Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 4/2 & 4/3

This weekend, the Grand Ole Opry returns to one show on Saturday night after having two Saturday night shows the past several weeks. Then, next week, they return to two shows on Saturday. I know it is the night before Easter, but usually that is one night that draws good crowds to both shows.

Here are the line-ups:
Friday April 2
7:00: John Conlee(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Lee Brice
7:30: Riders In The Sky(host); Jean Shepard; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Mike Snider(host); Jan Howard; Jack Greene; Holly Williams
8:45: Vince Gill(host); The Whites; The Time Jumpers

Saturday April 3
7:00: John Conlee(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Lee Brice
7:30: Mike Snider(host); Jean Shepard; Restless Heart
8:00: Riders In The Sky(host)l Stonewall Jackson; Holly Williams; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Vince Gill(host); The Whites; Connie Smith

The Opry website does not list an intermission for Saturday night, but I am sure with one show there will be one. Also, they have Charlie Daniels listed for Saturday night, but that is a misprint. And, a few of the Opry regulars are missing. Jimmy Dickens is actually doing a personal appearance on Saturday night at the Wheeling Jamboree with Jim Ed Brown and Jeannie Seely. Bill Anderson is touring in Canada.

Also on the Opry website, you will notice that they have updated their artists scheduled to appear for upcoming shows. They have added a boat load of names, but they names are mostly of the Opry regulars that usually appear most weekends. Unfortunately, most of the big name artists continue to be missing in action. But, we do have appearances by Vince Gill, Lorrie Morgan, Joe Diffie and Ricky Skaggs to continue to look forward to. Let's hope for more.

Next weekend, I am planning to be in Nashville on Saturday for both shows.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Top 10 Country Artists Who Should Be in the Grand Ole Opry

Sometimes you see an article that just makes you shake your head. I found such an article today while doing some research. The article was titled "Top 10 Country Artists Who Should Be in the Grand Ole Opry", and was written by an individual named Kathleen Dougherty, dated May 18, 2009 and distributed by Associated Content. The article is as follows:

The Grand Ole Opry has long been the premier place for country musicians. Some of the most famous musicians who have played at the Opry, though, are not members of it. The members of the Opry are chosen based on their music and enduring success. According to the Grand Ole Opry website, "There's no magic formula, no secret code that grants access to one of the most coveted invitations in all of music."

In my opinion (the opinion of the writer, not me), there are some significant artists over the past few generations who have been overlooked. Here is my pick for the top ten country music stars who should be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry.

Shania Twain-Shania Twain was one of the first of many successful crossover artists. Her 1997 album "Come on Over" is still the best selling country album ever produced. This album is also the best selling album for a female. She also has 5 Gammy awards to her name as well as numerous other recognitions and awards.

Toby Keith-Toby Keith has had a lot of commercial success since his debut in 1993. His hit "Should've Been A Cowboy" was the most popular country music song of the 1990's for radio play, with an estimated 50 million plays from 1993-1999. 40 singles have charted over the years, including 18 singles making the number one spot and 17 other top ten hits.

Dixie Chicks-The Dixie Chicks have the title of highest-grossing female band, having sold more than 30.5 million albums. They have won 13 Grammy Awards, including an Album of the Year award in 2007 for their album "Taking the Long Way."

Rascal Flatts-Having 6 studio albums under their belt in only 9 years, Rascal Flatts has not had an album that has not at least hit double platinum. From those 6 albums, there have been 24 top-40 country hits, including 10 that attained the number one status.

Faith Hill-In her career, Faith Hill has sold over 35 million albums. On top of this she has had 8 number one hits, 3 number one albums. She has been given honors from the Grammy's, Country Music Association and even the People's Choice Awards.

Leann Rimes-Leann Rimes has had cross over success since she started her career at the age of 13 with the song "Blue." reminiscent of the vocal style of Patsy Cline. She has won numerous awards including Grammys, AMA and CMA awards. Her music continues to evolve and she has an exciting career to this day.

Tim McGraw-With over forty million in sales, Tim McGraw is one of the most versatile and successful modern country musicians around. He is married to Faith Hill and together they have produced some of the most well known duets. He has won three Grammys, CMA, AMA and People's Choice awards.

David Allan Coe-From ballads to humorous songs, this beloved singer/songwriter reached the peak of his fame in the 1980's. However, he continues to write and perform to this day with nearly 300 original songs to his credit. I think he is one of hte most underrated and underappreciated country artists of the day.

Johnny Cash-For as many times as Johnny Cash has performed on the Grand Ole Opry, it is suprising that he is not a member of it. He is one of the most enduring singers and even after his death he still has a vast following. There is no music fan around who is not familiar with this artist and it is an omission that should be rectified.

Willie Nelson-The singer/songwriter began his career in 1956 and continues to this day. He has some of the most well known hits throughout the decades and is famous for not only his music but his political beliefs. Willie Nelson was once a part of the Grand Ole Opry but is no more. I think he should be.

Now for a few of my comments and opinions.
First, I have nothing against any of these artists. I like most of them and all of them are talented. And, while I do not know the writer of this article, Kathleen Dougherty, she just does not come across very well with some of the comments that she writes.

Let's look at a couple:
>Johnny Cash has been dead for a number of years. All Grand Ole Opry members are living. He also was once a member of the Opry and left on his own. He was even asked by Roy Acuff in the 1980's to be a member again, but he turned it down. But, like I said, he is deceased.
>Shania Twain one of the first successful crossover artists? Gee, did this author ever here of Eddy Arnold or Glen Campbell, or Patsy Cline. There were many crossover artists long before Shania came along. Oh, and I don't think she has ever appeared on the Opry.
>At least Faith Hill, Tim McGraw, Leann Rimes and the Dixie Chicks have appeared on the Opry. But, I don't think there is any interest in any of those joining. And, do you think that the Dixie Chicks would fit the profile of what an Opry member should be? And, speaking of the Dixie Chicks, I still remember watching Opry Live the night they announced that Porter Wagoner and Bill Carlisle had been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. The facial expression on Porter's face was priceless!!
>Willie Nelson I could see as an Opry member. But, I think he has only appeared on the Opry once in the last 20 years. Again, I would ask him, but I don't think there is any interest by him in returning, although he does write some funny stories about the Opry in his book.
>David Allan Coe? Nice song writer and I have seen him in concert, and he is good. But, what a foul mouth and I am sure that would go over well.

Finally, Rascal Flatts. They actually have appeared on the Opry a few times and have been well received. I could actually see them as members at some point. They live in Nashville and seem to have a respect for country music and the Opry.

The way she wrote this article, it sounded more like she was trying to get these artists elected to the Hall of Fame. Maybe someone should tell her that there is more to being an Opry member than by having a bunch of hit records or a bunch of awards. While there are many country stars who should be members of the Opry, I think she missed the boat on most of her choices.

Monday, March 29, 2010

April Opry Highlights

This week the month of April begins. As I do each month, I want to review the historical events that took place during this month in the Opry's history and pass along some Opry information.

Only 2 of the Opry's current members joined in April:
>Diamond Rio became members of the Grand Ole Opry on April 18, 1998 (12 years).
>Ray Pillow, one of the Opry's legends joined on April 30, 1966 (44 years). And I might add, Ray sounds as good as ever.

The following Opry members will celebrate birthday's in April:
>Emmylou Harris was born on April 2, 1947 (63 years old).
>Steve Gatlin, of the Gatlin Brothers, was born on April 4, 1951 (59 years old).
>Hal Ketchum was born on April 9, 1953 (57 years old).
>Vince Gill was born on April 12, 1957 (53 years old).
>Loretta Lynn was born on April 14, 1935 (75 years old).
>Roy Clark was born on April 15, 1933 (77 years old).

Looking at the birthdays, I cannot believe that Roy Clark will be 77. He always looks so young while watching the reruns of Hee Haw on Sunday nights. Emmylou Harris still has one of the sweetest voices around and it just seem's like yesterday that Vince Gill was one of the rising stars in country music. It just shows that time doesn't stand still.

The following important events in Grand Ole Opry history took place in April:
>April 17, 1926, Uncle Dave Macon became a Barn Dance regular. At the time he was 55 years old and was the Opry's first nationally known performer. He remained an Opry regular until his death in 1952, at the age of 81.
>April 26, 1947, Roy Acuff returned to the Opry, after leaving the show the previous year in a salary dispute. At the time he had left, he was the host of the nationally broadcast portion, sponsored by Prince Albert. However, when he returned, Red Foley continued as the host of that portion of the Opry and Roy became the host of the Royal Crown Cola Show.
>April 1, 1967, the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum opened on Music Row in Nashville.
> April 6, 1968, a curfew in Nashville that was imposed following the assassination of Rev. Martin Luther King, forced the Opry to cancel that night's live performance for the first, and only time in it's history. WSM aired a tape of a previous show that night. Roy Acuff, Sam and Kirk McGee and several other Opry members performed an afternoon show at a nearby hall for the out of town fans who came to Nashville expecting to see an Opry show that night. Also on this date, Bud Wendell took over as the Opry's manager.
>April 12-15, 1972, the first Fan Fair took place in Nashville. It was held at the Municipal Auditorium. Later, it was moved to the Tennessee State Fairgrounds, and is now held in downtown Nashville, as part of CMA Music Fest.
>April 13, 1985, the Grand Ole Opry was aired for the first time as a weekly show on TNN, The Nashville Network. The show was called, "Grand Ole Opry Live", and continued on TNN until 2001. Roy Acuff hosted that first show, but, as a trivia question, who can tell me who else was on that show with Roy?

The Opry didn't keep real good records in its earlier days, but it was in April 1946 that Red Foley took over as host of the Opry's Prince Albert Show, and it was in April 1958 that Don Gibson became a member of the Opry.

Finally, in 2004, just a few years back, the Opry was held on the same dates as this coming weekend, Friday April 2 and Saturday April 3. I know that it is not that long ago, but I wanted to repost that line-up from that weekend.

Friday April 2, 2004
7:30: Porter Wagoner(host); Mel McDaniel; Mike Snider; Joni Harms; Jim Ed Brown
8:00: Bill Anderson(host); Jeff Bates; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Connie Smith
8:30: Hal Ketchum(host); Charlie Walker; Riders In The Sky; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
9:00: Lorrie Morgan(host); Jack Greene; Jean Shepard; Del McCoury Band
9:30: John Conlee(host); The Whites; Julie Roberts; Osborne Brothers

Saturday April 3, 2004
First Show
6:30: John Conlee(host); Hal Ketchum; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
7:00: Riders In The Sky(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Osborne Brothers; Radney Foster
7:30: Lorrie Morgan(host); Billy Walker; Jean Shepard; Joni Harms
8:00: Porter Wagoner(host); Mike Snider; Jeff Bates; Opry Square Dance Band/Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); Connie Smith; Del McCoury Band

Second Show
9:30: Lorrie Morgan(host); Mel McDaniel; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; Jim Ed Brown
10:00: Porter Wagoner(host); Jan Howard; Jimmy C. Newman; Radney Foster
10:30: John Conlee(host); Connie Smith; Hal Ketchum; Opry Square Dance Band/Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson(host); Billy Walker; Jean Shepard; Del McCoury Band
11:30: Mike Snider(host); Jack Greene; Joni Harms; Jeff Bates

The Opry was not televised live that weekend, and overall it was a pretty decent line-up. Hope all of you enjoyed that look back in history.

Tuesday Night Opry 3/30 & Opry Country Classics 4/1

Here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry March 30:
7:00: Jimmy C. Newman; Jason Michael Carroll
7:30: Jean Shepard; Eric Church
8:15: The Whites; Randy Houser
8:45: Jimmy Dickens Darryl Worley

Here is the line-up for Opry Country Classics, Thursday April 1:
The show is being advertised as a fun April Fool's Day edition of the show featuring a dose of laughs with your classics.
Host: Larry Gatlin
Spotlight Artist: Ray Stevens
Jeff Bates
Jim Ed Brown
Helen Cornelius
Jack Greene
Opry Square Dancers
Mike Snider
The Wrights

I know this will be a funny and a pretty good show with Ray Stevens. Other than Mike Snider, I don't know how funny the others will be, but it should be a good show. If they were going for humor, I would have loved to have seen Jean Shepard and Jimmy Dickens as part of the show. They both are known for some pretty good jokes on the Opry.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Quality of Weekly Grand Ole Opry Line-Ups

I think that everyone has noticed that over the past several months the quality of the line-ups for the Friday and Saturday night Opry shows have really decreased in quality. While there has been the occasional good show, on most weekends, the shows have just not been as good as they could be. And, if you look at the Opry website and the list of upcoming artists that are scheduled to appear, it is a pretty skinny list.

I know that we are now in an era where the shows are only 2 hours in length and there are only 10-15 artists per show. But, there has to be more than the same 7 or 8 veteran Opry members, one or two "name" Opry members and several no-name, or non-star performers appearing each week. Last night's line-up was another example. I originally had tickets to the show, but at $54 for a prime seat, I just did not have the urge to go. I called and changed my tickets to another show. The Friday night line-up was just not worth $54. While tonight's shows are better, with Charlie Daniels and John Anderson, you have to ask the question, where are most of the Opry members?

I know that this has been discussed before, but the majority of the stars are missing in action. Also, the Opry seems to have lost the ability to book big name, non-Opry members. I think the lost of the television contract has had a big affect on the booking. In the past, management was always able to dangle the opportunity to be on television when trying to book a big name act. Now, there is really nothing to offer except the opportunity to be on the Opry, and that doesn't seem to be enough any longer.

They key is to put pressure on the Opry members to fulfill their 10 appearances per year requirement. I would give the healthy and active Opry members 1 year to do that. I would recommend to Peter Fisher that he have a talk with each Opry member and their managers, and find out if these entertainers really want to be Opry members or not. Maybe they have not been asked this question before, and maybe some of them just no longer want to be Opry members, that they have moved on with their careers. If you remember your Opry history, many Opry members in the past left the Opry on their own and moved on. Recently, only Holly Dunn has given up her Opry membership. If they don't want to be Opry members,then drop them. If they do, then set up times when they will appear. At this point, while 10 is the ideal number, I would be willing to take just about anything from a few of them.

The publicity of losing members would not be that good. But, the Opry has been through this before and has survived. Besides, replacing some of the members with those who want to be a part of the Opry may not be so bad. At least the fans buying tickets can expect to see a good quality line-up each week.

And it can be done without cutting the appearances of the veteran Opry members who are there each week. It can be done by not booking unknown or local artists. These week was another example of scrambling to fill out the line-up. And, we end up with Matt Kennon and Jamie O'Neal.

I know that it seems like I have been on this topic of Opry members being at the Opry a lot lately. But, I just think it is important. We have lost so many of the great legends over the past decade, and who knows how long Jimmy Dickens, the last of his generation, will be with us. Except for a few, the younger members have not stepped up to fill the void as these great artists have passed away. Now is the time, before it is too late.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 3/26 & 3/27--Updated

They have updated this weekend's Grand Ole Opry line-ups. Del McCoury has cancelled out for all 3 shows this weekend, with Dale Ann Bradley added in their place. Also, Matt Kennon has been added for Friday night to fill the empty slow in the 7:30 slot and Jamie O'Neal was added to fill the slot available in the 8:15 segment. The line-up listed below has been updated.

The Grand Ole Opry has announced its line-ups for this weekend's shows. I originally had tickets for this weekend's shows and was planning to go down to Nashville for the shows. But, after the line-ups were announced, I called the Opry ticket office and had my tickets changed to a later date. (It's always a good thing to know a few folks at the Opry ticket office in order to make last minute changes). To be honest, the Friday night line-up is pretty weak, and at $54.00 per ticket, I want to see more than 11 acts. While the Saturday night line-up is better with Charlie Daniels and John Anderson, it is still not particuarly strong. Originally, Marty Stuart was to be on this weekend, and he is not, and there was some thought that Vince Gill might be on, but that didn't take place.

I don't want to beat a dead horse, but this continues to be an issue at the Opry. The line-ups have got to get stronger, especially at the ticket prices that are being charged. At this point, it really doesn't matter if they are Opry members or not, there has to be some established stars there.

Last weeks shows were pretty good and did have some great artists, such as Trace Adkins, Vince Gill, Pam Tillis, John Conlee, Marty Stuart and Ricky Skaggs. But, that has to be sustained each week. Let's all hope that they can improve upon things. Oh, and in talking to the ticket office this morning, if I had wanted another ticket for Saturday night's first show, I could have had the middle section, Row A. Not good if prime tickets like that are available 3 days before the show.

Now, here are this weekend's line-ups:
Friday March 26
7:00: Jeannie Seely(host); The Whites; Dale Ann Bradley
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Matt Kennon
8:15: Riders In The Sky(host); Jan Howard; Jimmy C. Newman; Jamie O'Neal
8:45: Mike Snider(host); Jack Greene; The Quebe Sisters Band

Saturday March 27
First Show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; John Anderson
7:30: Mike Snider(host); The Whites; Jordyn Shellhart
8:00: Jeannie Seely(host); Connie Smith; Dale Ann Bradley; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Jim Ed Brown(host); Jean Shepard; Bar D Wranglers; Charlie Daniels Band

Second Show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; John Anderson
10:00: Mike Snider(host); Jordyn Shellhart; Charlie Daniels Band
10:30: Jim Ed Brown(host); Jack Greene; Alison Brown; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Jean Shepard(host); Connie Smith; Dale Ann Bradley

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Brad Paisley and the Opry

Brad Paisley had a press conference yesterday where he announced his big plans and tour for the coming year. Nowhere during the press conference did he mention the Opry. I only say that because it would have been nice, as an Opry member, to say that he was going to plan on being on the Opry a few times this coming year as part of his tour. He is another one, who before they became an Opry member, was on the Opry a lot. He talked about his love of the Opry, how much he appreciated Jimmy Dickens and Bill Anderson. Then, in typical fashion of late, he becomes a member and basically disappears.

It just seems to be a pattern. As a young and upcoming artist, they do the Opry as much as they are asked, knowing it is good exposure, and at the time, were probably getting on the televised portion. Then the artist has a hit and it looks like their career is going to take off, so the artist is asked to become an Opry member. They agree and talk about what a great place the Opry is, how they listened to it every week as a child, how much their Mom or Dad loved George Jones or Hank Snow, or whoever, and promise to be there as much as possible. Then, they have several number one hits, start touring, and suddenly the Opry is not as important to them anymore. If we are lucky, we see them at the Opry 5 times a year. Or, whatever number of times the star feels like coming to the Opry. (In the case of Alan Jackson, that would be once per year). Then when they get to the Opry, they say how great it is, how much they miss it, and they will be back soon. (Right!!).

At his press conference last year announcing his return to Vegas, Garth Brooks held it on the Opry stage and talked about getting back to the Opry and how great it was. We'll, we are still waiting. (Although if Garth follows his pattern of Opry appearances, he might be there for the 85th birthday celebration).

I know that as "big" stars, they have busy lives and tours and recording sessions, etc., But, if they don't feel that the Opry is that important to them any longer, than quit. Make room for someone else.

And, yes, big stars can find time to do the Opry. When Vince Gill was the hotest thing in country music, he was there. And there are many others.

I use Brad Paisley as a recent example. But he is not alone. The pattern continues. There is always the hope that it will be broken. Maybe Carrie Underwood or Josh Turner will be the ones to set a new pattern. I wish, but just not hopeful.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 3/19 & 3/20

Here are the line-ups for this week's shows at the Grand Ole Opry. Looking at the Friday Night Opry and the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night, all 3 shows have pretty good line-ups. There are also some Opry members on this weekend's shows that we haven't seen much at the Opry recently, including Pam Tillis, Trace Adkins and Vince Gill.

Friday March 19
7:00: Marty Stuart(host); John Conlee; Riders In The Sky; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Ricky Skaggs
8:15: Pam Tillis(host); Jan Howard; Jim Ed Brown; Mike Snider
8:45: Vince Gill(host); Jaron & The Long Road To Love; Gene Watson

Saturday March 20
First Show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Easton Corbin
7:30: Pam Tillis(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; John Conlee
8:00: Ricky Skaggs(host); Ray Pillow; The Whites; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Mike Snider(host); Jeannie Seely; Jack Greene; Trace Adkins

Second Show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jim Ed Brown; Easton Corbin
10:00: Pam Tillis(host); John Conlee; Mike Snider
10:30: Ricky Skaggs(host); Stu Phillips; The Whites; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Vince Gill(host); Jeannie Seely; Trace Adkins

It is nice to see some variety in who is hosting segments. Personally, I think when Pam Tillis is hosting she does a very nice job introducing the acts and keeping the segment moving. It is also nice that they have a good mix of artists on all 3 shows, with some up and coming new talent, some veteran Opry artists, some stars and even some legends, which makes me say that it is nice to see Ray Pillow and Stu Phillips on this weekend. Meanwhile, the Opry is still having an intermission on Fridy night, but nothing during the Saturday night shows. I guess on Saturday management feels that the fans can walk to the concession stands during those show!!!

Here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, March 23
7:00: Jimmy Dickens; Connie Smith
7:30: Jack Greene; Trace Adkins
8:15: Joey + Rory; Luke Bryan; Gloriana
(This last segment is 1 hour).

That's right, only 7 artists on the Tuesday Night Opry. And, that is not all. The last hour of the Tuesday Night Opry is being taped by GAC for a special that will air on Thursday April 1st at 10:00pm. Trace Adkins will host this show and during the taping, the winners in the fan-voted Top New Artist categories at the ACM Awards will receive their trophies. Luke Bryan will receive the Top New Solo Artist award, Gloriana will get the Top New Vocal Group award and Joey + Rory will receive the Top New Duo award. So instead of getting a full Tuesday Night Opry, the fans will basically be getting a one-hour Opry and then a one-hour television taping of an awards show. Maybe I am old-fashioned, but the Opry should be the Opry and about the Opry. And, the taping doesn't even involve any Opry artists!!!! Of course, I hope management doesn't go off and do something stupid like asking one of these newcomers to be an Opry member during this special. That would take the cake!!!

Finally, here is the line-up for this seasons first Opry Country Classics on Thursday March 23:
This show will be "A Salute to the Statler Brothers" and starts at 7:00.
Host: Larry Gatlin
Artists: Daily & Vincent; Jimmy Fortune; The Gatlin Brothers; Eric Heatherly; Jan Howard; Charlie Louvin; Opry Square Dancers; Wilson Fairchild.

A pretty good line-up. It would be great if any of the original Statler Brothers would come in and make a special appearance. But, if the show follows its usual pattern, the artists they are honoring, if still alive, will not be there. At least everyone who is on the show has some connection to the Brothers.

Enjoy the shows this week.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

March 16, 1974-Grand Ole Opry House Grand Opening

It was on March 16, 1974, that the Grand Ole Opry performed its first show at the new Grand Ole Opry House. It is hard to believe that it has been 36 years!!! I am very pleased that they have kept the new Opry House looking in mint condition and it is still a great place to see the show. I know many people who sit in the upper balcony feel that they are far away from the stage, but since the video screens have been added, it has been much better. And, the sound is terrific.

On the night of the first show, virtually every Opry member was there. If I remember right, and I may be wrong and I know I will be corrected if I am, Bill Monroe was one of those missing. On that first night, Roy Acuff requested that he go on first, and he did. The Opry management decided to have the artists appear in alphabetical order, and so it worked out for him.

During that first night, the Opry did not have the usual 15 and 30 minute segments, but had the artists perform one song, more or less in alphabetical order. The highlight for many was the visit by President Richard Nixon, which was the first time a President had been at the Opry.This first show was by invitation only and the show lasted well past the normal Opry ending time. In fact, the 2nd show did not get underway until after 11:00pm. I think one of the great stories of all time is that Porter Wagoner asked Ernest Tubb what he thought about the President being at the Opry, and Ernest said that was great, but that he wished it had been a different President. Of course Ernest was from Texas as was the previous President.

As the Opry's history continues, I did want to remember the final show at the Ryman Auditorium on Friday night, March 15th. I am going to post the line-up, even though many of you have seen it before. For the final show at the Ryman, it was good line-up, but many of the big stars of the Opry were missing. Back in those days, the Friday show was not considered as big or important as the Saturday night show and many of the stars did not regularly appear on the Friday night show. To many of them, the previous Saturday night was the night that they said farewell to the Ryman.

Here is the line-up for that last Friday night at the Ryman:
7:00: Cracker Barrell: Roy Drusky(host); Del Reeves; Charlie Walker; Jan Howard
7:30: Varallo: Bill Anderson(host); Bob Luman; Jim & Jesse
8:00: Odom Sausage/U.S. Borax: Archie Campbell(host); Bobby Bare; Dottie West; Justin Tubb
8:30: Kroger Stores: Roy Acuff(host); Jean Shepard; Stonewall Jackson; Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper
9:00: Baltz Bros./Schlitz: Wilburn Brothers(host); Osborne Brothers; Jeanne Pruett; Del Wood
9:30: Acme Boot Co./Beechnut Chewing Tobacco: Jim Ed Brown(host); Hank Locklin; Grandpa Jones; The Carlisles
10:00: Cee Bee Food Stores/Schlitz: Billy Walker(host); Charlie Louvin; Stu Phillips; The Willis Brothers
10:30: Shoneys Big Boy: George Morgan(host); The Four Guys; Ray Pillow; Lonzo & Oscar; Ernie Ashworth

After the Friday night Opry was the Grand Ole Gospel show hosted by Rev. Jimmy Snow, and featured among others, Johnny Cash, June Carter, The Carter Family, Carl Perkins and Hank Snow. It was suprising that none of these performers were on the Friday Night Opry that night.

Hope you enjoy the look back and while it is not the same feeling, it is still great that the Opry returns to the Ryman each winter so that many of the fans can at least experience the Ryman. I was lucky to have been at the Ryman back when the Opry was there before they moved.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Members--Where Are They This Weekend?

One area of discussion that has come up over the years is the fact that very few of the Opry members show up on any given weekend. I thought that I would look at this week's line-up for Friday and Saturday night and see who is there and who isn't and track down those not on the show.

This weekend's 3 shows feature a total of 24 performers of which 17 are Opry members. Currently, there are 66 members of the Opry. That leaves 42, or the vast majority of the Opry missing this weekend. Where are they?

Let's track it down this way:
The 17 members who are on the Opry this weekend are John Conlee, Jimmy C. Newman, Jean Shepard, Jimmy Dickens, Jan Howard, Jeannie Seely, George Hamilton IV, Jack Greene, Mike Snider, Stonewall Jackson, Jim Ed Brown, The Whites, Marty Stuart, Connie Smith, Joe Diffie, Bobby Osborne and Charlie Louvin.

In checking various websites, there are 13 Opry members who are on tour. Those members are Trace Adkins, Larry Gatlin, Riders In The Sky, Ricky Skaggs, Randy Travis, Carrie Underwood, George Jones, Patty Loveless, Martina McBride, Del McCoury, Jesse McReynolds, Ronnie Milsap and Craig Morgan.

That totals 30, leaving 36 members to account for.

7 Opry members are either retired or in ill health and no longer perform. They are Wilma Lee Cooper, Billy Grammer, Barbara Mandrell, Mel McDaniel, Jeanne Pruett, Ricky Van Shelton and Tom T. Hall (I guess you can count him as he says he is retired, yet he still makes a few appearances).

2 more Opry members that can be accounted for are Bill Anderson, who is on vacation and enjoying Spring Training Baseball (wish I could join him), and Hal Ketchum, who is taking the year off (wish I could do that!!).

That accounts for 39, leaving 27.

Of those 27, several are Opry legends, that would be doing the Opry if asked. The legends not performing this weekend include Stu Phillips and Ray Pillow.

That leaves 25 Opry members who could have been at the Opry this weekend. Those 25 are Dierks Bentley, Clint Black, Garth Brooks, Roy Clark, Terri Clark, Charlie Daniels, Diamond Rio, Vince Gill, Emmylou Harris, Alan Jackson, Alison Krauss, Loretta Lynn, Reba McEntire, Montgomery Gentry, Lorrie Morgan, Brad Paisley, Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Ralph Stanley, Mel Tillis, Pam Tillis, Travis Tritt, Josh Turner, Steve Wariner and Trisha Yearwood.

Of those 25, I will give slack to a couple. Terry Clark and Diamond Rio are both doing the Tuesday Night Opry. Charlie Daniels had a stroke over the winter and his health may not be sufficient as of yet to perform, and Loretta Lynn and Ralph Stanley are getting up in years and their health as been up and down over the past year.

But the rest?? Dolly Parton was in Nashville Friday morning to attending the grand opening of her new gift show downtown. Are you telling me she could not stay and do the Opry? If you look at the rest of the list, it is a pretty impressive list of performers and many of them make very rare Opry appearances. I know some of you will say Vince Gill has been pretty loyal over the years and that is true. But, his appearances have been down so far this year as he has started to perform with the Time Jumpers most Monday nights at the Station Inn.

Can you imagine how great the Opry would be if most of the members would show up at least a majority of the time?

A couple of other points about this weekend's line-up. Of the 17 Opry members on this weekend, only 2, Jimmy Dickens and John Conlee are on all 3 shows. Of the legends, Jimmy C. Newman, Jean Shepard, Jeannie Seely, The Whites, Connie Smith,Jack Greene and Jim Ed Brown are on 2 shows, while Jan Howard, Stonewall Jackson, Charlie Louvin, George Hamilton and Bobby Osborne are on just 1 show. This has been a pattern of late. And, I think we all know that all of these legends would perform every show each weekend if asked.

I know management is cutting down on the number of acts to increase the profit at the Opry. There is no debate about that. They have done other things to cut costs. Seems to me a good plan would be to get most of these missing Opry membes to do some shows and with quality line-ups, the house would be filled. Then again, it just might be time to clean house of those not attending and add some more new members who will support the show.

Coming up soon, I will have some thoughts on the Opry's birthday celebration coming up in October. It is their 85th and you would expect some pretty big names to be there. But, already, a number of Opry members are indicating that they will be on tour over that weekend, including Vince Gill, and of all people, Jimmy Dickens is showing a road date for then.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 3/12 & 3/13

Good Evening to all Opry fans:
Sorry for the lack of any posts over the past week. Between out-of-town trips and computer issues, it was a tough one. But, I am back and regular posts will return.

This weekend the Opry has 1 show on Friday night and they return to 2 shows on Saturday night (at least for a couple of weeks). I also noticed on the schedule that with the return to 2 shows on Saturday that they have done away with the intermission. Sometimes I don't know what management is thinking. Why an intermission on nights with 1 show but not on nights with 2 shows? Of course, knowing how they change their minds, an intermission could be coming in future weeks.

As far as Friday night's show, the Oak Ridge Boys make another appearance on the Opry, and in fact have the closing slot on Friday night. Also appearing on Friday night is Darius Rucker, who has made a strong impression among the younger country music fans. On Saturday night, Marty Stuart will be on both shows along with Joe Diffie and idol favorite Danny Gokey. Both nights look pretty good as far as the line-ups.

Here is the line-up for the Friday Night Opry, March 12
7:00: John Conlee(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Jean Shepard; Billy Dean
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jan Howard; The Grascals
8:15: Jeannie Seely(host); George Hamilton IV; Jack Greene; Darius Rucker
8:45: Mike Snider(host); Stonewall Jackson; Jim Ed Brown; Oak Ridge Boys

Here are the line-ups for the Grand Ole Opry, Saturday March 13
First Show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); The Whites; David Nail
7:30: Mike Snider(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Jean Shepard; Steel Magnolia
8:00: John Conlee(host); Jeannie Seely; Danny Gokey; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Marty Stuart(host); Connie Smith; Joe Diffie

Second Show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); The Whites; David Nail
10:00: Jim Ed Brown(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Jack Greene; Stel Magnolia
10:30: John Conlee(host); Charlie Louvin; Danny Gokey; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Marty Stuart(host); Connie Smith; Joe Diffie

Here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, March 16
7:00: Nashville Irish Stepdancers; Bill Anderson; Terri Clark
7:30: George Hamilton IV; Diamond Rio
8:15: Connie Smith; Justin Moore
8:45: Jimmy Dickens; Lee Greenwood

Not a bad line-up for Tuesday night. The Nashville Irish Stepdancers are making their annual appearance with St. Patrick's Day coming up.

Recaping, there are 15 artists on Friday night, which lately, is one of the higher number of artists on a show. Both shows on Saturday night have 13 performers. Finally, if you notice, Jimmy Dickens is working 4 shows this week. I really hope he is up to it and his voice holds out ok.

Finally, the host of the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree this week is John England and the Western Swingers. They are not on any of the Opry shows over the weekend. Remember the time when whoever was hosting the Midnight Jamboree was always on that weekend's Opry shows. That does not happen much anymore.


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 3/5 & 3/6

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

Friday March 5
7:00: Jeannie Seely(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Chuck Wicks
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Marty Raybon
8:15: John Conlee(host); Riders In The Sky; Connie Smith; Mandy Barnett
8:45: Mike Snider(host); Jan Howard; Jim Ed Brown; Montgomery Gentry

Saturday March 6
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); John Conlee; Emily West
7:30: Bill Anderson(host); Jack Greene; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Mike Snider(host); The Whites; Little Texas; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Riders In The Sky(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jim Ed Brown Sammy Kershaw

It is a safe bet that with Sammy Kershaw on Saturday night that Lorrie Morgan will be nowhere to be seen!!! Also, I noticed that Bill Anderson is not in the final segment on Saturday night, which is where he traditionally has been since Hank Snow passed away.

As far as the rest of the line-up, Friday night is highlighted by Montgomery Gentry, with the rest of the line-up nothing really special. Saturday night looks like it might be the stronger of the two nights this weekend.

Here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, March 9
7:00: Riders In The Sky; Steep Canyon Rangers
7:30: Jeannie Seely; Love & Theft
8:15: John Conlee; Terri Clark
8:45: Jimmy Dickens; Lorrie Morgan

Not too bad for the Tuesday night show.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Opry Country Classics

Opry Country Classics, the Thursday night show that the Opry started last year will be returning for another year starting on Thursday March 25.

In looking at the Opry website, it looks like they are going to stick to the same format that they used last year, with most shows having a theme and a spotlight artist. Larry Gatlin, who hosted a majority of the shows last year, will be back again to host many of the shows this coming year.

Looking at what Opry Country Classics has planned so far for this year:
>March 25 will be a salute to The Statler Brothers, with Larry Gatlin as the host. Scheduled to appear so far are Dailey & Vincent, who just released the great Statler Brothers tribute CD, Eric Heatherly, who had a hit a number of years back with "Flowers on the Wall", Wilson Fairchild and Jimmy Fortune. It will be interesting to see if any of the other three Statler Brothers will make an appearance, just to say hi and wave to the audience. I know they are retired, but it would be nice to have a suprise appearance by them.
>April 1 will have Larry Gatlin again hosting, with Ray Stevens as the spotlight artist.
>April 22 will have Larry Gatlin as the host with Ronny Robbins scheduled.
>April 29 has Steve Wariner as the spotlight artist.
>May 5 will again have Larry Gatlin as the host.
>May 20 has Mel Tillis listed as the spotlight artist.
>May 27 is again Larry Gatlin with David Frizzell.
>June 10 has The Oak Ridge Boys as the spotlight artist, with Larry Gatlin as the host.

Larry is also scheduled to host all of the shows in September when the Thursday night show returns.

I know many times we have discussed who might be a future member of the Grand Ole Opry. I have speculated, and have heard several times, that Rhonda Vincent was going to be a new member, and it just hasn't happened as of yet. She wants to be a member, but I have noticed that her appearances on the Opry have dropped as of late, and she just announced that she is leaving her record label and going elsewhere. She doesn't seem as "hot" as she was a couple of years past and maybe the thought of her becoming an Opry member is fading away.

Dailey & Vincent have been guesting on the Opry quite a bit as of late, and they have received great response from the audience. Several have speculated that a bluegrass act might be the next logical choice to become a member, as current group of bluegrass performers who are members of the Opry are starting to age, with Jesse McReynolds and Ralph Stanley over 80 years old, Bobby Osborne and Del McCoury moving past 70, and even Ricky Skaggs, who many of us think as being one of the newcomers to the Opry, being 55.

Sometimes I get a "hunch" or a funny feeling about something, with no real information on if it might happen or not. But for some reason, I am starting to get feelings about The Oak Ridge Boys. I saw them at the Opry in February and the response they got was just outstanding. I also noticed during their entire time on stage that Pete Fisher was standing on the side of the stage watching. Normally, he is in the wings and not out front except for certain acts. I have seen the Oaks on the Opry several different times, all with the same audience reaction. My feeling is that they would be great Opry members and maybe at this stage in their career, might be open to becoming members.

Over the past several years, some older acts have been added as Opry members, people such as Mel Tillis and Charlie Daniels. I also have noticed the the Oak Ridge Boys have a couple of upcoming Opry appearances scheduled. Like I said, I have nothing right now to base this on, but I just wouldn't be suprised if the Oak Ridge Boys ended up being members of the Opry. Just something to watch out for.