As the evening sun peers through the luminous and intricate stained windows, droves of people, families, couples, and group tours file into the historic Ryman Auditorium. Momentarily, the big red curtain will rise to another Thursday night edition of the Opry Country Classics. The special series runs both in the spring and winter with guest acts performing the songs of the genre’s foundation. Additionally, a spotlight artist closes the show with selections from their chart-topping catalog, along with personal influences.
Host Larry Gatlin possess outstanding showmanship capabilities. His connection with the audience takes it from being just another show by creating an experience that fans will remember long after the final song is performed. Whether it’s fulfilling a request from a faraway traveler or taking a selfie with the front row, Larry’s charisma and timing make for an entertaining evening.
Steeped in tradition, country music relies on today's acts to carry on those scared sounds and songs for future generations. Featured performer Jackie Lee exemplifies those qualities – his superior voice is the kind that was made for the Ryman acoustics. Case in point is his excellent take on Vince Gill’s two-week number one from 1992, “Don’t Let Our Love Start Slippin’ Away." Before his stirring rendition of the Lefty Frizzell classic, “I Never Go Around Mirrors,” Jackie shared the story of how Keith Whitley added another verse for his version on the landmark “Don’t Close Your Eyes” album. After exiting the stage, Larry Gatlin insisted on an encore from the charismatic singer.
Another standout, Sarah Darling, graced the stage covering the timeless Don Schlitz-penned “When You Say Nothing at All.” Her cover of “Ring of Fire” had the crowd engaged and clapping right along. Sarah's latest single, "Wasted," is available now and worth a spin.
Paired with his brothers Steve and Rudy, Larry Gatlin took requests for gospel songs – the addition of the Opry house band and audience sing along made for a lively moment. The trio also performed the Grammy winning “Broken Lady” and “All the Gold in California.”
In his first performance after being announced as the next inductee into the prestigious Country Music Hall of Fame, Ricky Skaggs took the stage as the night’s spotlight artist. His rousing set included songs by Webb Pierce, Guy Clark, Ray Price, and Waylon Jennings. He spoke of how Waylon joined him in the studio for a rendition of “Only Daddy That’ll Walk the Line.” Ricky also graciously spoke about his impending induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
A definite Music City must-see, the two-hour show bridges the longstanding rituals that the Grand Ole Opry is known for, along with entertainment that the entire family will enjoy. Catch Opry Country Classics during its springtime run at the famed Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville. For a full list of Opry shows, visit www.Opry.com.