A Grand Ole Time





It’s not every day you get to play on country music’s biggest stage. But for Adam Hood, that dream became a reality last month when he made his Grand Ole Opry debut at the show’s renowned Nashville venue.

“It was a lot of fun,” Hood said of his debut performance. “… I pretty much walked off the stage kind of saying, ‘OK, when can we come back?’”

The Grand Ole Opry began as a radio show in 1925 and is now a revered weekly live showcase featuring “today’s country music stars, superstars and rising stars all on one stage,” according to its website. It was hosted at the Ryman Auditorium from 1943 to 1974, when it moved to its current home, the Opry House.


Hood, a native of Opelika, said music has been ingrained in his life for as long as he can remember. An experienced musician and songwriter, he has released five studio albums to date; his latest, “Bad Days Better,” was released Sept. 16 — just over a month before his Opry debut on Oct. 22.

“My oldest memories are music memories,” Hood said. “My parents bought me a guitar pretty young … and the things that I remember the most about church with my grandparents and great-grandparents was the hymns.”

The summer before his seventh-grade year, Hood and his best friend began taking guitar lessons from Robert Orr, who would later become Hood’s guitar teacher at Opelika High School in the 1990s. It was a class he still remembers today.

“You would go through a couple days having fundamentals, and learning notes and scales and things like that … but Fridays were days to learn songs,” he recalled. “So, you would go into guitar class and you would set your tape down on the tape machine, and he would just go through one at a time. He would listen to the song that you choose, and then he would go notate it on the chalkboard and then show you how to play it.”

To Hood, Orr was more than a uniquely talented guitar player; he was also inherently inspirational.

“You can watch his abilities and how effortless it was, and you want to be that good,” he said. 

Hood began playing guitar at church and eventually landed a weekly gig at The Breezeway when he was just 16.

It’s these parts of his background — and snapshots of his current home life in Northport, Alabama — that Hood said are reflected in his songs. But while Hood said his music is heavily rooted in country and blues, he considers himself more of a “southern music” artist.

“I always kind of laughingly called it ‘southern music’ just because of the fact that it kind of follows a lot of different parameters of southern music,” he explained. “It’s obviously country, but there’s a lot of blues influence. There’s too much blues influence in my songs for it just to be country, and there’s too much country influence in my songs just for it to be blues.”

While working for more than a decade as a songwriter, penning hits for several well-known country artists, including Miranda Lambert, Hood continued to play live shows. 

Lambert collaborated with Hood on the song “Harder Stuff” off his latest album, recorded in Macon, Georgia. The album, which Hood touts as a “case study in positive thinking,” also involved members of Blackberry Smoke as the band and Brent Cobb in the producer’s seat. Hood also co-wrote “Throw Me a Line” with Warren Haynes.

The result was a package to be proud of — Hood’s most successful release to date.

“It was kind of me calling in a lot of favors for this album, and we did a lot of work on it and did a lot to promote it,” he said. “It’s good to see that the promotion … it’s working. It’s doing great. … We’ve been at this for a long time, so it’s good to see the fruits of your labor.”


“Harder Stuff” has emerged as a favorite on the album; thus, it was one of the songs Hood chose to perform during his Grand Ole Opry performance, along with “Way Too Long” off his 2014 album “Welcome to the Big World.”

After going through the official preparation process and ironing out all the logistics with the Grand Ole Opry team, Hood was free to bask in the anticipation. He showed up early for a daytime tour of the venue, but the musician admitted it was a bit of a double-edged sword.

“It was nice to kind of walk through where the dressing rooms are, go out and look at the stage and see how it is … however, that kind of made me a little bit nervous,” Hood said.

But come showtime, the nervousness turned back to excitement. The first step before the big show was a brief rehearsal with the house band, which Hood described as “top-notch.” The band had already learned his chosen songs; the rehearsal then allowed him to get a feel for the stage and the venue’s acoustics.

“Honestly, once I got to hear the room, and once I got to hear how solid the band was, I could relax then,” he said.

The experience was somewhat of a whirlwind, according to Hood — hanging out in the dressing room, waiting for his name to be called, walking out onto the stage, playing his two songs and answering a couple of banter-like questions before making his exit.

Hood said it was humbling to see all the people who filled the room, from family and friends to fans.

“The coolest part was that we had a lot of people come in to be supportive,” he recalled. “I mean, the show sold out. … [The host] kind of jokingly asked me the question, ‘How many of these tickets did you buy?’ and thankfully I bought none of those tickets. … That was something I’m pretty overwhelmingly grateful for — just the fact that that many people came to be so supportive.”

At this point, Hood has traveled all over the country to perform his music, but he said he visits his hometown when he can. His mother still resides in Opelika, as does his oldest daughter. But with two young children as well, Hood said traveling isn’t as easy as it used to be.

“I try to get down there,” he said. “… The guys at the Songwriters Festival are friends. I missed it this year — I had to be in Montana. But we try to get down there as much as we can. The cool thing is, I think it’s interesting that when I was kind of getting started, they didn’t have no songwriters festivals in Opelika, you know what I mean? So it’s good that they have it now.

“Part of me is a little bitter, but I’m OK with that,” Hood added, laughing. “Not really. I’m not really bitter. I think it’s great. I’m glad to see the cultural progressiveness about it.”

It’s been a journey, but Hood is sailing on to the next big thing. From Dec. 2 through 10, he will be on the “Southern Brothers Tour” with Jason Eady. After a break for the holidays, Hood said things will crank back up again in January. First is the sold-out Sandy Beaches Cruise with Delbert McClinton — one of Hood’s musical heroes — and a number of other artists, followed by the Mile 0 Fest in Key West, Florida.

Still, Hood is already dreaming of his next appearance in the Grand Ole Opry.

“I’ll play that place as much as they’ll have me, to be honest with you,” he said. “I really enjoyed it, and it was a wonderful experience.”

To learn more about Hood, or to check out his latest music and upcoming tour dates, visit adamhood.com. 


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