Sunday, January 31, 2010

February Opry Highlights

As another month begins, I wanted to review the historical events that have taken place at the Opry during the month of February.

The following Opry members joined the cast during February:
>George Hamilton IV joined the Opry on February 6, 1960 (50 years).
>Ronnie Milsap also became on Opry member on February 6, 1976 (34 years).
>John Conlee became an Opry member of February 7, 1981 (29 years).
>Charlie Louvin became on Opry member on February 10, 1955 (55 years).
>Brad Paisley joined the Opry on February 17, 2001 (9 years).
>Billy Grammer joined on February 27, 1959 (51 years).
>Travis Tritt became on Opry member on February 29, 1992 (18 years).

It has been commented that Charlie Louvin has been around the Opry longer than anyone else who is a member. His 55 years as an Opry member is the longest consecutive membership of any current Opry member. Time really flies by, and I say that because I find it hard to believe that Ronnie Milsap has been around for as long as he has been. It seems just like yesterday that he was just making his mark in country music.

The following Opry members are celebrating birthdays in February:
>Del McCoury was born on February 1, 1939 (71)
>Clint Black was born on February 4, 1962 (48)
>Wilma Lee Cooper was born on February 7, 1921 (89)
>Garth Brooks on February 7, 1962 (48)
>Travis Tritt was born on February 9, 1963 (47)
>Ralph Stanley was born on February 25, 1927 (83)

The following Opry highlights have taken place in February:
>February 1, 1928, Harry Stone joined WSM radio as a staff announcer. He would later become an Opry announcer and then the Program Director of WSM radio. In that role, he was in charge of the Opry and he led the push to make the show more professional, changing the direction away from the amateur local musicians. He set the stage for the great success that the Opry would have through the 1930's and on.
>February 5, 1938, Roy Acuff and his band, named at the time "The Crazy Tennesseans", made their second appearance on the Opry. This time, Roy sang "The Great Speckled Bird", and it generated an avalanche of mail. WSM was so impressed that he was asked to join the Opry, which he did two weeks later. Acuff would be the first true singing member of the Opry, and his membership started the focus of the Opry changing from a show that featured instrumental performances to a show that featured vocal performers. Roy Acuff officially joined the Opry on February 19 and would change the name of his band to "The Smoky Mountain Boys".
>February 23, 1952, Del Wood made her debut on the Opry. In 1951 she had a million selling record with the hit, "Down Yonder", which became her signature song. She joined the Opry in 1953 ad was a member until her death on October 3, 1989. By the way, Del Wood was her stage name. Her legal name was Polly Adelaide Hendricks Hazzelwood.
>February 21, 1981, Boxcar Willie joined the Grand Ole Opry. Roy Acuff was so impressed with Boxcar, that he pushed for his membership as part of the Opry cast. Numerous times over the years, when Roy Acuff would sing his big number, "Walbash Cannonball", Boxcar would join him on stage, doing his famous train whistle.
>February 23, 1957, Porter Wagoner joine the Opry. After the death of Roy Acuff in 1992, Porter became the public face of the Opry, and would continue in that role until his death in 2007, after celebrating his 50th anniversary as an Opry member.

Hope all of you enjoy the Opry highlights from February

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Grand Ole Opry-Saturday January 30

The snow storm continues in Nashville, and again, there are lots of artists that have cancelled their appearance on the Opry tonight. On the Opry warm-up show, Eddie Stubbs is in for Mike Terry, who could not make it. As far as the Opry line-up for Saturday night, Connie Smith, Stonewall Jackson, Ray Pillow and Bill Anderson have been announced so far as those not going to be on.

At this point, it looks like a very skinny line-up unless they can gather up some guest artists in the next half hour. So far, the line-up looks like this:

7:00: The Whites(host); Cherryholmes
7:30: Jean Shepard(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Radney Foster
8:00: John Conlee(host); Gail Davies; Colt Ford; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Jack Greene; Kathy Mattea

John Conlee ended up hosting the last hour of the show and Gail Davies was the only last minute addition to the schedule. That made 10 artists for the show. I really don't know of a Saturday night show that has had less than that. I know that you cannot help the weather, but at over $50.00 for a top ticket, I wouldn't have been very happy. I do wonder how they handled the folks who could not get to town and had bought tickets in advance. Usually if you have pre-bought a ticket and as long as they have not sent it to you, you can call and change the date of the ticket. Now, the service reps have to get the ok from a supervisor. I am sure they took care of the people who could not get there due to the weather.

All in all, I would rate the Friday show the better of the two shows this past weekend.

George Hamilton IV--50 Year Opry member

Next Saturday night, George Hamilton IV will celebrate his 50th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. George officially joined on February 6, 1960. George will be on the Opry next Saturday night and he will also be a special guest on the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree. In addition, he will be at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop on Music Valley Drive from 3pm until 5pm on Saturday to visit with fans.

Yes, I will add a disclaimer. George did leave the Opry in 1971 and returned as a member in 1976. Much like Jimmy Dickens, the Opry considers the date that George originally joined the Opry as his official induction date.

Congratulations to George Hamilton IV.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Friday Night Opry-January 29

Nashville is basically closed down with a major snow storm. However, the Friday Night Opry is underway, as it is everyweek. The crowd sounds enthusiastic, but you can tell by the echo in the building and the applause level, that it is a small crowd.

So far, during the first segment, Jimmy C. Newman was a no-show. John Conlee was on hosting, and his guests were Billy Yates and Buddy Jewell.

All 3 performers have made reference to the weather and how dangerous it is outside. I know from looking at the Tennessean website, that the malls are closed and the police are warning people to stay off the roads. Also, the Exit-In and the Bluebird Cafe have cancelled their shows for the night.

The second segment is now underway and the scheduled hosts, The Whites are on. Jan Howard was on and did 2 songs and then a suprise appearance by Ricky Skaggs who did a solo song and then a couple with The Whites. Jack Greene and Mandy Barnett were not on.

The third segment is under way and Jean Shepard is on hosting. Isn't it interesting that Jean and Jan Howard, two of the grand ladies of the Opry made it on. Jean just introduced a female by the name Tia Goins (I think that it is how it is spelled. I have never heard of her before). She sang the Bill Anderson song, "Walk Out Backwards", and did a great job. She did say it is her first time on the Opry and she thanked the snow storm for making it happen. Jean just introduced Jack Greene, so either he was late or they are doing "on the run" line-up changes. It looks like no Stu Phillips or Jesse McReynolds. I know for Jesse from Gallatin, that is a very long drive. It also looks like no Keith Anderson.

The final segment is underway, sponsored by Martha White, and Diamond Rio made it in to host. They just introduced Elizabeth Cook, so it looks like no Connie Smith, who lives out in Hendersonville, which would be close to an impossible drive in a storm, and no Bobby Osborne. In fact, after Elizabeth sang her 2 songs, it was back to Diamond Rio to finish it out. They let Diamond Rio go over, which was nice for those who braved the weather to show up and see the Opry.

I have got to say it was a pretty good and entertaining show. (I have to admit that I love Elizabeth Cook and hope that she eventually has success in country music, but I think she just sounds too country for today's radio). All the artists were very enthusiastic and were really spirited in their singing. Overall, a much better show than I expected.

So, to sum it up, the acutal line-up for Friday night was:

7:00: John Conlee(host); Billy Yates; Buddy Jewell
7:30: The Whites(host); Jan Howard; Ricky Skaggs
8:00: Jean Shepard(host); Tia Goins(?); Jack Greene
8:30: Diamond Rio(host); Elizabeth Cook

The artists who did not show were Jimmy C. Newman, Mandy Barnett, Stu Phillips, Jesse McReynolds, Keith Anderson, Connie Smith and Bobby Osborne.

The add-ons were Billy Yates, Buddy Jewell, Ricky Skaggs, Tia Goins and Elizabeth Cook.

Saturday should be another interesting night.....

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 1/29 & 1/30

The Grand Ole Opry finishes up their annual winter run at the Ryman Auditorium this week with one show on Friday night and one show on Saturday night. If you are interested in seeing several of the legends who seldom appear on the Opry, this is your weekend. With many of the Opry stars in Los Angeles for the Grammy Awards on Sunday night and several other Opry members off on the annual Opry Cruise, there were slots available on this week's shows.

Ray Pillow, Stonewall Jackson and Stu Phillips will all be appearing this weekend, along with guests Kathy Mattea, Cherryholmes and Keith Anderson. Colt Ford will be making his first appearance on the Opry.

Next week, the Opry returns to the Grand Ole Opry house with shows featuring Josh Turner, The Oak Ridge Boys, Sandi Patty and many others.

Here is this week's line-up:
Friday January 29
7:00: John Conlee(host); Jimmy C. Newman
7:30: The Whites(host); Jan Howard; Jack Greene; Mandy Barnett
8:00: Jean Shepard(host); Stu Phillips; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Keith Anderson
8:30: Diamond Rio(host); Connie Smith; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press

Saturday January 30
7:00: The Whites(host); Connie Smith; Cherryholmes
7:30: Jean Shepard(host); Stonewall Jackson; Jimmy C. Newman; Radney Foster
8:00: John Conlee(host); Ray Pillow; Colt Ford; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); Jack Greene; Kathy Mattea

While the line-up has no real superstars on it, it is still not a bad line-up. I don't know if there is much to appeal to the young "new" country fans of today, but I think that it is a nice traditional line-up that will appeal to many Opry fans. However, when I checked last night and on line this morning, there were plenty of good seats available. I am sure that the lack of superstars and the high price of tickets has something to do with that.

Finally, as all of you have already noticed, no Jimmy Dickens this week. That makes 2 weeks in a row. I have not heard any official word on what his situation is, but at age 89 and the health issues that he has had, we all know he is week to week, at best.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Ryman Reunion Celebration-October 18, 1998

On Sunday October 18, 1998, the Grand Ole Opry held a special Opry show at the Ryman Auditorium. This show was a benefit for The Performer's Benefit Fund and was the first Opry show to have been held at the Ryman since the Opry left on March 15, 1974. In fact, this show was so successful and received so many positive comments from those attending and the performers, that it led to the decision by the Opry to return to the Ryman for an actual Grand Ole Opry show, which they did on January 15 & 16, 1999.

Originally when the Opry returned for that one weekend in 1999 it was to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Opry's move to the new Grand Ole Opry House. As with the show in 1998, the 1999 shows were so successful that the Opry has returned to the Ryman Auditorium each winter since. The winter shows at the Ryman make perfect sense, as the crowds are smaller during those months and it gives its customers a feeling of what the Opry was like during its Ryman years. For younger fans it is a new memory and for the older fans, they get a change to rekindle old memories. Plus at the Ryman, you are so much closer to the stage.

But, back to the show on October 18, 1998. It was held during the Opry's birthday celebration and I was lucky enough to stay over an extra day and attend this show. Here is the line-up from that Sunday night.

7:00: Bill Anderson(host); Stu Phillips; Wilma Lee Cooper; Osborne Brothers; Charlie Louvin; Jeanne Pruett
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Hank Locklin; Roy Clark; Charlie Walker; Skeeter Davis
8:00: Billy Walker(host); Stonewall Jackson; The Whites; Del Reeves; Holly Dunn
8:45: Jimmy C. Newman(host); Jack Greene; Jean Shepard; Patty Loveless; John Conlee; Billy Grammer
9:15: Porter Wagoner(host); Joe Diffie; Travis Tritt; Vince Gill; Steve Wariner; Waylon Jennings
9:45: Lorrie Morgan(host); The Four Guys; Jan Howard; Ernie Ashworth; Jeannie Seely; Johnny Russell

Marty Stuart was originally advertised for the show, but Waylon was on instead. Also, the Opry later put out a full color photo of the event, with photos of those on each segment.

The announcers that night were Kyle Cantrell, Ralph Emery and Eddie Stubbs. The Carol Lee Singers and the Melvin Sloan Dancers were alson on. It was a great show.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 1/22 & 1/23--Updated

Updated: Lorrie Morgan has been added for Saturday night.

After a star packed show last Saturday night, the Opry returns this week with a line-up that has been more typical of the show as of late. There is again one show on Friday night and just one show on Saturday night. This weekend the featured guest artists include Clay Walker, Darryl Worley and Blake Shelton. Ronnie Milsap makes a return appearance on Saturday night. Like Emmylou Harris from last week, this will be Ronnie's second appearance in a month. He is another of those artists who lives in Nashville and has been spending more time off the road, so you would think that he could be a more frequent guest at the Opry. Now for the line-ups:

Friday January 22
7:00: John Conlee(host); Jeannie Seely; Riders In The Sky; Clay Walker
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Darryl Worley
8:00: Marty Stuart(host); Connie Smith; Point Of Grace
8:30: Mike Snider(host); Jan Howard; Jim Ed Brown; Blake Shelton

Saturday January 23
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Lorrie Morgan
7:30: John Conlee(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Jack Greene; Chuck Wicks
8:00: Marty Stuart(host); Charlie Louvin; Connie Smith; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Ronnie Milsap(host); The Whites; Mike Snider

Good solid line-ups but nothing that is going to make someone out of state drop everything they are doing to come to town to see it. Also, Ronnie Milsap will be signing copies of his CD at the Opry Originals shop downtown prior to the Opry on Saturday.

Finally, it has been reported the Charlie Daniels suffered a minor stroke over the weekend. He is back home and everything seems to be ok and he is expected to be back touring by the end of February. Hard to believe that he is 73!!! The legends of country music continue to age on us.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What I Would Like To See At The Opry

As someone who has been attending the Grand Ole Opry for over 35 years and having been a fan of the show even longer, I have a few ideas and opinions on things that I think would make the show better. These are really nothing special, just some random thoughts from a fan:

I would like to see the Grand Ole Opry institute a Grand Ole Opry Hall of Fame. Why not? There is a Hall of Fame for just about everything else. It could be incorporated with the Opry Museum right next to the Opry House. As far as membership, I would automatically include any Opry member who is in the Country Music Hall of Fame and any Opry member who has celebrated their 50th anniversary with the show. Other than that, perhaps several new inductees could be elected yearly, with the offical induction taking place during the Opry's birthday celebration in October.

Speaking of the Opry Museum, while they did update some of the displays a few years back, it is long over due for some new exhibits. For a long time, they have had exhibits honoring several great Opry stars including Tex Ritter, Roy Acuff, Marty Robbins, Jim Reeves, Jimmy Dickens among others. Hank Snow was honored in the past. I think it is time to freshen things up and honor a few more stars. People such as Uncle Dave Macon, Red Foley, Rod Brasfield, George Morgan, Pee Wee King and many others. Also, I would include more video, such as showing past Opry shows. Not the few clips they show in the Opry Shop, but more from their older files.

In the Opry House, along the back wall in the lobby, there are black & white, full size photos of several past Opry stars including Roy Acuff, Patsy Cline, Grandpa Jones, Bill Monroe and a few others. Listed on the photos are the dates of their Opry induction and the date of their induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. I would expand the picture display to include all the Opry members who have passed away and are members of the Hall of Fame. While the picture of Jim Reeves is fine and he is one of the greats in the history of country music, he did leave the Opry. Porter Wagoner was an Opry member for over 50 years and his picture should be up there also.

When you go to the Opry now, they give you a free souvenir program for that night's show. It is pretty basic with the line-up listed and a few ads. That is about it. A few years back, they actually sold a souvenir program for 50cents that was about 8 by 11, and featured not only the line-up for that weekend, but a page listing all the Opry members with a little fact about each one and had a page called the Opry Spotlight, that honored an Opry member, usually someone who was celebrating an anniversary with the show, or a new member. When you look at the program now, you have no way of knowing who is an Opry member of not, and it is not something you really want to keep. And by selling something at a very low price, you would be adding value to that item and Gaylord would be making some money on the deal, which they are always looking to do.

I would like to see the Opry get back to 2 shows each Saturday night and get back to the 6:30pm to Midnight Opry shows. There is just no excuse for a single 2 hour show on Saturday night. I am ok with the Friday Night Opry being just 1 show and a shorter show. But the tradition of the Saturday night show needs to return.

I would also like to see a reduction in the commercial time and more music. The commercials during the actual segments have not really changed, but between the segments at the top and bottom of the hour, they seem to be adding several commercials from advertisers that are not part of the Opry. Springer Farms and Martha White come to mind. On the radio they don't sound so bad, but when you are at the live show, it breaks down the flow of the show. Usually between the 3rd and 4th segment, they have not only a couple of commercials, but a few public service announcements also. They need to keep the flow of the show going.

I would like to see the return of at least 1 string band, featured on each show during the weekend. The Opry started on the basis of the string bands, and it is important for the Opry not to forget its past, although at times it seems as if they want to.

And, finally I would address the issue regarding the quality of the Opry line-up. There are too many weak shows that are just not worth the ticket price. If I had to program the Opry, in each half hour segment I would have a minimum of 4 artists. I would have the host, then perhaps a newer artist, then an Opry legend, with each of those artists doing 1 song, and then finish it up with a bigger name talent, who could do 2 songs. Oh, I would also bring back the encores. If you notice, they do not allow any artist to sing more than they are supposed to. There is too much clock watching and if an earlier segment in the show runs over, they will cut out a song later in the show to bring it in on time. If an artist gets a standing ovation, bring them back for another song. After all, Gaylord owns the radio station and the Opry and they are just paying themselves for the time. It doesn't seem to both the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree that runs over just about every Saturday night.

Those are just a few of my opinions and ideas. I am sure there are others.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Carl Smith

As I am sure many of you already know, former Grand Ole Opry member Carl Smith passed away Saturday at the age of 82. He was the former husband of June Carter and after that he was married to country music singer Goldie Hill for a number of years. He was also a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

During the 1950's, he had more than 30 top 10 records. He also was a host on many of taped Opry shows that have been circulating through the years. During the 1970's, he basically retired from the business, becoming a horse breeder and gentleman farmer.

After he retired, although he continued his relationship with the country music community, he disappeared from the public eye and many feel this was one of the reasons he had to wait so long to be elected to the Hall of Fame. He certainly deserved to be elected many years prior to when he was.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 1/15 & 1/16

I have said it before that with the Grand Ole Opry it is always a gamble when you buy tickets in advance, because at $54.00 for a prime seat, you never know what you are going to get. Sometimes the line-ups are just "ok" or you have a night like this coming Saturday night where the line-up of talent is well worth the price. This Saturday night you have Carrie Underwood, Dierks Bentley, Vince Gill and Emmylou Harris as the headliners.

I have mentioned before that I have been pleased with the amount of support Carrie has given the show. Since she has become a member, she has been making appearances on the show. And, what about Emmylou Harris? After going over a year without appearing on the show, she is playing all 3 shows this weekend, and that comes after appearing in December. Hopefully we will see more of her.

With the star quality on Saturday, the Opry is going to have 2 shows. Tickets are going very well for both shows that night.

Now for the line-ups:
Friday January 15
7:00: Riders In The Sky(host); The Whites; George Hamilton IV; Del McCoury Band
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Stonewall Jackson; Joe Diffie
8:00: Bill Anderson(host); Mike Snider; Daryle Singletary
8:30: Emmylou Harris(host); Jack Greene; Randy Kohrs

Saturday January 16
First Show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jeannie Seely; Del McCoury Band
7:30: Mike Snider(host); The Whites; Dierks Bentley
8:00: Vince Gill(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Emmylou Harris; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); Carrie Underwood

Second Show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jeannie Seely; Del McCoury Band
10:00: Mike Snider(host); Jan Howard; Dierks Bentley
10:30: Vince Gill(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Emmylou Harris; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson(host); Carrie Underwood

Everything I have heard is that they will not be adding an act in the final segment on the Saturday shows, but giving Carrie Underwood the extra time. I can't confirm that as of yet, that is just what I was told.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Grand Ole Opry-3/22 & 3/23, 1991

It has been a little while since I have posted a classic Grand Ole Opry line-up from the past. This time I have posted the line-ups from Friday March 22 and Saturday March 23, 1991. There was really nothing special about these shows that I attended. In fact, everyone who was on the Opry both of those nights were Opry members, with the exception of Os and Charlie, and Brother Oswald would become a member later on. The reason Os and Charlie were on the Opry during this period was that Roy Acuff was ill and many times in his career when he was unable to be at the Opry, he would ask managment if his band could be on so that they did not miss a payday. Opry management would do that back then, but like many other things, those days are long past.

Now for the line-ups. There was 1 show on Friday night and 2 shows on Saturday night.

Friday March 22, 1991
7:30(Cracker Barrel) Jimmy Dickens(host); Skeeter Davis; David Houston; Jim and Jesse
8:00(Bush Beans, Grand Ole Opry Tours) Bill Monroe(host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Justin Tubb; Ray Pillow
8:30(GMC Truck, Hamburger Helper) Jim Ed Brown(host); The 4 Guys; Jeanne Pruett
9:00(Pillsbury, Fiddlers/Ramada Inn) Bill Anderson(host); Jean Shepard; The Carlisles; Billy Walker; Os and Charlie
9:30(Dollar General Store) Jack Greene(host); Jan Howard; Mike Snider
10:00(Goody's Headache Powder) Grandpa Jones(host); Stonewall Jackson; Charlie Louvin; Dottie West
10:30(Kraft Deluxe Macaroni and Cheese) Jimmy C. Newman(host); Jeannie Seely; Charlie Walker; Johnny Russell
11:05: Grand Ole Gospel-Rev. Jimmy Snow

Saturday March 23, 1991
First Show
6:30(Bonanza) The 4 Guys(host); Jan Howard
6:45(Country Music Foundation) Grandpa Jones(host); Stonewall Jackson; Os and Charlie
7:00(Shoney's) Jack Greene(host); Jeanne Pruett; Ray Pillow; The Whites
7:30(Standard Candy) Billy Walker(host); Jean Shepard; The Carlisles; Wilma Lee Cooper; Charlie Louvin
8:00(Martha White) Jimmy Dickens(host); Charlie Walker; Jeannie Seely; Jimmy C. Newman; The Opry Squaredance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30(Pops-Rite Popcorn) Jim Ed Brown(host); David Houston; Skeeter Davis; Roy Drusky; Stu Phillips

Second Show
9:30(Dollar General Store) Grandpa Jones(host); Jeanne Pruett; Billy Walker; Stonewall Jackson; The Whites
10:00(Little Debbie Snack Cakes) The 4 Guys(host); Jan Howard
10:15(Sunbeam) Jack Greene(host); Jean Shepard
10:30(Pet, Inc.) Jimmy C. Newman(host); Ray Pillow
10:45(B.C. Cold Powder) Jim Ed Brown(host); The Carlisles; The Opry Squaredance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00(Coke) Jimmy Dickens(host); David Houston; Justin Tubb; Jeannie Seely; Charlie Louvin
11:30(Creamette) Charlie Walker(host); Roy Drusky; Skeeter Davis; Johnny Russell

I have to tell you that I really loved those 15 minute segments. Now for those of you who are counting at home, that was a total of 27 artists on the Friday night show, 25 on the first show on Saturday and 24 on the 2nd show. And that was with some of the Opry's veterans gone that weekend. Roy Acuff, Hank Snow and Porter Wagoner were not there and Bill Monroe and Bill Anderson were only on the Friday night show.

I hope you enjoy this look into the past.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-up 1/8 & 1/9--Updated

Ok, the Opry has made another adjustment on the schedule. The latest is that Jimmy Dickens will indeed be hosting the first segment on Friday night, and that Riders In The Sky will only appear on the second show. I know it is a small thing, but you would hope that they could get it right on the website.

It took a while, but I think I finally got the right line-up for this weekend's Grand Ole Opry shows. When you look at the line-up that is posted on, it has changed a few times over the past several days and they have Jimmy Dickens listed twice for the first show on Friday. I called the Opry today and asked them what was the right line-up and why they cannot keep the website updated, as I am sure some people do check it for the line-up before making plans to come to town.

This week, the Opry is taking part in the "Sound & Speed" weekend that is taking place at the convention center in town. There are NASCAR racers scheduled as guest announcers for the Friday night shows, and because of the race fans in town, there are two shows for Friday night, with the second show being the highlighted show for the weekend. That show features Hank Williams Jr., making a rare Opry appearance, along with his daughter Holly, and Vince Gill. Kyle Petty is also featured on both shows, and to be honest, I did not know he could sing. I guess I will find out.

It will be a tough weather weekend for the race fans as there is snow and very cold weather in Nashville. Schools were cancelled on Thursday and are already closed on Friday. The wind chills are supposed to be below zero Friday night and into the day on Saturday. But, in talking to the Opry earlier today, tickets are almost sold out for both Friday night shows.

Now for the line-ups:
Friday January 8
First Show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); The Whites, Jason Michael Carroll
7:30: Mike Snider(host); Greg Biffle(Guest Announcer); George Hamilton IV; Jean Shepard, Danny Gokey
8:00: John Conlee(host); Jamie McMurray(Guest Announcer); Jack Greene; Jim Ed Brown; Chris Young
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); Miss Sprint Cup(Guest Announcer); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Kyle Petty

Second Show
9:30: Mike Snider(host); Jim Ed Brown; Danny Gokey
10:00: Bill Anderson(host); Jeannie Seely; Holly Williams; Kyle Petty
10:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Michael Waltrip(Guest Announcer); Hank Williams, Jr.
11:00: Vince Gill(host); Riders In The Sky; Chris Young

Saturday January 9
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Connie Smith; The Whites
7:30: John Conlee(host); Jean Shepard; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Chris Young
8:00: Riders In The Sky(host); Jan Howard; The Grascals; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Jeannie Seely; Rodney Crowell

Just a couple of comments:
>I asked the questions several times, "are you sure Jimmy Dickens isn't hosting a segment during the first show on Friday?", and the reply each time was no, he was scheduled for the first segment with Riders In The Sky hosting. I don't know what is up with that, but I will try to find out and maybe there will be an update on Friday.
>I did notice that Jimmy will be working late on Friday night as he is hosting the 10:30 segment, which for him, is very late. His only guest is Hank Williams, Jr, and perhaps that had something to do with it. Hank is appearing as part of the Sound & Speed weekend, and that is probably when the exhibits and such close at the convention center and that was probably when they could book him into the Opry. We all know that Jimmy and Hank, Jr are friends and fishing buddies, so that could have been a request on their part to appear together. I am also somewhat suprised that Holly Williams is not on that segment with her dad. Lots of times the Opry will do that.

I do have a Hank Williams Jr. story to tell. He appeared on the Opry on Saturday night, February 16, 2002, in a segment hosted by Porter Wagoner and featuring Travis Tritt as a guest. That segment was televised and I was at that show, which was at the Ryman. I remember that the doors were late in opening, because they were still rehearsing the television segment. People were really crowded into the lobby of the Ryman and many standing outside. I was toward the front, by the side entrance for those who know the Ryman. When they opened the doors into the auditorium, I went upstars to the balcony, just to check things out. There is a refreshment stand up there and a door beside it, that has stairs that lead down to the backstage area of the Ryman. As I was standing by that door, it opened and Hank Jr and Merle Kilgore came walking out. I have got to tell you, I don't know how many of you have stood next to Hank Jr., but with those big cowboy boots on and that cowboy hat, he was about the biggest man I have ever seen. I did say hi to him and he was pretty nice in responding. Merle on the other hand, did not say too much, but kept Hank moving towards the upstairs backstage area, where they did the television interview. But, Hank was nice and said hi and shook hands.

There you have it for this coming weekend. Stay warm and enjoy.

Monday, January 4, 2010

New Opry Web-Site

In reviewing the new website, just a thought on my part: As all of you know, they have an artists section that lists all of the Opry members and many of the guest artists who visit the Opry. This section includes a short biography and a web-link for most of them.

I would love to see them add a section listing the former Opry members and a short biography on each one, including the dates that they were members. I think it would be great if newer Opry fans could read the biographies of not only the greats such as Roy Acuff, Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, etc, but also of some of the lesser known artists such as Cousin Jody, Margie Bowes, Marion Worth and some of the others.

Just a thought.

Saturday, January 2, 2010


While not Grand Ole Opry related, I wanted to mention the great country music programs that are being shown on RFD-TV. This network has moved so far forward from where it was even last year. There are new episodes of The Ralph Emery Show and Crook and Chase, along with Larry's Country Diner and the Country's Family Reunion shows. Not only do they show the new episode, but they also repeat them at various times during the week.

I have said it before, I would hope that if the Grand Ole Opry is looking for a new television home, that Gaylord management and the management from RFD could sit down and talk, and perhaps work out a deal.

I received their weekly program guide yesterday, and I just wanted to mention some of the country music shows on the schedule:

Sunday nights feature Hee Haw, this week from 1971 and staring Charley Pride, Amanda Blake and Mickey Mantle.

The new Ralph Emery show is on Monday nights and this week it features Lorrie Morgan. They replay the show later in the week.

Larry's Country Diner is on Tuesday night and this week's guest is T. Graham Brown. Also on Tuesday is the Gaither Gospel Hour and this week it features gospel favorites from the Grand Ole Opry. and after that show is Crook and Chase. These are also new shows that mix in classic clips from their older shows. This week, it is an Elvis tribute, along with Ray Walker and Minnie.

On Saturday nights, you have the Marty Stuart show, which is just great. Each show features Marty, Connie Smith, LeRoy Troy and a special guest. This week it is John Prine. Following his show is Midwest Country, an hour long variety show that always features a classic country music star. This week it is Stonewall Jackson.

Then you have The Porter Wagoner Show on Friday and Sunday, featuring either Dolly Parton or Norma Jean, along with Speck Rhodes and Buck Trent. The Wilburn Brothers Show, featuring either Loretta Lynn or a very young Patty Ramey(later Loveless), depending on the year, is on several times during the week, along with Pop Goes the Country, with Ralph Emery as the host. The Penny Gilley show is another half hour variety show, this week featuring Ronnie Milsap.

Country's Family Reunion is on each Friday night and is featuring new shows with a galaxy of classic country music stars and Grand Ole Opry perfomers. They also show many of the older shows with the stars that have passed away.

In the mornings is a show called Heart to Heart from years ago, and this week, they have shows featuring Dolly Parton, Keith Whitley and Mel Tillis. Reno's Old Time Music Festival is also on weekdays and this week will have classic performances from Tom T. Hall and the Dillards.

And, coming soon to the schedule is the classic Bill Anderson show.

Again, I mention RFD-TV, because they do a good job with classic country music. Many of us know that sometimes the real country is hard to find and this gives us a good place to watch it. Of course for those who are farmers or from farming families, you have numerous farming shows and also rodeo and western shows, including Cowboy Church. RFD also has a great web-site to check out all of their programming.