Preserving Bluegrass: The Ryman Tour Artifacts You Need to See
By Hannah Grubbs
The Ryman tour is home to artifacts from some of the best Bluegrass artists in history like Bill Monroe and Billy Strings. The immersive tour brings the beloved genre (along with so many others) into the spotlight and offers exclusive access to the iconic auditorium and, often, the opportunity to step onto its world-renowned stage.
The Birth of Bluegrass
After a comprehensive and state-of-the-art theater experience, the tour walks you through an impressive timeline of music history, featuring the beginning of the birth of Bluegrass in 1945 by the famous Bill Monroe. Through the combination of Bill Monroe's and Lester Flatt's vocals, Monroe's mandolin, Fllatt's guitar, Earl Scruggs' new three-fingered poicking technique, credited with popularizing "Orange Blossom Special," Chubby Wise, was on the fiddle, while Howard Watts aka "Cedric Rainwater" played bass, Bluegrass was born.
The Father of Bluegrass
The next iconic feature on display is Bill Monroe’s suit. The Father of Bluegrass wore this very suit many times over the years and it is housed in our very own Ryman Auditorium. It is a focal point of the tour and a fashion staple of the Bluegrass genre as it reminds fans of the tradition of dressing up for shows like the Opry.
A New Generation
In today’s day and age, it is important to celebrate the artists that continue to keep the music alive. Billy Strings does this as he is one of the most influential musicians of today. On the tour, you can find the outfit worn by him on the first night of his 2022 residency at the Ryman.
If you take a backstage tour and have the opportunity to hang out in the dressing rooms, you’ll see a room dedicated to Bluegrass itself. As you step in, you’ll instantly feel connected to decades of history and musical legends like Allison Krauss, Bill Monroe, Steve Martin, and many others. Hanging on the wall are signed Hatch Show Print posters from the Bluegrass Nights series signed by all of the legends who have been part of one of the Ryman’s favorite musical traditions.
A Success Story
Stepping outside, you can find the statue of Bill Monroe along with a placard as a tribute to all of his successes and contributions to the Bluegrass genre and the music industry as a whole.
Join us for Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman, every Thursday from June 22 through July 27 at 7:30 p.m. Or, better yet, make a whole day out of it! Come take the tour any time from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. (be sure to get your tickets before 4 p.m.), hit the gift shop after your tour, enjoy live bluegrass at Pickin' on the PNC plaza at 5:30 p.m. and then go to the show at 7:30 p.m.! If you love Bluegrass, this is where you need to be.
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