NASHVILLE, Ind. -- For nearly 35 years, Brown County's popular Little Nashville Opry was one of the top central Indiana venues to catch some of the biggest names in country music.
That is, until it burned down in 2009.
For nearly a decade, this beloved central Indiana artist colony has been without a large-scale music venue. But in July of last year, crews broke ground on the new Brown County Music Center, located at 200 Maple Leaf Boulevard just off State Road 46 across from Seasons Lodge.
And according to their Audience Services Manager, Andrea Swift-Hanlon, they’ve been bustling ever since.
“That’s including not only the construction of the building but hiring staff. Dana Beth Evans, our executive director, has been instrumental in getting our team together and getting us ready,” she said.
CBS4 got the first exclusive look behind the scenes before the doors officially open to the public.
Our Rachel Bogle met up with a fellow Nashville native to get the inside scoop on Brown County’s must-see music center on this week’s trip “In Your Neighborhood.”
“As you can see, it’s buzzing in here with construction,” said Swift-Hanlon. “We are just putting the finishing touches, getting things cleaned up, just putting the finesse into it.”
According to Swift-Hanlon, the brand new Brown County Music Center will be ready for the public to get their first look tomorrow at the official ribbon cutting from 4-7 p.m.
“The public is welcome to come and tour and enjoy some cocktails and refreshments with us as we enjoy giving tours to the public,” she said.
Just a week and a half later, the 2,017-seat theater will be packed for the sold-out grand opening show starring legendary country artist Vince Gill.
“Some of our other shows include Tesla--which is a really awesome hard rock band. We have Tanya Tucker coming, Clint Black is on the schedule,” Swift-Hanlon noted. “If you’re interested in getting tickets for Clint Black, get them soon [because] he’s close to selling out.”
Other upcoming shows include Here Come the Mummies, Peppa Pig Live, as well as popular local and regional acts like Henry Lee Summer and Duke Tumatoe, just to name a few.
There’s not a bad seat in the house.
“There are no obstructions to the stage. And our ‘worst seat’ at the corner of our balcony at the very last row is only 106 feet from the center of the stage,” said Swift-Hanlon.
Outside the theater, you will find plenty of things see and, of course, plenty of delicious refreshments thanks to their two huge concession stands.
“What I really love about our concessions stands is that we have very close access to the theater, so people are not going to miss a lot of the show to get a drink or get some popcorn or something,” she said.
One suggestion Swift-Hanlon shares when it comes to planning your trip to a show here is to come early because there will be so much to see within the lobby, including a gallery of art soon to adorn the walls.
“It is [going to be] a juried art show of local artists called Gallery 200… and all of those art pieces are on sale,” she said.
Or just look up to check out the beautiful craftsmanship of the hand-hewn woodwork overhead.
“There’s a lot of artistry in this facility. We have some special seating and chairs and pews that are going to be here that are handcrafted by county residents so it’s very exciting,” she said.
Being a key part of the Brown County Music Center team is even more special for Swift-Hanlon because of how she feels the arts scene within this community helped shape her.
“Personally, for me as an entertainer and a performer, this means a lot,” she said. “I am very excited to see this type of facility be established here because this is where I grew up as an artist and was mentored... to see this coming to fruition for our community and to build our economy is very exciting.”
Four Things You Need to Know About the Brown County Music Center:
- Brown County Music Center will hold their official ribbon cutting tomorrow, August 15 from 4-7 p.m. The public is invited to come inside and tour the facility. They area also having two “soft opening” events on August 17 and 21. Those events lead up to the grand opening concert featuring Vince Gill on August 24.
- Other cool features at the Brown County Music Center include an outdoor beer garden for the adults as well as a family garden for all ages to enjoy.
- They’ve also worked closely with other venues in the county (like Bill Monroe Music Park, Brown County Playhouse and eXplore Brown County) to offer “Stay and Play” packages so you can enjoy even more of what Brown County has to offer.
- The Brown County Music Center is paying tribute to the county’s roots as a hub for artists and creatives. They have found ways to showcase their talented local residents through local artist’s work being featured on the walls in their gallery space, as well as hand-crafted seating within the lobby.
For any future performers like herself or people simply looking to get involved, Swift-Hanlon said there will be opportunities for internships and volunteering within the music center.
“They can learn the ropes of what it’s like to work on this side of entertainment and come see the show as well, or just being able to be an usher or a greeter or a ticket scanner,” she said. “So we’re very excited to have that opportunity to our youth and adults alike.”
While in Brown County, check out these other hot spots located in the heart of Nashville: