Monthly Archives: January 2012

Ryman Auditorium to Replace Stage

Ryman Auditorium, the 120-year old iconic venue that witnessed the evolution of country music during the Grand Ole Opry, the filming of “The Johnny Cash Show,” world class performances by Bob Dylan, Coldplay, Aretha Franklin, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Wilco, Neil Young and so many more of modern history’s greatest entertainers, will replace its stage for the first time since 1951. The new stage will feature an eighteen inch section cut from the existing stage running across the front to honor the historical significance of past performances. A now famous circle of the same Ryman stage wood resides center-stage at the Grand Ole Opry House.

“Artists cherish the chance to perform here because they know they’re following in the footsteps of their heroes,” said Sally Williams, Ryman Auditorium General Manager. “Fans relish the unparalleled acoustics, the intimate environment and the ‘only at the Ryman’ moments that that are common here. By making this investment we are insuring that future generations of artists and fans will be able to enjoy these same experiences.”

The project will begin on Saturday, February 4 and the final events on the current stage promise to be suitably memorable. Dierks Bentley will return to the Mother Church of Country Music on Thursday, February 2 with a special concert celebrating the release of “Home,” his brand new album. “I’ve told the story a million times about how I used to walk down the alley and touch the bricks of the Ryman on my way home from playing the bars on lower Broadway…it has always been one of the most precious places in Nashville and in country music to me,” said Bentley.  “My ‘Home’ album release show will have even more meaning to it now…the significance of that stage and who played there before me will definitely be in the back of my head all night.  As a member of the Grand Ole Opry, I couldn’t be any prouder.” Nashville roots-rock favorite Will Hoge will open the show.

The last performance on the stage will take place on Friday, February 3 when the Grand Ole Opry closes out its annual winter run at the Ryman. The show will feature Keith Urban’s first performance since vocal surgery, Opry members including Charley Pride and The Oak Ridge Boys and rising stars Eden’s Edge. During his last Ryman appearance, on GAC-TV’s “Music City Keep On Playin’” flood benefit in 2010, Urban said of the Ryman, “There’s no place I’d rather play.”

The project will be completed within two weeks and the first public performance on the new stage will take place on February 20 as Grammy® nominees, The Band Perry make their sold-out Ryman headlining debut. “To play the Ryman is to step into country music’s rich history and we are honored to perform there. Now, as the venue makes plans for its future, we promise to inaugurate the new stage with all the respect and reverence it deserves,” said Kimberly, Reid and Neil Perry. The Band Perry is one of the country’s premiere new acts, having achieved platinum status with their current self-titled album, number one status on both the country charts and adult contemporary charts with their song “If I Die Young,” and Best New Artist awards from both the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.

Installed in 1951, the current stage reflects the wear and tear of events ranging from simple acoustic performances to major theatrical, concert, television and film productions. Replacing the Ryman’s sixty year old stage is important to insure the integrity of the National Historic Landmark for future generations. In addition to offering an improved performance surface, the new stage will have a greater load-bearing capacity to insure safety and increased durability to withstand the strenuous production requirements of modern events.

During the stage replacement project, the existing hickory support beams will be strengthened with concrete at their bases and the joists will be reinforced with steel brackets. Additionally, new cross-beams will be put in place to further enhance the structural integrity of the stage. The current oak plank stage will be replaced with Brazilian teak certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, the same type of wood used to replace the Grand Ole Opry House stage after the 2010 flood. Currently, the Ryman’s oak stage can bear 40,000 pounds of weight. By using teak products, one of the hardest woods available in the world, the new stage will be able to support up to 120,000 pounds. The size of the stage will remain unchanged at 60.5’ by 36.5’.

To honor its role in an unparalleled history of classic performances, an eighteen inch strip of the oak planks from the current stage will run along the front of the new stage. By combining the lighter oak of the past with the deeper colored teak of the future, performers will still have the opportunity to touch the stage where so many of their heroes once stood.

The project will begin the morning of Saturday, February 4. Craftsmen will work a minimum of 12 hour days, seven days a week to complete the project within two weeks. Around-the-clock security will be present as the current stage is dismantled and the oak planks are moved to an off-site location. An announcement on future plans for the historic planks will be made at a later date.

The Ryman will remain open for daytime tours throughout the project and will offer a special rate of $10.00 for self-guided tours daily from February 3 – February 20.

The Band Perry’s performance on the new stage will be followed by a diverse line-up of concerts and events including: NEEDTOBREATHE February 23 and 24, Lewis Black February 25, Diana Ross March 2, Andrew Bird March 19, The Moody Blues March 21, Gabriel Iglesias March 23, Daughtry March 30, Snow Patrol April 3, Merle Haggard April 11, Béla Fleck & The Flecktones March 14, The Fresh Beat Band April 15, Jammin’ To Beat The Blues featuring Vince Gill & Friends April 17, A Prairie Home Companion April 21 & 28, Tedeschi Trucks Band April 29 and Trace Adkins May 18.


1892 – When the Union Gospel Tabernacle opened its doors in 1892, it was used primarily for religious revivals, most notably those by Reverend Sam Jones for whom the building was built. Although without a stage at the time, the building did host concert performances by artists ranging from Fisk Jubilee Singers to John Philip Sousa. It wasn’t until Tom Ryman’s death in 1904 that the venue was renamed Ryman Auditorium in honor of the man who was the chief benefactor and driving force behind its construction.

1901 – At the special request of the Metropolitan Opera, funds were raised and the first stage was finally built so that the Ryman could accommodate performances of “Carmen” and “The Barber of Seville.” The addition of a stage made it possible for the Ryman to host luminaries from every facet of the entertainment business including the likes of Louis Armstrong, Charlie Chaplin, Helen Hayes, Katherine Hepburn, Bob Hope, Harry Houdini, Orson Wells and Mae West. Speeches were made by presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Taft as well as Williams Jennings Bryant and Booker T. Washington. The Grand Ole Opry moved to the Ryman in 1943 and for 31 years its broadcast served as a beacon to bring the pioneers of classic country music to the Ryman. Bluegrass music traces its origin to the Ryman where on December 8, 1945 Earl Scruggs joined Bill Monroe and Lester Flatt on the Opry for the first time. It was during an Opry show in 1949 that Hank Williams made his debut and was called back for six encores.

1951 – The Ryman’s existing stage was removed and replaced by a larger, more durable stage that allowed the venerable building to meet the production needs of performances at the time. The Grand Ole Opry entered the realm of television in 1955 bringing the likes of Roy Acuff, The Carter Family, Dolly Parton, Minnie Pearl, Marty Stuart and Porter Wagoner into homes coast to coast. Johnny Cash was among those who got his start on the Opry during this time. He would go on to film “The Johnny Cash Show” at the Ryman, bringing an eclectic mix of guests to the Ryman ranging from Neil Diamond to Stevie Wonder and from Eric Clapton’s Derek & The Dominos to Linda Ronstadt.

1994 – During the Ryman’s major renovations in the early nineties, stage improvements included the addition of a proscenium as well as accommodations for modern audio and lighting systems. The Ryman’s diverse programming has continued with the biggest names in show business including The Black Keys, Harry Connick, Jr., Kris Kristofferson, Lady Antebellum, The Raconteurs, Robert Plant, Van Morrison and more. The Ryman also has been featured in many television and film projects including “American Idol,” Levon Helm’s “Ramble at the Ryman,” Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold,” “Coal Miner’s Daughter,” O Brother, Where Art Thou? concert film “Down from the Mountain” and Austin City Limits Live “Americana Music Awards.”


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The Civil Wars, January 12, 2012 Setlist and Photos

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(c) Steve Lowry/Ryman Archives

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Texaco Country Showdown

The Texaco Country Showdown, America’s longest-running talent search and largest country radio promotion, celebrates 30 years of making dreams come true for hundreds of thousands of struggling artists across the country. For the 6th year, Grammy Award Winner, LeAnn Rimes will host the National Final on January 26, 2012 at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, 7:00 pm. For free tickets, visit the Ryman box office or by calling (615) 889-3060. This year’s show will air nationwide in April on syndicated television.

The five Regional Winners will be given the opportunity to perform on America’s biggest stages and in front of millions on television to compete for $100,000. The Texaco Country Showdown has helped catapult Miranda Lambert, Garth Brooks, Chris Young, Miley Cyrus, Jason Aldean, Thompson Square, Brad Paisley and Sara Evans into successful musical careers.

The year-long competition begins each spring with over 450 live, family-friendly shows produced by country music radio stations. Local winners then advance to State and Regional Showdowns held at major entertainment venues where the field is narrowed to five National Finalists. These five artists then compete in a nationally syndicated television special at which the winner receives a Grand Prize of $100,000 and the title, “Best New Act in Country Music.” With cash prizes at various levels, the Texaco Country Showdown is the best high stakes competition in country music with a uniform judging system. Some of country music’s biggest names like Willie Nelson, Montgomery Gentry, Kris Kristofferson, Reba McEntire, Barbara Mandrell and Loretta Lynn have hosted and performed at the Texaco Country Showdown.

Every year, over 50,000 artists perform at more than 500 shows throughout the country, promoted by over 450 local radio stations. Dean Unkefer, President of Special Promotions, Inc. and producer of the Texaco Country Showdown, commented, “Texaco is dedicated to helping give aspiring artists the opportunity to perform in front of live audiences and to advance their talent.”

Texaco exemplifies everything that the Country Showdown is about- pride in our communities, our heritage and the American Dream. As a result of Texaco’s commitment, over $300,000 is awarded each year to struggling artists as they follow their road to stardom.

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Gregg Allman, January 4, 2012 Photos & Setlist

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Job opening: Museum and Tours Manager

Manage all aspects of the daily operation of the Ryman Museum and Tours including staff supervision & development, customer service, exhibit maintenance & program fulfillment. Work with Grand Ole Opry Group Curator on developing new exhibits and programs

Job Responsibilities:

  • Staff Supervision/Development  
  • Recruit, interview, hire and train new staff in conjunction with Corporate HR
  • Create monthly schedules for museum staff ensuring appropriate levels of staffing based on forecasted attendance; coordinate time off requests; monitor average hours audits; ensure appropriate breaks during work shifts
  • Provide daily supervision of museum staff including coaching, conflict resolution and discipline when needed
  • Conduct annual reviews of museum employees
  • Actively work with museum staff on content delivered to patrons during all tours and museum programs to ensure accuracy of information and quality of presentation including initial training/orientation, periodic group retraining and regular on-the-job coaching  
  • Ensure that SSTs are kept up-to-date and are adhered to by museum staff


  • Museum Operation
  • Ensure that museum opens on time and that all museum programs (tours, photos, make-a-record, etc) are conducted as scheduled
  • Ensure that all components of the museum are operating properly on a daily basis (including but not limited to videos, audio tour, photo concession, make-a-record booth), working with Facility Manager, maintenance department and daytime housekeepers on any issues
  • Ensure that all supplies needed for museum operation are in-stock, working within approved budgets to reorder as necessary
  • Work with marketing department on museum brochures, ensuring accurate content and appropriate inventory levels
  • Develop methods to ensure customer satisfaction surveys are completed


  • Exhibits & Programs
  • Work with Grand Ole Opry Group curator to ensure that exhibits are maintained to the highest degree of qualityWork with Grand Ole Opry Group curator on creation and installation of new exhibits
  • Develop and implement new programs to enhance museum experience and grow revenue
  • Develop, oversee and conduct specialty tours including but not limited to educational tours, VIP tours, FAM tours and Media tours
  • Continuously research the history of the Ryman and apply knowledge to museum products
  • Customer Service – Provide flawless service to all customers  Serve as first point of escalation to address any guest concerns  
  • Model and train staff on Service Basics, providing coaching and feedback as necessary
  • Provide Ryman management with feedback regarding customer comments and experiences
  • Communication & Collaboration with Internal & External Partners Communicate operational details (schedule changes, traffic detours, etc) to internal (Ryman Box Office, M&E Sales, Hotel Transportation, etc) and external (Grayline, destination management companies, NCVB, etc) partners as necessary
  • Work with Grayline and other tour companies to ensure that they are supporting our goal of providing the best experience possible for Ryman visitors (accurate information on tours, enough time in the building, etc)
  • Work with internal group sales teams to ensure that we are meeting the needs of groups visiting the museum
  • Reporting
  • Complete museum staff payroll on a weekly bases
  • Ensure all daily reports are accurate and distributed to the correct personnel
  • Perform other duties as assigned.

Job Qualifications:

  • Education: College degree in related field or equivalent additional experience
  • Experience:  3+ years staff supervision/administration experience
  • Experience working with a museum or other entertainment/tourist attraction strongly preferred
  • Excellent people management skills
  • Excellent verbal and nonverbal communication skills
  • Excellent writing skills with high attention to detail
  • Strong organizational skills with ability to manage multiple projects simultaneously
  • Technical skills: o Proficiency with Excel, Word, Power Point, Outlook  
  • Familiarity with Ryman/Opry/Country Music history helpful

Gaylord Entertainment offers a competitive, comprehensive benefits and compensation package. Gaylord promotes a Drug-Free workplace and is an Equal Opportunity Employer (EOE).

This Gaylord Entertainment facility is smoke free.

 To apply, please visit and search for “Ryman”.






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