Group of bluegrass enthusiasts emerges hoping to revive Walden Mountain Opry

Staff photo by Jenna Walker/Chattanooga Times Free Press - Feb 8, 2011 -- Images of The Mountain Opry building on Signal Mountain, Tenn. The Mountain Opry features bluegrass and mountain music performances throughout the year. Images for Chattanow.

A group of bluegrass enthusiasts led by Mike and Yvonne Harvey hope to save the Mountain Opry, the 40-year-old weekly live performance showcase that took place at the Walden Civic Center. Presenter Ken Holloway announced earlier that the final show was March 28, but Harvey said he and others hope to revive it, with some changes.

A lifelong Signal Mountain resident and bluegrass music fan, Harvey said news of the closing was announced on his son Cody's Mountain Cove Bluegrass band social media page and enough people responded that he felt compelled to do something to save the venue.

"It was posted that it was closing on my son's Facebook page, and they have thousands of followers and we've heard from people all over the country saying please don't let this close."

Harvey said he began working on the project last week and is now putting together a board that includes Mountain Opry founder Ray Fox and Ringgold, Georgia, resident/actor/promoter Randall Franks in advisory roles to oversee the new organization. He has also begun the application process for nonprofit status with the state. His next move is to communicate with the Walden's Ridge Civic League, which owns the building, about using the venue going forward.

He said details, such as rent, which night the event will take place and overhead costs are still being discussed.

Harvey said while the previous iteration of the Mountain Opry was a weekly event, the shows will be held monthly in the future.

"We think that is more sustainable," he said.

For four decades, the opry was a place where just about anyone who showed up could get up and perform, and many people made their musical debuts there. Harvey said it is his plan to schedule two established bands for each show and then open the stage to anyone who wants to perform at the close.

"This way it's just a little more professional, but it keeps that spirit of the old opry alive."

Contact Barry Courter at or 423-757-6354.