The Day We Went Back Stage At The Grand ole Opry
The Day We Went Back Stage At The Grand ole Opry
Saturday June 22, 2013 Cathy and I were fortunate to be invited backstage by Jean Shepard. It was our first ever look at the inner circle of the world famous Grand Ole Opry. It was exciting and everything we imagined it would be, and more.
We were greeted at the guard shack with a smile by a very competent guard who gave us all the info we needed to make sure we parked our car in the right place, where it would not be in the way of the huge tour busses that were parked there belonging to the big stars performing at the Opry for the Saturday night performance.
From the minute we entered the back stage area the magic of the Opry jumped up out of nowhere and hit us dead center like a bolt of lightning. The host at the door explained where we could go and where we could not go and what we could and could not do, and then we were in.
The first thing we were dazzled by were the amazing pictures that were hanging from the walls featuring almost all the Country Legends, these pictures were so clear and in such high quality that it looked as though the stars were alive and performing right there in the frame of their picture in the very same hallways they walked when they were at the Opry.
My first thought was when looking at a very lifelike picture of George Jones, that we may even finally have met George had he still been alive and at the Opry on that night.
We then peaked into all the dressing rooms where the stars rested and relaxed between performances. Naturally we only stood at the door and never entered as we were told not to enter.
We were good with that as we were not performing at the Opry and had no business there anyway. There must have been almost 20 dressing rooms, everyone looking amazing, with memorabilia all over the walls and fitted out for relaxing the stars before, between and after their shows.
Our first Country legend we bumped into was George Hamilton IV who was so friendly and happy to us and asked us so many questions about South Africa and even recalled some of the artists he met with while on touring in South Africa many years ago.
We then preceded to the staging area where we took some pictures and took in the magic of being behind the curtain of the world famous Grand ole Opry stage area.
We saw the stage managers, stage hands, musicians, dancers, cameramen walking around doing all kinds of duties, for example, people walking around tuning guitars, placing music sheets on stands and doing everything that needed to be done to get the show ready for the 7pm opening.
It was finally 7pm and Jeannie Seely opened the show for the night and soon afterwards we saw one star after another perform their current and past hits to the delight of the fans young and old who filled almost every empty seat at Opry.
I was pleasantly surprised at how well the Country Legends still performed, they were absolutely terrific and so professional. Jim Ed Brown almost brought tears to my eyes when he sang “In Style Again” his latest hit released by Century II Records, Nashville.
I could not at that point even begin to imagine how today’s country music radio and TV, could even begin to believe that they don’t have to play the country legends anymore.
Today’s country is without doubt very popular but yesterday’s country is also, there should be a balance between the two, I for one would welcome that with open arms. I am sure that there are a few million country fans in the USA alone who would love to see the Country Legends on TV up front with the new artists all day and everyday on the major TV networks.
The show finally ended and we had to make our way out of the backstage area of the Opry and go back to our hotel. We did manage to have a few words and a few pictures taken with, Jim Ed Brown, Moe Bandy, George Hamilton and Riders In The Sky. On the way out we walked right behind Jan Howard, but did not want to interrupt her to ask to take a picture with her, she was on her way home and we decided to respect her privacy.
Cathy and I want to thank Jean Shepard, for taking the time to arrange the back stage passes for us, and also a big thank you to Keith Bradford who made this all possible two years ago when we first started working together. Without Keith’s support we would never have met wonderful people like Marty Martel, Rhonnie Scheuerman, the late James Allen, Allen Karl, and the list is unfortunately way to long to even begin to mention here. There are many more people that we have met along the way and thank them too and especially the independent artists whom we have such a wonderful relationship with and who have even become our friends. It is without doubt that there would never have been a Wildhorse Entertainment or Independent Superstars without these wonderful people. We are fortunate, so very, very fortunate to know you all, we thank you so very very much and apologize for not mentioning all your names here, but in our hearts your names are held very close, and so they shall be for as long as we are alive and well.
Thank you Frans and Cathy Maritz
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