Monday, April 23, 2018

Tuesday Night Opry 4/24 & Opry Country Classics 4/26

One of the newest Grand Ole Opry members, Chris Young, will be performing on the Tuesday Night Opry this week. Also scheduled are Tommy Emmanuel and Jerry Douglas. I always enjoy both and to see and hear them performing together should be something special.

7:00: John Conlee; Lindsay Ell
7:30: Tommy Emmanuel & Jerry Douglas; Drake White
8:15: Bill Anderson; The SteelDrivers
8:45: Chris Young

The Spotlight Artist this week on Opry Country Classics is Connie Smith. Another pretty good show scheduled:

Host: Larry Gatlin
Spotlight Artist: Connie Smith
Also Appearing: The Gatlin Brothers; David Ball; Elizabeth Cook; Don Schlitz

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Grand Ole Opry 4/20 & 4/21

The line-ups are posted for the three Opry shows this weekend as there will be two shows on Saturday night in addition to the one show on Friday.

The attraction this weekend will be Grand Ole Opry members Old Crow Medicine Show, who will be performing on all three shows this weekend. In fact, on both Saturday shows they have the entire last segment to themselves. Joining OCMS both nights will be Opry members Riders In The Sky and Jeannie Seely, along with guest comedian Dick Hardwick, who suddenly appears to be on the Opry's "frequent guest artist" list.

Additional Opry members scheduled on Friday night include Bobby Osborne, Terri Clark and Hall of Fame member Connie Smith. Saturday night The Whites are on the schedule, along with the fantastic Patty Loveless and the legendary Jesse McReynolds, who will be returning to the Opry after missing last weekend due to illness.

Guesting on Friday night, in addition to Dick Hardwick, will be the legendary Gene Watson, along with Lindi Ortega, Chuck Wicks and Joshua Hedley. Joining Dick on Saturday night will be Sam Lewis and Lucas Hoge.

When looking at the line-ups, there are only 9 acts scheduled for Saturday night. Hopefully this is just a one night deal and not an indication that the Opry is falling back to the old habits they had over the last couple of years. It was nice seeing full line-ups for the past several months.

Friday April 20
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Lindi Ortega; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Terri Clark; Gene Watson
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Chuck Wicks; Dick Hardwick
8:45: Joshua Hedley; Old Crow Medicine Show

Saturday April 21
1st show
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jesse McReynolds; Sam Lewis
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Patty Loveless
8:00: The Whites (host); Lucas Hoge; Dick Hardwick; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Old Crow Medicine Show

2nd show
9:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jesse McReynolds; Sam Lewis
10:00: The Whites (host); Lucas Hoge; Dick Hardwick
10:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Patty Loveless; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Old Crow Medicine Show

It seems as if every week there is someone making their Opry debut and this weekend it is Joshua Hedley. Joshua is a native of Florida and began playing the fiddle as a young child. At the age of 12 he joined his first band, playing at the local VFW and American Legion halls. At the age of 19, he moved to Nashville and began sneaking into Robert's Western World, where he went on to become a featured performer and in-demand sideman. Over time, he acquired the nickname "Mayor of Lower Broad."

Joshua will be performing on the Opry in support of his new album "Mr. Jukebox," which will be released the same day as his debut on the Opry. This is Joshua's debut album and features 10 songs.

Now here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from the 3rd weekend in April ten years ago, the weekend of April 18 & 19, 2008:

Friday April 18
8:00: Jim Ed Brown (host) w/Helen Cornelius; Connie Smith; Del McCoury Band
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Suzy Bogguss
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jimmy C Newman; Diamond Rio
9:30: John Conlee (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jack Greene; Avett Brothers

Saturday April 19
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Emily West
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host) w/Helen Cornelius; George Hamilton IV; The Whites; Del McCoury Band
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jack Greene; Mark Lowry
8:00: Lorrie Morgan (host); Jan Howard; Nitty Gritty Dirt Band; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Connie Smith; Lee Greenwood

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Del McCoury Band; Lorrie Morgan
10:00: George Hamilton IV (host); Emily West; Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
10:30: Jeannie Seely (host); The Whites; Mark Lowry; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Connie Smith; Lee Greenwood

From 25 years ago, Saturday April 17, 1993:

1st show
6:30: Grandpa Jones (host); Jean Shepard
6:45: Del Reeves (host); Skeeter Davis
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jimmy C Newman; Stonewall Jackson; Jan Howard; Ray Pillow
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Osborne Brothers; The Whites; Mike Snider
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Charlie Walker; Jeannie Seely; Darryl & Don Ellis; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Jack Greene; Jim & Jesse; John Conlee; Alison Krauss

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); The 4 Guys; Wilma Lee Cooper; Brother Oswald; Jimmy C Newman
10:00: Grandpa Jones (host); Charlie Louvin
10:15: Del Reeves (host); Jean Shepard
10:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Skeeter Davis
10:45: John Conlee (host); Darryl & Don Ellis; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Osborne Brothers; Jan Howard; Bill Carlisle; The Whites
11:30: Bill Anderson (host); Alison Krauss; Mike Snider; Johnny Russell

Among the events that took place during the 3rd weekend in April, it was Saturday April 22, 1967 that The 4 Guys became members of the Grand Ole Opry. The group made their Opry debut earlier that year in February and quickly became Opry favorites. They came to the Opry from Wheeling, West Virginia and were one of the few groups to join the cast without the benefit of a hit record.

April 17, 1971 saw the return of Connie Smith to the Grand Ole Opry. Connie had originally joined the cast in 1965, however she left the show a few years later to raise her children and to concentrate on gospel music, which really didn't fit in with the Opry. Once Connie returned to the Opry's cast, she stayed and is still with the Opry today.

Let's go back 47 years to that Saturday night when Connie Smith returned to the Opry:

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Jim Ed Brown (host); Pop A Top
The 4 Guys: Cottonfields/Maria/Sweet Caroline
Jim Ed Brown: Morning

6:45: Rudy's
Ray Pillow (host): The Waitress
Del Wood: Psychedelic Mockingbird
Bobby Lewis: He Gives Us All His Love
Ray Pillow: You Don't Care What Happens to Me

7:00: Luzianne
Billy Grammer (host): Mountain Dew
Earl Scruggs Revue: Fireball Mail
Justin Tubb: I'm Going Back to Louisiana
Joe & Rose Lee Maphis: If I've Gotta Have Your Lovin'
Billy Grammer: Just A Closer Walk with Thee
Earl Scruggs Revue: The Girl from the North Country
Justin Tubb: As Long As There's a Sunday
Joe & Rose Lee Maphis: Alabama Jubilee

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Skeeter Davis: Bus Fare to Kentucky
Stringbean: Eight More Miles to Lousiville
Crook Brothers: Sally Goodin
Roy Acuff: I Wonder Where You Are Tonight
Skeeter Davis: Amazing Grace
Stringbean: Hot Corn; Cold Corn

8:00: Martha White
Ernest Tubb (host): In the Jailhouse Now
Hank Locklin: She's As Close As I Can Get
Connie Smith: Louisiana Man
Floyd Tillman: Slipping Around
Ernest Tubb: One Sweet Hello
Hank Locklin: Country Hall of Fame
Connie Smith: Once A Day

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): Vanishing Breed
Bob Luman: Mona Lisa
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Lost Indian
Hank Snow: So Goes My Heart
Harold Weakley: Crazy Arms
Bob Luman: Sing the Blues to Daddy
Hank Snow: Tammy

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Jim Ed Brown (host): Looking Back to See
The 4 Guys: One Pair of Hands
Justin Tubb: Free-Born Man
Del Wood: Wesley's Tune
Jim Ed Brown: Angel's Sunday
Justin Tubb: Lonesome 7-7203
Del Wood: Are You from Dixie
Jim Ed Brown: Morning

10:00: Fender
Hank Locklin (host): Please Help Me I'm Falling
Stringbean: Mountain Dew
Bobby Lewis: He Gives Us All His Love
Hank Locklin: She's As Close As I Can Get

10:15: Union 76
Billy Grammer (host): Gotta Travel On
Skeeter Davis: Bus Fare to Kentucky
Joe & Rose Lee Maphis: Honey, Be My Honey Bee
Billy Grammer: What A Friend

10:30: Trailblazer
Roy Acuff (host): I Saw the Light
Ray Pillow: The Waitress
Floyd Tillman: Daisy May
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird

10:45: Beech-Nut
Ernest Tubb (host): You Don't Have to Be A Baby to Cry
Leon Boulanger: San Antonio Rose
Crook Brothers: Sally Ann
Ernest Tubb: Another Story

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Connie Smith: How Great Thou Art
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Take Me Back to Tulsa
Hank Snow: Tangled Mind
Connie Smith: I Never Once Stopped Loving You
Sam McGee: Wheels
Hank Snow: Mississippi River Blues

11:30: Elm Hill
Charlie Louvin (host): Will You Visit Me on Sundays
Bob Luman: Sing the Blues to Daddy
Diane McCall: Help Me Make It Through the Night
Charlie Louvin: Love Has to Die All by Itself
Bob Luman: I Got a Woman
Charlie Louvin & Diane McCall: Did You Ever/Something to Brag About

Finally, it was Saturday April 19, 1947 that Roy Acuff returned to the Grand Ole Opry after he left the show the year before.

In 1946, Roy was one of the stars of the Grand Ole Opry and as the star of the Prince Albert portion of the show that was broadcast on the NBC Radio Network, Roy felt he was worth more money. "Sponsor," which was the name of a leading radio trade journal, wrote the following: "When Roy Acuff, star for seven years on the Grand Ole Opry decided that he wanted more than folk-music men are usually paid (peanuts) and turned in his notice to the R.J Reynolds Tobacco Company, the tobacco organization had more than usual star aches. Acuff was almost a religion in the mountain music territory. He had sold thousands of song book and a juke box didn't snag its share of nickles unless it had plenty of Acuff discs, and they still say he could have become governor of Tennessee, if he hadn't decided not to run. So, when William Esty and Company, the advertising agency handling the Reynolds account, was told the sad news, it had real trouble, real tall corn trouble. A reasonable facsimile of Acuff, even one better than the original, wouldn't work. The circuit-rider hold that the existing star had on his people wouldn't disappear just because he was playing one-night stands throughout the country to collect upon his reputation. Something new had to be added to the Prince Albert section if the Opry was to hit a 13.1 Hopper rating (a very strong rating) in December, 1945, just as it had in December of the previous year."

It is interesting to note that Roy Acuff didn't just quit the Prince Albert portion of the Opry; he severed all of his connections to WSM and the Grand Ole Opry. Over the years, Roy never talked much about it, but there was hurt pride involved in it all. Roy had worked hard to make himself the heart and soul of the Prince Albert Show and he was the Opry's most prominent star. On the road, he was making good money and had lucrative movie offers. He wanted that recognized by both the Opry and the sponsor. When he was refused what he considered a fair offer, he left and was replaced by Red Foley.

After Roy left, he contended that he connection with the Opry, and Harry Stone at all times. He continued to bill his show as "Roy Acuff and His Grand Ole Opry Gang," which he could not have done without the approval of the Opry. In 1946, he had the Roy Acuff Tent Theater, using his own money to equip the tour. While the show made some money, it was a tough deal for Roy as the tour traveled through Virginia, North and South Carolina, then continuing into Texas and Florida. After reaching Florida, he called it quits. He then went to the West Coast for a three month tour of California that was a huge financial success.

After returning to Nashville, he was hospitalized for a minor ailment and was visited by Harry Stone and Ernest Tubb. According to legend, Harry Stone told Roy that the Opry was losing many of its people and it looked like it was going to go under if he didn't come back. While there is no documentation of any kind that the Opry was going to go under because Roy wasn't there, what Harry said worked on Roy's ego and he came back, first appearing on Red Foley's Prince Albert portion on April 19, 1947.

Here is the program from 71 years ago, Saturday April 19, 1947, the night Roy Acuff returned:

8:00: Purina
Oklahoma Wranglers: Rocky Mountain Express
Eddy Arnold: You're Not My Darling Any More
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Uncle Dave Macon and Dorris: Wish You All Well
Eddy Arnold: Rocking Alone in an Old Rocking Chair
Rod Brasfield: Jokes
Oklahoma Wranglers: Old Indians Never Die
Annie Lou and Danny: Corn Bread and Molasses
Eddy Arnold: Chained to a Memory

8:30: Warren Paint and Color Co.
Lew Childre: Fog on the Rio Grande
Paul Howard: Somebody Else's Trouble
Bill Monroe: Blue Moon of Kentucky
Milton Estes: Cowboy Has to sing
Clyde Moody: Leaf of Love
Lew and Stringbean: Rabbit in the Log
Chubby Wise: Down Yonder
Marie and Clyde: Railroad Boomer
Possum Hunters: Miss Sally
Robert Lunn: Since They Put a Radio in the Henhouse
Jimmy Walker: Gone, Gone, Gone

9:00: Royal Crown Cola
Golden West Cowboys: Alabama Jubilee
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Billy in the Low Ground
Cowboy Copas: Texas Red
Texas Ruby: Kansas City Blues
Curly Fox: Farmer and His Mule
Bradley Kincaid: Billy Richardson's Last Ride
York Brothers: Life Can Never Be the Same
Cowboy Copas: Tragic Romance
Johnnie and Jack: This World Can't Stand Long
Shorty Boyd: 8th of January

9:30: Prince Albert
Red Foley: Tennessee Central No. 9
Square Dance: Turkey in the Straw
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird
Oak Ridge Quartet: Blind Bartemus
Ernest Tubb: There's Gonna Be Some Changes Made Around Here
Red Foley: I'll Never Let You Go Little Darling
Minnie Pearl: Jokes
Roy Acuff: Wait for the Light to Shine
Instrumental: Careless Love
Square Dance: Leather Britches

10:00: Wall-Rite
Earl Scruggs: Why Did You Wander
Bill and Lester: True Life Blues
Uncle Dave Macon and Dorris: Pleasure Down on the Farm
Quartet: Shining Path
Lester: Have I Told You Lately That I Love You

10:15: Weatherhouse
Paul Howard: There's a Big Rock in the Road
Lew and Stringbean: Roll On Buddy Roll On
Clyde Moody: Where the Old Red River Flows
Johnny and Jack: Sing Tom Kitty
Possum Hunters: Old Rat

10:30: Cherokee Mills
Roy Acuff: No One Will Ever Know
Rachel and Oswald: Columbus Stockade Blues
Curly Fox and Ruby: Did You Ever Go Sailing
Jimmy: My Life's Been a Pleasure
Jug Band: Detour
Arthur Smith: Kicking Mule

10:45: Southern Woodenware
Golden West Cowboys: Tennessee Waltz
Bill Monroe: My Rose of Old Kentucky
Bradley Kincaid: Granny's Old Arm Chair
Crook Brothers: The Old Account Was Settled
Golden West Cowboys: Cowboy's Special

11:00: Eddy Arnold Songbook
Eddy Arnold: I Couldn't Believe It Was True
Lily Belle: You Only Want Me When You're Lonely
Lonzo and Oscar: John Henry
Eddy Arnold: You Can't Break the Chains of Love

11:15: Ernest Tubb Songbook
Ernest Tubb: Rainbow at Midnight
Hal Smith: Joe Turner Blues
Dot and Smokey: Let's Pretend
Ernest Tubb: I'm Telling You

11:30: Saf-Kill
Wally Fowler: Waiting for My Call to Glory
Oklahoma Wranglers: A No good Son of a Gun
Curly Fox: Bully of the Town
York Brothers: Life Can Never Be the Same
Gully Jumpers: Dance All Night

11:45: Michigan Bulb
Milton Estes: I'm Writing You Darling Through Tears
Jimmy Walker and Robert Lunn: I'd Trade All My Tomorrows
Kirk McGee: I'm Gonna Be Boss from Now On
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Chinese Breakdown
Milton Estes: I Don't Care

When Roy Acuff returned it was not as the host of the Prince Albert portion of the Opry as that spot had gone to Red Foley, who was doing a fine job in that capacity. Beginning the following week, Roy would be the host and star of the Royal Crown Cola segment, which followed the Prince Albert portion. However, that segment of the Opry was not broadcast nationally. Once Roy returned to the Opry, he would remain with the show for the rest of his life.

One final note. While it is widely reported that all of those who appear on the Opry do so at union scale under a negotiated contract, that is not the case. The union contract is for the minimum that is paid to the performers, and the vast majority do make the minimum. However, the bigger stars are paid more and that practice started when Roy Acuff returned to the Opry in April 1947.

There you have it for this week. I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend!!!

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Some Longtime Opry Members May Get Boot

No, don't get excited!! That was the front page headline that readers of the Nashville Banner woke up to on April 18, 1985. Here is the entire story as written by Clarke Canfield.

About 20 percent of the performers on the world famous Grand Ole Opry will be phased out of the show under a new two-year contract agreed upon Tuesday night. Sources close to the contract negotiations said the move will affect at least 12 acts, all of them longtime show regulars, who will be placed on "Senior Status."

Under the plan agreed upon by Grand Ole Opry management and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (AFTRA), the performers will be cut to only 14 of the Opry's 187 shows a year. "They (Opry management) say they have too many artists for the show now.," said David Maddox, AFTRA's executive secretary who negotiated the pact. "They say they have more acts than slots. I don't know who it will affect. What that means is those people who are to be terminated from the Opry will be given at least enough employment to be covered by all the benefits when the retire."

Among those artists Opry management wants to phase out, according to knowledgeable sources, Justin Tubb, Ernie Ashworth, Jean Shepard, Vic Willis, Charlie Louvin, Lonzo and Oscar, Teddy Wilburn, Del Wood, Stu Phillips, and Billy Walker. 

Opryland President E.W. "Bud" Wendell and Grand Ole Opry Manager Hal Durham were both out of town and could not be reached for comment. Opry Information Director Jerry Strobel said he was unaware of the contract details.

"Why were we promised we'd be there for life and we're kicked in the teeth?" said one performer who asked not to be identified. "We were the glue that held that place together," declared another." We built the Opry up and bypassed show dates on the road to keep the Opry going. Who are they to judge who is salable and who isn't." "This is nothing but age discrimination," said another.

Maddox would neither confirm nor deny report that only eight Opry members attended the Tuesday meeting and that seven voted in favor of the contract. The other voter reportedly abstained, sources told the Nashville Banner. Along with the possibility of being phased out, several Opry veterans voiced displeasure with the new contract that will give Opry performers a 5 percent pay raise over the next two years. The contract was approved Tuesday between the union members and Gaylord Broadcasting Co,. owners of Opryland USA, WSM-AM, WSM-FM, the Opryland Hotel and The Nashville Network (TNN) and approved by the AFTRA board today.

Contract negotiations had been in the works for about a month, with performers initially seeking 20 percent pay hikes, increased job security and compensation for performances on TNN, which began television some Opry shows nationwide last week. Maddox said that any mention of who would be phased out would be pure speculation on his part, but that under terms of the contract, those who are being kicked off the show will be compensated in the end. Once those performers who are targeted to be phased out of the Opry shows become eligible for the AFTRA pension fund, they will be taken off the show, Maddox said. "A minimum pension is probably not that significant in money, but with the pension they receive the same benefits as if they were employed, "Maddox said, explaining that those on pension receive major medical and hospital insurance. He said that Opry management could have kicked anybody they wanted off the shows but instead gave some performers more security by slowly phasing them out. "I was surprised we were able to negotiate that phase-out plan," he said. "This is experimental. What that means is that we want to try this for two years and see how it works out." Maddox said everybody he had talked to was pleased with the contract. "The reaction I've gotten from those who've heard the contract results is that they're very pleased with it. We had different priorities than just a 20 percent pay raise. You have to look at the package as a whole." But some embittered Opry performers claimed that Maddox had "sold us down the river" and did not look out for their best interest.

That was the Nashville Banner story from that day. For those of you who have read the Porter Wagoner biography, there is also a reference to this situation in the book which included details of a "locker-room" meeting called by Porter, who seemed to be the one taking charge. That meeting took place on May 8 and included Roy Acuff, Ernie Ashworth, Bill Carlisle, The Four Guys, Jack Greene, Jan Howard, Lonzo and Oscar, Jimmy C Newman, Ray Pillow, Del Reeves, Benny Burchfield (Jean Shepard's husband), Jeannie Seely, Connie Smith, Justin Tubb, Billy Walker, Charlie Walker, Teddy Wilburn, Vic Willis, and Del Wood. 

Porter was quoted as saying at this meeting, "I can imagine how humiliated each one of you were that your names appeared in the newspaper. Let me assure you, that article was not authorized by the Grand Ole Opry management. The phasing out of an artist is something we need to discuss deeply, anyone that would be phased out, would be purely because they can't contribute, and there is not a person in this room that can't contribute more to the Opry than you are doing." The entire Porter statement is in the book.

Looking back to 1985 when this story broke, the Opry just about 60 members including the two square dance groups. And Opry management was saying that was too many? Dropping 12 would have brought the membership total to under 50, the lowest in several decades.

Some of the names on the list are interesting, especially considering that several on that list, such as Jean Shepard, Billy Walker and Charlie Louvin to name three, were still actively touring. And it is not like those listed were senior citizens. Most were in the 50's. And if the Opry was going to make a list, notice some of the names that were missing. It could easily have been argued that The Four Guys, Ray Pillow or Bill Carlisle could have been included. Who knows how the Opry management came up with the list of names.

In a way, the Opry's members had only themselves to blame for this mess. While Porter had no trouble gathering a decent group of veteran members for his "locker-room" meeting, only eight bothered to vote on the union contract. It would appear that those who were quoted in the paper were among those who did not vote.

Obviously, and looking back, further discussions took place and all of those listed continued as Opry members. In fact, despite the claim that the Opry had too many members, Hal Durham went on a membership run in the late 80's and early 90's, with membership increasing to over 70. Of course, those who Hal asked to join accepted Opry membership with no appearance commitments, so there was no need to worry about too many members showing up most nights.

One last note: two of those listed, Charlie Louvin and Billy Walker, would lead the veterans who complained about their appearances being cut after Pete Fisher took over in 1999, while Jean Shepard continued to be very vocal about the way the veterans were being treated at the Opry. Obviously time did not change things.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Tuesday Night Opry 4/17 & Opry Country Classics 4/19

Another set of mid-week Opry shows are on the schedule for this week. One show on Tuesday night featuring another appearance by Grand Ole Opry member Trace Adkins, who continues with his string of Tuesday night appearances. Also scheduled are Opry members Ricky Skaggs, The Whites and Del McCoury. Among the guests scheduled is Ray Stevens.

Tuesday Night Opry April 17:

7:00: The Whites; Ray Stevens
7:30: Aaron Lewis; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Mickey Guyton; Ricky Skaggs
8:45: Henry Cho; Trace Adkins

Opry Country Classics this week will feature a rare appearance by Country Music Hall of Fame member Brenda Lee, who is the spotlight artist this week. Larry Gatlin is back hosting.

Opry Country Classics April 19

Host: Larry Gatlin
Spotlight Artist: Brenda Lee
Also Appearing: The Gatlin Brothers; Darin & Brooke Aldridge; Wade Hayes; William Michael Morgan

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Grand Ole Opry 4/13 & 4/14

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the shows this weekend and during this week's Friday Night Opry, Diamond Rio will be celebrating 20 years as members of the Grand Ole Opry as they joined the Opry cast on April 18, 1998.

Diamond Rio, consisting of Marty Roe, Jimmy Olander, Gene Johnson, Dan Truman, Dana Williams, and Brian Prout, made their first Opry appearance in October 1991 and in 1998 became the first group since The Whites, who joined in 1984, to receive Opry membership. With their lighter-than-air harmonies and intricately woven instrumentation, this six-man group has been turning songs into standards since its 1991 debut album helped define the "young country" movement. Diamond Rio has been awarded Top Vocal Group honors a total of six times from the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. The group has sold more than 10 million records, earning five gold and three platinum albums in the process.

Diamond Rio evolved from the Tennessee River Boys, a band that performed at the former Opryland theme park. Singer Marty Roe, guitarist Jimmy Olander and keyboardist Dan Truman left that group to form their own in 1986. Drummer Brian Prout and mandolin player Gene Johnson joined the new band in 1987. Bassist Dana Williams, a nephew of Opry members Sonny and Bobby Osborne, came on board two years later.

In 1991, Diamond Rio's first single, "Meet in the Middle," went to No. 1, the first group in country music history to top the charts with its debut. The band followed "Meet in the Middle" with the hits "Mirror, Mirror" and "Mama Don't Forget to Pray for Me." In all, Diamond Rio has placed more than 30 singles on Billboard magazine's country charts, including such chart-toppers as "How Your Love Makes Me Feel, "Beautiful Mess," and "I Believe." The 2001 hit ballad "One More Day" became a key song of healing after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The group's members told their story in an autobiography titled after one of their most popular hits, "A Beautiful Mess."

Joining Diamond Rio on the Friday Night Opry will be Grand Ole Opry members Connie Smith, Mike Snider, Ricky Skaggs, The Whites, Riders In The Sky, Crystal Gayle, Craig Morgan, and Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press. Nice to see that 9 of the 12 acts scheduled are Opry members. The three guest artists all have appeared on the Opry before: Delta Rae, Love and Theft, and Mark Wills, who continues to be a regular guest on the Opry.

Friday April 13
7:00: Connie Smith (host); Love and Theft; Mike Snider
7:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Delta Rae
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Mark Wills; Crystal Gayle
8:45: Craig Morgan (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Diamond Rio

I wanted to mention Opry member Ricky Skaggs. For Ricky, this will be his 15th Opry appearance of the year, with only Bill Anderson, Jeannie Seely, Mike Snider and The Whites having appeared more. And while Ricky is starting to get up there in age, he still maintains a full touring schedule. It is really nice to see Ricky supporting the Opry as 2018 continues. It is also nice to see one of the Opry's newer members, Crystal Gayle, continue to support the show. Her appearances add a lot to the Opry line-ups.

Now to Saturday night were two artists will be making their Grand Ole Opry debuts. Beth Nielsen Chapman, a veteran in the music city, will be appearing for the first time on the Opry, along with the newest internet sensation Mason Ramsey. Mason has the nickname of "Yodeling Walmart Boy," who at the age of 11 recently appeared on the Ellen show, where he received an invitation to appear on the Grand Ole Opry. His most famous song, so far, is Hank Williams "Lovesick Blues." Dreams do come true and I hope Mason will enjoy this special moment in his young life.

Joining Beth and Mason on Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will be Opry members Jeannie Seely, Mike Snider, Lorrie Morgan, Jesse McReynolds, Riders In The Sky, The Whites and Ricky Skaggs. Also guesting will be Natalie Stovall, Point Of Grace, and David Ball. David will also be hosting the Midnight Jamboree.

Saturday April 14
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); David Ball; Mike Snider
7:30: Lorrie Morgan (host); Natalie Stovall; Jesse McReynolds
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); The Whites; Beth Nielsen Chapman; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); Mason Ramsey; Point Of Grace

As mentioned, this will be the Grand Ole Opry debut for Beth Nielsen Chapman, who is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Her writing credits include Faith Hill's "This Kiss," Martina McBride's "Happy Girl," Lorrie Morgan's "Five Minutes," Willie Nelson's "Nothing I Can Do About It Now," Tanya Tucker's "Strong Enough to Bend," and Trisha Yearwood's "Down on My Knees." That is just a sampling of the hits she has written. She will be making numerous appearances in Nashville over the next several weeks in support of her new album "Hearts of Glass" which will be released later this month.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from ten years ago, the weekend of April 11 & 12, 2008:

Friday April 11
8:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Rebecca Lynn Howard; T.G. Sheppard
8:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Jamey Johnson
9:00: Jean Shepard (host); Carolina Rain; Gibson Brothers
9:30: Marty Stuart (host); Gene Watson; Josh Turner

Saturday April 12
1st show
6:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; The Wrights
7:00: Jason Aldean; Jewel; Jason Michael Carroll; John Anderson
8:00: Ray Pillow (host); Charlie Louvin; Jamey Johnson; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Jean Shepard (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Joe Nichols

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); The Wrights; Jason Michael Carroll
10:00: Jeannie Seely (host); John Anderson; Jewel
10:30: Jean Shepard (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jason Aldean; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Ray Pillow (host); Jamey Johnson; Joe Nichols

From 25 years ago, April 10, 1993, the 2nd Saturday in April:

1st show
6:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jim Ed Brown
6:45: Grandpa Jones (host); The 4 Guys
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jack Greene; Jean Shepard; David Houston; Mike Snider
7:30: John Conlee (host); Skeeter Davis; Jim & Jesse; Ronnie Milsap
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Charlie Walker; Del Reeves; Stonewall Jackson; Opry Square Dancers; Stoney Mountain Cloggers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Brother Oswald; Billy Walker; Jimmy C Newman; Bill Carlisle

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Roy Drusky; Jan Howard; Ronnie Milsap
10:00: Grandpa Jones (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Hank Locklin
10:15: Ricky Skaggs (host); John Conlee
10:30: Jack Greene (host); Jean Shepard
10:45: Bill Anderson (host); Jeannie Seely; Opry Square Dance Band; Stoney Mountain Cloggers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Jimmy C Newman; David Houston; Ray Pillow
11:30: Del Reeves (host); Bill Carlisle; Skeeter Davis; Johnny Russell

Let me point out that the only non-Opry member on the show that night was Brother Oswald, who himself would become an Opry member in January 1995.

Looking back, it was 33 years ago, Saturday April 13, 1985 that the Grand Ole Opry was televised on TNN (The Nashville Network) for the 1st time. Those early shows on TNN were very basic. They stuck a couple of cameras on the stage and showed a 30 minute segment as it happened, minus the commercials. Originally, it was the 7:00 segment that was televised, later switching to the 7:30 portion. One special occasions, such as that first night, an entire hour was televised. As time went on, the production qualities got better, and more non-Opry members began appearing on the show. The shows continued on TNN until 2001 when the network switched formats and the Opry moved to CMT (Country Music Television).

For those who remember those early shows on TNN, they were fun to watch as you never knew what might happen. For example, the hosts, particularly Bill Monroe, would sometimes not look at the camera or go to a commercial naming the radio sponsor. Other times the timing would be off, with the segment either signing off in the middle of a song, or early with the television audience staring at at a red curtain. And let's not forget that there were times when the segment before the televised one would run over, with the announcers killing time. Management quickly figured out who made good television hosts and who did not. If it was an important show, such as the birthday bash or a new member, you could count on Roy Acuff hosting. Those were the days.

Here is the running order from Saturday April 13, 1985 when the Opry was first televised on TNN, an hour long show with the first 30 minutes hosted by Roy Acuff, and the second 30 by Porter Wagoner.

1st show
6:30: Bonanza
Stonewall Jackson (host): Muddy Water
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World
Stonewall Jackson: The Rounder Called Cotton-Eyed Joe

6:45: Rudy's
Charlie Walker (host): Right or Wrong
Wilma Lee Cooper: Bury Me Beneath the Willow
Charlie Walker: Don't Squeeze My Sharmon
Joe Edwards: Ida Red

7:00: Shoney's
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
The 4 Guys: Shenandoah
Connie Smith: Once A Day/Louisiana Man
Minnie Pearl: Jealous Hearted Me
Roy Acuff: I Saw the Light

7:30: Standard Candy
Porter Wagoner (host): Y'all Come
Dottie West: Ain't Nothing Like A Woman/A Lesson in Leaving/Here Comes My Baby
Jack Greene: Looking Back is Easier
Crook Brothers/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Eighth of January
Porter Wagoner: Everything I've Always Wanted

8:00: Martha White
Bill Monroe (host): My Rose of Old Kentucky/Blue Moon of Kentucky
Ray Pillow: The Days When You Were Still in Love With Me
Jeannie Seely: (?)
Ed Bruce: When You Fall in Love; Everything's a Waltz. Giving Up Was Easy
Bill Monroe: Little Joe/Wheel Hoss

8:30: Music Valley Merchants
Hank Snow (host): Forever and One Day
Jan Howard: Why Lady Why
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
George Hamilton IV: Forever Young
Bill Carlisle: Elvira
Hank Snow: Nevertheless

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): On A Highway Headed South
Dottie West: It's High Time/Blue Fiddle Waltz
The 4 Guys: Give Me Just One More Chance/Halfway to Paradise
Right Combination: Woke Up in Love
Porter Wagoner: Everything I've Always Wanted

10:00: Little Debbie
Charlie Walker (host): San Antonio Rose
Lorrie Morgan: Crazy
Charlie Walker: My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You

10:15: Sunbeam
Jack Greene (host): Walking on New Grass
Skeeter Davis: I Ain't Never
Jack Greene: Statue of a Fool

10:30: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Sunshine Special
Wilma Lee Cooper: A Daisy A Day
Roy Acuff: That's the Man I'm Looking For/I'll Fly Away

10:45: Beech-Nut
Bill Monroe (host): The Old, Old House
Connie Smith: Walkin' After Midnight
Crook Brothers/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Sally Goodin
Blake Williams: Bluegrass Breakdown

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Down the Trail of Aching Hearts
Jan Howard: My Baby's Got Good Timein'
George Hamilton IV: Abilene
Ed Bruce: When You Fall in Love, Everything's A Waltz/Giving Up Was Easy
Hank Snow: There's A Fool Such as I

11:30: Quincy's
Osborne Brothers (host): Listening to the Rain
Ray Pillow: You're One Memory That I'd Like to Make Again
Jeannie Seely: Tell Me Again
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Osborne Brothers: Nobody's Darling But Mine/Katy Hill

Finally, it was 27 years ago, Saturday April 13, 1991 that the Grand Ole Opry had the last of their "official" reunion shows. The first one took place in February 1974 and it allowed the Opry to invite many of the former members to perform on the show one last time before moving to the new Grand Ole Opry House. The show was such a success that it was scheduled every year thereafter, generally in April. Many former Grand Ole Opry members appeared on these reunion shows including Alcyone Beasley, DeFord Bailey, Curly Fox, Kitty Wells, Johnny Wright, Sid Harkreader, Pee Wee King, Duke of Paducah, Clyde Moody, Zeke Clements, and so many others. At times, these shows were referred to as "Old-Timer's Night" as many of those who returned were original members of the WSM Barn Dance. By 1991, most of those old-timers had passed away and there were fewer and fewer former members returning. In fact, the only former Opry members who returned for the 1991 show were Zeke Clements, Faron Young, Margie Bowes and Pee Wee King.

Here is the running order from that final official reunion show, April 13, 1991:

1st show
6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Grandpa Jones (host): Ball Headed End of A Broom
Bill Anderson: Still
Grandpa Jones: Dear Old Sunny South by the Sea

6:45: Country Music Hall of Fame
Bill Monroe (host): Blue Moon of Kentucky
Ricky Skaggs: Let It Be You/Honey, Open that Door
Bill Monroe: Southern Flavor

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Company's Coming
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells
Jan Howard: Heartaches by the Number
Jim & Jesse: It's A Lonesome Feeling
The Whites: He Took Your Place
Porter Wagoner: Ol' Slewfoot

7:30: Standard Candy
Jimmy Dickens (host): Country Boy
Margie Bowes: When I Call Your Name
Zeke Clements: No More Smoke on the Water
Faron Young: Wine Me Up/Hello Walls
Jimmy Dickens: Another Bridge to Burn

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Pee Wee King: Tennessee Waltz
Charlie Louvin: When You Can Only Dream that Far/When I Stop Dreaming
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Opry Square Dance Band/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Bill Cheatham

8:30: Pops Rite
Hank Snow (host): Send Me the Pillow You Dream On
Skeeter Davis: Who's Gonna Tell Marie
Ray Pillow: That Ain't No Way to Treat My Heart
Riders In The Sky: How the Yodel was Born
John Conlee: Common Man
Hank Snow: My Little Old Home Down in New Orleans

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Country Music Has Gone to Town
Wilma Lee Cooper: The Picture on the Wall
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything/He is My Everything
George Hamilton IV: Forever Young
The Whites: Doing It By the Book
Porter Wagoner: I'll Go Down Swinging

10:00: Little Debbie
Grandpa Jones (host): Better Time's A' Comin'
Stonewall Jackson: Muddy Water
Jeannie Seely: One Step Away from Coming Home
Grandpa Jones: The Sweet Sunny South

10:15: Tennessee Pride
Roy Acuff (host): I'll Fly Away
Faron Young: It's Four in the Mornin/After the Loving/Hello Walls

10:30: Pet Milk
Ricky Skaggs (host): He Was Onto Something
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Ricky Skaggs: Lovin' Only Me

10:45: B.C. Powder
Bill Anderson (host): Son of the South
Jim & Jesse: Dream of Me
Opry Square Dance Band/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Rachel
Bill Anderson: Thank You Darling for Loving Me

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Frankie & Johnny
Jimmy Dickens: Me & My Big Loud Mouth
Justin Tubb: Keep Me From Blowing Away
John Conlee: Common Man/Rose Colored Glasses
Hank Snow: Whispering Rain

11:30: Creamette
Bill Monroe (host): Old Dangerfield
Mike Snider: Shuckin' the Corn
Charlie Louvin: In the Pines
Riders In The Sky: When the Bloom Is on the Sage
Charlie Walker: Deep Water
Bill Monroe: Dark as the Night; Blue as the Day

Wouldn't it be nice if the Opry would have another reunion show? There are still a few former and retired Opry members around: Barbara Mandrell, Jeanne Pruett, Ricky Van Shelton, Tom T Hall, Stonewall Jackson, Jan Howard, Norma Jean, Jim & Chuck Glaser, Leroy Van Dyke, Doug Kershaw, Don Everly, The 4 Guys, B.J. Thomas, Willie Nelson, Margie Bowes just to name a few.

Take care, have a great week, and enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Tuesday Night Opry 4/10 & Opry Country Classics 4/12

After the exciting news that Bobby Bare is back as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, who is ready for some mid-week Opry shows?

Charlie Daniels is scheduled to appear on the Tuesday Night Opry, where he will be recognized for his 10th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. If you remember, Charlie was scheduled last month however had to cancel due to illness. Glad that this legend is recovered and ready to appear on the Opry once again.

Here are the line-ups for this week's mid-week Opry shows:

Tuesday Night Opry April 10

7:00: Terri Clark; T. Graham Brown
7:30: Carly Pearce; Rodney Atkins w/Fisk Jubilee Singers
8:15: Kiefer Sutherland; Trace Adkins
8:45: Charlie Daniels Band

Opry Country Classics April 12

Host: Larry Gatlin
Spotlight Artist: Oak Ridge Boys
Also Appearing: The Gatlin Brothers; Moe Bandy; Mandy Barnett; Janie Fricke

Additionally, Grand Ole Opry member Jeanne Pruett will be signing copies of her new book "Satin Sheets, I Remember" in the lobby of the Ryman Auditorium following the show. I received my copy several weeks ago and I recommend the book. Some great stories and remembrances by Jeanne.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Bobby Bare Back As An Opry Member

Tonight on the Grand Ole Opry, Garth Brooks made a surprise appearance and announced that Bobby Bare is back as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Bobby, who is celebrating his 83rd birthday today, was an Opry member for about 10 years, from 1964 to 1974.

Bobby acted very surprised, thanking the Opry, Sally Williams, and Garth. An amazing Opry moment.