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Monday, 23 December 2013

The Glebe in the USA 2013 - Nashville - Part 4

Today will be my last day in Nashville.
I'm first heading for the Ryman Auditorium
Once again I've parked up at my five dollar car park by the Korean Veterans Boulevard.
The Ryman is just a short walk from Legends Corner and I'm at the door five minutes before opening.

All text in italics has been borrowed from the internet. 
"Thomas Green Ryman was born south of Nashville in 1841.  The Ryman family relocated to Chattanooga when Ryman was still a young boy. It was there that he learned the ways of river life by fishing along side his father in the Tennessee River.  When Ryman was 19, in 1860, his family returned to Nashville and his father passed away shortly thereafter. Using the skills he learned as a boy, Ryman earned money to support his mother and four siblings by fishing throughout the Civil War years."

I can see the truth in this notice. 

It's known as the Mother Church of Country Music.
Ir started life as the Union Gospel Tabernacle.
It was at Ryman's funeral on Christmas Day 1904 that Rev. Jones proposed to 5000 mourners that the building be renamed the Ryman Auditorium in his honor.  The idea was immediately embraced.  From that day forward, the Union Gospel Tabernacle became known as the Ryman Auditorium. 

Once inside I decided to book the 'Backstage' tour.
A guide suggested that those of us on the backstage tour should first watch a short film just inside the auditorium. The tour would start upstairs in twenty five minutes.

It was mainly interviews with stars who had appeared here, but also a little history. It lasted around eight minutes.

Making my way upstairs I got my first real look at the layout of the Auditorium which nowadays will hold 6000. (After checking out the seating later, I imagine a full house wouldn't be the most comfortable !)

"Although barely literate, he was a shrewd and industrious businessman amassing a fleet of 35 riverboats by 1885 which was named the Ryman Line. That same year, legend has it that Captain Thomas Ryman became fed up with the immensely popular Reverend Sam Jones preaching against the evils of alcohol and gambling - two of the very things that made him money in his saloons and on his riverboats.  So on May 10, at age 44, Ryman and some friends went to one of Rev. Jones’ famous tent revivals to raise a ruckus.  But something in Jones’ sermon spoke to Ryman and he was so deeply affected that his life was changed forever.  He pledged to construct a building large enough to hold all who wanted to hear Sam Jones and others preach.  He wanted to ensure the citizens of Nashville would never have to attend a revival under a tent again".

Two of my favourite musicians.
There are information boards and posters throughout the building. 

Our tour guide turned up but we were to wait a little longer for a couple of wanderers.
Our tour guide was a fairly senior guy called Buddy and he had a deep lazy drawl about his voice.
The first thing Buddy made clear was that there would be no photographs taken until we reached the stage wings. He then explained how the tour would proceed with his personal recollections and antidotes.
He's met most of the stars over the years. There were only four of the big names he hadn't the honour of meeting. Jim Reeves and Patsy Cline were two, I'm not sure which other two he mentioned so I won't mention them either.
 Each room had a theme of the person or persons that used that particular dressing room. Johnny Cash and June Carter pictures were up in the first and Buddy inferred he wasn't the easiest star to get on with, but always apologized when he knew he was in the wrong.
Other dressing rooms had pictures and posters of stars from the past. You could understand the no pictures rule with some of the casual photos on show. We continued through the backstage rooms with Buddy keeping up a running commentary of his recollections (I wish I'd been taking notes)

Reaching the stage wings, Buddy now tells us we can take pictures.
You can have your photo taken on the stage with a guitar in your hand for $20, the above picture will do me. 

At the height of it's popularity this was the sort of line up for any given Saturday.
The names on here I remember songs from include Bill Monroe, Hank Williams, Roy Acuff, Chet Atkins, Hank  Snow, June Carter, Jordanaires and  Ernest Tubb. Quite strange really since I was only 8 years old in 1951 !
 The formative years of the Opry were spent on the Ryman stage. The music made on those well-worn planks changed music history, and Nashville, forever. On a cold December night in 1945, Earl Scruggs made his debut with Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys, completing the historic line-up that would serve as the prototype for the bluegrass sound – Monroe on mandolin, Scruggs on banjo, Lester Flatt on guitar, Chubby Wise on fiddle and Howard Watts on bass. In the summer of 1949, a 25-year old Hank Williams took the stage for the first time to perform “Lovesick Blues.” The crowd gave him such an enthusiastic reception; he was called back for six encores – a house record. 

The Backstage tour was now over and Buddy wished us a "g'day y'all, come back soon".
We could now wander around freely.
(I learned of the Grand Old Opry Radio station while visiting the Ryman. I've listened quite a bit since arriving back home and I must admit I enjoy it. It's also known as "The Legend".)

The Grand Ole Opry® began just five years after commercial radio was born in the United States. In 1925, the National Life and Accident Insurance Company built a radio station as a public service to the local community and with the hope that the new medium could advertise insurance policies. The station's call letters, WSM, stood for the company's motto: "We Shield Millions."

Webb Pierce was mighty in the USA, but the name never rung any bells with me.
One thing that makes him stand out is his 'Nudie' suit which he, Hank Williams and other later C and W stars wore.
The name has nothing to do with nakedness but from Nudie Cohn, a Ukraine-born American tailor.

Patsy's "She's got you" and "Crazy" are almost still as popular as they were back then.

Here's Marty's Nudie suit. In the earlier days of his career he'd dress in a dark suit and collar and tie. 
In later years he became more flamboyant.

I'd guess that Elm Hill Meats were sponsors in the early days. The portrait is of Thomas Ryman by Connie Erickson, Franklin, TN. The steps are by the National Foundry And Machine Company in Louisville, now on the National Register of Historic Places.

A lot of memorabilia of  Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash.

There's a lady smiling for the camera.

There are quite a few display cases of costumes and memorabilia. Bottom left above is Kitty Wells. One of the earliest songs I remember was her rendition of " It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels".

The more interactive performers use the steps.

More of Patsy Cline
I was listening to Patsy from the mid 50's.
I remember her death in 1963 was big news in the NAAFI while I served with HM Forces.

While having a look at the recording equipment I took a 'Selfie', so that's me starring in the Ryman Auiditorium.

I never knew Chaplin had been here. I had Bill Monroe's "Orange Blossom Special" on a K-Tel compilation years ago. Now I have him on a 2 CD DeLuxe Edition of Legends of Bluegrass. It was interesting to learn of Elvis's one and only visit.

As I'm heading towards the box office and exit the film is again showing.
Minnie Pearl was a regular and a funny lady.
I somehow missed the bronze statue of her and Roy Acuff in the lobby.
On my way out I'm thinking I'll come back for tonight's show starring Vince Gill only to be told it's sold out just an hour ago. What an eejit !
On March 15, 1974, the Opry made its last broadcast from Ryman before moving to its new custom built home, The Grand Ole Opry House at Opryland. In 2004, the Opry House surpassed the Ryman as the Opry’s most enduring home. In May 2010 during the historic flood in Nashville, the Opry House was severely damaged and as a result received a major renovation. During the construction the Opry revisited two of its former homes, both the War Memorial Auditorium and the Ryman. The newly-improved Opry House reopened September 28, 2010. The show regularly returns to the Ryman during the winter months, November through January.

Ok, I'm hungry. Well just round the corner on Broadway is Robert's Western World
The pork chop came with chips and a little garnish, no need for a doggy bag but plenty big enough.

Now I'm going to the Mecca of Country Music in Nashville.

My senior's ticket cost me $20. There were also Gold and Platinum tours which would give you access to the RCA recording studio B and/or guided audio tours by some of the well known country stars.
I'll just take my time looking around. It's a big place. I had to pass through the cafe restaurant to begin. The diners were being serenaded by the guitarist bottom left.

The first feature once inside is a whole room devoted to Reba McEntire. I've heard her on the radio and seen her on TV often enough, but the one that did it for me was her version of "On my own".
She's also brilliant on the group recording of  'A Coal Miners Daughter' tribute to Loretta Lynn. 
A true Reba fan would have spent more than the 5 minutes I did though.

Next was a quiet area sponsored by the lady above.
Taylor Swift  has just celebrated her 24th birthday. She moved to Nashville as a fourteen year old single mindedly determined to make it in the world of Country Music. 

Moving further along posters begin to tell the story of Country and Western

I'd assume 'From Glen to Glen' refers to Scotland. Of course Danny Boy had a line 'From Glen to Glen'

The cowboys were among the first exponents of the genre.
I used to read comic books on the fictional escapades of all three of the above.

I'm now in a long hall with lots of exhibits and audio 
As the audio comes loud above me I'm watching Jimmie Rodgers (the singing brakeman) singing 'Waiting for a train'. Not sure if my brother didn't used to try and sing this ?

Across the hall is one of the recording studios and one of the biggest audio libraries in the world.

Posters go right up to the ceiling so you have to crane your neck to see some of them.

and there's video playing. Somehow the audio is contained in the area that you are in. I'm not sure how they do that. It must be the same idea as a directional microphone I'm thinking.
Underneath this particular video screen are a number of 50's throwbacks jiving and playing air guitar. I'm standing close almost doing the same thing. This is Rock N' Roll surely, not Country. It's strange how the musical crossover has evolved. Also here were audio booths that were in a kind of spiral studio (that too would contain the audio possibly?)

 Some shiny stuff now.
So called because he had more than one thousand silver dollars sewn into the upholstery.

Elvis gold.....

....and more.

Smokey and the Bandit's car.
Remember Jerry Reed. Though Jerry Reed is on the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame list he's not an inductee in the CMH of F. 
There's a campaign to get him inducted. 

I get my hands on a Marty Robbins Gold Disc (get it ?)

Tammy, Elvis and Conway Gold Discs.

There are two high walls back to back filled with gold discs.
These two ladies might have been from Texas.

The four above are all connected.
Gram Parsons was only 26 when he died from morphine and alcohol poisoning, but he certainly had influence in alternative country music.
I must admit I knew very little of Rodney Crowell  till a friend put me on to him. He's good.
Emmylou Harris goes back a way and still does Transatlantic Sessions I believe. She also does quite a lot of collaborations, one that springs to mind was with Mark Knofler.
I think I first heard of Steve Earle over in Ireland a few years back. The Irish love a rebel. His 'Galway Girl' has gone round the globe a few times.

Now I'm into the circular Hall of Fame itself.

Here's just a few of the inductees that I've had the pleasure of listening to.
I do need to mention to anyone who has never heard Flatt and Scruggs's  'Foggy Mountain Breakdown' you've never lived.

I didn't know Roy Rogers was still around in the 90's.  I used to see his films at the local cinema when I was a boy. I also remember comic strips with him and Trigger and Dale Evans.

I also thought this would make an ideal spot for a panorama.

I really enjoyed doing that !
That's almost it.

After leaving the Hall of Fame you arrive at the retail outlets.
The bar was reasonably busy.

There were still one or two displays built into the walls as those above.

Then there were the shopping outlets.
The whole building is integrated with the Omni Hotel of  which the foyer above belongs.

I've had a fabulous day.
Tomorrow I head for Florida. 


  1. I absolutely love this tour from the outfits to the signs, to the menu...and the layout of the auditorium! Thank you so much for sharing.

  2. Wow! As much a pilgrimage as a holiday. You fairly packed a lot in. I like Emmylou Harris, especially her early stuff like Evangline(I can still sing every verse of that at parties) and Spanish Johnny as I like the traditional story songs.
    Great trip through musical history.

  3. Thanks Linda, that was a special day to me, one for the archives definitely.

    Cheers Bob, it's a funny thing, but even though Waylon Jennings is an inductee into the Hall of Fame, there was scant mention of him around Nashville. Maybe he was too much of a bad boy.


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