Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Musicians playing bluegrass and country, people clapping and dancing along with an occasional train whistling by are some of the crowd-pleasing moments associated with the Ringgold Opry. The fun-filled, old-fashioned good time will take place again inside the historic Ringgold Depot June 9 from 7-9:45 p.m.
“We need to increase attendance,” said bass fiddle and accordion player Dr. Ronal Graham, who has been inviting people to join in the fun — which comes with no admission fee — for the last 18 years. “We usually have 100 people, but the Depot could hold many more. We are incorporating more country music to increase audience participation.”
Graham is usually joined on stage by about 25 fellow musicians. He said he has been in Ringgold for 40 years and there’s nothing like the Depot around for a great acoustic sound. The setting creates an ambiance suitable for people of all ages, with the wooden walls echoing the sounds of fiddles, guitars, banjos, harmonicas, accordions and drums.
“Sometimes people do a little dancing and hand clapping to the music,” said Graham. “When you get into country and bluegrass music, most people can identify with the words from all walks of life.”
He said comedian Tim Barret, singer-songwriter Tommy Davis and the Choo Choo Cloggers sometimes join in the fun. Master of Ceremonies Mike Wilson typically introduces all musicians, cloggers and comedians prior to their performances.
Performers sign a wooden wall in the Depot; the signatures of great musicians like Bill Anderson and Stonewall Jackson can be found engraved in the wall.
In June, teenage keyboard player Ryan Stinson; state championship-winning harmonica player Lewis Taylor; acoustic guitarist Butch Lanham, one of the best flat top guitar pickers in the Southeast; and longtime Ringgold Opry supporter Robert Taylor’s group will delight the audience with their heartfelt bluegrass and country.
Soft drinks, popcorn and coffee will be sold in the Depot’s concession stand.
According to Graham, the Ringgold Opry had a strong start in the 1990s due to being broadcast live on the radio. No longer on the radio, the Opry’s hosts hope to continue spreading the word by way of mouth that the event is alive and well and open to all.
“It’s different than any other place,” said Graham of the facility, its atmosphere and quality show.