Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Grand Ole Opry Line-Up 1/7 & 1/8----Update #2

Another change. Jesse McReynolds has cancelled out for tonight. No new addition, they moved George Hamilton IV over a slot.

Hold the presses!!!!!! The Opry has filled out the line-up for this weekend and has made a couple of changes in the line-up. Frankie Ballard (?) and The Grascals have been added for this weekend. Frankie Ballard you ask? Another newcomer to Nashville that we will probably not hear from again in a year. Meanwhile we have The Whites, Jan Howard, Jimmy C. Newman, Connie Smith, George Hamilton IV, all of whom are doing only 1 show this weekend and Ray Pillow and Stonewall Jackson, who are not doing any shows, available for only a phone call. I am sure any of these would see as many extra tickets as Frankie Ballard.

Before I get into the line-ups for this weekend's Opry shows, I wanted to make a couple of general comments and get a few items off my chest.

The Grand Ole Opry recently ran a contest on their website and on facebook for a chance to meet Keith Urban at the Opry, at some future date. Ok, so the winner gets a chance to meet Keith, but the winner doesn't know when that will be. In looking at the Opry's calendar of upcoming shows, Keith Urban is not listed. Hopefully the winner will get to see Keith at the Opry sometime, in say, the next year. Which brings up another point and that is why does the Opry, with 67 members, feel the need to run a contest to meet a non-member who very rarely plays the Opry? There are plenty of "big name" Opry stars that fans would love to meet. I could name Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Blake Shelton, Alan Jackson among others. Of course the way things are at the Opry these days, Keith could be a member by the time the winner finally gets to see him.

And on the same vein, on the Opry website they are now running advertisements for the ACM Showcase at the Opry, hosted by Luke Bryan. Taking part in this Opry sponsored show later this month will be Eric Church, Easton Corbin, Randy Houser, the JaneDear girls, The Band Perry and Steel Magnolia. Again, as with the Keith Urban promotion, none of these individuals are Opry members. Granted, all but the JaneDear girls have played the Opry in the past, and several of them have played the Opry more than many of the Opry members, but we have again a big promotion and sponsorship of a concert by the Opry and no Opry members taking part in it.

Also regarding the Opry, January through April used to be some of the biggest months at the Opry. Not so much by attendance, but by the quality of the shows. Many of the Opry's members do not tour in the winter and are in town recording, and were ususally available and wanting to play the Opry. Again, looking at the schedule of upcoming shows at the Opry, it is pretty empty of anyone, much less the major Opry members. Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Terri Clark, Del McCoury and some others are listed for upcoming shows, but there are many, many weeks when nobody is listed. Is the Opry having that much trouble attracting stars to perform? It could be that or that the Opry management is just slow in updating the site. Many fans have gotten used to looking at the upcoming schedule to see who is coming and planning their trips. To me, it would help the Opry to be promoting the winter shows a little bit more.

Of course, in looking at this week's line-up, they haven't even filled that out, with a slot available on Friday and Saturday night. While the line-up is "ok", it is certainly not the strongest one we have seen in recent years. Friday night features Dailey & Vincent and Rodney Atkins. Dailey & Vincent have become regular visitors at the Opry in recent weeks. Saturday features Suzy Bogguss, Brett Eldredge and James Wesley, along with the Opry members. Here are the line-ups:

Friday January 7
7:00: John Conlee(host); Jeannie Seely; Frankie Ballard
7:30: Jimmy Dickens(host); George Hamilton IV; Chris Young
8:15: Riders In The Sky(host); Jim Ed Brown; Dailey & Vincent
8:45: Mike Snider(host); Connie Smith; Rodney Atkins

Saturday January 8
7:00: Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C. Newman; James Wesley
7:30: Mike Snider(host); Jan Howard; Jim Ed Brown; Suzy Bogguss
8:15: Riders In The Sky(host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Brett Eldredge; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: John Conlee(host); The Whites; The Grascals

On a final note, the Ernest Tubb Record Shops have announced that there will be no Midnight Jamboree tapings (or new shows) in January and February. The first two weeks of January they will play previously recorded shows that have not aired as of yet, featuring David Frizzell this week, Norma Jean next week and then a show with Rhonda Vincent, from what it looks like, New York. After that, who knows. If nothing else, hopefully they will play some of the older shows that featured Ernest Tubb. But, regardless, it is still a sad day when the Midnight Jamboree takes a hiatus. I know that things have been tough over there, especially since the flood. But for over 60 years, the show has gone on. And that included the years when the shop was still downtown and the Opry had moved to the new Opry House. For a while, they were doing the show from the now-closed shop by the former location of the Hall of Fame. And yes, on some Saturday nights the crowd was pretty sparse.

I know that the flood and the moving of the Opry really has hurt. The crowds were way down and there are costs associated with the show. Whenever I go to Nashville, I always go to the Midnight Jamboree and yes, in the winter months, the attendance was really down. I can remember one show in January with Charlie Louvin as the host and only about a dozen people were there. And back about 20 years ago, I remember a show hosted by Justin Tubb and there were 6 people in the audience. But I also remember a couple of years ago Marty Stuart hosting a February show and it was standing room only and it was the same when Ricky Skaggs and Rhonda Vincent did the show a few years back.

The point is that if they were to keep the quality of the hosts up, the people will come and be loyal to the show. I have noticed over the past several years that there seemed to be more and more people hosting the show that had Texas connections, such as James Hand, Justin Trevino, and Curtis Potter. These are all good entertainers but they do not have much name recognition in Nashville.

I remember when the Wheeling Jamboree, which was the 2nd longest running radio show next to the Opry, went to taped archive shows years ago. And, it was just a matter of time until the Jamboree totally went out of business (yes, it is making a comeback thanks to Brad Paisley), and I would hate to see the same thing happen to the Midnight Jamboree.

That does it for me. I did not forget my year end review and as soon as I get all the numbers tabulated, I will print the information.


  1. I certainly can understand the combination of floods and the economy affecting attendance, but isn't the Midnight Jamboree even free? I mean, the Opry overcharges ridiculously when you consider the lineups that are going out there.

  2. Love the additional comment at the top. I keep thinking of when the producer of 60 Minutes, Don Hewitt, got together with a bunch of the highest-paid CBS correspondents and offered to buy the news division to protect it from the budget-cutters who didn't appreciate its traditions. Maybe Vince could get some people together?

    A note: on one segment each night, there's an extra veteran member who can host. I get the sense that Fisher is booking one extra artist to guard against The Potato being unable to answer the bell. At one time, there were enough acts on the show where that wouldn't have been so noticeable, but pretty soon I expect Fisher to try a segment with nobody on it just to see what happens.

  3. Thanks!! I have also noticed last week, Pete Fisher did the same thing on the booking. This week he has the option of moving either Jim Ed Brown or George Hamilton IV over to host, if needed. I have also noticed that it would appear that the days of Jimmy C. Newman hosting a segment are about over. He has not hosted in a long time, and in fact a couple of weeks ago they brought in Ray Pillow to host a segment instead of Jimmy C.

    I do remember several times in the past year when Jimmy Dickens did not make it that they had the same person hosting 2 segments back to back. I know John Conlee did it last year during the snow storm and I believe Mike Snider has done the same thing.

    Finally, I see that George Jones was in the hospital and stayed over night because, according to George, "It was too cold to go home". Mmmmm, interesting. I know he says it was just a routine checkup and I hope he is right and there is nothing more. I also know that he cancelled his shows at the end of the year. We sometimes forget that he is now 79 years old.

  4. And in response to your first comment, yes the Midnight Jamboree is free. They do have a collection container in the back, asking for donations for the "musicians." I have wondered if they just split that up at the end of the night. I do not know, I have never asked.

  5. I remember getting a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when they announced that the Midnight Jamboree would no longer be aired live as I felt this was the first step toward demise of the show and now that this is happening I'm fairly certain that this historical program is in its final days. Nashville is becoming a country music graveyard.

  6. I THINK the main reason for the Midnight Jamboree taping is that the Opry no longer goes until midnight. I really worry that the Opry is doing what my town, Las Vegas, did before and during the recession: priced itself out of most people's range. I certainly wouldn't pay that much to see the lineups that Fisher is putting out there.

    As for Newman hosting, he's always been back-and-forth a bit, even back when Hal Durham ran things (my mother, the world's biggest Jimmy C fan, wrote Durham a couple of nasty letters about that). In my opinion, the only old-timers Pete Fisher cares about are the ones with connections to younger artists. For example, if he mistreated The Potato, Brad Paisley might get mad.

  7. Not only would Brad get mad, but probably Vince, Trace and a few others.

    While I hated the thought of the Midnight Jamboree taping at midnight, I agree that it was done because of the Opry only having one show. People just did not want to wait around for 3 hours for the Jamboree to start. Even going to get something to eat, it was just too much time to kill.

    It did bother me in October and November, when the Opry did have 2 shows that they stuck to the 10:00 schedule. But, even with taping the show, at least it was still taking place.

    Just as an observer of the Midnight Jamboree, I thought they, like the Opry, there were too many people involved. In the old days, it was basically one microphone and a sound man. Now, it looked like you had sound, lighting, directors, etc, etc. It just seemed like too much overhead for a free show.

  8. Listened to the Friday Night Opry and Jimmy Dickens sounded pretty good tonight. I was not impressed by Frankie Ballard.

  9. I didn't get to hear Frankie Ballard, but I did hear James Wesley tonight, and he sounded pretty good. I wonder where we lost Ranger Doug tonight!

  10. Who knows, but you are right, James Wesley did a very nice job, especially with the opening Marty Robbins number. He actually sounds country!!!