The musical director of the Grand Ole Opry, Steve Gibson, talks with Guitar Shop TV about how he came on board at the Opry, and what he did to shake things up in an institution that he felt had become a bit complacent.
One of the first moves Gibson made to upgrade the quality of performances was to bring in some top-flight musicians for the Opry house band, including Paul Leim and Eddie Bayers on drums, Larry Paxton on bass, Mark Stevens on acoustic guitar, Jimmy Capps on guitar, Hoot Hester fiddle, steel guitar master Tommy White and Tim Atwood on piano.
Gibson also got rid of the direct boxes and mandated that all instruments be properly miked. He brought in consultants to improve the stage sound and begin to record and archive all performances, although, as he mentions here, some of the archives may have been lost to flooding.
Sadly, this interview took place right after massive flooding in Nashville caused by torrential rains May 1 and May 2, 2010. The Cumberland River flooded its banks, leaving chest-high water inside the Grand Ole Opry. Refusing to be beaten, however, Gibson and the Opry staff moved their Tuesday night show to Nashville’s War Memorial Auditorium, a former home of the Opry. The following weekend they relocated to the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville, where the Ole Opry show originated and was based for decades before the current Opry House opened in 1974. Under Gibson’s leadership, the Opry not only survived this calamity, it became stronger in the face of adversity. In September 2010, it returned home to a restored Opry House, re-positioned, re-vitalized, and set to remain the most vibrant and dynamic force in country music.