For many in the country world, New York City’s Madison Square Garden and Los Angeles’ The Forum don’t hold a candle to the Grand Ole Opry. For those like Mike Ryan, playing the Opry and being part of the long-running broadcast fulfills a lifelong dream, as they play the same stage that launched careers and created legends. Mike’s debut performance on Nov. 8 came weeks after the release of Longcut, his first album since 2017’s Blink You’ll Miss It.
“My first time at the Opry was actually on a mission trip I went on with my youth group,” Mike tells HollywoodLife. “We were in a town close by fixing up houses, and we went into town one day to Opry Mills. There was a Gibson store in the mall, and I had just started learning how to play guitar, so I was pretty excited about that! We went by the Opry.”
Years later, when Mike had mastered the guitar, and he was in Nashville for business, he made a trip to the Opry. “Back then, I just imagined how cool it would be to play that stage,” he said in a statement. “So, it gives me a lot of pride now to be invited to play the Opry stage where so many country music legends and artists have performed. My two young sons surprised me with the news, and that made it that much sweeter.”
While speaking EXCLUSIVELY with HollywoodLife, the “Jacket On” singer shares what songs from his new album, Longcut, fans should check out and which other songs new listeners should spin if they want to get a better taste of this country star’s sound.
HollywoodLife: Does your Opry debut seem real? Or is it all kind of in that haze until you finally make it to the wooden circle?
Mike Ryan: Oh, it’s real alright! I’ve been hearing from family and friends for weeks now. Lots of them are flying out to see me play. We are all very excited!
Do you remember your first impression of the Grand Ole Opry? Like, your first memory of the Opry?
My first time at the Opry was actually on a mission trip I went on with my youth group. We were in a town close by fixing up houses, and we went into town one day to Opry Mills. There was a Gibson store in the mall, and I had just started learning how to play guitar, so I was pretty excited about that! We went by the Opry. I didn’t get to go inside, but there it was!
Are you going to dedicate this performance to anyone? Or, is there anyone in particular that you’d want to see you make this historic debut?
I don’t have any dedications planned, but I’ve always had a very supportive family and a pretty big one at that! We’ve got a lot of them coming, so that’ll be pretty cool.
You’ve just released your first album in five years. First off, how has the reaction been to Longcut?
So far, so good! But if anyone had anything bad to say, I wouldn’t hear it. It doesn’t have to be your favorite.
What would you say is your personal standout track on the album? Like, in a few years, you were to pick a song from it for a ‘Greatest Hits’ compilation, which would you select and why?
I could never pick just one! “Longcut” has always felt special to me. Like it was going to get us in front of a lot more people. We’ll have to see if it’s the song or the album, but either way, I’ve felt something special about it for a long time.
“Loser” and “Get Away with Anything” are a couple of my other favorites. Time will tell which ones get the most light, but I’m glad we can finally have them in the live setlist!
For those who might not know you, which 3 songs of yours should they listen to in order to get an idea of your sound and style?
“Damn Good Goodbye”
“Dear Country Music”
I think those three would make some pretty good bait.