Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The Opry, the City, the Flood

In earlier postings, I mentioned that a casualty of the Great Flood of May 2010 was the Grand Ole Opry House. And how despite this, "the show goes on"!

Well, the Grand Ole Opry show, approaching its 85th anniversary on the airwaves, goes on being inextricably bound -- joined at the heart, if you will -- with the city that's its home. A city that certainly did NOT even like or accept the show in its earliest decades!

That's right, dear reader. When the WSM Barn Dance commenced in 1925 it immediately began attracting into Nashville the rural farm-folk who listened religiously to WSM on Saturday nights. Consider the city's proud nickname then: "The Athens of the South". Nashville aspired to be a leader in education, fine arts and culture worthy of that tag. A hillbilly radio show -- even (perhaps especially!) after the name change to Grand Ole Opry -- wasn't what the blue-blood, country-club types who led the city in business, politics and society, had in mind. Comedienne Minnie Pearl, alter ego of high society woman Sarah Ophelia Colley Cannon (she and pilot husband Henry Cannon lived next door to the Governor's Mansion), tells in her autobiography about opposition of Nashville residents to WSM and its show. She herself hadn't paid much attention to the Opry, even tho' her lumberman daddy in Centerville liked it, before she was invited to appear on the show.

But as I've said before, time changes everything! The show fostered the music industry's birth and growth here, and not just Country and Western either! A WSM radio man revived the tag "Music City", first applied by none other than Queen Victoria when she heard the Fisk Jubilee Singers. National Life and Accident, parent company of WSM and its Opry, chose to move the show out of the inadequate Ryman Auditorium and into a suburban complex which would include a theme park. Opryland helped make Nashville a major tourist and vacation destination!

Eventually, Nashvillians were won over to the Opry and country music. Now, when one enters Metro Nashville-Davidson County on the highways, the green signs with white lettering greet you with "Entering Metro. . . Home of the Grand Ole Opry".

Tonite the Opry will return the compliment by helping with the Nashville flood recovery and relief. The Tuesday Nite Opry, in Ryman Auditorium where it was already scheduled as kick-off of the anniversary celebration, will include appeals for audience donations to the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee and its flood relief efforts.

The oh-so-special show will happen in two parts, the first a typical Tue. Nite Opry format, and the second a one-of-a-kind Opry Guitar Jam for Flood Relief. Prominent Opry cast members and million-sellers Steve Wariner, Ricky Skaggs, Brad Paisley and Vince Gill will perform, first individually and then jammin' together! Not only will this be broadcast live on WSM-AM 650 and at wsmonline.com, but the Opry Website will video-cast it.

How timely is this, that the show that's launching its 85th anniversary festivities -- in its best-known former home, in the heart of the city -- is lending its efforts to the flood disaster recovery of a hometown that took awhile to embrace it but now does so with a bear hug!


PetPete said...

Please see the attached.

This is something we believe will be of great interest to your guitar-loving pals.

Feel free to share this with them.

John Maher


Reunion Blues and Ricky Skaggs team up to promote Nashville’s 1st RB Vintage Guitars Road Show
NASHVILLE, Tenn., May 20 - - When Reunion Blues, the music industry’s premier instrument case and bag company, signed Grammy award winning country music artist Ricky Skaggs as their newest product endorser, they had no idea their first collaboration would be to help gather together musicians in the wake of the worst flooding in Nashville’s memory.
Reunion Blues is bringing their popular Vintage Guitars Road Show to Nashville on June 20 as part of Summer NAMM’s “Wanna Play Music Sunday” at the Nashville Convention Center. Local musicians and their families and friends are encouraged to pull those old guitars out of the attic and bring them to the Summer NAMM registration area for a free professional appraisal by vintage guitar expert Allan Chiles from vintageguitarpro.com. D’Addario, the world’s largest string maker, will also be there to offer a free guitar restringing by Tom Spaulding, guitar tech for Keith Urban’s band, Aerosmith and John Fogerty. During this event, free Premier Guitar Magazine online subscriptions will also be available.
According to Reunion Blues, Ricky Skaggs is not currently scheduled to make an appearance at this Vintage Guitars Road Show, but was quoted as saying he was happy to lend his name to assist in spreading the word if the end result helps just one more Nashville citizen adversely affected by recent events. “This is a great opportunity for local players to meet with other industry professionals and catch up with people they haven’t seen for years… especially after the flood.” said Ricky. “The intent is to provide a no-cost opportunity for Nashville musicians to reconnect and help one another get more gigs.”
Bring your guitar to the NAMM registration area from 10:00 to 4:00 PM on Sunday, June 20, and they will direct you from there. Only one guitar per person, please. Everyone will also have the opportunity to enter a drawing for any RB Continental case. Discount coupons for access to the NAMM convention down the hall will also be available, with secure storage of your instrument offered so you will not have to carry it around all day.
Visit www.reunionblues.com and click on the Facebook link, or visit www.namm.org.

(Photo available on request.)

Glen Alan Graham said...

The Tuesday Nite Opry last evening was gr-r-r-reat to listen to! Particularly the Guitar Jam that featured Steve Wariner, Ricky Skaggs, Brad Paisley and Vince Gill. Wariner, who opened the jam session as the first soloist (before they all got together to jam), paid tribute to his mentor, the late Chet Atkins. A good online report is at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/huff-wires/20100525/us-music-opry-all-star-jam/.