City of Nashville Recognizes Ryman Auditorium for 130 Years of Music

by Jim Casey

There are dozens of venues that should be on every music lover’s bucket list. Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, Texas. Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Okla. Red Rocks in Denver (close enough). Bowery Ballroom in NYC. I could go on and on (I’m also open to recs, as fantastic new venues continue to spring up). But Ryman Auditorium in Nashville should be at the top of everyone’s list. Sure, you sit wedged on uncomfortable wooden pews, and everyone taller than 5’6″ has a shortage of legroom. But the acoustics are great—and so is the calendar.

Since its first concert on May 4, 1892—then known as the Union Gospel Tabernacle—Ryman Auditorium has welcomed an array of entertaining acts on its hallowed stage. From magician Harry Houdini to comic actor Charlie Chaplin and former president Theodore Roosevelt to civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., the Ryman has hosted just about everyone under the sun. Oh, and the artists. The list is long, including Hank Williams, Patsy Cline, Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Garth Brooks, and more.

Just this year, I’ve seen Dwight Yoakam, Robert Earl Keen, and Marshall Tucker Band at the Mother Church.

Nashville Honors the Ryman

On May 4, the city of Nashville recognized Ryman Auditorium as “Music City’s most famous and respected concert venue” with an official resolution. The resolution, stated, in part: “The venue is most famous for being a home for country music. Its legacy has been defined by showcasing one of the most expansive lists of diverse performers ranging from jazz, pop and bluegrass to rock and roll, classical, and hip hop. From its very beginning, the Ryman has been a stage to just about every type of music and every type of performer.”

“The Ryman is the crown jewel of Nashville. And we are so excited to celebrate 130 years of Music City’s most famous concert venue,” says Nashville council member Freddie O’Connell. “Whether you are a country music superstar or an up-and-coming artist, music lover or history buff, out-of-towner or Nashvillian, the Ryman is for everyone.”

In 1943, the world’s most famous radio show, the Grand Ole Opry, began a 31-year run at the Ryman. When the Opry moved to its new home in 1974, the Ryman remained mostly dormant for 20 years. It was in danger of being torn down before a major restoration in 1994. Now, the Ryman is one of the country’s most iconic venues. Forget what I said earlier about the lack of legroom and uncomfortable wooden pews. You’ll be fine. Come pay us a visit in Nashville.

Throughout 2022, the Ryman will continue celebrating 130 years of its storied history. Keep an eye out for more concerts, residencies, tours, and community events.