry.
So to watch James Otto experience his very first performance at the Ryman Auditorium… there is just something oh so special about that to me.
A) Not everyone gets the opportunity to perform at Opry (or the Ryman Auditorium for that matter). By the way, you don’t have to be a member of the Opry to get to perform there;
2) I love it when singer/songwriters are sort of ‘out of their element’ at the Ryman. Whether it be their very first time standing on that legendary stage. Or maybe the fact that they’re not necessarily a ‘Country’ performer. Either way, to witness such rare musical events in such an incredible setting is priceless — in my opinion.
James Otto may have some Country in him. But he’s all Rock & Roll with a whole lot of Soul to me. I’m so glad I got to see one of my favorite artists (Jim’s too) performing at the Ryman Auditorium on this particular night. This, despite the fact that our jaws dropped (just like they do every time we order tickets through TicketMaster) when the grand total for 2 tickets to this show at the Ryman came to $106.00!
But James Otto is worth it. We also spent a small fortune to see him perform a few months earlier at City Hall here in Nashville (November 5th). That’s a whole ‘nother story that I’ll write about later.
Back to the Opry /slash/ Ryman experience…
Opry-Ryman Auditorium Performers
On this particular night that James Otto was performing, these other ‘stars’ were in the lineup, in this order:
- Little Jimmy Dickens
- The Whites
- James Otto (sample his music: MySpace page)
- Jimmy C. Newman
- Connie Smith (sample her music: MySpace page)
- The Time Jumpers (sample their music: videos)
- George Hamilton IV and son George Hamilton V (sample IV’s music: MySpace page)
- Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys (sample their music: MySpace page)
- Jack Greene (sample his music: MySpace page)
- Jim Ed Brown with Helen Cornelius
- Old Crow Medicine Show (sample their music: MySpace page)
- Opry Square Dancers (sample their style: brief video)
- Riders in the Sky
- John McEuen and sons, Jonathan McEuen & Nathan McEuen
- Lee Greenwood (sample his music: MySpace page)
I have to admit…
After looking at the lineup, we had absolutely no interest in seeing any of the musical groups and artists performing on this night other than James Otto. In fact, right after James Otto’s early performance, we realized we had 2 more hours of the show left… and we both figured we were in for one long night of disappointing entertainment. But we paid a lot for these tickets, so we weren’t leaving.
We were actually wishing this show would’ve had some of the artists who were on the lineup the night before like: Danielle Peck, Josh Gracin, and Buddy Jewell — at least we could relate to these younger stars. (Or so we thought.) Then again, we were pleasantly surprised to see Rebecca Lynn Howard was added to our show at the last minute.
It Was The Best Opry Show… Ever!
Little did we know that this night’s Opry show would actually be one of the BEST shows we’ve ever seen at the Grand Ole Opry or the Ryman Auditorium. I’m not kidding!
Several of the night’s performers are actually ‘regulars’ at the Grand Ole Opry — meaning they return to the Opry stage week after week after week. So, of course, we had seen most of them before (like Little Jimmy Dickens, The Whites, Jimmy C. Newman, Connie Smith, George Hamilton IV, and Jim Ed Brown). And some of them more than once!
But we got lucky… their performances (and the performances of the others) on this particular night were way above-par and definitely worth the price of admission. I don’t know if the regulars have been asked to kick up their show a notch or what, but they all obviously did on this night. They were nothing like we’d remembered them.
Highlights From The Show
Jim and I definitely brought the average age of the audience down a notch or two. This was the Saturday 6:30pm show. There was another later show at 9:30pm that night. I wish we had gone to that one, because I can imagine that we would’ve skipped right on over to Tootsie’s with James Otto after the show. (That’s how they do it, ya know. After the late show at the Ryman… all the stars who are young & hip slip out back door of the Ryman that opens into an alley behind the Honky Tonks of Nashville. Then it’s one big celebrity pub crawl… on a good night.)
Little Jimmy Dickens — Folks, this guy is 87 years old! Yet, he acts every bit of 30. Yep, 87 is the new 30! He’s been at every single Grand Ole Opry show that Jim and I have ever been to.
The singing sons of the ‘regulars’ were all the rage at this particular show. Examples: John McEuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band brought his sons, Nathan and Jonathan. They completely stole the show. Not only their dad’s segment of the show, but the whole show on this particular night at the Ryman! No kidding. Nathan is one heck of a talented guy. He plays guitar, vox, banjo, and piano — and has a great voice to top it all off. Jonathan is a Folk Rock kind of guy who is part of Hanna-McEuen. Put these two guys together, and hold onto your seats folks! Then, enter their dad’s talent into the equation, and this was the musical event not to be missed. You didn’t want them to stop. (P.S. They’re more like surfer-types from California than cowboys from Tennessee. And together, their wry sense of humor was contagious.)
George Hamilton IV’s son was the ‘mystery hunk’ on stage during his dad’s set for the longest time — strumming his guitar and singing backup. For his second number, Geo IV finally introduced him as his son, George Hamilton V. (And he’s said there’s already a little George Hamilton VI.) Anyway, Geo V seemed to attract a lot of attention. Well-deserved, too.
The Time Jumpers — Never heard of them before this, but now we can’t imagine how. Their energy level and vocal ranges are amazing. They’re “a Western Swing band comprised of eleven of Nashville’s finest studio musicians and vocalists”. They play regularly at the Station Inn here in Nashville and their sound is truly captivating. We’ll be making a point to see them sometime soon. (They recently won 2 Grammies — I think).
Riders In The Sky — I’m not usually one for ‘silly singing groups‘. This group is the exception. In addition to singing a couple of their songs (‘Cool Water’ was to die for!), they also served as the host for one of the 30-minute segments. That meant they had LOTS of opportunities to drop hilarious one-liners and some of their ‘best’ jokes.
Lee Greenwood — Believe it or not he didn’t sing the one and only song of his that I know: God Bless The USA.
The Opry Square Dancers — especially the guys — were absolutely AMAZING to watch. This wasn’t old time square dancing docydo-kind of stuff. No way! This was more like clogging in super-speed. I can’t understand why they don’t even mention the Opry Square Dancers on the Grand Ole Opry website. Nor do they appear to have their own website on any other platform. Bummer. These guys deserve some major props!
I could go on and on with something specific that we enjoyed about each and every one of the performers on this night. Seriously. They each did someone great… or funny… or entertaining… in their own right. All in all, it was truly an enjoyable night to watch and listen. (In fact, after the show, we were riding around town, and made a point to tune into WSM 650AM on the radio so we could hear all the same people performing live for the second show.)
Much to my dismay, they no longer advertise Goo Goo Clusters during the intermissions at the Grand Ole Opry. But I still left there craving a Goo Goo Cluster!
Oh, and yet another reason why I love going to the Grand Ole Opry shows — whether they’re at the Opry House or the Ryman Auditorium: Because you can take as many pictures as you like. Yep, cameras with flashes are allowed! So why no pictures? I simply forgot. And I was kicking myself the entire night.
We moved from Florida to Tennessee in 2001. All signs point to the fact that we will probably retire here — by choice. We L O V E Nashville! Our favorite places to live are just south of the City — we've had houses in Brentwood, Franklin, and Spring Hill. And we have properties in Leipers Fork, Cookeville, and Lewisburg. This site is where I share my best tips for moving your family to Nashville and/or visiting Nashville for the first time — with the ultimate goal of helping you find fun things to do in Williamson County and Davidson County. When I'm not out & about enjoying the Nashville area, you'll find me at the corner of Good News & Fun Times as publisher of The Fun Times Guide (32 fun & helpful websites).