Thursday, September 30, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 10/1 & 10/2

The Grand Ole Opry is back in the Opry House for the next month and in anticipation of the demand for tickets, there will be 2 Saturday night shows for the month of October. Looking at the schedule for this weekend, the highlight Friday night will be Dierks Bentley performing, along with Sam Bush and Neal McCoy. Looking at Saturday night, The Band Perry will be on the schedule, along with Charley Pride, Craig Morgan and a return by Kevin Costner.

Friday October 1
7:00: Mike Snider(host); Jim Ed Brown; The Whites
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jean Shepard; Dierks Bentley
8:15: Bill Anderson(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Neal McCoy
8:45: Marty Stuart(host); Stonewall Jackson; Jimmy C. Newman; Sam Bush

Saturday October 2
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Jean Shepard
7:30: Mike Snider(host); Jim Ed Brown; The Band Perry
8:00: Charley Pride(host); Craig Morgan; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); Jeannie Seely; Kevin Costner & Modern West

9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); George Hamilton IV; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys
10:00: Charley Pride(host); Jean Shepard; Jack Greene
10:30: Mike Snider(host); Grand Master Fiddle Champion; Craig Morgan; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson(host); Jeannie Seely; Kevin Costner & Modern West

It will be interesting to see if Jimmy Dickens and his voice will be able to hold out for all 3 shows. Also, it sure is nice to see no intermission on the Saturday night shows. It makes the show flow go much better.

Tonight, Opry Country Classics will honor Loretta Lynn as the spotlight artist. This show will also be at the Grand Ole Opry House.

Host: Larry Gatlin
Spotlight Artist: Loretta Lynn
Also appearing: Shawn Camp; John Conlee; Rebecca Lynn Howard; Joe Stampley

I will be in Nashville for the Opry birthday celebration next week. I plan on talking to lots of folks and getting a good look at the Opry House. It should be a great weekend.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Reopening of Grand Ole Opry House/Blake Shelton/GAC-TV

The Grand Ole Opry returned tonight to the Grand Ole Opry House for the first time since the floods in May. The big news of the night, besides the Opry House opening was that, as speculated by myself and others, Blake Shelton was offered membership into the Grand Ole Opry. Of course he accepted and the actual induction will take place later in October. Congratulations to Blake and I hope that he will give the Opry the attention it deserves.

Now for some observations from tonight and the GAC-TV coverage:

The televised portion was from 8-10pm central time, but the show actually started at 7. The show started with Brad Paisley and Jimmy Dickens back stage at the mail box and then walking up to the green room, giving us some views of backstage. Then they were shown behind the red curtain and the camera switched to the front, with the curtain up and the two of them on stage. Brad started singing, "Will The Circle Be Unbroken", and also as speculated by myself earlier in the day, as he sang the first line of the song, the lights on stage came on and the Opry members who were there came walking on stage, singing along. Many of the Opry's veteran members were included in this and among the ones I saw on stage were Jack Greene, Jean Shepard, Jan Howard, Jim Ed Brown, The Whites, Ray Pillow, Marty Stuart, Ricky Skaggs and Riders In The Sky. I also saw Mel McDaniel walking out with assistance from Charlie Daniels. I also saw Charlie Louvin walking out with assistance. I thought I saw Wilma Lee Cooper coming out in a wheel chair. Others that I saw included Terri Clark, Joe Diffie, John Conlee, Jeannie Seely, Bill Anderson, Martina McBride, Charlie Daniels, Lorrie Morgan, Steve Wariner, Dierks Bentley, Montgomery Gentry, Josh Turner and Del McCoury.(I am sure I might have missed a couple). Connie Smith sang the 2nd verse of the song.

That was pretty much the last we saw of the majority of the veterans and of Jimmy Dickens the rest of the night. We were treated to songs by Blake Shelton, Jason Aldean, Keith Urban, Martina McBride, who also sang a duet with Connie Smith, Josh Turner, who also sang a duet with Lorrie Morgan(was it just me or did others notice how Lorrie was dressed and how she looked?), Trace Adkins, Dierks Bentley, who also did a song with Del McCoury, Charlie Daniels and Montgomery Gentry, Brad Paisley, a duet with Trace Adkins and Blake Shelton, which included the invitation to join the Opry from Trace after the song ended, and then the show ended with a guitar pull featuring Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner and Marty Stuart.

As expected, the televised show was heavy with the younger talent and featured a few moments with the Opry's veteran artists. There were also several features regarding the flood and the damage to the area, with a nice segment on Jeannie Seely. Nan Kelley hosted the GAC segment and did a fine job, reporting from various areas of the Opry House, and giving us many views of the updates backstage. It looks like many historical pictures are up on the walls and the dressing rooms have been completely updated. We also were treated to a message from President Obama, Collin Reed and Karl Dean, the Mayor of Nashville.

My major complaint of the television coverage, and this is nothing new with GAC, was the number of commercials. For the first hour, we had 1 song followed by about 3 minutes of commercial time. Hopefully those in the Opry House were entertained during those segments. It just made the show drag. In fact, it felt more like I was watching a televised concert special than an Opry show. The other item that I will mention is that the opening number that was on GAC was actually the opening number when the show started at 7. In other words, that part of the show was on tape delay. That was not noted on the broadcast.

Overall, it was a nice show that showed the Opry House reopening, while focusing on the younger members of the Opry. My wife was watching the show with me and her comments overall had to do with the Opry members that were not there and the fact that many of the Opry's members that have supported the Opry over the last several years, such as Marty Stuart, Ricky Skaggs, Steve Wariner and several others, were reduced to the role of supporting cast members to some of the Opry's members who are rarely at the Opry.

Oh, and the first hour that was only on WSM was excellent, featuring some of the Opry's veterans. While streamed the televised portion that was on GAC, it would have been nice if they had also streamed the first hour. Bill Anderson hosted the first segment and he noted that he had hosted the last segment at the Opry House before the flood and was glad that he was given the opportunity to host the first segment back.

Welcome back home Grand Ole Opry!!!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Grand Ole Opry House Return

As we all know, the Opry will be returning to the Opry House on Tuesday night. The Tennessean had a nice article on line today regarding the return, and there was a quote from Grand Ole Opry Vice-President and General Manager Pete Fisher that I found interesting and gave me some thought:

"This lineup we have on the 28th will probably go down in history as one of the greatest in the Opry's history. But I have to say I've found this to be one of the easiest shows to book. It's just another example of how artists give back to the community and the Opry as a whole. It's going to be great to see the Opry House come back to life adn the circle back to life."

While my history with the Opry does not go back to the beginning of the Opry, I will say that the line-up for this Tuesday night is impressive. Just my opinion, but I think that the best Opry lineup in history would have to go to the first Opry show held at the new Opry House, back in March of 1974. That show had virtually every Opry member.

Another contender would have to be the 75th anniversary show in 2000. That entire weekend had great lineups, but the Saturday first show might have been the best in recent memory. If you remember, that show included Garth Brooks, Dolly Parton, Vince Gill, Alison Krauss, Porter Wagoner, Marty Stuart, Ricky Van Shelton, Pam Tillis, Jimmy Dickens and so many more.
A couple of other shows I would put up on the list was the 50th anniversary show and also the first show that was on PBS, back in the late 70's.

The other comment that I found interesting was when Pete said how easy it was to book the show. Is he saying that a normal Opry show is hard to book? Just wondering. Also, with the number of artists missing on Tuesday night who are Opry members, did he have to say no to some of them? Again, just wondering. I will be watching and listening to the Tuesday night show and one of the more interesting things for me will be to see how he fits in all the artists on the televised portion, as I am sure that is where most of them will want to be on.

Looking at the Opry schedule for October, it looks like there are going to be some impressive shows coming up. The month looks loaded and I am sure many more are going to be added. Most of the month will have 2 Saturday night shows and I am happy to see that. That will mean no more intermissions, at least for a while.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Updated Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 9/24 & 9/25

The Grand Ole Opry has updated this weekend's line-ups. On Friday night, Jimmy C. Newman is off the schedule and I am sorry to say that Charlie Louvin is off the Saturday schedule and has been replaced by Stonewall Jackson. I was really hoping that Charlie would make it this Saturday night.

Here are the revised line-ups:

Friday September 24
7:00: Mike Snider(host); The Whites; Mandy Barnett
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; The Isaacs
8:15: Riders In The Sky(host); Jean Shepard; Jimmy Wayne
8:45: Jim Ed Brown(host); Jeannie Seely; Gene Watson

Saturday September 25
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Randy Kohrs
7:30: Jim Ed Brown(host); The Whites; Janie Fricke
8:15: Jeannie Seely(host); Stonewall Jackson; Jimmy Wayne; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Mike Snider(host); Jack Greene; Jo Dee Messina

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tuesday Night Opry 9/28-Return to the Grand Ole Opry House

On Tuesday Night September 28, the Grand Ole Opry will return to the Grand Ole Opry House for the first time since the great Nashville flood in the spring. The show will be a 3 hour spectacular that will start at 7:00. From 8-10, the show will be televised on Great American Country (GAC). Currently 17 artists are listed for the televised portion of the show. Obviously, when you consider the commercials, the various replays they will give to the flood, probably some interviews and then with Gaylord Entertainment officials and every politician in the State of Tennessee there, it will be very hard to get all of those artists on.

My guess is that you will see several duets or grouping of artists with similar interests. An example might be Ricky Skaggs with Del McCoury, or Connie Smith with Marty Stuart. And, I would not be suprised if there were several unannounced artists who appear. And considering the state of Jimmy Dicken's voice, I would be very suprised if he sang anything on the show.

The opening hour consists of veteran Opry members, so at least they left room among all of the superstars for those. But, there are still lots of Opry members missing that I know would be available for the show. I am talking about folks such as Jack Greene, Jan Howard, Stonewall Jackson, Jimmy C. Newman....people who are at the Opry almost every weekend. Hopefully some will make an appearance.

No matter how you look at it, it is the best Opry line-up since the 75th anniversary show and it should be a great show. It is sold-out and tickets are going on ebay for up to $300.00 for a prime seat. And as I said before, keep an eye on Blake Shelton. I would not be suprised if something happened involving him that night.

Now for the line-up:

7:00: Bill Anderson; Jeannie Seely; Jim Ed Brown
7:30: John Conlee; Jean Shepard; Riders In The Sky; Diamond Rio
8:00: Trace Adkins; Jason Aldean; Dierks Bentley, Charlie Daniels Band; Jimmy Dickens; Martina McBride; Del McCoury; Montomery Gentry; Lorrie Morgan; Brad Paisley; Blake Shelton; Ricky Skaggs; Connie Smith; Marty Stuart; Josh Turner; Keith Urban; Steve Wariner.

You will note that those appearing on the last hour are listed in alphabetical order so there is no telling in what order they will appear. Based on the past several months, it would not suprise me to see the televised portion open with either Marty Stuart or Brad Paisley, with Jimmy Dickens thrown into the mix. Brad has been pretty visable at the Opry lately, since the flood.

All in all, it should be a great evening and I for one will be glad that the Opry is back at the Opry House. It just hasn't felt right the past several months with the Opry moving around town.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 9/24 & 9/25

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for this weekend's shows. As usual, there will be one show on Friday night and one show on Saturday night at the Ryman Auditorium. After this weekend, all Opry shows, with the exception of the Thursday night Opry Country Classics, will be returning to the Grand Ole Opry House, which will have its grand reopening on Tuesday night.

The highlight of this weekend's line-up is the return to the Opry stage of Charlie Louvin, who has not played the Opry since his recent cancer surgery. Since that surgery, which Charlie has acknowledged was not successful, he has hosted the Ernest Tubb Record Shop Midnight Jamboree two times, including this past Saturday night. In watching the video of the show this past week, he still looked very weak, and did not really sing any solo songs. It will be interesting to see how he does, and what he will do, on the Opry this week. Jeannie Seely is the host of the segment that he will be on and I am sure she will give him a very warm introduction.

Friday September 24
7:00: Mike Snider(host); The Whites; Mandy Barnett
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; The Isaacs
8:15: Riders In The Sky(host); Stonewall Jackson; Jimmy C. Newman; Jimmy Wayne
8:45: Jim Ed Brown(host); Jeannie Seely; Gene Watson

Saturday September 25
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Randy Kohrs
7:30: Jim Ed Brown(host); The Whites; Janie Fricke
8:15: Jeannie Seely(host); Charlie Louvin; Jimmy Wayne; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Mike Snider(host); Jack Greene; Jo Dee Messina

The Opry has posted the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry for September 28, the grand re-opening of the Opry House. I will post that, with my comments on the line-up tomorrow. I do have some thoughts on who is on and who isn't.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tuesday Night Opry 9/21 & Opry Country Classics 9/23

This week will be the last week for the Opry to be at the Ryman Auditorium as they return to the Grand Ole Opry House on Tuesday September 28. With that, the Opry has posted the line-ups for the Tuesday Night Opry and for Thursday night's Opry Country Classics.

Tuesday Night Opry 9/21
7:00: The Whites; Troy Olsen
7:30: Jeannie Seely; Cherryholmes
8:15: Riders In The Sky; Chuck Wicks
8:45: Jimmy Dickens; Restless Heart

Opry Country Classics 9/23
Host: Bill Cody
Dailey & Vincent
Janie Fricke
George Hamilton IV
James Intveld
Ray Pillow
Ronny Robbins
Gene Watson

No spotlight artist for this week. And, it is nice to see Ronny Robbins making an Opry appearance.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 9/17 & 9/18

The Grand Ole Opry has posted their line-ups for this weekend. Both the Friday Night Opry and the Saturday Grand Ole Opry will be at the Ryman Auditorium, with 1 show each night. The highlight this weekend will be the return of Dolly Parton to the Opry stage. This will be her first Opry appearance since May 2007. She will also be on the Opry on Saturday October 9 as part of the 85th birthday bash.

Also appearing on the Opry stage this weekend will be Mark Wills, Sawyer Brown and Ricky Skaggs on Friday night, and in addition to Dolly on Saturday night, also appearing will be Whitney Duncan and Chuck Mead.

It will be a rare "double-bill" for Stonewall Jackson this weekend as he will be appearing on both the Friday night and Saturday night shows. Good for Stonewall.

Friday September 17
7:00: Riders In The Sky(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Mark Wills
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jan Howard; Doyle Dykes
8:15: Mike Snider(host); Stonewall Jackson; Sawyer Brown
8:45: Ricky Skaggs(host); Stu Phillips; John Conlee; The Whites

Saturday September 18
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Whitney Duncan
7:30: Mike Snider(host); Rebecca Lynn Howard; Connie Smith
8:15: The Whites(host); Stonewall Jackson; Chuck Mead; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: George Hamilton IV(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Dolly Parton

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dolly Parton/ Thursday Night Opry 9/16

The Grand Ole Opry has announced that Dolly Parton will be performing on the Saturday night September 18 show. For those who keep track, this will be her first appearance at the Opry since 2007. We have discussed this before that Dolly is one of the veteran Opry members that you can classify as "missing in action." Just my opinion, but living in the Nashville area and still active in the business should get you more than 1 Opry appearance every 3 years. But regardless for the reasons, I am glad that Dolly is coming back to the Opry.

Her 2 Opry appearances in 2007 were on Saturday May 19 when the Opry honored Porter Wagoner for his 50 years as an Opry member. Prior to that, her last Opry appearances were in 2005. In fact, since 2000, she has appeared on the Opry a total of 6 times!!! A shameful recored for an Opry member.

On another note, the Opry has announced their line-up for the Thursday Night Opry on September 16, at the Ryman Auditorium.

7:00: The Whites; Heidi Newfield
7:30: Riders In The Sky; The Grascals
8:15: Jimmy Dickens; Holly Williams
8:45: Carrie Underwood

Remember, the only reason this show was changed from Opry Country Classics to a Thursday Night Opry show was to accommodate Carrie.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tuesday Night Opry 9/14

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, which will be at the Ryman Auditorium on Tuesday September 14.

7:00: Diamond Rio; Jack Greene
7:30: Emily West; John Conlee
8:15: Bill Anderson; Joe Diffie
8:45: Jimmy Dickens; Dailey & Vincent

The Opry has not posted the entire line-up for this Thursday's Opry show but one change that has already been made is that it will not be an Opry Country Classics show but instead be a regular Opry show. Why the change? For one reason and one reason only. Carrie Underwood was originally scheduled to be on this upcoming Friday Night Opry, but due to a change in her schedule, she had to switch her appearance to Thursday night. And since Carrie Underwood does not fit into the definition of the Opry Country Classics show, Pete Fisher and the gang has decided just to make it a regular Opry show. While I hate to see the classic show get the short end of the stick, I can see why Pete made the change. From my own personal experience and what I have heard from others, the Thursday night show at the Ryman is not drawing too many people. But by switching it to a regular mid-week Opry show, featuring Carrie Underwood among others, the attendance will probably be more than double from a typical Thursday night. And, with the Opry hurting right now, it makes sense.

From this point forward, the Opry will be at the Ryman Auditorium until returning to the Opry House for October. Done will be the visits to War Memorial Auditorium and Two Rivers Baptist Church. This past weekend while listening to the Opry, which I do most weekends, it just didn't seem right. Don't get me wrong. The performers were all fine. I enjoyed Sam Bush, Dailey & Vincent, The Whites, Jimmy Dickens (who actually sounded better), and the others. But, you could tell that the crowd was down and so was the enthusiasm. The excitement over the radio was just not there. Perhaps it was the layout of the church or the setup. Perhaps it was the missing square dancers, who do bring life to the show. Perhaps it was because it was in a church and the crowd was just afraid to let loose. All understandable. But also perhaps, everyone is just getting tired of moving all over town and everyone is ready for the Opry to get back to the Opry House. The Opry is a national institution. And it just didn't seem right that the best the Opry could do was to be at a church. I know the options were limited. But, I am glad it is almost over.

Finally, a very happy birthday to Grand Ole Opry member and Country Music Hall of Famer, George Jones. On Sunday he turned 79. I for one would not have believed for a minute that he would have lived this long. And he is still active and touring. I do wish that he would play the Opry more. I know that we complain about the younger members not playing the Opry enough, but George is right up there with them. I have seen George several times at the Opry and a couple of times in concert. Each time I saw him, he put on a great show and was well received by the audience. I know that his voice has been questionable of late. But I for one am glad that George is still out there and performing and continuing to draw good crowds. Happy Birthday George!!!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 9/10 & 9/11--Updated

For those of you who were maybe hoping that the Opry would add a "big" name or two to this weekend's line-ups. Sorry!!! T.G. Sheppard gets added to Friday night and Blaine Larsen gets the Saturday night slot.

T.G. Sheppard is interesting in that he has been playing the Opry on occasion over the past several years. He is in a group of country veterans who have seen the better part of the career pass and are not touring or recording as much and playing the Opry gives them a venue to sing and keeps them in the public eye. T.G. has particuarly been doing the Opry Country Classics show. But, T.G. did not always think highly of the Opry. In the 1970s, when T.G.'s career was at its peak, gave the following interview about the Opry and made these observations:

"I played the Opry only once. I guess we could play it more, but we just don't, because we're what they call the 'new breed.' And a lot of the 'new breed' doesn't play the Opry." He went on to talk about the time he did play the Opry. "We'll, it was very strange. I don't know --I think every performer experiences that whenever you go to the Opry for the first time. You know, you're standing in the middle of history. I guess it's pretty much like if you're a politician and you get to walk into the Oval Office and sit behind the President's desk for two or three seconds. You know that you're sitting where all the guests have sat. My appearance at the Opry was a humbling experience for me, no matter what my music form may be. I sang 'Last Cheaters's Waltz', a very good country song. And 'Devil in a Bottle,' another very country song. The reaction was good. The audiences at the Opry are very enthusiastic people. Most of them come from all walks of life, and from all across America, to witness whoever is on that night. It's strange to me that in a time when everybody's complaining about business being off, the Opry still pack's them in every weekend and nobody knows who's going to be there. There's no box office draw! The music form itself, I guess, is the draw."

I guess over the years, T.G. thinks more of the Opry.

The Grand Ole Opry has posted this weekend's line-ups. As usual, there will be one show on Friday night and one show on Saturday, both nights at Two Rivers Baptist Church across from the Opry House in Nashville.

On Friday night, the Opry will feature Sam Bush, Del McCoury and Mel Tillis, while on Saturday night, Dailey & Vincent along with Joey+Rory will be featured.

Friday September 10
7:00: Jeannie Seely(host); Jim Ed Brown; Sam Bush
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jan Howard; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Mel Tillis(host); Stonewall Jackson; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jean Shepard
8:45: Mike Snider(host); Connie Smith; T.G. Sheppard

Saturday September 11
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Blaine Larsen
7:30: Jean Shepard(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Joey+Rory
8:15: The Whites(host); Jack Greene; Del McCoury Band
8:45: Riders In The Sky(host); Connie Smith; Dailey & Vincent

With the Opry at Two Rivers Baptist Church on Saturday night, there will be no square dancers on the show. Also, as you can see, there is still a slot to fill on Friday night and Saturday night.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Opry Country Classics 9/9

This week's Opry Country Classics will be hosted by Larry Gatlin and the spotlight artist will be Mel Tillis. With just those 2 alone, it should be a great show. However, also being featured that night are: Mandy Barnett, Jack Greene, Jimmy C. Newman; Daryle Singletary and The Wrights.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Mel McDaniel

On this Labor Day weekend, I wanted to take a moment to remember Mel McDaniel, who will celebrate his 68th birthday on Tuesday September 7. Mel was born in 1942 in Okmulgee, Oklahoma. The highpoint in his career was in the 1980s, when he had such great hits as "Louisiana Saturday Night," "Stand Up," and probably his biggest hit, "Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On."

Mel became a Grand Ole Opry member on January 11, 1986. He was one of the more popular members and was one of those members that regularly played the Opry. From 2001 through 2008, he averaged over 50 Opry appearances each year. On June 16, 2009, he suffered a very serious heart attack and has been in recovery since. While he has made appearances backstage to visit at the Opry, he has never performed since his heart attack and probably never will.

His heart attack was not the first medical issue that Mel has had. In 1996, while performing a show in Lafayette, Louisiana, he fell into an orchestra pit. The results were almost fatal and from that time on, he used a cane to help him walk and he always performed with the cane.

My personal favorite memory of Mel was in the 1980s he was in the Pro Football Hall of Fame parade in Canton, Ohio. I saw him in the parade and received a great reception from the crowd. Also in the parade as a celebrity that year was Lassie. Mel and Lassie made a great team for a day.

Since the September 11th attack on our country, Mel changed the words to his song, "Stand Up," to reflect a patriotic theme, and whenever he sang the song at the Opry (which was about every appearance), he would sing the song with the lyrics, "Stand up for America, Stand up for the USA." As he continued singing the final verse, the Opry video screens would display an American flag, while Mel would urge the audience to stand and applaud for America. The Opry announcers would always note that, "there's Mel McDaniel, with another standing ovation."

Mel's last Grand Ole Opry appearance was during the 2nd show on Saturday May 30, 2009. While not so long ago, I wanted to honor Mel on his birthday by posting the line-up from his final Opry show.

9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Mel McDaniel; George Hamilton IV; The Whites
10:00: Marty Stuart(host); Jack Greene; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Connie Smith
10:30: Bill Anderson(host); Jeannie Seely; Joe Diffie; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Vince Gill(host); Amy Grant; Joh McEuen; Tim O'Brien; Steve Martin

Interesting that Mel made his final Opry appearance on the night that Steve Martin made his first Opry appearance.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 9/3 & 9/4

The Grand Ole Opry has posted this weekends line-ups. There is one show on Friday night and one show on Saturday night, both at the Ryman Auditorium. Labor Day weekend is usually one of the tougher weekends for the Opry to book as many of the country music stars and Opry members are on the road, playing the county fair circuit and the various country music parks that are still in business, taking advantage of the big Labor Day weekend, which is the traditional end of summer. Here are the line-ups for this weekend:

Friday September 3
7:00: John Conlee(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Billy Dean
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jan Howard; The Grascals
8:15: Jean Shepard(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Exile
8:45: Mike Snider(host); Jack Greene; Darryl Worley

Saturday September 4
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); The Whites; Ashton Shepherd
7:30: Jim Ed Brown(host); Jean Shepard; George Hamilton IV; The Steeldrivers
8:15: Jeannie Seely(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Holly Williams; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Mike Snider(host); Shawn Camp; Connie Smith

Here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, September 7. The show is also at the Ryman Auditorium

7:00: Connie Smith; Jim Lauderdale
7:30: George Hamilton IV; Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper
8:15: Bill Anderson; Jaron & The Long Road To Love
8:45: Jamie O'Neal; Jimmy Dickens

Finally, Jim Ed Brown will be the host for this week's Midnight Jamboree, with the live taping taking place at 10:00pm at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September Opry Highlights

Hard to believe that we are into September and that summer is almost over. And as we head into fall, we come upon some of the busiest months in Grand Ole Opry history. As I do at the start of each month, I like to look at historical events that took place in Opry history, and its time to look at the month of September.

Only 2 Grand Ole Opry members joined the Opry in September, and they are two of the Opry's longest members:
>Jeannie Seely joined the Opry on September 16, 1967 (43 years).
>Loretta Lynn joined the Opry on September 25, 1962 (48 years).

The following major events took place in Opry history during September:

September 1, 1931, Lecil Travis Martin was born. He was more popularly known as Boxcar Willie. He first appeared on the Opry on June 19, 1980. On February 21, 1981, he became an Opry member and would remain so until his death in 1999.

September 16, 1947, the first Grand Ole Opry show took place at Carnegie Hall in New York. Ernest Tubb hosted the show, and was joined by George D. Hay and Minnie Pearl. Other performers who were on that Carnegie Hall show included Rosalie Allen, Radio Dot & Smokey Swann, The Short Brothers and Jimmie & Leon. The show drew a good crowd and Ernest was quoted the following days in the New York papers as saying, "This place'd hold a lot of hay."

September 4, 1948, Eddy Arnold performed on the Grand Ole Opry for the final time as he resigned as an Opry member to have his own radio show. When he left the Opry, many were wondering how he could do such a thing, but according to Eddy, "I thought I had done about as much as I could do there. I had two network radio programs outside the Opry. I had the daily program on the Mutual network and I had a Saturday night show for the Ralston Purina Company, which was on a regional network." Basically, Eddy outgrew the Opry. There were bigger opportunities for him to have his own shows and he didn't have to share the spotlight with other Opry members. At the time, Eddy's manager was Colonel Parker, later of Elvis fame, who approached Opry officials about being paid a portion of the Opry's gate receipts, which obviously was rejected. That would have placed Eddy on a higher standard than any of the Opry's other members. Eddy's last night on the Opry left unforgettable memories for those who listened and for those who were there. It had been announced previously that this would be his last night. After Eddy performed his final number as an Opry member, he thanked Harry Stone for bringing him to the Opry, WSM and the Opry fans. He then then turned and according to his friend Harold Bradley, "We went around the curtain and he and Minnie Pearl hugged and both of them cried like babies because he was leaving." Eddy would never return to the Opry. A side note to this is that Eddy leaving the Opry actually led to the star of the "Friday NIght Frolic" show, which later became the Friday Night Opry. The story goes that when Eddy left the Opry, Irving Waugh of WSM agreed to take air Eddy's radio show on Friday night, to keep it from other Nashville radio stations. When he said he would take it, he said that he would put a live show on the air before and after Eddy's taped show, and this live music ended up being the Friday Night Opry.

September 25, 1948, George Morgan joined the Opry. He was hired at the Opry by Opry manager Jim Denny, who hired in as a "sweet singer" replacement for Eddy Arnold. George, like several other future Opry members, came to the Opry after being a part of the WWVA "Wheeling Jamboree." On Friday March 15, 1974, George hosted the final segment of the Friday Night Opry, on its final night at the Ryman Auditorium. The following day, the Opry would move into the new Grand Ole Opry House. George would remain a popular Opry member until his death of July 7, 1975, following heart surgery in Nashville. George, of course, is the father of current Opry member Lorrie Morgan. One of the great George Morgan stories is that when he first came to Nashville he wasn't sure where the Ryman Auditorium was. He approached a man standing on the curb on Fifth Avenue and asked, "Can you tell me where the Grand Ole Opry House is?" The man laughed and said, "It's right behind you." That man was Eddy Arnold!!!

September 13, 1952, Webb Pierce made his first appearance on the Opry. Webb came to the Opry from the "Louisiana Hayride" and was hired in part as a replacement for Hank Williams. He became an actual Opry member in 1953. Webb was one of country music's biggest stars in the 1950s. But, he did not stay long. As Webb said, "You had to be there every Saturday night and that was way too much, because, you see, most of our money, we made it on Saturday night, Of course, we'd be on a tour and then we'd have to turn around at the end of the week and be back at the Opry. I don't care if you was in Podunk, Canada!" Webb would later become very successful in the publishing business and would have later fame for putting in a guitar shaped swimming pool at his home in Nashville.

September 10, 1955, Justin Tubb became a Grand Ole Opry member. At the time, he was 20 years old and was the Opry's youngest member. He was one of a number of younger artists hired at the Opry in response to the rock n' roll explosion that was overtaking the country and putting a big dent in the Opry's attendance.

September 24, 1956, Jim Denny was fired as manager of the Opry. The reason was that he was spending too much time on his outside interests, which included Cedarwood Publishing, which was a major force in the Nashville music community. He was replaced by Dee Kilpatrick, a former record company executive. His title was the Grand Ole Opry's "General Director." He was also hired as the manager of the Opry's and WSM's Artist's Service Bureau. After he left the Opry, Jim Denny formed the Jim Denny Artists Bureau, Inc., and a number of the Opry's biggest stars left the Opry's booking agency and went over to his.

September 12, 1958, Opry member Rod Brasfield did of a heart attack at the age of 48. Rod was one of the Opry's popular members, and like many of the comedians of our time, while he was funny on stage, he had numerous problems off stage. He died at his home, which was a house trailer in a park on Dickerson Road. Ott Devine was quoted as saying, "There will be no happy faces at the Ryman tonight. Rod never had a serious moment in his life before his audiences. But in private life he had his troubles." In those days, "troubles" was the word used for drinking.

September 27, 1963, The National Life & Accident Insurance Company buys the Ryman Auditorium from the City of Nashville for $200,000. They renamed it the Grand Ole Opry House. At the time, the Ryman needed serious repair and was considered a fire trap. The city of Nashville was very happy to have WSM take over the building and the repair cost.

September 6, 1984, Ernest Tubb died in Nashville at the age of 70. Ernest had been in ill health for a while and had made his last Opry appearance on August 14, 1982. That was also the last night he appeared on his Midnight Jamboree. His final road appearance was on November 13, 1982 in Berlin, Ohio. After that, he disappeared from public view.

September 4, 1991, Dottie West dies from injuries sustained in a car accident while on the way to perform on the Opry.

And, it was in September 1993 that Bob Whittaker replaced Hal Durham as the General Manager of the Opry. Hal moved up to become President of the Opry. He remained Opry manager until June 1999, and he continued the policy that was started by Hal Durham that included inviting many of country music's hottest, young stars to become Opry members, without a real commitment by any of those artists that they would regularly appear on the Opry. Those members who joined while Bob was the Opry's manager included Hal Ketchum, Diamond Rio, Trisha Yearwood, Steve Wariner, Joe Diffie and Martina McBride. While a lot of folks blame Bob for relaxing the membership requirements, most of the damage was done by Hal Durham and to this day, Pete Fisher has had to deal with the issues of getting many of the Opry's members to perform on the Opry on a regular basis.

Hope all of you enjoy these notes from Opry history. If you do, let me know!!!