The Ryman Auditorium x Prairie Home History
One of our staff members recently visited Nashville, TN with his traveling senior softball team (yes, this is a true story!) and he popped into the Ryman Auditorium while he was there. As diehard Prairie Home fans know, it was the Grand Ol' Opry, originally housed in the Ryman Auditorium, that inspired Garrison to create his own radio variety show here in Minnesota. In 1974, Garrison wrote a piece about the Opry for The New Yorker and then he pitched the idea for a Minnesotan version to his boss at the local radio station. And the rest, as they say...is history.
Today, the Ryman functions as a music venue and also houses historic material backstage including an exhibit on its 125-year history that prominently features memorabilia from A Prairie Home Companion, which was broadcast from the Ryman stage many times. So the next time you find yourself in Nashville, be sure to visit the Ryman and ask where all the "Prairie Home" stuff is!
From staff member extraordinaire David Edin:
"It was nice to see that all the close ties between Prairie Home Companion and the Ryman were on full display as I traveled through the halls of the 'mother church of country music.' From the time you enter the building and watch the video featuring 3D holograms of country artists––many of whom, such as Emmylou Harris, have graced the PHC stage––the connection is visible. As the Hatch posters of all the different Ryman concerts scroll by during the video, you see the Hatch poster for the 1994 PHC show there, too."
"As one travels the hallways of the Ryman, they have an annotated history of events. On one wall, I discovered the show rundown from the 1974 show Garrison attended for an assignment from the New Yorker magazine for an article about the Grand Old Opry." [reviewing that Grand Ol' Opry show inspired Garrison to create A Prairie Home Companion!]
"In the main auditorium, they have display cases featuring memorabilia, including costumes and historical documents, along with videos that further relate the history. In one of the cases, the issue of the New Yorker magazine that gave Garrison the idea for A Prairie Home Companion is on display. The accompanying video shows Emmylou Harris gushing over Garrison as she relates the show's history from that 1974 article through mentioning that when the Ryman was remodeled in 1994, A Prairie Home Companion was the first show to perform in the remodeled auditorium––an event which is also captured on another wall within the theater."
"All in all, I was amazed at how many times Garrison and the show were mentioned within the walls of the Ryman Auditorium. It is fitting because Nashville was one of the annual touring destinations for A Prairie Home Companion."
"And, just for fun, I wore one of our PHC shirts where the design was inspired by a Grand Old Opry shirt. A great tour of a historic building that Prairie Home fans would appreciate! So, if you are in the area, take the tour, otherwise check out some of the other connections to the Ryman below." - David Edin