Friday, July 6, 2007

Day 38

Grand Ol' Opry

They say that any classic story song you can think of that either makes you laugh out loud or cry in your beer, probably came from Nashville. And although the city has probably spawned almost every major Country star that ever lived, it isn't all about Country music. Well, it actually is but there is a tiny bit of room left over for some other singers and songwriters.

After a very much needed kip, I woke up early and went for a 39-I-feel-like-I'm-going-to-fall-over-from-the-heat run. It was great. I felt lousy. Oh, the joys of long distance running...

We checked out of Best Western and drove north to see The Grand Old Opry.

I had phoned ahead and been told that we could do a tour at either 12:00 or 2:00. Now, I am not a very big fan of Country music but the place blew me away. It is impossible to not feel chills when you walk inside and see the stage that has hosted musicians and celebrities from every single corner of the world.

We arrived early, only to find that the 12:00 tour was already sold out. Bitter! We bought tickets for the 2:00 tour and then had a gander around the museum next door.

The Grand Ole Opry started as a radio program in the National Life & Accident Insurance Company on October 18, 1925. For over two years, the show featured string quartets, fiddlers and other old-time musicians. In 1927, the program director, George Hay, remarked that the music one night was taken from the Grand Opera after several hours of 'realistic' music. He dubbed the program as the Grand Ole Opry and the name stuck. For the next 15 years, audiences increased and public interest grew. During this time the venue for the show moved several times before settling in the Ryman Auditorium in 1943.

The Ryman was the home to the Grand Ole Opry until 1974, when it moved to the Opry House and still broadcasts from there today. In the last 33 years everyone from Garth Brooks to the Smashing Pumpkins have played there. In addition numerous sports, television and film stars have appeared on stage as well. Over the years, many stars have said that the biggest thrill in playing The Opry is knowing that the same stage they are standing on has seen legend after legend on it since the first show there in 1974.

The museum contained numerous exhibits of all the regulars and members of the Opry. There was a section containing all of the advertising posters and flyers. There were several sections set up as replicas of sitting rooms or offices of several of the members. It was all very interesting.

Feeling pecky, we walked across the street to The Opry Mills. Yes, there is a mall there called The Mills. We had a long gander around and then had a sambo from Subway.

Finally, 2:00 rolled around and we were allowed into The Opry. The tour was really good - it explained the history of the Opry and was conducted by a mighty good guide! She was fully kitted out in a Loretta Lynn tin of fruit and was extremely enthusiastic.

We watched a video, went through the main entrance into the offices, saw behind the scenes in a studio and wandered past all of the dressing rooms. We were then allowed on stage to take pictures and the whole group (except me and Paulo) sang 'You Are My Sunshine'. They wouldn't let us sing 'Break On Through' so we both opted to hang back on stage and not participate.

Of course when you are in Nashville and you are at The Grand Ole Opry, there is one more place you have to stop and see.

"Gou... Gou... Gou..."

This place was great! It was apparently set up by the actor who played Cooter and it must contain every single piece of merchandising ever made for the show. It has all the vehicles used in the show, endless pictures, toys, records, posters and even Daisy Duke's hotter-than-hot hot pants.

When we left, we were going to venture into Hazard County but decided it was just a little too far out of our way.

So, instead we got on to 65N instead and drove into Kentucky. The usual stop at the visitor center provided us with a coupon for a room in a Days Inn that was advertised as only ten minutes from the city. In actual fact, it was about ten miles (and 25 minutes).

We checked in and drove into town for a bite. I had seen Bluegrass Brewing Company advertised somewhere, so we went there. There seemed to be a really good buzz in the city and the bar was pretty cool. I ordered some chili as a starter and it was fantastic! I also sampled some of the local amber ale - very tasty.

We were both shattered, so we drove back to the hotel and went to sleep. The piles of miles really wore us out today.

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