Even as thousands of venues remain closed and artists off the road, every once in a while a glimmer of hope shines through the bleak clouds of the COVID-19 pandemic. That ray of sunshine came on Thursday with the announcement that the iconic Grand Ole Opry will once again open its doors to live audiences, beginning on October 3rd.
This announcement from Nashville Mayor John Cooper comes after the Opry, along with every other venue across the country, was indefinitely shuttered due to the pandemic. While audiences were not allowed into the mecca for country music, performers and crew still showed up every week for the Saturday Night Opry streams.
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On October 3rd, the Opry will host its first in-person concert since last winter, featuring Dierks Bentley, Vince Gill, Terri Clark and Lorrie Morgan for an hour-long show. This concert will kick off a moth-long 95th anniversary celebration of the Grand Ole Opry.
“It feels like having 500 fans in the audience is the next step as we work to return from this pandemic,” Opry executive producer Dan Rogers, told The Tennessean. “It’s not the end of the journey — it won’t truly feel like the Grand Ole Opry until our backstage is bustling and there are 4,400 fans from around the world out there, excited about the big red curtain going up — but it’s the next step and a safe step to take to get to that point somewhere down the road.”
For the reopening, the Opry has partnered with the Nashville Public Health Department and Vanderbilt Health to make the shows as safe as possible. New regulations for the concerts include lowering capacity to 500, physically distanced seating, mask requirements for all patrons and staff, no food or beverage, designated restrooms and exits/entrances, temperature checks, advanced cleaning practices, and more.
This move comes following the recent reopening of sister venue the Ryman Auditorium. The “Mother Church of Country Music” welcomed fans back on September 4th for a concert from Scott McCreery that saw a 125 person-capacity audience. Following the success of that show, organizers and the NPHD decided that it was safe to increase seating to 250 attendees, still falling well short of the 2,300-person capacity.
Tickets will not be sold to the October 3rd show, per The Tennessean. Instead, tickets will be made available to those who previously purchased admission to the Opry anniversary event. Those who can’t make it can still watch the show on Circle All Access YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter, as well as Circle TV or on the radio via WSM 650 AM or via the station’s web stream. Head to the Opry’s website for information on upcoming shows.
[H/T The Tennessean]