Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Grand Ole Opry 4/18 & 4/19

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend and they are definitely an upgrade over the shows from last weekend. There are actually enough Opry members scheduled to have 4 segments on each show.

Lorrie Morgan returns to the Opry stage this weekend and will be hosting segments on both nights. Also appearing both nights will be Opry members Ralph Stanley, who will be joined by his son, Ralph Stanley II, Bill Anderson and John Conlee. Joining them on Friday night will be guest artists The Band Perry and Brandy Clark.

Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will also feature guest artists Aaron Tippin and Jim Lauderdale, both frequent Opry guests. Also scheduled is this week's "Nashville" star, Chaley Rose. And making their Grand Ole Opry debut will be NEEDTOBREATHE (yes, all caps). They are described as an "American alternative rock band from Seneca, South Carolina." Sounds like something right up the Opry's ally.

Friday April 18
7:00: John Conlee (host); Sara Haze; Jimmy C Newman; Jean Shepard
7:30: Lorrie Morgan (host); Ralph Stanley & Ralph Stanley II
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Riders In The Sky; Brandy Clark
8:45: Jeannie Seely (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; The Band Perry

Saturday April 19
7:00: John Conlee (host); Frankie Ballard; Ralph Stanley & Ralph Stanley II
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Chaley Rose; Aaron Tippin
8:15: Lorrie Morgan (host); Jim Ed Brown; Jim Lauderdale; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); The Whites; NEEDTOBREATHE

Before posting the past Opry line-ups like I normally do, I have the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, April 22. There is only 1 Opry member scheduled, Del McCoury, while there are 4 stars from "Nashville" all bunched up in the first half of the show. Makes me wonder if they are going to do some filming for the television show.

7:00: The Henningsens; Chris Carmack; Jonathan Jackson; Sam Palladio; Charles Esten
8:30: Tracy Lawrence; Del McCoury Band; Easton Corbin

Now for this week's look back at past Grand Ole Opry line-ups, I want to start off by posting the Opry line-up from 5 years ago and 10 years ago so everyone can compare where the show has gone over the past decade. When you look back a decade ago, you can really see the difference.

First, here is the Opry line-up from 5 years ago:

Friday April 17
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Jeannie Seely; Dean Brody
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Darius Rucker
8:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Sons Of The Pioneers
8:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jimmy C Newman; The Whites

Saturday April 18
1st show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Jeannie Seely
8:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jimmy C Newman; The Whites; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Steve Warnier (host); Rascal Flatts

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith
10:00: Mike Snider (host); Jack Greene
10:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jan Howard; The Whites; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Steve Wariner (host); Rascal Flatts

Now here is the Opry line-up from 10 years ago:

Friday April 18
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Mel McDaniel; The Whites; Tammy Cochran
8:00: John Conlee (host); Stonewall Jackson; Osborne Brothers; Jeff Bates
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jack Greene; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Vince Gill
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Ronnie Bowman; Riders In The Sky; Brad Paisley
9:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jimmy C Newman; Dierks Bentley; Jeannie Seely; Jim Ed Brown

Saturday April 19
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Mel McDaniel; Jeannie Seely; John Conlee
7:00: Brad Paisley; Trick Pony; Craig Morgan; Vince Gill; George Jones; Vestal Goodman; The Whites
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Connie Smith; Josh Turner; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Holly Dunn; Riders In The Sky; Hal Ketchum

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); John Conlee; Jimmy C Newman; Vince Gill
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jan Howard; Billy Walker; Osborne Brothers; Craig Morgan
10:30: Brad Paisley (host); The Whites; Connie Smith; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Holly Dunn; Jack Greene; Trick Pony
11:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Josh Turner; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

Finally, for this week's special line-up, I go to Saturday April 17, 1971 as it was on that date that Connie Smith returned to the Opry. Connie had joined the Opry in 1965 but she left the show in 1967 to raise her family as she stepped away from the business. After being away from the Opry for 4 years, she returned to the show, where she has remained since.

Here is the line-up from Saturday April 17, 1971, the night Connie Smith returned to the Opry:

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

6:45: Rudy's
Ray Pillow (host): She Learned to Be A Waitress(From Sitting Home Waiting On Me)
Del Wood: Psychadelic Mockingbird
Bobby Lewis: He Gives Us All His Love
Ray Pillow: You Don't Care What Happens to Me

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As a reminder, Tuesday April 22 is the announcement for the Country Music Hall of Fame 2014 inductees. I haven't received the link as of yet, but I am sure it will be streamed on the web. Most years I have come pretty close to predicting who will be elected, but I really believe that even with some clues, it is pretty wide open this year. What we do know for sure is that Dottie West was not one of the finalists. I guess I have to make my prediction, which will really be just a guess. So, I will go with Ricky Skaggs in the modern category, Ronnie Milsap in the veterans (assuming he ends up there) and Hank Cochran in the songwriting category. But, I wouldn't be surprised if there was someone out of the blue who gets voted in. Would love to hear what others are thinking.

Enjoy the Opry this weekend and Happy Easter to all!!!!

Friday, April 11, 2014

Past Opry Line-Up Comparison

This week's Grand Ole Opry line-up has created some comments regarding the quality of the show and being worth the ticket price. Just for comparison purposes, here are the past Opry line-ups for the 2nd Saturday in April. While this is just a one Saturday night look, I think it represents where the Opry has gone over the past dozen or so years.

April 12, 2014
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Elizabeth Cook; Jimmy C Newman; The Swon Brothers; Bobby Osborne
8:15: Ray Pillow (host); Jean Shepard; Mallary Hope; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Jim Ed Brown (host); The Secret Sisters; Darryl Worley

April 13, 2013
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Mark Wills; Mike Snider
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jimmy C Newman; The Grascals
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Stonewall Jackson; Lennon and Maisy Stella; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne; Scotty McCreery

April 14, 2012
1st show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Lonestar
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Gary Morris; Hunter Hayes
8:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Suzy Bogguss; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Connie Smith; Craig Morgan

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Lonestar
10:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Gary Morris; Craig Morgan
10:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Hunter Hayes; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Connie Smith; Suzy Bogguss

April 9, 2011
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

April 10, 2010
1st show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Emerson Drive
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Jeannie Seely; Jack Greene; Jerrod Niemann
8:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Jean Shepard; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Steve Wariner (host); John Conlee; Connie Smith; Mandy Barnett

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Emerson Drive; Mandy Barnett
10:00: Mike Snider (host); Jean Shepard; Jerrod Niemann
10:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jan Howard; The Whites; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Vince Gill (host); John Conlee; Connie Smith

April 11, 2009
1st show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Mike Snider; Jo Dee Messina
7:30: Mel Tillis (host); Jean Shepard; John Conlee; Rhonda Vincent
8:00: Marty Stuart (host); Connie Smith; Ricky Skaggs; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Martina McBride; Vince Gill

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jim Ed Brown; Mike Snider; Martina McBride
10:00: Mel Tillis (host); Kenyon Lockry; Riders In The Sky; Jo Dee Messina
10:30: Marty Stuart (host); Rhonda Vincent; Connie Smith; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Ricky Skaggs; Vince Gill

April 12, 2008
1st show
6:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); Bobby Osborne; The Wrights
7:00: Jason Aldean; Jewel; Jason Michael Carroll; John Anderson
8:00: Ray Pillow (host); Charlie Louvin; Jamey Johnson; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Jean Shepard (host); Jesse McReynolds; Joe Nichols

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

April 14, 2007
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Steve Wariner; Jean Shepard
7:00: Vince Gill (host); The Wreckers; The Whites; Oak Ridge Boys
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Connie Smith; Mike Snider; Marty Stuart; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jimmy C Newman; Raul Malo

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Steve Wariner; The Wreckers
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Mike Snider; Connie Smith; Marty Stuart
10:30: Vince Gill (host); Jean Shepard; Oak Ridge Boys; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jesse McReynolds; Raul Malo

April 8, 2006
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; 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

April 9, 2005
1st show
6:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jimmy C Newman; The Whites
7:00: Vince Gill (host); Joe Nichols; Rebecca Lynn Howard; Loretta Lynn
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Osborne Brothers; Jean Shepard; Malibu Storm; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Mel McDaniel; Jeannie Seely; Craig Morgan

2nd show
9:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); The Whites; Jimmy C Newman; Loretta Lynn
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jan Howard; Jack Greene; Rebecca Lynn Howard
10:30: Vince Gill (host); Jean Shepard; Craig Morgan; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Osborne Brothers; Joe Nichols
11:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Mel McDaniel; Malibu Storm

April 10, 2004
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Mel McDaniel; Jim Ed Brown; Craig Morgan
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jimmy C Newman; The Whites; Dan Seals
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Jean Shepard; Billy Walker; Sherrie Austin
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jan Howard; Rodney Atkins; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jesse McReynolds; Riders In The Sky; Mandy Barnett

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jim Ed Brown; Dan Seals
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Billy Walker; The Whites; Craig Morgan
10:30: Mike Snider (host); Charlie Louvin; Sherrie Austin; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jean Shepard; Jack Greene; Rodney Atkins
11:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Ray Pillow; Jesse McReynolds; Mandy Barnett

April 12, 2003
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Mel McDaniel; Connie Smith
7:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); Steve Azar; Keith Urban; The Whites
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jean Shepard; Jim Ed Brown; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Elizabeth Cook; Jack Greene

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Mel McDaniel; Connie Smith
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Billy Walker; Jesse McReynolds; Keith Urban
10:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Charlie Walker; The Whites; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jean Shepard; Steve Azar
11:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Ray Pillow; Elizabeth Cook; Jack Greene

April 13, 2002
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; Osborne Brothers
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Kevin Denny; Jimmy C Newman; Chris LeDoux; Willie Nelson; Charley Pride
8:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Bill Carlisle; Billy Walker; Jean Shepard; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; Jim Ed Brown; Mandy Barnett

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Chris LeDoux
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Stonewall Jackson; Connie Smith; Osborne Brothers
10:30: Jean Shepard (host); Billy Walker; Charley Pride; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Charlie Louvin; Jim Ed Brown; Mandy Barnett
11:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Ray Pillow; Kevin Denney

April 14, 2001
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; 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; 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

I could go on, but I think the point has been made. The decline did not happen overnight, but you can see it year-by-year. Even in the early 2000's, the majority of the line-ups featured Opry members and the guest artists were generally names that were recognized.

Like I said, I could go on, but for true Opry fans, it gets a little depressing.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Grand Ole Opry 4/11 & 4/12

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the two shows this weekend and before going through the schedule, it is time for a Byron rant!!!

First, the Friday Night Opry has only 5 members on the schedule while Saturday night we get treated to 6 Opry members. This is ridiculous!!! Out of 60+ members, they could only come up with 5 & 6? And while not downgrading the members who are scheduled, as I personally enjoy the veterans, those scheduled are the veterans. None are what you would call "hot" country acts.

Second, and this has happened before, there are only 3 segment hosts for Saturday night. You mean that out of 60+ Opry members, management could not come up with 4 who could host a segment? And one of the 3 is Ray Pillow, who is one of the Opry's senior members and rarely appears. Jimmy C Newman and Jean Shepard are scheduled, but it would appear that they no longer wish to host a segment, or more likely, that management no longer feels they are capable of hosting.

Looking at the actual artists scheduled for this weekend, Elizabeth Cook is scheduled for nights. She usually does a good job, but let's face it, she is not a "big" name. Joining Elizabeth on Friday night will be Carlene Carter. She is out promoting a new CD, "Carter Girl." I will say that I personally enjoy Carlene and looking forward to her new CD, but her hit making days ended a decade ago. Former Opry member BJ Thomas is scheduled and I guess he would be the "star" attraction for Friday. I have seen BJ at the Opry several times and he does a nice job. No complaints on him. Balsam Range and Sundy Best? Previously on.

Saturday's Grand Ole Opry has The Swon Brothers scheduled. They are from The Voice television show and are just starting to get their career going. This will be their debut Opry performance. I love The Secret Sisters. Darryl Worley is on more than a majority of the Opry's members. But again, only 3 segments.

Friday April 11
7:00: John Conlee (host); Jesse McReynolds
7:30: The Whites (host); Elizabeth Cook; Balsam Range
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); Carlene Carter; Sundy Best
8:45: Jeannie Seely (host); Mark Wills; BJ Thomas

Saturday April 12
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Elizabeth Cook; Jimmy C Newman; The Swon Brothers; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
8:15: Ray Pillow (host); Jean Shepard; Mallary Hope; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Jim Ed Brown (host); The Secret Sisters; Darryl Worley

I almost feel sorry for anyone who has paid $69 for a seat to these shows. Let's just say they are not the strongest this year.

Also, despite appearing 4 weeks in a row, Jimmy Dickens is not on the schedule although he very well may appear. He has sounded good the last couple of weeks and has been singing. Maybe Jimmy waits until the last minute to give the word on appearing. Seeing Jimmy back on the Opry is a good thing and we should all enjoy his appearances as any given week could be his final one.

For this week's look back at past Grand Ole Opry highlights, the first one is from the weekend of April 13 & 14, 1979. There is really nothing special about this line-up but it is an interesting look back at the announced line-ups for both nights.

Friday April 13, 1979
7:30: Lonzon & Oscar (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Ernie Ashworth
8:00: Billy Walker (host); Riders In The Sky; Carlisles
8:30: Roy Acuff (host); The Four Guys; Linda Naile
9:00: David Houston (host); Skeeter Davis; Justin Tubb; The Willis Brothers
9:30: Charlie Walker (host); Stu Phillips; Vern Gosdin
10:00: The Wilburn Brothers (host); Jeannie C Riley; Del Wood
10:30: Billy Grammer (host); Marion Worth; Duke of Paducah

Saturday April 14, 1979
1st show
6:30: Billy Walker (host); The Willis Brothers
6:45: The Wilburn Brothers (host); Ernie Ashworth; Del Wood
7:00: Charlie Walker (host); Lonzo & Oscar; David Houston; Roy Drusky
7:30: Roy Acuff (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Billy Grammer; Marion Worth; The Crook Brothers; The Stoney Mt. Cloggers
8:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Skeeter Davis; Stu Phillips; Justin Tubb; Carlisles
8:30: Hank Snow (host); The Four Guys; Charlie Louvin; Jeanne Pruett; The Fruit Jar Drinkers

2nd show
9:30: Roy Drusky (host); The Wilburn Brothers; Lonzo & Oscar; Wilma Lee Cooper; Charlie Walker
10:00: Billy Walker (host); Ernie Ashworth; The Willis Brothers
10:15: Roy Acuff (host); Marion Worth; Del Wood
10:30: David Houston (host); Skeeter Davis; Billy Grammer
10:45: Jimmy C Newman (host); Justin Tubb; The Crook Brothers; The Stoney Mt. Cloggers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Stu Phillips; Carlisles; The Fruit Jar Drinkers; Kirk McGee
11:30: Charlie Louvin (host); The Four Guys; Jeanne Pruett

One of the things that catches my eye when I look at these older line-ups is the variety of the hosts. Today the Opry will have the same hosts hosting the same segments each weekend. On the few times when there are two shows on a Friday or Saturday night, the shows will be identical. Back in the "older" days, just about every artist would be given an opportunity to host at some point. Even in this line-up that I posted, Lonzo & Oscar are hosting, which is rare. I even have a show where Bill Carlisle hosted. Yes, you had a few such as Roy Acuff who always hosted at 7:30 and 10:15, Hank Snow who did 8:30 and 11:00, and Porter Wagoner who would do 7:00 and 9:30, but even those artists were not on every week. Listening to the Opry on the  radio, I enjoyed not hearing two identical shows in a row.

The 2nd line-up that I have for this week is from Saturday April 13, 1991, which was the annual reunion show. This one was televised on TNN and it gave the fans at home a chance to see a couple of the "older stars." Of course by this point, a few such as DeFord Bailey and Alcoyne Beasley had passed away, but this particular night had Faron Young and Pee Wee King among the former members returning.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10:15: Tennssee Pride
Roy Acuff (host): I'll Fly Away
Faron Young: It's 4 In the Morning/After The Loving/Hello Walls

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

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

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

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

Boy, you look at these old line-ups and sometimes you wonder what has happened in the last 20 years.

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Grand Ole Opry 4/4 & 4/5

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the schedule for the shows this weekend. Overall, nothing special and I would give the edge to Saturday night as the strongest of the two this weekend.

Saturday will feature frequent Opry guest, and someone who should have been an Opry member long ago, Rhonda Vincent. Joining Rhonda will be Restless Heart, another Opry regular and two artists who will be appearing both Friday and Saturday night, Kree Harrison and The Willis Clan.

Joining both of those on Friday night will be Ricky Skaggs, who will have MercyMe as one of his guests. And also guesting will be Holly Williams.

Friday April 4
7:00: John Conlee (host); Kree Harrison; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jim Ed Brown; The Willis Clan
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Holly Williams
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; MercyMe

Saturday April 5
7:00: John Conlee (host); Kree Harrison; Jimmy C Newman; Jean Shepard
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Rhonda Vincent; Restless Heart
8:15: Connie Smith (host); George Hamilton IV; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Jesse McReynolds; The Willis Clan

Jesse will be in the Opry gift shop after the show signing copies of his new CD, which is a collection of Jim & Jesse radio shows from years gone by. And Leona Williams will be the host of the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree.

On an additional note, some have asked and commented about Mike Snider and his absence from the Opry. Last year, his appearances were down, particuarly toward the end of the year, while in 2014 he has yet to make an Opry appearance. I asked and I don't have an answer. Apparently the comment was that he just wasn't coming to town as much as he used to. I didn't pick up on anything going on between him and the Opry.

For this week's look back at past Grand Ole Opry line-ups. I have 2 for this week. The first is from Saturday April 5, 1975, 39 years ago this Saturday night. This was the night that Skeeter Davis returned to the Opry. She had been suspended in December 1973 for comments that she made on the Opry that evening. Skeeter wrote in her book, "Bus Fare to Kentucky" that she received the news that she would be allowed back on the Opry while on a trip to Africa. Bud Wendell was the manager of the Opry when she was suspended, but upon his promotion was replaced by Hal Durham. Skeeter mentioned the efforts of Jean Shepard, Kirk McGee, George Hamilton IV and Teddy Wilburn, who campaigned on her behalf to get her back. The night she returned was her first night for her at the new Grand Ole Opry House, as she missed the opening. And as you would expect, there was a lot of press there to see what kind of reaction she would receive, which was overly positive.

Here is the line-up from Saturday April 5, 1975, the night Skeeter Davis returned to the Opry:

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Charlie Louvin (host): Freight Train Boogie
Bill Carlisle: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Charlie Louvin: When You Have to Fly Alone/See the Big Man Cry

6:45: Rudy's
Ray Pillow (host): Countryfied
Stu Phillips: She Thinks I Still Care
Del Wood: The Entertainer
Ray Pillow: The Simple Things In Life

7:00: Rudy's
Billy Grammer (host): Lonesome Road Blues
Skeeter Davis: I Can't Help It
Lonzo & Oscar: When I Stop Dreaming
Ernie Ashworth: The High Cost of Living
Skeeter Davis: Bus Fare to Kentucky
B. Gallion: Green Back Dollar
Billy Grammer: What A Friend

7:30: Standard Candy
Charlie Walker (host): Pick Me Up on Your Way Down
Jimmy C Newman: Thibodeaux Cajun Band
Marion Worth: Delta Dawn
Jim & Jesse: Ashes of Love
Charlie Walker: The Last Supper
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Old Joe Clark
Jimmy C Newman: Before the Next Teardrop Falls
Charlie Walker: Lucille

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jeanne Pruett: Just Like Your Daddy
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Poor Ellen Smith
Justin Tubb: Sunshine Lady
Roy Acuff: Carry Me Back to the Mountains
Jeanne Pruett: Hold to My Unchanging Love/Love Me/You Don't Need Me to Move A Mountain/Satin Sheets
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: There's A Big Wheel

8:30: Stephens
Jack Green (host) & Jeannie Seely: If You're Going Down
Jeannie Seely: Catfish John
Willis Brothers: Truck Stop
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Soldier's Joy
4 Guys: Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything
Jeannie Seely: He Can Be Mine

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
4 Guys (host): What About Me
Willis Brothers: Give Me 40 Acres
Bill Carlisle: Rough Stuff
Marion Worth: The Hands You're Holding Now
Ray Pillow: She's Doing It to Me Again
Del Wood: Alabama Jubilee
4 Guys: Cottonfields/Maria

10:00: Fender
Charlie Walker (host): Stay A Little Longer
Skeeter Davis: I Believe In Music
Lonzo & Oscar: Mountain Dew
Charlie Walker: The Last Supper

10:15: Union 76
Stu Phillips (host): Have I Told You Lately That I Love You/You Win Again/Release Me
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips
Rosemary Clooney: Half As Much

10:30: Trailblazer
Roy Acuff (host): Back in the Country
Jim & Jesse: Paradise
Billy Grammer: Peace in the Valley
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird

10:45: Beech-Nut
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Big Midnight Special
Justin Tubb: Loving Arms
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Black Mountain Rag
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Each Season Changes You

11:00: Coca-Cola
Jack Greene (host) & Jeannie Seely: Take Me Home Country Roads
Jeannie Seely: The First Time
Jimmy C Newman; Potato Song
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cacklin Hen
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything
Jeannie Seely: Delta Dirt
Sam McGee: Victor Rag

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): Don't Worry
Jeanne Pruett: Just Like Your Daddy/Welcome to the Sunshine
Ronnie Robbins: Mama Tried/If You Love Me Let Me Know
Marty Robbins: Love Me/I'm Wanting To/Devil Woman/El Paso/Ka-Lu A

Yes, that was Rosemary Clooney on the 2nd show.

The 2nd line-up is from Saturday April 3, 1982, which was the final Opry performance for DeFord Bailey. This took place on the Opry's annual Reunion Show, sometimes called Old-Timer's Night, or the Homecoming Show. Deford had returned to the Opry in 1974 after being gone for many years. After that 1974 show, he did return for several more of the Old-Timer's shows and was always a crowd favorite. DeFord would pass away in July of 1982. Here is the line-up from April 3, 1982, 32 years ago this weekend.

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Jimmy C Newman (host): Louisiana Cajun Band
Ernie Ashworth: Irene
Jeannie Seely: It Turns Me Inside Out
Jimmy C Newman: (?)

6:45: Rudy's
Roy Drusky (host): Billy Bayou
Wilma Lee Cooper: I Closed My Heart's Door
David Houston: Cotton-Eyed Joe
Roy Drusky: Blues in My Heart

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Y'All Come
Kitty Wells: Amigo's Guitar
Johnny Wright: Ashes of Love
Zeke Clements: I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry/Just A Little Lovin
Vic Willis Trio: Faded Love
Mac Magaha: Rocky Top

7:30: Standard Candy
Bill Monroe (host): Uncle Pen
Connie Smith: I Just Had You On My Mind
Curly Fox: Sweet Georgia Brown/The Old Gray Mule
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Gray Eagle
Bill Monroe: My Florida Sunshine

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jack Shook: Carry Me Back to the Lone Praire
Alcyone Beasley: Meet Me Tonight In Dreamland
Alcyone Beasley & Jack Shook: Let the Rest of the World Go By
DeFord Bailey: Fox Chase/Cacklin Hen/Pan American Blues/Lost John
Sid Harkreader: Never Alone Waltz.Red Wing Fiddlin
Billy Grammer: Gotta Travel On
Bill Carlisle: I'm Moving

8:30: Acme
Hank Snow (host): Paper Roses
4 Guys: It's High Time to Get Back on My Feet Again
Duke of Paducah: Comedy
Jean Shepard: Slippin' Away
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Sugar Tree Stomp
Stu Phillips: Have I Told You Lately That I Love You/You Win Again/Release Me
Hank Snow: Once More, You're Mine Again

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Porter Wagoner (host): You Make Every Day Feel Like Sunday
4 Guys: It Turns Me Inside Out
Jeannie Seely: When Your House Is Not A Home
Wilburn Brothers: If I Can't Have All of You
Kitty Wells: It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels
Johnny Wright: Poisen Love
Mac Magaha: Old Flames
Porter Wagoner: The Man in the Little White Suit/Ol' Slewfoot

10:00: Little Debbie
Bill Monore (host): Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms
Curly Fox: Alabama Jubilee
Connie Smith: I've Got My Baby On My Mind
Carl Butler: Don't Let Me Cross Over

10:15: Sunbeam
Jimmy C Newman (host): Colinda
Wilma Lee Cooper: Walking My Lord Up Calvary's Hill
Zeke Clements: God Made It All; It Belongs to Him/Smoke on the Water
Jimmy C Newman: (?)

10:30: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Sunshine Special
Jack Shook: Tumbling Tumbleweeds
Alcyone Beasley: Silver Threads Among the Gold
Alcyone Beasley & Jack Shook: Someone Like You
Sid Harkreader: Amazing Grace/Sally Goodin

10:45: Beech-Nut
Roy Drusky (host): There'll Be Anone Else But You For Me
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Cotton-Eyed Joe
Lonzo & Oscar: Rocky Top
Roy Drusky: Just A Closer Walk With Thee

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Down the Trail of Aching Hearts
Jean Shepard: Slippin' Away
Duke of Paducah: Comedy
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Saturday Night Hop
Kirk McGee: Blue Night
Hank Snow: I Don't Hurt Anymore

11:30: Bama
Marty Robbins (host): Don't Worry
Charlie Louvin: I Wonder Where You Are Tonight/We Could
Stonewall Jackson: Angry Words.Muddy Water
Marty Robbins: Devil Woman/That's All Right/Don't Let Me Touch You/Good Hearted Woman/18 Yellow Roses/I Don't Know Why/El Paso

As you would expect on a night with a line-up like that, the Opry ran way over, ending just after 1:00am. The 1st Roy Acuff 30 minute segment ran 45 minutes and the 2nd Roy Acuff 15 minute segment ran 30 minutes. A great night.

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!

Sunday, March 30, 2014

April Opry Highlights

Here are the important and historical events that have taken place in Grand Ole Opry history, or regarding Opry members, in the month of April

April 19, 1924: The WLS "National Barn Dance" was aired in Chicago for the first time. It was the first of the many weekly "Barn Dance" programs that would spring up across the country. Lulu Belle & Scotty, Bradley Kincaid and Gene Autry were among the successful performers who were part of that show. The "National Barn Dance" lasted until 1960 when the station changed formats.

April 17, 1926: Uncle Dave Macon becomes a regular on the WSM Barn Dance. At the age of 55, he was the first performer who could come to the show with a national reputation. In a way, his hiring would start the show on the path of becoming a group of professional entertainers instead of those who "came down from the hills for the weekend." Uncle Dave would remain an Opry member until his death on March 1, 1952, at the age of 81. He was one of the early members elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

April 30, 1932: The Dixieliners, which consisted of Kirk and Sam McGee, along with Arthur Smith, made their first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Arthur Smith had been performing on the Opry for several years, as had Sam and Kirk, when they decided to team up. They had a good reputation and within a short amount of time, they had two ten-minute segments on the show. Arthur, however, had a drinking problem and in 1938 he was suspended from the Opry after missing several appearances. The Dixieliners made their final Opry appearance on January 14, 1939 when Arthur Smith left. Sam and Kirk McGee would continue on with the Opry.

April 29, 1933: The Delmore Brothers, Rabon and Alton, made their first appearance on the Opry. They stayed as regulars until 1938, when they left for what they thought was a better opportunity. Alton would later have a book published that he wrote called, "Truth is Stranger" that details their stay at the Opry and the issues between themselves and George D. Hay and Harry Stone. After leaving the Opry, the Delmore Brothers moved around from radio station to radio station, eventually ending up at WLW in Cincinnati. There they got together with Merle Travis and Grandpa Jones and recorded as the "Browns Ferry Four." All 4 of these individuals would eventually be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Their final Opry show was September 11, 1938 and their final song was "What Would You Give in Exchange for Your Soul."

April 15, 1937: Bob Luman was born in Texas. He gained fame as a member of the Louisiana Hayride and then came to Nashville, joining the Opry in 1965. When Bob was on the Hayride, his guitarist was James Burton, who would join up with Ricky Nelson. When Bob joined the Opry, the younger fans loved him as he had a bit of rock n' roll to him. Roy Acuff, on the other hand, did not particuarly care for that style of music. He passed away in 1978.

April 26, 1941: Ernest Tubb records "Walking the Floor Over You." The recording took place in Dallas, Texas and was one of the first country recordings to feature the electric guitar. The success of the record would lead Ernes to Nashville and the Opry, which he joined in 1943.

April 14, 1945: Upon the death of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, a performance of "Taps" was played from the stage of the Opry. This marked the first time that a trumpet was played during an Opry performance. Buddy Harroll, part of Pee Wee King's Golden West Cowboys had the honor. Let's just say that it has been written that George D. Hay was not very happy about that.

April 6, 1946: Roy Acuff quit the Grand Ole Opry in a salary dispute. At the time, he was the host of "The Prince Albert Show" segment of the Opry, that was broadcast on the NBC radio network. He was making $15.00 per night on the Opry and asked for a raise to $100 a night. When WSM refused his demands, he left the show, going out to California on an extended tour. Roy never really talked about this episode in his Opry career. At the time, he was the Opry's biggest star and he knew that if he was out on the road he could make more money and have the time to film some movies. He wanted that recognized by both the Opry and the sponsor. Roy would eventually return to the Opry and when he did, he was paid more than the union scale.

April 13, 1946: A week after Roy Acuff left the Opry, Red Foley debuted as the new host of "The Prince Albert Show" segment of the Opry. This was also the same night that Red became an Opry member. After Roy quit as a member of the Opry, William Esty and Company, which was the advertising agency that represented R.J. Reynolds Tabacco Company, which made Prince Albert chewing tabacco, undertook a broadly based survey to determine how best to replace Roy. Most listeners wanted the Opry to continue without any changes, but it was clear after all the questioning was done that a large portion of Opry fans wanted more music on the show, suggesting the need to replace Roy with a singer. Esty checked all the available data, which included record sales, jukebox plays and radio favorites, and it all pointed to Red Foley. Red would later say, "I guess I was never more scared than that night I replaced Roy Acuff. The people thought I was a Chicago slicker who had come to pass himself off as a country boy and bump Roy out of his job." Red, of course, was from Kentucky and he had a solid career as a country singer. Minnie Pearl would call Red, "the best looking thing I have ever seen." It is interesting to note that Red only hosted the Prince Albert portion of the Opry and did not do 2 slots as most of the Opry's performers did. Also, when Roy returned to the Opry a year later, Red remained the Prince Albert host and while Roy and Red got along, they were never the best of friends.

April 13, 1946: The same night that Red Foley came to the Opry, so did Chet Atkins, who was introduced on the Opry that night by Red. Chet later told the story, "I ran into Red in his manager's office. Actually, I had gone to Chicago to try to meet Foley. Anyway, I played a tune for him and sure enough he said, 'How'd you like to go to Nashville with me, Ches?' Dreams do come true sometimes." Chet stayed with Red for about 6 months, then he quit in his own dispute with Esty. While Chet was on the Opry a lot, he was never an Opry member.

April 26, 1947: After leaving the Opry the previous year, Roy Acuff returned to the Opry as the host of the "Royal Crown Cola Show." There is a story that Ernest Tubb and Harry Stone went to Roy, who was in a Nashville hospital, and told him that the Opry might go under if he didn't come back. While there is no evidence to support that the Opry was in trouble, the words worked with Roy and he came back, never to leave again.

April 3, 1948: The Louisiana Hayride starts on KWKH in Shreveport. Over the next decade, a large number of the Opry's new members would come from the Hayride, earning it the reputation as a farm club for the Opry. Those stars included David Houston, Billy Walker, Webb Pierce, Jim Reeves, Faron Young, Johnny Cash and Hank Williams. The Hayride also helped Elvis Presley start his career.

April 26, 1952: Martha Carson, the great gospel singer, joined the Grand Ole Opry. She came to the Opry on the strength of her hit, "Satisfied." She remained with the Opry until her first child was born in 1957 and then took a sabbatical, which also included working a year in New York City. According to Martha, "I got a leave of absence from the Opry. I didn't quit and I wasn't fired. When I came back to Nashville, Opry manager Ott Devine said they had no openings. I never did go back. I never even got to be a guest." What a poor decision by the management at that time.

April 18, 1953: Red Foley made his last Grand Ole Opry appearance as the host of "The Prince Albert Show." He would leave Nashville to work in televisioin, eventually hosting the Ozark Jubilee. Red had numerous personal issues and when he decided to leave the Opry, management had no objections. While many wondered about Red when he joined the Opry, he was one of the Opry's biggest stars and one of the more popular members. Nobody sang "Peace In the Valley" better then Red.

April 12, 1958: Don Gibson becomes a member of the Opry. Don would be a member of the cast until being fired in December 1964 for failing to make the required number of appearances per year. In 1975, he rejoined the show and would remain a member of the Opry until his death on November 17, 2003. Even though he rejoined the Opry, he never made very many appearances after coming back. In 2001 he was elected to the Hall of Fame. I am told that after being elected, he never acknowledged his election.

April 4, 1959: Bill Anderson performs for the first time at the Opry. In July 1961, he would become an Opry member.

April 30, 1960: The WLS "National Barn Dance" which was based out of Chicago, aired its final show. At one time, this was a major competitor for the Opry and just like the Opry, at one time it was broadcast on a national basis.

April 30, 1966: Ray Pillow joined the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Ray's 48th year as an Opry member. On the night that he was inducted, Ernest Tubb did the honors. Though he is now on senior status and his Opry appearances have been reduced, he still does a great job hosting a segment and his voice is still smooth and solid.

April 22, 1967: The 4 Guys became members of the Opry. They would remain Opry members until being fired by new Opry General Manager Pete Fisher in April 2000. They spent 33 years as Opry members. The reason given for their termination was the fact that all of the original members were no longer current members of the group. For a number of years, The 4 Guys operated and performed at a dinner theater in Nashville.

April 6, 1968: Following the assassination of Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr., the city of Nashville imposed a curfew that forced the Opry to cancel its live performance for the first and only time in the history of the show (or so they say). WSM and the Opry aired a previously taped show. However, Roy Acuff, Sam and Kirk McGee and a few others, put on a makeshift show at a nearby square dance hall for Opry fans that afternoon.

April 6, 1968: On the same date as the cancelled show, Bud Wendall became the new General Manager of the Opry, replacing Ott Devine, who had been the Opry's manager since 1959.

April 21, 1971: After taking a break to raise her children, Connie Smith returned as a member of the Opry. Since the Opry considers Connie a member from when she first joined in 1965, next year she will be celebrating her 50th year as an Opry member.

April 12, 1972: The first "Fan Fair" was held in Nashville. It was so successful that it would become an annual event where the fans could meet their favorite country stars. It still takes place, although it is now called the "CMA Music Festival" and takes place in June.

April 27, 1972: Opryland opens for the 1st time. The park was an immediate hit. 2 years later, the Opry House would be completed and the Grand Ole Opry would move to the park.

April 5, 1975: Skeeter Davis returns to the Opry after being suspended 16 months earlier. Several Opry members went to Bud Wendall and asked that she be allowed back.

April 23, 1976: Don Williams is introduced as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. Jeanne Pruett did the introduction. As everyone knows, Don and the Opry really didn't work out and he left a few years later.

April 2, 1977: Vito Pellettieri worked his final show as the Opry's stage manager. He suffered a stroke several days later and on April 14, he passed away at the age of 87. While very few have heard of Vito, he was probably one of the most influential people in the history of the Opry. So much so that he was really never replaced as the stage manager. Years after his death, one veteran Opry member was quoted as saying, "I miss Vito. You know, we don't have a marshall anymore. What we have out there is a piece of paper in a box, with a list of the acts and when they're supposed to go on. But we don't have anybody encouraging us, goading us, giving us advice on how to do better. Nobody to jack us up." One of Vito's closest friends was Hank Snow and Hank writes about Vito extensively in his autobiography. For those who do not know, Vito was the WSM librarian and started as the Opry's stage manager in 1934. Here is what Vito said of his first night at the Opry. "I went home, took me a big drink, and told my wife there wasn't enough devils in Hell to drag me back there." But he did go back, because as he later said, he needed the money. Vito was the one who set the Opry up on a schedule and assigned times and slots to the performers. He broke the show into segments with hosts and sponsors. Before he did that, the show was a free-for-all, with the performers coming and going as they pleased. To show what the Opry's members thought of Vito, in 1959 it was announced that he faced mandatory retirement from both of his positions at WSM (music librarian and stage manager). Immediately, every one of the Opry's members signed a petition demanding that he be allowed to continue at the Opry. WSM officials relented and while he retired as the WSM librarian, he continued with the Opry. That November, during the annual disc jockey convention hosted by WSM, Opry performers staged a surprise program in Vito's honor. Roy Acuff made a lengthy off-the-cuff speech and among his words he said, "He is one of the men who made the Opry what it is today." That was followed by a five minute standing ovation. Vito, with tears in his eyes said, "This is the most impressive moment in my life." Vito never owned a car or learned how to drive. In all his years as the Opry's stage manager, he took the bus to and from the Opry.

April 13, 1981: Guy Willis of the Willis Brothers died at the age of 65. The Willis Brothers consisted of Guy, Skeeter and Vic. They originally joined the Opry in June 1946, but left in 1948 to go on the road with Eddy Arnold, and they were with him until 1957. They also spent some time with Hank Williams. In 1960, they rejoined the Opry. Skeeter Willis died prior to Guy in 1976. After Skeeter died, Vic and Guy continued until Guy had to retire from performing in 1979 due to illness. After Guy retired, Vic formed the Vic Willis Trio and they were Opry members starting in 1979. They continued on the Opry until Vic died in a car accident in January 1995.

April 3, 1982: DeFord Bailey makes his final appearance at the Opry. He had been appearing during the Opry's Old-Timer's night the previous few years.

April 13, 1985: The Grand Ole Opry begins regular television broadcasts on The Nashville Network. The original shows were a half-hour, before eventually expanding to an hour. In 2001, the broadcast moved to Country Music Television and in 2003 moved to Great American Country. The first televised show was a special one hour edition and featured Roy Acuff as the host, along with Connie Smith, Minnie Pearl and the 4 Guys in the first half hour, with Porter Wagoner hosting the second half, with guests Dottie West, Jack Greene, the Crook Brothers and the Melvin Sloan Dancers. The original shows on TNN were not scripted for television, but were nothing more than the radio show with a camera. As a result, many times the timing was not right and the show ended on television in the middle of songs.

April 22, 1989: Clint Black makes his first appearance at the Opry. In January 1991, he would become an Opry member.

April 20, 1991: Emmylou Harris begins a 3 night run at the Ryman Auditorium, where the recording of her "At The Ryman" album takes place. It marked one of the first uses of the Ryman for a performance since the Opry moved out in 1974. They were only able to use a portion of the seating due to the poor condition of the building. These performances helped to spark the idea of renovating and reopening the Ryman.

April 2, 1994: On TNN's telecast of the Grand Ole Opry that night, an all-star bluegrass jam took place that featured Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Roy Husky, Jr., Marty Stuart, Alison Krauss and Earl Scruggs. Vince said that night, "That's what this place is all about. Nights that are like that."

April 12, 1997: Lewis Crook passed away in Nashville at the age of 87. The Crook Brothers joined the Opry on July 24, 1926. You could say they were original members. They remained at the Opry until 1988, a total of 62 years. Lewis was not with the Crook Brothers when they originally joined the WSM Barn Dance. He came along in 1928. After Herman Crook passed away, Lewis would continue for a few more years to make appearances with the Opry's Square Dance Band.

April 6, 1998: Former Opry member Tammy Wynette passed away in Nashville at the age of 55. She had been having health issues for a number of years.

April 18, 1998: Diamond Rio became members of the Opry. This will be their 16th year as Opry members and they remain a fan favorite. Since joining the cast, they have generally done a good job with their Opry appearances, and almost always have made the 10 per year asked of the members.

April 12, 1999: Lecil Martin, known as Boxcar Willie, passed away in Branson, Missouri at the age of 67. Boxcar joined the Opry in 1981 at the personal invitation of Roy Acuff.

April 17, 2004: The Judds made their first guest appearance on the Opry.

April 30, 2004: The Grand Ole Opry took to the road and sponsored the "Grand Ole Opry American Road Show", which took place in York, Pennsylvania. Those who took part in the show included Vince Gill, Patty Loveless, Del McCoury Band and Rebecca Lynn Howard.

April 21, 2012: Keith Urban becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 2nd year as an Opry member. As with several other modern Opry members, Keith has made few visits to the Opry House since joining.

April 26, 2013: The Grand Ole Opry dedicates the shows for this weekend to the late George Jones. The guests included Montgomery Gentry, Brad Paisley and John Conlee.

A pretty busy month at the Opry.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Grand Ole Opry 3/28 & 3/29

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the two shows this weekend, and I have to say that the Opry has come up with 2 pretty nice shows. The line-ups look pretty solid and feature a couple of Opry members who do not get to the Opry as often as many of us would like.

Scheduled for both nights is Opry member Patty Loveless. I have said before that she is one of my favorite female country singers. I just wish she would get to the Opry more often. Joining her on Saturday night will be another long-lost Opry member Ronnie Milsap. Hopefully Ronnie makes it as he has cancelled out on his last couple of Opry shows. Joining them will be Opry member Vince Gill and guest artists Lee Greenwood, Leah Turner and Lauren Alaina.

Joining Patty on the Friday Night Opry will be Ricky Skaggs and Joe Diffie. Guest artists include Michael W. Smith, Mark Wills and a new name, Fiddlin' Carson Peters. From what I can find, this is a 10 year old fiddle player who has opened for Ricky Skaggs and has played a few numbers with Ricky. It should be interesting to see and hear this young man.

And what is an Opry weekend without someone from "Nashville" and this weekend it is Jonathan Jackson.

Friday March 28
7:00: John Conlee (host); Mark Wills; Jesse McReynolds
7:30: Riders In the Sky (host); Jan Howard; Jimmy C Newman; Joe Diffie
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host); Jonathan Jackson; Patty Loveless
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Fiddlin' Carson Peters; Michael W. Smith

Saturday March 29
7:00: John Conlee (host); Leah Turner; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Mandy Barnett; Ronnie Milsap
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Jean Shepard; Lee Greenwood; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Lauren Alaina; Patty Loveless

For this week's look in past Grand Ole Opry line-ups, I go to Saturday March 30, 1974. This was 40 years ago this weekend and 2 weeks after the new Opry House opened. It was also the last Opry appearance of the Earl Scruggs Revue. Earl Scruggs first came to the Opry with Bill Monroe in the 1940s. After the split from Bill, Earl and Lester Flatt became Opry members in the 1950s. On February 22, 1969, they made their final Opry appearance before their break up. Both Lester and Earl remained Opry members and Earl put together a group with his sons, the Earl Scruggs Revue. On September 13, 1969, they made their first Opry appearance. Earl did not perform on the Opry on a regular basis as he preferred to take his group to new and younger audiences. Finally on March 30, 1974, they left the Opry for good.

After a few years away, Earl began to make guest appearances on the Opry and would do so for the remainder of his life. There is also a report that later in life he expressed an interest in rejoining the Opry, but the invitation never came.

Here is the line-up from Saturday March 30, 1974:

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Charlie Walker (host): Don't Squeeze My Sharmon
Ernie Ashworth: Honky-Tonk Hardwood Floor
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down

6:45: Rudy's
Willis Brothers (host): Truck Stop
Justin Tubb: Lonesome 7-7203/Looking Back To See
Willis Brothers: Buying Popcorn

7:00: Rudy's
Archie Campbell (host): (?)
Bob Luman: Lonely Women Make Good Lovers
Tommy Jones: Dixie Humminbird
Archie Campbell: (?)
Bob Luman: When You Say Love
Tommy Jones: Orange Blossom Special
Archie Campbell: Make Friends

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: I'm Going Home On The Morning Train
Lonzo & Oscar: Moving On #2
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Lost Indian
Roy Acuff: Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain
Carolee Cooper: Making Plans
Roy Acuff: I Saw The Light

8:00: Martha White
Billy Walker (host): I Changed My Mind
Grandpa Jones: Are You From Dixie
Earl Scruggs Revue: Foggy Mountain Breakdown
Connie Smith: Dallas
Billy Walker: You Gave Me A Mountain
Grandpa Jones: Just Plain Folks
Earl Scruggs Revue: I Shall Be Released

8:30: Stephans
Billy Grammer (host): Detroit City
Stu Phillips: Great El Tigrae
4 Guys: Don't It Make You Want To Go Home
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge
Johnny Russell: Red Necks, White Socks And Blue Ribbon Beer
Stu Phillips: That's A Chance I'll Have To Take
Billy Grammer: What A Friend

2nd show
9:30: Kelloggs
Charlie Walker (host): Wanting My Woman Again
Willis Brothers: Cool Water
Connie Smith: Amazing Grace
Ernie Ashworth: Honky-Tonk Hardwood Floor
Charlie Walker: Jambalaya
Connie Smith: Louisiana Man
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips

10:00: Fender
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Doin' My Time
Bob Luman: Today I Started Loving You Again
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Coming Down From God

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Back In The Country
Justin Tubb: Loving Arms
Roy Acuff: Carry Me Back To The Mountains

10:30: Trailblazer
Stu Phillips (host): There Must Be Another Way To Say Goodbye
Grandpa Jones: Banjo Sam/Mountain Dew
Stu Phillips: For The Good Times

10:45: Beech-Nut
Billy Grammer (host): Lonesome Road Blues
Lonzo & Oscar: Rocky Top
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Sally Goodin
Billy Grammer: Just A Closer Walk With Thee

11:00: Coca-Cola
Billy Walker (host): Sing Me A Love Song To Baby
Earl Scruggs Revue: Carolina Boogie
Tommy Jones: Alabama Jubilee
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
Earl Scruggs Revue: T For Texas
Sam McGee: Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): Devil Woman
4 Guys: Hello Walls/Big Bad John/Wings Of A Dove
Johnny Russell: Red Necks, White Socks And Blue Ribbon Beer
Ronnie Robbins: Am I Good Enough To Be Your Man/Mama Tried
Marty Robbins: Don't Worry/Love Me/Big Boss Man/I'm Wanting To/El Paso/Singing The Blues

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!!!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Opry Wants Key Role In Country Music

(I was going through my Opry archives this evening and came across an article with that headline. The article was from Thursday January 27, 2000 and written by Jim Patterson of the Associated Press. This would have been about 6 months after Pete Fisher took over as the general manager of the Opry. I thought it would be interesting to look back at what was written 14 years ago.)

The Grand Ole Opry was entertaining national audiences before the Internet and cable televison came into existence. It predates television, too. It is the longest continuously running radio show in the country. Every Saturday night since 1925, the Opry has been beamed out on AM radio and heard as far away as Canada on 50,000-watt, clear channel WSM. The TNN cable channel airs 30 minutes of each of the current three 2 1/2-hour shows each week.

"A lot of folks love and treasure the Opry for presenting country music's legacy," said general manager Pete Fisher, who was hired six months ago. "They want it to play a key role in today's country music, and also in tomorrow's music. That's our focus and the vision we have for it."

During January, the show is playing at the downtown Ryman Auditorium, home of the Opry from 1943-1974. At the Jan. 8 show, Porter Wagoner wore a purple suit studded with rhinestones. The songs of Hank Williams and Dottie West were performed. Several performers dedicated their numbers to their moms or dads. Most of that is business as usual for the Opry. The return to the historic Ryman Auditorium is just and extended visit while the suburban Grand Ole Opry House is being upgraded. More Ryman Opry shows are likely in the future, Fisher said.

Along with mainstays Wagoner and Bill Anderson, artists on the Jan. 8 bill included relative newcomers Jo Dee Messina and the hot band Lonestar. "I want to make certain that the Opry is evolving, and being able to attract contemporary artists has a lot to do with providing a performance environment, whether it's lighting, sound, staging or staff band musicians, so that they can present the best performance possible," said Fisher, who has replaced several longtime house band members with musicians he says are more versatile.

"(Changing the band) really was about the unique need that we have in a staff band musician, and that is a musician who can play not only the traditional music in a very authentic fashion, but also the contemporary music."

The most visable and welcome change has been the booking of so-called alternative country artists. Iris DeMent and Gillian Welch have played the Opry in recent months. So has Don Walser, 65, who had been trying to get on the show for years. "Oh, boy, that was the thrill of my life!" Walser said about his Opry debut. "They even said they were going to have me back on the televised part one of these days. It's something I've dreamed about all of my life. I guess I got on because a new guy is booking the show."

Fisher is looking for performers who fit into the Opry show, which attempts to present every facet of country music from square dancing to the latest hit-makers. "In many regards, what we consider to be progressive and alternative in country music is really just ultratraditional," Fisher said. "Gillian Welch is perceived as an alternative and progressive artist, but she does that by really getting to the core of traditional country music."

Fisher is also trying to address a long-standing complaint that many of the big stars that are cast members rarely show up to perform. Cast members are expected to perform at the Opry at least 12 times a year. "In the early days of the Opry, the Opry WAS country music," Fisher said. "Participating in the Opry was the best thing you could do for your career. I acknowledge the fact that the Opry is not the center and magnet that it once used to be. The way I can win the artist over is to work toward an Opry that really can be an important component to an artist's career." He cites as an example singer Brad Paisley, who appeared more than 20 times last year.

"He has acknowledged the Opry," Fisher said. "That was something we didn't ask for and something we didn't expect, but he really made a point to give us some credit. The future of the Opry is very bright, when you look at situations like that."

(An interesting article to look back on, especially seeing what direction the Opry has taken in the last 14 years).