This past Saturday night, August 13, I went down to the Opry. As someone who has attended hundreds of Opry shows in his lifetime, I have to say that this was one of the best shows I have attended. Vince Gill was being honored for being an Opry member for 20 years and he deserves it. The Opry House was sold out, with standing room only tickets being sold. The crowd was alive and vocal, and they were really into the show. I hope that it sounded well on the radio.
The show started with a tribute to Billy Grammer. The house and stage lights were turned down and Billy's picture was on the video screens. Pete Fisher read a very nice tribute and then the standard moment of silence. After that, Bill Cody, who was announcing in place of Mike Terry, introduced the square dancers and the show was underway.
In a surprise, after the square dancers, Bill Cody introduced Vince Gill, and he came out with a Grammer Guitar. He said a few kind words about Billy and said there was only one way to start the Opry tonight, and then he started to sing the great Billy Grammer song, "Gotta Travel On." Vince did an awesome job on the song, as did the Opry staff band that played with him. After several more kind words about Billy, Vince left the stage and Bill introduced the host of the 1st segment, Jimmy Dickens.
I know that Jimmy had a rough week, missing a few shows, but I have got to tell you, he looked and sounded very good. He did "Out Behind The Barn" and then his usual jokes. John Anderson was his only guest, and Jimmy did a nice introduction and I think he forgot John's last name. He looked and made a small joke about not seeing him in the wings as he was trying to get his piece of paper out of his pocket. But, then he must have seen John off stage and remembered his last name. John did 2 great songs, including his signature hit, "Swingin." A very nice job. Jimmy finished out his segment with the song, "We Could", and Vince was back out on stage playing guitar for Jimmy. I know Jimmy did not mention Vince on the radio. The 1st 30 minute segment took about 35-40 minutes.
Bill Anderson hosted the 2nd segment, and it was his first time back at the Opry since his 50th anniversary celebration in July. Bill sounded and looked good and his first two guests were The Whites and Jean Shepard. The Whites were fine and Jean sounded great. She did move a little slow, but it did not show in her performance. After the commercial, Bill introduced The Time Jumpers, which is a group that plays every Monday night at the Station Inn, in Nashville. Vince is a rotating part of the group, as is Doug Green of Riders In The Sky. Doug was not there on Saturday, so Vince was highlighted on the 1st song, "Corrina Corrina". The 2nd song was sung by Dawn Sears, and I did not recognize the song, although it was written by Vince. Besides being a part of The Time Jumpers, Dawn is also Vince's harmony singer. Bill finished out the segment with a few nice words about Billy Grammer, including calling and asking him if he could come and be a part of his 50th anniversary in July, but he said that Billy told him that he was just not up to traveling. Bill then did "The Corner Of My Life" to finish out his segment.
After the intermission, which I still do not like, Emmylou Harris hosted the next segment. She opened with "Two More Bottles Of Wine", with Vince out singing harmony with her. The Osborne Brothers were next and did "Rocky Top' and then Martina McBride, who looks great, did 2 songs, a Vince Gill number, which I think was, "Take Your Memory With You When You Go", if I remember and then she did a new song that will be on her upcoming album. Emmylou then brought out the square dancers, after being reminded that they were there (she was headed to a commercial), and as she usually does when she hosts the segment with the square dancers, joined them for their number. No she did not spin around, but she did dance with one of the dancers. I have seen her dance with them before and the audience loves it. After that, she said a few words about her being back at the Opry House for the first time since the flood and how great it looked. I had to think for a minute and she was right. All the other times she has been at the Opry, it has been while the show is at the Ryman in the winter. I know she prefers that venue versus the Opry House. She and Vince finished the segment with a duet.
The last segment was hosted by the man of the night, Vince Gill. After the curtain came up, they presented a video tribute to Vince, showing his first Opry appearance with Jimmy C Newman hosting, the night he became a member with Roy Acuff, and then clips of various Opry performances through the years. Very nicely done and Vince was moved by it. Of course, a standing ovation followed. Vince then did, "Look At Us", which I have to admit is my favorite Vince Gill song. He introduced his daughter Jenny, and she did an awesome job with her Dad looking on behind her, and visably moved. After the commercial, he brought out his wife Amy Grant. She did two numbers and Vince stayed and played guitar for her. Her first number was a Christian ballad and then she did a song dedicated to Vince. After that, Pete Fisher came out and presented Vince with a framed copy of the cover of the program for the night and Vince again received a standing ovation. He then said a few words about the Opry and how he felt and finished off the night with the "song that brought me here", "When I Call Your Name". With that the show ended.
The show lasted about 2 hours and 45 minutes, with the 15 minute intermission so it was nice that they were not watching the time. I have commented before that on the nights with only one show, that most of these shows have been running over on time. And, as I mentioned, the show was a sellout, with a demand for tickets. I kept thinking that if there was ever a night for 2 shows, this was it, but I don't think the 2nd show would of had the emotion of the first one.
The area outside the Opry House looked very nice. However, I will note that since my last visit, they have torn down the Acuff Theater that set next to the Opry House. I know it was damaged pretty good in the flood and I have heard that they are going to use it for bus parking. Also, the Opry Museum is still standing, but they have taken the Opry Museum name off the building and are using it for storage. They still say they are going to either rebuild or reopen the museum, but at this point, nothing has been done.
That about covers it. It was a very good trip and the show was awesome to attend. As I mentioned when covering the line up, I like the fact that they are recognizing anniversaries of Opry members, but they need to do it for everyone. Vince deserves the attention as he really has shown an example to many others that you can be a star, still be out on the road doing shows, yet still support the Opry. This weekend was his 14th Opry show of the year, and I know he has more scheduled. Others could follow his example.