No visit to the country music capital of America would be complete without taking in a show at the number one Nashville attraction - the Grand Ole Opry. We had been to the Ryman Auditorium, in which the Opry had performed until 1974, but wanted to see the larger "new" venue specifically built for the Opry. Without a car to use, it was necessary for us to take the #34 MTA bus to the Opey Mills Mall, nine miles east of downtown. The first thing we did was to take a one hour back stage tour. While the "new" Opry is technologically advanced over the Ryman Auditorium, to us, it did not provide the same friendly atmosphere. Sure, the pews came with comfortable cushions, but the place felt sterile, while the Ryman felt like an old friend. On the positive side, the back stage area was much bigger and had more dressing rooms. And there are no "bad" seats in the audience area, as there are multiple large screen t.v.'s throughout the hall. Our tour included going on stage to where the six foot diameter circle, made of wood taken from part of the Ryman stage, was placed. This symbolizes that the "...circle remains unbroken." While on stage, our tour group sang "You are my sunshine", thus making it possible for us to claim we had "performed" at the Grand Ole Opry.
Following this, we attended a wonderful two and a half hour performance, during which we saw such country legends as Connie Smith, Bill Anderson, the Swon Brothers, Ricky Skaggs, and Tracy Lawrence, along with the Irish folk group, Altan. There were some surprises during the show, i.e. staff walking across the stage, behind the artists, in the middle of the performance (it seemed like Grand Central Station), and some adult language (interestingly, earlier artist contracts, e.g. Jerry Lee Lewis, specifically prohibited profanity). In addition, some of the performers tried to distract the announcer by playing tricks on him, while he read commercial messages. We had no preconceived notion of what it would be like to be in the audience during a live radio show. What a wonderful time we had!