Today was the day to visit the Ryman Auditorium, but first we had to eat and drop some laundry off. So we visited The Waffle House for breakfast – it’s not quite the same as Ihop, but it gives a more interesting cross section of life to observe. Once we’d eaten we took our laundry to get it washed and dropped it off at a wash and fold service run by a very lovely woman named Rebecca. She asked us where we were from and when we told her Canada and that we were on a road trip, she was happy to tell us that next year she’s going ‘on retirement’ and will be heading to Florida and Alabama to visit her kids. She was very friendly and pretty much what we’ve started to expect from the people in Tennessee.
Once that was taken care of we headed to the Ryman for a tour. We did the backstage tour that allowed us access to the dressing rooms of the stars that perform there. Our tour guide, Nathan, was really good – he had lots of information and was interesting and funny. We saw John and June Cash’s dressing room which had very cool snake skin wallpaper on one wall, then the Hank Williams room, the Women of Country dressing room. The legends room had info about Ms Lula Clay Knaff who was the manager of the Ryman for 35 years – booking in acts and keeping the auditorium a successful business venture. She started here role in 1920 and retired in 1955 at the age of 80. I’m including a link here – please have a look at the history of this enterprising woman.
We continued down to the stage and were able to stand right on the spot that so many amazing performers have been – Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Hank Williams – the list is endless. The building really has a long and varied history, starting as the Union Gospel Tabernacle and ending as one of the most famous auditoriums in the world. I sat for a few moments in one of the pews facing the stage and wished I was watching one of the amazing acts that were there. We finished the tour with a video of the Ryman’s history and it was entertaining as well as informative. We really enjoyed this tour and if you are in Nashville it’s well worth the money to take it.
After the Ryman we headed out for a drive and to do a little bit of shopping – stopped at a Walmart which really is quite a different experience in the States. If you’ve ever seen the ‘people of walmart’ videos on youtube, you know what I’m talking about – Warren saw a woman with a baby in a baby carrier on her front – then realized it was a pomeranian, not really a baby. And we saw quite a few interesting outfits… it was a different type of shopping adventure for sure. On our way to the Walmart we stopped to turn around and found ourselves in the parking lot of the FBI – Yikes!
Tomorrow is the Merle Haggard Tribute concert at the Bridgestone Arena!! We are so excited! I can’t wait to tell you all about it!