Worthington native plays Grand Ole Opry

Tuesday, October 18, 2022
Dyar (right) and Jarrod Neimann (left) play together onstage at the Opry.
Courtesy photo

After a six-year journey since moving to Nashville, Matt Dyar fulfilled his dream of playing at the Grand Ole Opry on September 9.

Dyar, a Worthington native, is the guitar player for Jerrod Neimann, a successful country music artist who boasts 10 top 40 hits and two platinum singles dating back to 2010. Neimann was asked to perform at the Opry on September 9, and for Dyar it marked the completion of a goal he had since the moment he moved to Nashville in 2016.

“When I first moved to Nashville, after leaving my job of selling insurance, I got a part-time job at the Cracker Barrel across the street from the Opry,” Dyar said.

Dyar sought out that particular restaurant due to its proximity to the place he longed to play at. It became aspirational for him that every time he would pass the Opry and would have the understanding that whatever he was doing was temporary and that the end goal was country music’s most famous stage.

“I just wanted to be close to the action. I didn’t have any delusions that I would be discovered waiting tables, but I just wanted to always have that goal in sight,” Dyar said.

Dyar kept that goal ever-present in his mind.

Dyar’s journey to becoming a guitar player begins in Worthington.

“There were two CDs I stole from my family,” Dyar said. “One was Alan Jackson’s Greatest Hits and the other was The Dave Mathews Band’s ‘Under the Table and Dreaming.’ I remember taking both of those albums and importing them on my computer and just listening to them over and over again.”

It was from those early intimate moments that Dyar sought to reproduce the music he loved. Dyar got his first guitar, a forest-green Stratocaster, from his brother.

“Actually, he made me buy it after I dropped it and cracked the finish,” Dyar laughs.

Like most aspiring musicians, Dyar joined many bands throughout his high school years and into college. But unlike most, the desire to become a musician never left, even after his graduation from Purdue with a bachelors in management. This desire became more apparent after his first day of orientation at an insurance firm in Columbus.

“After orientation, I checked into an extended-stay hotel, because I knew I wasn’t going to stay. I’ve had the dream of being a professional musician for most of my life and, after sitting through orientation it just reinforced the idea that, ‘I don’t have to do this.’ And, if I only have one attempt at this life, why not pursue my passions and goals,” Dyar said.

After his 10-month stay in Columbus, Dyar took the risk and moved to Music City.

Most people have an idealized version of what a Nashville success story looks like. When the story has been told cinematically (besides a few rare exceptions), the artist comes to the city, hops up onto a Broadway stage, blows the crowd away, and becomes the toast of the town within a few short weeks. For most artists living in Music City, this experience is divorced from reality and Dyar’s was no different.

“One advantage I had when I moved to Nashville is that I had no expectations. My only goal was to get better at my instrument, which made the frustrations and setbacks much easier to deal with,” said Dyar.

During those early years, Dyar would wait tables, come home and practice, and if he was lucky, play a gig somewhere in town. This was his schedule for the first year or so, until he landed a gig with Rick Monroe.

“During the time I spent with Rick, I played about a 100 shows that year, which was a great training ground. It was the first time in my life when I could support myself by playing music, and it gave me the confidence to continue,” Dyar said.

About a year later, Dyar had left his gig with Monroe and became a regular on Broadway, playing with Justin Andrews, who was a finalist for season 10 of the Voice. During this period, Dyar was playing more than 200 shows a year, and also became the guitar player for Karen Waldrup.

It was at this point, around year four, when Dyar felt like he had gained a level of security in being a player in Nashville. From there, he got his first big break: being the guitar player for Jason Michael Caroll, whose hits include, “Where I’m From” and “Living’ Our Love Song.”

“That was a great moment for me, because Jason had big country hits whenever I was in high school, and when I called home and talked to my friends or family, everyone knew his songs,” said Dyar.

Dyar played with Carroll for a year before landing his current position with Neimann. Because of Neimann, Dyar was able to complete his goal of playing on the stage of the Opry.

“The Opry was a possibility for many years, but something always happened that caused it to fall through. However, I’m happy that it happened the way it did. I was able to perform not only music that I love, but music that resonated with the crowd as well. Jarrod has played the Opry more than 20 times and everyone in the crowd knew and loved his songs,” Dyar said.

Also, Dyar had the opportunity to play a song that he contributed on.

“As a hired gun, it’s our job is to play parts that studio players have tracked. But for one song we played, I was the one who tracked the guitar. And it meant so much to me to be able to perform a song that I played on,” Dyar said.

The song Dyar played on, “Country Girl Style” is unreleased at the date of this publication, but will be available in the near future.

And for Dyar, playing the Opry is not the end, but an experience he will hold for the rest of his life.

“For example, if I had become a great player, and had been in Nashville for 15 years, and played a ton of great shows, I would feel like something was missing, never playing the Opry. I’m thrilled I was able to realize that goal and to finally play at the place I would look at every day working as a server at the Cracker Barrel next door,” Dyar said.

To listen to Dyar’s performance, visit https://wsmradio.com/archives/grand-ole-opry/

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  • Congratuations Matt !!!! Keep Following your Dreams !!!! Proud of You !!!!

    -- Posted by CRAZEDFAN101232 on Tue, Oct 18, 2022, at 8:18 PM
  • So glad that you had this opportunity! We are real country music lovers (especially old country (Whalen, Willie, Cash and Haggard). Can't wait until you are famous and I can tell everyone that I taught you everything you know! Mrs.Mowery (Wood).

    -- Posted by ppatty on Wed, Oct 19, 2022, at 8:30 AM
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