Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Grand Ole Opry Line-up-December 18 & 19

It looks like Jimmy Dickens has cancelled for Friday night, but he is still on the schedule for Saturday night. Jim Lauderdale has been added for Friday and they have put the Square Dancers back on the schedule. They are getting a big snowstorm in Eastern Tennessee and Virginia. Hope that Ralph Stanley can make it over the mountain ok. The updated line-up is listed below.

This weekend, the Grand Ole Opry continues its winter run at the Ryman Auditorium with 1 show on Friday night and 1 show on Saturday night. The Saturday night Opry will have just 1 show through the rest of the winter and then WSM will have a classic Opry show following that. A couple of notes about this weekend:
>On Saturday, Jimmy Dickens will celebrate his 89th birthday. God Bless Mr. Dickens and may he have a year of good health. 2009 was a rough one for him. They mentioned his birthday several times during last week's shows, and I am sure they will have something special on Saturday night. If you look at the history of the Opry, you have the 1st generation of Opry stars, that would include Uncle Dave Macon, Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, Bill Monroe among others. They have all passed on. Then you have the 2nd generation of Opry stars, and of that generation, Jimmy Dickens and Kitty Wells would just about be the last ones still living. They are the last living link between the original Opry members and today's Opry stars. Kitty is pretty much retired now, but Jimmy continues on. Enjoy him while he is still here, and while his voice may not be as strong as it once was, he is a living legend of the Opry and will always have the respect of all Opry members and fans.
>Ronnie Milsap will be on the Saturday night show and he will be hosting a segment. I cannot really remember if he has ever hosted a segment before, but I think he might have on the night Trace Adkins became a member, but I would really have to research that one and check my records. Amber Digby will be making her first Opry appearance on Saturday night during Ronnie's segment and she has a connection with Ronnie and has recorded one of his songs.
>Emmylou Harris makes her first Opry appearance this year. With her respect for the history of country music and of the Opry, I thought that when she became a member, she would be on the Opry much more frequently than she has been. She lives in Nashville and is involved in lots of activities and causes in the Nashville area, so it is not like she is not around. I know that she prefers to perform at the Opry when it is at the Ryman Auditorium versus the Grand Ole Opry House, as I have read where she has said that the Ryman is where the Opry belongs. Most of the times that she is on the Opry, she hosts her own segment and it usually has on guests that she brings with her, especially for the Opry. This weekend is no exception as she hs Gillian Welch and David Rawlings with her, along with The Whites. Also, when she hosts, she tends to stay on stage during all of the acts and performs with them.

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

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


  1. I would like to echo your comments about Emmylou Harris. If she loves country music's history as much as she claims, she should be at the Opry more often. Otherwise, she unfortunately comes across as a hypocrite, to be blunt about it. It's bad enough when big name acts become members and don't show up. It's worse, in my opinion, when performers who talk up country music history don't do enough Opry appearances.

    I noted a couple of things. One, there's a hole in the 8 p.m. segment on Friday. Two, the Square Dancers aren't listed on Saturday night. That occasionally happens, but I'm betting that they will be on the 7:30 portion, since Emmylou has her friends on with her at 8:00. If they are NOT on, I think we should march on Fisher's office.

  2. Hi Byron. In regards to Ronnie Milsap hosting shows, Lorrie Morgan definitely hosted the night that Trace Adkins was inducted as a member.

    I also know for sure that Ronnie Milsap hosted an Opry Live show on April 3,1999 with guests Sons of the Desert, Riders in the Sky and Martina McBride. He opened with "Smoky Mt Rain" and closed with "Stranger in My House." I just rewatched the show for the heck of it. Ronnie stayed close to the announcers podium during intros, mentioned that Roy Acuff inducted him as a member of the Opry 23 years prior, and, as it was Easter that weekend, he said he was going out at Midnight after the show to hunt easter eggs. . .

    Anyway, Milsap hasn't hosted too many segments over the years(which is hard to understand as he made for a good host that night in April 1999) and no others that I can remember. Wondering if he has hosted any during the Pete Fisher reign although not sure if Pete was already on board or not in April of 99. Buchanan, only, is listed as Executive Producer on this show.

    The Opry has got to figure out a way to get members like Emmylou Harris and Ronnie Milsap at the Opry more than 1 or 2 times a year. They need to be there hosting shows more. There is really no excuse why they couldn't be there at least 8-10 times a year as they do live in town. Jimmy Dickens at 89 is day to day and these next generation members like Ronnie Milsap, Emmylou Harris, need to be stepping it up if they want to have a Opry to come to in the future.

    It's remarkable that we see huge gaps between appearances for some of these members and at the same time, Jimmy Dickens last Saturday, at 88, and 3 days removed from a stay in the hospital for pneumonia, hobbles to the Opry to make appearances. Somebody explain to me "what is wrong with this picture?"

  3. I did some more checking on Ronnie Milsap hosting. That 1999 show might have been the only time that he hosted a segment. It was pretty easy to check as he does not do that Opry that much. In fact, since 2000, he has only been on the Opry 12 times and I didn't find anything for those years. And, just for the record, Pete Fisher became the Opry General Manager on June 19, 1999. I agree that the artists who live in town should be at the Opry much more than they are. Vince Gill, Lorrie Morgan, Ricky Skaggs and Marty Stuart all seem to make it about 20 times a year. Del McCoury is there every weekend that he is not on the road. But among the artists who live in Nashville that hardly ever appear, you have Emmylou Harris, Alan Jackson, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Martina McBride, Ronnie Milsap and Dolly Parton. It really pains me to include George and Loretta on this list, as they have been around Nashville and the Opry for over 40 years, so they as much as anyone, should be able to understand the history and tradition of the Opry.

  4. Each time George or Loretta is there, I hear the same thing--I love the Opry, I should be here more often. Well, what's stopping you?

    In Milsap's case, I remember him being interviewed once and saying he'd love to do the Opry more, but he sometimes had trouble getting a ride. The host paused for a second and then both of them got hysterical.

    Apropos of The Potato, we have talked about Mr. Acuff being almost literally carried on stage for his final show. I think Bill Monroe once did a show a day after major surgery, and Wilma Lee Cooper finished a song while having a stroke. You have to wonder about some of these younger members.

  5. I think Loretta Lynn has spent most of her off-time in Hurricane Mills for the last 30 years + which is a good drive from Nashville, a hour and a half from the Opry House, so I think we can cut her some slack. She actually lives behind the old mansion nowadays in a fairly new house she had built. Loretta generally gets to the Opry at least 2 or 3 weekends a year. I wouldn't put her in the same category as Emmylou, Alan, Dolly, Reba and a few of these other members that can go years between appearances.

    BTW, I don't know if you've guys have been there, but sometime check out Hurricane Mills and especially Loretta's museum. If you have, you would come away saying that she truly loves the Opry. It seems that she has saved everything. . .and everything goes in her museum. She even has in her museum Christmas cards from Opry management, and different tokens of appreciation that the Opry gave to its members thru the years and at special Opry anniversaries. The first dress she wore on the Opry is in there, too, and I'll bet most every dress she has been on the Opry in over the last 15 years is in there. It's really interesting and worth the money.

  6. Thanks for the recommendation. I am sorry to admit but I have never been there but I have got to include it in my plans for this coming year.

  7. I also am willing to cut Loretta some slack, but I also have the feeling that she wouldn't have to make the drive by herself, at the wheel of a creaky pickup truck. I don't question that she loves the Opry, nor do I question the love that the others feel. But many of them could and should get there more often, and they should be ashamed that they don't.

  8. Agreed. I think whenever someone makes a committment to be a member of something, they need to be an active part of it. This issue has been a problem with the Opry for many years now and there are no easy answers. For me, I think the Opry would step up another level if they could just get 3 or 4 shows a year out of some of these people, but they can't seem to even get that. The Opry, though, is between a rock and a hard place. The big-name members don't need the Opry, but the Opry needs them, so there is probably not a lot of leverage from the Opry side if the love for the Opry is not there. Thankfully, for every Reba they induct, they get a Marty Stuart or Vince Gill(who "get it"), otherwise the Opry would be in real trouble.

  9. I know that a lot of these "no show" members were inducted when Hal Durham and Bob Whittaker where running the Opry. I don't want to come down too hard on these two because I think overall, they did a decent job running the Opry. But, I just wonder how much discussion went on between Hal and Bob and the artists who became members, as to what the commitment was to join the Opry and what was expected. Or, if it was a case that the Opry was losing popularity and some of its older members were starting to die off, and they needed these younger artists and accepted them with the understanding that they would probably not be there that much. I remember an interview that Roy Clark did when he became a member and he said that he told them straight out that he could not make any promises to how much he would be at the Opry because he did not live in Nashville and did a lot of touring. The Opry wanted him anyways, so I assume they did the same to many of the other artists. The Opry got the media exposure by having Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Reba McEntire and others joining the Opry, but not the commitment from them. I will say that Pete Fisher has been doing a better job of picking members and making sure they are appearing. But, if you notice, he has mixed it up a little as far as who he asks to become members, picking not only the younger, hot stars, but also some veterans who understand what the Opry is about.

  10. I could be nasty and wonder if it occurred to Pete Fisher that adding older acts like Mel Tillis and Charlie Daniels might help him if, as happened, an older member like Stonewall Jackson brought an age-discrimination case. But I also think that, yes, he has chosen long-timers who "get it." Remember, though, that Hal Durham added several ex-members who wanted to come back--Jimmy Dickens (he hasn't served consecutively since 1948), Don Gibson, George Hamilton IV, and Tom T. Hall. It was under Durham and Bob Whittaker that the Opry made one of its lovelier decisions about adding a member and inducted Bashful Brother Oswald at age 83.

  11. Fayfare, I think you are exactly right on what went on during at least the Durham era. I don't think there was a lot of discussion, Opry management was just satified with the media exposure and the big name in the Opry pix/history book and not with the fulfillment of the comittment. I would guess that is the standard that Reba, Clint Black, Emmylou and some of these others that were inducted during that period operate under and they feel that that they are honoring any lax committment that they may have joined under. That was a mistake made during that period of management. . .To kind of back up what we're thinking, I have a Tennessean article about the 75th anniversary of the Opry/committment of the members, where Ken Kragen who managed both Travis Tritt and Trisha Yearwood said this. He said that when Tritt joined in 92 there was no discussion about making any number of appearances. . .but when Yearwood joined in 99 she was asked to make a specific committment of number of appearances. My guess is that by 99 when Buchanan was in charge with Fisher coming on board officially, I believe, in June, things began to change. We have to give the current management some credit on what they have done in this area.