June 18 - July 23
Thursday Nights at 7:30 PM
Every summer for more than two decades, Ryman Auditorium has celebrated our distinction as the birthplace of bluegrass music with our signature Bluegrass Nights summer series. Join us for incredible performances by the biggest names in bluegrass and meet the newcomers who are carrying the genre’s rich musical traditions into the future.
All shows are preceded by 650 AM WSM’s free showcase, Pickin’ on the Plaza, featuring regional bluegrass bands starting at 6 PM on the Ryman plaza.
Individual tickets for the 2020 series are on sale now.
The History of Bluegrass and Ryman Auditorium
The night bluegrass was born is just one of the Ryman’s many legendary stories. It was here, during a 1945 Grand Ole Opry performance, that a young banjo player named Earl Scruggs joined Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys on stage for the first time. Scruggs added his revolutionary three-finger picking style to Monroe’s signature close harmonies, quick tempo, and “high lonesome sound.” The result was a new and powerful style of country music that energized crowds and left them wanting more of what would quickly come to be known as “bluegrass music.”
The historic 1945 lineup featured Monroe on mandolin, Scruggs on banjo, Lester Flatt on guitar, Chubby Wise on fiddle, and Howard Watts on bass; this vocal and instrumental combination would become a template for bluegrass groups around the world. Scruggs and Flatt later left Monroe’s band to form the Foggy Mountain Boys, a popular duo credited with bringing bluegrass music into mainstream American culture. Together, they toured the country and penned hits such as “Foggy Mountain Breakdown,” featured in the 1967 movie Bonnie and Clyde, as well as the well-known theme song for the Beverly Hillbillies television series and many more.
Bill Monroe (1911 – 1996) is recognized and revered today as the “Father of Bluegrass,” and we were honored when he took the Ryman stage in 1994 with Alison Krauss to kick off the Ryman’s inaugural Bluegrass Nights series. In 2006, the State of Tennessee honored the Ryman as the official Birthplace of Bluegrass, installing a historical marker that tells the story of the night Scruggs took the stage with Monroe’s band and created a true American treasure. As the music continues to evolve and take on fresh nuances and layers with each generation of players and fans, the Ryman remains the pinnacle venue for bluegrass artists to honor the traditions of their genre.