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The show must go on in Music City

Today’s Special

There was a break in the weather, albeit only slight, but it gave DW and me reason to reconsider our anniversary outing to Nashville. We had talked ourselves out of going because of the weather, with concerns about our outside doggies and water pipes.

Daughter-in-law Laura had even volunteered to house sit and keep check on everything so we could go. But we decided to cancel. There were antique shows going on around Valentine’s weekend and of course, the Grand Ole Opry is every Saturday night in Nashville. But this time we thought better of it, until the weather man moderated the temperatures and the first round of wintry weather wasn’t so bad, plus I-40 was clear to Nashville.

We could leave Saturday morning and come back Saturday night.  Our Opry tickets were non-refundable.

During this pandemic DW and I have been watching the Opry on Saturday nights on Circle TV. It helped to relieve our football withdrawal. Even with the COVID shutdown the Grand Ole Opry hasn’t missed a show, keeping the circle unbroken now for 95 years.

Producers had a novel idea to keep the Opry up and running. They changed the format to comply with Nashville pandemic guidelines shows and televised a live show with only a couple of entertainers on stage wearing masks, socially distanced and with no audience.

Marty Stuart, Darius Rucker, Vince Gill, Craig Morgan, Brad Paisley, Emmy Lou Harris all headlined this low- key production and we loved it. We have settled in every Saturday night to watch. (One time we tuned in on my phone as we drove home from Mississippi, but we haven’t missed a show).

Eventually, as precautions eased up a little, the Opry Stage band came back, per the protocol, then the back-up singers and finally, small audiences were allowed in. And on went the show!

Now the Opry is almost back in full swing, with a full 2-hour show on stage (still adhering to pandemic precautions), but the second hour continues to be televised on the Circle TV network.

Every week we’ve watched as Opry veterans, rising stars, hopeful newcomers, the famous and not-yet-so famous singers and pickers have performed.

We’ve witnessed hopefuls making their Opry debut and others being inducted into the Opry family.  And nearly every week tribute has been made to those country music stars who have passed on…Glen Campbell, Charlie Pride, Charlie Rich and others.

As you can tell, we’ve enjoyed it, so when the doors were re-opened, we ordered tickets for our Valentine anniversary weekend.

We made it to Nashville Saturday morning, after a stop for Dunkin Donuts and coffee to get our celebration started. We browsed through the antique shows (with wide aisles and masks for safety) at the Music City Center in downtown Nashville, enjoyed a fish supper at the Cock-of-the Walk and then found our seats at the Opry. I’d say the Opry House was slightly less than 50 percent filled.

There was plenty of social distance and masks were required in the audience too. And what a show we saw, kicked off with fast stepping square dancers followed by Jenny Sealy, then Riders in the Sky (“You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Toy Story fame). Certified guitar pickers (2 of only 5 in the world) Steve Wariner and Tommy Emmanuel showed out with some fancy picking; Ashely McBride debuted her new song, and Henry Cho told a few funnies.

The show ended with a beautiful tribute to Mississippian Jim Weatherly, songwriter extraordinaire and former Ole Miss quarterback, with Steve Wariner singing his “Midnight Train to Georgia,” made famous by Tennessean Gladys Knight. We were so glad we changed our minds.

We were safely home by 11:30 and all was well and we’re still talking about how much we enjoyed our day trip to Nashville. And Saturday at 8 p.m. we’ll tune in again from our front row seat to watch the Opry live from Nashville and wish we were there.

Recipe of the Week

Blueberry Pecan Little Cake

This one-bowl cake is just right for a quick and tasty dessert…

2 teaspoons all-purpose flour

5 tablespoons unsalted butter

¾ cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

⅔ cup low-fat buttermilk

2 teaspoons grated orange rind

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

½ teaspoons almond extract

¼ teaspoon baking soda

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

⅓ cup finely chopped pecans

2 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar

Coat a 9-inch round springform pan with cooking spray, dust the pan with 2 teaspoons flour.  Melt butter in a large microwave safe bowl, covered, on high for 1 minute or so. Add granulated sugar, stirring with a whisk. Add eggs, stir well. Stir in buttermilk and next 6 ingredients and stir well. Add the

1 ½ cups flour, stirring until just blended. Stir in blueberries and pecans. Spoon batter into prepared pan, spreading evenly.  Bake in 350-degree oven for 45 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool 10 minutes in pan on wire rack. Sprinkle with powdered sugar before serving. Cut into 10 wedges.