Sunday, May 1, 2016

May Opry Highlights

Welcome to May. As I do each month, here are the important and historical events that have taken place regarding the Grand Ole Opry, or its members, during the month of May. 

May 1, 1894: Sam McGee was born. Sam first appeared on the WSM Barn Dance in 1926 and is considered one of the original members of the Opry. Over the years, Sam would appear with his brother Kirk, and as part of the Fruit Jar Drinkers and Dixieliners. Sam passed away in August 1975 from a tractor accident on his farm. 

May 12, 1901: Benjamin Francis Ford, known as Whitey Ford, the Duke of Paducah, was born in DeSoto, Missouri. This fine comedian joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry in 1942 and was an Opry member until 1959. Even after he gave up his Opry membership, Whitey would return and appear on the Opry, especially during the annual reunion shows. He passed away in 1986, the same year that he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

May 30, 1909: Lewis Crook, a member of the Crook Brothers, was born. After Herman Crook passed away, he would continue to perform with the Opry Square Dance Band, backing up the square dancers. Lewis, who was a part of the Opry for over 50 years, passed away in 1997.

May 1, 1910: One time Grand Ole Opry manager Ott Devine was born. 

May 17, 1912: Grand Ole Opry announcer and WSM staff member, Grant Turner was born. He joined the staff of WSM on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Over the years, Grant would become the Opry's best known Opry announcer. He remained with the Opry until his death on October 19, 1991, just hours after finishing his work on the Friday Night Opry. He was with WSM for 47 years. He also is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

May 30, 1912: Alcyone Bate Beasley was born. She was there when it all started in November 1925, performing with her father's group, Dr. Humphrey Bate and His Possum Hunters. After Dr. Bate's death in 1936, Alcyone worked to keep the Possum Hunters together, but it was a struggle as the Opry moved toward a more modern sound. By the 1960's, the Possum Hunters had been merged with the Crook Brothers. By the late 1970's, after over 45 years with the Opry, she went into semi-retirement, after which she became a fixture at the Opry's annual reunion shows. She passed away in October 1982. 

May 9, 1914: The legendary Singing Ranger, Hank Snow was born in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. Hank joined the Opry in January 1950 and would remain an Opry member until his death in December 1999, just weeks short of his 50th anniversary as an Opry member. In 1979 Hank was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

May 1, 1926: Uncle Dave Macon joined the cast of the WSM Barn Dance. Uncle Dave was one considered the first professional musician to join the cast of the Barn Dance, and he would remain an Opry member until his death in March 1952. Uncle Dave was a popular Opry member and despite his stature, he always considered himself just a plain old country boy. In 1966 he was one of the first members to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. 

May 1, 1928: Former Grand Ole Opry member, and Country Music Hall of Fame member, James Hugh Loden, better known as Sonny James, was born. Sonny, who passed away earlier this year, was an Opry member in the 1960's. 

May 25, 1936: Grand Ole Opry member Tom T Hall was born. Much like Abe Lincoln, Tom T was born in a log cabin in Kentucky. This Country Music Hall of Fame member first joined the Opry on January 1, 1971. He left in March 1974 and returned as a member in 1980. While still an Opry member, Tom T hasn't appeared on the Opry in decades. 

May 31, 1938: Donald Lytle was born in Greenfield, Ohio. Better known by his stage name of Johnny Paycheck, Johnny spent his early professional career as a band member for Ray Price, Porter Wagoner, George Jones and Faron Young. Once he became a star in his own right, he was one of the first country singers to adopt the outlaw image. In 1997, thanks to some help from his friend Johnny Russell, he was asked to become a member of the Opry. However, just a few years later, his health went into a period of decline and his performing ended. Johnny passed away in February 2003. 

May 2, 1948: Grand Ole Opry member Larry Gatlin was born. Along with his brothers Steve and Rudy, Larry joined the Opry on Christmas Day 1976. In recent years, Larry has become one of the Opry's most popular members and is a regular performer on the show. 

May 29, 1950: Mother Maybelle Carter and the Carter Sisters, consisting of Helen, Anita and June, became members of the Grand Ole Opry. When the Carters joined, they brought along Chet Atkins as their guitar player. Over the years, as the Carter Sisters moved on, Mother Maybelle would remain with the Opry. Later in her Opry career, and much like other veterans such as Sam and Kirk McGee, she would complain to the Opry's management about her poorly timed and limited spots and a general lack of respect. She stayed with the Opry until the late 1960's, when she left to became a part of Johnny Cash's road show. 

May 16, 1953: Jimmy Dean made his Grand Ole Opry debut. He was introduced that night by Carl Smith. While never becoming an Opry member, Jimmy would make Opry appearances throughout his career, including appearing on the night Jimmy Dickens was honored for 50 years of Opry membership. 

May 23, 1953: Future Grand Ole Opry member Jim Reeves made his Opry debut. He sang "Mexican Joe."

May 21, 1955: Grand Ole Opry member Webb Pierce quit the Opry. He was an Opry member for just three years, but in that short amount of time he quickly figured he could make a lot more money on the road on Saturday nights instead of being at the Opry. 

May 11, 1957: The Everly Brothers, Don and Phil, made their first appearance on the Opry. They, along with a few others, were brought in as members in an attempt to capture the younger crowd. They were with the Opry for only a year before moving on. In 2001, they were elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

May 18, 1957: Just a week after the Everly Brothers first appeared, the Kershaw Brothers, Rusty and Doug, made their Opry debut. 

May 20, 1958: Don Gibson became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Don was an Opry member until December 1964 when he, along with others, were fired from the cast for not making the required number of yearly appearances. Don would eventually rejoin the Opry, however even after coming back, his appearances were fairly limited. In 2001, Don became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

May 1, 1960: The WLS National Barn Dance, one of the Opry's early competitors, came to an end as WLS in Chicago changed formats. The Barn Dance started on April 19, 1924, a year earlier then the Opry. 

May 13, 1967: Merle Haggard made his first appearance on the Opry. While never becoming an Opry member, Merle would make a few Opry appearances throughout his career, including his final appearance in October 2015. 

May 8, 1968: Grand Ole Opry founder George D. Hay passed away at his home in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He started the WSM Barn Dance in November 1925. After he started the show, he would clash with WSM management, specifically Harry and David Stone, over the direction of the show. He had always wanted to keep the Opry "close to the ground" while the Stone's wanted a more professional cast. Over the years, he would suffer from various health issues and by the time he retired from WSM, he was primarily an announcer and had little control over the show. On Saturday May 11, the first Opry show following his death, Grant Turner paid tribute to him, saying "He called himself the Solemn Old Judge. If he was solemn, it was only in the face of those who thought to change or corrupt the purity of the barn-dance ballads he sought to preserve. We, the performers and friends of the Grand Ole Opry, salute the memory of one whose influence is felt on the stage of the Opry tonight-the Solemn Old Judge, George D. Hay."

May 10, 1969: Stonewall Jackson rejoined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. Stonewall had been fired in December 1964 for failing to meet the appearance requirement. Stonewall originally joined the Opry in November 1956.

May 1, 1971: Cousin Jody made his final appearance as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Performing for many years as Tex Summey, he came to the Opry in 1937 with Roy Acuff. He later performed with Pee Wee King and His Golden West Cowboys and with Lonzo and Oscar. He left the Opry due to declining health. 

May 13, 1972: Gene Watson made his first guest appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. While never becoming an Opry member, Gene has made many Opry appearances over the years, so many in fact that I am often asked why Gene is not an Opry member, a question for which I have no answer. 

May 22, 1977: The Grand Ole Opry held a special Sunday matinee show that was dedicated to the fans of the Opry from Canada. The following day was Victoria Day, a national holiday in Canada.

May 11, 1979: Lester Flatt passed away in Nashville at the age of 64. He had been in declining health for a number of years. Lester first came to the Opry as a member of Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys, later joining up with Earl Scruggs to form Flatt & Scruggs. After splitting with Earl, Lester continued with his traditional bluegrass sound. When ever he appeared on the Opry, Lester would always host the Martha White segment. 

May 15, 1982: Ricky Skaggs became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This is his 34th year as an Opry member, something that Ricky always dreamed of. Ricky has taken his Opry membership seriously and he said, "I don't ever, ever want to get to the point where I don't come and play the Opry, where I feel like I'm too good to play the Opry. Mr. Acuff said that I would do that. He said, 'You'll get so big you'll do like all the rest of them.' And I said, you don't know me. You just watch me and see, I'm not made that way. I didn't join the Opry for that." Yes, there have been a few bumps in the road, but overall Ricky has done a great job with the Opry. 

May 26, 1984: Onie Wheeler, a member of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys, died of a heart attack while performing on the Grand Ole Gospel Time radio program that followed the Friday Night Opry. 

May 3, 1986: Barbara Mandrell returned to the Opry for the first time since being involved in a near fatal car accident. 

May 4, 1991: Travis Tritt made his first guest appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. In February 1992, he would become an Opry member. 

May 1, 1993: Charley Pride became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 23rd year as an Opry member. Charley first appeared on the Opry in the late 1960's and had been asked several times if he wanted to become an Opry member. Charlie always declined due to his heavy touring schedule., and the fact that he lived in the Dallas area, and did not come up to Nashville very often. In 1993 he finally felt the time was right to become a member. 

May 11, 1996: Steve Wariner became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Steve's 20th year as an Opry member. 

May 31, 1997: Lee Ann Womack made her first guest appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. While never becoming an Opry member, Lee Ann has continued to support the show over the years. 

May 9, 1998: Grand Ole Opry member Teddy Wilburn made his final appearance on the Opry. Teddy and his brother Doyle had first appeared on the Opry in 1940 before being forced to leave due to child labor laws. They would return to the cast and performed as a duo until the passing of Doyle in 1982. Teddy continued as a solo member of the Opry, although his Opry appearances would reduce over time. Health issues forced Teddy to retire from the Opry and he would pass away in November 2003. 

May 15, 1998: Opry member Johnny Paycheck made his final appearance on the Opry. Health issues forced Johnny into retirement. 

May 5, 2001: Blake Shelton made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry. Over the next decade, he would continue to make guest appearances, eventually joining the cast in the fall of 2010.

May 21, 2006: Opry member Billy Walker, along with his wife Bettie and two members of his band, were killed in a traffic accident on their way back to Nashville after an appearance in Alabama. Billy had been an Opry member since 1960. 

May 19, 2007: Porter Wagoner celebrated 50 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. He was joined that night by Dolly Parton, Patty Loveless, Buck Trent and Marty Stuart, who hosted the televised segment. Porter was already in declining health and would pass away in October of 2007. This was the last time that Porter and Dolly shared the stage together and Dolly sang a very emotional "I Will Always Love You" which was a song she wrote dedicated to Porter. 

May 10, 2008: Carrie Underwood became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be her 8th year as an Opry member. Even with a career as big as it is, Carrie has always found time for the Opry and can usually be counted on to fulfill the goal of 10 appearances per year. On the night she joined, Garth Brooks made a surprise appearance and did the induction. 

May 30, 2009: Comedian, actor and banjo player Steve Martin made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry, leading an all-star band in performing "Foggy Mountain Breakdown." If you have never seen or heard Steve playing the banjo, he is outstanding. 

May 1, 2010: The Grand Ole Opry House sustained major damage when the Cumberland River flooded after heavy rains hit the Nashville area. The Opry House, Acuff Theater, Opry Museum and Opry Mills Mall all closed due to heavy damage. It was not until September that the Opry was able to return to the Opry House. The Acuff Theater would later be torn down due to the damage and the Opry Museum would never reopen, used now for storage. When the Opry returned to the Opry House, Bill Anderson was the first one back on the stage. That was fitting as he was the last to perform on the final Saturday night before the flood. 

May 3, 2011: Alabama made a guest appearance on the Opry, 29 years after they last performed on the show. They were joined on stage by Brad Paisley and sang, "Old Alabama," and "Tennessee River." They have been back several times since. 

May 18, 2013: Retired Opry member Barbara Mandrell made a surprise appearance at the Opry. She did not sing, but did come out on stage an wave to the audience. 

There you have it for May. 


Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Grand Ole Opry 4/29 & 4/30

It is always a special night at the Grand Ole Opry when someone is celebrating a milestone and this Saturday night will be a special one for Ray Pillow as he will be celebrating 50 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Ray is on the schedule for Saturday and I am sure Pete Fisher will present Ray with the customary gold watch that is usually given. 

As to the rest of the Opry line-up for this weekend, both nights will feature Opry member, and Hall of Famer, Vince Gill. He will be joined both nights by John Conlee, Mike Snider, Jeannie Seely and Riders In The Sky, while on Friday night The Whites, Jesse McReynolds and Bill Anderson are set, and on Saturday, in addition to Ray Pillow, Bobby Osborne and Connie Smith are scheduled. 

As far as guest artists this weekend, Mark Wills is scheduled for both nights. Joining him on Friday will be Carly Pearce, The Grascals and Radney Foster. Saturday it will be Love and Theft, Rhonda Vincent and Tara Thompson. Tara is a name that many fans might not recognize. She is appearing in support of her debut CD, "Someone to Take Your Place." She has been on the "Next Women of Country" tour and she is a third cousin to Loretta Lynn. 

Friday April 29
7:00: John Conlee (host); Mike Snider
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); The Whites; Jesse McReynolds; Mark Wills
Intermission
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jeannie Seely; Carly Pearce
8:45: Vince Gill (host); The Grascals; Radney Foster

Saturday April 30
7:00: John Conlee (host); Love and Theft; Mike Snider
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Rhonda Vincent; Ray Pillow
Intermission
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Mark Wills; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Tara Thompson; Connie Smith

That comes out to 12 acts each night, with one slot to fill on Friday. And, there are 8 Opry members for each show. 

Not to forget, but Saturday will be the first new Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree of the year, hosted by Rhonda Vincent. The show will tape at 10 for a midnight broadcast. All I can say is that I wish the show the best of luck and we will see how it goes. 

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from five years ago, the weekend of April 29 & 30, 2011:

Friday April 29
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Jeannie Seely; Emily West
7:30: Jean Shepard (host); Jimmy C Newman; John Michael Montgomery
Intermission
8:15: Marty Stuart (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Connie Smith
8:45: Mike Snider (host); Jack Greene; Montgomery Gentry

Saturday April 30
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Connie Smith; Troy Olsen
7:30: Ray Pillow (host); Jack Greene; Mandy Barnett
Intermission
8:15: Mike Snider (host); Jan Howard; Carter's Chord; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Jean Shepard (host); Jesse McReynolds; Restless Heart

Now from ten years ago, the weekend of April 28 & 29, 2006: 

Friday April 28
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); The Whites; Jean Shepard; Del McCoury Band
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; John Conlee; Ray Scott
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Mel McDaniel; Gene Watson
9:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Lou Reid & Carolina; Terri Clark

Saturday April 29 
1st show
6:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Jennifer Hanson
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Del McCoury Band
7:30: Jean Shepard (host); Jack Greene; Rockie Lynne
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jan Howard; Gene Watson; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Craig Morgan

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Jennifer Hanson
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Rockie Lynne
10:30: Jean Shepard (host); Stu Phillips; Del McCoury Band; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jack Greene; Gene Watson
11:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Craig Morgan

Finally, from fifteen years ago, the weekend of April 27 & 28, 2001:

Friday April 27
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Connie Smith; Bill Carlisle; Darryl Worley
8:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); The Whites; Jimmy C Newman; Susan Ashton
8:30: Jean Shepard (host); Jim & Jesse; Billy Walker; Mel McDaniel
9:00: Mike Snider (host); Elizabeth Cook; Joe Diffie
9:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Osborne Brothers; Brad Paisley

Saturday April 28
1st show
6:30: Billy Walker (host); Connie Smith; Bill Carlisle; Eddy Raven
7:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Stonewall Jackson; Jim & Jesse; Susan Ashton
7:30: Jean Shepard (host); Larry Stephenson Band; Stu Phillips; Brad Paisley
8:00: Mike Snider (host); Irene Kelley; Mel McDaniel; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: The Whites (host); Charlie Louvin; Riders In The Sky; Joe Diffie

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); The Whites; Joe Diffie
10:00: Jean Shepard (host); Stu Phillips; Connie Smith; Eddy Raven
10:30: Mike Snider (host); Susan Ashton; Billy Walker; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Brad Paisley (host); Larry Stephenson Band; Mel McDaniel
11:30: Charlie Walker (host); Riders In The Sky; Ray Pillow; Irene Kelley

As mentioned, on Saturday night, Ray Pillow will be celebrating 50 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. While never a superstar, Ray has had a solid career in country music, both as a singer and as a record company executive. I have a couple of write-ups regarding Ray, the first one coming from the 1966 edition of the Grand Ole Opry Picture History Book, the year he joined the Opry: 

To some, coming in second place might mean discouragement. But to a couple of young men, a second place finish has merely spurred them on to greater things. One of these was a fellow named Johnny Tillitson, who finished in the runner-up spot in the Pet Milk Grand Ole Opry Contest, and went on to become one of the biggest names in music. The other was Ray Pillow, also a second-placer, who worked harder to become number one. He attained that goal in 1966 when he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry, and also was named the Most Promising Male Vocalist in both the Billboard and Cashbox polls. 

Ray Pillow has all the attributes of success, including a degree in business from Lynchburg College in his home-town of Lynchburg, Virginia. Couple this with his great natural singing talent, his good looks, and his pleasing manner, and one can spot the obvious. 

After Ray made his second-place splash in 1962, he returned home to Virginia, still determined to be a successful artist. He met Joe Taylor, who was instrumental in getting him a contract with Capital Records, and putting him under contract to Martha White Mills, a long-time sponsor of the Opry. His first two releases both made it high in the charts, and he's been there ever since. On two of his best sellers, he has had good company. They were duets with Jean Shepard. 

In one respect, Ray is virtually unique as an artist. He is an outstanding bookkeeper (many stars have to hire them), and keeps books for himself and others on the road. Ray, of course, spends many hours on the road, and hurries home to his wife, Jo Anne, and their three children: Dale, Selena and Darryl. With them, and with millions of fans, he will never be in second place. 

That was written in 1966. Fast forward to 2015 and the Grand Ole Opry's 90th Anniversary Family Album:

Ray Pillow recalls it was his Uncle Roger who introduced him to music and was responsible for his first public performances. "I sort of got talked into substituting for a sick member of my uncle's band one night," Ray recalls. "When I walked out on stage to the microphone, I knew that was what I wanted to do for a lifetime! Music!" Thirty-five years after joining the Opry, Ray got to introduce his 87-year-old uncle to the Opry stage. "I told the people that my uncle was the person that believed in me and wanted me to come to Nashville. I handed his a guitar and said Uncle Roger, you and I are going to sing." He brought the house down and got a standing ovation. 

Ray came to Nashville in 1961 as a regional winner in the Pet Milk Talent Contest. He came in second in the national finals, and his performance landed him a guest spot on the Opry. That stoked his desire even more for a country music career. He soon released his first two singles, "Take Your Hands Off My Heart" and "Thank You Ma'am." In 1965 Capital Records released his first album "Presenting Ray Pillow" and by late 1966 he was a star. That was the year he teamed with Opry star Jean Shepard on a pair of hits, the Top 10 "I'll Take the Dog" and "Mr. Do-It-Yourself." Between those two singles, he became an official Opry member. 

In addition to his own performing career, Ray has helped shape the professional paths of others including Lee Greenwood. His publishing company published many of Lee's hits including the 1985 Country Music Association Song of the Year, "God Bless the USA." Ray is well known on Music Row as a publisher who can match the right artist with the right song and recording company. 

In 1994 that state of Virginia added him to its Country Music Hall of Fame. 

Here is the running order of the Grand Ole Opry from Saturday April 30, 1966, the night Ray Pillow became an Opry member: 

7:30: Luzianne
Billy Walker (host): How Do You Ask Someone to Love You
George Hamilton IV: Big Steel Railroad
The Homesteaders: Flower on the Wall
Cousin Jody: Steel Guitar Rag
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away
Curly Fox: Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey
George Hamilton IV: Write Me A Picture
The Homesteaders: Going Down the Mountain
Billy Walker: Charlie's Shoes

8:00: Martha White
Flatt & Scruggs (host): Nine Pound Hammer
Bobby Bare: Four Strong Winds
Grandpa Jones: (?)
Del Wood: Piano Roll Blues
Flatt & Scruggs: I Know What It Means to Be Lonesome
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Bobby Bare: Detroit City
Grandpa Jones: Old Rattler
Flatt & Scruggs: Foggy Mountain Breakdown

8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host): Tennessee Central No 9
Wilburn Brothers: Its Another World
Marion Worth: One Has My Name, The Other My Heart
Archie Campbell: (?)
Roy Acuff: Wreck on the Highway
Wilburn Brothers: Troubles Back in Town
Brother Oswald: Roll on Buddy, Roll On

9:00: Pet Milk
Ernest Tubb (host): Jealous Loving Heart
Glaser Brothers: A Girl Like You
Ray Pillow: Common Colds & Broken Hearts
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hickory Leaf
Ernest Tubb: Waltz Across Texas
Margie Bowes: That Completely Destroyed My Plans
Glaser Brothers: Teardrops Til Dawn
Ray Pillow: Even the Bad Times Are Good
Leon Rhodes: Leon's Guitar Boogie

9:30: Kellogg's
Willis Brothers (host): Give Me 40 Acres
Carter Family: It Ain't Me Babe
Waylon Jennings: Time to Bum Again
June Carter: Tall Loverman
Willis Brothers: Love Thy Neighbor
Harold Weakley: To Mommy, In Care of God
Carter Family: Wildwood Flower
Skeeter Davis: A Maiden's Prayer

10:00: Schick
Billy Walker (host): Cross the Brazos At Waco
Curly Fox: The Old Gray Mule
Cousin Jody: Wabash Blues
Billy Walker: Cattle Call

10:15: Pure
Wilburn Brothers (host): I'm Gonna Tie One on Tonight
Del Wood: Night Train to Memphis
Wilburn Brothers: Someone Before Me
Don Helms: The World is Waiting for the Sunrise

10:30: Harvey's
Bobby Bare (host): A Man of Constant Sorrow
Grandpa Jones: I Don't Love Nobody
Bobby Bare: 500 Miles
Grandpa Jones: Eight More Miles to Louisville/It Ain't Be Babe/Blowing in the Wind/Worried Man Blues

10:45: Newport
Ernest Tubb (host): Till My Getup Has Got Up and Gone
Jack Greene: Born to Lose
Crook Brothers: Ida Red
Ernest Tubb: Half A Mind

11:00: Coca-Cola
Roy Acuff (host): The Great Speckled Bird
Glaser Brothers: Same Old Memories
Margie Bowes: Big City
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bill Cheatham
Sam McGee: Wheels
Ray Pillow: Thank You, Ma'am
Onie Wheeler: Too Hot to Handle

11:30: Lava
Willis Brothers (host): Gonna Swing Til My Rope Breaks
George Hamilton IV: Abilene
Waylon Jennings: Anita, You're Dreaming
Archie Campbell: The Men in My Little Girls's Life
Willis Brothers: A 6 Ft 2 by 4
Marion Worth: Cryin' Time
George Hamilton IV: Truck Driving Man
Willis Brothers: God Walks These Hills With Me

Congratulations once again to Ray Pillow for 50 years of Opry membership. 

And I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend!!!









Thursday, April 21, 2016

Grand Ole Opry 4/22 & 4/23

First, I wanted to apologize for being off the blog for a few days. No, I didn't go away for good, just a few items on the plate. I also wanted to start off by offering my prayers and thoughts to former Grand Ole Opry member Holly Dunn. It was reported this week that Holly recently had surgery for stage 2 ovarian cancer and is now recovering. They believe that all of the cancer was removed but she will be undergoing chemo treatments for the next several months. I always enjoyed Holly's music and her Opry appearances. For those who do not know, Holly began to have voice problems and made the decision to leave Nashville and move to New Mexico where she opened an art studio and has been doing well. If you check out her website you will see many of her items. 

As far as the Grand Ole Opry this weekend, Saturday is back to just one show and it took the Opry a little later then normal to get the line-ups posted. As fa as Opry members this weekend, appearing both nights will be Jeannie Seely, The Whites, Mike Snider, Connie Smith and Bill Anderson. Joining that group on Friday night will be Bobby Osborne, Ricky Skaggs and Josh Turner, while on Saturday night, it will just be Jesse McReynolds added. With Ricky and Josh set for Friday night, that certainly looks like the stronger of the two nights this weekend. 

As far as guest artists, Friday night will have Keith Anderson, Shelly Skidmore, Exile, and Chuck Wicks. Exile will be back for Saturday night's show, joined by JT Hodges, Ashley Campbell, Jackie Lee, Balsam Range and Crystal Gayle. 

Friday April 22
7:00: Connie Smith (host); Keith Anderson; Mike Snider
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Shelly Skidmore; Exile
Intermission
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Chuck Wicks
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Josh Turner

Friday April 23
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); JT Hodges; The Whites
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Ashley Campbell; Exile
Intermission
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Jesse McReynolds; Jackie Lee; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Balsam Range; Crystal Gayle

That come out to 12 acts each night, with 8 Opry members on Friday and 6 on Saturday.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from five years ago, the weekend of April 22 & 23, 2011:

Friday April 22
7:00: John Conlee (host); Jimmy C Newman; Riders In The Sky; Thompson Square
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jeannie Seely; Randy Montana
Intermission
8:15: Marty Stuart (host); Jesse McReynolds; Connie Smith; Paul Williams
8:45: Mike Snider (host); Jan Howard; Jack Greene; Josh Turner

Saturday April 23
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); John Conlee; Danny Gokey
7:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); George Hamilton IV; Jim Ed Brown; The Whites
Intermission
8:15: Mike Snider (host); Jake Owen; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Marty Stuart (host); Connie Smith; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Martina McBride

Now from ten years ago, the weekend of April 21 & 22, 2006:

Friday April 21
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Connie Smith; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; The Florida Boys
8:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Riders In The Sky; Brian Free & Assurance
8:30: Roy Clark (host); The Whites; The Kingsmen
9:00: Marty Stuart (host); Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; Terri Clark

Saturday April 22
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Jimmy C Newman
7:00: Roy Clark (host); Mark Wills; Blaine Larsen; Rodney Atkins; Rhonda Vincent
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Billy Walker; Jack Greene; Jeannie Seely; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Pam Tillis (host); Megan Mullins; Connie Smith

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Jimmy C Newman; Rodney Atkins
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Connie Smith; Jack Greene; Rhonda Vincent
10:30: Roy Clark (host); Jan Howard; Blaine Larsen; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Pam Tillis (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Mark Wills
11:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Ray Pillow; Billy Walker; Megan Mullins

Finally, from fifteen years ago, the weekend of April 20 & 21, 2001:

Friday April 20
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); The Whites; Jack Greene; Joe Diffie
8:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Del Reeves; Trent Summar & The New Row Mob; Alison Brown 
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Osborne Brothers; Riders In The Sky; Brad Paisley
9:00: John Conlee (host); Jimmy C Newman; Mike Snider; Tracy Byrd
9:30: George Hamilton IV (host); Ricky Skaggs; Asleep At The Wheel

Saturday April 21
1st show
6:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jack Greene; Bill Carlisle; Del Reeves; Mandy Barnett
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Hank Locklin; Billy Walker; Alison Brown
7:30: Lorrie Morgan (host); John Anderson; John Michael Montgomery
8:00: Riders In The Sky (host); John Conlee; The Osborne Brothers; Trent Summar & The New Row Mob; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; The Whites; Mike Snider

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); The Whites; Billy Walker; John Anderson
10:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Mandy Barnett; Mike Snider; Lorrie Morgan
10:30: John Conlee (host); Alison Brown; Stu Phillips; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Charlie Louvin; The Osborne Brothers; John Michael Montgomery
11:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Charlie Walker; Elizabeth Cook; Trent Summar & The New Row Mob

For this week's look back, here is the running order from Saturday April 22, 1972. There were some interesting names on the line-up that night. 

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms/Rudy's
Stonewall Jackson (host): Don't Be Angry
Ernie Ashworth: Battle of the Blues
Stonewall Jackson: Me & You & A Dog Named Boo/Waterloo/Muddy Water
Wilma Lee Cooper: A Hero's Death
Bobby Austin: Apartment #9
Stonewall Jackson: Why I'm Walking

7:00: Luzianne
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Lonzo & Oscar: Truck Driving Man
Wilma Burgess: Snowbird
Joe & Rose Lee Maphis: Run That By Me One More Time
Roy Acuff: Lonely Mound of Clay
Wilma Burgess: Help Me Make It Through the Night
Joe & Rose Lee Maphis: Alabama Jubilee
Howdy Forrester: Instrumental

7:30: Standard Candy
Billy Walker (host): When A Man Loves A Woman
Skeeter Davis: Sad Situation
Willis Brothers: Bonaparte's Retreat
Crook Brothers: Eighth of January
Billy Walker: Gone Our Endless Love
Skeeter Davis: One Tin Soldier
Willis Brothers: For the Good Times
Billy Walker: Cattle Call

8:00: Martha White
Lester Flatt (host) & Mac Wiseman: Will You Be Lovin' Another Man
Dottie West: Paper Mansions
The Stonemans: The Wreck of the Old 97
David Rogers: Need You
Lester Flatt & Mac Wiseman: The Bluebirds Sing for Me
Cal Smith: I Found Someone of My Own
Dottie West: Willy's Winter Love
Lester Flatt: Shuckin' the Corn

8:30: Stephens
Ernest Tubb (host): Say Something Nice to Sara
Jean Shepard: Gotta Travel On 
Charlie Walker: Who'll Buy the Wine
4 Guys: Cottonfields/Mariah
Ernest Tubb: Waltz Across Texas
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Take Me Back to Tulsa
Jean Shepard: Virginia

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Stonewall Jackson (host): Don't Be Angry
Willis Brothers: Buying Popcorn
Bobby Austin: Night Train to Memphis
Stonewall Jackson: Me & You & A Dog Named Boo
Willis Brothers: Women's Liberation
Stonewall Jackson: Why I'm Walking/Muddy Water

10:00: Fender
Lonzo & Oscar (host): Lonesome Road Blues
Wilma Lee Cooper: Singing Waterfall
Lonzo & Oscar: Take Me Home Country Roads
Wilma Burgess: Tennessee Waltz

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Night Train to Memphis
Joe & Rose Lee Maphis: Honey, Be My Honey Bee
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird/I Saw the Light

10:30: Trailblazer
Lester Flatt (host): & Mac Wiseman: Salty Dog Blues
Skeeter Davis: Sad Situation
Mack Wiseman: Love Letters In the Sand
Paul Warren: Orange Blossom Special

10:45: Beech-Nut
Ernest Tubb (host): Mississippi Gal
Cal Smith: I Found Someone of My Own
Crook Brothers: Soldiers Joy
Ernest Tubb: Yesterdays Winner Is A Loser Today

11:00: Coca-Cola
Billy Walker (host): Cross the Brazos at Waco
Jean Shepard: Virginia
David Rogers: Need You
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hickory Leaf
Billy Walker: Gone Our Endless Love
Jean Shepard: Silver Threads and Golden Needles
Sam McGee: Farewell Blues/Alabama Jubilee/Just Because

11:30: Elm Hill
Charlie Walker (host): Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
4 Guys: Turn Your Radio On
The Stonemans: White Lightening
Charlie Walker: Don't Squeeze My Sharmon
4 Guys: My Special Angel
The Stonemans: Sourwood Mountain
Charlie Walker: Little Old Wine Drinker Me

A couple of notes from that night: 

First, you will notice that Stonewall Jackson hosted the first two segments of the first show, 6:30 and 6:45, and that Lonzo and Oscar, who rarely hosted a segment, hosted the 2nd segment on the 2nd show. Both segments were to have been hosted by Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, but Stoney cancelled out due to illness and the Opry was not using female hosts. Thus, Wilma Lee could not host those segments without Stoney, so that accounts for the change.

Also on the schedule that night were The Stoneman Family. At one time, they were a possibility to become Opry members, something the Stonemans really wanted. However, years earlier the family made their first Opry appearance and they went way over on their time allowed and because of that, several Opry members complained. Allegedly, Hank Snow was one of them. The story is that Hank went to Opry management and protested about the Stonemans becoming members and that ended that. They would make a few more guest appearances, but you will notice that on this particular night when they were on the Opry, Hank was not. 

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!









Thursday, April 14, 2016

Grand Ole Opry 4/15 & 4/16

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the three shows this weekend. The shows once again look pretty good, although I wish there were more Opry members scheduled. What we have this weekend is Jeannie Seely, Mike Snider, John Conlee and Vince Gill scheduled for all three shows, with Bobby Osborne and Montgomery Gentry joining them on Friday night and Bill Anderson and Jesse McReynolds on Saturday. Like I said, I wish we could say that there were more then six Opry members per show. Of those who are appearing, it is nice to see Montgomery Gentry back at the Opry, along with the birthday boy, Vince Gill, who turned 59 on Wednesday. 

Among the guest artists this weekend, Friday night will have a return appearance by Marty Brown. Marty really made a great impression on his last Opry visit earlier this year. Restless Heart is also scheduled, as are Sara Haze, Jimmy Wayne, The Steeldrivers and Lee Greenwood. All have appeared on the Opry many, many times. 

Saturday night will feature Jackie Lee, TG Sheppard, Annie Moses Band, Striking Matches, and a new addition who hasn't been on the Opry for a while, Mark Collie. Mark Will also be in the Opry Shop signing copies of his new CD. 

Friday April 15
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Sara Haze; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Restless Heart; Marty Brown
Intermission
8:15: John Conlee (host); Jimmy Wayne; Montgomery Gentry
8:45: Vince Gill (host); The Steeldrivers; Lee Greenwood

Saturday April 16
1st show
7:00: John Conlee (host); Jackie Lee; Mike Snider
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); TG Sheppard; Annie Moses Band
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Mark Collie; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Vince Gill (host); Jesse McReynolds; Striking Matches

2nd show
9:30: John Conlee (host); Mike Snider; Annie Moses Band
10:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jackie Lee; TG Sheppard
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Mark Collie; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Vince Gill (host); Jesse McReynolds; Striking Matches

That comes out to 12 acts on Friday night, of which 6 are Opry members, and 11 acts for each show on Saturday night, of whom 6 are Opry members. 

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from five years ago, the weekend of April 15 & 16, 2011, both nights of which I attended: 

Friday April 15
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jim Ed Brown; Rebecca Lynn Howard
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; The Grascals
Intermission
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Clint Black; Steve Wariner
8:45: Vince Gill (host); John Conlee; The Whites

Saturday April 16
1st show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Rebecca Lynn Howard
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Jean Shepard; Jack Greene; Point Of Grace
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); John Conlee; Mountain Heart; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Vince Gill (host); Riders In The Sky; Connie Smith

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Rebecca Lynn Howard
10:00: John Conlee (host); Jean Shepard; Point Of Grace
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; Mountain Heart; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Vince Gill (host); Riders In The Sky; Connie Smith

Now from ten years ago, the weekend of April 14 & 15, 2006:

Friday April 14
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jan Howard
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Ray Scott; Del McCoury Band
9:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Jean Shepard; Mountain Heart
9:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Billy Walker; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Dierks Bentley

Saturday April 15
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jeannie Seely; Hal Ketchum
7:00: Steve Wariner (host); Dierks Bentley; Blake Shelton; Mountain Heart
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jean Shepard; Del McCoury Band; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jack Greene; Brad Paisley

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Steve Wariner
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Billy Walker; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Blake Shelton
10:30: Hal Ketchum (host); Hank Locklin; Dierks Bentley; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Jean Shepard (host); Mountain Heart; Brad Paisley
11:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jack Greene; Del McCoury Band

Finally from fifteen years ago, April 13 & 14, 2001:

Friday April 13
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Riders In The Sky; Bill Carlisle; Jimmy C Newman; Osborne Brothers; Mel McDaniel
8:00: John Conlee (host); Jack Greene; Billy Walker; Del McCoury Band
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Stonewall Jackson; Del Reeves; Chad Brock
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Ricky Skaggs; Brad Paisley
9:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); v/Helen Cornelius; Jan Howard; Mike Snider; Andy Griggs

Saturday April 14
1st show
6:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Osborne Brothers; Bill Carlisle Mel McDaniel
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jeannie Seely; Jim & Jesse; Billy Walker; Del McCoury Band
7:30: John Conlee (host); Chad Brock; Jack Greene; Victoria Shaw; Kent Blazy; Pat Alger
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Mike Snider; Ricky Skaggs; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Brad Paisley; Hal Bynum

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); The Whites; John Conlee; Mel McDaniel
10:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Mike Snider; Chad Brock
10:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jim & Jesse; Del Reeves; Riders In The Sky; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Victoria Shaw; Kent Blazy; Pat Alger; Brad Paisley
11:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Elizabeth Cook; Del McCoury Band; Hal Bynum

For this week's featured line-up, let's go back 44 years to Saturday April 15, 1972. This was also the week of the first Fan Fair that took place in Nashville. Obviously it was a success and has continued to this day, growing bigger each year. Here is the line-up from that night. 

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Billy Walker (host): Smokey Places
Donna Fargo: The Happiest Girl in the Whole USA
Billy Walker: You Gave Me A Mountain

6:45: Rudy's
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Coming Down from God
Del Wood: Are You From Dixie
Barbara Fairchild: Love's Old Song
Stoney Cooper & Earl Snead: Back Up and Push

7:00: Luzianne
Porter Wagoner (host): What Ain't To Be Just Might Happen
Dolly Parton: Touch Your Woman
Jerry Clower: Comedy
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton: The Right Combination
Dolly Parton: Joshua
Speck Rhodes: Running Bare
Porter Wagoner: Be A Little Quieter

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Skeeter Davis: Sad Situation
Willis Brothers: Give Me 40 Acres
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Vernon Solomon: Sally Johnson/Sally Goodin/Leather Britches

8:00: Martha White
Ernest Tubb (host): In The Jailhouse Now
Jean Shepard: I Thought of You/It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels/You Win Again/A Dear John Letter
Charlie McCoy: Today I Started Loving You Again
Ernest Tubb: Say Something Nice to Sara
Charlie McCoy: Orange Blossom Special
Leon Boulanger: For The Good times

8:30: Stephens
Charlie Walker (host): Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Penny DeHaven: Gone
4 Guys: Turn Your Radio On
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hickory Leaf
Charlie Walker: My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You
4 Guys: Shenandoah
Charlie Walker: Jambalaya

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Billy Walker (host): When A Man Loves A Woman
Willis Brothers: Bob
Del Wood: Standing Room Only
Barbara Fairchild: Loving You Is Sunshine
Billy Walker: Gone Our Endless Love
Barbara Fairchild: He Touched Me
Del Wood: Down Yonder
Billy Walker: Heartaches By the Number

10:00: Fender
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Big Midnight Special
Jerry Clower: Comedy
Wilma Lee Cooper: Philadelphia Lawyer

10:15: Union 76
Porter Wagoner (host): Wake Up, Jacob
Dolly Parton: Coat of Many Colors
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton: Daddy Was An Old Time Preacher Man/The Last Thing on My Mind

10:30: Trailblazer
Roy Acuff (host): I Saw the Light
Skeeter Davis: Sad Situation
Leon McAuliffe: Steel Guitar Rag/San Antonio Rose
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird

10:45: Beech-Nut
Ernest Tubb (host): Pass the Booze
Jean Shepard: Second Fiddle
Crook Brothers: Chicken Reel
Ernest Tubb: Another Story; Another Time; Another Place

11:00: Coca-Cola 
Charlie Walker (host): Good Deal, Lucille
Charlie McCoy: Today I Started Loving You Again
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bill Cheatham
Charlie Walker: Little Old Wine Drinker Me
Charlie Walker: Orange Blossom Special
Kirk McGee: Milk Cow Blues
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): I Walk Alone

4 Guys: Cottonfields/Mariah/Shenandoah
Penny DeHaven: Down In The Boondocks
Marty Robbins: Singing the Blues/Begging to You/Don't Worry/Big Boss Man/I'll Step Aside/To Get to You

And of course, I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend!!







Thursday, April 7, 2016

Grand Ole Opry 4/8 & 4/9

Before getting into the Opry line-ups for this weekend, I do want to acknowledge the passing of one of the all time country greats, Merle Haggard. We all knew he was in declining health and battling serious health issues, but his death still comes as a shock. He was not much for appearing on the Opry, but he did appear early in his career and then in one of his final appearances anywhere in the fall. His last Opry appearance was a surprise and the audience that night was shocked. As always, Merle delivered and received a standing ovation. Merle was called the "poet of the working man" and I think that is a fitting title for him. While all the details for his services have not been announced, I did see that Marty Stuart and Connie Smith both will be playing a prominent role. In fact, Connie cancelled all her Opry appearances this weekend. Merle will be another legend missed in country music and thoughts and prayers go to his family.  

Now for the lineups for the three shows this weekend. Let's just say that they are a little short on Opry members this weekend. While there are six members performing on Friday night, Saturday has just three on the first show and four on the second. Not that the line-ups are bad, they are just short as far as Opry members. 

Appearing on all three shows will be Jeannie Seely, Bill Anderson and Mike Snider. They will be joined on Friday by Riders In They Sky, Diamond Rio and Jesse McReynolds. On Saturday night, it will be just those three on the first show, with Bobby Osborne added for the second. And with just three Opry members on the first show, along with just three hosting members on the 2nd, that means we have reduced segments once again. I know on the original schedule Connie Smith was scheduled for all three shows, and hosting on each show, but with her cancelling due to the services for Merle Haggard, are we to believe that there were no other Opry member available to step in and host segments? Apparently not. 

As far as the non-members this weekend, Friday night will have Jackie Lee, Gary Morris, Mandy Barnett, Will Hoge, Alicia Witt and Kristian Bush. For Alicia, this will be her Opry debut, which is kind of surprising considering how long she has been around. Her film career goes back to "Dune" in 1984 and she has been in dozens of movies and television shows since then. While her recording career does not go back that far, she is considered a gifted pianist and has recorded several albums. In addition to performing on the Opry, she will also be making additional appearances around Nashville this weekend. 

On Saturday night, the first show will feature Eric Church, who gets the entire last segment to himself. No matter who it is, I just hate when the Opry turns over an entire segment on either the Friday or Saturday show to just one individual. If they want to do it on Tuesday or Wednesday night, that is fine. I just hate to see it on the traditional weekend shows. The other non-members for Saturday night, who unlike Eric will be appearing on both shows, are Darryl Worley, Suzy Bogguss, who is on my list of top three female vocalists, Jordan Rager, the great guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, and Phil Vassar.  

Friday April 8
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jackie Lee; Gary Morris
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Mandy Barnett; Diamond Rio
Intermission
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jesse McReynolds; Will Hoge
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Alicia Witt; Kristian Bush

Saturday April 9
1st show
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Darryl Worley; Suzy Bogguss
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jordan Rager; Tommy Emmanuel
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Phil Vassar; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Eric Church

2nd show
9:30: Mike Snider (host); Darryl Worley; Suzy Bogguss
10:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Jordan Rager; Tommy Emmanuel; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Phil Vassar

That comes out to 12 acts on Friday night, of which 6 are Opry members and 9 acts for both shows on Saturday with just 3 Opry members on the first show and 4 on the 2nd. 

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from five years ago, the weekend of April 8 & 9, 2011:

Friday April 8
7:00: John Conlee (host); Riders In The Sky; Edens Edge
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Exile
Intermission
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Connie Smith; T Graham Brown
8:45: Trace Adkins (host); The West Point Glee Club

Saturday April 9
1st show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Elizabeth Cook
7:30: John Conlee (host); The Whites; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
8:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Stonewall Jackson; Joey+Rory; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Mandy Barnett; Joe Diffie

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Elizabeth Cook
10:00: John Conlee (host); The Whites; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
10:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jesse McReynolds; Joey+Rory; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Mandy Barnett; Joe Diffie

Now from ten years ago, the weekend of April 7 & 8, 2006: 

Friday April 7
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); The Whites; Jean Shepard; Buddy Jewell
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Cherryholmes; Connie Smith
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Poco; Vince Gill 
9:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jan Howard; Billy Walker; Chely Wright

Saturday April 8
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Jimmy Wayne
7:00: Jean Shepard (host); Charlie Walker; Jimmy C Newman; Cherryholmes
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Billy Walker; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Trent Willmon
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jack Greene; Jeannie Seely; Buddy Jewell; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Connie Smith; Vince Gill

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Jimmy Wayne
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jean Shepard; Vince Gill
10:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Stu Phillips; Cherryholmes; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Connie Smith; Trent Willmon
11:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jack Greene; Buddy Jewell

Finally, from fifteen years ago, the weekend of April 6 & 7, 2001:

Friday April 6
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Jeannie Seely; Bill Carlisle; Connie Smith
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; Billy Walker; Elizabeth Cook; The Whites
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jeanne Pruett; Mike Ireland; T G Sheppard
9:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Charlie Louvin; Mike Snider; Steve Wariner
9:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jack Greene; Brad Paisley

Saturday April 7
1st show
6:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Connie Smith; Mandy Barnett
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Stu Phillips; Elizabeth Cook; Billy Walker
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); T G Sheppard; Alison Krauss
8:00: Steve Wariner (host); Jeanne Pruett; Del Reeves; The Whites; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Leona Williams; Mike Snider; Gail Davies

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Connie Smith; Stonewall Jackson; Jim Ed Brown
10:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Leona Williams; Billy Walker; Alison Krauss
10:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Del Reeves; T G Sheppard; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00; Steve Wariner (host); The Whites; Mike Snider; Mandy Barnett
11:30: Charlie Walker (host); Elizabeth Cook; Ray Pillow; Gail Davies

For this week's look back, and continuing the recent trend of highlighting the Grand Ole Opry's annual reunion shows, here is another. This one is from Saturday April 9, 1983:  

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Charlie Louvin (host): Let Her Go; God Bless Her
Ernie Ashworth: There's No Place I'd Rather Be Tonight
Del Wood: Are You from Dixie

6:45: Rudy's
Grandpa Jones (host): Apple Jack
Wilma Lee Cooper: A Daisy A Day
David Houston: Almost Persuaded
Grandpa Jones: Neighbors

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Y'All Come
Pee Wee King: Tennessee Waltz
Duke of Paducah: Ding Dong Daddy From Dumas
Jim Ed Brown: I Don't Want to Have to Marry You
Skeeter Davis: I Gotta Know; I Gotta Know
Curly Fox: The Old Gray Mule
Porter Wagoner: The Cowboy's Hat

7:30: Standard Candy
Bill Anderson (host): Southern Fried
Jean Shepard: Too Many Rivers
Roy Drusky: What About You
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Lafayette
Bill Anderson: Thank You Darling for Loving Me

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Sid Harkreader: Amazing Grace/Mockingbird Breakdown/Red Wing/Easter Parade
Connie Smith: Till I Kissed Ya
Roy Acuff: I Saw the Light

8:30: Acme
Hank Snow (host): Forever and One Day
4 Guys: Ruby Red
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything
Paul Howard: Stay A Little Longer
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Saturday Night Hop
Hank Snow: Nevertheless, I'm In Love With You

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Porter Wagoner (host): Ol' Slewfoot
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Jeannie Seely: He's All I Need
Del Wood: Down Yonder
Jimmy C Newman: La Cajun Band
Lonzo & Oscar: That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine
Porter Wagoner: The Cowboy's Hat

10:00: Little Debbie
Bill Anderson (host): How Married Are You Mary Ann
Jean Shepard: Home in San Antonio/Time Changes Everything/Roly Poly
Pee Wee King: Slow Poke/Tennessee Waltz
Bill Anderson: Golden Guitar

10:15: Sunbeam
Grandpa Jones (host): Mountain Dew
Billy Grammer: Blue Water
Bill Carlisle: Elvira
Ray Pillow: Too Many Memories

10:30: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): I Couldn't Believe It Was True
Stu Phillips: Have I Told You Lately That I Love You/You Win Again/Release Me
Teddy Wilburn: Born to Love Me

10:45: Beech-Nut
Jim Ed Brown (host): Fools
Vic Willis Trio: You Feel Good All Over
Connie Smith: Satisfied
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Rachel

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): That Heart Belongs to Me
Hank Locklin: Tin Roof
Roy Drusky: Wings of A Dove
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bile Them Cabbage Down
Curly Fox: Alabama Jubilee
Kirk McGee: While I'm Away
Hank Snow: I've Done at Least One Thing That Was good In My Life

11:30: Hardee's
Jack Greene (host): Happy Tracks
4 Guys: Ruby Red
Paul Howard: Come On In Baby; The Boogie's Fine Tonight
Jeanne Pruett: Temporarily Yours/It's Too Late
Jack Greene: From Cotton to Satin

Not many old-timers returned that night as the list was limited to the Duke of Paducah, Pee Wee King, Sid Harkreader, Curly Fox and Paul Howard. Minnie Pearl was also scheduled, but cancelled, as did Zeke Clement and George Hamilton IV. 

That show was from 1983. Six years later, on Saturday April 8, 1989 there was another reunion show. Here was the line-up from that night: 

1st show
6:30: Bonanza
Del Reeves (host): Bells of Southern Bell
Skeeter Davis: Jesus Is the Answer/He Will Be There
Del Reeves: There She Goes

6:45: Rudy's
Bill Monroe (host): Jerusalem Ridge
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Bill Monroe: I'm Working On A Building

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Tennessee Saturday Night
4 Guys: How Married Are You Mary Ann
Ray Pillow: Lucky Me
Jean Shepard: Someone's Gotta Cry
Carl Butler: Don't Let Me Cross Over
Porter Wagoner: What Ain't To Be Just Might Happen

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Kitty Wells: Thank You for the Roses/It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels
Johnny Wright: I'm Saved
Jordanaires: That's All Right/Now Didn't It Rain
Roy Acuff: I'll Fly Away

8:00: Martha White
Grandpa Jones (host): Apple Jack
Connie Smith: Walk Me to the Door
Charlie Louvin: I Still Miss Someone
Jack Greene: You Are My Treasure
Curly Fox: Alabama Jubilee/The Old Gray Mule
Opry Square Dance Band/ Melvin Sloan Dancers: Bill Cheatham
Ray Kirkland: Catfish John

8:30: Music Valley Drive
Hank Snow (host): The Call of the Wild
Boxcar Willie: Fireball Mail/Train of Love/Hand Me Down My Walking Cane/Wreck of the Old 97/I'm Moving On/Wabash Cannonball/Night Train to Memphis
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
David Houston: My Elusive Dreams
Zeke Clements: Fiddlin' Sam
Hank Snow: The Prisoner's Song

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): You Gotta Have A License
4 Guys: What'll You Do About Me
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away
Sawyer Brown: This Missing You Heart of Mine/Betty's Bein' Bad
Porter Wagoner: I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name

10:00: Little Debbie
Jack Greene (host): Midnight Tennessee Woman
Roy Drusky: Wings of A Dove
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything/Statue of A Fool

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Meeting in the Air
Stonewall Jackson: Why I'm Walkin'
Dan Kelly: Sally Goodin

10:30: Pet Milk
Grandpa Jones (host): Darby's Run
Jean Shepard: Seven Lonely Days
Bill Carlisle: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Grandpa Jones: My Little Old Home Down in New Orleans

10:45: B. C. Powder
Charlie Walker (host): Does Ft Worth Ever Cross Your Mind
Jan Howard: Take Me As I Am or Let Me Go
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Old Joe Clark
Charlie Walker: Take Me Back to Tulsa

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Brand on My Heart
Osborne Brothers: Your Love is Like A Flower
Curly Fox: Listening to the Mockingbird
Charlie Louvin: Sweet Beulahland
Justin Tubb: Pull the Covers Over Me
Hank Snow: Snow in Hawaii

11:30: Creamette
Boxcar Willie (host): Wreck of the Old 97
Connie Smith: The Key's In the Mailbox
David Houston: Almost Persuaded
Zeke Clements: Coal Mines
Johnny Russell: Act Naturally/Me & Bobby McGee
Boxcar Willie: Jesus, I Need to Talk to You

That reunion show only attracted Carl Butler, Kitty Wells, Johnny Wright, the Jordanaires, Curly Fox and Zeke Clements. You would think that considering the number of ex-Opry members still alive at that time, they could have attracted a few more. 

As always, enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!