Thursday, June 30, 2011

Grand Ole Opry Line Ups 7/1 & 7/2

First, sorry for the lack of updates for the past couple of days. I was enjoying a couple of vacation days, and the "real boss" at the house does not allow me to open my laptop while I am enjoying time off!! Anyways, it has been pretty quiet around the Opry as summer moves forward. Just really nothing going on special. In the next couple of days, I will be posting the July highlights and also a post that I have been working on regarding the age of some of the Opry's members and what the future might hold.

Looking at this weekend's shows, there is the usual 1 show on Friday night and 1 show on Saturday night. And compared what we have seen some weeks, these shows look pretty good. Friday night will feature Marty Stuart, Ricky Skaggs, The Isaacs, Darius Rucker and Rodney Atkins among others.

On Saturday night, Opry members Steve Wariner and Joe Diffie will be joined by Jimmy Wayne and Troy Olsen, along with the North American Irish Dance Champions. With these dancers being placed in the spot where the Opry Square Dancers are usually at, it means that we will only have the regular dancers on for the opening spot.

Here are the line ups:

Friday July 1
7:00 Mike Snider(host); Jesse McReynolds; the JaneDear girls
7:30 Jimmy Dickens(host); The Isaacs; Rodney Atkins
8:15 Bill Anderson(host); Connie Smith; The Whites; Ricky Skaggs
8:45 Marty Stuart(host); Darius Rucker; ACM Lifting Lives Music Campers

Saturday July 2
7:00 Opry Square Dancers; Jimmy Dickens(host); Jeannie Seely; Troy Olsen
7:30 Mike Snider(host); Jim Ed Brown; Jimmy C Newman; Jimmy Wayne
8:15 Steve Wariner(host); Jack Greene; Riders In The Sky; North American Irish Dance Champions
8:45 Bill Anderson(host); Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press; Joe Diffie

The host of this week's Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree will be Stonewall Jackson. Great to see that Stonewall will be hosting, but I also notice that Stonewall will not be on the Opry. In fact, so far this year, he has only made 2 Opry appearances, the last coming on April 9. We need for Stonewall to be able to get back to the Opry stage.

Finally, here is the line up for the Tuesday Night Opry on July 5:

7:00 The Whites; Josh Thompson
7:30 Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press; Exile
8:15 Bill Anderson; Mandy Barnett
8:45 Jimmy Dickens; Marty Stuart

Again, not a bad show.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Tuesday Night Opry 6/28

Here is the line up for the Tuesday Night Opry, June 28:

7:00: Jimmy C Newman; Danny Gokey
7:30: Jesse McReynolds; Restless Heart
8:15: Bill Anderson; Justin Moore
8:45: Mandy Barnett; Jimmy Dickens

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Grand Ole Opry Schedule 6/24 & 6/25

The Grand Ole Opry has posted their line up for this weekend's shows. There will be one show on Friday night and one show on Saturday, as the Opry continues to follow its recent schedules.

Friday night will feature Crystal Gayle returning to the Opry stage. Over the past several years, she has been making appearances on the Opry and always been well received. Also appearing on Friday will be Americana favorite Jim Lauderdale, along with Bucky Covington.

Saturday night's show will feature Dailey & Vincent, the award winning bluegrass group. They have been making many Opry appearances over the past several years. Also appearing on Saturday night will be newcomer Frankie Ballard, along with a reunited Foster & Lloyd. You may remember Radney Foster and Bill Lloyd from the 1980's, when they achieved success with a series of albums. The duo broke up in 1990 and went their separate ways. However, they recently got back together and have recorded a new album. The reviews of their album have said that they are as good as they ever were, and back in the 80's, they were pretty good.

When you look at the schedule, you will notice that Friday night has 12 acts and Saturday has 11, with one to be added. But overall, the quality is pretty good. And, with a shortage of segment hosts on each show, Ray Pillow will be hosting a segment each night. Ray does not make many Opry appearances any more, but he still has a great voice and he seems to be Pete Fisher's "go-to" guy when he needs someone to host a segment and all the usual names are not available.

Friday June 24
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jim Lauderdale
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press; Buddy Jewell
8:15: Ray Pillow (host); Bucky Covington; Del McCoury Band
8:45: Mike Snider (host); Connie Smith; Crystal Gayle

Saturday June 25
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jesse McReynolds; Frankie Ballard
7:30: The Whites (host); Jimmy C Newman; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Ray Pillow (host); Foster & Lloyd; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Jim Ed Brown (host); Connie Smith; Dailey & Vincent

A couple of other quick notes:

Mandy Barnett has posted on the facebook that she will be appearing on the Tuesday Night Opry each week through July 19th. I know that there is a lot of cross promotion going on with the Patsy Cline show at the Ryman and the Opry has been helping to promote her new CD. It is easy to say that Mandy will be making more Opry appearances over the next month than a majority of the Opry's members.

I stated a while back that I would no longer comment on health issues unless the artist or their authorized representatives put it out. This came out yesterday and was in the mainstream media which is why I will mention it. Glen Campbell's wife, Kim, in an interview yesterday revealed that Glen has been diagnosed with early stages of alzheimers disease. He has recently made a new CD, a final one, and will be making a farewell tour in the fall. This is a shock and I wish him and his family the best. At the age of 75, Glen is way too young. I know that his life has been at times difficult, be he seems to have found peace in the last several years. He is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and he was one of the hotest country acts of the 1980's. While never an Opry member, he did make several appearances on the Opry. Our prayers go to him and his family.

Finally, Jimmy Fortune of the Statler Brothers, will be the host of the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree this weekend. Should be a good show.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

10 Artists That I Would Like To See As Opry Members

As I have been watching and listening to the Opry over the past several months, I have been seeing lots of guest artists on the Opry. In fact, so far in 2011, 125 different guests have performed on the Opry. Many of these guest artists have been newcomers to the business and were making their first Opry appearances, while others have been veteran artists who have played the Opry many times.

As the number of active Opry members has been decreasing, I have been thinking about who I would like to see as an Opry member. I have come up with a list of 10 who I think would make good Opry members. By good, I mean that based on their past performances, they would appreciate and understand the importance of being an Opry member and would actively support the show. In no special order, here is my list of 10:

1) Mandy Barnett. I know that the first thing some of you will say is that she has not had a hit record and is not a "real" star. But, I think this is a very talented young lady. She has one of the greatest voices in the world and each time I have seen her at the Opry, she has been well received. So far in 2011, she has appeared on the Opry 10 times. Only 17 of the 65 Opry members have had more appearances then her. She made 14 appearances last year. Currently, there is a shortage of active female Opry members. On many of the Opry's shows, there have been as few as 1 or 2 females scheduled. I think Mandy would be a fine Opry member and would add another talented female voice to the show.

2) Crystal Gayle. In keeping with the theme of the Opry needing some additional female voices, Crystal Gale is one of the most talented females in the history of country music. She was one of the top female artists in the 1980's and 1990's. She is still popular today and her concerts draw well. Last year, she made 4 Opry appearances and she has also appeared this year. The crowd loves her and I think she could be a female version of Mel Tillis. By that I mean an older artist, who's best part of their career is behind them, and now has the time to be a part of the Opry.

3) Oak Ridge Boys. I have seen the Oak Ridge Boys perform on the Opry at least a half dozen times. Each and every time they have performed "Elvira", they have received a standing ovation. They bring energy and excitement to the Opry and they appeal to all ages. For about the last dozen years, the "Boys" have made several Opry appearances each year. Last year it was 4 and so far this year, they have been on 5 times with several more appearances already scheduled. There are only 2 other country group that are Opry members, and those are The Whites and Diamond Rio. I happened to be up in the balcony at the Ryman Auditorium about a dozen years ago, during an Opry show, and Duane Allen was also standing in the back. I went over and said hi, and made the comment that the Oak Ridge Boys should be Opry members. Duane was very nice and said that they would love to be Opry members, but that they are just too busy. It would seem that with their career winding down, this would be the perfect time for them to join.

4) Rhonda Vincent. It seems like the question has been asked for about the last 5 or 6 years, why is Rhonda Vincent not a member of the Opry? She is one of the top female vocalists in bluegrass and with Alison Krauss the only female bluegrass artist on the Opry roster, it seems that this would be a great fit. She has made many Opry guest appearances and has always been well received. Last year her Opry appearances were down to 4, which is one of her lowest numbers. Many have speculated that her association with Martha White has hurt. That I don't know, but what I do know is that Rhonda should be an Opry member.

5) Dailey & Vincent. In keeping with the bluegrass theme, many of the Opry's bluegrass acts are now elder statesmen. Ralph Stanley and Jesse McReynolds are over 80 and Del McCoury and Bobby Osborne are not far behind. Even Ricky Skaggs is well over 50. It is time for some new bluegrass blood on the Opry and Dailey & Vincent should be the ones. Last year, they made 15 Opry appearances and so far in 2011, it has been 6. Bluegrass started on the Opry and the tradition of great bluegrass music needs to continue from the Opry stage. Dailey & Vincent would make great Opry members.

6) Rascal Flatts. They are one of the hottest groups in country music today and have been for the past several years. They are true country entertainers and they love the Opry. They have been making Opry appearances for the past several years and, as you would expect, the crowd loves them. And they are young. That is important as the Opry needs to continue to add younger members, but only younger members who will support the show. I believe that they would.

7) Jimmy Wayne. Not only is Jimmy a fine young talent with a couple of #1 records, he is an even better person. The Opry and WSM were one of his big supporters on his "Walk Across America." Last year, he made 9 Opry appearances and so far in 2011, it has been 6. When you see him on the stage of the Opry, the young girls love him and he always interacts with the audience. He understands the history of the show and would make a good member.

8) Gene Watson. This man should have been an Opry member 25 years ago. The Opry calls upon him many times and he always answers the call. And, he is considered one of the greatest country singers in history. He had 6 appearances last year, and 4 so far this year. His hit records from the 1980's are recognized by everyone the minute he starts with the first note. Much like Crystal Gayle, he would bring a veteran voice to the Opry, and one who would make the time to be at the show.

9) The Grascals. In keeping with the bluegrass theme, this group, while new in bluegrass, has made a huge impact during the past several years. Starting out as basically Dolly Parton's back up bluegrass group, they have moved to the front. They have made numerous Opry appearances over the last 5 years and they play a great selection of up-tempo bluegrass. Their Cracker Barrel CD is great. When I was at the Opry in April, they were there and it was my first time seeing them in person. I was hooked right away. They would not hurt the Opry one bit.

10) James Wesley. Some of you are probably saying, who? But, in my opinion, this is one of the great young talents in country music. He has made 6 Opry appearances so far this year, and even the great Jimmy Dickens has given him his personal endorsement. He is true country. And, in the time I saw him at the Opry, he seems to understand what the Opry is all about. As with Rascal Flatts, the Opry needs to continue to appeal to the younger fans, and I think James Wesley would fit the bill.

I know I left some off the list. Names such as Mark Wills, Elizabeth Cook, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Holly Williams, Restless Heart, Aaron Tippin, Joey+Rory and The Band Perry. My 10 that I would pick are probably not anyone else's 10. So, who else has an opinion. I would love to hear.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Grand Ole Opry Line Up 6/17 & 6/18

The Grand Ole Opry has announced the line ups for this weekends shows. As usual, there is one show on Friday night and one show on Saturday night.

Looking at the Friday Night Opry, the Little General Cloggers will be making their annual appearance on the show. They have been coming down once a year for as long as I can remember. I saw them on the Opry once, and this youthful group does a nice job with their clogging. Also on Friday night, The Black Lillies will be making their Opry debut. I have to admit that I have never heard of this group before, so I did some checking and found out that they are out of Knoxville, Tennessee and they bill themselves as an Americana folk band. If nothing else, they continue the trend of Americana groups making their Opry debuts, as we have seen a few of these in recent months. Rounding out the Friday line up will be Opry member Ricky Skaggs, along with Kellie Pickler returning to the Opry stage.

On Saturday night, HLN morning news anchor Robin Meade will be making another Opry appearance. For those of you who have not heard her sing, she has an amazing voice. Gospel group Point Of Grace will also be on, along with Sarah Darling making a return Opry appearance.

Friday June 17:
7:00: John Conlee (host); Jimmy C Newman; Little General Cloggers; Mike Snider
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jesse McReynolds; The Black Lillies
8:15: Ricky Skaggs (host); Connie Smith; The Whites
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press; Kellie Pickler

Saturday June 18
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jeannie Seely; Sarah Darling
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jean Shepard; Charlie Nagatani; T. Graham Brown
8:15: Mike Snider (host); Jack Greene; Robin Meade; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Jim Ed Brown; Point of Grace

Here is the line up for the Tuesday Night Opry, June 21:

7:00: John Conlee; Del McCoury Band
7:30: Connie Smith; Mark Wills
8:15: Jeannie Seely; Chris Young
8:45: Jimmy Dickens; Rodney Atkins

Just in a closing note regarding the Opry, I have noticed that in the past several months that Jesse McReynolds has been listed on the line up and in the program as just himself and not with The Virginia Boys. I don't know why the change, as most weeks he still has his Virginia Boys group with him.

Finally, Opry veteran Jeannie Seely will be hosting this weeks Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree. While I always enjoy the Midnight Jamboree, I always find it special when an Opry member hosts the show. I think it just goes back to the early days of the show when many of the Opry's members would go over and appear on the show. Nice to see it.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Tuesday Night Opry 6/14

We'll, the CMA Music Fest is done so things are back to normal in Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry. Before going into the Tuesday night line up, I did want to comment on last Saturday's Grand Ole Opry. I listened to the show and it came in loud and clear, and I thought it was an excellent show. 5 Hall of Famers and all performed and sounded well.

I did notice that Roy Clark did not do any singing, but did instrumental numbers for his opening and closing song. Roy will usually do 1 instrumental and 1 song singing. When he spoke, he sounded ok, but I know he is getting up there in years. Also, he had Buck Trent with him, and they did a little "Pickin & Grinnin", which was a take off of Buck Owens and Roy on Hee Haw. It went off ok, but you could tell it was not rehearsed.

Jack Greene hot confused on what song he was singing. The band started into "Statue of a Fool", while Jack was still doing "There Goes My Everything", but he sounded great and recovered from the mistake. Mel Tillis forgot the name of the square dancers, and of course, he found out that they are now just called the square dancers. And Mel sounded good. The Whites did a fine job of doing of the great Holly Dunn song, "Daddy's Hands", and making mention of Father's Day next Saturday. And George Hamilton IV did "We Will Meet Again', dedicating it to the country entertainers that had passed away since the last CMA Fest. All in all, a good show.

Now, for the Tuesday Night Opry, June 14:

7:00 Jim Ed Brown; Chuck Wicks
7:30 Jean Shepard; Edens Edge
8:15 George Hamilton IV; Dailey & Vincent
8:45 Jimmy Dickens; Darryl Worley

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Tex Ritter's Opry Induction

As I previously noted, it was on June 12, 1965 that Tex Ritter joined the Grand Ole Opry. Here is the running order of the show on that June night that Tex officially joined the Opry. Remember, there was only 1 Saturday night show in those days.

7:30 Luzianne
Bobby Lord (host)-A Room in the Corner of the House
Marion Worth-The Answer to the Question
Ernie Ashworth-Love has Come My Way
Lonzo & Oscar-There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea
Bobby Lord-I'm Going Home Next Summer
Osborne Brothers-Fair and Tender Ladies
Bobby Lord-Hawkeye

8:00 Martha White
Roy Acuff (host)-Freight Train Blues
Wilburn Brothers-Making Plans
Roy Acuff-The Great Speckled Bird
Crook Brothers-Black Mountain Rag

8:30 Stephens
Porter Wagoner (host)-Tennessee Border
Norma Jean-Go Cat, Go
Del Wood-Piano Roll Blues
Stringbean-Hot Corn, Cold Corn
Porter Wagoner-A Satisfied Mind
Mac Magaha & Buck Trent-Katy Hill
Speck Rhodes-The Little Shirt My Mother Made For Me
Norma Jean-Foggy Mountain Top
Del Wood-Cattle Call
Porter Wagoner-I'm Gonna Feed You Now

9:00 Pet Milk
Sonny James (host)-I'll Keep Holding On
The Browns-You Can't Grow Peaches on a Cherry Tree
George Hamilton IV-Truck Driving Man
Johnny Cash-Orange Blossom Special
Johnny Cash & The Statler Brothers-Mr. Garfield
Statler Brothers-Go On Home Billy Christian
Fruit Jar Drinkers-Take Me Back to Tulsa
Sonny James-Young Love
Jim Ed Brown-I Heard From a Memory Last Night

9:30 Kellogg's
Billy Walker (host)-Cross the Brazos at Waco
Willis Brothers-A 6 ft 2 by 4
June Carter & The Statler Brothers-I Want You Again
Billy Walker-Funny How Time Slips Away
Margie Bowes-Big City
Curly Fox-Casey Jones
Willis Brothers-Private Lee
Billy Walker-Come a Little Bit Closer

10:00 Schick
Bobby Lord (host)-Take the Bucket to the Well
Osborne Brothers-I Know What it Means to be Lonesome
Del Wood-Waiting for the Robert E Lee
Bobby Lord-Like Can Have Meaning

10:15 McCarter
Roy Acuff (host)-Wabash Cannonball
June Stearn-Once a Day
Stringbean-Moonshine in them Old Kentucky Hills
Roy Acuff-Glorybound Train

10:30 Harvey's
Sonny James (Host)-You're the Only World I Know
Sonny James-What'll They Do to My Darling

10:45 Newport
Wilburn Brothers (Host)-I'm Gonna Tie One on Tonight
Marion Worth-Go On Home
Crook Brothers-Chicken Reel
Wilburn Brothers-Steal Away

11:00 Coca-Cola
Porter Wagoner (host)-Company's Coming
The Browns-Jackson
Norma Jean-Lonesome Number One
Johnny Cash-Understand Your Man
Johnny Cash & June Carter-Were You There
Johnny Cash & June Carter-Amen
Fruit Jar Drinkers-Fire on the Mountain
Jim Ed Brown-Just to Satisfy You
Sam & Kirk McGee-If I had my Life to Live Over
Porter Wagoner-I'll Go Down Swinging

11:30 Lava
Marty Robbins (host)-El Paso
Willis Brothers-Ghost Riders in the Sky
Curly Fox-Fifty Years Ago
Margie Bowes-Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me
Don Winters-Chime Bells
Willis Brothers-Cool Water
Margie Bowes-Jambalaya
Marty Robbins-Ribbon of Darkness
Marty Robbins-Singing the Blues
Marty Robbins-Lovesick Blues
Marty Robbins-Begging to You

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Opry Memories on PBS

Last night, the local Public Broadcasting Station in my area had on "Opry Memories", the show that I had previously posted about. The show is scheduled for 90 minutes, but I will tell you that there is only about 60 minutes of music. The rest of the time is devoted to PBS fundraising. The format was bascially 20 minutes of music, then a 10 minute appeal, 20 more minutes of music, then 10 more minutes of appear, and then a final 20 minutes of music, with the last 15 minutes of the show devoted to more fundraising.

In watching the show, let me cover the good things first. The quality of the show was excellent. They showed appearances by Tammy Wynette, George Jones, Conway Twitty, Loretta Lynn, Johnny Cash, June Carter, Charley Pride, Dolly Parton, Porter Wagoner, Don Gibson, Ray Price, Lynn Anderson, Sammi Smith and Bill Anderson. I think I got everyone. Also, Tammy and George, Johnny and June, Conway and Loretta and Porter and Dolly were featured in duets. All the performances were from the mid to late 1960's. The songs were all familiar and well done. I had no issue with what was showed.

Now, for those who are expecting actual Opry performances, this is not what the show is, even though it is called "Opry Memories", and is billed as, "actual Opry performances filmed live on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium". While technically they are correct, most of the clips are from the old National Life Grand Ole Opry show, that was sponsored by National Life and Accident Insurance Company, the owners of the Opry. This was a syndicated half hour show that started in 1965, and was filmed on the stage of the Ryman Auditorium, but without the Opry back drops. If some of the video looks familiar, it is because many of these performances have been previously shown on some of the cable shopping channels during the half hour infomercial programs that sold various Time-Life Classic Country CDs. These shows had been hosted by Glen Campbell, Lorianne Crook, Mickey Gilley, among others.

This PBS show is hosted by John Schneider and he introduces each song. His part of the show was taped at the Grand Ole Opry House, and he is shown in various parts of the Opry House, including different parts of the stage, a dressing room, out in the auditorium and up in the balcony. Even though he has no connection to the Opry, and was probably picked by PBS to host the show, he does a pretty good job.

During intermission, and inserted between the various fundraising appeals, are interview segments featuring Bill Anderson and Nashville journalist Robert Oermann. The interview clips are ok, mostly Robert asking Bill about what it was like to join the Opry and his memories of it. I would say, that they way it was edited, that the interview was done in one-take. But, it was fine.

My only complaint is who was not on the show. When you think of Opry memories, I think all of us think of people such as Ernest Tubb, Roy Acuff, Hank Snow, Minnie Pearl, Louvin Brothers, Connie Smih, Patsy Cline, Jim Reeves, Marty Robbins, Jim Ed Brown and so many, many more from the 1960's. I think PBS missed the boat by not including more performances from more Opry stars. Johnny Cash is featured in 3 different songs, and he could easily have been cut to 1 and more artists showed. And, I will point out, that even though the show is called "Opry Memories", Conway Twitty, Sammi Smith and Lynn Anderson were never members of the Opry, and in the case of Conway and Sammi, I would be hard pressed to tell you how many times either on of them actually appeared on the Opry.

If closing, I will say that if you are looking for a good show with some very good classic country music, this is a show to watch. If you are looking for actual Grand Ole Opry appearances from the Ryman Auditorium, you will not find it on this show.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Mel Tillis

Besides Lorrie Morgan, another current member of the Grand Ole Opry joined the cast on June 9, and that was Mel Tillis, who joined the Opry on June 9, 2007. Mel will be on both the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry shows this weekend. In addition, he will be hosting the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree.

While Mel officially joined the Opry in 2007, there was always speculation and rumor that he had been an Opry member previously. In fact, he was even pictured in some editions of the Grand Ole Opry History Picture Book, one of which I have dated 1969. But, what is interesting is that if you look at the book and read his biography and story written in the book, nowhere does it say he is actually an Opry member and no induction date is ever given. My best guess is that he was asked to become a member and actually accepted, which is why they put him in the Opry book. But then something happened prior to his official induction as a member, and he left.

In the current edition of the Opry's Picture History Book, Mel is quoted as saying, "I always wanted to be a member of the Opry, but I was always gone. I was doing the Johnny Carson show, the Merv Griffin show, the Mike Douglas show--every show, you could name--the Dean Martin show, Hollywood Squares, and 13 movies. I just didn't have the time to commit to being a member."

In looking at my logs, Mel appeared on the Opry 11 times in 1969, the year that he was in the earlier History Picture Book. By 1971, he was just on the Opry 3 times and that was pretty much it for Mel. You have to remember back in those days, the Opry had a tighter attendance requirement than they do now. Artists were expected to appear 26 times during a year. I think that once Mel really thought it over, he and the Opry realized that it just wasn't going to work. But in 2007, with the urging and help of his daughter Pam, he was able to become an Opry member. And since he joined, he has made the 10 show commitment per year that the Opry is looking for. In 2007, he appeared 15 times, and then it was 14 in 2008, 9 in 2009 and 10 in 2010.

In honor of Mel Tillis and his 4th anniversary as an Opry member, here is the line up from Saturday June 9, 2007, when Mel became officially a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Hal Ketchum; Jim Ed Brown
7:00: Pam Tillis (host); Darryl Worley; Carolina Rain; MEL TILLIS
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Mike Snider; Connie Smith; Riders In The Sky; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jeannie Seely; Charley Pride

9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); John Conlee; Darryl Worley
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jimmy C Newman; Mike Snider; Charley Pride
10:30: Pam Tillis (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; MEL TILLIS
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Riders In The Sky; Jeannie Seely; Carolina Rain

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Lorrie Morgan-27 Years As An Opry Member

It was on June 9, 1984 that Lorrie Morgan followed in the footsteps of her father, the great George Morgan, and became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. I can't believe that she has been an Opry member for 27 years.

Lorrie's birth name is Loretta Lynn Morgan. She first appeared at the Opry at the age of 13, while the show was still at the Ryman Auditorium. Here is how she remembered that night:

"I was thirteen years old and it was down at the Ryman Auditorium. I was a little skeptical about doing it. I was real nervous and I really wasn't sure I wanted to sing. But I could sing and Dad asked me if I wanted to try to go on the stage. We got to the Opry House and I went and rehearsed the song 'Paper Roses' with the guitar player. And I was shaking. And Dad told me-he used to call me Fussy-'Now, Fussy, before I bring you on I'm gonna look at you over in the wings. And if you wanna come on you shake your head yes, and if you don't, no.' We'll, I got a new dress and everything, but I still wasn't sure I was going on. So he went out there and he started talking about something and he looked over at me and I shook yes. And he introduced me. Before I went on I had asked my guitar player, 'What do I do if I get an encore?' 'Well, you won't,' he said, 'but if you do, you come back in and sing the chorus again.' So I went out and I sang and I got a standing ovation. And from then on I said, 'Okay, this is it!'"

When Lorrie became an Opry member, she really wasn't a star. She had bounced around singing on local televison in Nashville, specifically the Ralph Emery morning show. In 1987, she was signed to RCA Records and at that point she stared to have chart success. In 1990 she won the CMA Vocal Event of the Year award for her work with her late husband, Keith Whitley, who died in 1989. "Dear Me" was the album that made Lorrie a star and she followed that up with an even bigger record, "Something in Red", which came out in 1991. In the 1990's, she maintained her chart presence and she even did some movie and television work. It was at that point that her career peaked and while she would continue to produce new albums, she never attained that level of success again.

When Lorrie first joined the Opry, which was before she hit it big, she appeared on the show on a pretty regular basis. In fact, in 1985, the year she joined the show, she appeared 81 times!!!! In 1988, the last full year before she had her #1 records, she appeared 72 times. But, by 1990, her appearances had dropped to just 4. Since 2000, her appearances have remained pretty steady, averaging about 15 apperances each year. Although she dropped down to just 7 shows in 2010, she did appear 16 times in 2009.

I still think she should appear at the Opry more often. While he was on Opry member, her father George Morgan really supported the show and was one of the Opry's more popular members. And many nights, he would bring Lorrie with him. Lorrie has told the stories about sitting and playing in various guitar cases backstage, and one of her best friends was Bill Carlisle's daughter, Sheila. With that type of history behind her, I thought she really "got it" and while I did not expect her to continue at 80-90 appearances each year, I thought it would be better than what it was. But, I will say that she does show up more than many of her contemporaries from the 1980's and 1990's.

I haven't mentioned Lorrie's personal life, and while I won't go into it too much, let's just say it has been interesting. She has been married 6 times, has been widowed and bankrupt. She has been in the tabloids more than her share of the time. But she continues on and has remained popular with her fans.

In honor of Lorrie Morgan's anniversary as an Opry member, here is the running order for both shows that took place on Saturday June 9, 1984, the night that Lorrie Morgan officially became a member of the Grand Ole Opry:

6:30 Mrs. Grissoms
Stonewall Jackson (host)-Me and You and A Dog Named Boo
Connie Smith-I Had A Dream
Stonewall Jackson-Muddy Water

6:45 Rudy's
Del Reeves (host)-Two dollars in the Jukebox/A Dime at a Time/Looking at the World Though a Windshield
Jeannie Seely-Your Sweet Lies Just Turned Down My Sheets Again
Del Reeves-Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me

7:00 Shoney's
Jim Ed Brown (host)-Lying In Love With You
Billy Grammer-Homestead on the Farm
Skeeter Davis-Turning Away
Hank Locklin-Send Me The Pillow That You Dreamed On
Jean Shepard-Virginia
Jim Ed Brown-Pop A Top

7:30 Standard Candy
Bill Anderson (host)-Po Folks
Crook Brothers/Melvin Sloan Dancers-Sally Goodin
Billy Walker-Funny How Time Slips Away
Bill Anderson-Still

8:00 Martha White
Roy Acuff (host)-Wabash Cannonball
The Whites-Forever You/Swing Down Sweet Chariot
Dan Kelly-Sally Goodin
Jeannie Pruett-Back to Back
Howdy Forrester-Fiddle Tune
Roy Acuff-I Saw The Light

8:30 Acme
Hank Snow (host)-Forever And One
Dottie West-It's High Time/Crazy/I Fall to Pieces
4 Guys-Cottonfields/Mariah
Roy Drusky-The Last Farewell
Bill Carlisle-I'm Moving
Hank Snow-I Don't Hurt Anymore

9:30 Dollar General
Jim Ed Brown (host)-Southern Lovin
4 Guys-How Married Are You Mary Ann
Jeannie Seely-When Your Heart's Been Stepped On
Del Reeves-Good Hearted Woman
Wilma Lee Cooper-A Daisy A Day
Jim Ed Brown-You're The Reason God Made Oklahoma

10:00 Little Debbie
Bill Anderson (host)-I Love You Drops
Jan Howard-Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good
Ray Pillow-Julie Loved Boston More Than Me
Bill Anderson-Southern Fried

10:15 Sunbeam
Billy Walker (host)-Cross the Brazos at Waco
Hank Lockin-Danny Boy
Skeeter Davis-Turning Away
Billy Walker-He Sang the Songs About El Paso

10:30 Martha White
Roy Acuff (host)-Meeting in the Air
Jean Shepard-Second Fiddle
Roy Thackerson-Eighth of January

10:45 Beech-Nut
Roy Drusky (host)-Don't it Make You Want to Go Home
Jeanne Pruett-Satin Sheets
Crook Brothers/Melvin Sloan Dancers-Gray Eagle
Roy Drusky-One Day at a Time

11:00 Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host)-I'm Moving On
Dottie West-It's High Time/Here Comes My Baby
The Whites-Hangin Around
Jerry Douglas-Cincinnati Rag
Hank Snow-Born for You

11:30 Quincy's
Stonewall Jackson (host)-Why I'm Walking
Bill Carlisle-Too Old to Cut the Mustard/Oh, What a Party
Stonewall Jackson-Old Chunk of Coal

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Grand Ole Opry 6/10 & 6/11--Update #2

Update #2-Josh Turner has been added to the Friday Night Opry in place of Randy Travis. Randy has posted a notice on his website that he has cancelled his Opry appearance and an autograph signing session at the CMA Music Fest due to exhaustion.

Update #1---Randy Travis cancelled for Friday night. No replacement as of yet. Randy apparently had an issue while appearing recently on a Fox news program. I don't know if this has anything to do with his Opry cancellation, but you can find the story online. As far as I know, Randy is still going to be at the CMA Music Fest this weekend.

In what must be a record for the Grand Ole Opry, they posted the line ups for this weekends shows on Monday. Wow, it sure didn't take them long to firm up their plans for this weekend. While the line up for Friday night and Saturday night are both pretty good, with Friday being the strongest of the 2 nights, there was something missing when I was looking at them and something, in my mind at least, seemed wrong. And then it hit me.

It is CMA Music Fest weekend in Nashville. Of course, us old timers know it as Fan Fair, which was always a great event. You could come to town and meet all the stars, both young and old, and see a bunch of shows for practically nothing. And every artist who ever made a country music record seemed to be there. It was literally a mandatory thing. But over time, Fan Fair changed. It started to get real big and outgrew its early homes, the Municipal Auditorium and the State Fairgrounds. Corporate sponsors got involved and the whole festival got more expensive. It was from a whole week of festivities to a long weekend. And, as with everything else in the world of country music, the legends and older veterans were left behind, and the younger, hot stars dominated.

And as the festival changed, so did the Opry. During Fan Fair, the Opry always had 2 shows on Friday night, then a Saturday matinee, and then 2 more shows on Saturday night. Some years, there was even a Sunday matinee show. And pretty much every Opry member was there. In fact, I have a line up from an show during on of the early Fan Fair weeks, and there were 31 artists on just one show. The opening segment on that show had 8 acts!!!!

Now, I look at the Opry shows for this weekend, and on each show, there are just 12 acts total. On Friday night, of the 12 scheduled, only 8 are Opry members. Now I will say that all 12 acts that are scheduled on Saturday night are Opry members, but when I look at the line up, I have to ask, where is everyone else, especially the veterans and legends. It seems that they have been shoved aside again.

And why is there only 1 Opry show each night? I checked with the Opry and Friday nights show is almost a sellout. Saturday night, ticket sales are also strong. If there was a weekend that screamed for 2 shows each night, this is it. The Opry could have scheduled Jimmy C Newman, Jack Greene, Jan Howard, Jean Shepard, Connie Smith, Jeannie Seely, The Whites and Riders In The Sky for all the shows. And why were not some of the veterans added on to the shows that are already scheduled? They easily could have fit in a couple of more artists each night. And, where are the missing ones? Jim Ed Brown, Bill Anderson, Ray Pillow, Stu Phillips, Stonewall Jackson, Jesse McReynolds, Bobby Osborne among others. I know that some are out on the road working, but they could have scheduled those who were not.

That said, it is nice to see Opry members Roy Clark, Mel Tillis, Charley Pride and Randy Travis back on the Opry. But it just seems like when these seldom seen Opry members appear, the members who are there each week are shoved off to the side. There is room for all and there should be.

Several weeks back, when I was looking at who the Opry had scheduled down the road and I saw this weekend, I thought wow!!! This looks like a 'can't miss' weekend and I thought that the shows would really be loaded. As I said before, they are very nice and strong line ups and they should be great shows, but only 12 artists each night? That is my big issue. I just expected more from the Opry during CMA Music Fest week.

Friday June 10
7:00 Jimmy Dickens(host); Connie Smith; Bradley Gaskin
7:30 John Conlee(host); Lauren Alaina; Scotty McCreedy
8:15: Mel Tillis(host); Roy Clark; Billy Ray Cyrus
8:45 Charley Pride(host); Riders In The Sky; Josh Turner

Saturday June 11-Opry Matinee
3:00 The Whites; Thompson Square
3:30 Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press; Anna Wilson
4:00 Jimmy C Newman; Mandy Barnett
4:30 Crystal Bowersox; Jimmy Dickens

Saturday June 11
7:00 Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C Newman; Mike Snider
7:30 Roy Clark(host); George Hamilton IV; The Whites
8:15 Mel Tillis(host); Jan Howard; Jack Greene; Opry Square Dancers
8:45 Charley Pride(host); Jean Shepard; Diamond Rio

For those of you counting at home, that is a total of 3 American Idol folks on this weekends shows. I know that Lauren and Scotty were very good on this years show, but for each of them to have their own slot on a show that costs $54.00 to see, is a bit much.

And, finally, Mel Tillis is the host for this weekend's Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree. That should be a great show.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Grand Ole Opry 6/3 & 6/4--Update #2

Update #2-Both shows are sold out for Tuesday night. Good to see that with CMA Music Fest in town that people are willing to venture out to Briley Parkway to see the Opry. The line ups are very strong for both shows. Interesting that Jimmy Dickens is only doing the 1st show, while the rest of the line up is doing both shows.

Update #1-Jim Ed Brown was added on for Friday night.

With the Memorial Day weekend behind us, the Opry moves into its summer season. It used to be that when Opryland was open, there would be 2 shows each Friday and Saturday night through the summer and into September. And each show was 2 and a half hours long. Now with no real draw for the tourists in Nashville, we have just 1 show on Friday night and 1 show on Saturday night.

The Friday Night Opry will feature Marty Stuart returning to the Opry stage, along with Aaron Tippin along with Jeff and Sherri Easter. Saturday night will feature superstar group, Rascal Flatts, along with Jimmy Wayne and Elizabeth Cook. Both nights will feature bluegrass great Ralph Stanley.

Friday June 3:
7:00 John Conlee(host); Mike Snider; Jean Shepard; Emily West
7:30 Jimmy Dickens(host); Jesse McReynolds; Jeff and Sheri Easter
8:15 Bill Anderson(host); The Whites; Aaron Tippin
8:45 Marty Stuart(host); Connie Smith; Jim Ed Brown; Ralph Stanley

Saturday June 4
7:00 Jimmy Dickens(host); Jimmy C Newman; Elizabeth Cook
7:30 Riders In The Sky(host); Billy Yates; Ralph Stanley
8:15 Mike Snider(host); Jack Greene; Jimmy Wayne; Opry Square Dancers
8:45 Jeannie Seely(host); Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press; Rascal Flatts

The Tuesday Night Opry on June 7 will help to usher in the CMA Music Festival, which will run in Nashville through the weekend. Besides the Music Fest, Marty Stuart will have his late night jam at the Ryman Auditorium, and there are super line ups at the Friday and Saturday night Opry shows next weekend. In addition, the Opry will also have a Saturday matinee.

As you will see, the line up for the Tuesday Night Opry is loaded and there are 2 shows

7:00: Jimmy Dickens; Darius Rucker
7:30: Jerrod Niemann; Martina McBride
8:00: Oak Ridge Boys; Lady Antebellum
8:30: Bill Anderson; Carrie Underwood

9:30: Martina McBride; Lady Antebellum
10:00: Darius Rucker; Carrie Underwood
10:30: Bill Anderson; Jerrod Niemann; Oak Ridge Boys

Interesting that the Oak Ridge Boys are closing out the Tuesday night show.

And finally, the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree on Saturday night/Sunday morning, will be hosted by Jett Williams and appearing with her will be David Frizzell, Razzy Bailey and Jeremy Parsons. That should be a great show.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

June Opry Highlights

In the history of the Opry, June has been one of the Opry's busiest months. I hope you enjoy this look back at the important and historical events that took place in Opry history during the month of June.

June 17, 1910: Clyde Julian Foley, better known as Red Foley, was born in Blue Lick, Kentucky.
Red would join the Opry and host the Prince Albert portion of the show, and stay at the Opry until 1954, when he left to go and host the Ozark Jubilee.

June 14, 1914: Lester Flatt was born in Overton County, Tennessee. Lester would become famous as part of Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys and as part of the duo, Flatt and Scruggs. He would break off with Earl Scruggs over the direction of their music and most of the Foggy Mountain Boys stayed loyal to Lester. He would rename the group, The Nashville Grass, and when on the Opry he would host the Martha White and Trailblazer portions of the show.

June 17, 1916: David Akeman, better known as Stringbean, was born in Anniville, Kentucky. We all know the story on the tragic death of Stringbean and his wife in November 1973. Stringbean had been a steady performer and musican in country music and at the Opry, but it was his role on Hee Haw that made Stringbean famous to a nationwide audience. One fact regarding Stringbean: he never learned how to drive. His wife Estelle would drive him everywhere. And, he would buy a new Cadillac every year.

June 28, 1924: George Morgan was born in Waverly, Tennessee. The father of Opry member Lorrie Morgan, George joined the Opry in 1948 and would remain a member until his death in 1975. He would later be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

June 19, 1926: DeFord Bailey made his Opry debut. DeFord would be a regular on the Opry until he was fired by George D. Hay in 1941. His song, "Pan American Blues", would often be the opening number on the Opry's broadcasts. After he was fired from the Opry, DeFord was very bitter, and he rejected invitations to return and make guest appearances at the Opry. Finally, on February 23, 1974, he returned to the Opry for their Old Timers' Night. Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl introduced him and he received a great ovation from the crowd. DeFord passed away on July 2, 1982. In April 1982, DeFord had made his final Opry appearance, at that year's reunion show. He would later be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

June 2, 1927: Former Opry star Carl Butler was born in Knoxville, Tennessee. Carl and his wife, Pearl, had one of the biggest hits in country music history, "Don't Let Me Cross Over". Carl and Pearl were instrumental in Dolly Parton's career and help bring her to Nashville, through their connections in Knoxville. And Dolly never forgot. When Carl and Pearl's careers tailed off and they had financial problems, Dolly reportedly helped them out, enabling to keep their home.

June 23, 1929: Valerie June Carter was born. She would later be a member of the Opry, as part of the Carter Family, with Mother Maybelle, and sisters Anita and Helen.

June 12, 1936: Dr. Humphrey Bate of the Possom Hunters died. He was 61. I related in an earlier post his role in the start of the WSM Barn Dance, later known as the Opry. Today, his contributions to the show are largely overlooked.

June 13, 1936: Because of the size of the crowds, the Opry moves to the Dixie Tabernacle, located on Fatherland Street in East Nashville. The Tabernacle seated 3,500 and was a very primative facility, with wooden benches, sawdust floors and no dressing rooms. Basically, it was an old barn.

June 5, 1937: Pee Wee King and his Golden West Cowboys join the Opry. Pee Wee was one of the first professional groups to join the show and they would help to make the show more professional and polish. Pee Wee would also have numerous disagreements with George D. Hay, who felt that Pee Wee's group was not country enough. Pee Wee would leave the Opry to go to Louisville and work in television. Of course, he is most famous for the "Tennessee Waltz". He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. His biography, "Hell-Bent for Music", is excellent, and even though some of the facts are wrong, I highly recommend it.

June 25, 1940: Republic Pictures releases the movie, "Grand Ole Opry", which featured George D. Hay, Roy Acuff and Uncle Dave Macon. It was a basic movie for the times, as the Opry stars helped a group of Ozark residents try to take back state government from a group of crooked politicians. The movie premiered in Nashville on June 28. Currently, the movie is long out of print and is a collectors item for those who can locate a copy.

June 5, 1943: The Opry moves again, this time to the Ryman Auditorium, where it would stay until moving to the Grand Ole Opry House in March 1974. Over time, the Ryman would become known as "The Mother Church of Country Music", and the Opry would enjoy its greatest growth while at the Ryman.

June 6, 1944: Grant Turner debuted as a WSM announcer. Of course, this was "D Day". Over time Grant would become known as the voice of the Opry and would remain with the Opry until he died on October 28 1991. In fact, he passed away after signing off the Friday Night Opry. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1981.

June 17, 1944: The Poe Sisters joined the Opry.

June 11, 1949: Hank Williams makes his Opry debut. The performance that night is still talked about today, as he song his hit, "Lovesick Blues", and was called back for 6 encores. Jimmy Dickens still talks about that night to the day, and he has been quoted as saying that it is the greatest Opry performance that he ever saw.

June 1, 1957: The Everly Brothers become members of the Opry. It was part of an effort that the Opry was making at the time to attract some of the younger fans, as with rock and roll reaching its peak, Opry attendance was way, way down. Some felt the Opry would not survive. However, the Everly Brothers were destined for bigger and better things and their stay at the Opry was very short.

June 13, 1959: Roy Drusky joined the Opry. Roy came to the Opry from Atlanta and would remain an Opry member until his death in September 2004.

June 27, 1959: Lorrie Morgan was born in Nashville, Tennessee.

June 14, 1961: Patsy Cline was seriously injured in an automobile accident in Nashville. It would take her over 8 months to recover, and because of the scar left on her forehead as a result of the accident, Patsy would wear a wig just about every time she would perform.

June 8, 1964: Alton Delmore died at the age of 55 in Huntsville, Alabama. The Delmore Brothers joined the Opry in 1933 and their influence is still felt in duet acts today. They were elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001. As with other acts, the Delmore's left after a dispute with Opry management.

June 12, 1965: Tex Ritter joined the Opry. When Tex joined the Opry, many questioned what his commitment would be to the show, as he was not a Nashville based star. But, Tex surprised everyone by becoming one of the Opry's most loyal and popular members. He would later co-host the late night show on WSM radio with Ralph Emery and was influential in the start of the Country Music Association. Tex remained an Opry member until his death on January 2, 1974 from a heart attack. He had been elected to the Hall of Fame in 1964.

June 13, 1965: Connie Smith and Bob Luman both became members of the Opry. This will be Connie's 46th year as an Opry member. Connie is one of the greatest female voices in the history of country music, and if she hadn't put her career on hold to raise her family, there is no doubt she would be in the Hall of Fame today. Her day will come. Connie remembers the night she became a member: "I joined the same night as Bob Luman. And I had totally no control over my voice at all. I was scared to death; it just meant too much to me. I had heard about people's knees knocking, and I thought it was a fake. But mine actually did while I was out there singing. I was that shook. And when I came off the stage I busted out crying. It was just my dreams come true. "Bob Luman was one of the great young stars of the business who the girls loved. He came to Nashville from the "Louisiana Hayride".

June 20, 1965: Ira Louvin, the older brother of Charlie Louvin, was killed in a car accident. One of the greatest duets in country music history, Charlie and Ira were elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2001. Besides Bill Monroe, Ira was considered to have one of the greatest high tenor voices in country music.

June 1, 1967: Stu Phillips joined the Grand Ole Opry. Stu was from Canada and would join Hank Snow as the Opry's Canadian members. While Stu never had a "career record", he would be a loyal member of the Opry and still performs on the show today. This will be his 44th anniversary as an Opry member.

June 30, 1970: Ground breaking took place for Opryland. Roy Acuff and Brother Oswald handled the ground breaking and it would take several years for the park to be completed. The closing of Opryland was a decision still felt in Nashville and the tourism industry today.

June 17, 1978: Marty Robbins drove his new custom-made Panther DeVille automobile onto the Opry stage. In a moment of good humor, Roy Acuff found a security guard and had the guard write Marty a parking ticket.

June 19, 1982: Riders In The Sky joined the Opry. Ranger Doug Green, Woody Paul and Too Slim would be the only act on the Opry to feature true western cowboy music. They remain popular Opry members to this day, and will be celebrating their 29th year as Opry members. Doug Green was formally on the staff at the Country Music Hall of Fame and is an author who has an appreciation for the history of country and western music.

June 9, 1984: Lorrie Morgan joined the Grand Ole Opry. This will be her 27th anniversary as an Opry member, if you can believe that. He father was the late George Morgan. Lorrie first appeared on the Opry at the age of 13, and basically grew up around the Opry House. Lorrie has had a nice career in country music and has recently released a new album. While Lorrie has appeared on the Opry on a semi-regular basis each year, the Opry could see more of her.

June 18, 1984: Former Opry member Paul Howard died in Little Rock, Arkansas at the age of 75. He performed on the Opry with his group, the Arkansas Cotton Pickers.

June 20, 1986: Whitey Ford, the Duke of Paducah died at the age of 85 in Nashville. He joined the Opry in 1942. Country Music Hall of Fame in 1986. He was a featured comedian on the Prince Albert portion of the Opry and while many people remember Rod Brasfield and Minnie Pearl being on the Prince Albert portion, it was actually Whitey Ford who was the original part of that show.

June 10, 1988: Herman Crook died in a Nashville hospital at the age of 89. Herman was a harmonica player and part of the Crook Brothers. Herman was the last living member from the original Opry cast of 1926, and with his death, the final link to the start of the Opry was broken. Over the years, as the string bands were merged together, the Crook Brothers would have various members, but Herman was always there. For the majority of his final years on the Opry, the Crook Brothers traditionally played on Roy Acuff's early segment and would appear on the 10:45 segment of the 2nd show. They would provide the musical for the square dancers. After his death, the Crook Brothers were no more, and the musicians playing for the square dancers has been just called the Opry Square Dance Band since. Today that band consists of Earl White and Charlie Collins, who both played in the final line up for the Crook Brothers.

June 10, 1988: Ricky Van Shelton joined the Opry. Ricky was introduced as a new Opry membery by Roy Acuff and was at the top of the charts when he joined the show. Ricky retired from the music business several years back. Sorry to say, but during his time on the Opry, his appearances were few and far between.

June 11, 1988: Patty Loveless joined the Opry. This year will be her 23rd year as an Opry member. She is a cousin of Loretta Lynn and was signed as a songwriter by the Wilburn Brothers, who also had Loretta under contract. She was also a part of Porter Wagoner's show for a short period of time and it was Porter who introduced her the night that she became a member. I honestly feel that Patty has one of the sweetest voices in country music today and I just wish she would appear at the Opry more often.

June 24, 1989: Garth Brooks made his first Opry appearance.

June 2, 1990: Mike Snider joins the Opry. Mike joined based on his comedy skills as a member of the Hee Haw cast for a number of years. He remains a popular Opry member to this day and has done his part to keep string band music alive at the Opry.

June 7, 1991: Alan Jackson joined the Grand Ole Opry. To say that Alan has been a disappointment as an Opry member would be an understatement. But, he was part of a number of acts that joined the Opry in that time period, who have had no real connection to the show and seldom appear. That group would include Garth Brooks, Randy Travis, Clint Black, Reba, among others.

June 15, 1991: Minnie Pearl made her last appearance on an Opry sponsored show in Joliet, Illinois. 2 days later, on June 17, she would suffer a serious stroke.

June 3, 1994: The Ryman Auditorium reopens for the first time since it was renovated. The last time that the Ryman had been in regular use was for the Opry, which left in March 1974. Garrison Keillor's Prairie Home Companion radio program opened the remodeled auditorium. It should also be noted that June 4 was to the official opening date, but due to ticket demand, a show on June 3 was added.

June 3, 1994: Former Opry member Wally Fowler passsed away. He was 77 years old. Wally came to Nashville in 1948 with his Oak Ridge Quartet and Wally was instrumental in Patsy Cline getting an audition with Roy Acuff. Roy offered her a job, but the pay was too low for Patsy so she remained in Virginia. Wally would become famous for the all night gospel sings, that were held at the Ryman Auditorium. The Oak Ridge Quartet would turn into the Oak Ridge Boys. He was part of the Opry from 1946-1950, and they were regulars on the Prince Albert portion of the show.

June 4, 1994: Former Opry member Zeke Clement died at the age of 82.

June 27, 1994: Sarah Wilson of Sarie and Sallie, died at the age of 97.

June 10, 2000: The Opry introduces a new Opry backdrop. The new state of the art lighting replaced the traditional red barn that had been the backdrop for over 25 years. Instead of being just red, the backdrop could be changed to different colors and lighting. This is the backdrop still in use today. It should be noted that Opry traditionalists were not happy over this. It was reported that the old barn had been donated to the Country Music Hall of Fame, yet if it was, it has never been put on public display.

June 17, 2000: The Opry begins streaming its shows on the internet, giving those around the world the opportunity to listen live to the Opry.

June 14, 2003: While Trace Adkins was performing on the Opry this night, Jimmy Dickens came out and asked Trace if he would like to become an Opry member. What was funny about this was that Jimmy had to stand on a stepladder to be face to face with Trace.

June 12, 2004: Terri Clark joined the Opry. She was the first female Canadian artist to be an Opry member. This will be her 7th anniversary as an Opry member. After enjoying some solid success as an up and coming female artist in the early 2000's, he career has largely stalled out in recent years.

June 9, 2007: Mel Tillis, with the help of his daughter Pam, joins the Opry. Mel had been a part of the show previously, with Porter Wagoner. However, as far as I can tell, Mel was never an official member of the cast.

June 23, 2009: Montgomery Gentry joined the Grand Ole Opry. This year will be their 2nd anniversary as Opry members.

There you have it. June has been a pretty busy month in Opry history. I hope you enjoy our look back.