This past Friday and Saturday, my wife and I were in Nashville and attended both Opry shows. This was her 1st trip in 2 years, so I always enjoy hearing her opinions on what she sees and hears as it offers me a perspective of someone who does not see the show as often as I do. And, she does know enough about the Opry to offer some solid opinions on the show.
For the Friday Night Opry, the Opry House was actually pretty full. The lower level was completely filled as was a good portion of the balcony. I would guess the crowd at about 3,500, which for this time of the year, is very good. All the artists that were on the show looked and sounded great. Jean Shepard especially looked better than when I last saw her. Jeannie Seely looked a little ragged, but then she was saying that she was on the Opry cruise the previous week and apparently a number of people on the ship caught a virus, including Jeannie. But, she sounded good. The biggest reactions of the night were for Montgomery Gentry and Josh Turner, as you would expect. They each did 3 songs and really played up to the crowd. I also thought Diamond Rio did an excellent job. We were sitting in the 2nd row and Marty Roe of Diamond Rio gave my wife a little smile and wave, which made her day. (She did wave back). A new group called The Farm, was also on and I can't say I was really impressed by them. They are a trio and sounded good, but I just don't think they have the makings of being a big act. There already seems to be a number of country trio's out there right now. But all in all, Friday night was a good one.
Saturday night was very special. Thanks a friend in Nashville, (no names, please), we were granted access to backstage. I have to say, you know you are in for a special night when you park in the same lot as the artists and the bands behind the Opry House and when you walk into the performer's entrance to check in, (praying you are on the list), you are standing behind Jimmy C Newman and waiting for him to finish up at the desk. Anyways, it was a great night. We spent time walking the halls and checking out the dressing rooms and spent some time just hanging out in the green room behind the stage. We also able to be on the stage right before the show and able to say hi to the musicians getting ready to go. For most of the show, we either stood in the wings or sat in the seats up on the stage. (we sat right behind the drums and I was just amazed at how the musicians were switching off and communicating between the songs). My wife was thrilled that John Conlee came over and sat next to her for one of the segments. We also were able to get up close and personal with Craig Morgan, Buck White, Sunny Sweeney and James Wesley. They were all nice and pleasant and allowed us to listen in on conversations that they had with their band and friends.
As far as the show, it was another good crowd, with again the lower level pretty much filled out and all the balcony except for the very top rows and the wings. I would guess the crowd at about 3,800 or so. As with Friday night, it was a fine show and all the artists did a great job. There was a convention in town, the Wild Turkey Federation, and I think they made up a number of the crowd on Saturday. I have heard, though I cannot confirm it, that when conventions have been coming to town and staying at the Gaylord Opryland, that many of those attending the conventions have been offered free or greatly discounted tickets to the Opry. I do know that WSM was giving away lots of tickets over the weekend, so those 2 things might have helped to inflate the crowd. When we did walk out front for a short period of time, I did hear a few comments from people that while they were enjoying the show, they did not seem happy that there were no big names on the show.
As far as any news, I did not hear anything big. Jimmy Dickens has not been on the Opry for the past 2 weeks and I heard that it is just a case of Jimmy being week to week, which at his age, is understandable. Carol Lee Cooper is still not back and there was not a word of mention about her. Jack Greene has not been on the Opry so far this year, but I did not hear any information on Jack. I did hear that Jeanne Pruett was backstage but I did not see her. Some also said that she was at the Opry the week before also. There is no updated news on the museum, but the Opry is really pushing and promoting the backstage tours, so that might be the answer to what happens to the museum. No news on any new members, but a lot of people speak highly of Rhonda Vincent and wonder why she still is not a member.
As we were driving back yesterday, I asked my wife what she thought. She did say that both shows were very good. She did venture the opinion that as good as Montgomery Gentry are, they are not country. She also thought when Diamond Rio first came on stage that they were the stagehands moving equipment around as they were dressed pretty bad. And let's just say Josh Turner was not in his Sunday best. Like me, she was surprised at the crowd, thinking it would be a lot smaller. And, she was blown away by being backstage on Saturday night. She did say that when you read about the Opry and watch the videos, they give the impression that most of the Opry artists come before the show starts and hang around the dressing rooms all night, just visiting and playing their instruments. But she said that she saw a number of the artists come in just before their segments and leave right afterwards, which did surprise her.
Regarding the Hall of Fame, I did not hear anything specific, but there seems to be an opinion of some that Garth Brooks might be the one to get in this year. The comment seemed to be that he would get in eventually, so why not just get it over with. Interesting line of thought, but I just don't know.
It was a good weekend in Nashville and it is always great to be able to attend an Opry show. As my schedule looks right now, I should be back in mid-April.