NASHVILLE, Tenn. – It’s time for a new stage at Ryman Auditorium, a significant moment in the history of a building known for its significant moments.
Scuffed by the heels of “The King,” ”The Queen of Soul” and thousands of singers in cowboy boots, scarred by an uncountable stream of road cases and worn by six decades of music history, the Ryman’s oak floorboards have reached the end of a very long, very successful run.
“It’s an exciting time, I love it. I mean this place deserves the best of everything,” Ryman General Manager Sara Williams told Nashville’s News 2.
The current stage is just the second in the 120-year history of the “Mother Church” after the original was installed in 1901 for a performance of the Metropolitan Opera. It was laid down in 1951 and has lasted far longer than expected.
“We really do our best to preserve the integrity of this building for folks now and for folks down the road,” Williams explained.
The Ryman is still the building most associated with The Grand Ole Opry, though it moved to the Opry House in 1974, and has hosted a number of significant moments in American culture.
Bob Dylan and Johnny Cash stood together on those boards and changed music. Cultures clashed there too when the boo birds took on country rockers The Byrds. Today the Ryman is a much sought-after destination point for musicians of all genres and many shows take on a unique aura.
Keith Urban who is making his return from vocal surgery, will be among the last performers on the stage when the Opry plays its final winter date Friday at The Ryman.
Dierks Bentley will play the last standalone concert Thursday.
Ryman officials said they will retain an 18-inch lip of the blonde oak at the front of the stage, similar to the way the Ryman stage was commemorated in a circle of wood at the new Opry House.
The rest of the stage will be stored and replaced with a medium brown Brazilian teak that will be far more durable and camera friendly.
Work will begin February 4 and continue seven days a week through February 20, when The Band Perry will make its Ryman debut with a sold-out show.
Tours will continue throughout the work at a discounted rate, allowing members of the public to watch.
*The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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