The Woodbine Opry
Nestled in the little town of Woodbine, Georgia is a home to bluegrass, gospel and old time country music known as the Woodbine Opry. We had stumbled across it while researching interesting things to do and see on the trip up to Uxbridge Mass for the summer. Their facebook page showed that there are regular coach trips up from Florida to the Opry, so there must something to this? We decided to stay nearby and stop in and see what kind of musical action could possibly be happening in a little Georgia town.
If you look up their Facebook page, you will soon see that the Woodbine Opry looks like fun! There are lots of smiling people. Possibly they are smiling because it is free! That’s right! The Opry charges no admission fee and they welcome all who would like to come and appreciate their down-home style. On Fridays, the local talent puts on a show from 7:00 to 9:00 that is strictly Bluegrass and Gospel. Fiddles, guitars and autoharps come out to belt out some toe tapping old songs with rollicking lyrics full of innuendo that kept us laughing all night. One of our favorites of the night was a funny rendition of an old Buck Owen’s song called Foolin’ Around. Here is the chorus:
I know that you’ve been foolin’ around on me right from the start
So I’ll take back my ring and I’ll take back my heart
And when you’re tired of foolin’ around with two or three
Come on home and fool around with me
The pitch may not have been perfect and timing was often off, but the sincerity and the love of the old time songs was enough to make you as warm inside as if you had just threw down a pint of moonshine. In fact, Mr. Sam apparently had done just that……….or at least a six pack………….the band played back-up to him while he twanged the fiddle (which they said he just got last Christmas) and sang a rather libation liberated version of Turkey in the Straw. The singing might have gotten him the hook at a city talent show, but we loved it right along with all of the other listeners, most of whom knew him. He had an ear to ear grin and was clearly living a dream to be up there singing and picking with the boys. Those boys were laughing as hard as we were and they all took off their Stetsons to him when he finished.
A couple of the locals started the Woodbine Opry and they were part of the troupe on stage Friday night. One elderly gentleman, Hoyt is the founder. He had a bit of trouble getting up on stage what with his bad knees, but once he began to sing, you could tell he is the real deal. After his first number, he stated , “It’s nice to see so many good lookin’ people out there tonight!” An audience member called back, “Well Hoyt, I didn’t know you cared!” And so the night went, with familiar banter back and forth between the performers and the audience. These are neighbors, getting together after the work week to connect through music that has been passed down proudly through the generations.
Friday nights gospel and bluegrass jam was rollicking good fun and gave no hint of what was to come on Saturday. We arrived not knowing exactly what to expect. Saturday is billed as Old Time Country and so it was. A group of very polished and experienced musicians came together to play and sing some of the real oldies but goodies, the songs that undergird the folk movement in music. Some of the musicians travel up from Jacksonville and have played together for years. What talent! Everyone played multiple instruments and each one sang professionally. It was three straight hours of honest good old country interrupted only by the 9:00 Cake Raffle. We went back home with an Amish Pineapple Upside Down cake and it went down easy with a cold glass of milk before bedtime. Admission was free for this priceless performance too, although they passed the hat for the band and we hope they did well as it was a pretty packed house.
It was so entertaining to watch all of the older couples dance the two step. All were decked out in their best cowboy shirts and cowgirl skirts and boots were, of course, required attire. Some of them were up and on the floor all night and I don’t know where they got their energy, but I think it must come from a love of these old familiar songs.
The Woodbine Opry is well worth a trip up I 95 to enjoy a bit of musical history hiding just over the Florida/Georgia line. Y’all come up now, ya hear?”