When I was younger -- a kid probably -- my parents used to gather us up every other Sunday afternoon and take us to Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hall in the "other" Kansas City- the one across the viaduct in Kansas. On those afternoons I was introduced to a world I would learn to appreciate more than I could have imagined way back then.
Those were the days before mega-concerts in football stadiums and massive arenas. In those days, a group of rock-n-roll acts or country acts would travel in caravans to cities across the nation and spend the day -- or evening -- making music and friends and, somehow, teaching us about community and family along the way.
On those Sunday afternoons we sat in our usual seats (if we got there soon enough) and watch acts like Johnny cash and the Carter Family, Hank Thompson and the Brazos Valley Boys, Ernest Tubb, Hank Williams Jr. (when he was a mere teen-ager), Hank Snow, Grandpa Jones, String Bean, Ferlin Husky, Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, LeRoy VanDyke, Kitty Wells, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Smith, Minnie Pearl, Rod Brassfield, and many other country music greats.
They made the trip -- in one group or another -- to Memorial Hall and put on two shows -- a matinee (which we usually attended) and an evening show before getting back on their tour buses and heading on to their next stop -- or back to Nashville.
These stars all had one thing in common -- they were stars of the Grand Ol' Opry. Their home most Saturday nights -- when they weren't touring -- was the stage of the Ryman Auditorium, known as the Mother Church of Country.
Most people don't know this about me -- but as a kid I used to dream of singing on that stage. Needless to say, I never made it. I walked on the stage one time during a tour and could hardly breathe. I know that sounds silly, but it's the truth.
This week we traveled back to Nashville, and back to a refurbished and rededicated Ryman, to take part in a musical celebration. I'm sure it will bring back wonderful memories, and it will hopefully make new and wonderful memories for the family.
I'll let you know next time around.
"On the road again -- just can't wait to get on the road again."