Grand Ole Opry

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NASHVILLE

We were amazed by the kindness and generosity with which we were treated in Nashville, starting with the Grand Ole Opry.

Months ago, we checked out the Opry website and considered attending a concert at “the mother church of country music.”  Yet we did not purchase tickets because we were uncertain of the exact date that we would be in Nashville and we wished to remain flexible.  Then, a week before our trip, I checked the Opry website again and noticed that tickets were still available for a Tuesday night show that included performances by Montgomery Gentry, Rascal Flatts, David Nail and Craig Morgan.  I called the Opry while we were sitting in traffic on the way to work one morning, only to learn that the only seats remaining were on the upper levels.  I explained that, due to my mobility difficulties, I am unable to climb stairs.  She put me on hold while she consulted with her supervisor and, to our surprise, found us seats on the main floor near the entrance!  Plus, we were charged the same rate as if we had been seated up in the nosebleed section.

As if that weren’t enough, the Opry staff member on the phone told us where the handicapped parking is, then offered to come pick us up in a golf cart and deliver us to the front door of the concert venue!  And this is precisely what they did.  We felt like celebrities.  The staff onsite were highly solicitous and ensured that all the arrangements went smoothly.

By the way, the show was amazing!  Rascal Flatts did not perform due to illness, but that meant that Craig Morgan got to do an extra long set.  The surprise of the night, at least for me, was the appearance of Jeannie Seeley.  A true country music veteran (unknown by many modern country fans), she has been a member of the Opry cast for fifty years.  Even at the age of 76, she blew me away with her rendition of “What’s Going on in Your World?,” made famous by George Strait.  Of course, her performance of “Ode to Billy Joe” was pretty cool, too!

All told, we had a total blast, notwithstanding a couple of thousand people squeezing into the gift shop following the show.

Below are a few photos for your enjoyment.  (I know, flash photography on an iPhone leaves something to be desired.)

Mississippi River Bridge

En route to Nashville:  Mississippi River bridge from Arkansas heading into Memphis.

Memphis Skyline

Memphis skyline

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Inside the Opry

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Montgomery Gentry performing

Opry David Nail

David Nail performing

Opry Jeannie Seeley

The incomparable Jeannie Seeley

 

My American Idol

mike

Let me tell you a little about my nephew (exercising uncle’s bragging rights today).  This country boy, a good-looking single guy in his early twenties, shares a small house with a roommate and a menagerie of dogs and cats.  Lately, he has been doing things such as:

  • Helping to dig trenches and lay pipe at his grandmother’s house
  • Babysitting his little niece all week so his sister can attend her college classes
  • Running errands and making deliveries for his mother

I am very proud of his dedication to his extended family, and it should come as no surprise that he has had some good things come into his life recently:

  • Following an extended period of unemployment, he was just hired for an excellent job.
  • He has advanced through the first two rounds of the Tri-Counties Talent Search and will be a contestant in the sing-off finale for a $1000 prize on November 2.
  • One of his dogs recently blessed him with a litter of 7 puppies.

Okay, maybe that last one isn’t such a great thing.  Particularly since one of his other dogs summarily killed two of the puppies in a fit of canine jealousy.  And also since he returned home today to find that mama had pooped everywhere and that the five puppies were covered in it.  When I last left him, he was searching for something gentle enough to be used for shampoo on two-week old puppy fur.

I am particularly impressed by my nephew’s talents as a country singer.  In the first round of the competition, he performed Craig Morgan’s “That’s What I Love About Sunday.”  The three judges loved his voice but quibbled about his outfit.  The crotchety one, reminiscent of Simon Cowell, griped that my nephew “sounded like Sunday but looked like Monday.”  Apparently, he wasn’t supposed to look like a country boy singing a country song.  I suppose he should have worn a suit to show that it was Sunday and he was going to church.  (Who wears a suit to church anymore anyway?)

I wish I had been there to serve up a good ol’ Bronx cheer to that judge.  For the second round of the competition, however, I was there.  There were about 30 singers, some as young as twelve years old, performing in front of the judges.  This shindig took place in the gymnasium of a local church school, with the audience paying a dollar for the privilege of sitting in the bleachers or on hard plastic chairs for four hours or so.

My nephew sat down next to me while I went to the snack stand to get a hot dog for him and popcorn for me.  Several of his friends from high school were there competing; some took photos with him and others just clapped him on the back, shook his hand and wished him good luck.  All of them know how talented Steven is.

He wore a number, just like the contestants on all the TV talent shows.  We had barely settled in when his number was called, the second act of the day.  He had brought a backing track with him, purchased online and burned onto a CD.  As he confidently walked to the stage, I could tell he was a pro.  This dude was ready.

After soliciting suggestions from everyone he knows, my nephew decided on performing Blake Shelton’s “The More I Drink.”  He knocked it out of the park.  It’s hard to remain objective about the talent of a family member, but I tell you, friends, he was good.

The judges agreed with my assessment.  Mr. Simon-Cowell-wannabe had to find something to complain about, and we already know that a singer’s outfit is particularly important to this guy for some perverted reason.  So he faulted my nephew for not wearing a Stetson.

Oh, please.  I suppose he should have laid out the dough for a pair of leather shit-kicking boots, too.  Or perhaps a full equestrian outfit would have better suited this judge’s taste?

The important thing is that my nephew made it through to the finals.  Now he has the task of choosing a song and learning it.  And, apparently, of choosing a wardrobe that will please this yahoo of a judge.

First, he told me that he will wear what he wants and doesn’t give a hoot about what the judges think of his outfit.  Then he said that he didn’t have a cowboy hat in any event.  Finally, he conceded that he could borrow one from a friend.

Now that’s the guy that I know and love.  I’m sure there’s a life lesson in this somewhere.  Maybe it’s that you sometimes have to give a little on the stupid small stuff to get what you really want?  Perhaps it’s that there are times when we have to suffer fools?

Be that as it may, I am proud of my nephew’s accomplishments and I know he will be a force to be reckoned with at the finale.  I look forward to watching him kick some butt.

The only question remaining is where he should go from here.  Personally, I think he has at least three good opportunities to choose from:  The X-Factor, America’s Got Talent or American Idol.

Coming soon to a TV near you.