Monday, November 30, 2009

Tuesday Night Opry 12/1-Updated

Jimmy Dickens has cancelled for Tuesday night.

Here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry-December 1st. Interesting that Jimmy Dickens is listed after not being on the Opry this past weekend. Perhaps he is feeling better or he just hasn't cancelled as of yet.

7:00: Jimmy C. Newman; Jason Michael Carroll
7:30: The Whites; Dailey & Vincent
8:15: Bill Anderson; Jimmy Wayne
8:45: Dierks Bentley

Friday, November 27, 2009

November 28, 1925

As we all know, the Grand Ole Opry historically considers it's official start date as November 28, 1925, when George D. Hay sat Uncle Jimmy Thompson down before the WSM microphones on that Saturday night, and Uncle Jimmy played a number of fiddle songs. However, the Barn Dance program, as it was called at the time, was not formally established on that night, although Uncle Jimmy returned the following week to play on WSM again. George D. Hay's formal announcement of the establishment of a regular program devoted to old-time music to be aired on Saturday nights came late in December 1925 when WSM announced the following: "Because of this recent revival in the popularity of the old familiar tunes, WSM has arranged to have an hour or two every Saturday night, starting Saturday December 26".

I mention this because this Saturday night November 28, the Grand Ole Opry will officially have been on the air for 84 years, despite the birthday celebration that is always held in October. Yet, according to WSM's historical records, the real start of the Barn Dance program, which became the Grand Ole Opry, took place on Saturday December 26. I wonder why, in George D. Hay's historical accounts, he considers the November 28 date as the offical start and not the December 26 date? I know that with Hay now deceased, that question will never really be answered. Also, I know that on Saturday night's program they will mention the "official anniversary" several times, but I wonder why they still hold the birthday celebration in October, since there is no longer a DJ convention or other activities to tie it to.

Happy "official" birthday to the Grand Ole Opry!!!!!!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 11/27 & 11/28

It's Thanksgiving weekend and for the Opry that usually means a pretty good weekend of shows as many of the artists who live in the Nashville area are home for the holiday weekend. And this weekend's shows are pretty good with appearances by Brad Paisley, Lorrie Morgan, Rhonda Vincent and Jimmy Wayne among others. Overall, it is a pretty balanced line-up of shows for this weekend. Here are the line-ups:

Friday November 27
7:00: Jeannie Seely(host); Jim Ed Brown; Rhonda Vincent
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Lorrie Morgan
8:00: Riders In The Sky(host); Jan Howard; Jimmy C. Newman; Matt Kennon
8:30: Mike Snider(host); Connie Smith

Saturday November 28
First Show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Jimmy Wayne
7:30: Mike Snider(host); Jim Ed Brown; The Whites
8:00: Lorrie Morgan(host); Riders In The Sky; Cherryholmes; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); Connie Smith; Brad Paisley

Second Show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Lorrie Morgan; Brad Paisley
10:00: Mike Snider(host); Charlie Louvin; Jimmy Wayne
10:30: Jeannie Seely(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; The Whites; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson(host); Connie Smith; Cherryholmes

They have top loaded the 2nd show on Saturday night with Lorrie Morgan and Brad Paisley in the 1st segment. The Ryman Auditorium is always tough to get emptied and to get the people in for the 2nd show as there is limited lobby space and entrances to the building. Add that to the parking situation in downtown Nashville, especially if there is a hockey game or concert going on, and many, many people are late getting in to the 2nd show. Some of them I am sure will be unhappy if they miss the star power during that segment. Also, David Ball is hosting the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree at the record shop. I am sure almost all of you remember back in the day that the Midnight Jamboree guest host was always on the Opry. Not so anymore. There is still a slot to fill on the Friday night show, during the final segment. Typically, that is a pretty good act in that slot, so maybe the Opry will fill it with a quality performer and not Mandy Barnett or Rebecca Lynn Howard, which seems to be usually the case. Have a great Thanksgiving weekend to all!!

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Classic Grand Ole Opry Line-up-April 19/20, 1974

It has been a while since I posted a Grand Ole Opry line-up from years long past. This time, I go back to the weekend of April 19 & 20, 1974. On this weekend, the Opry had 1 show on Friday night, 2 shows on Saturday night, a Saturday matinee and a Sunday Grand Ole Gospel show. Let's take a look back:

Friday April 19, 1974
8:00: Stu Phillips(host); Barbara Mandrell; The Promenaders; Bashful Brother Oswald
8:30: George Jones(host); The Carlisles; Patsy Sledd; Harold Morrison
9:00: Charlie Walker(host); Jan Howard; Mel Street; The Promenaders
9:30: Billy Grammer(host); The Willis Brothers; Jim Mundy
10:00: The Osborne Brothers(host); Louie Roberts; Del Wood
10:30: Bill Monore(host); Ray Pillow; Jim & Jesse

11:05: Grand Ole Gospel Show: Rev. Jimmy R. Snow; The Evangel Temple Choir & Special Guest

Saturday Matinee
3:00: Jimmy C. Newman; Jan Howard
3:30: Lester Flatt; Ernie Ashworth
4:00: Charlie Walker; Lonzo & Oscar
4:30: Stu Phillips; Louie Roberts

Saturday April 20, 1974
6:30: The Willis Brothers(host); Mac Wiseman
6:45: Jimmy C. Newman(host); Ernie Ashworth; Del Wood
7:00: Billy Grammer(host); Jan Howard; Stu Phillips; Norvel Felts
7:30: Charlie Walker(host); Minnie Pearl; Dottie West; Bashful Brother Oswald; The Crook Brothers; The Stoney Mt. Cloggers
8:00: Lester Flatt(host); Marion Worth; Lonzo & Oscar; Louie Roberts
8:30: George Jones(host); Justin Tubb; Patsy Sledd; Harold Morrison; The Fruit Jar Drinkers

9:30: Charlie Walker(host); The Willis Brothers; Minnie Pearl; Ernie Ashworth
10:00: Jimmy C. Newman(host); Jan Howard; Norvel Felts
10:15: Billy Grammer(host); Mac Wiseman; Dottie West
10:30: Lester Flatt(host); Lonzo & Oscar
10:45: Justin Tubb(host); Del Wood; The Crook Brothers; The Stoney Mt. Cloggers
11:00: George Jones(host); Patsy Sledd; Harold Morrison; The Fruit Jar Drinkers; Sam & Kirk McGee
11:30: Marty Robbins(host); Marion Worth; Louie Roberts

Sunday Grand Ole Gospel
7:00: The Masters Four Quartet; The Joymen Quartet
7:30: The Regents Quartet; Alvis and the Barnetts
8:00: Coy Cook and the Premiers; The Dixie Echos
8:30: The Statesmen Quartet

I bet some of those Sunday Grand Ole Gospel shows were great. Some great quartet singing there. Also, looking at the Grand Ole Opry line-ups from that weekend, a lot of the big stars are missing: Roy Acuff, Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, Grandpa Jones, Bill Anderson, Porter Wagoner, Bill Monroe only on Friday, Ernest Tubb....

Friday, November 20, 2009

Tuesday Night Opry-11/24

Here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry at the Ryman Auditorium-November 24

7:00: Riders In The Sky; Emily West
7:30: Jeannie Seely; Chuck Wicks
8:15: Bill Anderson; Justin Moore
8:45: Jimmy Dickens; The Time Jumpers

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up-11/20 & 11/21_Updated

As expected, changes were made in this weekend's line-ups. Holly Williams has been added to both Saturday night shows, and this will be here 3rd appearance in the last several months. The Whites will be hosting the 2nd Saturday segments.

Here is this week's Grand Ole Opry line-ups:

Friday November 20:
7:00: George Hamilton IV(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jason Michael Carroll
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Shane Yellowbird
8:00: Mike Snider(host); Stonewall Jackson; The Whites; Connie Smith
8:30: Vince Gill(host); Ralph Stanley; Little Big Town

Saturday November 21:
First Show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Holly Williams
7:30: The Whites(host);Jack Greene; Ralph Stanley
8:00: George Hamilton IV(host); Jan Howard; The Lovell Sisters; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Mike Snider(host); Connie Smith; Charlie Daniels Band

Second Show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Holly Williams
10:00: The Whites(host); Jack Greene; Ralph Stanley
10:30: Mike Snider(host); Ray Pillow; Charlie Daniels Band; Opry Square Dancers
11:00; Vince Gill(host); Connie Smith; The Lovell Sisters

>Ralph Stanley will be autographing copies of his new book at the Opry Originals Shop on Friday night after the Friday Night Opry.
>George Hamilton is hosting a segment on Friday and Saturday night. I have always enjoyed it when he has hosted a segment as he gives his guests great and sincere introductions. Sometimes he has the habit of being a little too long on the introductions, but I always enjoy his style.
>On Saturday night, there is no host for the 2nd segment on both shows. It could be that there was no one else available to host, but looking at the artists scheduled that night, Jimmy C. Newman, Ray Pillow and The Whites have all hosted segments in the past. It has been many years since Jack Greene hosted, and he is not in the rotation of hosts. Or, it could be that adjustments are going to be made to the schedule. I notice that Vince Gill is only scheduled for the 2nd show on Saturday. The way it is listed now, Jimmy Dickens will be hosting the entire first hour on both shows. Hope his voice holds out-it has not been the strongest of late.
>Rockie Lynne will be hosting the Midnight Jamboree from the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. At one time, he had the beginnings of a solid career, but seems to have hit a wall.
>Finally, the question of the week, is who is Shane Yellowbird? Again, with the ticket prices being charged at the Opry, the booking needs to be better. Don't get me wrong, as I am sure Shane is a fine artist. But???

Monday, November 16, 2009

Tuesday Night Opry 11/17

Here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry-November 17.
7:00: Bill Anderson; Rebecca Lynn Howard
7:30: Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Buddy Jewell
8:15: Jack Greene; Love & Theft
8:45: Jim Ed Brown; Mandy Barnett

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Observations on MySpace/Grand Ole Opry

Last night, I took some time to watch the Grand Ole Opry on MySpace. I did not watch the entire hour as at various points of the show, either the picture went away or the streaming just was not very good. A lot of skipping. It could have been the feed from MySpace, or my computer. Either way after a while, I just got tired of it. A couple of observations:
>It was presented on MySpace just as if the show was being televised by GAC. Of course, it was announced later in the show that GAC will be televising that performance later in December. After that was said, I now am wondering if the Opry is eventually going back to GAC, since no other viable television options seem to be out there, or if this was a test-run with MySpace and GAC, where they will do this on a irregular basis, and then televise the show later as a "special event."
>Nan Kelly from GAC hosted the show and she looked pretty good and did her usual good job. She has been battling health issues, as I am sure most of you know. She did interviews of the artists during the show, just as if it were on GAC.
>I found it interesting that they showed Mike Terry reading the commercials during the show when there were live commercials, and MySpace also aired the video of the sponsor's commercials, such as USBank during the commercial breaks.
>They changed the backdrop at the Ryman. Gone was the old red barn that had been used at the Ryman for the past several years, and was even used during the Opry Country Classics shows. It was replaced by the same barn that is used at the Grand Ole Opry House, although it looked like on the video stream that they took out the small center section to make it fit onto the stage. The video box at the top of the barn was missing and that was the section that looked like was not there. The mult-colored backdrop just did not look right at the Ryman.
>And as usual, they advertised the 4 artists to appear, along with "others", and I did not see any others. Maybe I missed them, or it was just the usual GAC ploy.
>Finally, on the MySpace stream, it gives you a count of how many people are watching the Opry on MySpace. The number ranged from 65,000 to 73,000 during the portions that I watched. That's a decent number for a computer based show, and I do not know how many they hoped to reach, but my first reaction is that they thought a lot more people would tune in.

As I said, let's see if this is a new media idea for the Opry and this was an experiment to see if it would work, or if this was just a one-shot deal. My opinion is that you will see more of this.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Not Grand Ole Opry, But...........

This really has nothing to do with the Grand Ole Opry, but Taylor Swift winning Entertainer of the Year award last night at the CMA Awards???? 19 years old and just into the business??? I know that the awards have really gone downhill the last few years, with the emphasis on "New Country", but I think this is a little ridiculous. Don't get me wrong, Taylor had a nice year, but.. Entertainer of the Year??

I watched about 5 minutes of the show, which was about 4 minutes more than I watched last year, and the only reason I watched that much of the show was because I happened to turn it when Martina McBride was doing the tribute to Barbara Mandrell. I thought that was nice, but Roy Clark and Charlie McCoy were also elected to the Hall of Fame. I know that they no longer highlight the Hall of Fame members on the CMA show, but if you are going to give a tribute to one, you should give it to all three. Barbara did mention their names, but I did not hear of any other tribute being done for them. I still remember a few years ago when Porter Wagoner was elected, Dolly Parton gave a tribute to Porter and he came up on stage, much like Barbara did last night, and thanked everyone. Bill Carlisle was also elected that year, and all he got was to stand up in the audience and wave. Not right!!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up-November 13 & 14

Here is this week's Grand Ole Opry Line-Ups:

Friday November 13
7:00: Ricky Skaggs(host); Jean Shepard; The Whites
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Connie Smith; Joe Diffie
8:00: Mike Snider(host); Jeannie Seely; Jim Ed Brown; Steve Wariner
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); The Band Perry; Josh Turner

Saturday November 14
First Show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Connie Smith; Jim Ed Brown
7:30: Bill Anderson(host); Jean Shepard; Mike Snider; Opry Square Dancers
8:00; Carrie Underwood; Jake Owen; Martina McBride; Rodney Atkins

Second Show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); The Whites; Jack Greene; Martina McBride
10:00: Mike Snider(host); Jan Howard; Jimmy C. Newman; Carrie Underwood
10:30: Jeannie Seely(host); Jean Shepard; Rodney Atkins; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jake Owen

Comments and Observations:
>The 8:00 segment will be simulcast lie at MySpace Music. I have not heard if they will have a host/announcer/mc for that segment, which I assume they will, unless Pete Fisher decides to have Carrie Underwood as the host.
>I do hate to see that 1 hour segment on a two hour show. Observing it in person, it just feels as if the first hour is a warm up to the second hour and there seems to be a disconnect between those two sections of the show. By that, it seems as if the last hour is more of a "made for tv" production than a part of the radio show. Also, only 10 acts for the first show.
>That said, the second show on Saturday has a very strong line-up of acts. The first show is basically sold out while the second show has some tickets available in the wings.
>Say what you will about Carrie Underwood being an Opry member, but so far, she has been making appearances on the show. She will end up the year at the 10 appearances they have asked of new members, which is more than many Opry members.
>Jesse McReynolds is the host of the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree after the Opry on Saturday night.
>In the upcoming weeks, there is an impressive group of Opry stars who will be appearing on the Opry. Between now and Christmas, Ralph Stanley, Charlie Daniels, Rhonda Vincent, Dierks Bentley, Trisha Yearwood, Charley Pride, Trace Adkins, Marty Stuart, Ricky Skaggs, Emmylou Harris and Ronnie Milsap will all be making appearances.
>Finally, Jack Greene has a link on his website to sign a petition for him to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Next year's class should be announced sometime in January. I know a couple of the voters and I am trying to get a list of the finalists in each category. Regarding Jack, I have mixed feelings regarding him and the Hall of Fame. He has had a very nice career in country music and has a great voice. I think he has had 9 #1 records, which is a decent number. But, at the same time, I think there are others of his generation that are more deserving than him and have been overlooked. I think of Jean Shepard, Jim Ed Brown, Teddy and Doyle Wilburn, Dottie West, Jimmy Dean and a few others who I think might have a stronger resume and I think would require more serious consideration than Jack. But, if he were to be elected some day, I don't think that it would be a bad thing. At best, he would be a long shot. The problem is that there is a backlog of deserving candidates and with only 1 or 2 being elected each year, I am afraid only a few will ever achieve the recognition that they deserve. There has been a petition for the Wilburn Brothers for a couple of years now and I wish Jack Greene and his petition drive lots of luck.

Monday, November 9, 2009

My Space to Stream Live Grand Ole Opry Performance on November 14

From the Grand Ole Opry:
The Grand Ole Opry, the world's longest-running radio show, and MySpace are uniting to live stream an Opry performance with video for the first time. On November 14, 9-10pm ET fans can view the live show featuring Opry member and country superstar Carrie Underwood, CMA new artist nominee Jack Owen and more. The show will be hosted on MySpace Music in cooperation with Ustream. For more information, go to

Underwood will perform music from her just-released CD "Play On" including the fastest-rising single of her career to date, "Cowboy Casanova."

Just a thought: Maybe since the Opry cannot seem to find it's way back to live television, they are going to try this method. I have a feeling they will operate it like they did the televised GAC hour, with only 3 or 4 guests, and no legends. I wonder if they will have an actual host for the hour or go with the announcer format. Time will tell, but it is still an opportunity to see the Opry taking place live.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dr. Ralph Stanley & The Grand Ole Opry

I recently read the new autobiography that Dr. Ralph Stanley wrote with Eddie Dean, "Man of Constant Sorrow." I found it an excellent book that really tells the story of The Stanley Brothers and of Ralph and The Clinch Mountain Boys. The book spends lots of time on the older days of the Stanley Brothers with some interesting stories and inside information. If you get the chance to get a copy, please do. It is an easy read and you will enjoy it and it will give you a different impression of the man and his music.

In the book, Ralph talks about his joining the Opry and the story behind it. I thought I would share it here:
For a long time, I played the Opry as a guest but I never did join. When I got to thinking harder about it, I had some people in Nashville work on it in my corner. They told me I had paid my dues years ago, and not to worry. Bill (Monroe) made the loudest noise. It was all his doing. I didn't have to say a word to him. Bill told them they needed me on the Opry and that was all it would have took. This was in 1993. Hal Durham was running it back then, and Hal told me, "You're the only man that Bill's ever asked for them to get on the Opry." Bill wouldn't even put in a word for his own son, James, to get into the Opry. With Bill behind me, I could have gone on the Opry full-time, but I just never did follow that up at the time. It was a big commitment back then. It used to be you had to commit for most of the year, at least twenty-six weeks, every Saturday night. My schedule wouldn't have allowed that. I was on the road with my band, and they counted on me for a paycheck. Later the Opry eased up on how often you had to play. That' s when I was interested in making it official and joining. By then Bill was gone, and I had Porter Wagoner on my side. Porter was a big man and host at the Opry, which he'd joined back in 1957, and he helped me a lot. He worked on my behalf for several years, talking to the people behind the scenes who could make it happen. It was in 2000 when I officially became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Porter was there with Patty Loveless, and they brought me out on stage to induct me into what they call country music's most "elite club."

Ralph also had thoughts on Jimmy Martin and the Opry:
I know that Jimmy Martin died a-wanting to get on the Opry and he'd never made it. That really hurt him. It was his life's goal to join the Opry and play there regular like his hero Bill Monroe, and it just never happened. Now, I don't think that was Bill's doing. I think it was more Jimmy's fault, really. He was his own worst enemy. He would always say things and do things to get him in trouble. There was no doubt Jimmy had enough talent to be a member of the Opry. He would have been a plus, talentwise, but he wasn't dependable and they knew it. He was too out of control and he wouldn't have helped the Opry after they added it all up, the good and the bad.

Ralph talked a bit about Bill Monroe and Flatt and Scruggs:
Competition. That's the way most musicians looked at each other back then, and Bill was the same way. The way he looked at it was pure survival. Bill didn't think there was room on the Opry for any other bands playing his type of music. The better they were, the more he hated'em. He kept Flatt and Scruggs off the Opry for a long time. And a lot of others, too. Carter and me never did get to play together on the Opry, and I think Bill had something to do with that.

Interesting observations from Dr. Ralph. And, I think everyone knows that it was through the intervention and threats of losing the sponsorship of Martha White that eventually led to Flatt and Scruggs becoming a part of the Opry. Bill Monroe had even tried to get a petition going against Flatt and Scruggs joining the Opry, but he found few takers. Roy Acuff for one, said he was "fond of the boys', and thought they would make good members and that the Opry needed people like them. Looking at today's Opry, do you think any sponsor is as powerful as Martha White was back in the day, and could dictate who could become an Opry member?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 11/6 & 11/7-Updated

They added one of their old standbys: Rebecca Lynn Howard

Here is the line-up for this weekend's Grand Ole Opry show. The Opry begins its run at the Ryman Auditorium this week, where it will be through January. Also, the Opry goes back to 2 shows on Saturday night, for most of the rest of the year.

Friday November 6
7:00: Jean Shepard(host); The Whites; The Steeldrivers
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Bomshel
8:00: Bill Anderson(host); Jan Howard; Joey + Rory
8:30: Mike Snider(host); Connie Smith; Gene Watson

Saturday November 7
First Show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; the Isaacs
7:30: Mike Snider(host); The Whites; Jean Shepard; Sarah Buxton
8:00: Riders In The Sky(host); Ray Pillow; Rebecca Lynn Howard; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); Connie Smith; Gene Watson

Second Show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; The Isaacs
10:00: Mike Snider(host); Jean Shepard; Sarah Buxton
10:30: Riders In The Sky(host); Stu Phillips; Rebecca Lynn Howard; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson(host); Connie Smith; Gene Watson

A couple of very similiar shows on Saturday night. I always liked it when they varied the line-up for both shows. I also enjoy having different hosts introduce different acts. Also, I do have to ask, who is Bomshel(on Friday's show). The name just does not ring a bell. And, still a slot to fill on both the Saturday night shows, 3rd segment.

Here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry-November 10
(At the Ryman)
7:00; John Conlee; Point Of Grace
7:30: George Hamilton IV; Collin Raye
8:15: Jean Shepard
8:45: Jimmy Dickens; The Grascals

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Tough Times At The Opry? Buy 1 Ticket/Get 1 Free

Received an email from the Grand Ole Opry this morning:

"Psssst. We have a little secret just for you. As a past Opry at the Ryman customer, we are giving you the chance to take advantage of our 24-Hour Buy One Opry at the Ryman Ticket, Get One Free Sale before anyone else knows about it. But you'll need to act fast because everyone will be in on the secret tomorrow afternoon."

Yes folks, the Opry is offering a free ticket for each one you buy, up to 8, for shows at the Ryman Auditorium through the end of the year. Oh, buy the way, it is not valid on Saturday November 14, when Carrie Underwood is on the schedule. I guess they don't have a problem selling tickets that night. And, this offer is not valid for price level 1. Seriously, if you are in the area and would like to see the Opry at the Ryman, this is a great deal and there are some fine artists scheduled in December, such as Ronnie Milsap, Emmylou Harris, Josh Turner, Marty Stuart, Ralph Stanley, Charley Pride, Ricky Skaggs, and many others. A great opportunity to see some fine Opry shows at a reasonable price. On a final serious note, the Ryman seats less than 3,000. With the Christmas season and many of the Opry stars in town for the holidays, if tickets are moving this slow that management feels the need to give tickets away, it could be a tough winter for the Opry. Usually the crowds are good at the Ryman. It reminds me of the days in the late 1980s and early to mid 1990s, when I would attend Opry shows at the Grand Ole Opry House in January and February, and there would only be 400-500 people in the 4,400 seat auditorium. I know it makes it tough on the performers when they see that many empty seats.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Gaylord Posts Sharp Loss In 3Q

I post this because of Gaylord Entertainment's ownership of the Grand Ole Opry. I did not print the entire report, but it is still not good news that Gaylord's Opryland facility is still showing declines from a year ago, which was not as good as the year before that. Shows that not as many visitors are coming to Nashville. Also, there is a significant drop in revenue from the Opry. What the release does not say is what the expenditures were to operate the Opry. With the cost cutting that has been going on at the Opry, such as cutting shows and the number of acts per show, that would be interesting to see. I assume that some of the decline is from less shows than a year ago(many Saturday nights are down to one show), and less sellouts. Also with no television, that would also drop revenue, along with smaller crowds. They keep their attendance figures pretty tight, but I am trying to see what I can come up with. The feeling from those I talk to is that the Opry is still doing ok, and that overall, upper management is ok with the performance of Pete Fisher and the team operating the Opry.

Gaylord Entertainment Co. posted a steep loss in the third quarter, falling short of analyst's expectations. The Nashville-based hotelier reported a net loss of $12.9 million, or 32 cents per diluted share, in the quarter ended Sept. 30, compared to a net loss of $5.5 million, or 16 cents per diluted share, in the year-ago period. Revenue came in at $199 million, down 12 percent from $226 million in the same period a year ago. Gaylord Opryland generated sales of $54.5 million in the third quarter of 2009, compared to $64.2 million for the same period a year ago. Revenue per available room dropped 12.1 percent, driven by a 7.9 percentage point drop in occupancy from group cancellations and attrition. The company's Opry and attractions segment saw revenue decline 25.4 percent to $17.1 million in the third quarter of 2009.

Monday, November 2, 2009

November Opry Highlights

The month of November is upon us, and I wanted to look back at historical and important Grand Ole Opry events that took place in November.

Several Grand Ole Opry members joined the Opry cast during November:
>Joe Diffie joined the Grand Ole Opry on November 27, 1993 (16 years).
>Martina McBride became an Opry member on November 30, 1995 (14 years).

And I want to give special mention to 3 Opry members who joined the cast in November. I single these 3 out for special mention because 2 are true Opry legends who have been members for over 50 years: Stonewall Jackson joined the Grand Ole Opry on November 3, 1956 (53 years ago). Stonewall had his differences with Opry management, but he is back and has been appearing reguarly on the Opry. The other legend is Jean Shepard, who became an Opry member on November 21, 1955 (54 years). One of the true Opry legends, there is no reason why Jean is not yet a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. The final Opry member that I want to give special mention to is Marty Stuart, who joined the Opry cast on November 28, 1992 (17 years). Marty, along with Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs and Lorrie Morgan, have led his generation of artists to support the Opry and what it stands for. Since the passing of Porter Wagoner, Marty has taken on a more public role as a spokesperson for the Opry and the number of Opry appearances he has made have greatly increased over the past year. Congratulations to all.

Now a look at historical moments from November:
>On November 2, 1925, George D. Hay accepted the position as WSM Radio Director. This would have a direct impact, as he is the one who started the Grand Ole Opry.
>Everything has a start and for the Grand Ole Opry it all started on November 28, 1925. On that date, the WSM Barn Dance-forerunner of the Grand Ole Opry-broadcasts for the first time from a fifth-floor studio in the National Life and Accident Insurance Company Building. Uncle Jimmy Thompson, a 77-year-old fiddler, who claimed he knew a thousand songs, played a set that began with "Tennesse Waggoner."
>In November 1940, Minnie Pearl, one of the most loved Opry members in its history, joined the Opry cast. On November 3, 1990, the Opry honored Minnie for 50 years as an Opry member.
>November 1960, Hank Locklin joins the Opry. He would remain an Opry member until passing away earlier this year.
>November 29, 1961, a group of Grand Ole Opry members performs at a sold-out show at Carnegie Hall in New York. The perfomers included Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, Bill Monore and Minnie Pearl.
>On November 28, 1964, Willie Nelson joined the Grand Ole Opry. He would not last long, becoming frustrated over the low pay and the general lack of success he was having as a performer in Nashville. He was paid $35 for his 1st performance on the Opry.
>On November 10, 1973, one of the most tragic events in Opry history took place. David "Stringbean" Akeman appeared on the Opry for the final time. When Stringbean returned home from that Opry that night, he and his wife, Estelle, were ambushed and murdered by two men who hoped to rob the couple of money Stringbean reputedly had hidden in his home. Grandpa Jones, Stringbean's neighbor and best friend, discovered the bodies the next day. Grandpa Jones was so shaken by the murders that he moved from Nashville to Arkansas, and lived there for a number of years and this crime was one of the reasons that promoted Roy Acuff to move to a house at Opryland. 23 years later, some $20,000 would be found, rotted and worthless, in the walls of the house.
>In November 1992, Gaylord Entertainment formally announced their plans on renovating the Ryman Auditorium. It would formally reopen in June 1994. For those who have been there since the renovation, all would have to agree that a great job was done at modernizing and saving the old building. It is still a special place to watch a show, especially when the Opry returns there.
>November 23, 1996, Trace Adkins performed on the Opry for the first time.
>On November 7, 1998, Jimmy Dickens celebrated his 50th anniversary as an Opry member. At the time, only Herman Crook, Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Bill Monroe and Grandpa Jones were the only Opry members to have celebrated 50 years as Opry members.

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