During our behind-the-scenes tour at the Grand Ole Opry, our guide Jamie introduced us to the security guard at the entrance where the artists enter the building. She mentioned that no one gets past him without identification. There was a blonde-haired woman standing at the guard’s desk who looked remarkably like Rhonda Vincent to me, except she had blonde hair (Rhonda Vincent’s hair is naturally a very dark brown). In response to Jamie stating that “no one gets past the guard,” she looked over at us and said something like, “tell me about it. I had to show him I’m in the program guide to convince him who I was.” We all laughed. Barbara’s husband, Bill, who is a big Rhonda Vincent fan, linked arms with her and said something like, “Darlin, come with us,” or something to that effect. Funny thing is, he didn’t recognize her even then until we were at the end of the tour and we told him who she was! Hal Ketchum and his daughter, Sarah Rosie, walked right past Debbie and me backstage and since his hair wasn’t its usual gray, we thought he was a band member!
SIDEBAR: Jamie took us to the historic Studio A, where Hee Haw was filmed. I grew up watching Hee Haw and just had to go stand in the exact spot where the background haystacks would have been. I could just picture Buck Owens and Roy Clark doing their “I’m a pickin’…and I’m a grinnin'” spiel. It always impressed me that Roy Clark could play the banjo, guitar and the mandolin. Such talent! Mike Snider (who was on the roster this night) stars in Pickin’ & Grinnin’ with Mike Snider: A Grand Ole Comedy Revue, which debuted just a few days ago in Studio A (the television portion of the Grand Ole Opry).
FYI: In the photo with Alison Krauss holding a hymn book (9th photo down), that’s her (handsome!) brother, Viktor, accompanying her on acoustic bass.
I shot these photos from the second to the last row of the Opry. Yes, in the waaaay back. (In fact, I just read that there are 4,400 seats in the building. I’m pretty sure I was in seat # 4,399.) I shot with my Nikon D300 set on 1600 and higher, depending on the light fluctuations, and used my Nikkor 80-400mm f/4.5-5.6D VR lens, handheld (except when shooting vertically—then I used my sister’s handy shoulder as a prop—thanks, Deboo). The images aren’t too shabby from that far back (at least you know who the artist is in each one), although it would have been such a treat to be up front for optimum photography! I used this same lens when I shot the images from our first visit to the Opry in 2008 here. The Opry show was back in the Ryman Auditorium at the time and we had better seats to that show—I was shooting at no more than 800 ISO during that performance, so the images are a bit better.
I included the last photo of John Conlee’s dialogue during real-time captioning, a first for the Grand Ole Opry! It was great to be there during its debut and the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) hopes they will implement it as a regular service. At the time I shot this photo, Conlee was introducing Sammy Johns, who wrote and recorded the 70s classic, Chevy Van.
Click on the individual names for their biography / websites / music video:
Jimmy C. Newman
Rhonda Vincent (Heartbreaker’s Alibi with Dolly Parton)
Point of Grace (I Wish)
Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys
Jim Ed Brown
Opry Square Dancers
Alison Krauss with The Whites
View Alison Krauss videos on AOL Music here. One of my favorite duets is this song, How’s the World Treating You, with Alison and my long-road-trip buddy, James Taylor.
THIS JUST IN: Thanks to Wes for the correct name of Hal Ketchum’s daughter, as well as some background info on Hal:
Hal Ketchum is one of the best, pure and natural singers of any genre of music. Had the pleasure to see him in concert about 50 times and have gotten to know him as well. Very down to earth guy. By the way Hal has one grown son and daughter by his first wife and three younger daughters Fanna Rose (Rosie), Ruby Joy and Sophia Grace by his current wife Gina. Ruby is the one that has been with him recently on stage at the Opry as well as other concerts. The daughter in your picture of Hal is Rosie. Just wanted to clear that up. By the way, great shots.
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