Sunday, January 19, 2020

Happy Birthday Stu Phillips

Please join me in wishing Grand Ole Opry member Stu Phillips a very happy 87th birthday.

Montreal native Stu Phillips grew up in Calgary, Alberta, in the foothills of the Canadian Rockies, where he wrote many of his early songs. He grew up listening to the Grand Ole Opry on a small crystal radio set and fell in love with the show and country music in general.

Stu was influenced by the singing of Gene Autry but first sang in a Montreal church choir. In his early teens, his father, a railroad architect, relocated for a time to Calgary. When the family returned to Montreal, Phillips remained in Calgary and often fondly refers to it as his home town. He learned to play guitar and worked on various jobs until eventually being hired by CFRN Edmonton as a newsreader, general handyman and engineer. When a disc jockey failed to show Phillips, without authority, deputised singing some of his own songs. Although reprimanded, it led to Stu For Breakfast, an early morning show which launched his career. Realising there were not many Canadian songs, he began to write and gained his inspiration from books on Canadian folklore. In 1956, after spells at CJIB Vernon, British Columbia and CHED Edmonton, he began presenting live television shows on the newly opened CHCT-TV in Calgary. Soon after Don Cameron, the regional director of CBC, offered him a CBC radio show singing folk and children’s songs as the Travelling Balladeer. This proved so successful it also led to him presenting The Outrider, a network weekly television show. He also became involved with the Calgary Stampede and presented the prime time CBC television Red River Jamboree.

Phillips made his first recordings for Rodeo Records in Halifax and later recorded for London Records and Columbia Records (Canada) gaining some success with ‘Squaws Along The Yukon’. In spite of Canadian stardom, he wished to emulate his fellow Canadian Hank Snow and join Nashville’s Grand Ole Opry. After visiting Nashville, in the early 60s, where Chet Atkins signed him to RCA Records, Phillips finally relocated there in 1965. He worked his own morning show on WSIX-TV with his band comprising Jimmy Capps, Jerry Reed and Henri Strzelecki. He gained his first Billboard hits in 1966 with ‘Bracero’ and ‘The Great El Tigre’. He toured to England in 1967 and on his return, he found he had been signed as a member of the Opry. Between 1967 and 1968, he registered six further hits the biggest being ‘Juanita Jones’ (number 13) and ‘Vin Rose’ (number 21). After ‘Bring Love Back Into Our World’ (number 68), he left RCA and recorded for Capitol Records but had no single releases or further chart entries.

In the 70s, he toured and presented his own television series Music Place from WAVE-TV Kentucky. In the early 80s, he began to study to become a minister of the Episcopalian church, which saw him cut back drastically on his personal appearances but he still performed at the some major venues including the Calgary Stampede and London’s Wembley Festival. In the 90s, he continued to live in Nashville and maintained his popularity with the Opry audiences while also fulfilling his church duties. He made further recordings for Broadland and, in 1994, Bear Family Records issued a 35-track CD, which represented a reissue (minus one track) of three Rodeo albums, which contained some of the songs he wrote of Canadian folklore early in his career.

Now retired, this June Stu will celebrate his 53rd year as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Wednesday, January 15, 2020

Grand Ole Opry 1/17 & 1/18

The big news regarding the Grand Ole Opry this weekend is the return of Opry member Alan Jackson to the stage of the Opry. This will be Alan's first Opry appearance since June 2016 and he is scheduled for both shows on Friday night.

Alan Jackson joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry on June 7, 1991. He was part of the group that joined in the late 80s and early 90s, who basically became Opry members while making no commitments as to the number of appearances they would make. While a few, such as Vince Gill, have made a number of Opry appearances over the years, others such as Clint Black and Garth Brooks, have gone years without appearing on the Opry. Alan, unfortunately, has fallen into that latter group.

2020 will be Alan's 29th year as an Opry member, and if I did my math correctly, he has made 67 Opry appearances in those 29 years, with 60 of those appearances came before 2010.

As an Alan Jackson fan, I am happy that he is back on the Opry this weekend and hopefully it will be a start of a re connection between Alan and the Opry.

Joining Alan on the Friday Night Opry will be fellow Hall of Fame members Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Alan Jackson, Connie Smith, and on the first show, Bill Anderson. Also scheduled for both shows are Opry members Jeannie Seely, The Whites and Riders In The Sky. In fact, with 8 Opry members scheduled, there are only two guest artists: the legendary Gene Watson, and making his Opry debut, James Carothers.

Friday January 17
Early Show
7:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jeannie Seely; James Carothers
7:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Riders In The Sky
8:00: Vince Gill (host); Gene Watson
8:30: Connie Smith (host); Alan Jackson

Late show
9:30: Connie Smith (host); Alan Jackson
10:00: Jeannie Seely (host); James Carothers; Riders In The Sky
10:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites
11:00: Vince Gill (host); Gene Watson

What stands out on the Friday night show is that of the 10 artists on the first show, 5 are Hall of Fame members and 8 of the 10 are members of the Opry. With Bill just doing the first show, that reduces each number by one for the late show.

There is one Opry show on Saturday night with Opry members Connie Smith, Mike Snider, John Conlee, Riders In The Sky, Bobby Osborne, Jeannie Seely and Crystal Gayle. Guesting will be the newly married couple Michael Ray and Carly Pearce, Marcus King, Maggie Rose, and making her Opry debut, bluegrass star Missy Raines.

Saturday January 18
7:00: Connie Smith (host); Mike Snider; Marcus King
7:30: John Conlee (host); Missy Raines; Maggie Rose
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Carly Pearce; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Jeannie Seely (host); Michael Ray; Crystal Gayle

A full line-up of 12 artists on the Saturday show, of whom 7 are Opry members

As mentioned, James Carothers will be making his Opry debut on Friday night. And why is that?

In 2018, James was the winner of the WSM Road Show, resulting in the opportunity to make a Grand Ole Opry appearance with Alan Jackson. It took a couple of years to line the appearance up, but on Friday night, it will finally be taking place.

James Carothers, is known best for his stone-country originals and spot-on impressions of several of country music’s greatest icons.

In 2015, James left a technician job at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico and returned to his native state of Tennessee to pursue a country music career at the unlikely ripe-old-age of 33. George Jones’ own widow, Nancy, personally hired James for his first steady gig at the George Jones Museum in Nashville, allowing him to make a living playing music and to hone his hobby-turned-profession in an accelerated fashion. Since then, James has played several shows each week in downtown Nashville at places like The George Jones and AJ’s Good Time Bar when he’s not on the road, having played over 1500 public, corporate, and private events since January 2015.

In addition to supporting his young family and connecting with other musicians and songwriters, performing downtown has helped James build a large fan base of folks drawn through the doors by the booming voice echoing down Broadway and 2nd Avenue. Playing so many shows in a relatively short time-frame in a city with an excess of raw talent forced him to sharpen his stage show quickly and continue to refine the thing he’s always enjoyed most — entertaining and interacting with his audiences in a way that leaves most people feeling like they’ve made a new friend.

In addition to his Opry debut with Alan Jackson, he also got the nod to open select engagements on Jackson’s “Honky Tonk Highway Tour.” Over the past few years, he has enjoyed playing several opening slots, festivals, fairs, and private events in locations all across the United States and has even had the opportunity to travel to Canada, Japan, Scotland, and Norway for shows.

James released a new album called Songs and Stories on November 22, 2019. Previous releases include Still Country, Still King: A Tribute to George Jones (September 2018), his first full-length original album Relapse (May 2017), and an EP Honky Tonk Land June 2014).

While James Carothers will be making his Opry debut on Friday night, Missy Raines will be making her Opry debut on Saturday night. Missy has appeared on the Opry previously but as a member of Claire Lynch's group. This will be her first appearance heading up her own group.

Missy Raines was named 2019 International Bluegrass Music Association Bass Player of the Year, for the 8th time, more than any other bass player in the history of the organization. Missy has proven herself without doubt as an iconic bluegrass instrumentalist. But with her newest release, Royal Traveller, Raines has stepped into the spotlight as a songwriter for the first time. The album digs deep into Raines’ family life and her upbringing in West Virginia. Featuring previous and current members of her live band, as well as cameos from other bluegrass greats such as Stuart Duncan and Tim O’Brien, the album is a gorgeous look into the perspective, history, and musical influences of one of Nashville’s most beloved musicians, Missy Raines.

In 1998, Missy became the first woman to win IBMA’s Bass Player of the Year award and she went on to win the title repeatedly for the next several years. Royal Traveller highlights this particular piece of Raines’ history with the stand out track “Swept Away”, which features the 5 first women to win IBMA instrumentalist awards, Raines, Brown, Sierra Hull, Becky Buller, and Molly Tuttle. “Swept Away” was named the 2018 IBMA Recorded Event of the Year.

As Missy said, "I’m excited to share that I will be debuting (with my own band) on the Grand Ole Opry Saturday, January 18, 2020.  I will have an AMAZING band with me including Alison Brown on banjo, Ben Garnett on guitar, Casey Campbell on mandolin and John Mailander on fiddle. I have had the honor to play the Opry during my stint with Claire Lynch, and as a duo with Jim Hurst, and with a few other folks on bass, but this will be the first time under just my name.  Yea, I’m pretty stoked!  What a way to start the New Year off!"

And now, from the 3rd weekend in January 25 years ago, Saturday January 21, 1995. It was a special night at the Grand Ole Opry as Brother Oswald was made an official Opry member. There were two great shows that night and I was lucky to have been at both of them.

1st show
6:30: Grandpa Jones (host); Mike Snider
6:45: Bill Monroe (host); Bill Carlisle, Bill Carlisle, Jr., and George Riddle
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Stonewall Jackson; Jeanne Pruett; Jim Ed Brown
7:30; Porter Wagoner (host); Marty Stuart; Connie Smith; Brother Oswald; Jimmy Dickens and the Opry cast
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jimmy C Newman; Boxcar Willie; Charlie Louvin; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); The Four Guys; Billy Walker; Doug Stone; Osborne Brothers

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Osborne Brothers; Stu Phillips; The Whites
10:00: Grandpa Jones (host); Roy Drusky
10:15: Bill Monroe (host); Ray Pillow
10:30: Marty Stuart (host); Boxcar Willie
10:45: Jimmy Dickens (host); Del Reeves; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Connie Smith; Charlie Walker; Doug Stone
11:30: Bill Anderson (host); The Four Guys; Jack Greene; Johnny Russell

What I remember most about that night was that there was no announcement prior to the show that Brother Oswald was going to become an Opry member.

While Beecher Ray Oswald officially became an Opry member in 1995, at the age of 83, he had been a part of the family since 1939 as a member of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys. It was after he joined Roy's group that he became known as Brother Oswald, posing as the brother of Rachel Veach. While he would clown around as Brother Oswald, he was a very talented dobro player who helped define the Acuff sound.

After Roy passed away in 1992, he continued to perform on the Opry, along with Charlie Collins, as "Os and Charlie." After joining the Opry's cast in 1995, Brother Oswald continued as an Opry member until his death in 2002. While not considered an Opry member the entire 62+ years he was at the Opry, he was one of the few who performed on the Opry that long.

Now from 50 years ago, Saturday January 17, 1970:

7:30: Bill Monroe (host); Ray Pillow; Jean Shepard; Stu Phillips; Del Wood; The Four Guys
8:00: Lester Flatt (host); Jimmy C Newman; Grandpa Jones; Crook Brothers;
8:30: Roy Acuff (host); Earl Scruggs Revue; Archie Campbell; Bob Luman; Bill Carlisle
9:00: Ernest Tubb (host); Billy Walker; Marion Worth; Jim and Jesse; Stringbean; Fruit Jar Drinkers
9:30: Hank Locklin (host); Willis Brothers; Ernie Ashworth; Margie Bowes; Tommy Cash
10:00: Bill Monroe (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jean Shepard; Stu Phillips; Ray Pillow
10:15: Roy Acuff (host); Earl Scruggs Revue; Bill Carlisle; Del Wood
10:30: Lester Flatt (host); Bob Luman; Grandpa Jones; Jim and Jesse
10:45: Ernest Tubb (host); Hank Locklin; Archie and Phil Campbell; Crook Brothers
11:00: Billy Walker (host); Willis Brothers; Marion Worth; Stringbean; Sam McGee
11:30: Marty Robbins (host); Margie Bowes; Ernie Ashworth; Don Winters

There you have it for this week. As always, thanks for reading and commenting and I hope everyone enjoys the Grand Ole Opry this weekend.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Grand Ole Opry 1/10 & 1/11

The big news this week involving the Opry and country music was the announcement by Rascal Flatts that 2020 would be their farewell tour as the group was disbanding.

Twenty years after they launched their country-music career together, Rascal Flatts are hitting the road for one final tour. The trio of Gary LeVox, Joe Don Rooney, and Jay DeMarcus made an appearance on CBS This Morning on Tuesday, where they announced dates for the upcoming Farewell: Life Is a Highway Tour.

“When we started out 20 years ago, we could not imagine all of the people, places and gifts we would encounter,” the group tweeted earlier today. “There is no sadness. Just new chapters, new journeys, and new beginnings.”

Launching June 11th in Indianapolis, the Farewell: Life Is a Highway Tour currently has 25 dates scheduled across North America, including stops in Boston, San Diego, Toronto, and Dallas. Notably, there is not a Nashville date in the present itinerary, but the trek does begin the week following CMA Fest 2020, so there’s a possibility Rascal Flatts will get to go out in style onstage at Nissan Stadium.

The members of Rascal Flatts mentioned the yearly grind of trying to top oneself in a hyper-competitive and changing radio environment as part of the reason to exit on their own terms. Still, they didn’t rule out the possibility of reuniting to make music at some point.

Since announcing their arrival in 2000 with their self-titled debut album and the single “Prayin’ for Daylight,” Rascal Flatts have notched country airplay Number Ones in the double digits, including “Bless the Broken Road,” “What Hurts the Most,” and “Here Comes Goodbye.” They’ve also sold more than 20 million albums, including the back-to-back multi-platinum blockbusters Feels Like Today and Me and My Gang. They also took their fair share of criticism for their polished, pop-and-rock-friendly sound, which nonetheless proved to be hugely influential for Taylor Swift, Dan + Shay, and numerous others who followed. Their most recent album was 2017’s Back to Us.

Since the announcement, the subject of their Opry membership has come up. The group joined the cast in October 2011 during the Grand Ole Opry's 86th birthday weekend. While the group made just two Opry appearances this past year, since joining the cast they have averaged 6 appearances each year, with the majority of those coming on mid-week shows.

Since the group left open the possibility of reuniting at some point, my guess is that their Opry membership will continue. While I can't imagine that the Opry would offer individual memberships to each of the three, I wouldn't be surprise if each made solo appearances on the show.

Beginning with Barbara Mandrell's retirement, the Opry, with just two exceptions (The Four Guys and Holly Dunn), have allowed those who have left the business to remain as members. With groups it is a little trickier. In the case of The Four Guys, it was mentioned that there were no original members of the group left, thus their membership was ended. And while Sonny Osborne retired, and the Osborne Brothers are still listed as Opry members with Bobby Osborne has continuing as a solo act. Then there is Old Crow Medicine Show, where Ketch Secor is the only original member in what has become a very fluid group.

I suppose in the end, it really doesn't make much difference as Rascal Flatts was not making a large number of appearances on the show. Hopefully, they will have room for a final appearance on the show.

Now looking at the Opry line-ups for this week, as the show continues the winter run at the Ryman Auditorium, it is another solid weekend of shows.

Grand Ole Opry members scheduled both nights include Mark Wills, Dailey & Vincent, Mike Snider and Riders In The Sky. Joining that group on Friday night will be Connie Smith, Joe Diffie, and Vince Gill. Nice to see Vince returning to the Opry, and in looking at those scheduled to appear in the coming weeks, Vince is listed several times.

On Saturday night, The Whites, Jeannie Seely and Bobby Osborne are scheduled.

Comedian Gary Mule Deer is listed for both nights. Joining Gary on Friday night will be guest Seaforth and Mitchel Tenpenny, while on Saturday night Brett Kissel and Abby Anderson are scheduled.

Overall, it is nice to see 7 members each night, outnumbering the non-members.

Friday January 10
7:00: Mark Wills (host); Connie Smith; Mike Snider
7:30: Dailey & Vincent (host); Joe Diffie
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Seaforth; Mitchell Tenpenny
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Gary Mule Deer

Saturday January 11
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); The Whites; Brett Kissel
7:30: Dailey & Vincent (host); Mike Snider; Abby Anderson
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host); Gary Mule Deer
8:45: Mark Wills (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press

As far as the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree on Saturday night/Sunday morning, there will be no live taping this week as an archived show will be broadcast.

As mentioned, Vince Gill is scheduled to appear several times in the coming weeks. Also on the schedule to appear are Marty Stuart, Ricky Skaggs, Chris Young, Dailey & Vincent, Terri Clark, Chris Janson, Luke Combs, Oak Ridge Boys, and for two shows next Friday night, Alan Jackson. That just carries it into February. It is really nice to see an effort being made to get many of the Opry's members back.

And now, here is the Grand Ole Opry line-up from 25 years ago, Saturday January 14, 1995:

1st show
6:30: Bill Monroe (host); Bill Carlisle
6:45: Jimmy Dickens (host); Grandpa Jones
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Brother Oswald; Skeeter Davis; George Hamilton IV; Ricky Skaggs
7:30: Jack Greene (host); David Ball; Faith Hill
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jeanne Pruett; Jim and Jesse; Billy Walker; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Alison Krauss; Jimmy C Newman; Mike Snider

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Stonewall Jackson; Alison Krauss; Charlie Louvin; Del Reeves
10:00: Bill Monroe (host); Ricky Skaggs
10:15: Grandpa Jones (host); Jimmy C Newman
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Charlie Walker
10:45: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jim Ed Brown; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Jack Greene; Connie Smith; Stu Phillips; The Whites
11:30: Johnny Russell (host); Jim and Jesse; John Conlee; Mel McDaniel

And from 50 years ago, Saturday January 10, 1970:

7:30: Roy Drusky (host); Dottie West; Stringbean; Ernie Ashworth; The Four Guys
8:00: Lester Flatt (host); Jim Ed Brown; Jimmy C Newman; Crook Brothers; Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper
8:30: Roy Acuff (host); Earl Scruggs Revue; Mel Tillis; Archie Campbell; Jeannie C Riley; Del Wood
9:00: Bill Monroe (host); Hank Locklin; Jean Shepard; Justin Tubb; Fruit Jar Drinkers
9:30: Billy Walker (host); Willis Brothers; Stu Phillips; Margie Bowes; Ray Pillow; Lonzo and Oscar
10:00: Roy Acuff (host); Earl Scruggs; Revue; Dottie West
10:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jimmy C Newman; Stringbean; Ernie Ashworth; Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper
10:30: Lester Flatt (host); Archie Campbell; Jeannie C Riley; Del Wood
10:45: Bill Monroe (host); Billy Walker; Mel Tillis; Crook Brothers; Justin Tubb
11:00: Hank Locklin (host); Willis Brothers; Stu Phillips; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Jean Shepard; Sam McGee
11:30: Marty Robbins (host); Margie Bowes; Ray Pillow; Don Winters; Lonzo and Oscar

Finally, it was on Saturday January 11, 1969 that George Jones rejoined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry.

George's Opry history is interesting as he joined, quit, and rejoined the Opry's cast at least three different times. Not that it mattered all that much as George rarely performed on the Opry. But when he did, it was a special night.

Here is the running order from 51 years ago, Saturday January 11, 1969, the night George Jones returned to the Opry:

7:30: Standard Candy
Tex Ritter (host); Take Him Fishing
Billy Grammer: Mabel
George Morgan: Little Green Apples
Osborne Brothers: Kentucky
Margie Bowes: I Still Miss Someone
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips
The Four Guys: Turn Around; Look at Me
Tex Ritter: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Miami

8:00: Martha White
Flatt and Scruggs (host); w/Paul Warren: Black Eyed Susie
George Jones and Brenda Carter: Milwaukee, Here I Come
Wilburn Brothers: We Need Lot More Happiness
Loretta Lynn: Fist City
Crook Brothers: Mississippi Sawyer
Cousin Jody: On Top of Old Smokey
George Jones: I'll Be Over You (When the Grass Grows Over Me)
Flatt and Scruggs: I'll Be Your Baby Tonight

8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Bill Monroe: Virginia Darling
Dottie West: Reno
Bob Luman: Guitar Man
Archie Campbell and Lorene Mann: Warm and Tender Love
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: Poor Ellen Smith
Roy Acuff: You Win Again

9:00: Luzianne
Porter Wagoner (host): Carroll County Accident
Mel Tillis: I Wish I Felt This Way at Home
Jim and Jessie: When the Snow is On the Roses
Dolly Parton: In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)
Justin Tubb: I'm Going Back to Louisiana
Stringbean: Gonna Make Myself a Name
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hickory Leaf
Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton: Jeannie's Afraid of the Dark

9:30: Kellogg's
Hank Snow (host): Golden Rocket
Glaser Brothers: One of These Days
Bobby Lord: Yesterday's Letters
Willis Brothers: Big Daddy
Marion Worth: Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed
Lonzo and Oscar: There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea
Stu Phillips: Little Ol Wine Drinker Me
Hank Snow: Let Me Go Lover

10:00: Fender
Tex Ritter (host): A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Miami
Wilburn Brothers: Hurt Her Once for Me
George Morgan: Wichita Lineman
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
Margie Bowes: All the World is Lonely Now
Ernie Ashworth: Sad Face

10:15: Pure
Flatt and Scruggs (host): Folsom Prison Blues
George Jones and Brenda Carter: Milwaukee, Here I Come
Loretta Lynn: Woman of the World
Billy Grammer: Gotta Travel On
Cousin Jody: Mockingbird

10:30: Buckley's/Kent
Porter Wagoner (host): Howdy, Neighbor Howdy
Mel Tillis: Who's Julie
Roy Acuff (host): Low and Lonely
Bill Monroe: The Gold Rush
Dolly Parton: Just Because I'm A Woman
Joe Greene: Katy Hill
Bob Luman: Memphis
Dottie West: Here Comes My Baby
Archie Campbell and Lorene Mann: The Dark End of the Street
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: The Birds are Back
Crook Brothers: Arkansas Traveler
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird

11:00: Coca Cola
Hank Snow (host): I've Been Everywhere
Marion Worth: Faded Love
Stringbean: Banjo Convention
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Fire on the Mountain
Hank Snow: Old Doc Brown
Sam McGee: Wheels
Chubby Wise: Lee Highway Blues

11:30: Lava
Glaser Brothers (host): Release Me/Then I Turned & Walked Slowly Away/Many Tears Ago/You Win Again/There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight
Jim and Jesse: Yonder Comes the Freight Train
Stu Phillips: Bring Love Back into Our World
Lonzo and Oscar: Love Took My Heart and Smashed That Sucker Flat
Glaser Brothers: The Last Thing on My Mind

Just looking at my notes, it appeared that there was some confusion in the 10:30/10:45 segment as both Porter Wagoner and Roy Acuff were hosts and took turns introducing the various acts. The two segments sort of merged together.

The other notation is that Mel Tillis was announced as a new Opry member that night, but there seems to be no confirmation of that. I know there has been speculation that Mel was, for a short time, an Opry member and in fact, he is pictured in one of the Opry's Picture History Books.  He was on the Opry on an almost weekly basis for a short period of time. However, when he was introduced later as a member by Pam Tillis, there was no mention of Mel's earlier association with the Opry.

That takes care of it for this week. As always, thanks for reading and commenting and I hope everyone listens and enjoys the Opry this weekend.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

January Opry Highlights

Happy New Year to Grand Ole Opry fans everywhere!!! I hope everyone had a safe holiday and are looking forward to a great 2020. Starting off the new year right, here are the important and historical events that have taken place during the history of the Opry, or regarding members of the Opry, during the month of January:

January 14, 1929: The late Billy Walker was born in Ralls, Texas. Known as the "Tall Texan," Billy joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry in 1960 and continued as a very active member of the Opry until his death in 2006 while returning to Nashville after performing a road date in Alabama.

January 19, 1933: Grand Ole Opry member Stu Phillips was born. Stu, who is one of a select group of Opry members born in Canada, is now retired and continues to assist with his winery just north of Nashville.

January 23, 1937: The Lakeland Sisters, Mary and Ann, made their Grand Ole Opry debut. They would only remain with the Opry for about 18 months, making their final appearance on June 4, 1938.

January 14, 1939: The Dixieliners made their final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Consisting of early WSM Barn Dance stars Arthur Smith, along with Sam & Kirk McGee, they made their debut in 1932.

January 16, 1943: Ernest Tubb made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry. Ernest was so well received that he was offered membership and officially would join the Opry the following month. Over time, Ernest would become one of the legendary members of the Opry and would continue as an Opry member until his death.

January 19, 1946: Grand Ole Opry member Dolly Parton, who recently celebrated her 50th year as a member of the Opry, was born Sevier County, Tennessee. Hopefully, since Dolly came back to the Opry for her 50th, we will see more of her in 2020.

January 7, 1950: The legendary Hank Snow, the Singing Ranger, made his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry and was also made an Opry member that night. Yes, they did things a little differently in those days. Originally from Canada, Hank came to the Opry via Dallas, Texas, thanks to the help and recommendation of Ernest Tubb. That night, Ernest introduced Hank by saying, "From up Canada way, here's the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry, the Singing Ranger, Hank Snow." Hank sang "Brand On My Heart," which had been a big hit for him up in Canada, and a regional hit in the Dallas area. Hank felt that his Opry debut did not go over very well and that he received little audience response. In fact, he told his wife Min that he was not going back. However, she convinced Hank that he owed it to Ernest to return. He went back, and when things did not improve in the coming months, the Opry was considering letting him go. However, "I'm Moving On" was released and the rest is history. Hank remained an Opry member for the next 49 years, until his death in December 1999.

January 7, 1950: On the same night that Hank Snow joined the Opry, Tennessee Ernie Ford made his Grand Ole Opry debut. Unlike Hank, Tennessee Ernie was already an established star and appeared on the Prince Albert portion of the show. While he never became a member, Ernie had an open invitation to appear on the Opry anytime he was in Nashville and he would often take the Opry up on their offer. In later years, he would appear on the Martha White segment, as he was friends with the ownership of the company.

January 9, 1951: Brenda Gail Webb, known professionally as Crystal Gayle, was born. Crystal joined the Opry cast in January 2017.

January 1, 1953: Hank Williams was found dead in the backseat of his car in West Virginia. He was being driving to a New Year's Day appearance in Canton, Ohio. Also booked on the show that night were Jimmy Dickens and June Webb, among others. Jimmy ended up not making the trip due to the weather, while the other artists scheduled to appear went ahead and did the show as a tribute to Hank. As a resident of Canton, I can tell you that the auditorium where the show was to take place is still standing and in use today.

January 16, 1953: Opry member Bill Monroe was seriously injured in a head-on car accident on Highway 31 in White House, Tennessee. Bill suffered 19 broken bones in the accident.

January 19, 1953: Marty Robbins made his Grand Ole Opry debut. Marty would join the cast shortly afterwards.

January 22, 1953: The Ozark Jubilee premiered on the ABC television network. The show was hosted by former Opry member Red Foley, who left Nashville and moved to Springfield, Missouri to host the show.

January 29, 1954: Theron Hale passed away. Theron was one of the early members of the Grand Ole Opry, becoming a regular in 1926. He stayed as an Opry regular into the 1930s, after which he would make occasional appearances with Sam McGee. While he was at the Opry, he would be introduced as "Theron Hale and Daughters," which were Elizabeth and Mamie Ruth.

January 22, 1955: Porter Wagoner made his first appearance as a guest on the Opry. He would return and in February 1957, Porter would become an Opry member.

January 4, 1957: Grand Ole Opry member Patty Loveless was born in Pikeville, Kentucky.

January 12, 1957: Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper became members of the Grand Ole Opry. The Coopers, along with daughter Carol Lee, came to the Opry from the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree, where they were very popular. Stoney would remain with the Opry until his death in 1977. Wilma Lee would continue with the Opry as a solo act, and later celebrated 50 years of Opry membership.

January 1, 1960: Although there is some debate as to the exact date, it would appear this is when Billy Walker became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Billy would remain an Opry member until his death in a car accident in 2006. Billy was a very loyal member of the Opry and later in his career, he would often speak up over the reduction of his Opry appearances.

January 9, 1960: Patsy Cline became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. While her time at the Opry was very short, Patsy was very influential to a number of female artists, including Loretta Lynn and Dottie West. In a pretty famous story as to how she became an Opry member, after one of her Opry guest performances, she approached Opry manager Ott Devine and asked if she might one day become a member. Ott responded by saying, "Patsy, if that's all you want, you are on the Opry."

January 28, 1961: Dottie West made her debut as a guest on the Grand Ole Opry. Over the next several years, Dottie would make several guest appearances, which would eventually lead to an invitation to become an Opry member.

January 9, 1965: Norma Jean became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Much as Dolly Parton would do a few years later, Norma Jean joined the cast as she was performing as part of Porter Wagoner's show. She stayed with the Opry until 1967, when she left Porter and Nashville.

January 7, 1967: Charley Pride became the first black solo singer to perform on the Opry. He was introduced that night by Ernest Tubb. Charley sang "The Snakes Crawl At Night," and "I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You." Shortly afterwards, he was asked to become an Opry member, but declined due to his heavy touring schedule. Over the years, he would be asked several more times, until finally in 1993 he accepted the invitation to join. He was the 2nd black artist to become an Opry member, following DeFord Bailey. (Just to clarify, DeFord Bailey was a noted harmonica player and not a solo singer).

January 4, 1969: Dolly Parton became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Dolly's 51st year as an Opry member. Back in the early days when she was with Porter Wagoner, Dolly was a frequent visitor at the Opry. However, as her career expanded, she became like many others as someone who hardly ever appeared on the show. She even commented once that if she was in charge of the Opry, she would fire herself. It was Carl and Pearl Butler, former Opry members, who took a liking to Dolly and helped to bring her to Nashville when she was just 12 years old. While it was a long time ago, Dolly remembered her first night guesting on the Opry: "They used to have this Friday Night Frolics and I went up there one night with the intention of being on it. I kept telling everyone I'll sing just one song. Most of the Opry artists had two spots on the show and I walked up to Jimmy C Newman, who was going to sing his second song next and I told him I wanted to be on. I didn't know why he did it, but Jimmy gave me his spot and I sang a George Jones song." While Dolly didn't know why Jimmy C did it that night, I think she came to realize that was the type of person Jimmy C Newman was.

January 11, 1969: George Jones rejoined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. Over the course of his career, George would join and leave the Opry several different times.

January 1, 1971: Tom T. Hall became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will make it 49 years for Tom T at the Opry. After joining the Opry in 1971, he left in March 1975, and then rejoined in 1980. Tom T Hall is now retired and no longer makes personal appearances.

January 13, 1973: Ernest Tubb celebrated his 30th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

January 20, 1973: For the first and only time, Jerry Lee Lewis performed on the Opry. He had always wanted to perform on the show, however the Opry management was afraid to invite him, fearing what he would do onstage. For this appearance, management asked Jerry Lee not to do any rock and roll. He agreed then broke the promise. Appearing on the 11:30 segment hosted by Charlie Walker, he was on stage for almost 40 minutes. In a nice gesture, he invited Del Wood to appear with him onstage, saying later that on a previous backstage visit, Del was the only Opry member that was nice to him. Jerry Lee has not been back to the Opry since that night.

January 27, 1973: Marty Robbins celebrated his 20th anniversary as a member of the Opry.

January 2, 1974: Grand Ole Opry member Tex Ritter passed away after suffering a heart attack. Tex joined the Opry in 1965 and enjoyed being in Nashville and as a part of the Opry. Tex was also involved in the early days of the Country Music Association and he was just the 5th person to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

January 28, 1976: Skeeter Willis, part of the Willis Brothers, passed away at the age of 58. The Willis Brothers first came to the Opry in 1946 and were well known for their western style of music.

January 22, 1977: Grand Ole Opry member Stoney Cooper appeared on the Opry for the final time. Along with is wife Wilma Lee, Stoney had joined the Opry in 1957. Stoney suffered from heart problems and would pass away in March.

January 27, 1979: Sissy Spacek, who played the part of Loretta Lynn in the movie "Coal Miner's Daughter" joined Loretta for an appearance on the Opry.

January 20, 1984: Future Grand Ole Opry member Mike Snider made his Opry debut. He was a member of the cast of Hee Haw and was well known for his banjo playing and comedy.

January 11, 1986: Mel McDaniel became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Mel would remain an Opry member until his death in 2011.

January 14, 1986: During the Opry's televised 60th anniversary special, Reba McEntire was introduced as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. While this is the date the show was televised, the taping actually took place the previous November, thus the November taping date is considered Reba's actual Opry induction date. This will be Reba's 33rd year as an Opry member.

January 14, 1989: Hubert Gregory of the Fruit Jar Drinkers passed away. Hubert's career at the Opry, as with the Fruit Jar Drinkers, dates back to the early days of the Opry. Like many others of that era, Hubert performed with many different groups, including with Sam & Kirk McGee.

January 20, 1990: Hank Snow celebrated his 40th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. The televised segment on TNN included a reunion of the Glaser Brothers, who were very friendly with Hank. The reunion did not last as the Glaser Brothers never performed together again. Also appearing with Hank that night was future Opry member Mel Tillis.

January 10, 1991: Clint Black became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. For Clint, this will be his 29th year as an Opry member.

January 25, 1992: Introduced by Roy Acuff, Emmylou Harris became the Opry's newest member. This will be Emmylou's 28th anniversary as a member of the Opry. Sadly, Emmylou rarely appears on the Opry.

January 22, 1994: Hal Ketchum became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Hal's 26th year as an Opry member. Once a pretty regular performer on the show, Hal has retired from performing due to health issues.

January 21, 1995: Brother Oswald, longtime member of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys, became an official member of the Grand Ole Opry. At the age of 83, I believe he was the oldest person to join the cast. Oswald came to the Opry in the 1930s with Roy and helped to define the Acuff sound. Thanks to the efforts of Porter Wagoner and Marty Stuart, among others, he became a member. I was there the night of his induction and it was quite a surprise as I don't seem to remember it being announced much ahead of time. Oswald passed away in 2002.

January 13, 1996: Having  joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry back in November, during the taping of the 70th anniversary special, Martina McBride made her first appearance as an official member of the Grand Ole Opry.

January 3, 1998: Longtime Grand Ole Opry member Grandpa Jones made his final appearance on the Opry. After hosting his segment on the 2nd show, Grandpa suffered the first of what would be series of strokes. He was taken directly to the hospital from the Opry House. His condition would continue to decline and he passed away the following month.

January 24, 1998: Grand Ole Opry member Justin Tubb passed away from a sudden illness. He was the son of Opry legend Ernest Tubb and had joined the Opry cast in 1955. At the time of joining, he was the Opry's youngest member. Not only was Justin an excellent singer, but he was also a fine songwriter.

January 9, 1999: Grand Ole Opry member Boxcar Willie made his final appearance on the show. In declining health, Boxcar had first appeared on the Opry in 1981.

January 15, 1999: The Grand Ole Opry returned to the Ryman Auditorium for the first time since moving to the new Grand Ole Opry House in 1974. There were three shows that weekend and all were sold out. During the 1st show on Saturday night, Ricky Skaggs invited Trisha Yearwood to become the Opry's newest member. The weekend shows, which I attended, was such a success that the Opry has returned to the Ryman each winter.

January 23, 1999: Grand Ole Opry member Brother Oswald made his final Saturday night Grand Ole Opry appearance. His final Opry show would be a month later on the Friday Night Opry. Due to declining health, Oswald was forced to retire from performing.

January 15, 2000: Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Patty Loveless handled the official induction. He had been asked just the prior evening if he would like to join. After he said yes, the Opry wasted no time and inducted Ralph the following night. Ralph Stanley was an Opry member until his death last year.

January 13, 2001: Future Grand Ole Opry members Old Crow Medicine Show made their debut on the Opry stage.

January 4, 2003: Hank Williams Jr and Hank Williams III performed together on the Opry in a show that marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Hank Williams. Also appearing in the tribute that night were Jimmy Dickens, Vince Gill and The Whites

January 6, 2006: The Friday Night Opry was reduced by 30 minutes making it a 2 hour show.

January 11, 2007: Grand Ole Opry member Stonewall Jackson filed an age discrimination lawsuit against Gaylord Entertainment and the management of the Grand Ole Opry. Stonewall made several claims, and specifically named Pete Fisher. As the lawsuit played out, Stonewall refused to perform on the Opry, even though he had been asked. Eventually the lawsuit was settled out of court, with Stonewall privately saying that Gaylord made a settlement. In the first several years after the settlement, Stonewall did see an increase in his Opry appearances. Stonewall last appeared on the Opry in celebration of his 60th anniversary as an Opry member.

January 19, 2008: Charlie Daniels became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 12th year as an Opry member. He said at the time of his induction that becoming an Opry member was always a dream of his. Marty Stuart and Connie Smith formally inducted Charlie into the Opry. In 2015, Charlie became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

January 26, 2011: After a long illness, longtime Grand Ole Opry member Charlie Louvin passed away. Along with his brother Ira, Charlie joined the Opry in 1955. After Ira's death, Charlie continued as a solo artist.

January 7, 2012: Charlie Collins performed for the final time on the Grand Ole Opry. While never an Opry member, Charlie spent considerable time at the Opry, first coming to the show as a member of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys, and then after Roy's death, performing with Brother Oswald and with the Opry Square Dancers.

January 21, 2012: Emmylou Harris celebrated 20 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Vince Gill, Rodney Crowell and Buddy Miller helped Emmylou celebrate that night.

January 2, 2015: Longtime Grand Ole Opry legend Jimmy Dickens passed away in Nashville. Jimmy had been hospitalized after becoming suddenly ill on Christmas Day. Jimmy first joined the Opry in 1948 and at the time of his death, was the Opry's last link to the pre-Hank Williams of the Opry. Much loved, Jimmy was noted for his comedy songs, but let's not forget that he was also a great ballad singer.

January 9, 2017: Grand Ole Opry Vice President and General Manger Pete Fisher announced that he was resigning his position to move to California and head up the Academy of Country Music. Pete came to the Opry in June 1999 and had been in charge of the Opry for over 17 years. His final Opry show was on January 20.

January 21, 2017: Crystal Gayle became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Crystal has been asked several months previously by Carrie Underwood to join the cast. On the night of her induction, her sister and fellow Opry member Loretta Lynn handed the official induction. This was also the last night in which Loretta has appeared on the Opry.

January 11, 2019: Mark Wills was inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Mark, who had been a guest on the Opry hundreds of times, was surprised during a December appearance by Vince Gill, who formally invited Mark to become a member.

There you have it for this month. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Grand Ole Opry 1/3 & 1/4

2020 is beginning much like 2019 ended at the Grand Ole Opry. I say that, as I look at the line-up for the shows this weekend, because it is once again the veteran members of the Grand Ole Opry who will be carrying the load this weekend. But hopefully better days are ahead. As I look at the list of those who are scheduled to appear in the near future, it includes members Dailey & Vincent, Mark Wills and Joe Diffie next weekend, with later January appearances by Alan Jackson, Ricky Skaggs, Chris Young and Terri Clark. Chris Janson is set for February, along with Luke Combs and the Oak Ridge Boys. Hopefully 2020 will be the year that many of the long-lost missing Opry members return to the Opry stage and new members are added.

As to this weekend, there is one show each night. Opry members scheduled to appear both nights include Jeannie Seely, Mike Snider, Connie Smith, Riders In The Sky and The Whites, with Bobby Osborne scheduled to appear on Saturday night. Yes, the veterans.

Guesting on the Friday Night Opry are Tenille Arts, Rhett Akins, Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers, Levon, Jim Lauderdale, Dillon Carmichael and The McCrary Sisters. Guesting on Saturday night are Clare Bowen, Blackie & The Rodeo Kings, Charles Esten, and making his Opry debut, Killer Beaz. Also on the schedule is John Oates, who along with Daryl Hall, is a member of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Friday January 3
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Tenille Arts; The Whites
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Rhett Akins; Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Levon; Jim Lauderdale
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Dillon Carmichael; The McCrary Sisters

Saturday January 4
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Mike Snider; Clare Bowen
7:30: Connie Smith (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Blackie & The Rodeo Kings
8:15: The Whites (host); Killer Beaz; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); John Oates; Charles Esten

Nice to see a full line-up to start off the new year.

The Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree will be hosted by Roni Stoneman, after which the Jamboree will run archived shows for the rest of January. It is nice to see on the website that there are quite a few shows already booked and scheduled for the upcoming year.

As mentioned, this will be the Grand Ole Opry debut for Killer Beaz.

To say Killer Beaz grew up different is an understatement!  At the age of four, he lived in a funeral home, where he learned that he could make the “sad people” he saw, laugh and smile.  At the tender age of 10, Beaz began an eight year run as a competition pistol shooter.  By the time he was 17, he was running 911 calls in an emergency ambulance, as well as being an apprentice embalmer.  On his 21st birthday, he took up blues guitar, drawn to the emotional content of the art form.  “I believe musicians can be the greatest communicators, because they touch our hearts without the restraints of language, or visual effects”.

Beaz, as his friends call him, played lead guitar.  One night, while playing a solo, someone shouted- “that was Killer, Beaz!” THE NAME STUCK!  When he made the move to the comedy stage, he took the name with him. During his first 317 performances on what he calls the “Chitlin Circuit”, Beaz’s KILLER stage presence was quite obvious.  After years of “trial by fire” in the worst stand-up environments on the planet, Beaz traveled to Chicago, where he saw his first live comedian, Jay Leno.  While Leno’s performance was awesome, Beaz was equally thrilled to discover that there were places people came for the sole purpose of seeing stand-up comedy!  Within months, Beaz had relocated to Nashville, Tennessee.

Killer Beaz is currently guest starring in his third season of the Discovery Channel’s hit series, “Moonshiners”,  touring the country, performing on the high seas, and about to release an upcoming video series of clean comedy, “Killer Beaz PRESENTS” featuring the standup of Beaz and outstanding comics handpicked from all over the country.

And now, here is the line-up from 25 years ago, Saturday January 7, 1995:

1st show
6:30: Bill Monroe (host); Wilma Lee Cooper
6:45: Grandpa Jones (host); Charlie Louvin
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Bill Carlisle; Jan Howard; Jimmy Dickens
7:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); John Conlee; Crossmen Quartet; The Isaacs
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jack Greene; The Whites; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Jim Ed Brown; Jeannie Seely; Mike Snider

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Jim and Jesse; Brother Oswald; Stu Phillips; Ricky Skaggs
10:00: Bill Monroe (host); Roy Drusky
10:15: Grandpa Jones (host); The Isaacs
10:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Mike Snider
10:45: Bill Anderson (host); Jack Greene; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Charlie Walker; Stonewall Jackson; Jeannie Seely
11:30: Billy Walker (host); John Conlee; Johnny Russell

From 50 years ago, Saturday January 3, 1970:

7:30: Bill Anderson (host); Charlie Louvin; George Hamilton IV; Jean Shepard; Jimmy C Newman; Ernie Ashworth; The Four Guys
8:00: Roy Drusky (host); Dottie West; Mel Tillis; Jim and Jesse; Stringbean; Crook Brothers; Stu Phillips; Del Wood
8:30: Bill Monroe (host); Del Reeves; Wilma Lee Cooper; Charlie Walker; Margie Bowes; Stonewall Jackson
9:00: Ernest Tubb (host); Wilburn Brothers; Loretta Lynn; Earl Scruggs Revue; Billy Walker; Archie Campbell; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Lonzo and Oscar
9:30: Hank Snow (host); Willis Brothers; Jim Ed Brown; Jack Greene; Jeannie Seely; Bill Carlisle; Osborne Brothers
10:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jean Shepard; Mel Tillis; Ernie Ashworth; Del Wood
10:15: Bill Monroe (host); Dottie West; Charlie Louvin; The Four Guys; Jimmy C Newman; Archie Campbell
10:30: Wilburn Brothers (host); Loretta Lynn; Jim and Jesse; Del Reeves; Stringbean; Lonzo and Oscar
10:45: Ernest Tubb (host); Billy Walker; Earl Scruggs Revue; Wilma Lee Cooper; Crook Brothers
11:00: Hank Snow (host): Jim Ed Brown; Willis Brothers; Stu Phillips; Margie Bowes; Sam McGee
11:30: Marty Robbins (host); George Hamilton IV: Bill Carlisle; Jack Greene; Jeannie Seely; Charlie Walker

I dare for anyone to complain about the line-up from that night 50 years ago.

Looking back into the history of the Grand Ole Opry, it was 22 years ago, Saturday January 3, 1998 that Grandpa Jones performed on the Opry for the final time.

Best known to the general public for his exuberant banjo playing, for his singing of novelty songs like “Rattler” and “Mountain Dew,” and for his infectious verbal comedy on shows like Hee Haw, Grandpa Jones was also one of country music’s most dedicated champions of old-time music. Not only did he keep banjo playing alive during times when it had fallen into disfavor with most professional musicians, but he also helped to keep alive the songs of pioneers like Jimmie Rodgers, Bradley Kincaid, Lulu Belle & Scotty, and the Delmore Brothers.

A serious fan of southern gospel music, Grandpa Jones also helped maintain the old gospel quartet tradition in groups like the Brown’s Ferry Four and the Hee Haw Gospel Quartet. Though not an acoustic purist in the strict sense—he generally used an electric guitar in his act and on his records—his devotion to “keeping it country” won him fans nationwide for seven decades, as well as a long-time tenure on the Grand Ole Opry and election to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1978.

Louis Marshall Jones grew up in northwestern Kentucky, just a few miles from the Ohio River. By the time he was in high school, the family was living in Akron, Ohio, and young Marshall (as he was called by his folks) was copying Jimmie Rodgers songs and was appearing on local station WJW as “The Young Singer of Old Songs.” After a stint on the popular Lum and Abner radio show (as part of the show’s stringband) he and friend Joe Troyan (“Harmonica Joe”) met a man who was to have an immense impact on Jones’s career—singer Bradley Kincaid. In 1935 they were working with Kincaid over WBZ in Boston when Kincaid gave him the nickname Grandpa because he sounded old and grouchy on the early morning show. Kincaid had him outfitted with a vaudeville costume—including fake mustache—and at age twenty-two Marshall Jones became Grandpa Jones.

By 1937 he struck out on his own, playing stations in West Virginia and Cincinnati; along the way he met boisterous entertainer Cousin Emmy, who taught him how to play clawhammer banjo. At WLW he joined forces with the Delmore Brothers and Merle Travis to form the Brown’s Ferry Four, one of country’s first and most popular gospel quartets. In the fall of 1943 he and Travis were asked to make their first records, for a new, locally based label to be called King; their disc, released under the pseudonym the Shepherd Brothers, was the first King release. Throughout the rest of the 1940s, recorded regularly for King, racking up hits like “It’s Raining Here This Morning,” “Eight More Miles to Louisville,” and “Mountain Dew.”

In October 1946 Jones married Ramona Riggins, a talented fiddler and singer he had met at WLW, and the two moved to Nashville, where Grandpa joined the Grand Ole Opry. Throughout the 1950s, the pair made brief stays at Arlington and Richmond, Virginia, and Washington, D.C.; and recorded for RCA and Decca. By 1959 they had settled permanently on the Opry, and a few years later started a family that would include Mark, Alisa, and Marsha (a fourth child, Eloise, came from an earlier marriage in West Virginia.) In the early 1960s Grandpa began recording for Fred Foster’s new label, Monument, producing a series of albums that Jones considered the best work he did. They also produced two of his biggest hits, a version of Jimmie Rodgers’s “Blue Yodel (T for Texas)” (1963) and the seasonal narration “The Christmas Guest” (1969).

In 1969 Jones joined the cast of Hee Haw, where he perfected his comedy with routines such as “What’s for Supper,” and where he worked with greats such as Minnie Pearl and his close friend David “Stringbean” Akeman. In 1976, Jones and his wife started a series of albums for CMH, which included remakes of many of his early hits and which gave their talented children a chance to perform with their parents. In 1984 he wrote (with Charles Wolfe) a detailed autobiography, Everybody’s Grandpa, and was still going strong when the Opry management helped him celebrate his fiftieth anniversary on the show in 1997. Grandpa had a severe stroke moments after his second show Opry performance on January 3, 1998, and he died February 19.

And now, here is the running order from Saturday January 3, 1998, the final night that Grandpa Jones appeared on the Grand Ole Opry:

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
Grandpa Jones (host): Banjo Sam
Wilma Lee Cooper: Wedding Bells
Grandpa Jones: My Little Old Home Down in New Orleans

6:45: Joggin' In A Jug
John Conlee (host): As Long As I'm Rockin' With You
Bill Carlisle: Elvira
John Conlee: Domestic Life

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Y'All Come
Brother Oswald: Prairie Queen
Jimmy C Newman: Gumbo Song
Osborne Brothers: World of Forgotten People/Rocky Top
Porter Wagoner: Green, Green Grass of Home
Porter Wagoner and Christie Lynn: Milwaukee, Here I Come

7:30: Standard Candy
Johnny Russell (host): Someday I'll Sober Up
Ricochet: Connected at the Heart
Del Reeves: I Would Like to See You Again
Tracy Byrd: Don't Take Her, She's All I Got
Riders In The Sky: Always Drink Upstream from the Herd
Johnny Russell: Act Naturally

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): Southern Fried
Jodle Birge: A Day at Disneyland
Ricky Skaggs: Dim Light, Thick Smoke
Vince Gill: The Key to Life
Opry Square Dance Band and The Melvin Sloan Dancers: Cherokee Shuffle

8:30: Clifty Farms
Jimmy Dickens (host): Take an Old Cold Tater
Mike Snider: Foggy Mountain Breakdown
The Whites: Pins and Needles
Billy Walker: You Gave Me a Mountain
The Four Guys: I'm Bound for Higher Ground
Jimmy Dickens: Another Bridge to Burn

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Ol' Slewfoot
John Conlee: Rose Colored Glasses
Riders In The Sky: Where the Bloom is on the Sage
Ricochet: A Lot to Be Desired
Christie Lynn: Walk Softly on My Heart
Porter Wagoner and Christie Lynn: Forty Miles from Poplar Bluff

10:00: Opry Book
Grandpa Jones (host): Stop That Ticklin' Me
Tracy Byrd: Roly Poly/Watermelon Crawl
Grandpa Jones: Any Old Time

10:15: Banquet
Jimmy Dickens (host): Out Behind the Barn
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything
Jimmy Dickens: Mountain Dew

10:30: Purnell's
Bill Anderson (host): But You Know I Love You
Osborne Brothers: Beneath Still Waters
Bill Anderson: A World of Make Believe

10:45: MTD
Ricky Skaggs (host): Hold What 'Cha Got
Jean Shepard: A Phone Call Away
Opry Square Dance Band and The Melvin Sloan Dancers: Durang's Hornpipe
Ricky Skaggs: I'm Lost and I'll Never Find the Way

11:00: Coca Cola
Mike Snider (host): The Whole World Smiles With You
Del Reeves: A Lover's Question
The Whites: Swing Down Chariot
Vince Gill: A River Like You/The Key to Life
Tom Brantley: Wheel Hoss

11:30: Opry Book
Johnny Russell (host): Got No Reason Now for Going Home
The Four Guys: Moments to Remember
Charlie Walker: Who'll Buy the Wine
Stu Phillips: Dust in My Eyes
Johnny Russell: Ain't You Even Gonna Cry

Grandpa Jones is another of the legendary stars of the Grand Ole Opry who is still missed today.

Don't forget that the new Circle network is now on the air. In looking at the schedule, there seems to be a good amount of achieved Opry programming including the Opry's 50th anniversary special from 1975, which is now airing. Other shows on the schedule include Hee Haw, Backstage at the Opry, along with F Troup (I'm sure us old timers remember that show), Dailey & Vincent and a simulcast of Bill Cody's WSM morning show. Currently, there is no dedicated cable or satellite channel as it is being distributed on local sub-channels. Luckily, I am in one of the markets that can receive it and looking forward to checking it out.

There you have it for this week as we welcome in 2020. I hope it is a great year for all of you and a great year for those at the Grand Ole Opry. As always, my thanks for reading and commenting and I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Grand Ole Opry 12/27 & 12/28

It is the end of the year and the final two Opry shows of 2019. Boy, the year went fast but they seem to always do.

In looking at the line-up, it is a little surprising that a number of artists will be on both Friday and Saturday night. The list includes Grand Ole Opry members Mike Snider, Jeannie Seely and Riders In The Sky, along with guest artists Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Gary Mule Deer and Darin & Brooke Aldridge.

Two other Opry members will be performing this weekend: Bobby Osborne on Friday night and Jesse McReynolds on Saturday. Joining Bobby on Friday night will be Drew Baldridge, T. Graham Brown, Gary Burr and Hall of Fame member Charlie McCoy. Saturday night the list includes William Michael Morgan, Scooter Brown Band and Don Schlitz.

Friday December 27
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Drew Baldridge; T. Graham Brown
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Gary Burr; Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Gary Mule Deer
8:45: Darin & Brooke Aldridge; Charlie McCoy

Saturday December 28
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); William Michael Morgan; Jesse McReynolds
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Scooter Brown Band; Darin & Brooke Aldridge
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host); Gary Mule Deer; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Don Schlitz; Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper

It seems that the week between Christmas and New Years is always one of the more difficult weeks for the Opry as many of the members have shut it down for the year and are off on vacations and spending time with their families. The same holds to those who guest on the Opry. From the weekend before Christmas through the first of the year is basically a dead time in the entertainment industry unless it is Las Vegas or other resort cities.

Certainly not like years past when it seemed that almost every Grand Ole Opry member would be at the Opry around Christmas and New Years.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line up from 10 years ago, the weekend of December 25 & 26, 2009:

Friday December 25
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Blaine Larsen
7:30: George Hamilton IV (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Elizabeth Cook
8:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Jack Greene; Dailey & Vincent
8:30: Mike Snider (host); Charlie Louvin; T. Graham Brown

Saturday December 26
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Rebecca Lynn Howard
7:30: George Hamilton IV (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Eddy Raven
8:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Jan Howard; Dailey & Vincent; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Mike Snider (host); Jack Greene; Restless Heart

Now from 25 years ago, the weekend of December 23 & 24, 1994:

Friday December 23
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Bill Carlisle; Stonewall Jackson; Jean Shepard; Billy Walker
8:00: Bill Monroe (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Ray Pillow; Charlie Walker
8:30: Grandpa Jones (host); Brother Oswald & Charlie; Del Reeves; Johnny Russell
9:00: Hank Snow (host); The Four Guys; Charlie Louvin; Osborne Brothers
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jim Ed Brown; Jim and Jesse; Connie Smith; Stu Phillips
10:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); George Hamilton IV; Jeannie Seely; Justin Tubb; The Whites
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; Riders In The Sky; Mike Snider

(for those counting at home, that is 31 artists on the Friday show that night)

Saturday December 24
1st show
6:30: Grandpa Jones (host); Bill Carlisle
6:45: Bill Monroe (host); Del Reeves
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Jean Shepard; Charlie Walker; Vic Willis Trio
7:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; Jim and Jesse; Jeannie Seely; Mike Snider
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Roy Drusky; Ricky Skaggs; The Whites; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); The Four Guys; Charlie Louvin; Connie Smith; Billy Walker

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Brother Oswald & Charlie; Ray Pillow; Jean Shepard; Stonewall Jackson
10:00: Grandpa Jones (host); Mike Snider
10:15: Bill Monroe (host); Jan Howard
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jim and Jesse
10:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); The Four Guys; Jim Ed Brown; Charlie Louvin; Billy Walker
11:30: Johnny Russell (host); Osborne Brothers; Jeannie Seely; Charlie Walker; Connie Smith

And from 50 years ago, Saturday December 27, 1969:

7:30: Billy Walker (host); Charlie Louvin; George Morgan; Del Wood
8:00: Lester Flatt (host); Roy Drusky; Osborne Brothers; Margie Bowes; Crook Brothers
8:30: Bill Monroe (host); George Hamilton IV; Archie Campbell; Bob Luman; Wilma Lee Cooper; Ray Pillow
9:00: Ernest Tubb (host); Earl Scruggs Revue; Del Reeves; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Jimmy C Newman
9:30; Hank Snow (host); Willis Brothers; Stu Phillips; Stringbean; Charlie Walker
10:00: Charlie Louvin (host); Billy Walker; Del Wood; Wilma Lee Cooper
10:15: George Hamilton IV (host); Archie Campbell; Bob Luman; Ray Pillow
10:30: Roy Drusky (host); George Morgan; Stringbean; Jimmy C Newman
10:45: Ernest Tubb (host); Bill Monroe; Margie Bowes; Crook Brothers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Willis Brothers; Earl Scruggs Revue; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Sam McGee
11:30: Marty Robbins (host); Stu Phillips; Justin Tubb; Charlie Walker

To finish up the year 2019, here is the final line-up from 1974, December 28 as the Opry closes out its first year in the new Grand Ole Opry House:

1st show
6:00: Vietti
George Morgan (host); I Want to Go to Heaven
Billy Grammer: Gotta Travel On
Jim and Jesse: Paradise
Stu Phillips: Let Me Love You All Over Again
George Morgan; The Last Letter
Ernie Ashworth: Honky Tonk Hardwood Floor
Billy Grammer: Wildwood Flower
George Morgan: In the Misty Moonlight

6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Bill Monroe (host): Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms
Wilburn Brothers: It Looks Like the Sun's Gonna Shine
The Four Guys: Top of the World
Bill Monroe: The Gold Rush

6:45: Rudy's
Porter Wagoner (host); On A Highway Headed South
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: Did You Think to Pray
Bill Carlisle: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Porter Wagoner: Carolina Moonshine

7:00: Rudy's
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Charlie Walker: Odds & Ends
Stonewall Jackson: Life to Go
Del Wood: Just Because/Bill Bailey/Beer Barrel Polka
Roy Acuff: Sunshine Special
Charlie Walker: Your Cheating Heart
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Late
Roy Acuff: I Saw the Light

7:30: Standard Candy
Ernest Tubb (host): I've Got All the Heartaches I Can Handle
Jean Shepard: Slippin' Away
Archie Campbell: Make Friends
Ray Pillow: Countryfried
Ernest Tubb: Half a Mind
Crook Brothers and The Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Cotton-Eyed Joe
Jean Shepard: Poor Sweet Baby
Ernest Tubb: Walking the Floor Over You

8:00: Martha White
Lester Flatt (host): Salty Dog Blues
Charlie Louvin: Love is the Foundation
Willis Brothers: Truck Stop
Paul Warren: Katy Hill
Lester Flatt: Homestead on the Farm
Charlie Louvin: Will You Visit Me on Sundays
Willis Brothers: Cool Water
Marty Stuart: Rawhide

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cacklin' Hen
Justin Tubb: Sunshine Lady
Jeanne Pruett: Welcome to the Sunshine
Hank Snow: Indian Love Call/I Don't Hurt Anymore

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Porter Wagoner (host): On A Highway Headed South
Willis Brothers: Give Me 40 Acres
Billy Grammer: Wildwood Flower
Barbara Lea: Ain't Love Grand
Bill Carlisle: I'm Moving
Wilburn Brothers: There Must Be More to Love Than This
Porter Wagoner: Carolina Moonshine

10:00: Fender
Bill Monroe (host): John Henry
Jim and Jesse: Love Is a Fading Rose
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Late
Stu Phillips: Let Me Love You All Over Again
Ernie Ashworth: Each Moment Spent With You

10:15: Union 76
Ernest Tubb (host): In the Jailhouse Now
George Morgan: Release Me
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: There's A Big Wheel
Charlie Walker: Odds & Ends
The Four Guys: Hello Walls/Big Bad John/Wings of a Dove

10:30: Trailblazer
Lester Flatt (host): Little Maggie
Archie Campbell: The Cockfight
Jean Shepard: Poor Sweet Baby
Del Wood: Keep on the Firing Line
Lester Flatt: Maggie Blues

10:45: Beech-Nut
Roy Acuff (host): Back in the Country
Ray Pillow: Living in the Sunshine of Your Love
Crook Brothers and The Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Soldier's Joy
Roy Acuff: Cabin in Gloryland

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): You're Easy to Love
Billy Walker: You Gave Me a Mountain
Charlie Louvin: I Want a Happy Life
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bill Cheatham
Sam McGee: Wheels
Hank Snow: There's A Fool Such as I

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): I Walk Alone
Jeanne Pruett: Welcome to the Sunshine/Satin Sheets
Justin Tubb: Bad, Bad Leroy Brown/Loving Arms
Ronnie Robbins: If You Love Me, Let Me Know
Marty Robbins: Love Me/Don't Worry/Singing the Blues

What a way to finish the year. And each segment that night was hosted either by a current Hall of  Fame member, or a future member.

That's a wrap for 2019. I hope everyone has a safe and Happy New Year. As always, my thanks for reading and commenting and I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend!!!

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Grand Ole Opry 12/20 & 12/21

It is the final weekend before Christmas and the Grand Ole Opry has one show scheduled for Friday and Saturday night, both with pretty solid line-ups. But before getting to the shows for this week, just a few thoughts regarding the Opry shows from last weekend, which I attended while in Nashville.

All three shows were very good, with the Friday Night Opry especially standing out. The show was sold out and it was a crowd that was ready to have a good time. In fact, it might have been the most enthusiastic and boisterous audience of any Opry show I have been to in recent memory. Hopefully it sounded that way on the radio.

While it was Luke Combs, Kelsea Ballerini and Old Crow Medicine Show that most in the audience came to see, I thought all of the artists did an outstanding job. No complaints at all. There were a couple of highlights which included the crowd singing Happy Birthday to Buck White upon his 89th birthday, which was Friday; Old Crow Medicine Show teaming up with Riders In The Sky to sing "Wagon Wheel" to close out the show, and Luke Combs. It was my first time to see Luke and I was impressed. He was on the opening segment as he was also performing a sold-out show at the Bridgestone Arena that night. 

As most of you know, Bill Anderson cancelled out for the weekend. On Friday night he was replaced by Connie Smith, while on Saturday John Conlee hosted the entire first hour and Bill was not replaced. Finally, it was nice to see Jesse McReynolds doing better and looking good. At the age of 90, he just recovered from the flu.

As far as the two shows on Saturday night, the first show was sold-out while the second show was just over 50% full. I already mentioned Bill cancelling, but he is back on the schedule for this weekend. The crowd on Saturday was a much more typical Opry crowd and the show seemed to fit the audience. One of the personal highlights for me was getting the chance to go backstage prior to the show and meeting Kathy Mattea. Kathy is one of my personal favorites, and I continue to beat the drum that she would make a great Opry member. She loves the Opry and understands the history of country music. (For those of you who follow me on Facebook, I posted a picture of myself and Kathy, along with many other pictures from the Opry shows last weekend. For those who do not follow me on Facebook, please do. Just make sure to get the right Byron Fay!!).

Other highlights on Saturday night were Steve Wariner, Connie Smith, John Conlee and Mike Snider. The surprise from Saturday night was Williams & Ree. As with Luke Combs, this was my first time seeing this act and they were absolutely hilarious. The audience loved them. I couldn't believe it when they said they had been working together for 51 years now. While mostly associated with Las Vegas and working casinos, I thought they fit right in with the Opry. Comedy has always had a place on the show, and with Mike Snider and Williams & Ree, there was plenty of it last weekend.

Overall, a very good weekend in Nashville and a fun time at the Opry. I am looking forward to what is in the plans for 2020, the 95th anniversary of the Grand Ole Opry.

And now, let's get to this weekend's Grand Ole Opry shows.

Looking at the Grand Ole Opry line-up for the two shows this weekend at the Ryman Auditorium, Bill Anderson is scheduled for both nights. As I mentioned above, Bill cancelled this past weekend as he was recovering from some minor surgery that he had the week before. Joining Bill both nights will be Opry members Riders In The Sky and Mark Wills.

Looking back at this past year, I have been very impressed with Mark and his commitment to the Opry. He guested on the show hundreds of times before becoming a member, and he has continued those appearances since joining the cast. He is also a good host on his segments. The Opry needs to look at a few more country music veterans, who have guested on the Opry numerous times, and would make wonderful members and hosts.

Set to appear on the Friday Night Opry are Jesse McReynolds, Connie Smith and Steve Wariner, while on Saturday's Grand Ole Opry Jeannie Seely, Mike Snider, The Whites and Bobby Osborne are on the schedule. And I am sure all of you join me in congratulating Jeannie Seely as she was awarded an honorary doctorate last Saturday from Lincoln Memorial University.

Guesting on Friday night will be Matt Stell, The Isaacs, comedian Henry Cho and Steve Earle. Also listed is Jimmy Wayne, who a couple of years ago was on the Opry a lot, however the past couple of years he has just made a handful of appearances.

Saturday night has non-members JT Hodges, Tony Trischka, Radney Foster, and frequent guest Mandy Barnett.

Also of note, Opry member Jeannie Seely will be hosting the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree after the Saturday Opry show.

Friday December 20
7:00: Bill Anderson (host); Matt Stell; Jesse McReynolds
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jimmy Wayne; The Isaacs
8:15: Mark Wills (host); Connie Smith; Henry Cho
8:45: Steve Wariner (host); Steve Earle

Saturday December 21
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); JT Hodges; Mike Snider
7:30: Bill Anderson (host); The Whites; Mandy Barnett
8:15: Mark Wills (host); Tony Trischka; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Radney Foster

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-ups from 10 years ago, the weekend of December 18 & 19, 2009. One show each night.

Friday December 18
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jimmy C Newman; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Jean Shepard (host); Mandy Barnett; Ralph Stanley
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jim Lauderdale
8:30: Emmylou Harris (host); The Whites; Gillian Welch & David Rawlings

Saturday December 19
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; Emily West
7:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; Ralph Stanley
8:00: Emmylou Harris (host); The Whites; Gillian Welch & David Rawlings
8:30: Ronnie Milsap (host); George Hamilton IV; Jean Shepard; Amber Digby

Now from 25 years ago, Saturday December 17, 1994:

1st show
6:30: Grandpa Jones (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Brother Oswald
6:45: Bill Monroe (host); Emmylou Harris; Rodney Crowell
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Bill Carlisle; Osborne Brothers; Jean Shepard
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Travis Tritt; Joe Diffie; Vince Gill
8:00: Mike Snider (host); Ricky Van Shelton; Ray Pillow; Billy Dean
8:30: Hank Snow (host); The Four Guys; Jimmy C Newman; Jeannie Seely; The Whites

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jeannie Seely; Vince Gill; Bill Monroe; Jean Shepard; Jan Howard; Ricky Van Shelton; Grandpa and Ramona Jones; Porter Wagoner; Emmylou Harris; Joe Diffie; Jeannie Seely
10:30: Mike Snider (host); Billy Walker
10:45: The Whites (host); Del Reeves
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Charlie Walker; The Four Guys; Doug Stone
11:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jimmy C Newman; Stonewall Jackson; Johnny Russell

And from 50 years ago, Saturday December 20, 1969:

7:30: Roy Drusky (host); Bill Carlisle; Charlie Louvin; Wilma Lee Cooper; Del Wood
8:00: Lester Flatt (host); Jim Ed Brown; Loretta Lynn; Charlie Walker; Crook Brothers
8:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Dolly Parton; Earl Scruggs Revue; Ernie Ashworth
9:00: Bill Monroe (host); Dottie West; Archie Campbell; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Stu Phillips; Stringbean
9:30: Hank Snow (host); Tex Ritter; Osborne Brothers; Skeeter Willis; The Four Guys
10:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Charlie Louvin; Bill Carlisle; Del Wood
10:15: Porter Wagoner (host); Dolly Parton; Earl Scruggs Revue; Charlie Walker; Wilma Lee Cooper
10:30: Lester Flatt (host); Loretta Lynn; Stu Phillips; Stringbean
10:45: Tex Ritter (host); Archie Campbell; Crook Brothers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Bill Monroe; Dottie West; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Willis Brothers; Kirk McGee
11:30: Marty Robbins (host); Osborne Brothers; The Four Guys

To finish it up for this week, it was 33 years ago, Saturday December 20, 1986 that Randy Travis became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Long before he saved country music from drifting too far from the shore, country music had saved Randy from a troubled youth and potentially bleak future. Drugs, alcohol and fast cars led to a few scrapes with the law during his teen years, but the North Carolina native found his calling when he won a talent contest and earned a regular gig performing at the popular Charlotte night club, Country City USA.

Randy moved to Nashville with his manager Elizabeth Hatcher to pursue a career as a country singer and wound up paying dues cooking catfish, washing dishes, and performing at the Nashville Palace. Young Randy Traywick (as he was known then) changed his name and independently released his debut album, Randy Ray — Live at the Nashville Palace.

The early years were challenging and nearly every record label in Nashville turned down Randy before he finally signed with Warner Bros. Records in 1985. The label changed his name again, this time to Randy Travis, and his 1986 debut, Storms of Life, became one of the landmark albums in country music history, selling more than 4 million copies, winning the Academy of Country Music’s Album of the Year award, and spawning such classic hits as “On the Other Hand” and “1982.”

After a dozen years on Warner Bros., Randy signed with the now defunct Dreamworks label and served up hits including “Out of My Bones” and “Spirit of a Boy, Wisdom of a Man.” In addition to his successful singing career, Randy also branched out into acting, appearing on TV shows including Touched by an Angel and in several films.  In recent years, he also has found success in the gospel music field, recording four highly acclaimed inspirational albums on Word Records. Randy has earned seven Dove Awards, including Country Recorded Song of the Year for “Three Wooden Crosses,” which also won the Country Music Association’s Song of the Year in 2003.

A Grand Ole Opry member since 1986, Randy has earned numerous accolades, among them six CMA awards — including two male-vocalist titles — 10 American Music Awards, nine ACMs, six Grammys and a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In 2008, he reunited with Warner Bros. and has released several traditional country albums that reminded country fans yet again why his name is frequently mentioned alongside such country legends as George Jones, Keith Whitley, and Lefty Frizzell.

Here is the running order from Saturday December 20, 1986, the night Randy Travis became a member of the Grand Ole Opry:

1st show
6:30: Bonanza
Del Reeves (host): Two Dollars in the Jukebox/A Dime at a Time/Looking at the World Through a Windshield
Skeeter Davis: The Rose
Del Reeves: Anywhere U.S.A.

6:45: Rudy's
Porter Wagoner (host): Sugarfoot Rag
Riders In The Sky: Christmas at the Triple X Ranch
Porter Wagoner: Your Old Love Letters

7:00: Shoney's
Ricky Skaggs (host): Love's Gonna Get You Someday
Lorrie Morgan: One Love at a Time
Jim and Jesse: When I Dream About the Southland
Randy Travis: Diggin' Up Bones/White Christmas Makes Me Blue
Ricky Skaggs: Walking in Jerusalem Just Like John

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jean Shepard: Kentucky
Roy Drusky: Silent Night
Crook Brothers and The Melvin Sloan Dancers: Chicken Reel
Carolee Singers: A Song the Holy Angels Cannot Sing
Dan Kelly: Sally Goodin

8:00: Martha White
Bill Monroe (host): Can't You Hear Me Calling
The Whites: It Should've Been Easy
Stonewall Jackson: Why I'm Walkin'
Archie Campbell: Make Friends
Connie Smith: How Great Thou Art
Bill Monroe: Christmas Time's A' Comin'

8:30: Music Valley Drive
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Boxcar Willie: Fireball Mail/Train of Love/Hand Me Down My Walking Cane/Wreck of the Old 97/Orange Blossom Special/Wabash Cannonball/Night Train to Memphis
Osborne Brothers: Making Plans
Mel McDaniel: Tennessee Saturday Night/Stand Up
Hank Snow: Christmas Roses

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Ol' Slewfoot
The Four Guys: God Bless the USA
Del Reeves: The Race is On
Jan Howard: Why Lady Why
Billy Walker: Coffee Brown Eyes
Porter Wagoner: I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name

10:00: Little Debbie
Ricky Skaggs (host): Cajun Moon
The Whites: If It Ain't Love
Randy Travis: On the Other Hand
Ricky Skaggs: Country Boy

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Meeting in the Air
George Hamilton IV: C-H-R-I-S-T-M-A-S
Roy Acuff: That's the Man I'm Looking For

10:30: Pet Milk
Bill Monroe (host): Old Ebeneezer Scrooge
Charlie Louvin: Sunshine on My Shoulders
Bill Monroe: You're Drifting Away/Christmas Time's A' Comin'

10:45: Heil-Quaker
Archie Campbell (host): Make Friends
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Crook Brothers and The Melvin Sloan Dancers: Sally Goodin

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Tangled Mind
Jean Shepard: The Old Rugged Cross
Justin Tubb: Lonesome 7-7203
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up on Your Way Down
Mel McDaniel: Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On/Stand Up
Hank Snow: Silent Night

11:30: Quincy's
Boxcar Willis (host): Fireball Mail/Train of Love/Hand Me Down My Walking Cane/Wreck of the Old 97/Orange Blossom Special/Wabash Cannonball/Night Train to Memphis
Osborne Brothers: Me & My Old Banjo
Connie Smith: The Deepening Snow/Sing, Sing, Sing
Boxcar Willis: Cold, Cold Heart/Take These Chains from My Heart/Half as Much/I Can't Help It/Your Cheatin' Heart/They'll Never Take Her Love From Me/Wedding Bells/Lovesick Blues/Move It On Over

Sadly, on July 7, 2013, Randy was admitted to a Dallas-area hospital for viral cardiomyopathy after a viral upper respiratory infection. Three days later, Randy suffered a massive stroke and had surgery to relieve pressure on his brain. Following his stroke, and despite therapy, Randy was unable to sing or speak and had to rely on a cane to walk for more than a year. By November 2014, he was slowly recovering, could walk short distances without assistance and was relearning how to write and play the guitar, according to his then-fiancée Mary Davis.

In 2016, it was reported he had recovered his voice after about three years of rehabilitation and therapy and could perform again. He attended his induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame on October 16, 2016, where he performed a rendition of "Amazing Grace." In 2017, it was noted that Randy had suffered permanent damage, which disabled his right hand and has limited much of his speech and singing ability; he continues to make public appearances, including at the Grand Ole Opry,  but no longer sings, mainly because of apprehension about his ability to do it as well as he used to.

There you have it for this week, the final weekend before Christmas. As always, thanks for reading and commenting.

As we approach Christmas week, Casey and I offer our holiday greetings to everyone. If you believe in Santa, as I do, I hope he fills your stocking with everything you have asked for. Most of all, I wish good health and happiness to each of you.

Peace and blessings to all: