It is 8:30 a.m. on Friday. My girlfriends, Connie Sheppard Slate, Jackie Segars Wheat and I along with our favorite boyfriend, Jeff Hood, are in the Chevy on our way to Nashville. Jeff has planned a fun and exciting day in Nashville to top it off with an evening at the Grand Ole Opry. We are headed down I-20 at a brisk pace and fighting all that insane Friday Atlanta traffic (who in their right mind would want to deal with that every day?). We get onto I-75 and survived getting through Atlanta. We stop a couple of times for breaks, but time is flying by as we are laughing uncontrollably at Jackie who has taken a break from vaccinating cows with husband, Andy, to take this trip and has some of the funniest stories you will ever hear! The five hours it takes to get to Nashville goes quickly as we are constantly chattering. Poor Jeff can’t get in a word edgewise! We just hope he isn’t secretly recording our conversations!
On Thursday it was 78 degrees in Madison. As we are traveling up I-75 we are watching the temp drop on the dash screen. It is now 38 degrees. We stop at a gas station so Jeff can go to the restroom to put on LONG pants. Yes, you read this right…LONG pants! After snacks and breaking, we hit the road and continue with the Jackie Wheat Show while Connie and I continue to giggle uncontrollably!
We park across the street from the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. We decided to leave our coats, hats, gloves, scarves in the Chevy so we wouldn’t have to drag them around. Did I tell you it was 38 degrees?! I had never been to the Hall of Fame and Museum, but how interesting it was to see three floors of country music’s greatest artists: Loretta Lynn, Ralph Stanley, Patsy Cline, Mel Tillis, Webb Pierce and many, many more. We saw Elvis’s Cadillac, Minnie Pearl’s hat with tag, Porter Waggoner’s flashy suits, Grandpa Jones’ banjo and much more.
After the tour, we ran like mad to get to the Chevy to get our winter clothes on. We walk down Broadway between First and Fifth avenues – better known as “Honky Tonk Row” with our first stop at “Tootsies.” Crowded is an understatement. The place was packed, the music loud, the beer flowing, and people talking loudly. Sign language could have come in handy here! We stayed about five minutes and headed down the street and stopped in another bar for refreshments and listen to the band. Then we hurriedly went to the “Honky Tonk” bar. A bride to be with a cowgirl hat and veil was dancing to the music with her bridesmaids. They were from Texas and having the times of their lives. Hopefully they will have recovered for the wedding!
Our boyfriend Jeff said it was time to leave downtown. So, we make our way back to the Chevy and drive to the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. I don’t have enough space in this column to write about it. Amazing place, beautiful, huge. Check it out for yourselves.
Then, on our way to The Grand Ole Opry! We arrived around 6 p.m. Jeff knows everybody at the Opry. We parked in the back-parking lot where “important” people park. We go to the “Artist Entrance” and we are greeted by some very nice people. We got wrist bands to show that we are “important.” Jeff had picked up Zaxby dinners for the parking lot guys and the back-stage people.
The show started at 7 p.m. Central and ended at 9:20 p.m. The line up of musicians was great. John Conlee, Connie Smith, Dailey & Vincent, Bill Anderson, Riders in the Sky, Mike Snider, Michael Ray, Tenille Townes, Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press, Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, Raelynn and Tracy Lawrence. Unlike a typical concert, the Opry presents eight or more artists on each show, giving the audience a sample of each artist’s musical style. Only the Opry…there’s nothing quite like it anywhere else!
I think Connie was a little disappointed because we weren’t called up to the stage to sing. She says we are the “real” Dixie Chicks!
Because of our “important” status, we could sit out front or backstage in a pew with other “important” people. We sat behind the backup singers and the musicians for a couple of songs, but wanted to get the full effect of the performance and rushed to sit out front. During the evening we were fortunate to get our pictures made with most of the artists. Like I said, Jeff knows everybody!
The show ends and we head to the Chevy to get home to Madison/Buckhead. To help us all stay awake and make sure Jeff keeps it between the white lines, we sing enthusiastically to a Dan Fogelberg album. We get home at 3 a.m. Saturday!! What a great time we had. A long day, but a very fun day. Thank you, Jeff Hood, for giving us girls such a fun time together. There is nothing like good friends and good times. Life is good!
-Elsie Monk, Madison