After the Grand Ole Opry left the Ryman Auditorium and relocated, country legend Roy Acuff said the red brick 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 broken-down condition and lacked air-conditioning and proper dressing rooms. Happily, its legacy as "the mother church of country music" prevailed: After years of sitting practically empty, the Ryman was renovated and once again has an active schedule of performances. 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.
By Jennifer Justus, AFAR Local Expert
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?
By Emma John, AFAR Local Expert
116 5th Ave N, Nashville, TN 37219, USA
Sun - Sat 9am - 4pm