Thursday, April 29, 2010

The Opry is Celebrating its 85th Birthday!!

The following is information from the Grand Ole Opry:

Get ready for a birthday party, Opry style! Giant guitars, one-of-a-kind cakes, and special shows are all on tap as the show that made country music famous celebrates its 85th birthday with country music's most popular artists and biggest fans throughtout a months-long celebration.

Grand Ole Opry superstars Vince Gill, Brad Paisley, Ricky Skaggs and Steve Wariner are picking up their guitars and hitting the Opry stage Tuesday, May 25 to officially launch a months-long celebration of the Opry's 85th birthday with an all-star guitar jam. As a part of the night's Tuesday Night Opry, each Opry member will take the stage individually followed by a guitar jam finale featuring the group's take on some of the most popular songs in Opry history. The four artists-each known as a million-selling recording artist as well as an impeccable musician-have together amassed more than 75 Country Music Association and Grammy Awards.

The night will light the fuse on a celebration to continue throughout the year as the show that made country music famous celebrates its 85th birthday with country music's most popular artists and biggest fans.

Among the highlights of a banner year:

Guitar Greetings: Two new 20-foot, 3000 pound steel and aluminum Opry 85th guitars will be unveiled outside the Grand Ole Opry House, officially welcoming visitors to the Opry party. Both fans and superstars will also be invited to sign other oversized guitars on display throughout the landmark birthday year, and larger than life Opry 85th decor featuring Opry members Trace Adkins, Charlie Daniels, Loretta Lynn, and others will cover much of the front facade of the Grand Ole Opry House.

Star-Packed Shows: Opry performances are scheduled for up to four days a week this summer (Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) with upcoming performances by Lady Antebellum, Oak Ridge Boys, Charley Pride, Josh Turner, and more. Opry Country Classics runs Thursdays through June 17 and again this fall at the historic Ryman Auditorium, and Hee Haw alum Mike Snider honors the Opry's rich country comedy traditions in Pickin' & Grinnin': A Grand Ole Opry Comedy Revue on select dates June through October in Studio A at the Opry House. Meanwhile, the songs of one of the Opry's most enduring legends, Patsy Cline, are set to take center stage at teh Ryman this summer in the return of Always...Patsy Cline.

In Pictures: A gallery showcasing some of the Opry's most memorable moments captured by the Opry's official photographer for over a decade, Chris Hollo, as well as past staff photographer Les Leverett is one of three new exhibits set to open in celebration of the Opry's 85th in the Grand Ole Opry Museum, located steps away from the Opry House. Other exhibits will spotlight the Opry in the first decade of the new millennium, including artifacts from Martina McBride, Montgomery Gentry, Carrie Underwood, and more; a third salutes late Opry icon Porter Wagoner.

Be Our Guest: The Opry has for years welcomed famous fans from all walks of life to its stage, including every U.S. President from Richard Nixon through George W. Bush. Recent guests including Garrison Keillor and Good Morning America's Robin Roberts have played a part in the Opry by acting as Opry guest announcers. In celebration of the Opry's 85th, a who's-who of celebrities will appear as guest announcers while the show will also launch an "I'm With The Band" series. "I'm With The Band" will invite personalities from outside the country world who have an interest in music to sit in with the Opry band for a song on country music's most revered stage.

Star's Guitars: As country music devotees descend on Nashville fro CMA Music Fest, a June 11 Guitars of the Stars Benefit Auction will give fans the unique opportunity to bid on acoustic guitars decorated by some of country music's most popular stars including award-winners Luke Bryan, The Judds, and Darius Rucker. Proceeds will benefit the Opry Trust Fund, which has for more than 40 years assisted members of the country music community in need.

Birthday Bash: The Opry's 85th Birthday Bash weekend featuring Opry Birthday Shows and an Opry Plaza Birthday Party is scheduled for Oct 8-9.

Now for my opinion:
I think it is a great thing that the Opry is going to celebrate its 85th birthday for most of the year. Obviously with attendance down, the Opry needs to do something to create some excitement for the shows. All of these things will help (although I think the biggest help would be for the Opry to offer improved line-ups each week instead of what we have been getting most weeks).

I am disappointed that the big kickoff on May 25 is being held on a Tuesday night. It would have meant something more if a Saturday night was the kick-off night, as it was Saturday night that made the Opry famous, not Tuesday night. I also think that by adding a Wednesday night show, it continues to delute the Friday and Saturday night shows.

I also think that adding these other shows takes away the thrill and the importance of the birthday weekend, which traditionally has offered some of the stronger line-ups at the Opry. I can remember when almost every Opry star would be at the Opry for at least one show during the birthday weekend, and a ticket to the birthday weekend was a must have ticket, and hard to get. Who can forget the 75th celebration and even the 80th that featured Garth Brooks.

My other concern is that they have not announced any acts for the birthday weekend. Usually by now, you have a couple that have committed. Also, in looking at some of the tour plans of Opry members, there are already quite a few that have shows scheduled that weekend and will not even be in town. With enough notice, you would think that as many members would be at the Opry that weekend as could be. But, with a months-long celebration, the Opry members can choose when they want to appear as part of the Opry's 85th celebration.

I do have my tickets to the Birthday Bash weekend, and I am sure it will be good. But, again, I am concerned that it will be watered-down and considered just another event, along with the others ones scheduled for the year.


  1. I share your desire that Saturday be the night when the big event gets rolling. I also couldn't resist posting a comment to the Opry site on Facebook that it would be nice if Brad Paisley seemed this serious about the Opry at other times. But at least he's performing there. The problem is not limited to the younger crowd. Dolly Parton shows up once a millennium, and every time George Jones appears, he says how much he loves playing the Opry, and then we don't see him for another two years.

    In any case, the Opry is showing signs of remembering something about where it came from through the events scheduled. It would be nice if the management showed similar signs by eliminating these ridiculous intermissions (part of the charm of the Opry always has been people walking back and forth and going about their business while people are singing--Mr. Acuff even saw women nursing their babies while he was singing!), putting on more than three acts in a half hour, and actually allowing anyone born before 1970 to do more than one song.

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  4. Bryon, you are spot on about the birthday weekend. I was hoping that since this is the 85th Anniversary that the October shows would be stronger this year than they have been the last couple. But, prolonging the celebration over several months will likely delute the birthday weekend. The best show of the celebration might be that Tuesday night. . .the birthday weekend has become an afterthought. Hope I'm proven wrong cause I got tickets to it in October.

  5. Not only does it bother me that many of the Opry members seldom make Opry appearances, but when they do appear it is always with some sort of special event.

    I think that the last time George Jones was on the Opry it was a Tuesday night and it was a celebration of his birthday.

    A couple of years ago when Brad Paisley was on, they gave him the entire hour that was televised, with just him. Alan Jackson made an Opry appearance as part of a video that was being made.

    Reba McEntire's last appearance was when she was offered an extra Opry segment of her own, Dolly Parton came to honor Porter Wagoner,and Randy Travis's only recent Opry appearance was to invite Carrie Underwood to be an Opry member.

    It gives me more and more appreciation for those like Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Ricky Skaggs and even newer members like Charlie Daniels who are actually supporting the show and making regular appearances, no matter what the occasion is.

    I am impressed when some of these bigger name artists appear on the Opry on nights when the crowds are small because they understand and enjoy the Opry.

  6. Today I took great pleasure in posting on below Hazel Smith talking about how wonderful Brad Paisley's Nashville area home is, saying it would be at least as wonderful if he would occasionally leave that home and head to the Opry. He was better about this at one time. I think of the Del Reeves comment that the deal was, when you're a younger artist, you don't come in too often, but you know it's there for you when you get older. And then there's George ... and Dolly ....

  7. You mention George Jones and I hate to post this but a friend of mine recently saw George in concert and he said that George's voice is just totally shot, and he sounded pretty bad. He said George talked a lot between songs and limited the amount of singing that he actually did.

    It is always sad when the great ones drop off.