I've been wanting to write about the Grand Ole Opry ever since I started this blog and for some reason it's just never happened. So I'm very happy to be getting this post out there as part of my CMA Fest recap. Just a heads up: this is pretty picture heavy. In case I haven't mentioned it before, clicking on a picture should enlarge it. Every picture I post is one I took, unless I say otherwise. All of these in here are mine. CMA Fest really got me in touch with the zoom on my camera, I'll say that. I'm going to talk more about this particular Opry show after the break, but first I wanted to talk a bit about the Opry in general.
Starting with some basic facts that I'm sure some, if not many, of you will already know. The Grand Ole Opry is a radio show broadcast on WSM 650AM. They've recently created an app and you can listen to the shows on that as well. The Opry started in 1925 and is the longest running radio show in the United States. I've been to several Opry shows and I wish that everyone could go to a Grand Ole Opry show at least once in their lifetime. I'm not just talking about country fans either; I mean people in general. It's an American institution and one of the best things about country music. Go to an Opry show and you'll see current country stars mixed in with up-and-comers and legends. There's really nothing else like it.
Some of you have probably been to one or more Opry shows. And there might be some of you who have never been to a show, but have watched one of the specials on GAC. I'd like to address the second group for a moment. I've seen people complaining about how you don't see legends on the Opry stage anymore and I'd bet money that most of them say that because of the TV specials. I love that GAC showcases the Opry, but you need to keep in mind that it is a TV show. The shows you see featured don't show how it really is. There are country music legends performing at every Opry show. But for some reason they never make the specials. Instead, they take all of the current popular or upcoming acts and stick them in the same segment. And instead of having each artist do their entire set like they usually do, they'll have them do one song and then come back later to do another. This is not typical. At a standard Grand Ole Opry show, an artist will come out and do their entire set and that's it. Sometimes you might see someone come back to sing with another act. And then sometimes artists will be in town and randomly decide to swing by and do a song or two.
So how long is a typical Grand Ole Opry set, you may be wondering? An act will usually do somewhere between one and four songs. I've been to a couple of shows where an artist did five. These were usually when said artist was a big name closing the show. The Opry is a great way to be introduced to an act, in my opinion. They don't get much time so you can bet that they're going to hit you with their best. And then if that act goes on to become one of your favorites, there's something pretty cool about having first seen them at the Opry.
For me anyway and I'm sure for several others. See, I love the Opry. It is one of my favorite things to experience. I say experience because that's really what it is; you don't simply go to the Opry, you experience it. I don't believe there's a such thing as a bad Opry show, though some shows are better than others. The shows during the week of CMA Fest are probably some of the strongest shows of the year. So let's talk a little bit about this one.