- 2802 Opryland Drive
- Nashville, TN 37214
- (615) 871-6779
I don’t know when it happened, but at one point when I was living in Peoria, I started listening to country music. Growing up, I hated the stuff. Only the “hicks” at my school of 400 listened to country music and I wanted to be cool, so I listened to hip hop. Thankfully, I grew out of that phase, but I was left in radio limbo. What do I listen to? I tried to be interested in classic rock, but no luck. The radio station I worked at in school was a Top 40, so that’s what I ended up listening to.
Since my job in Peoria involved me being ina car most of the day, I just tuned in the Top 40 station. After hearing the same Jessica Simpson song eight times in one day, I started scanning the radio. I ended up on a country station from Galesburg, IL which is about 35 west of Peoria. I just started listening and eventually, the music grew on me.
Now, J and I are big country music fans. We’ve seen almost every major star in concert and used to religiously watch CMT’s Top 20 Countdown. When we decided to go to Tennessee for our honeymoon, there had to be a stop in Nashville.
After eating lunch at Neely’s Bar-B-Que, we headed across town to check out the major country music attraction in Nashville. The Grand Ole Opry.
The Opry is part of the Opryland complex which includes a resort and a mall. We pulled into Opryland and had a helluva time actually finding the Grand Ole Opry. The GPS was telling us it was on the right, but there was no Opry. There were signs pointing you to different attractions in Opryland, but none of them said anything about the Grand Ole Opry. Finally, after turning around and heading back the way we came, there was a sign pointing down a road that didn’t even look like a road. We followed it to the mall where I could finally see the building.
We parked in the mall and walked up to the Opry House. There’s quite a big courtyard out front as well as the office for WSM AM/FM….the radio station that created the Grand Ole Opry. We headed straight for the gift shop and picked up a few souveniers. After a little bit of discussion, we headed over to the ticket office to see about tickets for a backstage tour since Wednesday is not a show night.
There was one tour left at 3:00. It was only a little after 2:00 so we had some time to kill. J paid the $30 for the tickets then we went back to the gift shop because J wanted to look for something else that we hadn’t already bought. We took care of that then just hung out reading cookbooks and stuff.
At 3:00 the doors from the gift shop to the Opry lobby were opened. The first stop is one of those cheesy green screen photos with guitars and cowboy hats. We obliged then waited for everyone else. After that, we were lead into the auditorium where they had a TV set up with a ten minute video explaining the origins and history of the program.
From there, we were lead backstage to the star entrance. We were given some background on some of the photos hanging in the area then led to the mail room. Every castmember has a mail box where you can write to them at. All you need to do is write “Brad Paisley, Grand Ole Opry” and it will get there. There’s only one Opry in the world, so the USPS knows where to go. No surprise, Carrie Underwood’s mailbox was over flowing.
After that we were led to the dressing room area. I think everyone on the tour was surprised. They were small and not very fancy. There were actually lockers right outside door for the stars to put their stuff. Yes, lockers….like in high school. The tour guide told us dressing rooms were assigned based on size of the group. Even a huge star would get a smaller dressing room because the larger ones go to bands.
We were then taken to the stage which was the whole reason I wanted to go on the tour. I don’t think I really paid any attention to what the tour guide was saying. I was in awe that I was standing where so many of my favorite country music superstars had stood. In the middle of the stage is a piece of the floor from the Ryman Auditorium…the place that made the Opry famous.
The tour ended with another stop backstage in the staging area. He pointed out the area that they set up for Nan Kelly when GAC does their live hour which I already knew because I recognized a lot of the floor markings and I’ve seen the steadycam shot a hundred times anyway.
The Opry tour was cool. For a while, we were a little bored, but getting out on stage made it worth it. I would have rather seen a show, but as I keep telling J, next time.