One of my fellow Grand Ole Opry members asked me the other day if I had noticed that most veteran Opry performers seem to do the bulk of their touring east of the Rocky Mountains. I admitted that I had, and we began discussing the why’s and wherefore’s of that rather strange phenomenon. Our records were always played coast-to-coast, and we were seen on television out there just like back east.
I finally said that I thought perhaps in the days before the internet and satellite radio it was difficult for our fans out west to listen to the Opry on a regular basis. It was farther for them to travel to Nashville and harder for them to identify with the artists than those fans who lived closer to Music City. We ended up both admitting that we wished we performed out west more often.
Well, I’m happy to tell you that on October 26th I’ll be going to Las Vegas for the first time in a long time for a one-night engagement at the Chrome Room inside the Santa Fe Station Hotel.
OK, it’s not Caesars’ Palace or the MGM Grand, but I’m told it’s a nice, intimate room where we can sing our songs, tell our stories, and visit with friends and fans that we don’t get to see very often. My agent says he is working to book another show or two out west while we’re there, but sometimes that’s easier said than done.
Earlier in my career I was often in California doing television shows, and I owned a radio station for several years in Utah. But in those days, with bus and band in tow, it was often impossible to string enough dates together to make a west coast concert tour worthwhile. We could work all the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday dates we wanted, but having to provide lodging and meals and all the trimmings from Monday through Thursday while waiting for the next weekend to roll around took its toll. My manager would show me in black and white where I would come home with less money than I left with, and he’d put his foot down and not allow me to go.
But now that I often take only my acoustical trio and we fly to many of our dates, it makes much more sense to venture out to the far side of the country than it used to . We have many Country’s Family Reunion viewers out west, a large number of fan club members there, and I’m hoping to see lots of them when we get to Vegas. If other west coast shows are added, that will make it even better.
I remember reading in school about a man named Horace Greeley who once said, “Go west, young man, go west.” He didn’t say anything, though, about lugging along a six-piece band, a sound engineer, a tour manager, or leasing a bus and a driver and buying diesel fuel at almost four-dollars a gallon. I may not be a “young man” anymore, but I’m going west anyway.
And I’m looking forward to seeing lots of you while I’m there.