The Grand Ole Opry launched its nine-month celebration of nine decades of great country music during two shows tonight with appearances by Opry members Brad Paisley, Del McCoury, and Old Crow Medicine Show, as well as special guests including Asleep at the Wheel. During the performances, artists shared stories behind some of the seminal instruments and artifacts over the course of the Opry’s 90-year history. After the show, the artifacts were placed on display backstage where they will remain throughout the 90thcelebration, each representing one of the Opry’s nine decades.
The first show opened with Ketch Secor of Opry group Old Crow Medicine Show center stage holding the steamboat whistle Opry founder George D. Hay used to herald the beginning of countless Opry broadcasts after sharing his famed opening line, “Let ‘er go, boys!” Surrounded by award-winning group the Quebe Sisters, Secor announced “… Happy 90th Anniversary, Grand Ole Opry! Let ‘er go, girls!” The sister act then immediately launched into its show opener, “Every Which-A-Way.”
Among other artifacts shared and now on display are the fiddle played by Uncle Jimmy Thompson on the very first broadcast of what would become the Grand Ole Opry and a guitar strap used by Opry great Little Jimmy Dickens, who passed away at the dawn of the Opry’s 90th year. Paisley honored his friend Dickens by performing a medley of Dickens’ favorites on the Opry legend’s guitar, inviting The Swon Brothers to join him for a portion of the set.
Grammy-Award winners Asleep at the Wheel were joined by the other artists on the showsfor special live performances reprising their recorded performances on the new album Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys. Lauded by numerous critics as one of the year’s best releases, the album, says The New York Times, “pays the fondest of tributes to the man justly billed, from the 1930s on, as the King of Western Swing.
Throughout the night’s two shows, the Opry announced plans for its nine-month 90th Anniversary celebration and shared behind the scenes happenings via its newest social media platform, Snapchat. Fans are invited to follow OPRYSNAPS on Snapchat for additional exclusive content throughout the celebration.