After the Grand Ole Opry left the Ryman Auditorium, country legend Roy Acuff said the redbrick building with its Gothic arches and stained glass windows might as well be torn down. The Ryman had been home to performances and broadcasts since the 1940s, but it was in poor condition and lacked air-conditioning and proper dressing rooms. Fortunately, its legacy as “The Mother Church of Country Music” prevailed and, after years of sitting practically empty, the auditorium was renovated and began hosting shows once again. Originally built as a church, the grand hall has spectacular acoustics and a lingering magic in its pews from all those years spent witnessing country music history. A trip here is practically obligatory when visiting the Music City.
Strut Your Stuff at the Ryman
The original home of the Grand Ole Opry, the Ryman is a place of pilgrimage for every country music fan. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see a gig there—so we went one better and got up onstage ourselves. The Ryman tour—a good introduction to the history of country music for those who can name only one Johnny Cash number—concludes at the front of the stalls, where you’re invited to get up in front of the mic and pose for a picture. Tip one: You don’t need to pay for the official shot—just take your own. Tip two: The guitars are real! So be brave. We got through a verse and a chorus of “Rabbit in the Log” before shyness overtook us, but where else do you get the chance to really experience the acoustics—and to be the star?
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