The Grand Ole Opry will be celebrating its 85th anniversary this weekend with 3 shows, 1 on Friday night and 2 on Saturday night. I know that the birthday celebration started years ago, but one of the things that I still do not understand is why the Grand Ole Opry does not celebrate its anniversary on its acutal date in November? And, I am old enough to remember when the birthday weekend was a "must" for just about every Opry member. However, that seems the case no longer.
On Friday night, there are 12 artists on the show, of which 9 are Opry members. On Saturday night, there are a total of 17 different artists over the 2 shows, of which 13 are Opry members. With soon to be 67 Opry members, that is a pitiful number. Many artists that have traditionally done the birthday weekend, including Vince Gill, Marty Stuart, Ricky Skaggs, John Conlee, Jesse McReynolds among others, are either out touring or have elected not to do the Opry on this night. Even such Opry veterans as Jimmy Dickens, Jeannie Seely and Jean Shepard will not be there this weekend. I know Jimmy and Jeannie have a show date this weekend. Not sure about Jean.
The other item that bothers me when looking at the schedule, is that on both Saturday night shows, they have 12 acts in the first hour of the show, in traditional segments, but only 4 for the last hour, with just 2 per each segment. Granted those last 2 segments feature Taylor Swift and Dolly Parton, but I would have liked to see several more artists for the show.
The first show on Saturday is a virtual sellout, with just single balcony seats left. The tickets for the 2nd Saturday show are also going very fast and I would expect that show to be close to a sellout also. I know that there are some prime tickets that are being sold as part of packages, and those will be released closer to show time.
Even with the star power for the last hour of each show, there will be no televised Opry this weekend on GAC. The grand opening of the Opry House was one of those special events regarding the Opry that GAC will televise, but there is still no news regarding the Opry returning to television. I still wish that the Opry would add live video streaming of their shows on the Opry website. I am sure that most people would pay a small price to be able to see Opry shows, at least once in a while. Hopefully that is on the table as the Opry continues to update their website and computer applications.
Now, here are the line-ups for this weekend:
Friday October 8
7:00: Mike Snider(host); The Whites; Craig Campbell
7:30: George Hamilton IV(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Crystal Gayle
8:15: Bill Anderson(host); Connie Smith; Jimmy Wayne
8:45: Roy Clark(host); Stu Phillips; Joe Diffie
Saturday October 9
7:00: Jim Ed Brown(host); Connie Smith; Jimmy C. Newman; Del McCoury Band
7:30: Mike Snider(host); Sunny Sweeney; Jack Greene; Trace Adkins
8:00: Roy Clark(host); Taylor Swift; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); Dolly Parton
9:30: Jim Ed Brown(host); The Whites; Ray Pillow; Del McCoury Band
10:00: George Hamilton IV(host); Jan Howard; T. Bubba Bechtol; Trace Adkins
10:30: Roy Clark(host); Taylor Swift; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson(host); Dolly Parton
I am sure they will do the birthday cake over the final segment and with the limited guests the final hour, at least you can say that the show will come in on time.
I will be enjoying this weekend at the Opry and will have a full report next week.