The good thing about playing in the city you live is the chance to get home for a day and sleep in your own bed, go to your own gym and run a few errands just like a normal person. That combined with a little gardening and the day was gone, it was time to get to the The Ryman Auditorium for tonight's show.
The Ryman first opened it's doors in 1892 as a religious tabernacle built by Thomas Ryman a steamboat captain who found religion. It also served as a venue for speeches and some of the world's leading orchestras and entertainers in all fields from Paul Whiteman's Orchestra to W. C. Fields. In 1943 the popular radio barn dance program, The Grand Ole Opry began using the Ryman for performances on Saturday nights as their audiences had become so large that a bigger facility to accommodate them was needed. The Ryman became the most famous home of the Opry and the show remained there until it was moved to a more modern theatre built in Opryland. The Ryman fell into disuse due to poor repair and not being able to cope with the needs of a modern production. It was used primarily as a tourist attraction for people to walk through and have their photos taken on the stage where Roy Acuff, Eddy Arnold, Hank Williams and so many other famous country stars had stood.
In the mid-1980's a comprehensive restoration took place to stabilise the balcony and modernise the facility which included building a new lobby, entrance and dressing rooms. It was a brilliant modernisation that still retained the sound, vibe and feel of the original. The Ryman is now a venue for everything from Coldplay to Eddie Izzard and blues to bluegrass. For a couple of months every year The Grand Ole Opry comes home to the Ryman for performances bringing it all full circle. It's an historic theatre, one we always look forward to playing and just a little bit humbling. I always get a little nervous when playing here.
We all have loads of friends who turned out and it was a great show with a crowd of good folks who hung on every note. Just when I though the evening couldn't have been any better, we came off stage to find 7 orders of Buffalo wings from our favourite local brewpub Blackstone's. Within three minutes of us leaving the stage, we were up to our elbows in tabasco coated, juicy chicken, bleu cheese dip and freshly brewed beer. If you're in Nashville, go to Blackstone's and try their Red Spring Ale, it's my fave.
A reception followed in the Ryman bar and it was great seeing so many friends and folks. A long day and a late night. Tomorrow we're off for a show in Kettering, Ohio.