Monday, September 15, 2003

Grand Ole Opry

For those of you who may have missed the blog entry on, I spent the weekend in Nashville as a guest of the Grand Ole Opry.

First, no, I wasn't on television, but given the fact that the Opry is a 6 hour long deal and having only one hour televised really makes it a bit tricky to get on the televised portion. Frankly it could have happened, but after watching how it all comes together I'm very surprised how any of it happens at all.

You'd think in nearly 80 years they'd have a really structured and minute by minute chart of what's going to happen when. You'd be wrong. Sure there's a schedule, and everyone makes an attempt to keep up, but a live show such as the Opry has many opportunities for unexpected changes. However, no one seems to be bothered about any of this at all. Vince Gill pointed out that it was chaos but, "Really laid back chaos."

I started out yo-yoing outside where people were waiting to get in. Just yo-yoing, chatting, and creating "yo-yo atmosphere". Keeping in mind that most Opry attendees are over 50, and all know about Roy Acuff, it was very well accepted. Yes, I had a lot of requests for Walk the Dog, Rock the Baby, Around the World, and "That thing where it goes up in the air". It was fun.

As it's getting close to show time someone decides that maybe I should go on with the opening act. So the race was on - Get back stage, get set up, dodge some Opry stars, change strings, and then wait until I'm called out. So the curtain comes up and I step out to the edge of the stage and notice it's a long way down to the front row - I made a quick mental note to not fall off the stage. I yo-yoed while the Minnie Pearl impersonator did her thing... If I stopped, she'd prod me to keep yoyoing. I'm sure she made fun of me more than once... and I know she was funny, because the crowd kept laughing - either that or they were laughing at me. I’m sure it was her. I’m not nearly that funny, especially with a yo-yo. Am I?

Then it was over, much like it began, but slower. I wander backstage, look around, see the Opry stars and finally make my way to my seat to watch the rest of the show. It was, indeed, an impressive production.

Best of all I was treated with the greatest respect. The Opry paid for our room, and food. The gentleman that invited me there shuttled me back and forth from the hotel (Opryland Hotel - wow - ). If you’re ever just passing through Nashville go check it out. Tina, Samuel and I felt like special guests of the Opry. Too often I’ve done shows where I felt more like a burden than a guest.

Thanks to Joe Mitchell for passing along the “job” - Thanks to Jason Parrish for having something else to do. Thanks to Richard Williams for keeping the AYYA site functional, and to Greg for keeping it online. And a huge thanks to the folks at the Opry, Texas Ruby, Cousin Minnie and more than anyone, Dan Rogers for inviting me and taking time out of his busy schedule to be a chauffeur to a yo-yo player’s wife and kid.


p.s. Yes, that's me in the picture - no, not in the dress, sheesh... Wish I had better pictures, but given the size of the Auditorium I should probably be glad I showed up at all. :)