This weekend the Grand Ole Opry will be celebrating its 86th birthday. Traditionally, the Saturday night show of the birthday weekend has produced some of the strongest line ups that the Opry will see during it's entire year. And while the Saturday night line up for this weekend has some good quality to it, there are only 9 artists scheduled for the 1st show. Yep, that is not a misprint---only 9 artists. And, for the last hour which will be televised live on GAC, there are only 3 artists scheduled for the whole hour. I know that it is the induction of Rascal Flatts as Opry members, but that is just ridiculous!!! I can remember when the birthday show would have 20-30 artists scheduled for the night and the shows would be fantastic. I am hoping that they will be adding an artist or two as a surprise during that last segment as that is a lot of time to fill with just the 3 that they have.
As far as Saturday night is concerned, besides the formal induction of Rascal Flatts as Opry members, Ronnie Dunn will be making his Opry debut as a solo artist. Also appearing will be Craig Morgan. Charley Pride will be in town for all the shows over the weekend, including the Opry Country Classics show on Thursday night. And American idol Crystal Bowersox, along with Jason Michael Carroll and Ricky Skaggs will be on the Friday Night Opry.
The Opry has taken the approach that the birthday celebration is no longer a weekend affair, but is now a celebration that lasts the entire month and the birthday weekend has turned into birthday week. The Tuesday night show this past week, and the Tuesday night show for the following week is very strong, which is good for the Opry and attendance, but to me, it just seems to take away the importance of the Saturday night show.
Now for the schedule:
Friday October 7:
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Jim Ed Brown; Jason Michael Carroll
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Crystal Bowersox
8:15: Charley Pride (host); Jack Greene; Mandy Barnett
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); Connie Smith; The Whites
Saturday October 8
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Chuck Meade & His Grassy Knoll Boys
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); The Whites; Charley Pride
8:00: Craig Morgan; Ronnie Dunn; Rascal Flatts
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); George Hamilton IV; Ronnie Dunn
10:00: Charley Pride (host); Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press; Chuck Meade & His Grassy Knoll Boys
10:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jan Howard; Craig Morgan; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Rascal Flatts
For those counting at home, Friday night features 12 artists of whom 9 are Opry members. Saturday night's 1st show features 9 artists, of which 7 are Opry members, while the 2nd show features 11 artists, with 9 are Opry member. And no square dancers are listed for the 1st show. My final thought for the 1st show is that they have something special planned for the induction of Rascal Flatts and maybe there will be a surprise artist or two coming out for that.
In addition to the Opry shows on Saturday, the Opry birthday concert Saturday afternoon will feature Opry member Mel Tillis. Also, the Opry House will be open for tours and other activities will be taking place in the Opry plaza during the day and evening.
This week, Opry Country Classics returns on Thursday night. The line up for that show is as follows:
Thursday October 6
Host: Bill Cody
Spotlight Artist: Charley Pride
Featuring: Jimmy Fortune; Janie Fricke; Rebecca Lynn Howard; Jeannie Seely; Leroy Van Dyke
Personally, I cannot wait to see Leroy. He is one of the great veterans in country music.
Here is the line up for the Tuesday Night Opry, October 11. This will be another television taping for GAC and the show features a very strong line up.
7:00: Sara Evans; Scotty McCreery; Montomery Gentry; Trace Adkins
8:15: LeAnn Rimes; Dierks Bentley; Eric Church; Chris Young
I am headed off to Nashville and will be there for all the shows this weekend, beginning with the Opry Country Classics show on Thursday night. When I return next week, I will offer my views and opinions on what I see and hear.
And, finally, as the Opry moves through its birthday month, I will begin next week to offer line ups from birthday celebrations from years back so that some of you can relive old memories from shows you might have seen, or for some of the newer fans, can see what kind of shows the Opry used to have in years past. Many of those years, the birthday celebration was tied into the annual Country Music Disc Jockeys convention, which made that weekend a "must" for Opry members.
Enjoy the weekend!!!