Thursday, April 30, 2009

Grand Ole Opry Line-up 5/1 & 5/2

Breaking News:
Loretta Lynn has cancelled her appearance on the Grand Ole Opry for Saturday night and has been replaced by Martina McBride.

Here is the Grand Ole Opry line-up for this weekend:
Friday May 1
7:00: Jeannie Seely(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Heidi Newfield
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); The Whites; Del McCoury Band
8:00: Mike Snider(host); Jean Shepard; Lee Greenwood
8:30: Marty Stuart(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Connie Smith

Not a bad line-up for the 2 hour show. Heidi Newfield makes another appearance. She appeared when I attended a show in February and received a good response from the audience. She does have a lot of energy and a fine voice. Marty Stuart continues with his string of appearances and Lee Greenwood makes another appearance at the Opry.

Saturday May 2
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); The Whites; Mandy Barnett
7:30: Marty Stuart(host); George Hamilton IV; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Connie Smith
8:00: Jim Ed Brown(host); Jean Shepard; Trace Adkins; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Mike Snider(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Martina McBride

A very nice line-up for Saturday night as the Opry goes to just 1 show on Saturday for the next 4 weeks. Again, I know the move was made for financial reasons, and I somewhat understand 1 show on a Saturday in January and February, but I do not see a need for this in May, when crowds are generally good. My other opinion is that if they are doing just 1 show on a Saturday night, extend it by 30 minutes and give more artists a chance to appear. As far as Saturday night's show, I am suprised to see Jim Ed Brown hosting a segment over Trace Adkins. Usually Trace is a host when he appears. The highlight, of course, is Loretta Lynn making another Opry appearance. What fan would not have liked Loretta getting 30 minutes like Reba is getting. Again, just a very solid line-up and a good show to attend.

Finally, Mandy Barnett is the host of the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree this Saturday night at midnight at the record shop. While she has never made it as a successful country music entertainer, she has an awesome voice and has made, in my opinion, a couple of nice albums. While her voice is fantastic, it just does not fit in with the style of country music that is being played today. It will be interesting to see what kind of a crowd they have for this show. The price is always right-free!!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Reba McEntire Returning To The Opry

The Grand Ole Opry has announced that Reba McEntire will be performing on the Opry on May 9th. It has sure been a long time since she has been on the Opry stage. Glad to see her return and let's hope that it will be the start of some regular appearances. The Opry has said that she will be performing 4 songs.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Country Music Hall of Fame and Grand Ole Opry Members

As I am sure all of you know, 2 more Grand Ole Opry members have been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2009: Roy Clark and Barbara Mandrell. That brings to 13 the number of current Grand Ole Opry members who are members of the Hall of Fame. Besides Roy Clark and Barbara Mandrell, the others are Bill Anderson, Jimmy Dickens, Vince Gill, Tom T. Hall, Emmylou Harris, George Jones, Charlie Louvin, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride and Mel Tillis. Out of 65 current Grand Ole Opry members, that is a pretty good number. The discussion for today is how many of the remaining 52 Grand Ole Opry members will eventually become members of the Hall of Fame. I want to go through the members of the Opry and give my opinion on the chances of who gets in and who does not:

These members will make the Hall of Fame, 100% lock:
Clint Black, Garth Brooks, Charlie Daniels, Alan Jackson, Martina McBride, Reba McEntire, Ronnie Milsap and Randy Travis.

All of these individuals are true superstars that dominated country music during their time. They all have had numerous #1 records and have appeared on either tv, movies or other media outlets. Their careers have been long and sustained and it is just a matter of time until all get in.

75% chance of making the Hall of Fame:
Jim Ed Brown, Wilma Lee Cooper, Larry Gatlin, Patty Loveless, Jean Shepard, Ricky Skaggs, Connie Smith and Marty Stuart.
I believe all of these will eventually make it, but it could take some time. Jim Ed Brown has had a 50 year career as a member of the Browns, a solo career and a duet career and has had #1 records in each format. He has been a finalist in the past. Wilma Lee Cooper receives more awards and recognition outside of Nashville then within. She had most of her success with her husband, Stoney, in duet singing. But, she is a national treasure and her career will get a more detailed analysis after she passes away, which happens in some cases. Larry Gatlin had a number of hit records and is a great songwriter. Patty Loveless sustained a 20 year career as a solo artist. Jean Shepard should eventually get in, but as in the case with Wilma Lee Cooper, it could happen after she passes on. Ricky Skaggs was at the start of the traditionalist movement in the 80s, and should get in. Connie Smith had a number of #1 hits and if she had continued in her career full time, there is no question she would be a lock. Marty Stuart has done lots of work behind the scenes in country music, and while he did have a nice solo career, he is well respected in the music community and that will get him in. On a side note, the new legends classification should help Jean Shepard, Jim Ed Brown and Wilma Lee Cooper get elected.

50% chance of being elected:
Trace Adkins, Allison Kraus,Brad Paisley, Travis Tritt, Trish Yearwood and Steve Wariner.
In the case of Trace Adkins , Allison Kraus and Brad Paisley, it is a case of continuing what they are doing. As for the other 3, they have had nice careers and should get in, but it will take some time as others from the same era are voted in.

25% chance of getting in:
John Conlee, Diamond Rio, Joe Diffie, George Hamilton IV, Hal Ketchum, Craig Morgan, Lorrie Morgan, Riders In The Sky, Ralph Stanley and Pam Tillis.
While the door is not closed on any of these individuals, it will take some time and a lot of consideration of their careers as a whole to make it in. All have been successful in country music and have had nice careers, but will it be enough to get them in. Lorrie Morgan probably has the best chance of this group.

No chance of getting elected:
Terri Clark, Billy Grammer, Jack Greene, Jan Howard, Stonewall Jackson, Mel McDaniel, Del McCoury, Jesse McReynolds, Jimmy C. Newman, Bobby Osborne, Stu Phillips, Ray Pillow, Jeannie Pruett, Jeannie Seely, Ricky Van Shelton, Mike Snider and The Whites.
All of these entertainers have had fine careers in country music but either have not reached the star level needed to get consideration or did not sustain it long enough in their careers to receive consideration.

To early to tell:
Dierks Bentley, Josh Turner and Carrie Underwood.
These 3 have potential to make it if their careers continue as they have started. But, still a long ways to go.

A final note: At one time, the Country Music Hall of Fame considered all kinds of country related music. However, especially since it has moved to the new building and as the definition of country music has changed, it seems that many who would have been considered in the past, will no longer be considered now. For example, there are several bluegrass acts in the Hall, led by Bill Monroe. However, now that there is a Bluegrass Hall of Fame(or Hall of Honor), no bluegrass acts have been elected since their Hall opened. I believe that Ralph Stanley, or The Stanley Brothers, would have been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame if not for the Bluegrass Hall. Same with The Osborne Brothers. Also, western acts were among the early members of what was then called The Country and Western Music Hall of Fame. If that was still the case, Riders In The Sky would receive stronger consideration. They have won numerous Grammy awards, have had a strong radio show, movies and have had a long concert career.

We'll, that is my opinion. As always, I like to hear from others who might agree or disagree.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Tuesday Night Opry 4/28 & Opry Country Classics 4/30--Updated

Here is the line-up for this weeks Tuesday Night Opry: April 28
7:00: Jeannie Seely; Luke Bryan
7:30: Jimmy C. Newman; Del McCoury Band
8:00: Bill Anderson; Rodney Atkins
8:30: Jimmy Dickens; Craig Morgan

Not a bad line-up for the Tuesday night show. It features more Opry members than usual and has a nice mix of legends and new talent

Here is the line-up for the Opry Country Classics: April 30
Jeannie Seely(host)
Jack Greene
George Hamilton IV
Justin Moore
Opry Square Dancers
Ray Pillow
Gene Watson
Emily West
Billy Yates
Mel Tillis(Spotlight Artist)
This Week's Theme: A salute to the great state of Texas

I have listened to the Opry Country Classics for the past several weeks and I still have mixed feelings about this show. I am still concerned about some of the artists and the songs that they are singing. For example, 2 weeks ago, the show honored song writers, including Bill Anderson. Rebecca Lynn Howard(a fine talent in my opinion) was on and she came out and sang several Bill Anderson songs that Connie Smith had hit records on. In my opinion, they should had Connie Smith on to sing her songs herself. On that same show, Jeannie Seely sang several songs made famous by Hank Williams. Jeannie has a nice voice, but I question the song selection. I also know she has written several songs, so why not have her sing her own recordings that she had written, since this was a night to honor song writers? Let's hope they continue to work on the theme and line-ups for this show and that they come up with a nice format. Regarding this week's line-up besides Mel Tillis, it is nice to see Gene Watson back on, along with Opry members Ray Pillow, Jack Greene and George Hamilton IV. I am sure with the Texas theme, George will sing Abilene for sure.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Grand Ole Opry LIne-Up 4/24 & 4/25-Updated

Here is the Grand Ole Opry line-up for this weekend:
Friday April 24

7:00: Bill Anderson(host); The Whites; Emily West
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Cherryholmes
8:00: Lorrie Morgan(host); Jean Shepard; Jack Greene
8:30: Marty Stuart(host); Mike Snider; Connie Smith

A very solid line-up for the Friday show. Interesting to see Bill Anderson leading off the show. You usually do not see him in that spot, as he normally is the host for the last segment of the show. Always good to see Marty Stuart devoting much more time to the Opry and nice to see Lorrie Morgan appearing. She is another of the artists that has been making more appearances at the Opry over the last several years. Just too bad that the show is only 2 hours.

Saturday April 25:
First Show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jim Ed Brown; Sunny Sweeney
7:30: Mike Snider(host); Jean Shepard; Jimmy C. Newman; Jennifer Hanson
8:00: Marty Stuart(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Connie Smith; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); Jeannie Seely; Raul Malo

Second Show:
9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); The Whites; Sunny Sweeney
10:00: Mike Snider(host); Jean Shepard; Jim Ed Brown; Jennifer Hanson
10:30: Marty Stuart(host); Stonewall Jackson; Connie Smith; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson(host); Jeannie Seely;Raul Malo

Another good, solid line-up for the Saturday night Opry. Jamie O"Neal is a very talent female singer and Raul Malo has a new album out and does some very good work. I have noticed over the past several months that a couple of other veteran artists seem to be limited to 2 of the 3 shows over a weekend. Those would include Jim Ed Brown, The Whites, Jeannie Seely and Jimmy C. Newman. Connie Smith also seems to have fallen into that group on the weekends that Marty Stuart is not on. Then of course you have the artists that only do 1 show during the weekend. Those would include Stonewall Jackson, Jan Howard, Jack Greene(most times); Bobby Osborne and Jesse McReynolds. With the shows now only 2 hours, it is tough to get spots. Finally, Mike Snider continues to be in the regular rotation of hosting segments on most weekends. He seem to have moved ahead of Jim Ed Brown, Jimmy C. Newman and Jeannie Seely on the hosting list. Again, another mystery of the Opry is how Pete Fisher decides who hosts a segment. After Bill Anderson, Jimmy Dickens, and now, Marty Stuart, you never know. A couple of weeks ago, it was a loaded line-up, and he had Mel Tillis, who makes infrequent appearances, hosting a segment over Opry regulars Ricky Skaggs and Vince Gill.

Finally, this weekend, Stonewall Jackson is the host of the midnight jamboree at the Ernest Tubb record show. Always free and always a great show. I will be in Nashville next weekend.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Grand Ole Opry Line-up-August 14,1954

As we continue our Tuesday tradition of posting Opry line-ups from the past, this week we go way back in time, to Saturday August 14, 1954. Hope you enjoy!!!

7:30: Ernest Tubb(host); Rod Brasfield; Marty Robbins; Moon Mullican; Minnie Pearl; Chet Atkins
8:00: Hank Snow(host); Bill Monroe; Webb Pierce; June Carter; Martha Carson; Possom Hunters; Dale Potter
8:30: Roy Acuff; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Ferlin Huskey; Jug Band; Ray Price; Lonzo and Oscar; Oswald; Jimmy Riddle; Howdy Forrester
9:00: Carl Smith(host); Jimmy Dickens; George Morgan; Crook Brothers; Anita Carter; Grandpa Jones; Jordanaires; Chet Atkins
9:30: Roy Acuff(host); Howdy Forrester; Lew Childre; Cowboy Copas
9:45: Roy Acuff(host); Goldie Hill; Oswald; Jimmy Riddle
10:00: George Morgan(host); Bill Monroe; Martha Carson; Blue Grass Boys
10:15: Hank Snow(host); Ray Price; Grandpa Jones; Chubby and Tommy
10:30: Ernest Tubb(host): Jimmy Dickens; Ferlin Huskey; Duke Of Paducah; Mother Maybelle; Moon Mullican; Chet Atkins
11:00: Webb Pierce(host); Carl Smith; Cowboy Copas; Rod and Minnie; Lonzo and Oscar; Gully Jumpers
11:30: Hank Snow(host); Lew Childre; Goldie Hill; Crook Brothers
11:45: Marty Robbins(host); Sam and Kirk; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Dot and Smokey

What a line-up from back when the Opry was in its prime. A couple of interesting notes:
>The 7:30 segment was the Prince Albert show that was broadcast on NBC radio.

>Counting the main artists, there are 30 listed on the program. Of those 30, 16 ended up being elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.
>Marty Robbins did the 1st segment and the last segment of the show.
>The Opry was still running its 1 show format. The Opry tried to schedule each artist 2 times per show, once during the 1st half of the show and once during the 2nd half. Many people would leave the show after seeing each artist perform once, then, based on the number of people leaving, management would allow more people to come in, on a general admission basis. That is one reason for the long lines that you see in many of the historical pictures of the Opry at the Ryman, as people were waiting to get in. Another reason for the long lines early in the day was that most seats were general admission and the fans wanted to get the best seats possible.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Marty Stuart/Josh Turner/Ferlin Huskey

Just a couple of quick notes for a Monday morning:

Marty Stuart and Josh Turner were honored on Sunday in Nashville by receiving stars on the Walk of Fame, which is located in the park directly across the street from the Country Music Hall of Fame. Marty has done many things in the Nashville community and deserves this honor. I also know that this is a great honor for Josh Turner to have received at a very young age, especially considering the few stars that have been honored with a star. Congratulations to both.

Finally, Ferlin Huskey is in our thoughts this morning as he is hospitalized with heart failure. He has been in a tough battle the past several years and our prayers are with him. In the opinion of this writer, he should be in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Tuesday Night Opry 4/21 & Opry Country Classics 4/23

Here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry on April 21st. It is a Songs of Faith Signature Show and will take place at the Ryman Auditorium
7:00: John Conlee
7:30: The Whites; Point Of Grace
8:00: Bill Anderson; The Grascals
8:30: Connie Smith; MercyMe

The Signature Shows that the Opry puts on are usually good shows and this one should be no exception. the Songs of Faith has been done on a yearly basis for the past several years.

Here is the line-up for the Opry Country Classics on Thursday April 23rd. This show will also take place at the Ryman Auditorium:
Larry Gatlin(host)

Mandy Barnett
Jimmy Dickens
Jan Howard
Jessie McReynolds & The Virginia Boys
Chuck Mead
Lorrie Morgan
Opry Square Dancers
Charley Pride(Spotlight Artist)

After a line-up last week that was not as strong as the first several, Opry Country Classics makes a strong comeback this week with a real solid line-up. Larry Gatlin did an excellent job hosting the 1st show and he is lined up to host several more in this spring/early summer series. Nice to see Charley Pride as the Spotlight Artist and nice to see Jimmy Dickens making his first appearance on the classic show, considering he is one of the greatest classic stars in country music history.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Grand Ole Opry LIne-Up 4/17 & 4/18

Here is the Grand Ole Opry line-up for this weekend, April 17th and 18th.
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); Jessie McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Sons Of The Pioneers
8:30: Ricky Skaggs(host); Jimmy C. Newman; The Whites

Looks like an ok line-up. You have the legends, several groups featuring western music; some bluegrass; and new talent. Darius Rucker is starting out strong with his solo career in country music and he has appeared on the Opry several times. Also, I have heard that Jesse McReynolds is working on a new CD featuring music by Jerry Garcia and Robert Hunter. That should be interesting. And, its nice to see the Sons Of The Pioneers making a visit to the Opry.

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

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

After I received the email with the line-up on Tuesday evening, I kept checking and waiting for an email updating the line-up, as the Opry has recently become famous for putting out a line-up early in the week and then adding to it. Apparently, this is it. 9 artists for each show. I cannot believe that they could not fine more talent, either with Opry members or guests, to fill out and make this a traditional line-up. I would guess, except for the segment with Ricky Skaggs, that they are going to follow the Tuesday night format and give each artist 15 minutes. They did this on the Saturday night 2nd show over Valentine's Day weekend, so I don't know if they are experimenting with this or if they are thinking about going to this format. Regarding the shows on Saturday night, Rascal Flatts is definitely the headliner and should draw some fans into the house. Nice to see Steve Warnier making an appearance. He is working on a new album featuring Chet Atkins music. One final thought: this is the chance that you take when you buy a ticket to the Opry. Last weekend, they had Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Ricky Skaggs, Martina McBride, Rhonda Vincent, Jo Dee Messina, among others, with 15 artists per show. This weekend, a much smaller line-up, and while it does have star power, not nearly as much as last week. That is one of the gambles that you take when you buy an advance ticket to the Opry. The one good thing with the 2 artists per segment format is that you get more music from each performer.

New Summer Show At The Opry?

I received a survey from the Grand Ole Opry and they are considering a summer addition to it's show line-up. The show they are considering adding would be a show featuring the down-home music and comedy of Opry star Mike Snider and his band, plus other country comedy. It would take place in Studio A at the Opry house, where Hee Haw was filmed during its last years. Anytime live music is added in Nashville, I think is a good idea and if this show is priced right, it should appeal to the various tour groups and visitors that come to Nashville during the summer. Mike Snider is a great musician and comedian.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Should Any Grand Ole Opry Members Be Dropped?

Several days ago, this writer gave his opinion on possible new Opry members. Today, the question I ask is: Should any Grand Ole Opry members be dropped for not making Opry appearances?

In 2000, Grand Ole Opry General Manager Pete Fisher made news when he dropped The 4 Guys as members of the Opry. I had heard, through various sources, that this was to be the first of several members to be dropped from the Opry, but that the negative publicity caused Pete to hold off on his plans. The majority of the artists that he wanted to drop were elderly members, several who have since passed away. Since dropping these elderly artists was not going to work from a public relations standpoint, it would appear that the new approach was to cut the appearances of most of these elderly Opry members, which in fact, has happened.

Since 2000, only 1 Opry member has resigned and that was Holly Dunn, who gave up her Opry membership when she left the music business and moved to New Mexico.

But, there are a number of Opry members who are not making any appearances, or very few appearances at all, by their own choice. Should they be dropped and replaced by new members who will devote time and energy to the show? Here are a few examples and our opinion:
>Tom T. Hall has not appeared on the Opry since before 2000. He does not tour much, but is still in the music business, doing very well with his bluegrass recordings and in working with younger artists. The fact that he is in Nashville would certainly make him available to appear at the Opry. Since joining, it seems that he has never been a very enthusiastic member. In fact, when the Opry left the Ryman, he stopped appearing on the show until Ernest Tubb approached in and asked him to return, which he did. The opinion of this reporter is that he should drop his Opry membership.
>Clint Black has appeared on the Opry stage only 2 times since 2004, and both of those apperances were in 2007. Clint lives in California and has always been considered a West Coast artist. While a very good artist and, in his prime, a top record seller, he has never really recorded what could be considered classic country music. He is involved with tv work and other projects. Again, our opinion is that he should be dropped from the Opry.
>Wilma Lee Cooper has made no Opry appearances since 2001, due to illness. While she is too ill to make appearances, she should continue to be a member of the Opry, as she has always been a strong supporter of the show.
>Barbara Mandrell has retired from the business and has made 1 Opry appearance since 2000. She does many back of the seen work involving the Opry and supports the show. When she retired from performing, she asked that her Opry membership continue. It should and she should stay a member.
>Reba McEntire has made no Opry appearances since 2001. She was involved in tv work, but is now back touring and recording. She is not based in Nashville and does not come to the city very often. Her career has moved in a different direction and she should give up her Opry membership.
>Jeanne Pruett has made no Opry appearances since 2002, and has said she is retired from performing. Last year, she asked that her Opry membership be dropped so that a younger artist could fill her spot. The Opry did not do not and kept her as a member. If her wish is to resign as an Opry member, I would honor that request.
>Ricky Van Shelton has retired from performing and last appeared on the Opry in 2004. Even before that, he only made 1 or 2 appearances a year. He should be dropped.
>Randy Travis made 3 appearances in 2008. Those were his first appearances since 2001. If he is serious about appearing on the Opry again, I would keep him as a member. If not, I would drop him. He is a great country singer but does not live in Nashville and makes few Nashville appearances. The choice is his.
>Garth Brooks has made 3 appearances since 2001. I would keep Garth as a member as he does come to the Opry when asked and does take part in special events involving the Opry. He speaks very highly of the Opry and supports many Opry members.

Several other artists are on the list, who since 2000, have made 1 to 4 appearances per year. I would not drop these artists, but I would ask them for a re-commitment to the Opry, and ask them to increase their appearances to 10 per year, which is the requirement of new members. All of these artists are active in the business and most are Nashville based. This list includes Emmylou Harris, Alan Jackson, George Jones, Allison Kraus, Martina McBride, Ronnie Milsap, Brad Paisley, Dolly Parton and Trisha Yearwood.

There are several artists that those listed above can use as an example, who do appear on the Opry on a regular basis and give the show the commitment needed. Those include Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Lorrie Morgan, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Warnier among others.

The concluding question I would ask of those artists that do not appear is: Why join an organization or group and not take part?" I think if Pete Fisher dismissed just 1 of those listed above, it would send a message to the other Opry members that Opry membership is something to be taken seriously, not something to list in your bio, or to wear on your chest. Our thoughts. How about yours?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Grand Ole Opry Line-up 2/12 & 2/13/1993

As we try to do every Tuesday, here is another classic Grand Ole Opry line-up:
Friday February 12, 1993:
7:30: Porter Wagoner(host); Jeanne Pruett; Charlie Walker; Mel McDaniel
8:00: Bill Anderson(host); Skeeter Davis; Stonewall Jackson; Jean Shepard
8:30: Bill Monore(host); Del Reeves; Connie Smith; Mike Snider
9:00: Hank Snow(host); Billy Walker; Jan Howard; The Whites
9:30: Grandpa Jones(host); The 4 Guys; The Carlisles; Ray Pillow; Holly Dunn
10:00: Jimmy C. Newman(host); Justin Tubb; Smoky Mountain Boys; Boxcar Willie
10:30: Jack Greene(host); Jeannie Seely; George Hamilton IV; Johnny Russell
11:05: Grand Ole Gospel Time/Rev. Jimmy Snow

A very solid Friday night line-up with 29 artists listed(and if you include the Smoky Mountain Boys, all were Opry members.) One of the things I really enjoyed about going to the Friday night shows in the winter was that they lasted 3 and a half hours. Now, the Friday show is down to 2 hours with an average of 15 acts per show. Times have changed. Also, after the Friday Opry you had Grand Ole Gospel. Depending on the program you look at, Rev. Snow either spells his name Jimmy or Jimmie. I remember that most of the Friday night Opry crowd would hang around for the start of Grand Ole Gospel, then slowly start to filter out. By the end of the show, the crowd would be down to about a quarter of what it was at the start.

Saturday February 13, 1993:
First Show
6:30: Boxcar Willie(host); Billy Walker
6:45: Grandpa Jones(host); Jean Shepard; Jim Ed Brown
7:00: Bill Monroe(host); Ray Pillow; Skeeter Davis; The 4 Guys; Mel McDaniel
7:30: Jack Greene(host & televised portion); Riders In The Sky; George Hamilton IV; Holly Dunn
8:00: Porter Wagoner(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Smoky Mountain Boys; Connie Smith; Opry Squaredance Band; The Stoney Mountain Cloggers
8:30: Hank Snow(host); The Whites; Roy Drusky; Jeanne Pruett; Mike Snider

Second Show:
9:30: Porter Wagoner(host); Jack Greene; Charlie Walker; Stonewall Jackson; Jan Howard
10:00: Grandpa Jones(host); Holly Dunn
10:15: Bill Monroe(host); Jim Ed Brown
10:30: Boxcar Willie(host); Jeannie Seely
10:45: The 4 Guys(host); The Carlisles; Opry Squaredance Band; The Stoney Mountain Cloggers
11:00: Hank Snow(host); The Whites; Justin Tubb; Riders In The Sky
11:30: Jimmy C. Newman(host); Roy Drusky; Connie Smith; Johnny Russell

Another solid line-up of just Grand Ole Opry members, even on the televised portion. This was also the period of time, and I remember from being at these winter shows, that toward the end of the first show they would announce that if you left, you could attend the 2nd show for free. You just had to wait outside until the ticket buyers were allowed in first and then you could sit in any empty seats. That was a bargin: 2 shows for the price of 1!!!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Tuesday Night Opry 4/10 & Opry Country Classics 4/16

Here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry for April 14th:
7:00: Riders In The Sky; Gloriana
7:30: Jimmy Wayne; Jean Shepard
8:00: Keith Anderson; Jimmy Dickens
8:30: Trace Adkins; Taylor Swift

Certainly the highlight of the Tuesday night show will be the last half hour with Trace Adkins and Taylor Swift. Taylor, along with Carrie Underwood, is the top female singer in country music today. Jimmy Wayne is a fine young star as is Keith Anderson. Gloriana is a new act to country music. Finally, you have the Opry legends represented by Riders In The Sky, Jean Shepard and Jimmy Dickens. A great line-up and this should be a sell-out.

Here is the line-up for the Opry Country Classics show on April 16th:
Jeannie Seely(host); David Ball; Rebecca Lynn Howard; Jimmy C. Newman; Opry Square Dancers; Jean Shepard; The Wrights. Spotlight Artist: Bill Anderson

Of the first group of Thursday night shows, this one has the least number of artists listed, and while it has some good artists listed, there is no superstar artist. This line-up will be a test for how popular this show is. Of course, WSM and the Opry is offering tickets at a discounted price. Regarding the acts, Rebecca Lynn Howard makes another appearance and David Ball always does a fine job and has a great classic country voice. He should have had more hit records than what he had. I still will be looking forward to the show and plan on listening to it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Possible Future Grand Ole Opry Members

One area that is always a popular topic of discussion is who in the future could become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. The decision on who becomes a member is made by Opry management. In the present, that would be Pete Fisher, Vice-President and General Manager of the Grand Ole Opry. According to the Opry, when new members are considered, management considers career accomplishment as well as the potential for continued success. The Opry management also looks for a musical and a generational balance. And, finally, management looks for a commitment from the artist, and often seeks out those who seek out the Opry, though decisions are not based on which artists appear most on the show as guests. The Opry would like it's members to appear at least 10 times per year, and has pushed that requirement with it's newest members. So, the final decision is based on a combination of career accomplishment and commitment.

Since 2000, the Opry has added 12 new members. In 2000, 2 new members were added. Ralph Stanley became a member on January 1st. Since he has become a member, he has appeared on the Opry an average of 15 times per year. His membership was long overdue and came as a result of Ricky Skaggs's influence with Opry management. Pam Tillis became an Opry member on August 26th. Up until last year, she averaged 15 appearances per year, although last year she only appeared 6 times. While Ralph brought an older bluegrass singer to the Opry, Pam was one of country music's solid hit makers in the late 1980s.

In 2001, the only new member was Brad Paisley. He had appeared on the Opry numerous times since he came to Nashville and wanted to become a member of the Opry. As soon as his career broke, he was asked to become a member. In 2001, he made 28 appearances, however as his career has moved into the superstar status, his appearances have steadily dropped, to an average of only 4 the last 3 years. While he talks about tradition and his love of the Opry, he seems to have turned his back on it after becoming a superstar.

No new member was added in 3002, but in 2003, Trace Adkins became a member. He has fulfilled the 10 appearance committment in 5 of the 6 years he has been a member.

In 2004, Terri Clark was added. She was at the peak of her career at that time. While her career has steadily declined, she has maintained her 10 appearances each year, mostly on the Tuesday night Opry.

In 2005, Dierks Bentley became a member. He has not fulfilled the 10 appearance commitment in any year since he became a member, and if there was any recent member who caused people to scratch their heads on why he was asked, it would be him. While it is talked up about how he hung around the backstage area of the Opry all the time he worked at TNN, he has not been around much since he became a member. Also in 2005, Del McCoury became a member. He has averaged over 40 appearances per year and has become of the Opry's most popular and regular new members.

2006 saw no new members, while Mel Tillis and Josh Turner joined in 2007. Mel was way overdue and his daughter Pam pushed hard for him to become a member. He has averaged almost 15 appearances each year. Much like Brad Paisley, Josh Turner was featured at the Opry from the moment he started recording. He has met his membership requirements the last 2 years, and his career has continued to grow.

In 2008, Charlie Daniels became a member. This was a suprise choice as Charlie never appeared on the Opry very often as a guest. But, according to him, he always wanted to become a member. He appeared 15 times his first year. Carrie Underwood also became a member last year. She made 9 appearances and obviously, this was an attempt by the Opry to get the hottest new star in country music on the show to bring in more young fans. And, finally in 2008, Craig Morgan became a member.

So, if you look at the 12 as a group, 2 were older, established bluegrass singers; 2 were older established male singers; 1 was an established female singer; while 2 where young female singers and 5 were younger male singers. Overall, a pretty good mix.

So, what about the future and possible new members? From an interview that he did a few years ago, Lee Greenwood said that he had been asked several times to become an Opry member, but said no each time because he is so busy touring. But, he said that Opry management has told him that he could appear on the show whenever he wanted and he has made many appearances on the show. Rebecca Lynn Howard has made many appearances, but her career has yet to take off. Rhonda Vincent appears on the Opry on a regular basis, and has been rumored to be the next new member. She would fill the need for a younger, female bluegrass singer. The Grascals and Cherryholmes have also made frequent appearances, as has Gene Watson. But, as was shown in the case of Charlie Daniels, guest appearances sometimes does not mean anything. Aaron Tippin and the Oak Ridge Boys have also made numerous guest visits, and they would fill the need for an established act to join.

So, what do we think? In our opinion, here is a list of who we feel could be added in the future:
>Rhonda Vincent: as stated above, she would fill the need of a female bluegrass singer and she is popular in the bluegrass community. The question with her is that she is so busy, could she make a commitment. She has said in past interviews, that she would love to become an Opry member.

>The Grascals: they would fill the need for a younger, bluegrass group. But, a question with them is; has their career reached as high as it will go?
>I think there is a fair chance that Aaron Tippin could be asked at some point. With the recent deaths of Ernie Ashworth and Hank Locklin, there could be a need for another male singer.
>At this point I would discount Rebecca Lynn Howard, although I think she will continue to be a regular guest on the Opry.
>As much as many people would like to see Gene Watson become a member, I just do not think that will happen under present Opry management.

That is our opinion. How about yours?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

April Opry Notes

This upcoming week, Diamond Rio will be celebrating their 21st year as Opry members, as they joined the Grand Ole Opry on April 18,1998. Later this month, Ray Pillow will be celebrating his 43rd anniversary as an Opry member as he officially joined the Opry on April 30th, 1966. The story is often told that Ray came to Nashville after being a regional winner in the Pet Milk Talent Contest, and in fact, he finished in 2nd place in the national finals in 1961. Another interesting fact about Ray is that his publishing company published many of Lee Greenwood's hits, including the blockbuster hit, "God Bless the USA." He also served as head of the A&R division of Capital Records, responsible for finding, developing and signing new artists. He was considered one of the more influential people behind the scenes in Nashville.

Among the other April highlights involving the Grand Ole Opry:
On April 13, 1985, The Grand Ole Opry began regular regular television broadcasts on The Nashville Network. The half hour program was called Grand Ole Opry Live.

On April 14, 1945, "Taps" was played on the Opry to mark the death of President Franklin Roosevelt. It was the first use of a trumpet during an Opry show. I believe that it was Pee Wee King's trumpet play who played it.

On April 17, 1926, Country Music Hall of Fame member Uncle Dave Macon became a regular on the Grand Ole Opry. He would continue as an Opry member until his death in 1952.

On April 26, 1947, Roy Acuff returned to the Opry after leaving the previous year in a salary dispute. He formally was on the Prince Albert portion of the Opry but returned as host of the Royal Crown Cola Show.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Opry Originals Set To Open In Downtown Nashville

Press Release From The Grand Ole Opry:
Opry Originals: The Shop On Broadway is set to open in the heart of downtown Nashville's famed Lower Broadway area at 300 Broadway Thursday April 16. An official rhinestone-studded ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for Monday April 20 followed by a week of grand opening events.

Inspired by a design concept the designers deem "Country Archeology," the free-standing 5,000 square-foot store will bring together the iconic roots of the Grand Ole Opry and country music's contemporary culture in an electric collection of old and new, brought to life through media, graphic imaagery, and re-claimed materials and finishes. Reminiscent of a market, the space will encourage hands-on interaction and invite guests to discover and take home their own piece of the Opry lifestyle.

The store will showcase an extensive line of lifestyle products including Opry-branded jeans, tops, and boots; gifts; local artisan merchandise; a new Opry Country Kitchen line of food products; dinnerware and home furnishings. The store will also feature entertainment and artist appearances and book/record signings as well as listening stations, photo opportunities, and a select food and beverage offering.

Included among the store's apparel offerings will be an "Opry by Manuel" collection of jackets, shirts, and jeans designed exclusively for the Opry by legendary clothier Manuel, who has made an indelible mark on country music fashion for more than four decades.

"Opry originals allows us to fully celebrate the country lifestyle," said Steve Buchanan, Gaylord Entertainment senior vice president of media and entertainment. "We will be able to offer a wide range of apparel including the exciting new 'Opry by Manuel' line and introduce new merchandise categories for the Opry including artisan/craft products and home decor items."

"We expect the new store, with its one-of-kind merchandise offerings and uniquely-Nashville experiences to become one of downtown Nashville's premier destinations," Buchanan said. More than half a million guests visited the Opry's store located within the Grand Ole Opry House in 2008.

"Opry originals is the ultimate marriage of heritage and hip-factor, a celebration of both the history and future of country music in a style we call 'Country Cool,'' said Paul Kechleiter, Chief Creative Officer of FRCH Design Worldwide, Cincinnati, Ohio, designer of the new store.

The 300 Broadway structure was built circa 1911 as the home of the Broadway National Bank. It housed banking instituations until 1987 and has been occupied by R.C. Mathew and The Mathews Co. since 1991.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Grand Ole Opry Line-up 4/10 & 4/11

Here is the Grand Ole Opry line-up for this weekend:
Friday April 10th
7:00: Marty Stuart(host); Jimmy C Newman; John Conlee; Connie Smith
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Mel McDaniel; Jim Ed Brown; Ricky Skaggs
8:00: Bill Anderson(host); Jan Howard; Mike Snider; Point Of Grace
8:30: Vince Gill(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jean Shepard; The Whites

Saturday April 11th
First 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

Second 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

Generally, the weekend of Easter is one of the strongest line-ups at the Opry and this weekend is no exception. From the members of the Hall of Fame(Jimmy Dickens, Bill Anderson, Vince Gill and Mel Tillis); to a couple of the hottest female singers in country music today(Martina McBride and Jo Dee Messina); to the top female in bluegrass(Rhonda Vincent); to the legends(Jim Ed Brown and Jan Howard); and to a couple of the most popular members of the Opry(Marty Stuart, Connie Smith and Ricky Skaggs), there is something to please everyone. Should be a sell-out weekend. Finally, Rhonda Vincent will be hosting the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree on Saturday night, which as always, is free.

Grand Ole Opry On GAC?

I am sure many of you have noticed that since the 1st of the year, GAC has not run any new Opry live shows, but has been showing repeats of basically the same 5 or 6 shows. I was beginning to wonder if GAC was ever going to have any more "new" Opry live shows, so I contacted GAC and received the following response: "We had so many wonderful Opry Live performances last year that received great audience response that our programming department has decided to re-air them again indefinitely as "The Best of Opry Live." Please continue to check back with us for any updates!" We'll, in other words, this sounds like no more new Opry shows on GAC. I have a request into the Opry office regarding if they still have a contract with GAC or if it has expired. I know the contract that they were working with called for 26 new shows and 26 repeat shows per year. This could be an opportunity for a new network to step in, but, let's be honest, there are probably limited options for Opry management. They already have been on CMT and the TNN-Spike network, and the demographics of both of those networks do not fit the Opry. RFD would be a great home but RFD needs to get on more cable stations, especially those on the Time-Warner network. And, I am sure RFD would want to spotlight more traditional artists, while the Opry is trying to grow in other areas. Not much left after that unless they went to Public Television. Personally, RFD would be fine with me. How about a Saturday night line-up of Hee-Haw, The Marty Stuart Show and The Grand Ole Opry?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 4/13/1979 & 4/14/1979

Here is another classic Grand Ole Opry line-up, from 30 years ago this weekend. Hope you enjoy:
Friday April 13, 1979
7:30: Lonzo & Oscar(host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Ernie Ashworth
8:00: Billy Walker(host); Riders In The Sky; Carl Isles
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
11:05: Grand Ole Gospel(Rev. Jimmie Snow)

A line-up with a number of Opry veterans, but I have to admit the name Carl Isles does not ring a bell. Any help? I somewhat remember the name of Linda Naile.

Saturday April 14, 1979
First 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

Second 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

Another traditional Opry line-up. This was also the time period that the various string bands were being phased out. On the schedule you see the Crook Brothers; Kirk McGee; and The Fruit Jar Drinkers. It would be just a short time later that it would only be the Crook Brothers and they were almost always scheduled on Roy Acuff's segment. On an additonal note, Kirk McGee was always complaining about being on at a late time, as the farmers who would tune in to listen to him, were in bed by that time of the night. He was always requesting an earlier slot but not getting it. Sounds like what some of the veterans are going through today.

Finally on that weekend, with Opryland open, the Opry had Saturday matinees, from 3pm-5pm. The Saturday matinee line-up included David Houston; Wilma Lee Cooper; Charlie Walker; Billy Walker; Skeeter Davis; Lonzo & Oscar; The Four Guys; Roy Acuff; Carlisles. Oh by the way, it cost $8.75 to get into Opryland for the day.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Tuesday Night Opry 4/7 & Opry Country Classics 4/9

Here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry 4/7
7:00: Jim Ed Brown; Mandy Barnett
7:30: George Hamilton IV; Mark Wills
8:00: Jack Greene; Daily & Vincent
8:30: Bill Anderson; Restless Heart

No big name attraction for Tuesday night, but a good, solid line-up.

Here is the line-up for the Opry Country Classics on Thursday 4/9
Host: Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives
Mark Collie; John Conlee; Charlie Louvin; Chuck Mead; Opry Square Dancers; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Riders In The Sky; Jeannie Seely.
Spotlight Artist: Josh Turner

Another solid line-up for the Thursday night Opry Country Classics show. This is 3 strong line-ups in a row, so it looks like the Opry is giving this show the attention it deserves. I know there was some initial concern about some of the legends and veterans being taken off the weekend shows and shuttled to Thursday night, but so far that does not seem the case. As far as this show, Josh Turner would have to be the featured star, but a good mix of talent. Marty Stuart continues to make regular Opry appearances.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Grand Ole Opry Line-up 4/3 & 4/4

Here are the Grand Ole Opry line-ups for this coming weekend:
Friday April 3:
7:00: Diamond Rio(host); Jimmy C Newman; Jean Shepard; Del McCoury Band.
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Connie Smith.
8:00: Bill Anderson(host); Mike Snider; Aaron Tippin.
8:30: Ricky Skaggs(host); Riders In The Sky; The Whites.

Kind of a skinny line-up for the Friday show. A couple of the highlights would include Diamond Rio and Ricky Skaggs. Also, nice to see Aaron Tippin back at the Opry. I saw him when he made an appearance at the Opry the first part of February and he has a new CD of truck driving songs, including Six Days On The Road, East Bound And Down and Girl On The Billboard. He does a great job with all of those songs.

Saturday April 4:
First Show:
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); The Whites; Del McCoury Band.
7:30: Mike Snider(host); Mel McDaniel; Jean Shepard.
8:00: Jeannie Seely(host); Jim Ed Brown; Michael Martin Murphey; Opry Square Dancers.
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); Jimmy C Newman; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Joe Diffie.

Second Show:
9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Connie Smith; Del McCoury Band.
10:00: Mike Snider(host); Stonewall Jackson; Jean Shepard.
10:30: Jeannie Seely(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top Express; Opry Square Dancers.
11:00: Bill Anderson(host); Jim Ed Brown; Michael Martin Murphey.

Nice to see Joe Diffie back making an appearance on Saturday night along with Michael Martin Murphey, who seems to make it up to the Opry now and then. Also, some bluegrass flavor on Saturday with Del McCoury, Jesse McReynolds and Bobby Osborne. Not too bad of a line-up with some nice variety. Also on Saturday night, Michael Martin Murphey will be the host of the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree. I am sure he will sing many, many cowboy and western songs and the price is right. It's free!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Grand Ole Opry Saturday January 5, 1974

One of the things that I am going to start to do on a some-what regular basis, is to print some Grand Ole Opry Line-ups from years gone by. I hope that it gives everyone some great memories of artists that have passed away and have left us great memories and their music. The following is the Grand Ole Opry line-up from Saturday January 5, 1974, with the name of the sponsor listed after the time:
First Show:
6:00: Vietti Foods. Roy Drusky(host); The Osborne Brothers; Justin Tubb; The Carlisles: Lonzo and Oscar.
6:30: Mrs Grissom's: Bill Anderson(host); Jim & Jesse; Mary Lou Turner.
6:45: Rudy's: Bill Monroe(host); Billy Grammer; George Morgan.
7:00: Rudy's: Porter Wagoner(host); Dolly Parton; Charlie Louvin; Stu Phillips.
7:30: Standard Candy: Roy Acuff(host); Minnie Pearl; The Willis Brothers; Stonewall Jackson; Jean Sheppard; The Crook Brothers; The Tennessee Travelers.
8:00: Martha White: Lester Flatt(host); Jack Greene; Jeannie Seely; Jerry Clower; Ray Pillow; Grandpa Jones.
8:30: Stephens Work Clothes: Hank Snow(host); The Four Guys; Jim Ed Brown; Jimmy C Newman; Jeannie C Riley; The Fruit Jar Drinkers.

Second Show:
9:30: Kelloggs: Bill Monore(host); The Osborne Brothers; The Willis Brothers; Jim & Jesse; The Carlisles; Billy Grammer; Lonzo and Oscar.
10:00: Fender Guitar: Porter Wagoner(host); Dolly Parton; George Morgan; Stu Phillips.
10:15: Union 76: Roy Acuff(host); Stonewall Jackson; Charlie Louvin; Jean Shepard.
10:30: Trailblazer: Lester Flatt(host); Jack Greene; Jeannie Seely; Ray Pillow; Grandpa Jones.
10:45: Beechnut Chewing Tabacco: Bill Anderson(host); Mary Lou Turner; Jerry Clower; The Crook Brothers; The Tennessee Travelers.
11:00: Coca Cola: Hank Snow(host); Justin Tubb; Jim Ed Brown; Jimmy C Newman; Sam and Kirk McGee; The Fruit Jar Drinkers.
11:30: Baltz Bros: Marty Robbins(host); Jeannie C Riley; The Four Guys.

What an all-star line-up!! 34 artists on the first show and 34 on the second show. 12 Hall of Fame members or future members!! And of those artists on that night, only 2 were not Opry members(Mary Lou Turner and Jeannie C Riley). I also noticed that on the 9:30 segment, there are 7 artists listed(how they got all those on in half an hour I do not know), but on the 11:30 segment with Marty Robbins, only 3 artists, which I think takes into account Marty singing for so long. Let me know what you think and if you would like to see more of these vintage line-ups from years gone by.

Steve Martin to Make Grand Ole Opry Debut on May 30

The Grand Ole Opry has announced that Emmy Award-winning actor/comedian/writer Steve Martin will make his Grand Ole Opry debut on May 30 with a performance from his first music album, The Crow-New Songs for the Five-String Banjo. Life-long friend John McEuen (Nitty Gritty Dirt Band), who produced the album and assembled an all-star cast to record with Martin, will appear on the show along with Vince Gill, Amy Grant, Stuart Duncan, Tim O'Brien, and more. In the press release, Pete Fisher said "We're excited to welcome Steve Martin to the Opry in May." The artists will play songs from the new album.

My comment is "well, ok". I have heard his banjo work before with Earl Scruggs and he is an outstanding banjo player. My other comment is that at least with Vince Gill they will have one member of the Opry on stage!! I am sure the Opry will get good publicity out of this, just as they did when they had Jack Black on several weeks ago.

On a happy note, how about a big happy birthday to Jim Ed Brown, who turned 75 today. Many more for one of the great artists in country music who should be in the Country Music Hall of Fame.