Thursday, April 19, 2007

Grand Ole Time At Opryland

For some reason, I have keep going through Nashville. Two years ago, I accompanied my wife to a conference. Last summer, we stopped briefly while passing through from Memphis to North Carolina. This week, I am the one at the conference and my wife is tagging along.

Only I am not in Nashville, I am in Opryland. Opryland is a huge convention center and resort next to a giant mall. It has about as much similarity to Nashville as Epcot does to Europe. Outside my window is a giant climate-controlled atrium where it looks like a huge antebellum plantation but it isn't.

When I was a kid, we came to the real Opryland once. It was a cheesy theme park where all the areas were named after music genres. Naturally there was Countryland and Bluegrassland and GospelLand and even OldiesRockAndRollLand. There may have been rides, but all I remember is running across music revue after music revue where a bunch of college kids in matching costumes sang a medley of songs having some loose connection to whatever themeland the revue was in.

For some reason, every show ended with "Rocky Top" no matter what type of music they were singing. By the end of the day, I had heard "Rocky Top" about five million times. Still, I had fun and rode rides and listened to lots and lots of music.

The hotel at the park kept expanding until now it takes about three hours to walk from one end of it to another. The park got torn down to put in a huge racetrack shaped Mills Outlet Mall which has nearly exactly all the same stores as the Mills Outlet Mall five minutes from my house.

The relocated Grand Ole Opry sits right between the hotel and the mall and they have shows every Tuesday, Friday, and twice on Saturday. We got in too late to catch the Tuesday show, but it starred Porter Wagoner who must be older than Dolly Parton's wigs. They have a big sign saying that guns are not permitted inside, even if you have a carry permit. That sort of disclaimer is necessary in places like Tennessee, and Virginia for that matter.

You can still hear music at Opryland, but if you don't want to shell out tons of money for a riverboat ride, you have to catch a band at one of the themed bars in the resort. Last night at the Irish bar, we saw a folk trio called Def Leprechuan. Their theme song is "Pour Some Guinness On Me." Then we went to the Jack Daniels Saloon to hear a country rock band called Lonesome Road. Both bands played "Brown Eyed Girl". I guess that is the new version of "Rocky Top".


Jeff and Charli Lee said...

Yeah, but have you ever been to Dollywood?

yellojkt said...

It seems a shame to go all the way to Pigeon Forge and not visit Dollywood, but I have. My wife was seven months pregnant at the time, and I don't think they would have let her ride any of the rides.