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.