Thursday, December 31, 2009

January Opry Highlights

As we start the month of January, I wanted to cover the historical and important events in Opry history that happened during the month.

A number of Grand Ole Opry members joined the Opry in January. They are:

*Tom T. Hall joined on January 1, 1971 (39 year member).
*Dolly Parton officially joined the Opry on January 4, 1969 (41 years).
*Clint Black, who joined the Opry on January 10, 1991 (19 years).
*Mel McDaniel became an Opry member on January 11, 1986 (24 years).
*Wilma Lee Cooper joined with her late husband Stoney on January 12, 1957 (53 years).
*Reba McEntire joined on January 14, 1986 (24 year member).
*Ralph Stanley joined the Opry on January 15, 2000 (10 year member).
*Charlie Daniels became an Opry member on January 19, 2008 (2 years).
*Hal Ketchum joined on January 22, 1994 (16 years).
*Emmylou Harris became an Opry member on January 25, 1992 (18 year member).

The following historical and important events took place in Opry history in January:

*January 1, 1953, former Opry member Hank Williams dies on his way to a show in my hometown of Canton, Ohio.
*January 1, 1960, Billy Walker became a Grand Ole Opry member.
*January 1, 1971, as noted above, Tom T. Hall joined the Opry. Although it may seem like it, there is no truth to the rumor of that being his last appearance on the Opry!!!
* January 3, 1998, Grandpa Jones made is final appearance on the Opry. After doing the 2nd show that night, he suffered a stroke coming off stage and was taken to a Nashville hospital. He would later suffer a series of more serious strokes that would ultimately lead to his death. He was 84 years old.
*January 4, 2003, the Opry commemorated the 50th anniversary of the death of Hank Williams by honoring him at a show which featured Hank Williams Jr and Hank Williams III.
*January 7, 1950, Hank Snow made his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. He would be an Opry member for over 49 years, and become one of the true stars of the Opry. In his later years, Hank would always host the 8:30 and 11:00 segments on the Saturday night shows.
*January 9, 1960, Patsy Cline joined the Grand Ole Opry.
*January 15 & 16, 1999, the Opry returned for the first time since 1974 to the Ryman Auditorium for all 3 of the shows that weekend. It was on the first show on that Saturday night that Ricky Skaggs asked Trisha Yearwood to become an Opry member. I was there for all 3 shows that weekend, which were sell-outs, and the atmosphere was electric. It was one of the best weekends that I ever spent at the Opry.
*January 16, 1943, Ernest Tubb joined the Grand Ole Opry. In the history of the Opry, many believe that outside of Roy Acuff, Ernest was the most influential member of the Opry. It was through his efforts that among others, Hank Snow would become an Opry member. He also helped to drive the Opry sound forward with his use of the electric guitar.
*January 19, 1953, Marty Robbins made his Grand Ole Opry debut.
*January 27, 1979, actress Sissy Spacek joined Loretta Lynn on stage at the Opry that night, in a segment hosted by Ernest Tubb. Later that evening, Loretta Lynn and Sissy Spacek joined Ernest Tubb at the Midnight Jamboree, which at the time was being broadcast from the record shop on Demonbreum Street near the Country Music Hall of Fame. As part of the on-air talk, Ernest poked fun at Spacek, asking her, "What kind of a name is Spacek, hon?" When she did not answer, then he said, "I know what it is: it's a Polack name, isn't it?" More than once in his career Ernest would stick his foot in his mouth.

There you have it, a few notes from the month of January in Opry history. Enjoy.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up-1/1 & 1/2

First, Happy New Year to everyone. The line-ups have been posted for the shows this weekend. There is 1 show on Friday night and 1 show on Saturday night, both at the Ryman Auditorium. I was kind of suprised to see Jimmy Dickens scheduled for both shows this weekend. The last he was on was two weeks ago and he sounded aweful and he made comments about being out against doctor's orders. I thought for sure that we had seen the last of him for at least a while. I know the weather in Nashville has been cold and wet, and at age 89, maybe that is not the best weather to be out it. But, Jimmy is a real trooper.

Jett Williams makes her annual Opry appearance on Saturday night. Pretty much every year, she does the Opry show that is closest to January 1st, which is the day her father, Hank Williams, died. She will usually do a couple of songs in tribute to him. She also will be hosting the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree, as she always does each year.

Suzy Bogguss is also scheduled for Saturday night, as is Big Kenny and Cherryholmes. Now for the entire line-ups:

Friday January 1
7:00: Riders In The Sky(host); Jim Ed Brown; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Josh Thompson
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman
8:00: John Conlee(host); Jan Howard; Johnny Counterfit; Mountain Heart
8:30: Mike Snider(host); George Hamilton IV; Jean Shepard; Exile

Saturday January 2
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Connie Smith; Big Kenny
7:30: Jeannie Seely(host); Riders In The Sky; Jack Greene: Cherryholmes
8:00: John Conlee(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jett Williams; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Mike Snider(host); Jean Shepard; Jim Ed Brown; Suzy Bogguss

There is still a slot to fill on Friday night. Also, it looks like they have themselves set up with a couple of other people who can host a segment if Jimmy Dickens cancels out.

One final note:
As many of you have mentioned, they have changed the layout at, the Grand Ole Opry website. At first I was not sure about the site as it was redesigned, but the more I move around it and get more familiar with it, I am coming to like it. They have added artist profiles of non-Opry members, who have appeared on the show, although there are some that are missing. There is also a link to their websites, which I thought was nice. It looks like more video has been added, although I wish they would add more of the older performers or those who have passed on from earlier eras. They have kept the history sections and other information. And, they have kept and expanded the area of upcoming shows, with direct links to buy tickets for any show into the future. If you get a chance, check it out.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

2009 Grand Ole Opry Appearances

With 2009 ending, and no more Grand Ole Opry shows for the year, I wanted to take a look back on how many appearances each Opry member made during the past year, and also look at which non-Opry members appeared the most times. During 2009, if I did my math right, there were 199 Opry shows. These include the Friday and Saturday shows, the Tuesday Night Opry, Opry Country Classics, and the Opry matinee that they did during CMA week. It should be no shock to anyone that the Opry member with the most appearances in 2009 was Jimmy Dickens. Even though he missed shows due illness and being in the hospital, the 89 year old Dickens performed at 145 shows this past year. Just an unbelievable number considering everything with him.

As far as everyone else, here is the complete list, in order from most appearances to the least:
145-Jimmy Dickens
121-Mike Snider
108-The Whites
98-Connie Smith
96-Bill Anderson, Jimmy C. Newman
95-Jim Ed Brown
93-Jean Shepard
81-Jeannie Seely
63-Jack Greene, Riders In The Sky
53-Jesse McReynolds
51-John Conlee
47-Bobby Osborne
43-Jan Howard
37-Ricky Skaggs
34-Marty Stuart
32-Vince Gill, Del McCoury
30-George Hamilton IV
27-Stonewall Jackson
20-Hal Ketchum
16-Mel McDaniel, Lorrie Morgan
13-Charlie Daniels, Steve Wariner
12-Charlie Louvin, Pam Tillis
11-Ray Pillow
10-Trace Adkins, Joe Diffie, Craig Morgan, Stu Phillips, Ralph Stanley, Carrie Underwood
9-Diamond Rio, Larry Gatlin, Mel Tillis, Montgomery Gentry
7-Charley Pride, Josh Turner
6-Martina McBride
5-Dierks Bentley, Terri Clark, Alison Krauss
3-Roy Clark, Patty Loveless, Loretta Lynn, Ronnie Milsap, Brad Paisley
2-Billy Grammer, Emmylou Harris, Trisha Yearwood
1-George Jones, Reba McEntire
0-Clint Black, Garth Brooks, Wilma Lee Cooper, Tom T. Hall, Alan Jackson, Barbara Mandrell, Dolly Parton, Jeanne Pruett, Ricky Van Shelton, Randy Travis, Travis Tritt

Some interesting numbers there, especially among some of the newer Opry members. One person that I found interesting was Mike Snider. In 2008, he appeared at the Opry only 20 times, yet he was up to 121 this past year. Also in 2008, Jimmy C. Newman had the most Opry appearances, at 115.

The other number that I find disturbing is that 31 Opry members, almost half of the Opry roster, made 9 or less Opry appearances this past year.

Among non-Opry members, these are the ones who had the most Opry appearances in 2008:
14-Restless Heart
13-Cherryholmes, Mandy Barnett, Emily West
12-Jimmy Wayne
11-Dailey & Vincent, The Grascals
10-Darryl Worley, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Gene Watson
9-Jamie O'Neal, Mark Wills, Rhonda Vincent
8-Chris Young, Point Of Grace
7-Buddy Jewell, Keith Anderson
6-Holly Williams, Aaron Tippin

When you look at those members who are in the top 10 in Opry appearances, 2 are over the age of 80 (Jimmy Dickens and Jimmy C. Newman), and several more are well past 70 (Bill Anderson, Jim Ed Brown, Jack Greene, Jean Shepard). As as been noted in the past, the younger Opry members have got to step up and make regular Opry appearances to keep the show vibrant and moving forward. Of the members with no appearances in 2009, Wilma Lee Cooper is ill, and Barbara Mandrell, Jeanne Pruett and Ricky Van Shelton are retired. As far as the rest, Clint Black last appeared in 2007 with 2 appearances, but before that the last time he was at the Opry was in 2003. Garth Brooks has made 3 appearances since 2000, Tom T. Hall has not been to the Opry in a decade, Dolly Parton has made 4 appearances since 2002 and Randy Travis has appeared just 3 times since 2001. While Reba McEntire made 1 appearance this past year, before that the last time she was on the Opry was in 2000.

Just the opinion of this writer, but if you are not going to be a part of the show, then leave and make room for others. There is just no excuse for joining and to have the prestige of being an Opry member and then not showing up to support the show. Or even worst, to show up for a special event or when the Opry is going to be televised and you are going to be on the tv portion is just wrong. Let's hope that Pete Fisher continues to make wise choices this coming year on new Opry members and to pick those who will be there and support the show. As has been noted in the comments, Opry prices continue to go up, the show is shorter and the line-ups have been pretty weak at times. With over 65 members on the Opry's roster, and only 12-15 artists on each show now, you would think it would be pretty easy to have a quality line-up each week. The fans who are paying the high prices for tickets expect that and I agree.

As always I look forward to comments and opinions.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Christmas Greetings and Wishes

I just wanted to take a moment and wish everyone a Merry Christmas and I hope that it is a blessed day for all of you. I also hope that Santa brings you everything you asked for. As far as the Grand Ole Opry, I have some greetings to send to them also, and also my own Christmas "wish list" for the Opry:

To Pete Fisher, I hope for a new Opry television contract, and for RFD-TV, I hope you are the ones to get it. For Jimmy Dickens, a year of better health and still making regular Opry appearances. For Bill Anderson, my hope is that your new book is a bestseller and that your new CD is the same.

For Jim Ed Brown, Charlie Daniels, George Hamilton IV and Jean Shepard, a call from the Country Music Hall of Fame welcoming you as a new member. For Wilma Lee Cooper and Mel McDaniel, a return to good health. And continued good health to the "older" Opry members, such as Billy Grammer,Jack Greene and Jimmy C. Newman.

To veteran Opry members Charlie Louvin, Ray Pillow and Stu Phillips, my Christmas wish is for more Opry apperances from you. To Mike Snider and Riders In The Sky, thanks for keeping humor on the Opry stage. And to Vince Gill, Marty Stuart and Ricky Skaggs, thanks for supporting the Opry over the years and the hope is that you will continue to do that. And for Rhonda Vincent and Gene Watson, a call from Pete asking you to become an Opry member.

To Clint Black, Garth Brooks, Tom T. Hall, Emmylou Harris, Alan Jackson, Rebe McEntire, Dolly Parton, Randy Travis and Travis Tritt, a GPS system for your car that is locked into 2804 Opryland Drive. To Loretta Lynn and George Jones, a wish that you realize how important the Opry was to your career and a return to the Opry stage.

To Bobby Osborne, Jesse McReynolds, Ralph Stanley and Del McCoury, a wish that you keep carrying on the bluegrass tradition at the Opry. And to Alison Krauss, please join them. To Jeannie Pruett, Barbara Mandrell and Ricky Van Shelton, continue to enjoy your retirement from the music business.

To Trace Adkins, Brad Paisley and Josh Turner, keep country music alive. And to Carrie Underwood, Montgomery Gentry and Dierks Bentley, keep remembering where the Opry House is. Your support of the show is vital.

To Mandy Barnett, Elizabeth Cook and Rebecca Lynn Howard, thanks for answering the phone when Pete calls to fill out the line-up. Also, my wish is that each of you has a million selling record this year.

To Connie Smith and Patty Loveless, my wish is that the two sweetest voices on the Opry continue to keep those voices. And to Mel Tillis, Charlie Pride, Charlie Daniels, Jeannie Seely and Jan Howard my wish is that you give the Opry another year of good performances.

To Martina McBride, Trisha Yearwood, Larry Gatlin, Diamond Rio, Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tilis, thanks for supporting the show, but, please give us more performances.

And to all the Opry fans, please continue to support the show. Some weeks it is not easy, but if we are not in the audience or listening on the radio, there would be no Opry.

Merry Christmas to all:

aka: Fayfare

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 12/25 & 12/26

Here is this weekend's line-up for the Grand Ole Opry. There is one show on Friday night December 25 and one show on Saturday December 26. Both nights are at the Ryman Auditorium. As was speculated previously, the line-ups for both nights, while decent, are pretty light. Also, as speculated, no Jimmie Dickens this weekend and he might be gone for a while as he recovers from his latest illness.

Friday December 25-Christmas
7:00: Jeannie Seely(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Blaine Larsen
7:30: George Hamilton IV(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Elizabeth Cook
8:00: Riders In The Sky(host); Jack Greene; Dailey & Vincent
8:30: Mike Snider(host); Charlie Louvin; T. Graham Brown

Saturday December 26
7:00: Jeannie Seely(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Rebecca Lynn Howard
7:30: George Hamilton IV(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Eddy Raven
8:00: Riders In The Sky(host); Jan Howard; Dailey & Vincent: Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Mike Snider(host); Jack Greene; Restless Heart

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Hank Snow

It was on December 20, 1999 that Grand Ole Opry member, and a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Hank Snow passed away at the age of 85. In January of 2000, Hank would have celebrated 50 years as an Opry member. He had been in declining health for a number of years, and his last Opry appearance was in August of 1996 when he returned to the Opry stage after being gone for almost nine months due to illness.

His autobiography, "The Hank Snow Story", is one of the best country music books ever written. Hank is pretty honest in his book about some of the major events in his life. The book is high on my list.

In country music history, Hank will go down as one of the all time greats. Johnny Cash considered Hank one of his favorite singers, and in fact, he had a picture of Hank hanging in his office at home, which I believe was the only picture of an entertainer that he had up.

On my own personal list of country music performers, Hank is on my top 5 list. I have always enjoyed his singing style and his guitar work. His guitar playing was precise and I never heard of him making a mistake. I know that one of my favorite items about Hank being on the Opry was that after he sang his song to start his segment, he always went over to the podium and introduced his guests from there, never going back to center stage until it was time for him to perform his next number. I think his last televised Opry appearance was on the birthday show when they honored the living Opry members who were members of the Hall of Fame. I forget what year it was, but I think it was in the mid-1990's and I remember Jeannie Seely doing the honors for him.

On the Opry in his later years, he always hosted the 8:30 and 11:00 segments. He had his favorites, and I know if Dottie West was on the Opry, she always did his segments.

It was within a few short years that the Opry lost Grandpa Jones, Bill Monroe and Hank Snow. All were icons of the show and all were Hall of Famers.

I just wanted to take a moment to remember Hank Snow on the 10 year anniversary of his death.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Jimmy Dickens

I am listening to the Opry tonight and Jimmy Dickens is on and he said he was "here against doctor's orders". He did not sing and he sounded awful rough. The band just played a brief instrumental when he came out on stage. Mike Terry did introduce him by telling the audience that it was his 89th birthday today. As he was telling his usual jokes, the voice sounded pretty hoarse and he just sounded tired. He did joke about playing his guitar. He also just said that his doctor told him not to sing and to rest his voice, but that he wanted to be at the Opry for his birthday.

He concluded his segment by doing his recitation of "17", which he has been doing lately on the Opry. They then rolled out a birthday cake and sang Happy Birthday to Jimmy.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas At The Opry

Maybe I am just getting old, but in my mind something was missing at the Opry this year, and missing for the past several years, and that is the special Christmas shows that the Opry used to have. If all of you remember, the Opry stage would be decorated with a big tree and garland and tinsel would be hanging from the barn. I haven't seen the Opry stage this year, but I know last year the decorations were pretty sparce.

I also remember that the televised portion of the Opry would have almost all Christmas music in December and that the show that was on the Saturday before Christmas would have nothing but Christmas music. You would have Grandpa Jones singing his great song, "The Christmas Guest", Bill Monore doing, "Christmas Times' a Coming", and then after he passed on you would have Ricky Skaggs or The Osborne Brothers doing it. You would have Jim Ed Brown doing "Winter Wonderland", and changing the words to add his name as the snowman. There was Mike Snider doing his version of "A Night Before Christmas." Then there was Bill Anderson singing "A Poor Folks' Christmas", and Porter Wagoner doing, "Happy Birthday Jesus." I remember a few years back that Garth Brooks made a suprise appearance on the Opry before Christmas dressed as Santa. And, I am sure all of you remember Jimmy Dickens and Jeannie Seely dressing up as Mr. and Mrs. Clause, to invite Brad Paisley to become an Opry member.

But that all seems to be missing now. I heard Jeannie Seely doing Christmas music and George Hamilton IV did the "Christmas Guest" a few weeks back in honor of Grandpa Jones. I heard Jim Ed Brown do a Christmas song, but not much else. And looking at this week's line-up, the last Saturday before Christmas, I do not see much opportunity for Christmas songs. I just don't picture Emmylou Harris doing anything or Amber Digby. Maybe some of it is that the Opry is not on TV any longer. And speaking of TV, the show that they are going to have on GAC tomorrow night, was taped last month and there is no holiday music on it.

Like I said, maybe I am getting old, but I miss the special feeling that the Opry had this time of year.

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

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Grand Ole Opry Returns To GAC

The Grand Ole Opry will return to GAC (Great American Country), for 1 night, on December 19 at 9:00pm. This will be a network replay of the MySpace show that was on last month. The show features Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Rodney Atkins and Jack Owen. It will be hosted by Nan Kelly of GAC.

I attempted to watch the MySpace internet feed the night of the show and was frustrated at the poor quality of the stream. Others told me the same thing. I do not know if I will watch the show this Saturday night or not as I saw some of it once and the artist line-up is not one that really wants me to watch it again. I would be interested to see if GAC does any editing to the program or just replays the MySpace stream, since they were the onces that produced it in the first place.

I have not heard if this will mean that the Opry will return to GAC or not. Currently the Opry does not have a television contract and toward the end of the deal between the Opry and GAC, there were some issues, some of which was that Pete Fisher and the Opry management was not all that happy with GAC.

At the very least, it would appear that the Opry and GAC are open to running special shows on an irregular basis, and I am sure that if these specials were on, GAC would have a big say in who the artists would be that would be on these televised shows. As usual we will update when new information is available.

Finally, best wished to a couple of Opry members who have had some health issues. Del McCoury underwent emergency gallbladder surgery last week and is back at home recovering. And Loretta Lynn cancelled several shows due to the flu. She is to receive an honorary Grammy Award in January based on career achievement. Congratulations to Loretta.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Tuesday Night Opry-December 15

Here is the line-up for the final Tuesday Night Opry show of the year, December 15, at the Ryman Auditorium

7:00: Jeannie Seely; Jimmy Wayne
7:30: Terri Clark; Darryl Worley
8:15: Bill Anderson; Chris Young
8:45: Jimmy Dickens; Jamey Johnson

Also, on a different note, Marty Stuart returns for his 2nd year of The Marty Stuart Show, on the RFD network, starting next Saturday December 19. Connie Smith returns as does LeRoy Troy. Should be another great year as I always found his show entertaining.

And, Bill Anderson reports that he and Larry Black have been going over the tapes of his old television show, The Bill Anderson Show, and are just about finished putting them in to DVD format and that he hopes to have them on sale later in 2010. I would also hope that they would eventually show up on RFD-TV. He also has completed his latest book and should have it out after the first of the year.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Opry Adds Wednesday Night Shows In 2010

The Grand Ole Opry, in addition to their current full schedule of shows, is going to offer a Wednesday night show during the summer months this coming year. The Wednesday night Opry shows will take place from June 23-July 28. The Tuesday Night Opry will resume on March 2 and run until December 14, similiar to this past year. Opry Country Classics on Thursday night will also return in 2010, however this coming year, the shows will take place at the Ryman Auditorium. The first group of Opry Country Classics will run from March 26-June 17, and then returning on September 9 until October 28. This will be pretty much the same schedule that the shows were in 2009.

The Friday Night Opry will continue with 1 show each week, with the exception of January 8, were currently 2 shows are scheduled. The Grand Ole Opry on Saturday nights will offer 1 show each night at 7, and on various Saturday nights throughout the year, will offer a 2nd show at 9:30. The Saturday nights with 2 shows are March 6-April 24; July 10-July 24; September 4; October 2-October 11.

All of the Opry shows starting in November will again be at the Ryman Auditorium.

In addition, Mike Snider will be back again in 2010 with his "Pickin & Grinnin" show. The first round of his show will be from April 2-May 1, on Friday and Saturday afternoons. From June 24-July 31, his show will be on Thursday, Friday and Saturday afternoons. He will also have shows from September 15-October 30, on Friday and Saturday afternoons, and on select Wednesdays.

Here is a brief rundown of the 2010 Opry shows:
>Tuesday Night Opry: March 2-December 14
>Wednesday Night Opry: June 23-July 28
>Thursday Opry Country Classics: March 26-June 17; September 9-October 28
>Friday Night Opry: January 1-December 31 (1 show most nights)
>Saturday Night Grand Ole Opry: January 2-February 27, 1 show; March 6-April 24, 2 shows; May 1-July 3, 1 show; July 10-July 24, 2 shows; July 31-September 25; 1 show except for September 4; October 2-December 11, 2 shows; December 18 & 25, 1 show.

All shows start at 7pm. On the nights of a 2nd show, it will start at 9:30pm. And, as always, the Opry will add a 2nd show on any Tuesday, Friday or Saturday night if ticket demand is there.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Grand Ole Opry 12/11 & 12/12

At the Grand Ole Opry, some weekends have better shows than others, and this weekend is one of those that has a pretty nice line-up for all 4 shows this weekend. Yes, that is right. The Opry is having 2 shows on Friday night and 2 shows on Saturday night. This weekend, the Opry has Rascal Flatts in for both shows on Friday night, along with Vince Gill, Steve Wariner and the return of Jimmy Dickens, who missed the last couple of weekends. Saturday nights line-up features Trace Adkins, Nancy Griffith, Marty Stuart and Vince Gill. Also, at the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree will be Marty Stuart. Overall, a fine weekend to be in Nashville. Now, for the line-ups:

Friday December 11
First Show
7:00: Mike Snider(host); Jim Ed Brown; Chuck Wicks
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jack Greene; Vince Gill
8:00: Steve Wariner(host); Connie Smith; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); Rascal Flatts

Second Show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Chuck Wicks
10:00: Mike Snider(host); Ray Pillow; Rascal Flatts
10;30: Jim Ed Brown(host); Connie Smith; Steve Wariner
11:00: Bill Anderson(host); Stonewall Jackson; Vince Gill

My comment on the Friday shows is that there is some actual variety in the line-ups, which is nice to see. Also, based on where Vince Gill is scheduled, he must have a hockey game or another commitment elsewhere, as there is a 3 hour gap between his segments. I am suprised that Vince is not hosting a segment, as he usually does.

Saturday December 12
First Show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Trace Adkins
7:30: Mike Snider(host); Jack Greene; Nanci Griffith
8:00: Marty Stuart(host); Dale Jett & Hello Stranger; Connie Smith; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys

Second Show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jim Ed Brown; Nanci Griffith
10:00: Marty Stuart(host); Stu Phillips; Dale Jett & Hello Stranger; Connie Smith
10:30: Mike Snider(host); Trace Adkins; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson(host); Vince Gill

Again on the Saturday night shows, they have a couple of spots to fill. Vince Gill is only on the 2nd show, but he is advertised as such so I do not expect him to fill the spot on the 1st show. It is the final segment of the night and usually Pete Fisher tries to put in a "name" performer in that slot. But, regardless, it looks like a good weekend.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

"Opry Drops 12 Top Stars"

It was on December 6, 1964, that the Nashville Tennessean displayed this headline. According to the article, "Twelve top country and western stars will not appear on the Grand Ole Opry in 1965, and have been prohibited from using the Opry name in their outside billings, it was learned yesterday. Another entertainer, long-time favorite Minnie Pearl, has been given a leave of absence from the show for the coming year, but will continue to use the Opry billing in her present contracts, a WSM spokesman said."

The 12 who were removed as Grand Ole Opry members were George Morgan, Don Gibson, Billy Grammer, Johnny Wright, Kitty Wells, the Jordanaires, Faron Young, Ferlin Husky, Chet Atkins, Justin Tubb, Stonewall Jackson, and Ray Price.

At the time, Opry members were required to appear on 26 shows per year. According to WSM public relations director Bill Willams, "Nobody is mad at anybody. It's just that periodically we have to take stock. It's just a routine thing." Irving Waugh, the general manager of WSM television thought that the announcement was ill advised. He viewed the actions as an "antagonism" of the country music community by WSM president Jack DeWitt.

The following day, Opry manager Ott Devine had to remove Chet Atkins name from the list, since he was not even an Opry member at the time. Of course, this made the Opry management look like fools; not even knowing who was a member and who was not.

Faron Young later said that money was what generated the hassle. "When they insisted on the twenty-six-week thing, I put a pen to it and figured it out. I was gonna lose $180,000 a year to work the Opry twenty-six weeks out of the year." Johnny Wright would say that he and Kitty Wells were not fired from the Opry, but quit over paying the percentage fees to the WSM Artists' Service Bureau, which was the WSM and Opry's booking agency for the members.

Several days later, the Nashville Tennessean ran an editorial with the headline: "Opry Has Duty of Protection." The editorial said: "The Opry has been and continues to be the nucleus of Nashville's $40 million music industry. There is hardly a successful music enterprise in the city that does not owe its orgin and its longevity to the Opry. Thus, it seems the Opry has a responsibility to compel observance of reasonable restrictions for its own protection and for the protection of the rest of the music industry in Nashville. Most of the thousands of people who line up at the Opry House every Friday and Saturday night have traveled long distances to see in person the stars they have come to love by radio. It must be a disappointment for these fans to arrive at the Opry on this one big night for them and find that their favorite stars have found a more profitable audience in some other state. Opry Manager Ott Devine says the 11 released stars will be missed. And they will be. But there is a feeling that such a loss would be more keenly felt if the stars had not already been missed too often at the Opry."

Looking back at the editorial from the Tennessean, those same words could be written today about the thousands of fans who come to the Opry and find that the vast majority of Opry members are not there to perform, and that the vast majority of the Opry superstars are very rarely at the Opry. I wonder what the reaction would be in the country music community or at the Opry if Pete Fisher fired 11 Opry members today for not appearing? Would anyone care? Is Opry membership that important anymore? Many artists say it is, and they prove it by supporting the show. But there are others that after becoming Opry members, they do not appear. And, I think everyone knows what artists I am talking about: Alan Jackson, Randy Travis and Clint Black are three that come to mind. I know that if the Opry fired 11 members today, it would result in a horrible public relations disaster for the Opry that they might not recover from.

As far as the 11 who were fired, many came back to the Opry and fulfilled their membership requirements. Those were George Morgan, Don Gibson, Billy Grammer, Justin Tubb and Stonewall Jackson. Johnny Wright, Kitty Wells, the Jordanaires, Faron Young, Ferlin Husky and Ray Price never rejoined, although all continued to make guest appearances on the show. I do wonder if any of them, especially in the case of Kitty Wells, ever regretted leaving the Opry. And, it would be later in his career that Stonewall Jackson would sue the Opry for not allowing him to make appearances on the show when he wanted to, after firing him for not appearing.

In 1964, the Opry was such a big part of the Nashville community that this story made front page headlines for days in the Nashville papers. Even today, 45 years later, when something happens at the Opry, good or bad, it is still front page headlines in the Tennessean. Even if the Opry is not as essential to a career like it was in 1964, or as important to the music scene in Nashville like it once was, the Opry is still an important part of the Nashville community.

Grand Ole Opry on Sirius

I have Sirius Radio, which I have had pretty much since it started. Of course, back then WSM was part of the package, so you got the Opry every Friday and Saturday night. Recently, Sirius has had the Tuesday Night Opry, Opry Country Classics and the Friday and Saturday Grand Ole Opry shows on their schedule, but on a one week delay with no commercials, which made for short shows, and cut up shows. They started the replays at 8 on Friday night and 7 on Saturday night. And, since the Opry is on live at the same time on WSM, on my car radio, I would keep switching between the 2. Confusing, but interesting. Now, last Friday night, I turn to Sirius at 8, and no Friday Night Opry. No mention of it at all. I keep checking. Then, later in the evening, I check again, and it is now on, but not a replay, put that night's show. Here is what I found out: Sirius is now broadcasting the Friday and Saturday Opry shows on a delayed, same night basis at 9. They still play the show without the commericals, so it still makes for a cut up show. (I am thinking the 1 hour delay gives them time to edit the show). Sirius no longer broadcasts the Tuesday Night Opry.

That is the story on Sirius, how about XM? I know they were doing the Opry live for years, but have they changed?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Tuesday Night Opry 12/8

Here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry at the Ryman Auditorium-December 8

7:00: John Conlee; Josh Turner
7:30: Jack Greene; Keith Anderson
8:15: Bill Anderson; The Grascals
8:45: Jim Ed Brown; Joe Diffie

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 12/4 & 12/5-Updated

It took until Friday evening, but Pete finally found someone to fill the slot-Jamie O'Neal

Here are this week's Grand Ole Opry line-ups. All 3 shows this weekend look like solid shows with pretty good line-ups. There is still 1 slot to fill on Saturday night. Over the past several months, it seems that when the preliminary line-ups are put out, there is always a slot or two to fill. I wonder if Pete Fisher gets an artist who says he might or might not be available and saves a spot just in case, but usually it ends up being filled by one of the standbys. And with just the slot on the 2nd show on Saturday needing filled, you would think that he would just schedule someone from the 1st show who is not working the 2nd show. Jim Ed Brown, Jimmy C. Newman or Jesse McReynolds could do that. Also, no Jimmy Dickens again this weekend. I know at the age of 88, and with a birthday in a couple of weeks, you don't want him to take chances with his health. Other than Mike Terry saying last week that Jimmy was "under the weather", I have not heard anything else regarding his health. Hope he is ok. Finally, Trisha Yearwood makes her first Opry appearance in over a year.

Friday December 4
7:00: Jeannie Seely(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Jack Greene; Del McCoury Band
7:30: Ricky Skaggs(host); John Conlee; The Whites
8:00: Bill Anderson(host); Mike Snider; Mark Wills
8:30: Marty Stuart(host); Jan Howard; Jim Ed Brown; The Quebe Sisters Band

Saturday December 5
First Show
7:00: John Conlee(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Del McCoury Band
7:30: Mike Snider(host); Jean Shepard; Jim Ed Brown: Jamie O'Neal
8:00: Ricky Skaggs(host); Connie Smith; The Whites; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Trisha Yearwood

Second Show
9:30: John Conlee(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Trisha Yearwood
10:00: Mike Snider(host); Jeannie Seely; Del McCoury Band
10:30: Ricky Skaggs(host); Jean Shepard; The Whites; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson(host); Jamie O'Neal; Connie Smith

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

December Opry Highlights

We'll, it is hard to believe but the last month of the year is upon us. Here is to a Happy Holiday season to all. As I usually do at the start of a month, I want to take a look back at historical Opry events that took place during the month of December.

Several Grand Ole Opry members joined the cast of the Opry during this month:
>Randy Travis was inducted as an Opry member on December 20, 1986 (23 years).
>Jack Greene joined the Grand Ole Opry as an official member on December 23, 1967 (42 years). Of course Jack played on the Opry many times as a member of Ernest Tubb's band.
>The Gatlin Brothers became Opry members on December 25, 1976 (33 years).

Now looking back at Opry history, these important events took place:
>On December 26, 1925, The WSM Barn Dance started officially as a regularly scheduled program on Saturday nights on WSM radio.
>December 1927 (the date is lost to history), WSM program director George D. Hay, nicknamed the "Solemn Old Judge," proclaims, "For the past hour we have been listening to the music taken largely from the Grand Opera, but from now on we will present the Grand Ole Opry." The new name caught on and the show has been known by that title ever since.
>On December 30, 1944, western swing bandleader Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys played on the Opry. Because drums were not allowed on the Opry at that time, he hid his drummer behind a curtain. That was the only concession that he made as he said that if he appeared on the Opry it would be with his full band or not at all.
>December 8, 1945, Earl Scruggs made his debut as a member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys. This would complete the historic line-up for the band that would serve as the prototype for the bluegrass sound. The band included Bill Monroe on mandolin, Scruggs on banjo, Lester Flat on guitar, Chubby Wise on fiddle and Howard Watts on bass. Outside the Ryman Auditorium is a historical marker to signify the Ryman Auditorium as the birthplace of bluegrass music and recognizing this great line-up of musicians.
>On December 30, 1950, Lefty Frizzell made his Grand Ole Opry debut.
>December 1, 1954 saw the death of Fred Rose, songwriter and co-founder of Acuff-Rose, which was the largest publisher of country music.
>On December 3, 1957, Don Gibson recorded one of the biggest two-sided singles in country music history. The Opry member had "I Can't Stop Loving You" on side 1 and "Oh, Lonesome Me" on side 2.
>December 24, 1960 was the last "Prince Albert Show" broadcast on the NBC radio network.
>December 8, 1982, Marty Robbins passed away at the young age of 57. His funeral service several days later was one of the most attended services of a country music star in memory.
>In December 1989, Garth Brooks has his first number one record, "If Tomorrow Never Comes."
>On December 20, 1999, Hank Snow passed away at his home in Madison. He had been an Opry member for 49 years and was just within 2 weeks of celebrating his 50th anniversary as an Opry member. He had not appeared on the Opry for several years due to health issues. I highly recommend his book for any country music fan.

There you have some highlights for this month. Hope you enjoy.