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.


  1. The show was supposed to air on one of our alternate PBS channels but didn't at the time listed, so I didn't see it. But I had read about it and wasn't impressed. Your review confirms it. They would be so much better off if they would pull out the PBS telecasts from 1978-81 and did excerpts from those.

  2. T Bubba..was the best!!! And anyone who hasnt seen him perform at the Opry or anywhere else..NEEDS to...hes great!!!