Sunday, March 1, 2015

Hawkshaw Hawkins/Cowboy Copas Final Opry Shows

It was 52 years ago today, Saturday March 2, 1963 that Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas appeared on the Grand Ole Opry for the final time. Three days later, on Tuesday March 5, they, along with Patsy Cline and Randy Hughes, would pass away as the result of a plane crash near Camden, Tennessee. They were returning from a benefit show in Kansas City.

Loyd Estel "Cowboy" Copas was born in Blue Creek, Ohio on July 15, 1913. He possessed a strong tenor voice, distinctive phrasing, and flat-top guitar picking that gave his recordings a unique sound in an era dominated by instantly identifiable performers. He was one of six children and began performing at fairs and talent contests with his brother, Marion, when both were teenagers. He was still a teenager when he teamed with local fiddler Lester Vernon Storer, known professionally as Natchee the Indian, and acquired the alternative stage name Cowboy. His brother would later say that Copas was advised by a college professor to say he was born on a ranch in Oklahoma, a locale deemed more colorful than the family corn and tobacco farm in Blue Creek. He never professed to be a cowboy singer, however, and recorded virtually nothing with a western motif. His overall style might be described as occupying a middle ground between honky-tonk and the crossover approach of smooth vocalists such as Eddy Arnold and George Morgan.

In the early 1940s, he worked at WLW in Cincinnati and became affiliated with King Records. He made his first record for the label, "Filipino Baby" during his first sessions for the label in 1944. When it finally was released nearly two years later, in the summer of 1946, it became a #4 hit that propelled Cowboy to the Grand Ole Opry. In 1946 he joined Pee Wee King's Golden West Cowboys as a guitarist and featured vocalist. Among his hits were "Tragic Romance," "Signed, Sealed and Delivered," "Tennessee Waltz," "Kentucky Waltz," "Breeze," "The Strange Little Girl" and "Copy Cat," a duet with his daughter Kathy. His career suffered during the rock revolution in the 1950s, however he enjoyed a comeback after signing with Starday in 1959. He made the album "Unforgettable" which  featured the 1960 #1 hit "Alabam." He continued on the charts until his death with his final single being "Goodbye Kisses."

Harold Franklin "Hawkshaw" Hawkins was born in Huntington, West Virginia on December 22, 1921. As a teenager, he participated in local talent contests and performed on local radio. During World War II, he was stationed in the Philippines and even performed on a Manila radio station. After returning home, he joined the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree, where he remained until 1954. During that time, he also had a CBS radio program. He developed a large following due not only to recordings featuring his rich, smooth, honky-tonk vocals, but also to his showmanship. Especially popular were his colorful summer shows, which included trained horse acts and rope and Australian bullwhip tricks.

His first recording successes were "Pan American" and "Doghouse Boggie" in 1948. Those two were followed by "I Wasted a Nickle," "I Love You a Thousand Ways," and "I'm Waiting Just for You." The latter two both reached the Top 10. In 1955 he joined the Grand Ole Opry, but it would be four more years until he had his next chart success with "Soldier's Joy" which reached #15 on the Billboard Charts. On November 26, 1960 he married Jean Shepard. The ceremony was conducted on an auditorium stage in Wichita, Kansas. Late in 1962, he recorded a Justin Tubb song, "Lonesome 7-7203" which would be his biggest hit. However, he died before it would reach #1 on the charts.

To remember Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins, here is the running order of the Grand Ole Opry, Saturday March 2, 1963:

7:30: Kellogg's
George Morgan (host): Little Dutch Girl
Carter Family: Fourteen Caret Nothing
Jimmy Newman: Bayou Talk
Willis Brothers: Eat A Little More
Harold Morrison: Pretty Little Pink
June Carter: (?)
Jimmy Newman: A Fallen Star
George Morgan: Down Memory Lane

8:00: Martha White
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Come Walk With Me
Billy Walker: I've Got A New Heartache
Wilburn Brothers: Roll Muddy River
Stringbean: Pretty Little Widow
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: There's A Higher Power
Del Wood: Are You From Dixie
Margie Bowes: Think It Over
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Wilburn Brothers: Trouble's Back In Town
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Philadelphia Lawyer

8:30: Stephens
Hawkshaw Hawkins (host): Darkness on the Face of the Earth
Lonzo & Oscar: There's A Hole In the Bottom of the Sea
Bobby Lord: Out Behind the Barn
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Hawkshaw Hawkins: I Don't Apologize
Glaser Brothers: Lover's Farewell
Curly Fox: (?)
Hawkshaw Hawkins: Silver Threads and Golden Needles

9:00: Jefferson Island Salt
Cowboy Copas (host): You Don't Have To Be A Baby To Cry
Bill Monroe: (?)
Roy Drusky: Second Hand Rose
Minnie Pearl: Comedy
Cowboy Copas: Alabam
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bill Cheatham
Bill Carlisle: Shutter and Boards
Bill Monroe: (?)
Cowboy Copas: The Man Upstairs

9:30: Pet Milk
Roy Acuff (host): Plastic Heart
Jordanaires: (?)
Marion Worth: Shake Me; I Rattle

Cousin Jody: Lady Cop
Roy Acuff: The Wreck on the Highway
Oswald: Roll On, Buddy, Roll On
Justin Tubb: (?)
Jimmy Riddle: Fox Chase
Roy Acuff: I'll Fly Away

10:00: Gates Rubber
George Morgan (host): Roly Poly
Curly Fox: (?)
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Satisfied
Del Wood: Bill Bailey
George Morgan: Who's Jealous Now

10:15: Luzianne
Wilburn Brothers (host): Day After Day
Bill Carlisle: Leave that Liar Alone
Margie Bowes: Within Your Crowd
Harold Morrison: The Cat Came Back
Wilburn Brothers: Not That I Care

10:30: Harvey's
Jimmy Newman (host): (?)
Carter Family: (?)
Billy Walker: Thank You For Calling
Jimmy Newman: (?)

10:45: Ford
Hawkshaw Hawkins (host): Big Old Heartache
Willis Brothers: I Still Do
Stringbean: There'll Be Moonshine In Them Old Kentucky Hills
Crook Brothers: Sally Goodin
Hawkshaw Hawkins: Lonesome 7-7203

11:00: Coca-Cola
Roy Acuff (host): Little Pal
Jordanaires: (?)
Marion Worth: Tennessee Teardrops
Lonzo & Oscar: I'm My Own Grandpa
Roy Acuff & Oswald: Stuck Up Blues
Sam & Kirk McGee: While I'm Away
Justin Tubb: (?)
Oswald: John Hardy
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbin Ridge
Roy Acuff: Shake My Mother's Hand For Me

11:30: SSS Tonic
Cowboy Copas (host): Down In Nashville Tennessee
Bill Monroe (host):
Roy Drusky: It Worries Me
Cousin Jody: Mockingbird
Archie Campbell: A Fool's Side of Town
Glaser Brothers: Odds and Ends
Bobby Lord: So Doggone Lonesome
Bill Monroe: (?)
Cowboy Copas: Flat Top

For those interested where Patsy Cline was that Saturday night, she was in Birmingham, Alabama on a package show with Flatt & Scruggs, Tex Ritter and Charlie Rich. Her final Opry show was the previous Saturday night.

Many people just think of Cowboy and Hawkshaw as two of the other passengers on the plane which Patsy Cline was riding in. So many don't realize what great careers Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins had in country music. While Cowboy's career was mostly behind him, Hawkshaw had a bright future. The argument can be made that they both belong in the Country Music Hall of Fame, yet continue to be overlooked by the voters. Much like Patsy Cline, country music suffered a tragedy when Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins passed away on that March day. While many might forget, we choose to remember.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

March Opry Highlights

Welcome to March. I hope where you live winter is coming to an end. February was a tough month here in Ohio and in Nashville. Anyways, here is hoping for an early spring. As I do each month, here are the important and historical events that have taken place at the Grand Ole Opry, or with Opry members, during the month of March:

March 31, 1934: Opry member Kitty Cora Cline ended her Opry career. She was the first female solo artist on the Opry, starting there on March 24, 1928. The story goes that on this particular evening she was on her way to the Opry and observed a very serious car accident that bothered her so much that she refused to travel by car again. Because of that, she quit the Opry.

March 16, 1946: Future Opry member Grandpa Jones appeared on the Opry for the first time, as a member of Pee Wee King's band.

March 1, 1952: Uncle Dave Macon makes his final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Dave was one of the original stars of the Opry and one of the first professional entertainers to join the cast. Just 2 weeks after that final appearance, on March 22, he passed away at the age of 82. Dave would later be one of the early members to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

March 21, 1953: Bill Carlisle and the Carlisles make their first guest appearance on the Opry.

March 1, 1958: Following his criticism of the management at WSM, Opry member Marty Robbins is fired by the Opry. Of course, this did not last very long and Marty was quickly rehired and was back on the Opry.

March 2, 1963: Opry members Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins made their final appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. Several days later, they would die when their plane crashed on the way back to Nashville after an appearance in Kansas City. The crash also claimed the lives of Patsy Cline and Randy Hughes.

March 9, 1963: The Grand Ole Opry observes a moment of silence for Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas, Hawkshaw Hawkins and Randy Hughes, who all died earlier in the week from a plane crash in Eastern Tennessee. Also included was Jack Anglin, of Johnny & Jack, who died in a car accident the same week. In the tribute read by Opry manager Ott Devine, he said, "All of their friends standing with me tonight on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium know that it is impossible to put into words our thoughts, our feelings, our love for Patsy, Hank, Cope, Jack and Randy. And so we ask that you in our audience please stand and join us for a moment of silent prayer in tribute to them." Some have called this the saddest day in the history of the Opry.

March 29, 1963: Texas Ruby Owens died in a fire at her home. Along with her husband Curly Fox, she came to the Opry in the 1940s. After her death, Curly would carry on at the Opry as a solo act.

March 2, 1964: Jim & Jesse McReynolds are invited to become members of the Grand Ole Opry. Later that week, they would make their first appearance as members. Jim McReynolds passed away on December 31, 2002. Since then, Jesse McReynolds has continued at the Opry as a solo member and last year he celebrated his 50th anniversary as an Opry member.

March 7, 1964: Jim & Jesse McReynolds and Ernie Ashworth make their first appearances as members of the Grand Ole Opry. Ernie Ashworth, who was famous for wearing his colorful suit with flaming lips on it, would remain as an Opry member until his death on March 2, 2009.

March 28, 1964: Connie Smith made her first appearance as a guest at the Grand Ole Opry. She was there at the invitation of Bill Anderson. She also stopped by the Ernest Tubb Record Shop later that night. Later that year, Chet Atkins would sign her to a contract at RCA Records and her Hall of Fame career was underway. A year later, in 1965, she would become a member of the Opry and later this year she will celebrate 50 years as an Opry member.

March 9, 1968: Irene Ryan, who played the part of Granny on the Beverly Hillbillies, made an appearance at the Opry.

March 15, 1968: On the Friday Night Opry that evening, The Byrds, which included Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman, appear as guests on the Opry. They sang "Sing Me Back Home" and "Hickory Wind" while on the show. The reception from those attending was not very good and this would end up being their only appearance on the Opry.

March 28, 1970: Opry member Marty Robbins returns to the Opry for the first time following a heart attack in January. As usual, he returned as the host of the 11:30 segment and reporter Jerry Thompson, who was there, wrote the following: "The sound from the jam-packed crowd was deafening. They couldn't hear the words to the songs that familiar figure behind the Opry mic was crooning, but there was no mistake. Marty Robbins was back where he belonged. Midway through the show, Robbins sat at the piano and told the audience, 'I had so many things I was going to say tonight. I want to thank all my friends for their concern and I want to thank God for letting me be there. Now, I can't think of anything else to say, so I guess I'll have to sing for you.' And sing he did until 12:27 a.m. when the curtain closed amidst repeated shouts of 'more, more, more.'" This was one night when those at the Midnight Jamboree did not complain about the Opry running over.

March 27, 1971: Jan Howard became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be her 44th year as an Opry member. Jan had appeared on the Opry so many times prior to becoming a member that Bud Wendell thought she already was. That oversight was corrected and Jan became a member that night. Also on a related note, on March 13, Jan will be celebrating her 86th birthday, which makes her the oldest female cast member of the Opry.

March 9, 1974: The Grand Ole Opry has its final Saturday night performance at the Ryman Auditorium. The Opry had been at the Ryman since 1943. This was also the final Opry show as a member for Bobby Bare, who quit the cast rather than move to the new Opry House.

March 15, 1974: The Grand Ole Opry conducted its final Friday Night Opry at the Ryman Auditorium. It was such as emotional night that both Charlie Walker and Bill Anderson forgot words to their songs. The final segment was hosted by George Morgan and he ended the show with "Candy Kisses." After the Opry ended, the Reverend Jimmie Snow, son of Hank Snow, hosted "Grand Ole Gospel" with special guests Johnny Cash, June Carter, The Carter Family and Hank Snow. The show concluded with "Will The Circle Be Unbroken" and as soon as they were done, the signs were taken down and moved to the new Opry House. After the Opry left, the Ryman Auditorium stayed empty for many years, with the inside looking just like it did that final night.

March 16, 1974: The Grand Ole Opry had its first performance at the new Grand Ole Opry House. President Richard Nixon made a special appearance and was the first and only President to actually perform on the Opry's stage. There was much discussion on which Opry artist would be the first to perform at the new Opry House and management made the decision that all artists would go in alphabetical order, which meant that Roy Acuff would be the first. Roy said, "I've made my request that if I'm still here when the Opry House opens, let me be the first one to go on stage. I just want to open the curtain and sing two songs. Then they can have it." After Roy's appearance, Bill Anderson was next, and the show went on from there. The first show was basically an invitation show only, with the second show for the regular fans. Both shows lasted well past their normal times.

March 30, 1974: The Earl Scruggs Revue made its final appearance as Opry members. They became a part of the Opry after Flatt & Scruggs broke up and while Lester Flatt enjoyed the Opry and was there on a regular basis, Earl had a more progressive sound and prefered to perform for different audiences. While giving up his Opry membership, Earl would still make special Opry appearances with a number of artists.

March 14, 1975: The Cumberland River floods in Nashville causing the Opry to move the shows that weekend downtown to the Municipal Auditorium. It was also the first anniversary of the Opry House. While many thought that the Opry would go back to the Ryman for that weekend, it was determined that the Ryman was in no condition to host the shows. While in 1975 it was just the parking lots that flooded, the next time the Cumberland River went over its banks in 2010, it flooded the entire Opry House.

March 4, 1978: For the first time in the history of the Grand Ole Opry, an entire Opry show was televised. PBS had approached Opry officials to see if there was an interest in televising the show as part of their annual fundraising campaign. The Opry agreed and it was considered such a success that PBS would do it again for the next 3 years. The Opry did agree to a few changes, including removing all references to their commerical sponsors. That included covering the sponsor's signs that appeared on the Opry stage and backdrop. What made these PBS shows so special, besides the quality of the line-ups, was the fact that they did not change the show at all. The format stayed the same, although several of the performers dressed up a bit more than usual. These shows also gave people across the country, who had never attended the Opry or were unable to do so, a chance to see an entire Opry show as it happened.

March 10, 1979: James Brown performs at the Opry at the invitation of Porter Wagoner. It was a tough night at the Opry as several of the Opry's members elected to stay away from the show that night. James was on stage for 20 minutes and later said that he enjoyed his time there.

March 23, 1979: Lester Flatt returned to the Opry for the first time since November. A brain hemorrhage had kept him away.

March 20, 1980: This was the final show for Opry member Marion Worth. Marion had joined the Opry in 1965. While she didn't have a spectacular career in country music, she was a popular member of the Opry. Marion continued to do a few shows in Las Vegas after leaving the Opry, before retiring. She passed away in December 1999.

March 28, 1980: Tom T. Hall rejoined the Opry. Tom T had quit the Opry in March 1974 when the Opry moved to the new Opry House. It was reported that Ernest Tubb saw Tom T in the parking lot at a show and told him he needed to get back to the Opry. He did and for most of the 1980s he was a regular performer on the show. Sadly, it has been many years since Tom T has been at the Opry.

March 1, 1982: Opry member Roy Acuff was honored with a two-hour special that was televised by ABC. All all-star cast of performers and entertainers honored Roy, including President Ronald Reagan, Vice-President George Bush, and Minnie Pearl, Tom T. Hall, Bill Anderson, Chet Atkins, Charlie Daniels and Gene Autry. Among those scheduled to appear but cancelling due to illness, were Johnny Cash and Dottie West.

March 7, 1983: The Nashville Network made its debut. This network would later become the television home of the Grand Ole Opry as a half-hour of the show was televised each Saturday night.

March 3, 1984: The Whites became members of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be their 31st year as Opry members.

March 7, 1986: Randy Travis makes his first guest appearance on the Opry. He was introduced by Jimmy Dickens and did, "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry." Later that year, Randy would become an Opry member.

March 9, 1996: Opry member Minnie Pearl was honored at the Grand Ole Opry as Wilma Lee Cooper, Jean Shepard, Jeanne Pruett, Skeeter Davis, Connie Smith and Jeannie Seely sang her favorite song, "Have I Told You Lately That I Love You."

March 15, 1996: Grand Ole Opry member since 1939, Bill Monroe makes his final Grand Ole Opry appearance.

March 14, 1998: Opry manager invites Diamond Rio to become the newest members of the Opry. They would officially join the cast the following month. On the same night, Jo Dee Messina made her Opry debut.

March 13, 1999: Trisha Yearwood became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. She had been invited to join in January by Opry member Ricky Skaggs. This will be her 16th year as an Opry member and coming up on March 13, she is scheduled for the Opry. Prior to joining, she was quoted as saying how much she wanted to become an Opry member and like many others, promised to support the show and appear whenever she could. And sorry to say, like so many others, that promise is long gone.

March 22, 2001: Johnny Russell is honored at a special benefit show at the Opry House to help raise money to cover his medical expenses. Among those attending that night were Garth Brooks, Vince Gill, Oak Ridge Boys, Ricky Skaggs and Ralph Emery.

March 7, 2003: Opry member Bill Carlisle made his final Opry appearance. He had joined the show in November 1953. A few days after his last appearance, he suffered a stroke and would pass away on March 17. He was 95 and although he was battling several serious health issues, he was still a very active Opry member.

March 15, 2008: Carrie Underwood is surprised during an Opry appearance by Randy Travis and is invited to become the Opry's newest member. The show was televised by GAC. She would formally join the cast in May.

March 8, 2009: Opry member Hank Locklin passed away at the age of 91. Hank had joined the Opry in 1960 and at the time of his death, was the Opry's oldest member.

March 1, 2011: It was announced that Opry members Reba McEntire and Jean Shepard had been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Many felt that Jean should have been elected many years previously and it was a well deserved honor for this Opry member.

March 6, 2012: It was announced that Opry members Connie Smith and Garth Brooks had been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

March 24, 2012: Carol Lee Cooper retired from the Grand Ole Opry after leading the Carolee Singers for over 40 years. She had some voice issues that led to her retirement. She had originally came to the Opry in the 1950s with her parents, Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper.

March 5, 2013: The Grand Ole Opry honored Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins on the 50th anniversary of the plane crash that took their lives. Among those taking part in the tribute were Jean Shepard, Terri Clark, Mandy Barnett, John Conlee and Chuck Mead.

March 15, 2014: The Grand Ole Opry marked 40 years at the Grand Ole Opry House with 2 shows that featured Blake Shelton, Miranda Lambert, Old Crow Medicine Show, Josh Turner, Ricky Skaggs and Marty Stuart.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Grand Ole Opry House Added to National Register of Historic Places

The Grand Ole Opry House, home of the Opry since the venue opened in 1974, has been added to the National Register of Historic Places, the nation's official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation. Regarded as the home of country music, the world famous venue was recognized because of its impact on popular culture and the entertainment industry. It is one of six sites in Tennessee recently added to the list. Dr. Carroll Van West, Director of the Center for Historic Preservation at MTSU and the Tennessee State Historian, prepared the nomination which was supported by the Tennessee State Historical Commission.

The Opry House opened on March 16, 1974 with a standing room only Opry performance attended by President and Mrs. Richard Nixon, among other VIP guests. The Opry's sixth home, the venue is also the only home built specifically for the Opry and the residence the Opry has called home the longest. The venue has welcomed countless Opry artists, concert performers from virtually every genre of music, U.S. Presidents, foreign dignitaries, award shows, television tapings, and numerous special events and distinguished guests in its 41-year history. It is the reigning Academy of Country Music Venue of the Year.

The distinction for the Opry's permanent home comes as the Opry itself readies for a nine-month celebration of its 90th anniversary, set to begin with a kick-off show Tuesday March 24. Throughout that evening's performance, the Opry will announce various elements of the celebration, including special shows scheduled through December. The Opry's 90th Birthday Bash Weekend is scheduled for October 2-3.

(Press Release from the Grand Ole Opry).

A great honor for the Opry House that often gets overlooked in favor of the Ryman Auditorium. The facilities and presentation at the Opry House help to make the Opry an amazing show to experience.

For those who do not have tickets yet for the 90th Birthday Bash Weekend, they are going very fast. Many people, including myself, expect a star-studded weekend of shows and certainly are looking for an improvement upon the effort of the last couple of years. I am concerned a bit that by making the celebration a nine month affair, and adding special shows,  that those shows could come at the expense of the birthday weekend. Time will tell, but I am glad that they are planning on doing this up right. Oh, as a reminder, October is also Garth Brook's 25th year as an Opry member. Something to keep in mind.

Again, congratulations to the Opry for this great honor.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Grand Ole Opry 2/27 & 2/28

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the two shows this weekend and hopefully the weather will be better and the shows will go as advertised. Last weekend, both the Friday and Saturday shows were affected by the storm that hit Nashville and the surrounding area. This weekend there are two very nice shows scheduled and Opry members will be out in full force as there are just two guest artists on Friday night and only one on Saturday night.

Both nights will feature Opry members John Conlee, Ralph Stanley, Mike Snider, Bill Anderson and Roy Clark. I would like to mention that today (Wednesday) is Ralph Stanley's 88th birthday, making him the Opry's oldest current member and it is good to see him back on the Opry. And it always brings a smile to my face to see Roy Clark on the Opry schedule. He doesn't make the number of appearances many of us would like, but he is a popular Opry member that fans love.

Joining them on Friday night will be Opry members Ricky Skaggs, The Whites, Vince Gill, Riders In The Sky and the Oak Ridge Boys. Saturday's Opry members include Terri Clark, Connie Smith, Steve Wariner, Jim Ed Brown, Jeannie Seely, Bobby Osborne and Montgomery Gentry.

The guest artists this weekend have Greg Bates and Sunny Sweeney on Friday Night. Interesting that Sunny is the only solo female artist on the Friday show. Saturday will feature "Nashville" actress Aubrey Peeples.

Friday February 27
7:00: John Conlee (host); Greg Bates; Ralph Stanley
7:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Mike Snider; Rodney Atkins
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Sunny Sweeney; Roy Clark
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Riders In The Sky; Oak Ridge Boys

Saturday February 28
7:00: John Conlee (host); Terri Clark; Mike Snider
7:30: Connie Smith (host); Aubrey Peeples; Roy Clark
8:15: Steve Wariner (host); Jim Ed Brown; Ralph Stanley; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Jeannie Seely; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Montgomery Gentry

What I like about this weekend is that there is a lot of variety between the two shows and full line-ups with the potential for both shows to run over the normal time.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-ups from 5 years ago this weekend, February 26 & 27, 2010:

Friday February 26
7:00: John Conlee (host); The Whites; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Josh Thompson
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jean Shepard; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Mike Snider; Miranda Lambert
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Connie Smith; Blake Shelton

Saturday February 27
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; The Band Perry
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jack Greene; Dailey & Vincent
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); Connie Smith; Sunny Sweeney; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Jimmy Wayne

And from 10 years ago this weekend, February 25 & 26, 2005:

Friday February 25
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Mel McDaniel; Sherrie Austin
8:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Susan Hayes; Jan Howard; Mark Chesnutt
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Melonie Cannon & Tennessee Road; George Canyon
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Connie Smith; Craig Morgan
9:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Lonestar

Saturday February 26
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; Lane Turner
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jack Greene; David Lee Murphy
7:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Craig Morgan
8:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Charlie Louvin; Miranda Lambert; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Mel McDaniel; Osborne Brothers; Mark Chesnutt

9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; David Lee Murphy
10:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Lane Turner
10:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Charlie Louvin; Craig Morgan; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Osborne Brothers; Jack Greene; Miranda Lambert
11:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Mel McDaniel; Mark Chesnutt

Finally, it was 23 years ago this weekend, February 29, 1992 that Travis Tritt became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Why, I don't know because if there is a poster child for someone who is an Opry member and does not appear on the Opry, it is Travis Tritt. Since joining the Opry, Travis has made 44 Opry appearances, which is actually a much better record than Reba McEntire. But, Travis has not appeared on the Opry since 2007. I don't know why. I assume the Opry has reached out to him. He is still active and very popular. So, who knows. What I do know is that he hasn't appeared on the Opry since Porter Wagoner passed away, but I don't know if there is a connection there and also, the Opry did reach out to him on his 20th anniversary as an Opry member, which the Opry has been doing, and they could not come up with an appearance.

So, to remember Travis Tritt and the night he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry, here is the line-up from the weekend of February 28 & 29, 1992

Friday February 28
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Skeeter Davis; David Houston
8:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Justin Tubb; The Whites
8:30: Roy Acuff (host); Connie Smith; Jimmy C Newman
9:00: Hank Snow (host); Jean Shepard; Stonewall Jackson; Jim Ed Brown
9:30: Boxcar Willie (host); Stu Phillips; Bill Carlisle
10:00: Del Reeves (host); Jeannie Seely; Ernie Ashworth
10:30: Charlie Walker (host); Jan Howard; Ray Pillow; Mike Snider

Saturday February 29
1st show
6:30: Bill Anderson (host); Skeeter Davis; David Houston
6:45: Del Reeves (host); Charlie Louvin; Jimmy C Newman
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jan Howard; Mike Snider; Jean Shepard; Ray Pillow
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Trisha Yearwood; Travis Tritt
8:00: Roy Acuff (host); Connie Smith; Four Guys; Opry Square Dance Band/Stoney Mountain Cloggers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); The Whites; Stonewall Jackson; Boxcar Willie; Roy Drusky

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Jean Shepard; Charlie Louvin; Jeannie Seely; Travis Tritt
10:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Trisha Yearwood
10:15: Roy Acuff (host); Mike Snider
10:30: Boxcar Willie (host); Wilma Lee Cooper
10:45: Bill Anderson (host); Jimmy C Newman; Opry Square Dance Band/Stoney Mountain Cloggers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Charlie Walker; Bill Carlisle; Justin Tubb; Del Reeves
11:30: Four Guys (host); Roy Drusky; The Whites; Connie Smith

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Grand Ole Opry 2/20 & 2/21

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the two shows this weekend, the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry. I had tickets for both shows this weekend but with the winter weather in Nashville this week, I have cancelled my trip until March. Hopefully it will be a little warmer.

As far as this weekend, several Opry members are scheduled for both nights. The list includes Lorrie Morgan, Jim Ed Brown, Jeannie Seely, The Whites, Ricky Skaggs and one of the Opry's newest members, Old Crow Medicine Show.  Joining them on Friday night will be Mike Snider and Jesse McReynolds, while on Saturday it will be Bobby Osborne adding the bluegrass music. Nice to see Jesse back on the Opry after missing for several weeks. He is feeling better and glad to be back.

Guest artists this weekend include Holly Williams, who is scheduled both nights. On Friday night she is joined by Love and Theft, who in the course of this year have become very frequent Opry guests and Crystal Gayle. Making their Opry debut on Saturday night will be A Thousand Horses.

Friday February 20
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Mike Snider
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jim Ed Brown; Holly Williams
8:15: Lorrie Morgan (host); Jesse McReynolds; Love and Theft
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Old Crow Medicine Show

Saturday February 21
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Holly Williams; Jim Ed Brown
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); A Thousand Horses; Crystal Gayle
8:15: Lorrie Morgan (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Old Crow Medicine Show

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 5 years ago this weekend, February 19 & 20, 2010:

Friday February 19
7:00: Diamond Rio (host); Riders In The Sky; Del McCoury Band
7:30: John Conlee (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Craig Morgan
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Charlie Louvin; Montgomery Gentry
8:45: Mike Snider (host); Jim Ed Brown; Dierks Bentley

Saturday February 20
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); The Whites; Tracy Lawrence
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Jan Howard; Jim Ed Brown; Kellie Pickler
8:00: Marty Stuart (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Connie Smith; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Stonewall Jackson; Jeannie Seely; Craig Morgan

And from 10 years ago this weekend, February 18 & 19, 2005:

Friday February 18
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Osborne Brothers; Jack Greene; Catherine Britt
8:00: The Whites (host); Charlie Walker; Old Crow Medicine Show; Emerson Drive
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); T. Graham Brown; Vince Gill
9:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Paul Brandt; Restless Heart
9:30: Lorrie Morgan (host); Del McCoury Band; Joe Nichols

Saturday February 19
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Osborne Brothers; Jimmy C Newman; Jedd Hughes
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jan Howard; Billy Walker; Julie Roberts
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Joni Harms; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Lorrie Morgan
8:00: Hal Ketchum (host); Jack Greene; Jeff Bates; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Emmylou Harris (host); The Whites; Nashville Bluegrass Band; Vince Gill

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Osborne Brothers; Jimmy C Newman; Jedd Hughes
10:00: Emmylou Harris (host); The Whites; Nashville Bluegrass Band; Vince Gill
10:30: Lorrie Morgan (host); Billy Walker; Julie Roberts; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Hal Ketchum (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jeff Bates
11:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Ray Pillow; Jack Greene; Joni Harms

For this week's featured line-ups, there are several to choose from. The first is from Saturday February 20, 1988 as this was the night that Roy Acuff was honored for being an Opry member for 50 years. TNN televised the tribute which covered two segments. This was also a special night at the Opry as it was the first time that Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton had performed at the Opry since their much publicized break-up. But the focus of the night was with Roy. The hour segment had Minnie Pearl as the MC. She was not actually called the host as that honor was still reserved for male artists. Joining here were Chet Atkins, Pee Wee King, who actually came to the Opry before Roy, and Loretta Lynn.

1st show
6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Grandpa Jones (host): Little Pink
4 Guys: Tennessee
Lorrie Morgan: Silver Wings and Golden Rings
Ramona Jones: Orange Blossom Special

6:45: Rudy's
Charlie Walker (host): Does Ft. Worth Ever Cross Your Mind
Jean Shepard & Ferlin Husky: A Dear John Letter
Charlie Walker: Don't Squeeze My Sharmon

7:00: Shoney's/Standard Candy
Minnie Pearl (MC)
Roy Acuff: Wabash Cannonball
Chet Atkins: The House of the Rising Sun
Pee Wee King: Tennessee Waltz
Crook Brothers/Smokey Mountain Cloggers: Black Mountain Rag
Oswald: Columbus Stockade Blues
Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner's Daughter
Loretta Lynn & Minnie Pearl: Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
Roy Acuff & Everyone: I Saw the Light

8:00: Martha White
Porter Wagoner (host): Ol' Slewfoot
The Whites: If It Ain't Love
Jim Ed Brown: The Three Bells
Porter Wagoner: A Satisfied Mind
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton: The Last Thing on My Mind/Fight & Scratch/Holding on to Nothing/Just Someone I Used to Know/Daddy Was An Old Time Preacher Man/Rocky Top

8:30: Music Valley
Hank Snow (host): Address Unknown
Connie Smith: Walk Me to the Door
Osborne Brothers: Kentucky
Dottie West: Don't Go to Strangers
Hank Snow: I'm Glad I Got to See You Once Again

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Y'All Come
Skeeter Davis: My Last Date With You/Silver Threads and Golden Needles/The End of the World
Roy Drusky: Too Old to Die Young
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton: The Last Thing on My Mind/Fight & Scratch/Holding on to Nothing/Just Someone I Used to Know/Daddy Was An Old Time Preacher Man

10:00: Little Debbie
Grandpa Jones (host): Going Down the Country
Stonewall Jackson: Closer to the Vine
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Alisa Jones: Liberty

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Meeting in the Air
Loretta Lynn: They Don't Make 'Em Like My Daddy Anymore/Coal Miner's Daughter
Roy Acuff: I'll Fly Away

10:30: Pet Milk
Bill Anderson (host): Southern Fried
Jean Shepard & Ferlin Husky: A Dear John Letter
Hank Locklin: Danny Boy
Bill Anderson & Roy Acuff: I Wonder If God Likes Country Music

10:45: Heil-Quaker
Jim Ed Brown (host): Southern Loving
Charlie Louvin: In the Cross
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Rachel
Jim Ed Brown: Four Walls

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Bummin' Around
Wilma Lee Cooper: Philadelphia Lawyer
Justin Tubb: Waltz Across Texas
Riders In The Sky: How the Yodel Was Born
Bill Carlisle: Worried Man Blues
George Hamilton IV: Forever Young
Hank Snow: The Prisoner's Song

11:30: B.C. Powder
Jack Greene (host): To Make A Long Story Longer, She's Gone
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
Dottie West: Here Comes My Baby
The Whites: Alabama Jubilee
Johnny Russell: A Legend In My Time
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything/Statue of A Fool

Certainly a great night at the Opry!!

And it was Saturday February 22, 1969 that Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs performed together on the Grand Ole Opry. Lester and Earl, along with their group, the Foggy Mountain Boys, joined the Opry in 1955, depite efforts by Bill Monroe to deny them membership. However, executives at Martha White, who sponsored Lester and Earl's television and radio shows, along with the Grand Ole Opry, said they would cancel their Opry sponsorship if they were not made members. Flatt & Scruggs were one of the most successful bluegrass acts in history and their music was so popular, it crossed over in the country charts. Their only #1 hit was the "Ballad of Jed Clampett" in 1962. On that final night at the Opry, 46 years ago, the duo was scheduled to host 2 segments, but they only did the first one, cancelling the second.

7:30: Standard Candy
Bill Anderson (host): Wild Weekend
Osborne Brothers: A World of Forgotten People
Jimmy Gately: Heavenly Sunshine
Lonzo & Oscar: Columbus Stockade Blues
Bill Anderson: It's My Life, Throw It Away If I Want To
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
Jimmy Gately: Dirt Under Her Feet
Lonzo & Oscar: A King Size Cola & A Moon Pie
Bill Anderson: I Love You Drops

8:00: Martha White
Flatt & Scruggs (host): Shady Grove
Skeeter Davis: The Closest Thing to Love
Glaser Brothers: Gentle On My Mind
Cousin Jody: On Top Of Old Smokey
Cousin Jake: Almost Persuaded #44
Skeeter Davis: Am I That Easy to Forget
Crook Brothers: Cotton-Eyed Joe

8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Billy Grammer: The Hour of Separation
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Del Wood: Down at Papa Joe's
Roy Acuff: Waltz of the Wind
Billy Grammer: Mabel
Smoky Mountain Boys: Lee Highway Blues

9:00: Luzianne
Ernest Tubb (host): You Don't Have To Be A Baby to Cry
George Morgan: Like A Bird
Margie Bowes: All the World Is Lonely Now
Ernie Ashworth: Where Do You Go
Ernest Tubb: Saturday Satan; Sunday Saint
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
George Morgan: Wichita Lineman
Billy Parker: That's A Big World Out There

9:30: Kellogg's
Jim Ed Brown (host): Pop A Top
Willis Brothers: Rambling Boy
Marion Worth: A Legend In My Time
Charlie Walker: Honky-Tonk Season
Jim Ed Brown: Man & Wife Time
Willis Brothers: I'm Easy to Please
Marion Worth: You Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad
Charlie Walker: Don't Squeeze My Sharmon
Jim Ed Brown: Honky Tonk Man

10:00: Fender
Glaser Brothers (host): Please Take Me Back
Lonzo & Oscar: Out of Hand
Del Wood: Beer Barrel Polka
Glaser Brothers: Gone, on the Other Hand

10:15: Pure
Willis Brothers (host): Give Me 40 Acres
Ernie Ashworth: Oh, Lonesome Me
Cousin Jody: Mockingbird
Willis Brothers: I Still Do

10:30: Buckley's
Archie Campbell (host): The Cockfight
Skeeter Davis: Goin' Down the Road Feelin' Bad
Osborne Brothers: My Favorite Memory
Archie Campbell: Look Up; Look Down That Lonesome Road

10:45: Kent
Ernest Tubb (host): Letters Have No Arms
Billy Grammer: I'm Letting You Go
Crook Brothers: Texas Quick Stop
Ernest Tubb: Waltz Across Texas

11:00: Coca-Cola
Roy Acuff (host): Night Train to Memphis
Willis Brothers: Bob/Give Me 40 Acres
Margie Bowes: Understand Your Gal/Big City
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cacklin' Hen
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird
Margie Bowes: Take Me As I Am Or Let Me Go
Sam McGee: Under the Double Eagle

11:30: Lava
George Morgan (host): Like A Bird
Jim Ed Brown: Man & Wife Time
Jim Ed Brown & George Morgan: Now Is the Hour
Marion Worth: Almost Persuaded
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
George Morgan: Molly Darling
Jim Ed Brown: The Longest Beer of the Night
Marion Worth: Faded Love
Charlie Walker: Honky Tonk Season

While they broke up as a duo, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs would remain individual Opry members. Lester and his Nashville Grass, which in time would include Marty Stuart, played more traditional bluegrass. When he appeared on the Opry, Lester would almost always host the Martha White portion of the show. He would remain an active Opry member until his death in May 1979, Earl would form the Earl Scruggs Revue, which was basically a family act, featuring his sons and playing a more progressive style of bluegrass. Earl and the boys did not stay around the Opry very long, making their last appearance on March 30, 1974. As the years went by, Earl would continue to make guest appearances on the Opry and a few years prior to his death, there are reports that he expressed an interest in becoming an Opry member again, but was turned down. Earl passed away in March 2012.

In 1985, they were inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Finally, here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, February 24:

7:00: Bill Anderson; The Willis Clan
7:30: Connie Smith; Josh Turner
8:15: Mel Tillis; Henry Cho
8:45: Darius Rucker; Charlie Daniels Band

Nice to see Darius making an Opry appearance. I know he made comments regarding how few Opry appearnces he made last year and said he would do better in 2015. This is a nice start.

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Country Music Hall of Fame-2015

It's that time of year again when the annual voting is taking place for the Country Music Hall of Fame. In addition to the annual categories for Modern and Veterans era candidates, this year the rotating category is for Recording and/or Touring Musician.

To review how the election takes place, "the Veterans and Modern Era categories will have separate Nominating Committees, each made up of 12 industry leaders who serve three-year terms. The Modern Era Nominating Committee will also oversee the Rotating Categories. Two anonymous Panels of Electors will be established, with one panel voting for the Modern Era and Rotating Categories, while the second votes for the Veterans Era category. Among all voters, there will be two rounds of ballots. In the first round, each voter will choose five candidates from the nominated list of 10-20 candidates. In the second round, voters will select one nominee from the top five."

As far how the categories are defined:

Modern Era: An artist becomes eligible for induction in this category 20 years after they first achieve national prominence. They will remain eligible for that category for the next 25 years. For this year, that would be the years 1995-1970.

Veterans Era: An artist becomes eligible for induction in this category 45 years after they first achieve national prominence. For this year, that would be prior to 1970.

Since these categories were established in 2009, here are the names that have been elected, listed in order of Modern Era, Veterans Era and the Rotating category:

2009: Barbara Mandrell; Roy Clark; Charlie McCoy
2010: Don Williams; Jimmy Dean; Ferlin Husky (tie); Billy Sherrill
2011: Reba McEntire; Jean Shepard; Bobby Braddock
2012: Garth Brooks; Connie Smith; Hargus "Pig" Robbins
2013: Kenny Rogers: Bobby Bare; Cowboy Jack Clement
2014: Ronnie Milsap; Mac Wiseman; Hank Cochran

Over the past several years, the announcement has come in April but the voting is now taking place. Various lists have already been posted on internet sites and magazines, listing candidates who these writers feel are finalists or at the very least, should receive serious consideration. As a reminder, when looking at these lists, they are not always accurate. You just have to look at the last several years. The two previous Veterans Era inductees, Mac Wiseman and Bobby Bare, were both missing from any finalist lists for the year they were elected (although they had appeared in prior years), while Cowboy Jack Clement was missing totally. So in many ways, the writers are just making guesses, like many of us will be doing.

In looking at possibilities for this year, let's start with the Rotating category, which this year is for Recording and/or Touring Musician. Since this category was established, those elected have included Floyd Cramer, Harold Bradley, Charlie McCoy and Pig Robbins, all Nashville based musicians and session players. Seems like a trend is developing! If you follow that trend, you would have to look at Pete Drake, Buddy Harman, Hank Garland and Weldon Myrick. Certainly no voter would go wrong voting for any of these. Now if you were considering a Touring Musician, the two names that come first are Don Rich and Beecher Ray Kirby, better known as Brother Oswald.

There seems to be a lot of support and people for Don Rich to get elected to the Hall. Don was a member of The Buckaroos and helped to develop the Bakersfield sound in the early 1960s. He was a guitarist, fiddler and vocalist. While other members of The Buckaroos would come and go over the years, Don was the one constant member until his death in 1974. Buck Owens was devastated by his death and would later say, "He was like a brother, a son, and a best friend. Something I never said before, maybe I couldn't, but I think my music life ended when he died." As talented as Buck was, Don clearly helped to make Buck's sound and contributed greatly to his success. If there was one person who could get elected this year who is not connected to Nashville, it would be Don Rich.

In looking at the Veterans Era category, which is in many ways the category most are interested in, the names most frequently mentioned seem to be Jim Ed Brown, either individually or with The Browns and Dottie West. Other potential names that have surfaced in the past have included Jerry Reed, Archie Campbell, Ray Stevens, Wilburn Brothers, and if you go way back, Bradley Kincaid.

Bradley Kincaid is probably the last of the pre-World War II pioneers that has not been elected that probably should have been. Somehow he got missed and while it was a surprise that the voters went way back and elected Mac Wiseman last year, I don't think the same thing will happen this year with Bradley. For those who don't know, Bradley performed early on with Grandpa Jones and was a star of the WLS Barn Dance. In fact, Bradley gave Grandpa his nickname.

Archie Campbell was a great comedian, songwriter, Grand Ole Opry and Hee Haw star. Archie came to Nashville in the late 1950s and was a member of the Opry until his death in 1987. In addition to his on-air role, he was one of the chief writers on Hee Haw. The Wilburn Brothers, Teddy and Doyle, were child stars who originally came to the Opry in 1940. Due to child labor laws, they were forced to leave, but they came back in the 1950s. For over 10 years they hosted their own syndicated television show and were instrumental in the careers of several artists, including Loretta Lynn and Patty Loveless. Despite all of the albums and records they recorded, they never had a #1 hit. They joined the Opry in 1953. Doyle died in 1982 while Teddy continued as a solo act until his death in 2003.

Jerry Reed was a singer, guitarist, songwriter, comedian and actor. During his career, Jerry recorded 49 albums and had 59 singles on the charts, 4 of which went to #1. He was in over a dozen movies, the majority with his friend Bert Reynolds. Jerry is also one of only 4 individuals to be tagged with the honor of "Certified Guitar Player" by Chet Atkins. His career lasted from the late 1950s through the 1980s. Jerry passed away in 2008 and after his death, Rich Kienzle wrote, "Reed set a standard that inspires fingerstyle players the way Merle and Chet inspired him." Without question, Jerry deserves a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Ray Stevens is another interesting candidate. This prolific singer, songwriter and comedian has recorded 43 albums and has had 93 singles on the charts, in a career that started in the late 1950s and is still going strong today. 2 of those singles have gone to #1 on the charts. He has been nominated for 11 Grammy awards and has won 2. He is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and I tried to count how many songs he has actually written but the list is way too long.

The final 2 veterans era artists that I want to mention, and the 2 that will probably receive the most attention are Dottie West and Jim Ed Brown/The Browns. For the last three years, there has been an every growing campaign to get Dottie elected to the Hall of Fame. There are some heavy hitters involved including Kenny Rogers, Steve Wariner, Larry Gatlin, Jeannie Seely and her daughter Shelly West. It seems that each year her support has been growing and many think that this could be the year. Dottie had a successful career as a solo artist and as a duet partner. Her career started in the late 1950s and was she was still doing well when she passed away in 1991. For the first part of her career, she presented herself as a wholesome country gal, but then in the late 1970s, she presented herself in a new "sexy" that led to new success for her. During her career, she recorded just over 70 singles and had 7 #1 hits. In addition to her successful recording career, she also influenced and helped many artists along with way including Larry Gatlin and Steve Wariner, along with a number of female entertainers. You can't talk about Dottie without considering her personal life, which included a lot of struggles. Yes, she had a tough life, no doubt about that, but I have not heard of any voter who has said that they were holding that against her. If anything, there is sympathy for her. Without question, Dottie should be in the Hall.

Jim Ed Brown, either individually or with The Browns, Maxine and Bonnie, has had a remarkable career. A solo artist, a duet partner, and a member of a trio, he has had success each time. Jim Ed has had 22 albums on the charts, along with 51 singles. The amazing thing is that he has had only 1 #1 record, "I Don't Want to Have to Marry You" with Helen Cornelius. The argument against the Browns might be that their career was very short, with "The Three Bells" being their only #1 record. Their recording career started in 1954 and by 1968 they were done. They joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1963, but by 1967 the sisters had retired. They made a lot of beautiful music during that time. The voters are going to have a decision to make: do they elect The Browns as a group, or Jim Ed Brown as a solo artist?

There are a lot more Veterans era names that will be talked about, some very deserving including Hank Williams Jr., Ralph Stanley and Charlie Daniels. But if I had to list any favorites, it would those listed above.

The Modern Era will also provoke a lot of discussion. Back in 2012 when Garth Brooks was elected, there was a lot of thought that it would lead to others of his generation going into the Hall, while other artists who's careers had started earlier, would be left out. That has turned out not to be the case as in the years after Garth, Kenny Rogers and Ronnie Milsap have been elected, both who had careers that started in the 1970s. It was always assumed that after Garth, who was proceeded into the Hall by Vince Gill, that Alan Jackson would be the next of that generation to be elected, and then the flood gates would open for others, including The Judds and Brooks & Dunn among others. Assuming that Alan Jackson does not get elected this year, which I think will again be the case, there are several others to watch for that will receive strong consideration.

Numerous names have been mentioned in the past including Clint Black, Tanya Tucker, Ricky Skaggs, Randy Travis and Oak Ridge Boys. From that list, I would say that Clint Black has no chance of getting elected this year. He is still young and his time will come. Tanya Tucker is an interesting name. She has had a career that started in her teens and then continued as she grew older. She has had 66 singles on the charts, including an impressive 15 #1 hits. At the age of 56, the majority of her career is behind her and while I am pretty sure she will be in the Hall of Fame someday, it will just not be this year.

Ricky Skaggs has had a career as a country singer, bluegrass singer, songwriter, musician and producer. In the early 1980s, along with Randy Travis, they helped to turn the direction of country music back to a more traditional sound. His careeer started before the age of 10 as he was playing with Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley, among others. His peak career was in the 1980s when he won numerous awards including the CMA's Entertainer of the Year award. 32 albums have produced 39 singles, including 13 #1 records. Switching his career focus from country to bluegrass might have hurt him, but at the time his country recording career was already on the downhill cycle. Like a few others in Nashville, there is a reputation about Ricky and the famous nickname of "Pricky-Ricky." No matter what some might think, Ricky deserves election to the Hall of Fame.

That brings me to the 2 names that will probably receive the most consideration, as well as they should: Randy Travis and the Oak Ridge Boys.

Randy Travis has had his recent issues and who knows if he will ever record or sing again. But what a voice and what a string of hits he had. In the 1980s, he was a regular award winner, yet for all his success he never won the Entertainer of the Year award. At last count, he has had 54 singles on the charts, including 23 #1 hits. His album total is 36. In addition to his singing talents, he is also a fine actor and has also made some memorable music videos. The knock on Randy has always been that he is nothing more than a singer, that he has never written any of his songs or plays any real musical instruments. I don't know how much that will play into the discussion but what I know is that in the 1990s I saw Randy in concert and it was one of the finest shows I have seen. Randy was in Nashville last week and was backstage at the Opry, a place where he was noticed. He spent time talking to Connie Smith and Loretta Lynn, both Hall of Fame members. With the voting currently taking place, it doesn't hurt to be seen and making sure people remember. I am sure his behavioral issues prior to his health issues hasn't helped, but I think there is a sympathy toward Randy and what has happened to him. I would not be surprised at all to see Randy elected to the Hall of Fame.

Finally, there are the Oak Ridge Boys. Why there guys are not in the Hall is anyone's guess. They are about the nicest people you will find, very involved in the music community, still making records and doing heavy touring. While the Oak Ridge Boys have been around since the late 1940s, the country version first came alive in the early 1970s, which is why I think they would be considered in the Modern era category. Since that time, they have recorded 45 albums that has produced 63 singles. 17 of those went to #1. I honestly thought that after the Statler Brothers were elected, it was just a matter of time before the Oaks joined them. As with Randy Travis, I would not be surprised if this was the year for the Oaks.

Who do I think will get in? Honestly, I have no idea. I have my favorites like many others. It would be nice to see Jim Ed get in while he can still enjoy it. Same with Randy Travis. Yet the Oaks have waited a long time, as did Ronnie Milsap and Kenny Rogers. Or the voters could have their own ideas, like they did with Cowboy Jack and Mac Wiseman. Only time will tell and like the rest, I will be watching.

Now, what do others think?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Grand Ole Opry 2/13 & 2/14

Comments have been made regarding the quality of the Grand Ole Opry line-ups since the first of the year, and how strong the shows have been. The trend continues this weekend as again, the line-ups for the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry have been posted and the quality is very good.

Starting with the Friday Night Opry, guest artists include Jamey Johnson, who appeared on the Opry two weeks ago to a huge audience ovation. Jamey is someone who does appreciate traditional country music, sung in his own style. Also scheduled is former Opry member BJ Thomas. BJ joined the Opry on August 7, 1981. During that year he made 7 Opry appearances, followed by 8 in 1982 and then he was gone. BJ joined the Opry at a time when members were expected to appear and it was later written that BJ had no hard feelings toward the Opry, he just came to realize after becoming a member that the Opry just wasn't for him. But, even after leaving the cast, he has continued to make Opry appearances and is always well received. And it is nice to see The Mavericks back for another appearance, along with EmiSunshine and Love and Theft, who continue their string of Opry appearances.

Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will feature guest artists Chris Janson, Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers, who will also be hosting a mid-day show at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, Chuck Wicks, along with "Nashville" star Charles Esten. No, I did not forgot Mo Pitney. This new, real country artist, is back for another appearance. There are a lot of folks behind this young man who feel he has everything it takes to become a country star. Let's hope. And then there is 21 year old Kelsea Ballerini, who will be making her Opry debut.

As far as Opry members this weekend, Ricky Skaggs, Bill Anderson and Mike Snider are set for both nights, joined by Vince Gill, Del McCoury Band, Jeannie Seely and Riders In The Sky on Friday night, and by Connie Smith, The Whites and Jim Ed Brown on Saturday night. This makes 3 weekends in a row since Jim Ed has been back and he is getting back out on the road. Good to see.

Friday February 13
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Del McCoury Band; Riders In The Sky
7:30: Bill Anderson (host); Mike Snider; Jamey Johnson
8:15: Ricky Skaggs (host); BJ Thomas; Love and Theft
8:45: Vince Gill (host); EmiSunshine; The Mavericks

Saturday February 14
7:00: Opry Square Dancers; Connie Smith (host); Chris Janson; Mike Snider
7:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Kelsea Ballerini; The Whites
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers; Chuck Wicks
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Mo Pitney; Charles Esten

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 5 years ago this weekend, February 12 & 13, 2010:

Friday February 12
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); John Conlee; Jimmy C Newman; Restless Heart
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Elizabeth Cook; Rodney Crowell
8:00: Steve Wariner (host); Stu Phillips; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jean Shepard
8:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jack Greene; Connie Smith

Saturday February 13
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; Joey+Rory
7:30: John Conlee (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jeannie Seely; T. Bubba Bechtol
8:00: Mike Snider (host); Jan Howard; Luke Bryan; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Mel Tillis (host); Ray Pillow: Jean Shepard; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press

And from 10 years ago this weekend, February 11 & 12, 2005:

Friday February 11
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Connie Smith; Mountain Heart
8:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Stu Phillips; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jeff Carson w/Lisa Brokop
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Rhonda Vincent
9:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Josh Turner; Gene Watson
9:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Chely Wright; T. Graham Brown

Saturday February 12
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; The Whites
7:00: Pam Tillis (host); Travis Tritt; Josh Turner; Tracy Lawrence
8:00: Hal Ketchum (host); Jeannie Seely; Jim Ed Brown; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; Gene Watson

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; Josh Turner
10:00: Pam Tillis (host); The Whites; Jim Ed Brown
10:30: Hal Ketchum (host); Stonewall Jackson; Travis Tritt; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Calvin Gilmore; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Tracy Lawrence
11:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Charlie Louvin; Gene Watson

For this week's feature line-up, it was on Saturday February 11, 1967 that the Four Guys made their first guest appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. They were an immediate success which led to them becoming Opry members on April 13, 1967. The original Four Guys were Sam Wellington, Berl Lyons, Richard Garratt and Brent Burkett.

The week they first performed on the Grand Ole Opry, they were in Nashville and making an appearance on a local television show, "The Bobby Lord Show." They did well enough that they were booked on the noon show and later that afternoon on "The Ralph Emery Afternoon Show." It was during that show that Ott Devine, the Opry's manager, was sitting in the audience and was so impressed by The Four Guys, that he invited them to appeared on that week's Friday Night Opry. They were introduced by Stoney Cooper, who was hosting the segment and they sang, "Shenandoah." The audience responded with such applause that they came back out for an encore. Ott Devine greeted them as they came off stage and asked them what they were doing the next night. When the answer was nothing, they were invited back for Saturday's Grand Ole Opry. As happened on Friday night, The Four Guys were called back our for encores and were invited to for the next several weeks, until finally, they were asked to become members.

The Four Guys, through numerous line-up changes, remained as Opry members until April 2000, when they were called into the office of new Opry general manager Pete Fisher and were fired. Sam Wellington has written that The Four Guys should have been retired as an act in June 1999 when he and Brent retired. As it was, The Four Guys were Opry members for 33 years and as popular as they were, they never had a hit single.

Here is the Opry running order from Saturday February 11, 1967, the first Grand Ole Opry appearance for The Four Guys:

7:30: Luzianne
Jim Ed Brown (host) w/Maxine Brown: I Heard the Bluebird Sing
Bob Luman: Hardly Anymore
Dottie West: What's Come Over My Baby
Justin Tubb: But Wait; There's More
Pete Drake: I'm Just A Guitar (Everybody Picks on Me)
Jim Ed Brown: You Can Have Her
Bob Luman: Come On and Sing
Jim Ed & Maxine Brown: Looking Back to See

8:00: Martha White
Wilburn Brothers (host): Hurt Her Once For Me
Hank Locklin: Send Me the Pillow You Dream On
Ray Pillow: I Like That Sorta Thing
Del Wood: Down Yonder
Wilburn Brothers: Just To Be Where You Are
Crook Brothers: Old Hen Cackle
Billy "Crash" Craddock: There Oughta Be A Law
Hank Locklin: Hasta Luego
Wilburn Brothers: All We Have For You, Mom

8:30: Stephens
Billy Walker (host): Things
Bill Carlisle: What Kind Of Keal Is This
Bobby Bare: Shame On Me
Archie Campbell: The Cockfight
Billy Walker: Anything Your Heart Desires
Curly Fox: The Old Gray Mule
Bill Carlisle: The Great Snowman
Billy Walker: Cross the Brazos at Waco

9:00: Pet Milk
Charlie Louvin (host): I Don't Love You Anymore
Ernie Ashworth: At Ease Heart
Margie Bowes: There Goes My Everything
Bluegrass Country Kin: Black Mountain Rag
Charlie Louvin: I Don't Want It
Fruit Jar Drinkers: (?)
Harold Weakley: Almost Persuaded
Ernie Ashworth: Pass Me Not
Charlie Louvin: Off and On

9:30: Kellogg's
Hank Snow (host): The Golden Rocket
Cousin Jody: I Miss Him So
Jimmy Dickens: A Country Music Lover
Carter Family: Bye; Bye
Hank Snow: A Legend In My Time
4 Guys: Shenandoah
Carter Family: Once Around the Briar Patch
Hank Snow: Hula Love

10:00: Schick
Jim Ed Brown (host): w/Maxine Brown: Where Does the Good Times Go
Dottie West: It's My Way to Survive
Jim Ed Brown: You Can Have Her
Dottie West: All the World Is Lonely Now

10:15: Pure
Bob Luman (host): Let's Think About Living
Wilburn Brothers: I'm Gonna Tie One on Tonight
Hank Locklin: Hasta Luego
Bob Luman: Hardly Anymore

10:30: Buckley's
Bobby Bare (host): I Saw the Light
Del Wood: Cajun Stripper
Ray Pillow: Two Minus One Leaves Blue
Bobby Bare: Streets of Baltimore

10:45: Kent
Bill Carlisle (host): Shanghai Rooster
Justin Tubb: But Wait; There's More
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Bill Carlisle: Doctor R.D.

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): I'm Movin' On
Billy Walker: Bare With Me A Little Longer
Margie Bowes: Enough to Make A Woman Lose Her Mind
Fruit Jar Drinkers: (?)
Hank Snow: Confused With the Blues
Sam McGee: Under the Double Eagle
Jimmy Dickens: You Destroyed Me
Billy Walker: A Million and One
Hank Snow: Man Behind the Gun

11:30: Lava
Marty Robbins (host): Running Gun
Charlie Louvin: See the Big Man Cry
Ernie Ashworth: Sad Face
Curly Fox: Bill Bailey
Don Winters: Annie Lou
Cousin Jody: Run, Please, Run
Bluegrass Country Kin: Ol' Slewfoot
Marty Robbins: Devil Woman/The Shoe Goes on the Other Foot Tonight/Begging to You/El Paso

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!