Monday, November 29, 2010

Teddy Wilburn

I want to take a moment and remember the late Grand Ole Opry star Teddy Wilburn. Teddy was born on November 30, 1931 and would have celebrated his 79th birthday on Tuesday. Teddy was born in Hardy, Arkansas, and came from a very musical family. The performed with their family members as The Wilburn Children. Roy Acuff discovered them and brought them to the Grand Ole Opry in 1940. However, they were found to be in violation of child labor laws and were forced to leave the Opry six months later.

In the early 1950's, Teddy teamed up with his brother Doyle to form The Wilburn Brothers. Although they were very popular, they never had a #1 record. The closest they came was in 1963 when the song, "Hurt Her Once For Me", went to #3 on the charts. "Trouble's Back In Town", perhaps their most popular number, went to #4 in 1962. They had a recording career that lasted from 1954 to 1981. Doyle died in 1982 and Teddy continued to appear on the Opry as a solo act.

In addition to being successful recording artists, the brothers also owned a publishing business and a talent agency. They signed a number of new artists, most notably Loretta Lynn and Patty Loveless, who were both part of their road shows and television shows, which ran from 1963 to 1974. The show can still be seen on RFD-TV. One incident that does stand out in their career is that they had signed Loretta Lynn to their publishing company and then after she became very successful, they refused to release her from her contract. It has been reported that Loretta stopped her songwriting after that, and it is rumored that she signed with another company and wrote under an assumed name.

Doyle and Teddy joined the Opry in 1953 and Teddy remained an Opry member until his death on November 24, 2003, although making very few appearances in his later years. As Opry members, they were very popular, and were often segment hosts for the shows. For many years, The Wilburn Brothers have received consideration for election to the Country Music Hall of Fame. They were one of the most influential duo acts in country music during the 1950's and 1960's, but what has hurt their chances are the fact that they never had a #1 record and the problems, that became very public, with Loretta Lynn.

In all the years of attending the Opry, I find it hard to believe that I saw Teddy Wilburn only one time and that was on Friday September 30, 1989. On that Friday night, the Opry had 2 shows and Teddy appeared only on the 2nd show. In memory of Teddy Wilburn, here is the Opry line-up from that night.

9:30 (Music Valley Drive Merchants): Grandpa Jones(host); George Hamilton IV; Teddy Wilburn; 4 Guys; Jimmy C. Newman
10:00 ( Goody's Headache Powder): Roy Acuff(host); Jean Shepard; Billy Walker
10:30 (Pillsbury Hungry Jack Biscuits): Bill Monroe(host); Connie Smith; Jimmy Dickens; Justin Tubb
11:00 (Luck's Foods): Hank Snow(host); The Osborne Brothers; Jeannie Seely; Carlisles
11:30 (Heinz): Jim Ed Brown(host); Jack Greene; Jan Howard

Tuesday Night Opry 11/30

The Opry finishes out the month of November with the Tuesday Night Opry at the Ryman Auditorium. Here is the line-up:

7:00: Jeannie Seely; Jimmy Wayne
7:30: Riders In The Sky; The Grascals
8:15: Bill Anderson; Justin Moore
8:45: Jimmy Dickens; Darryl Worley

The same pattern as usual, with an Opry member on the 1st segment of each half hour, then a guest performer on the 2nd segment.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

November 28, 1925

November 28, 1925 is officially recognized by WSM and the Grand Ole Opry as the official start date of the show. It was on that Saturday night, that Judge George D. Hay introduced Uncle Jimmy Thompson on the air at 8:00pm that night, for an hour of fiddle music.

Here is how George D. Hay remembered that night:

"Because the Grand Ole Opry is a very simple program it started in a very simple way. Your reporter, who was the first program director of WSM, had considerable experience in the field of folk music when the station opened in October 1925. Realizing the wealth of folk music material and performers in the Tennessee Hills he welcomed the appearance of Uncle Jimmy Thompson and his blue ribbon fiddle who went on the air at eight o'clock, Saturday night, November 28, 1925. Uncle Jimmy told us that he had a thousand tunes. Past eighty years of age, he was given a comfortable chair in front of an old carbon micrphone. While his niece, Mrs. Eva Thompson Jones, played his piano accompaniment your reporter presented Uncle Jimmy and announced that he would be glad to answer your requests for old time tunes. Immediately telegrams started to pour into WSM. "

"One hour later at nine o'clock we asked Uncle Jimmy if he hadn't done enough fiddling to which he replied, 'Why shucks, a man don't get warmed up in an hour. I just won an eight-day fiddling contest down in Dallas, Texas and here's my blue ribbon to prove it.' Uncle Jimmy Thompson, Mrs. Jones and The Solemn Old Judge carried on for several weeks for an hour each Saturday night....."

"To the best of our recollection the first old time band we presented on the Saturday night show, which at that time we called the WSM Barn Dance, was headed by a very genial country physician from Sumner County, Tennessee, named Dr. Humphrey Bate."

Over the years, the November 28 date has been challenged, specifically by Mrs. Alcyone Bate Beasley, who claimed over the years that her father, Dr. Bate, was actually the first performer who originated what is today the Grand Ole Opry. According to her, Dr. Bate was doing a Barn Dance on WSM radio at the end of October 1925, 3 weeks after the station went on the air. She said that his band played on the station for about four to five weeks before George Hay came to the station.

Later research that was done through the files of the Nashville Tennessean seem to confirm her version of the events. The Tennessean mentioned in an article on Sunday October 18, 1925, with the headline, "WSM Announces Week's Program", that on Saturday from 10-11pm, a program would feature Dr. Bate and his string quartet of old-time musicians. " That would seem to confirm the date of Saturday October 24, which is the date mentioned by Mrs. Beasley.

According to the Opry's history, Saturday December 26, 1925 is the date that the WSM Barn Dance was officially added to the WSM schedule, and that is also according to the Tennessean. Again from the Tennessean, " WSM has arranged to have an hour or two every Saturday night, starting Saturday December 26." This appears to be the date that George Hay decided to make the WSM Barn Dance a regularly scheduled show.

All interesting stuff, but it goes back to no matter what may or may not have happened, or in what order, November 28, 1925 is considered the birth of the Grand Ole Opry. Congratulations to the Opry for another milestone of achievement.

By the way, here is the line-up from the WSM Barn Dance, November 28, 1925:

8:00: Uncle Jimmy Thompson

There you have it!!!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 11/26 & 11/27

As we enter the holiday season, things seem pretty quiet at the Opry. Not much is making news and normally it stays that way through the holiday season. This weekend, the Opry continues its winter run at the Ryman Auditorium with 1 show on Friday night and 2 shows on Saturday night.

This weekend's line-up features many of the Opry's veterans including Jack Greene, Ray Pillow, Stu Phillips, Jimmy C. Newman, Jan Howard and Jean Shepard. Several groups who had hits in the 1980's, Highway 101 and Restless Heart will be on, along with veteran country stars Crystal Gayle and T. Graham Brown.

Friday November 26

7:00: John Conlee(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Jean Shepard; Thompson Square
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press; Highway 101
8:15: Riders In The Sky(host); Stu Phillips; Jim Ed Brown; Holly Williams
8:45: Mike Snider(host); Connie Smith; T. Graham Brown

Saturday November 27

First Show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Del McCoury Band
7:30: Mike Snider(host); Jean Shepard; Jack Greene; Brett Eldredge
8:00: John Conlee(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Crystal Gayle; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Riders In The Sky(host); The Whites; Jim Ed Brown

Second Show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Connie Smith; Del McCoury Band
10:00: Mike Snider(host); Jan Howard; Jack Greene; Brett Eldredge
10:30: John Conlee(host); Ray Pillow; Crystal Gayle; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Riders In The Sky(host); The Whites; Restless Heart

Interesting that the same 4 performers (Dickens, Snider, Conlee, Riders), are hosting the segments on all 3 shows. Also, it would appear that the veterans are being limited to just 2 of the 3 shows over the weekend. Those would include Brown, Newman, Shepard, Greene, Smith and Whites. The 2 veteran bluegrass groups (Osborne, McReynolds) each get one slot, as do the senior Opry members (Phillips, Howard and Pillow). Interesting booking pattern.

I listened to the Opry shows last weekend and Jimmy Dickens sounded in pretty good voice and actually had sounded pretty good over the past several weeks. Then I listened on Tuesday night and he sounded pretty bad. Maybe this many shows in a week is catching up to him again.

The host of this week's Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree taping will be Norma Jean. That should be just a great show to see this veteran country music star who really gave up a promising career. It is too bad that she was not invited to do the Opry, as she performed on the show so many times with Porter Wagoner, and as a solo act. The Midnight Jamboree that will be on WSM was taped last Saturday and will be hosted by Jean Shepard.

Finally, a very happy Thanksgiving to all my readers. I hope all of you have something to be thankful for and are able to enjoy the day with family and friends.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Tuesday Night Opry 11/23

After 3 pretty good Opry shows this past weekend, the Opry enters Thanksgiving week. This week's Tuesday Night Opry will continue to take place at the Ryman Auditorium, with the show at 7:00pm.

7:00: Jim Ed Brown; James Otto
7:30: John Conlee; Elizabeth Cook
8:00: Bill Anderson; Eric Church
8:30: Jimmy Dickens; Dailey & Vincent

As you can see, the Opry continues the pattern of most Tuesday night shows, with an Opry performer in the first half of each half hour and a guest in the 2nd slot of each half hour.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Dierks Bentley/Josh Turner/Jean Shepard

This weekend, 3 Grand Ole Opry members will be celebrating birthdays. On Saturday November 20, Dierks Bentley will be celebrating his 35th birthday. Dierks was born in Phoenix, Arizona. Since he started his recording career, he has had 14 songs that have made the charts, including 7 #1 hits. When Dierks first came to Nashville, he worked for the Nashville Network and would hang out backstage at the Opry. He first played on the Opry in April 2003 and became an Opry member on October 1, 2005. Since joining the Opry. Dierks has been somewhat on the low end of fulfilling is Opry commitment. In the partial year that he joined in 2005, he appeared on the show 4 times. In 2006, he was up to 8 appearances, followed by 9 in 2007, and then down to 4 in 2008, 5 in 2009, and so far in 2010, 6 times on the Opry.

Here is the line-up from October 1, 2005, which was the night that Dierks Bentley became an Opry member. He was inducted on the televised segment, with Marty Stuart as the host and handling the induction.

6:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Connie Smith; Billy Walker; Jimmy C. Newman
7:00: Marty Stuart(host); Chely Wright; Chris Cagle; Dierks Bentley
8:00: Porter Wagoner(host); John Conlee; Jim Ed Brown w/Helen Cornelius; Opry Square Dance Band; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); T. Bubba Bechtol; Osborne Brothers

9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Mel McDaniel; Jeannie Seely; Chely Wright
10:00: Porter Wagoner(host); Jan Howard; John Conlee; Chris Cagle
10:30: Marty Stuart(host); Stonewall Jackson; Connie Smith; Opry Square Dance Band; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson(host); Jack Greene; Dierks Bentley
11:30: Jim Ed Brown(host); Helen Cornelius; T. Bubba Bechtol; Osborne Brothers

Also on Saturday, Josh Turner will be celebrating his 33rd birthday. Josh first appeared on the Opry on December 21, 2001, singing the song that would become his first hit record, "Long Black Train." Josh made numerous Opry appearances and on September 29, 2007, he was asked by Roy Clark to become the Opry's newest member. His official Opry induction took place on October 27, 2007. Since joining the Opry, Josh was pretty steady in his Opry appearances in his first two years as an Opry member. In 2007, he made 12 appearances on the Opry, followed by 11 in 2008. But in 2009, he dropped down to 7 appearances and so far in 2010, 6 appearances.

For Josh's birthday, I would like to post the line-up from Friday December 21, 2001, when he made his first appearance on the Opry.

7:30: Jim Ed Brown(host); Osborne Brothers; Clark Family Experience
8:00: Jean Shepard(host); Bill Carlisle; Jeannie Seely; Mike Snider
8:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jim & Jesse; Stu Phillips; Dale Watson
9:00: Bill Anderson(host); Josh Turner; Jan Howard; Brad Paisley
9:30: Ricky Skaggs(host); The Whites; Mel McDaniel; Phil Vassar

Finally, on Sunday November 21, one of the Opry's great legends will be celebrating her 77th birthday. Jean Shepard was born in Pauls Valley, Oklahoma. In her great career, she has had 44 singles that have made the country music charts. She was married to Hawkshaw Hawkins, who died in the plane crash that claimed country music Hall of Famer Patsy Cline. She later married Benny Birchfield, who plays guitar for her at the Opry. (In fact, her wedding date is also November 21). For a time she was the president of the Association of Country Entertainers, that was formed in the 1970's, in response to the pop sounds that was dominating country music at the time.

Not only is November 21 Jeans birthday, it is also the date that Jean joined the Opry in 1955. In terms of consecutive years as an Opry member, Jean is only trailing Charlie Louvin, who joined the Opry earlier in 1955. (Jimmy Dickens joined in 1948, but left for a number of years). When Jean reached her 50th anniversary as an Opry member, she became the first female singer in the Opry's history to reach that milestone. Jean tells the story about the announcement on her becoming an Opry member. "Jim Denny (then the Opry's manager), was making some announcements to the DJs (during the annual disc jockey convention) and the media, and he said, 'By the way, we would like to welcome the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry, Jean Shepard. Happy birthday Jean.' And what a thrill."

In my opinion, and the opinion of many others, one of the great injustices in country music history is the fact that Jean has not been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. She was a pioneering female in the history of country music, in fact having the first million selling record by a female artist after World War II. She became a star in a male dominated business and set the stage for the later success of Kitty Wells and many others. Some people feel one of the reasons she has not been elected is that she has been very outspoken in her views and opinions over the years regarding country music (the same thing happened to Porter Wagoner). Another fact that hurts her getting elected is the age of many of the voters, many of which are much younger than she is and do not know her as a million seller recording artist, but instead as "the elderly lady who plays the Opry every week." Hopefully, this injustice will be corrected while Jean is still healthy enough to enjoy the honor.

In honor of Jean Shepard, I would like to post the Opry line-up from Saturday November 26, 2005, when Jean was honored by Pete Fisher on her 50th anniversary as an Opry member. In another bit of injustice to Jean, the Opry on that Saturday night was not televised and even on the televised show the following week, Jean was not honored for her accomplishment.

6:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Osborne Brothers; Danielle Peck
7:00: Mike Snider(host); Jan Howard; Mel McDaniel; Restless Heart
7:30: Hal Ketchum(host); Jean Shepard; Shannon Brown
8:00: Jeannie Seely(host); Billy Walker; Cherryholmes; Opry Square Dance Band; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); Jack Greene; Marty Stuart

This Saturday night, Jean will be the host of the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree, where she will be honored for her 55th anniversary as an Opry member, her birthday, and her wedding anniversary. Hopefully, the Opry will have some special mention for her as she will be on the first show on Saturday night.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 11/19 & 11/20--Updated

The Opry has made several changes in this week's line-ups. On Friday night, Rebecca Lynn Howard and Daryle Singletary have been added. Also on Saturday night, Paul Shaffer, from the Dave Letterman show, will be with Marty Stuart.

I also neglected to mention, that on Sunday November 21, Jean Shepard will be celebrating her 55th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

The Grand Ole Opry has posted their line-ups for this weekend's shows. There will be 1 show on Friday night and again, 2 shows on Saturday night, all 3 taking place at the Ryman Auditorium. Looking at the line-ups, it would appear that it will be a pretty good weekend.

Friday night is highlighted by the return of Charley Pride to the Opry stage, along with Ralph Stanley, and for the 2nd week in a row, Craig Morgan. On Saturday night, Charley Pride is back, along with Ralph Stanley, and joining them will be the Charlie Daniels Band. If you enjoy some of the Opry's veteran performers, this is the place to be this weekend.

Friday November 19

7:00: John Conlee(host); Mike Snider; Jean Shepard; Rebecca Lynn Howard
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jack Greene; Daryle Singletary
8:15: Charley Pride(host); Stonewall Jackson; George Hamilton IV; Ralph Stanley
8:45: Bill Anderson(host); Jan Howard; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Craig Morgan

Saturday November 20

First Show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Radney Foster
7:30: Charley Pride(host); Jean Shepard; Mike Snider
8:00: Marty Stuart(host); Connie Smith; Ralph Stanley; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: John Conlee(host); The Whites; Charlie Daniels Band

Second Show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Radney Foster
10:00: Charley Pride(host); The Whites; Mike Snider
10:30: Marty Stuart(host); Connie Smith; Ralph Stanley; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: John Conlee(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Charlie Daniels Band

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tuesday Night Opry 11/16

Here is your line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, November 16 at the Ryman Auditorium.

7:00: Jimmy C. Newman; Billy Dean
7:30: Larry Carlton; Diamond Rio
8:15: Connie Smith; Anna Wilson & Friends
8:45: Jimmy Dickens; Luke Bryan

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 11/12 & 11/13 and Opry Notes----Updated

The Grand Ole Opry has filled out its Saturday night line-up by adding Ricky Skaggs for both shows. That is a welcomed addition. I am suprised that Ricky is not hosting any segment on either of the shows. Usually Ricky would take a host spot over Jeannie Seely or Jim Ed Brown. Nothing major. And in looking at the line-up again, I see that Jeannie Seely is hosting with Jack Greene as her guest. Years ago, it would have been the other way around, especially when Jeannie was singing the duets with Jack.

Also, nice too see Brad Paisley winning the CMA Entertainer of the Year award last night. Of those nominated, I think he deserved it. I know things change and so has country music. I remember watching the first CMA show with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans hosting, which was on tape delay because the networks were afraid on how the "hillbillies" would act on television. And I can remember when watching the CMA Awards Show was "must see" tv. To me, the highlight was always watching to see who they would name as the newest member to the Hall of Fame. But, for a couple of years now, I just can't seem to get excited about the show. I caught a bit of it last night. I saw George Strait singing and that was fine. I also saw the Zac Brown Band win the new artist award, and I would not believe how they were dressed. It used to be "Sunday best" for the show, but I guess that is long gone. And, to hear Blake Shelton's response on winning an award so early in the show, basically saying that now that he won, he could go out drinking! I know that this is a new era of country music performers and they act and do things differently than the legends did. Folks such as Cash, Jennings, Willie, Loretta, Monroe, Tubb, Snow and on and on. Maybe that is why some of these new folks will have such short careers and never become, truly legends. Sometimes I wonder if they really respect the music. Finally, it was nice that they did the tribute to Loretta Lynn. I would also have loved it if they would have taken 5 minutes out of a 3 hour show and paid tribute to the new Hall of Fame members.

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for this weekend's shows. There will be 1 show on Friday night and 2 shows on Saturday night, all taking place at the Ryman Auditorium.

Friday November 12:
7:00: Mike Snider(host); Jeannie Seely; Josh Kelley
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jan Howard; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Bill Anderson(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Craig Morgan
8:45: Marty Stuart(host); Riders In The Sky; Connie Smith

Saturday November 13:
First Show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman ; Del McCoury Band
7:30: Jim Ed Brown(host); Connie Smith; Ricky Skaggs
8:00: Mike Snider(host); Jean Shepard; Gretchen Wilson; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson(host); The Whites; Craig Morgan

Second Show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jean Shepard; Del McCoury Band
10:00: Jeannie Seely(host); Jack Greene; Ricky Skaggs
10:30: Jim Ed Brown(host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Gretchen Wilson; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson(host); The Whites; Craig Morgan

One of the things that struck me about this line-up is that tonight are the CMA Awards in Nashville. Remember in days gone by when many of the country stars would hang around an extra couple of days and do the Opry? Looks like no more. And, do all of you remember when Gretchen Wilson was going to be the next big female star in country music?

On Tuesday night, Charlie Louvin returned to the Opry stage for the Tuesday night Opry. Eddie Stubbs gave Charlie a very nice introduction, as he always does. Charlie did 3 songs and he sounded pretty good, much better than his couple of appearances on the Midnight Jamboree. Here is hoping that Charlie will be making more of the Opry shows. Also, he was plugging his new album that was released yesterday, "The Battle Rages On." Check it out. It is pretty good.

A couple of former Opry musicians are having some health issues. Billy Linneman, who played bass in the Grand Ole Opry staff band is in the hospital for surgery for bleeding in the brain. Billy was a member of the staff band from 1962-2005, when he was let go by Pete Fisher. At the time there was a lot of discussion with the changes that were being made in the staff band.

Bill Carlisle, Jr. is the other former Opry musician who is having a health issue. Bill Jr, who performed with his father Bill Carlisle as part of the Carlisles, reportedly broke his neck and suffered spinal injuries in a motorcycle accident. He was riding is motorcycle between Goodlettsville and Hendersonville. He was in Vanderbilt University Medical Center in critical, but stable condition in the Intensive Care Unit. He is on a ventilater and when his condition allows, he is to be moved to a facility in Atlanta for his recuperation. If you remember, Bill sang as part of the Carlisles with his dad, his sister Sheila, and later with George Riddle. Of course, Marshall Barnes, who Bill would often introduce as the world's greatest base singer, and Joe Edwards, were also part of the group at various times.

Finally, last Sunday 2 Opry members were honored with stars on the Music City Walk of Fame, in Walkway of Fame Park in Nashville, which is located across the street from the Country Music Hall of Fame. Jimmy Dickens and Mel Tillis were both honored in the ceremony. Also honored with a star was former Opry member, Eddy Arnold. For more information on the ceremony and pictures, check out the Tennessean on line.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Tuesday Night Opry 11/9

This week's Tuesday Night Opry will be highlighted by the hopeful return of Charlie Louvin to the Opry stage. I say hopeful, because the last time Charlie was scheduled for the Opry after his surgery, he cancelled out. Since then, however, he has done the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree two times and last Saturday night he was hosting his benefit show. From media reports, he is feeling a bit better and is gaining weight again. Also on the line-up is Rhonda Vincent, who's new bluegrass album is #1 on the Billboard Bluegrass Album chart for this week.

Tuesday November 9

7:00: The Whites; Rebecca Lynn Howard
7:30: Charlie Louvin; Rhonda Vincent
8:15: Jim Ed Brown; Josh Thompson
8:45: Jimmy Dickens; Sam Bush

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Stonewall Jackson

Best wishes go out today to Grand Ole Opry member Stonewall Jackson, who is celebrating his 78th birthday. Stonewall was born on November 6, 1932 in Tabor City, North Carolina. And yes, Stonewall is is real name. He was named after the Civil War general.

Stonewall joined the Grand Ole Opry on November 3, 1956. He was the first member in the modern history of the Opry to be offered membership without having a major recording contract. His first release was in 1958 on Columbia Records and it was the song, "Don't Be Angry." His first big country hit was later in 1958 with the song, "Life to Go", which peaked at #2 on the billboard charts. The song, by the way, was written by George Jones. He followed up that record with "Waterloo", which was his 1st #1 record and stayed #1 for several weeks.

While he has had many chart records through the years, he would only hit #1 on one other occasion, and that was with his song, "B.J. the D.J.", which was #1 in early 1964. By the time his popularity started to end in the 1970's, he had 35 records on the country charts.

For the most part since joining the Opry, Stonewall was a very loyal member. However, as he became one of the Opry's senior members, his appearances on the Opry began to be cut back. In 2000, he made 37 appearances on the Opry. That was followed by 40 in 2001. Starting in 2002, his appearances started to decline. In 2002 he made 22 appearances, 21 in 2003 and 22 in 2004. He also became very vocal about his lack of appearances. In 2005 he made just 4 Opry appearances.

In 2006, Stonewall sued the Grand Ole Opry and its management for $10 million, claiming age discrimination. While I will not go into all the details of the lawsuit, Gaylord and Stonewall settled the suit on October 3, 2008. After making no appearances in 2006 and 2007 while the lawsuit was being processed, he returned to the show after the settlement. While terms were not released, Stonewall's Opry appearances began to increase from the pre-settlement level. In the later part of 2008 he made 10 Opry appearances. In 2009 he was on the show 27 times and so far in 2010, he has made 24 appearances.

Once again, congratulations to Stonewall Jackson on his 78th birthday.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 11/5 & 11/6

The Grand Ole Opry has posted this weekend's line-ups. Now through January, the Opry will be at the Ryman Auditorium in downtown Nashville, returning to the Opry House the first weekend in February. Also this weekend, the Opry is back to two shows on Saturday night. Now, see if this makes sense: For first 4 Saturdays in October, the Opry has 2 shows on Saturday night. Then last Saturday, it was back to 1 Saturday night show. How this weekend, it is back to 2. And looking at the line-up, I find it hard that the Opry could fill both shows this Saturday.

Looking at the artists and performers scheduled, the name that sticks out is Robin Meade, the morning news anchor on HLN. I will admit that she does a good job with the news, but what about performing on the Opry? We'll, Charles Osgood suprised me!! Seriously, I have heard she is talented. Jim Brickman is also scheduled, as is Montgomery Gentry.

Here are the line-ups:

Friday November 5
7:00: John Conlee(host); Mike Snider
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jeannie Seely; Mountain Heart
8:15: Bill Anderson(host); Jimmy C. Newman; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Holly Williams
8:45: Marty Stuart(host); The Whites; Connie Smith

Saturday November 6
First Show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; James Wesley
7:30: Mike Snider(host); Jack Greene; Point Of Grace
8:00: Jim Ed Brown(host); George Hamilton IV; Jim Brickman; Victoria Show; Robin Meade; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Riders In The Sky(host); Montgomery Gentry

Second Show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); The Whites; James Wesley
10:00: Mike Snider(host); Jan Howard; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Point Of Grace
10:30: Jim Ed Brown(host); Stonewall Jackson; Jim Brickman; Victoria Shaw; Robin Meade; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Riders In The Sky(host); Montgomery Gentry

A couple of other Opry notes:
>It has been reported that Lorrie Morgan has married for the 6th time. She married Randy White on September 15. Good luck to Lorrie.
>Jeannie Seely is engaged to be married. Her marriage will take place November 20 to attorney Gene Ward. Congratulation to Jeannie.

I don't know if anyone else listened to the performance turned in by Opry guest Laura Bell Bundy on last Saturday's Opry show. She performed a song that was a take off of the great Tammy Wynette song, "Stand By Your Man", which I think she called "Just Slap Your Man." If you have not listened to it, you can hear it on the archived Opry show on To put it simply, it was, in my opinion, way beyond the bounds of good taste and what you would expect from a family show. It was filthy and offensive. I am suprised that Pete Fisher would allow this type of performance. The Opry is a family show and this song had the sexual references and bathroom references had no place. Listen to it and let me know what you think. I know what at least one of my readers feels and I agree.

The Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree continues with their 10:00pm taping and this week the host will be George Hamilton IV, who has hosted the show many times in the past and has always done a good job.

Finally, Charlie Louvin is scheduled to be on next week's Tuesday Night Opry. I hope Charlie can make it. Last Saturday night was the benefit for him at Bell Buckle, Tennessee and I have heard that they had a standing room only crowd. Alison Krauss did a great performance, singing only Louvin Brothers songs. The only downer to the event was the Ed Bruce failed to appear as advertised. And the reason for him not appearing is not good. The report is that he took offense to the fact that he was not mentioned in the preview article that ran in the Nashville Tennessean prior to the event and so he decided not to appear. And this was for a benefit for Charlie!! Talk about putting yourself first. A true friend would have been thinking of Charlie first and not worried about the publicity. I think that shows Ed's true motives. Even Charlie had some harsh words for Ed at the event.

Enjoy this weekend's Opry.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

November Opry Highlights

The month of November is now upon us and as I do each and every month, I wanted to highlight the important events that have taken place in Opry history during the month of November.

First, 5 Grand Ole Opry members will be celebrating Opry anniversaries this month:

Stonewall Jackson became an Opry member on November 3, 1956 (54 years).
Jean Shepard joined the Opry on November 21, 1955 (55 years).
Joe Diffie became an Opry member on November 27, 1993 (17 years).
Marty Stuart became an official Opry member on November 28, 1992 (18 years).
Martina McBride joined the Opry on November 30, 1995 (15 years).

Now, a look at Opry history in November:

November 2, 1925: George D. Hay begins working at WSM radio in Nashville, accepting the position of Radio Director. Later in the month, he would start the WSM Barn Dance and manage the early years of the Opry.

November 28, 1925: WSM launches the "WSM Barn Dance", which would eventually turn into the Grand Ole Opry. The first broadcast featured Uncle Jimmy Thompson, who at the time was 77 years old. The first song performed by Uncle Jimmy was "Tennessee Waggoner."

November 2, 1948: Roy Acuff, who was running for Governor of Tennessee as the Republican candidate, lost the election. While Roy would not run for office again, he would continue to campaign for Republican office seekers, including Ronald Reagan and George Bush, Sr. During his campaign appearances, Roy would sing and feature his Smoky Mountain Boys, but the story went that when the music stopped and the speeches started, the crowd would start to leave.

November 13, 1949: The Grand Ole Opry sponsored its first overseas trip as a group of Opry performers traveled to England, Germany and the Azores as part of a USO sponsored tour. The Opry stars on this trip were Roy Acuff, Rod Brasfield, Jimmy Dickens, Red Foley, Minnie Pearl and Hank Williams.

November 3, 1956: Stonewall Jackson, as mentioned above, makes his Grand Ole Opry debut. I think everyone knows the story on how Stonewall just showed up outside the Opry one day and so impressed folks with his singing that he was asked to become a member even though he never had recorded a hit record. Stonewall would take care of that as he has had a number over the years. Sadly, several years ago, Stonewall filed a lawsuit against Gaylord Entertainment and the management of the Opry claiming age discrimination. Although still offered his slots to perform on the Opry, Stonewall elected to stay away until the lawsuit was settled out of court. Since then, Stonewall has returned to actively performing on the Opry, and in fact, his appearances have increased greatly since the lawsuit.

November 29, 1961: A group of Opry performers performed a sold-out show at Carnegie Hall in New York City. Among the Opry members who were part of the show were Jim Reeves, Marty Robbins, Bill Monroe, Patsy Cline and Grandpa Jones. With a line-up like that, no wonder it sold out.

November 28, 1963: Willie Nelson joined the Grand Ole Opry. He did not last as an Opry member for long and often complained about the low pay at the Opry. Of course, his first night there, he was introduced by the wrong name. Willie left Nashville in 1972 for Texas, where he established himself as country music's outlaw singer. Willie would continue to play the Opry over the years, although not frequently. If you remember back that far, when Willie joined the Opry, he was clean shaven and wore suits and ties.

November 12, 1971: Construction officially begins for the new Grand Ole Opry House located at Opryland. This would become the first building built specifically for the Opry and would take until March 1974 to complete.

November 30, 1973: David Akeman, otherwise known professionally as "Stringbean" made his final Grand Ole Opry appearance. That night, when he and his wife, Estelle, returned home, they were ambushed and killed by two men who were waiting to rob him. The killers sat in his house and listened to the Opry on the radio so they could judge when he would return home. The rumor at the time was that Stringbean had money, and lots of it, hidden in his small cabin. Nothing was found, but over twenty years later when the house was being worked on, $20,000 of rotted money were found within the walls of the house. The bodies of Stringbean and Estelle were found on Sunday morning by Grandpa Jones, Stringbean's closest friend. Grandpa was so shaken by the killings that he left Nashville for a number of years and moved to Arkansas and had a country dinner theater there. Roy Acuff and other Opry members called for the death penalty for the killers. Although the killers were quickly captured, they were not sentenced to death, but lengthy prison terms. A&E did a program on these murders several years ago and they still show it from time to time.

November 3, 1990: Minnie Pearl was honored on her 50th anniversary as a Grand Ole Opry member. When Minnie joined the Opry in 1940, she was immediately accepted into the Opry's cast.

November 15, 1992: The Grand Ole Opry is inducted into the Museum of Broadcast Communication's Radio Hall of Fame.

November 23, 1992: Grand Ole Opry star and Country Music Hall of Famer Roy Acuff passed away in Nashville. His influence on the Opry and in country music in general, can never be overstated. Thanks in part to Acuff-Rose Publishing, Nashville moved to the forefront of country music, and his publishing company gave country music songwriters and entertainers a place to publish and claim ownership of their material. Roy played the Opry right up to within a month of his death. He was the first living performer to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. It is ironic that one of those younger entertainers who have tried to carry on the Opry tradition as Roy Acuff would have wanted was Marty Stuart, who became an Opry member just 5 days later.

November 30, 1995: Martina McBride became an Opry member as part of a CBS show that celebrated the Opry's 70th anniversary. Loretta Lynn, who was a big influence to Martina, handled the formal induction.

November 23, 1996: Trace Adkins makes his first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry. Trace would later become an Opry member on August 23, 2003.

November 7, 1998: Jimmy Dickens celebrated his 50th anniversary as an Opry member. Although he joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1948, it should be mentioned that Jimmy left the Opry for a number of years. With that in mind, and although he is often introduced from the Opry stage as a member of the Opry for 62 years, in actuality Jean Shepard and Charlie Louvin are the longest consecutive members of the Opry.

November 30, 2002: Tim McGraw makes his first appearance on the Opry. Although never becoming an Opry member, Tim would perform on the show several times during his career.

November 14, 2005: The Grand Ole Opry returns to Carnegie Hall in New York for the 3rd time to perform an Opry show. This show was featured in a special on GAC-TV and would be released in a DVD. The performers on this show were Trace Adkins, Bill Anderson, Jimmy Dickens, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Alison Krauss, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Charley Pride, Ricky Skaggs and Trisha Yearwood. (Wouldn't you love to see this line-up at the Opry House on a Saturday night?)

November 8, 2008: Actor Kevin Costmer and his country band, Modern West, performed for the first time on the Opry. They would make another appearance in October 2010.

November 14, 2009: For the first time, the Opry streams part of its show on MySpace, it's first online video stream. The show featured Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Jack Owen and Rodney Atkins. It drew more than 300,000 viewers. Despite some technical glitches, the Opry would repeat this again.

Finally, as a way to remember the career of Roy Acuff, I thought that I would post the line-up from his final Saturday night performance on the Opry. It was Saturday night, October 17, and the Opry was celebrating it's 67th birthday. Roy had been in failing health for some time, but I was even shocked at how bad he looked at that night's show. What is amazing is that he did the 3:00 matinee show and then was taken to the hospital after that show by ambulance. However, he checked himself out in time to make it back to do the 8:00 on Saturday night's first show. And, he came back at the last minute. Bill Anderson writes about that night in one of his books that I recommend to everyone.

Now here is that line-up on Roy's final Saturday night at the Opry.

6:30: GHS Strings: Bill Monore(host); Jim Ed Brown
6:45: Country Music Hall of Fame: Grandpa Jones(host); Skeeter Davis; Roy Drusky
7:00: Shoney's: George Hamilton IV(host); Jeanne Pruett; Mike Snider; The Osborne Brothers; Jean Shepard
7:30: Standard Candy: Porter Wagoner(host); Shelly West; John Conlee
8:00: Martha White: Roy Acuff(host); Connie Smith; Bill Anderson; Opry Squardance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Kraft: Hank Snow(host); The 4 Guys; Jan Howard; The Carlisles; The Whites

9:30: Dollar General Stores: Porter Wagoner(host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Stonewall Jackson; The Osborne Brothers; Mike Snider
10:00: Little Debbie Snack Cakes: Bill Monroe(host); Roy Drusky; Jeannie Seely
10:15: Sunbeam Bread/Tennessee Pride: Roy Acuff(host); Hank Locklin
10:30: Pet, Inc.: Grandpa Jones(host); Jean Shepard; Charlie Walker
10:45: B.C. Powder: George Hamilton IV(host); Shelly West; Opry Squaredance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Coke: Hank Snow(host); The 4 Guys; Connie Smith; John Conlee; Justin Tubb
11:30: Creamette: Jim Ed Brown(host); Jan Howard; The Whites; The Carlisles; Johnny Russell

This was from the program that I saved from that night, but if memory serves me right, Hank Snow was missing that night and The 4 Guys hosted both of his segments. I am not 100% positive on that and might be wrong. If I am, I am sure one of my loyal fans will correct me. Also, Roy did the Friday night Opry the following week, sitting in a chair, and that was his final Opry show. He was hospitalized the next day, where he would remain until he passed away.

I hope you enjoy this look back at Opry history.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Charlie Walker

I wanted to take a moment and remember Grand Ole Opry legend Charlie Walker, who would have celebrated his 84th birthday today. Charlie was born in Copeville, Texas on November 2, 1926. He passed away from cancer on September 12, 2008.

Charlie started out as a country music disc jockey. And, he was pretty good at it. So good in fact, that he was elected to the Country Music DJ Hall of Fame in 1981. Charlie came to Nashville to pursue his career in country music. He never had a #1 record in is career, the closest being the great country classic, "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down", which reached #2 on the charts. That song, by the way, was written by Country Music Hall of Fame member Harlan Howard. Charlie became a Grand Ole Opry member on August 17, 1967, and would remain an Opry member until he died.

I happened to meet Charlie one time in my life. He was at an Opry function that was taking place at Opryland. I introduced myself to him and when he found out I was from Canton, Ohio, he asked if I knew a good friend of his, Jaybird Drennen, who was a great country music DJ in Akron, Ohio, and who grew up in Texas and knew Charlie. When I said I did and had met him several times, that just made Charlie's day and he went on and talked about Jaybird and other country music topics for quite a while. It was a pleasure to spend time with him and when I got back home and called Jaybird to tell him Charlie said hello, he could not believe it. I also know that Charlie tried his hand at politics, running for I believe the state senate in Tennessee. He was a fine country gentleman.

During Charlie's years as an Opry member, he also hosted many segments. Even after he reached senior status on the Opry and his appearances were cut back, Charlie still hosted slots. In fact, after Johnny Russell died and the Opry was still on until midnight, Charlie often hosted that last segment.

Charlie's final Opry appearance was on Friday March 21, 2008 and that was his only Opry appearance of the year.

In honor of Charlie Walker, here is the Opry line-up from his final show:

8:00: John Conlee(host); Connie Smith; Sarah Johns
8:30: Jean Shepard(host); Jan Howard; Jimmy C. Newman; James Otto
9:00: Riders In The Sky(host); Charlie Walker; George Hamilton IV; Josh Gracin
9:30: Jeannie Seely(host); Jack Greene; Cherryholmes

Tuesday Night Opry 11/2

A pretty good Tuesday Night Opry will be taking place at the Ryman Auditorium on November 2, as the Opry officially moves to it's winter home for the next 3 months, returning to the Opry House in February. Vince Gill returns to the Opry stage on Tuesday night after missing all the October shows at the Grand Ole Opry House. With Vince as one of the Opry's more popular and vocal members, I was somewhat suprised that he was not at the Opry at all in it's return to the Opry House.

Here is the line-up

7:00: Bill Anderson; Jerrod Niemann
7:30: Jack Greene; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Vince Gill; Jimmy Webb
8:45: Jimmy Dickens; Josh Turner

Bill Anderson

Today, I would like to take a moment and give recognition to Grand Ole Opry member Bill Anderson, who on November 1 is celebrating his 73rd birthday. Bill was born James William Anderson III, on November 1, 1937. He has had an outstanding career with numerous #1 records and has recorded almost 50 albums (and is still going strong). He is also a great songwriter, author and former game show host. He also hosted his own television show. He also had numerous duet hits with Jan Howard and Mary Lou Turner.

Bill became a member of the Grand Ole Opry on July 12, 1961, and in 2011 he will be celebrating his 50th anniversary as an Opry member. In 1975, he was voted as a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and in 2001 he was elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

His career is still very active today as he is still writing books, writing and publishing new songs and recording new record albums. He also has continued a pretty active touring schedule.

I have had the opportunity to meet Bill several times and I have always found him to be a very friendly and personable guy. He has always taken the time to answer my questions and to take a few minutes to say hi. And, he always receives a great reception while at the Opry.

In honor of Bill, I thought that I would post the Opry line-up from Saturday July 15, 1961. This was the first show that took place after Bill became on Opry member on July 12, and during this show he was officially welcomed as the newest Opry member.

7:30: Ray Price(host); Cowboy Copas; Bill Monroe; Stringbean; Tommy Jackson; Jan Howard
8:00: Flatt & Scruggs(host); Dick Flood; Bill Anderson; Loretta Lynn; Crook Brothers
8:30: Porter Wagoner(host); Bobby Lord; Archie Campbell; Jordanaires; Margie Bowes; Bob Luman
9:00: Roy Drusky(host); Glaser Brothers; Stonewall Jackson; Skeeter Davis; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Cousin Jody
9:30: George Hamilton IV(host); Bill Monore; Johnny Forbes; Lonzo & Oscar
10:00: Flatt & Scruggs(host); Jan Howard; Jordanaires
10:15: Bobby Lord(host); Loretta Lynn; Stringbean
10:30: Roy Drusky(host); Margie Bowes; Stonewall Jackson
10:45: Glaser Brothers(host); Cousin Jody; Crook Brothers
11:00: Porter Wagoner(host); Bob Luman; George Hamilton IV; Lonzo & Oscar; Sam & Kirk McGee; Jordanaires; Fruit Jar Drinkers
11:30: Bill Monore(host); Bill Anderson; Skeeter Davis; Dick Flood; Johnny Forbes

A couple of quick observations regarding the Opry on that particular night. First, it was one show, as it was back in those days. Bill Monore and the Jordanaires were featured on 3 different segments that night. And, do you notice how many of the Opry stars are missing? How about Roy Acuff, Hank Snow, Grandpa Jones, Marty Robbins, Minnie Pearl, Ernest Tubb, among many others. We complain now about Opry line-ups, but to be honest, the line-up from this particular night was not the strongest line-up we have seen from that era.

Again, congratulations to Bill Anderson on his 73rd birthday!!!!!!!