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.