Big day in Nashville -up early and first stop is the Ryman Theatre for a self guided and backstage tour. This theatre started 90 years ago. The man about town at the time Captain Ryman was wealthy and the town had a reputaton for knowing how to have a good time (if you know what I mean?) – often led by him. As was common at that time where there was fun and booze there was also likely to be a strong contingent of religion trying to counter that and save souls (if you’ve seen Guys and Dolls – you will get the picture). So the preacher of the town was becoming quite influential and Captain Ryman decided to visit his tabernacle and tell him exactly what he thought of that in no uncertain words – but instead by the time he came out of the visit he had been converted and so funded the building of this amazing building which subsequently became the home of the Grand Ole Opry – a live performance three times a week that is also live broadcast on radio – but more of that later.
So, as I keep finding in the South there are constant examples of strong women. In 1905 a single mother Lula Naff was a secretary at the Ryman – four years later the owners could not turn a profit so it was going to be closed down. She decided to lease the buildings and turns a profit in the first year. 4 years later the Board made her the CEO and she turned a profit every single year, and each year was better than the last. She attracted artists from Broadway shows and individuals to perform who were as wide ranging as Yehudi Menuhin to Katherine Hepburn. She was in the role for 55 years – incredible. It nearly closed down again in the 80’s but once again a lady stepped in – this time Emmylou Harris who helped raise the funds to fully restore it. Now it has had everyone from Ed Sheehan to Coldplay to Taylor Swift and it still hosts the radio show. Well worth visiting.
While I was in Country and Western mode I dived into the Johnny Cash (the man in black) museum and now can’t stop humming Ghost Riders in the Sky (that’s the one with the chorus “yipeee i o, yippee i a, ghost riders in the sky”.
En route I passed a squillion boot and stetson shops.
And don’t worry – I didn’t actually buy the stetson – just trying on like my friend Emma (of Russian hat fame and who also incidentally is a big fan of the tv show Nashville) would do!
More to come – I visit the Parthenon (via the City trolley bus!), the Country and Western Hall of Fame, a live performance of the Grand Ole Opry – live sounds to be shared.
I’ve always thought of myself as a rock chick (well in my mind anyway) and that C & W was not my musical genre but have to say that listening from everything from hill billy, blue grass, traditional and now modern – it is all very addictive and I can now understand why there are so many million fans – I may even download some tunes.
Ps. Just spoke to the hotel concierge who said he had always wanted to go to Australia but heard there were giant spiders everywhere so was too scared to go?!