Sunday, February 28, 2010

March Opry Highlights

Tomorrow starts the month of March, and as I have been doing at the start of each month, I wanted to review important Opry highlights and events that have taken place during the history of the Opry during the month.

Several Opry members joined the Opry during March. They are:
>Jesse McReynolds joined the Opry along with his late brother Jim, on March 2, 1964 (46 years).
>The Whites became Opry members on March 2, 1984 (26 years).
>Trisha Yearwood joined the Opry on March 13, 1999 (11 years).
>Jan Howard offically joined the Opry on March 27, 1971 (39 years).
>George Jones has his offical Opry induction date as March 31, 1973 (37 years).

In the case of Jan Howard, she had been a very frequent guest on the Opry and many people thought she was already a member. In the case of George Jones, he had been an Opry member earlier in his career and then left the show before returning as a member, although with infrequent Opry appearances).

Several Opry members are celebrating birthdays in March:
>Jan Howard was born March 13, 1930 (80 years old).
>Charley Pride was born March 13, 1938 (72 years old).
>Ranger Doug Green of Riders In The Sky was born on March 20, 1946 (64 years).
>Reba McEntire was born March 28, 1955 (55 years old).

Just an interesting note regarding Doug Green. He has a Masters Degree in Literature from Vanderbilt University and is noted as a country music historian and book author. He also is a member of The Time Jumpers, who perform every Monday night in Nashville at the Station Inn. Vince Gill is also a member of the group.

The following historical events in Opry history took place in March:
>March 1947, Grandpa Jones became an Opry member. (The exact date has been lost to history as back during that time period there was really no offical Opry induction).
>March 28, 1950, Hank Snow recorded "I'm Movin' On." Eventually, this became Hank's career record and saved his membership at the Opry. It stayed #1 on the country charts for 21 weeks.
>On March 22, 1952, Uncle Dave Macon died at the age of 82. One of the original pioneers of the Opry, he would eventually be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. He had last performed on the Opry just 3 weeks before his death.
>March 26, 1953, Jim Denny and Webb Pierce form Cedarwood Publishing Company in Nashville. Over time, this move would have a profound effect on the Opry, with Jim Denny eventually leaving WSM and the Opry, along with Webb Pierce and others.
>On March 5, 1963, Opry members Patsy Cline, Randy Hughes, Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins were killed in a plance crash near Camden, Tennessee. On March 9, the Opry began that night's show with a silent prayer in memory of the trio and also in memory of Jack Anglin, of the duo Johnny and Jack, was was killed in an auto accident in route to a prayer service for Patsy Cline. Opry manager Ott Devine was quoted as saying to the audience, "to keep smiling, and to recall the happier occasions. I feel I can speak for all of them when I say...let's continue in the tradition of the Grand Ole Opry."
>On March 9, 1974, the final Grand Ole Opry show was broadcast from the Ryman Auditorium.
>On March 15, 1974, the final Friday Night Opry took place at the Ryman Auditorium. George Morgan hosted the final segment and ended the show with his hit, "Candy Kisses", and reminding everyone that he would see them tomorrow night at the new Opry House. (Of wish I am proud to say that I have a video of). After the Opry, Grand Ole Gospel took place, with the Rev. Jimmy Snow, along with Johnny and June Carter Cash, The Carter Family, Hank Snow, and many others. The ended the show with the song "Will The Circle Be Unbroken." On a side note, Garrison Keillor was covering the final Opry show that night and was inspired to start his own radio show, which he named, "A Prairie Home Companion".
>On March 16, 1974, the Opry performed its first show from the new Grand Ole Opry House. Of course, as we all know, Roy Acuff kicked off the show, which featured a guest appearance by President Richard Nixon and his wife. The Opry members appeared in alphabet order that night, and the first show lasted for almost four hours.
>On March 15, 1975, the Opry had to celebrate its first anniversary at the new Opry House at Nashville's Municipal Auditorium as flood waters from the Cumberland River flooded the parking lots and forced the Opry to move downtown. More than 7,000 people attended that night's show. (Interesting that there was no interest by the Opry to have the show at the Ryman Auditorium that night).
>March 4, 1978, the entire Grand Ole Opry was televised live for the first time on PBS, as part of an annual fund raiser. During the commerical breaks, PBS featured back stage features as they were prohibited from showing the commericals. This became an annual event for several years, and was always one of PBS's highest rated programs.(If anyone knows where there is a copy of that program, I would love to have it.
>On March 10, 1979, James Brown appeared at the Opry at the invitation of Porter Wagoner. In Porter's book, there is a great chapter on that night, especially the response of several Opry members including Jean Shepard and Roy Acuff. Let's just say that he was not well accepted by most Opry members, and many Opry members did not appear that night.
>March 7, 1983, TNN, The Nashville Network, debuted with Ralph Emery's show, Nashville Now. Starting in April, the Opry would be shown on this network for many years.
>In March 1985, Gaylord broadcasting bought Acuff-Rose music publishers for over $20 million dollars, and uses Acuff-Rose as the base to start it's own, Opryland Music Group.

That covers the high points for March. Enjoy!!!

On a personal note, if anyone wishes to contact me outside of this blog, feel free to. I enjoy the emails and responding to questions or comments that you prefer not to make on the board. My email address is:

And, tell your friends and neighbors about the blog.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Grand Ole Opry 2/26 & 2/27---Updated

A few changes in this weekend's line-up. After being originally advertised as being on both shows this weekend, Marty Stuart will not be. Don't know why. Vince Gill has been added on Friday night, so that is a good trade-off. A couple of changes on Saturday night, with Jim Ed Brown now hosting a segment and Dailey & Vincent moving to an earlier slot. The line-up below reflects the updates.

The Grand Ole Opry has announced their line-up for this weekend's shows at the Opry House. There is one show on Friday night and one show on Saturday night. The thing that stands out this week is that the Opry has added an intermission to the Saturday night show. In my opinion, things just keep getting worse at the Opry. I have written before about the shorter shows, cutting to one Saturday show, no television and now a Saturday intermission. I just think that it changes the flow of the show and the way it is presented. Taking a 15 minute break during a radio show? I just don't know.

As far as the line-up this week, Josh Tompson is making his first Opry appearance, and he will be joined by Blake Shelton and Miranda Lambert on the Friday night show. On Saturday night, The Band Perry makes a return appearance, along with Dailey & Vincent and Jimmy Wayne. Jewel was originally scheduled for Saturday night, but has cancelled. I know that she was on WWE's Monday Night Raw this past Monday as a guest host and was on crutches with a foot injury. Not sure if that had something to do with it.

Now for the line-ups
Friday February 26
7:00: John Conlee(host); The Whites; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Josh Thompson
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jean Shepard; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Bill Anderson(host); Mike Snider; Blake Shelton
8:45: Vince Gill(host); Connie Smith; Miranda Lambert

Saturday February 27
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; The Band Perry
7:30: Jeannie Seely(host); Jack Greene; Dailey & Vincent
8:15: Jim Ed Brown(host); Connie Smith; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson(host); Jan Howard; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Jimmy Wayne

The Opry is resuming their Tuesday Night Opry, starting this coming Tuesday March 2. Here is the line-up for that show:
7:00 Jim Ed Brown
7:30: Jean Shepard; Del McCoury Band
8:45: Bill Anderson; Chris Young
8:45: Jimmy Dickens; Aaron Tippin

It will be interesting to see how Jimmy Dicken's voice holds out, doing both weekend shows and then the Tuesday Night Opry. I know that usually on the weekend, he sounds pretty good on Friday, but is a little weaker on Saturday night. Now adding Tuesday night. It was nice to see that he made a personal appearance in Florida last weekend with Jack Greene. He must be doing better to have done a road show.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Country Music Hall of Fame

The Country Music Hall of Fame today announced its newest inductees. Elected in the veterans category were Jimmy Dean and Ferlin Husky, who tied for the most votes. From the non-performer catagory, Billy Sherrill was elected. And Don Williams was elected as the modern era candidate.

Jimmy Dean and Ferlin Husky should have been in the Hall of Fame years ago. I am not going to go through their career highlights, as it would take too long, but I am glad that they were both elected before they passed away. Ferlin has had some serious health issues this past year and Jimmy, in addition to his own health issues, had the tragedy of the fire that destroyed his home. Maybe the fact that they were in the news so much this past year inspired the voters to vote them in. Whatever the reason, the voters, in my opinion, got it right this year. The additional benefit of two individuals getting elected helps to clear up some of the backlog of candidates that has developed over the years, thanks to the policy of the Hall of Fame of only electing one person from each category each year.

While it is good news for Jimmy and Ferlin, it continues to be a disappointment for many other worthy candidates, including Jean Shepard. She has been a strong candidate for the past several years, but just can't seem to get the votes to get her in. Consideration was also given to Jim Ed Brown and The Browns and the Wilburn Brothers. Hopefully, all will eventually be elected.

Billy Sherrill was one of the great producers of all time, and deserves his spot in the Hall. Finally, Don Williams, the gentle giant, was elected. He certainly deserves to get in and I was somewhat suprised by his election as I thought there were other performers from his era who were equally strong, but were more in the public eye than Don. But, what a great voice and what great songs he had.

The modern era candidates include performers who have been in the business for 20 years or more. After electing Vince Gill, I like the fact that the voters have been electing members from this category who have been around for a while and have "waited their turn." While Vince is certainly Hall of Fame worthy, I thought he got in too soon. Don Williams was elected over other eligible candidates such as Reba McEntire, The Judds, Ricky Skaggs and Randy Travis. Ronnie Milsap also received consideration.

Congratulations to all the new members.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Grand Ole Opry-January 20 & 21, 1995

In a previous post regarding a classic Grand Ole Opry line-up, a couple of comments were made regarding Brother Oswald and the night that he was offically made a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Pete Kirby, aka Bashful Brother Oswald, officially joined the Opry on Saturday January 21, 1995. His induction was on the televised portion on TNN. Marty Stuart hosted that portion of the show and he was joined by Porter Wagoner and Boxcar Willie.

Beecher Ray Kirby was born near Sevierville, Tennessee in the Great Smoky Mountains on December 26, 1911. He met Roy Acuff in Knoxville, Tennessee and joined the Smoky Mountain Boys at the Opry on January 8, 1939. He would stay a member and back-up Roy until Roy's death, over 50 years later. He acquired his nickname when Rachel Veach joined the group and he became her "great big Bashful Brother Oswald" and the name would stick for the rest of his life.

He is considered one of the greatest dobro players ever, and Roy featured him on many of his shows. He also played the banjo. After Roy's death, he continued to play the Opry with Charlie Collins. The night he joined the Opry all of the Opry members on stage sang "Wabash Cannonball" and he played along has he had done for the past 56 years. He passed away on October 17, 2002 at the age of 90. I was in attendance on the night that he became a member, and he was warmly welcomed as an Opry member and he was a very popular choice. He was loved and respected by all of the members of the Opry and it showed.

In honor of Brother Oswald:

Friday January 20, 1995
7:30: Cracker Barrel: Porter Wagoner(host); Wilma Lee Cooper; George Hamilton IV; Jimmy C. Newman; Jeanne Pruett
8:00: Sheplers Western Wear/Rudys: Jimmy Dickens(host); Bill Carlisle; Jack Greene; Stu Phillips
8:30: Opry Book/Hamburger Helper: Grandpa Jones(host); Jim Ed Brown; Billy Walker; Mike Snider
9:00: Fiddlers Inn-Ramada Inn/Williamson Dickey Workwear: Hank Snow(host); The 4 Guys; Connie Smith; The Whites
9:30: Dollar General Store: Marty Stuart(host); Brother Oswald & Charlie; Charlie Louvin; Del Reeves; Boxcar Willie
10:00: True Value Hardware Stores: Bill Anderson(host); John Conlee; Ray Pillow; Alison Krauss
10:30: Georgia Boot: Bill Monroe(host); Stonewall Jackson; Charlie Walker; Harrington Brothers; Johnny Russell

Saturday January 21, 1995
First Show
6:30: GHS Strings: Grandpa Jones(host); Mike Snider
6:45: Country Music Hall of Fame: Bill Monroe(host); Bill Carlisle
7:00: Shoney's: Jimmy Dickens(host); The Whites; Stonewall Jackson; Jeanne Pruett; Jim Ed Brown
7:30: Standard Candy: Marty Stuart(host); Porter Wagoner; Connie Smith; Brother Oswald & Charlie
8:00: Martha White: Bill Anderson(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Boxcar Willie; Charlie Louvin; Opry Squaredance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Velvetta Shells & Cheese: Hank Snow(host); The 4 Guys; Billy Walker; Doug Stone; Osborne Brothers

Second Show
9:30: Dollar General Store: Porter Wagoner(host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Osborne Brothers; Stu Phillips; The Whites
10:00: Goodys Headache Powder: Grandpa Jones(host); Roy Drusky
10:15: Sunbeam Bread/Tennessee Pride: Bill Monroe(host); Ray Pillow
10:30: Gruhn Guitar: Marty Stuart(host); Boxcar Willie
10:45: Fairfield Nashville: Jimmy Dickens(host); Del Reeves; Opry Squaredance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00; Coke: Hank Snow(host); Connie Smith; Charlie Walker; Doug Stone
11:30: Cates Pickles: Bill Anderson(host); The 4 Guys; Jack Greene; Johnny Russell

A great line-up for all 3 shows and a great night for Brother Oswald

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Who Are Your Favorite Grand Ole Opry Stars?

A couple of weeks ago while my wife and I were returning home after a weekend in Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry, we were discussing the show and the weekend. She asked me a question that got me thinking. She asked, "Who is your favorite Opry performer?" It was an interesting question, because there are so many that I like on the Opry. Another way to put the question would be, "Is there any current Opry member that you get excited about when you see their name listed in the line-up?"

So I thought I would break this down from my own viewpoint. The Opry currently has 66 members, and while I would like to say that I like all of them, I don't. Mostly it just has to do with my personal taste in music, nothing personal against any of them.

With that, I thought I would give all of you my personal rankings in a couple of different areas as far as my favorite Opry members: (I considered only active members)

Favorite Female:
1) Patty Loveless
2) Connie Smith
3) Emmylou Harris
4) Pam Tillis
5) Lorrie Morgan
6) Loretta Lynn
Actually, it is probably a tie between Patty and Connie as I love them both.

Favorite Group:
1) Diamond Rio
2) Riders In The Sky
Not many groups currently on the Opry

Favorite Bluegrass:
1) Ricky Skaggs
2) Jesse McReynolds
3) Del McCoury
4) Alison Krauss
All are great bluegrass acts and the Opry has others just as good

Favorite Male:
1) Vince Gill
2) Marty Stuart
3) George Hamilton IV
4) Bill Anderson
5) Jim Ed Brown
6) John Conlee
7) Garth Brooks
8) Brad Paisley
9) Larry Gatlin
The Opry is really loaded with some great male performers

Favorite Legend:
1) Stonewall Jackson
2) Ray Pillow
3) Jimmy Dickens
4) Stu Phillips
5) Jan Howard
All are excellent

Taking all of those, here are my top 5 favorite Opry performers:
1) Vince Gill
2) Patty Loveless
3) Ricky Skaggs
4) Marty Stuart
5) George Hamilton IV
6) Jim Ed Brown
7) Bill Anderson
8) Emmylou Harris
Yes, I have more than 5, but that is ok.

Just my thoughts and ideas. I certainly want to hear from others.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 2/19 & 2/20

The Grand Ole Opry has announced their line-up for the shows this weekend. It is a pretty good line-up of stars including Montgomery Gentry, Dierks Bentley and Marty Stuart. Also, no Jimmy Dickens this weekend.

But, the big news to me and the thing that caught my eye is that they have added an intermission to the Friday night show!!! In my mind, and after seeing the intermission added on the Tuesday night and Thursday night shows, it was just a matter of time until they started messing with the weekend shows. At least for this week, there is no intermission listed for the Saturday night show. But for how long, and why add an intermission to just the Friday show? I think they are testing it out and seeing how it works out and eventually it will get added on Saturday night. Once you start doing that, you are really messing with the flagship show.

In the surveys that they probably did, the response back from the ticket buyers was that an intermission was a good idea so that none of the show would be missed while they went out and bought refreshments or went to the restroom. But, with the video monitors in the refreshment areas and even in the restrooms, nobody was missing anything. By adding an intermission, management is encouraging the customers to leave their seats and spend more money, which is probably the idea.

I love the tradition of the Grand Ole Opry. Over the past several years, Pete Fisher or whoever is making the final decisions, have raised ticket prices to an extremely high level, have shortened the length of the shows, have cut out the 2nd Saturday show on most weekends and have reduced the number of artists performing per show. Now, an intermission is added. They always say before each show that the Opry is a radio show and not a concert. By adding an intermission, management is treating an Opry performance more like a concert than a radio show. I just don't like it!!!

Now for this weekend's line-ups:
Friday February 19
7:00: Diamond Rio(host); Riders In The Sky; Del McCoury Band
7:30: John Conlee(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Craig Morgan
8:15: Bill Anderson(host); Charlie Louvin; Montgomery Gentry
8:45: Mike Snider(host); Jim Ed Brown; Dierks Bentley

Saturday February 20
7:00: Riders In The Sky(host); The Whites; Tracy Lawrence
7:30: Mike Snider(host); Jan Howard; Jim Ed Brown; Kellie Pickler
8:00: Marty Stuart(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Connie Smith; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); Stonewall Jackson; Jeannie Seely; Craig Morgan

One other thing that I have noticed for the past several months. In the segments where there is a legend as the only guest along with a "star" performer, they are only letting the legend do 1 song. Let's see if they do that again this week with Charlie Louvin, Jesse McReynolds and Bobby Osborne. I think if they are tight on time, they use this time period to catch up. But, I also noticed that the week I attended, the final segment had Jesse McReynolds and the Oak Ridge Boys as guests, and Jesse McReynolds did one number while the Oak Ridge Boys did 3. Just something to watch for.

Friday, February 12, 2010

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

Here is another in our series of classic Grand Ole Opry line-ups from the past. This line-up is from the weekend of February 12 & 13, 1993, which are the same dates as this upcoming weekend. 17 years ago this weekend, there was one show on Friday night, from 7:30-11:00 and two shows on Saturday, 6:30-9:00 and 9:30-12:00. If you are adding up at home, that is eight and a half hours of music over the two days compared to four hours that is taking place this weekend. To put it another way, tonight's Friday Night Opry has 14 artists compared to 29 in 1993. Saturday's Grand Ole Opry also has 14 artists compared to 30 different artists then. Finally, the ticket price for the 1993 show was $16.24 for a prime seat, compared to a ticket cost of $54.00 for a prime seat this weekend!!!! Let's see if this makes sense: a significant higher ticket price and less acts. To me, not a way to run a business!!!

Friday February 12, 1993
7:30 Cracker Barrel: Porter Wagoner(host); Jeanne Pruett, Charlie Walker Mel McDaniel
8:00 Bush Beans/Rudys: Bill Anderson(host); Skeeter Davis; Stonewall Jackson; Jean Shepard
8:30 Opry Tours/Hamburger Helper: Bill Monroe(host); Del Reeves; Connie Smith; Mike Snider
9:00 TNNR/Nabisco: Hank Snow(host); Billy Walker; Jan Howard; The Whites
9:30 Dollar General Stores: Grandpa Jones(host); The 4 Guys; The Carlisles; Ray Pillow; Holly Dunn
10:00 TNN: Jimmy C. Newman(host); Justin Tubb; Smoky Mountain Boys; Boxcar Willie
10:30 Opry Book: Jack Greene(host); Jeannie Seely; George Hamilton IV; Johnny Russell
11:05 Grand Ole Gospel Time: Rev. Jimmy Snow

Saturday February 13, 1993
First Show
6:30 GHS Strings: Boxcar Willie(host); Billy Walker
6;45 Country Music Hall of Fame: Grandpa Jones(host); Jean Shepard; Jim Ed Brown
7:00 Shoney's: Bill Monore(host); Ray Pillow; Skeeter Davis; The 4 Guys; Mel McDaniel
7:30 Standard Candy: Jack Greene(host); Riders In The Sky; George Hamilton IV; Holly Dunn
8:00 Martha White: Porter Wagoner(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Smoky Mountain Boys; Connie Smith; Opry Squaredance Band; The Stoney Mountain Cloggers
8:30 Kraft: Hank Snow(host); The Whites; Roy Drusky; Jeanne Pruett; Mike Snider

Second Show
9:30 Dollar General Stores: Porter Wagoner(host); Jack Greene; Charlie Walker; Stonewall Jackson; Jan Howard
10:00 Little Debbie Snack Cakes: Grandpa Jones(host); Holly Dunn
10:15 Sunbeam Bread/Tennessee Pride: Bill Monroe(host); Jim Ed Brown
10:30 Grand Ole Opry Tours: Boxcar Willie(host); Jeannie Seely
10:45 B.C. Powder: The 4 Guys(host); The Carlisles; Opry Squaredance Band; The Stoney Mountain Cloggers
11:00 Coke: Hank Snow(host); The Whites; Justin Tubb; Riders In The Sky
11:30 TNN: Jimmy C. Newman(host); Roy Drusky; Connie Smith; Johnny Russell

>If you are counting at home, both shows featured all Opry members (if you count the Smoky Mountain Boys).
>The 7:30 portion was televised live by TNN.
>Even though it was only 17 years ago, of the 29 artists on the Friday night show in 1993, only 5 of those artists are on the show tonight. And, of those 29 artists, 5 were members of the Country Music Hall of Fame, compared with 1 Hall of Famer on tonight's show. Finally, on a sad note, of the 29 artists from 1993, 12 of them have passed away.

Life comes at you pretty quick, so take the time to enjoy the legends that are left today.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Buy 1 Opry Ticket, Get 1 Free

As they have done before when attendance has been down, the Opry is offering a buy 1, get 1 free on Opry tickets. You have to purchase your tickets by Sunday and the offer is good on any show through April 30. At this point, the offer is not listed on the website and must have been sent to people on their email list.

When you read the small print, price level one tickets do not count, so it looks like they are trying to fill seats in the back corners and the balcony and there are possible blackout dates. Which means if Carrie Underwood is coming, the offer does not apply on those dates.

Maybe instead of offering free tickets when you buy one, they should cut ticket prices, especially during the off times when attendance is low, and more people could afford to come to the Opry, or be inclined to buy tickets.

This past weekend when I was there, I would estimate the attendance at the Friday show at around 1500 and on the Saturday show, maybe 2500. Lots of empty seats in the upper balcony and the upper wings.

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 2/12 & 2/13

Here is this weekend's line-up for the Grand Ole Opry

Friday February 12
7:00: Jeannie Seely(host); John Conlee; Jimmy C. Newman; Restless Heart
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Elizabeth Cook; Rodney Crowell
8:00: Steve Wariner(host); Stu Phillips; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jean Shepard
8:30: Ricky Skaggs(host); Jack Greene; Connie Smith

Saturday February 13
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Connie Smith; Joey + Rory
7:30: John Conlee(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Jeannie Seely; T. Bubba Bechtol
8:00: Mike Snider(host); Jan Howard; Luke Bryan; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Mel Tillis(host); Ray Pillow; Jean Shepard; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press

Just a couple of notes:
>Terri Clark is still being advertised as being on Friday night's show, but is not listed on the line-up. Elizabeth Cook is listed, which makes me think that Terri might have cancelled out and they are going with Elizabeth in her place
>The Opry recently has been going with a "big name" in the final slot on their shows, but in looking at this week's schedule, that is not the case, with Jean Shepard closing the show on Friday night and Bobby Osborne on Saturday night.
>Jimmy Dickens is scheduled for both shows this weekend. He was in poor voice on the Saturday show last week, so let's hope that the week off helped him out. I will still be listing to see how he is again this week, doing both shows.
>A couple of the senior legends are on this weekend, in Stu Phillips and Ray Pillow.
>Steve Wariner and Mel Tillis are both making appearances this week.

Enjoy the shows!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

50 Year Opry Members

I know that I had some comments on this in the recap of last weekend's Opry shows, but I just feel strongly about this and wanted to add a couple of more comments.

This past weekend, George Hamilton IV celebrated his 50th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. During the show on Saturday night, Pete Fisher came out and presented George with a very nice watch, that has been given the recent members who have celebrated their 50th, and a framed poster honoring George. Pete had some very nice comments, as did George. Mike Snider did a good job introducing everyone.

But, I just don't think it was enough. George Hamilton IV has had a pretty good career in country music. I don't know how many records he has sold or how many top 10 hits he has had, but I know it has been a few. At the very least, there should have been a half hour segment devoted to George and his career. I don't think that is asking too much. The way George was honored for his 50th was the same way that Billy Grammer, Jimmy C. Newman, Jean Shepard, Wilma Lee Cooper, Stonewall Jackson and Charlie Louvin were honored. In the case of Billy, I could probably understand, as he is retired and has not really been an active part of the Opry for a number of years.

But in the case of Jimmy, Jean, Wilma Lee, Stonewall and Charlie, there should have been more. In the history of the Opry, as members reached their 50th anniversary on the show, when the Opry was televised, the entire televised portion of the show was devoted to them. That was the case with Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Grandpa Jones, Bill Monore, Jimmy Dickens and Porter Wagoner. In the case of Jean, Stonewall, Charlie and Jimmy C., the Opry was still being televised on GAC, but on the night of their 50th, they were not even mentioned or honored on the televised portion. Granted, in the history of country music, all of those individuals were probably bigger stars than Jean, Charlie, Wilma Lee and Jimmy C. But, they all deserve the special treatment. Bill Anderson is the next to celebrate his 50th, and that will be next year. He will probably get honored more than George.

The other thing that bothers me is that the Grand Ole Opry press and public relations department did nothing to let people know that George was celebrating his 50th. There was nothing in the Nashville Tennessean before the event and nothing on the Opry website. And, if you remember, there was nothing said when Jean, Jimmy C., Wilma Lee, Stonewall and Charlie reached that milestone. And, when I was at the Opry on Saturday night, there was nothing in the Opry house, nothing announced before the show and nothing in the program that was given out that night, letting people know what a special night this was.

With this lack of publicity, it was no wonder that the audience basically sat on their hands when George was honored. From what I know, and having met him, he is a great, Christian person. They should have allowed some of the other Opry members come out and say a couple of words. They should have allowed George to host the segment and have on who he wanted that night. They did that with Porter.

I don't mean to go on and on, but when a Reba McEntire shows up at the Opry for the first time in 10 years, the Opry PR department works overtime letting everyone in the world know what is happening.

I know in today's Opry, the emphasis is on the superstars of today, but how can they forget and ignore the past that got them to where the Opry is at today? For 50 of its 84 years, George was a big part of this history. And, to treat it as an afterthought, is just not right!!! If this sounds like "sour-grapes", I don't mean to come off that way. I just think that to be a loyal member for 50 years, you should receive something more than being allowed to sing two songs on a Saturday night.

Grand Ole Opry Recap

This past weekend, February 5 & 6, I spent the weekend in Nashville and attended both Grand Ole Opry shows during the weekend. I just wanted to recap what I saw and heard over my 3 days in the music city and a review of the Opry shows.

The Friday Night Opry on February 5 was a very good show. The Opry house was about half full, with the lower level pretty filled up and the balcony had people sitting only in the lower center section. However, the energy of the crowd was very good and they were generous in their applause and enthusiasm for the artists.

The first segment featured Riders In The Sky as the hosts and their guests were Jim Ed Brown and The Whites. The Riders In The Sky are excellent hosts and not only sing great but have good harmony. Jim Ed did "Pop A Top" as one of his two songs and The Whites did two songs also. All of the artists on the first segment looked and sounded great.

The second segment featured Jimmy Dickens and I was anxious to see how he looked and sounded, as he had been off the Opry for two weeks. On Friday, he looked excellent and had a lot of pep. His voice held up very good. He was moving around the stage and coming to the edge of the stage during the commerical breaks and shaking hands and standing for photos, to the point that one of the security guards came down to send people away. His guests were Bobby Osborne and his group and they did Rocky Top. Bobby looked good, but had no voice and Bobby Osborne Jr. did the singing. Chris Young, one of the newcomers to country music was on and did a fine job. The female fans loved him.

The third segment had Bill Anderson as the host and he looked very good, but his voice was a little horse also. Connie Smith did two songs and looked fantastic. In fact, it looked like she had lost a little weight. Keith Anderson did two songs and in many ways was very similar to Chris Young.

Mike Snider finished out the show by hosting the final segment. Jack Greene looked and sounded great on "Statue of a Fool". Stonewall Jackson sounded great on "Standing Invitation", but he looked very ragged on stage and at one point seemed a little confused. Josh Turner was just fantastic and drew the loudest crowd reaction of the night. And, I have to admit of all the newcomers in country music, I enjoy Josh the best.

All in all, Friday night was a very good show.

As far as Saturday night, the crowd was maybe a bit larger than on Friday night, but lacked a lot of energy during the first half of the show. It was not until Sandi Patty came on that the crowd really came alive.

The first segment was hosted by Jimmy Dickens, and he just seemed tired and the voice was not nearly as strong as on Friday night. He did not joke as much as on Friday and did not move up to talk to the audience. After seeing him on Friday and Saturday, I almost want to say that he is fine doing one show a weekend, but I think two shows is taking it out of him. Also, Saturday was very cold in Nashville, so it is possible that the weather was bothering him. Jeannie Seely did one song and looked and sounded very good and Chris Young did the same two songs that he did on Saturday night.

The second segment was hosted by Mike Snider. Jean Shepard did two songs and she sounded good but looked a little haggard. George Hamilton came out next and Mike noted that it was his 50th anniversary as an Opry member. There was no special applause from the crowd and that was just not right. I, along with about three other people, stood up and that was it. Just a shame. After his first song, Pete Fisher came out and was very nice in his comments and presented George with the usual railroad watch and framed poster. Again, no real enthusiasm from the crowd. (More on this at the end). George looked and sounded great.

The third segment was hosted by Jim Ed, with Jimmy C. Newman and Sandi Patty as the guests. Jim Ed was fine and Jimmy C. Newman looked and sounded good. Sandi Patty was awesome!!! This was the first time she had ever been on the Opry and she put on a show with her two songs. The crowd woke up and gave her a standing ovation. It was the first time I had ever seen her in person and the range of her voice was just something to see and hear. The square dancers did their usual good job.

The final segment was hosted by Bill Anderson, who's voice was much better than on Friday night. Jesse McReynolds and the Virginia Boys (and girl), did one song and were fine. Then came the Oak Ridge Boys. For those who have seen the Oaks on the Opry before, you know that they just love the Opry and the crowd loves them. Three songs including Elvira and Bobbie Sue, and two standing ovations later, they left the stage. They were great, with William Lee Golden coming down into the crowd. They should be Opry members!!! I know that they have been asked, but have declined due to other committments.

As a wrap up to Saturday, like I said before, the crowd just did not seem to have a lot of enthusiasm and energy until Sandi Patty came out. But, still a good show.

As far as a couple of other comments:
>I was very disappointed over the reaction to George Hamilton IV. As a 50 year Opry member, he deserved more. Not only that, but there was not article in the Nashville Tennessean until Monday, there was no special mention of his achievement in the Opry program, or even before the show. This is becoming a pattern at the Opry. It was the same deal with Billy Grammer, Jean Shepard, Charlie Louvin and Jimmy C. Newman. But, for Porter Wagner, the Opry devoted an hour to him and really built it up. Granted, Porter is a bigger star than some of the others listed, but all of them have remained loyal to the Opry and have served the Opry well. Getting the recognition that they did from Pete Fisher was fine, but anyone who makes it 50 years should have an entire segment devoted to them.
>I already commented on Jimmy Dickens. Friday night he looked and sounded great. Saturday, he looked a little tired and the voice was not there. Perhaps one show a weekend would work for him for a while. I just don't see him getting any better as his age is working against him.
>Chris Young and Keith Anderson were fine, but they are cookie-cutter people who are influenced by Garth Brooks. They were both very respectful of the Opry, but they sounded basically the same, had the same type of hat, the tight tee shirt, and the same mannerisms on the guitar as Garth. Josh Turner, on the other hand, has a different voice and a different look on stage. Perhaps that is why he is, and will be, the bigger star.
>My wife attended with me this weekend. She gets to the Opry maybe once every five years. Her last show was the birthday celebration and before that it was the 80th birthday. She knows country music, but is not a true country music fan. To be honest, she is a "deadhead". I asked her who impressed her the most over the weekend, and she said it was Jack Greene, doing "Statue of a Fool". She said he sang it with feeling and emotion and looked just great standing still on the stage singing it. She also said Stonewall sounded great, but was shocked at how he looked. As you would expect, the Oak Ridge Boys impressed her also. I also asked her about the length of the show, as two hours still seems short to me. But, she suprised me by saying that as a casual fan, two hours was good, and the shows had a good flow to them. Of course, when I told her the ticket price, she had a different reaction. She said for the entertainment that was there, it was overpriced. She said all of the acts were good, but at $54.00, not such a good value.

The Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree was hosted by bluegrass star Larry Stephenson. He was very good and George Hamilton IV was on to do a song. Jan Howard and Jim Ed Brown were there also, but did not sing. The Midnight Jamboree have George more recognition than the Opry did. Keith Bilbrey was there and said a few words and he will be the announcer on next week's show. That will be good to hear.

All in all, a good weekend. I did get some pictures that I will send as soon as I figure out my disc. I will also add a few more comments in the coming days and will be happy to answer any other comments that come up.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 2/5 & 2/6

The Grand Ole Opry returns to the Grand Ole Opry House this weekend after their annual winter run at the Ryman Auditorium. There is one show on Friday night and one show on Saturday night.

Jimmy Dickens is scheduled to return after a two week absence from the Opry and George Hamilton IV will be celebrating his 50th anniversary as an Opry member on Saturday's show. Other highlights include the Oak Ridge Boys, Josh Turner and Sandi Patty.

I will be in Nashville this weekend attending both the Friday and Saturday night shows along with the Midnight Jamboree. When I return on Monday, I will update everyone with what I saw and heard.

Here are the line-ups:
Friday February 5
7:00: Riders In The Sky(host); Jim Ed Brown; The Whites
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Chris Young
8:00: Bill Anderson(host); Connie Smith; Keith Anderson
8:30: Mike Snider(host); Stonewall Jackson; Jack Greene; Josh Turner

Saturday February 6
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jeannie Seely; Chris Young
7:30: Mike Snider(host); Jean Shepard; George Hamilton IV
8:00: Jim Ed Brown(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Sandi Patty; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Oak Ridge Boys

Not a terrible line-up, although you would like to see more than 13 artists on Friday night and 12 on Saturday night. Originally, Dailey & Vincent, John Conlee and Del McCoury Band were listed as being scheduled to appear. Those three artists would have made this line-up even better.

Have a great weekend!!!!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

No Jimmy Dickens Again This Week-Updated

Shows what I know. The Opry schedule is out for this weekend, and Jimmy is listed for both the Friday Night Opry and the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night. We will see if that sticks or not.

Looking at the Opry website, Jimmy Dickens had been listed as being scheduled to appear on this weekend's Opry shows. However, this afternoon, he was taken off, which would lead me to believe that he will not be on again this weekend. If that is the case, that would make three weekends in a row that Jimmy will be missing from the Opry.

We all know that he is week-to-week at best, and hope that there is nothing seriously wrong with him, and that it is just a case of his voice not being in good shape.