I have a confession to make. I am not a country music fan. I blame that on not being exposed to it while growing up. I mean, back in the days when I grew up in Boston we didn’t have a country music scene. We had one place in Boston called Hillbilly Ranch (true name) and it was somewhat of a joke. Even its location was a place that you didn’t want to go into – The Combat Zone.
While I was in college, we were all listening to the current pop music. Then I moved to Virginia and there was a lot of bluegrass music which was too twangy for me. Honestly, I didn’t know the difference and thought it was all country music. So I shied away from that genre of music and stayed away. I just was never interested in it.
You’re probably wondering why I am telling you all this and it’s easy. I was going to visit Nashville – home of country music – on our Road Trip. We would be arriving on Halloween and wondered what we should do on that night. There was only one answer – go to The Grand Ole Opry. Yes, I was going to listen to country music. We looked at the schedule and believe it or not, I had actually heard of some of the performers like Vince Gill, Charlie Daniels and his band, and the Gatlin Brothers were the main performers with others also on the show.
We first called the Opry box office ten days before we would arrive and realized that the only tickets left were behind the nose bleed sections. Not what we wanted to hear. We put our two great minds together and we came up with an idea. What if we called the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and inquire if they had any packages that included tickets. Gaylord hotels are part of the Marriott chain and although I did have a few points in my account, they weren’t enough to get us anything. The operator found what we considered very good tickets, on the floor, off from the center a little bit and on an aisle. Cha-ching. We booked the package even though it was expensive but we figured that it was a unique experience.
After we made the booking we heard from several different people what a fantastic property it was – large, gardens, a river runs through it and that it would take us a few days to go all through it. In my mind, it just didn’t make sense that this large hotel that would be minutes from the Grand Ole Opry because in my mind the Opry is in downtown Nashville. Confusion reigned as we drove up this long driveway in the outskirts of Nashville. We pulled in at 5:30 and elected to do valet parking at $32 per day (yikes, don’t tell Blogger Hubby) because we needed to get to our room, do a quick shower and be at the appropriate door to ride the shuttle to the show. Still thinking that the Opry was in downtown Nashville, we knew we had to hurry or we’d miss the shuttle and we didn’t know how expensive a taxi would be. The show began at 7:00 and here it was at 5:30 and we had to be at the door at 6:00. First tip if you are going to the Gaylord Opryland Hotel: unless you are with a convention, ask to be in the Cascades section of the hotel. We were initially booked by the desk clerk in Magnolia, next to the Convention Hall on the opposite side of this large hotel even though she knew we were in a rush. That is one heck of a long walk; same goes for Delta. Our bellman, seeing that we were in MagnoliaCascades was able to change our room to make it easier to reach. Cascades, where we ended up, is where the main lobby is, where the concierge is where you are parked, and where you get your car from valet parking.
We met our shuttle and had a 3 minute ride to the Grand Ole Opry – not downtown but very close by. We knew where to meet the shuttle for the ride home. We walked in, and since we hadn’t had dinner, we were able to get drinks and popcorn to bring into the theatre with us. Great seats awaited us.
There was an Mistress of Ceremony warming up the crowd but shortly the show would begin. We noticed there was a large screen over the stage of the Opry as well as a few other screens throughout the theatre. As we were reminded, this is a live radio show and there are commercials about the sponsors of the Opry with the announcer standing near the edge of stage left.
The show was divided into four acts with each act having their own Master of Ceremony who would introduce the performers in the acts. Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers opened up the show welcoming us and then proceed to sing.
The second act was a led by a substitute MC – Jeanne Seeley. She was the only one dressed in a costume with a boa of dollars bills over her witch’s dress. She characterized herself as a Rich Witch. Singing during this act was Ricky Scaggs.
A surprise guest during this time was Florence Henderson aka “Carol Brady”. The third act was MC’d by Charlie Daniels and his band and boy, can he fiddle. We overheard from the row behind us that they had just heard him about a week or so before and he was really putting on a performance this night. Charlie was given a standing ovation after singing and playing “Devil Went Down to Georgia”. It went something like this.
The evening ended with Vince Gill and a clip of him during his early years playing at the Opry, or as he liked to call it – 50 pounds earlier. Also performing in the final act was Mel Tillus. It was a country music star studded evening – what a way to spend Halloween night!
We really enjoyed our Halloween night at the Opry and I hope to enjoy a repeat visit to this house of music.
BTW, the Grand Ole Opry was downtown Nashville in the Ryman Auditorium but moved out to its present location in 1975. If you are interested in tickets, follow this link.