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.


  1. I'll be mentioning the upcoming Ray Stevens appearance on my blog site. I am guessing that the show will be available on-line as well? I can pick up WSM in the evening but listening on-line is crystal clear and my preferred choice since I can hear the station at anytime, day or night now. I wish Ray would become a member of the Opry. I also wish that he'd be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame as well. As a country comic he's one of the most successful. Jerry Clower is another one that's over-looked. Archie Campbell, for all of his impact on HEE-HAW, he too should be in the Hall of Fame. They've elected artists that were primarily known as comedians before and in my opinion Ray and those other comics are long over-due for their rightful place.

    As far as Rhonda Vincent goes. It doesn't or shouldn't matter if the artist is hugely popular anymore to merit Opry induction...as you pointed out, the Opry lately has inducted several artists who have long been out of the mainstream spotlight.

    I think what happened when it comes to Rhonda Vincent is the commercial factor, which, traditionally, was never part of the Bluegrass visions of Bill Monroe and the rest of the legends in that format.

    I think when a lot of her bluegrass CD's were being singled out in the mainstream it put her on some sort of a plateau that a lot of Bluegrass acts just don't reach. I looked up the last CD she issued and it peaked at #2 on the Bluegrass chart in 2009 and so she's not completely without her supporters. I just think the attention has moved elsewhere and it makes the artist look like they're not as active. It's anyone's guess why she left Rounder Records after years on the label. Her tour schedule is booked solid through November. Lots and lots of Bluegrass festivals on the schedule.

  2. The Oak Ridge Boys always have been popular guests at the Opry, and they have talked about their love for the place. Also, Duane Allen's wife is one of the Carol Lee Singers, for what that's worth. They would be a fine addition. I do think they should go with some bluegrass, and would be happy with both acts being added ... except I notice that when the Opry has two shows, on those rare occasions, Bobby Osborne and/or Jesse McReynolds is usually limited to one of the shows. I do not know whether that is related to their age, Pete Fisher's judgment of their abilities (both can still do the job), or his feelings about bluegrass.

  3. I have noticed the same thing regarding Bobby Osborne and Jesse McReynolds. Lately, both have been scheduled for one show each weekend, and if one is on the Friday show then the other is on the Saturday show. Also, most weekends, Jimmy C. Newman, Jack Greene and Jan Howard are done to just one show.

    Thanks for bringing up Archie Campbell. He was a very good comedian and a very good writer. I think he is overlooked in country music history and should be in the Hall of Fame. Same with Jerry Clower and Ray Stevens.

    As I have said many times before, Rhonda Vincent would make a very nice addition to the Opry. Right now, only Alison Krauss is a true female bluegrass singer on the roster, and I can count on my one hand the number of times she has been on the Opry over the past couple of years. There is a need in that area.