Monday, May 30, 2011

Tuesday Night Opry 5/31

The Opry closes out May with the Tuesday Night Opry on the 31st. While the line up is nothing special, it is pretty solid. In looking at the future bookings for the Opry in June, it looks like it will be a very strong month, with some solid shows built around the CMA Music Festival in Nashville, and knowing that a lot of the stars will be in town that week. The Opry needs some solid shows with some good attendance. The last couple of months has been nothing to write home about.

Tuesday May 31
7:00: Jimmy C Newman; Josh Thompson
7:30: Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press; Steel Magnolia
8:15: Jean Shepard; David Nail
8:45: Jimmy Dickens; Diamond Rio

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Alcyone Bate Beasley

Let's take a moment and remember one of the early pioneers of WSM and the Grand Ole Opry and that is Alcyone Bate Beasley, who was born on May 30, 1912.

Alcyone was the daughter of Dr. Humphrey Bate, on of the early stars of the Opry and WSM radio. And, while George D. Hay and Jimmy Thompson are often credited with creating the WSM Barn Dance, as it was originally called and Uncle Jimmy is often regarded as the first performer of that show, there are those who have a different opinion and one of those was Alcyone. The following is from the book, "Grand Ole Opry,":

Dr. Bate's daughter, Mrs. Alcyone Bate Beasley, challenged George Hay's claim that he inauguarated the first "barn dance" program on WSM on Saturday evening, November 28, 1925. If not Hay, then who? Her father did, Mrs. Beasley contended, and it should be her father who should get credit for originating what became the Grand Ole Opry. Mrs. Beasley's story is that he fathers group-with Alcyone Bate, aged thirteen, playing the piano-did the first Saturday-night "barn dance" on WSM less than three weeks after the station went on the air, at the end of October 1925. She told a reporter: "I remember that night after it was over, we drove back home in the old Ford car and Daddy, who always called me 'Booger', said, 'Booger, we might've started something down there tonight, you just don't know.'

She continued: "We played there for about four or five weeks before Mr. Hay came. We would drive into Nashville and perform on WDAD in the afternoon, then we would walk up the hill and play on WSM later in the evening. I remember we would give Jack Keefe, who was the WSM announcer then, a list of the numbers we were going to play during the hour we would be on the air. And within just two weeks or so, bands from everywhere began to come up to be put on the air. One of the first of them was Mr. Ed Poplin's band from Lewisburg, Tennessee. I never felt badly about it toward Mr. Hay, because he wasn't well, but the fact remains that nothing was ever said about Uncle Jimmy Thompson being the first on the show until long after my Daddy died in 1936."

While I will not go into this further, people have done some extensive research and there is evidence to support her story, including newspaper accounts and program schedules that were printed in the Nashville Tennessean. But as the years went on, WSM decided to officially support the George D. Hay version of when the Opry started and that is how it is today. But in the process, Dr. Humphrey Bate and his group of musicians, including his daughter Alcyone, have been in many ways forgotten.

As I said, Alcyone was part of Dr. Humphrey Bate's group, "The Possum Hunters", from the time the Opry started in 1925, up until Dr. Bate passed away in 1936. After Dr. Bate passed away, The Possum Hunters would continue to be a part of the Opry, in various forms, with Alcyone and Staley Walton working to keep them together. But it was a struggle, especially as the Opry adopted a more sophisticated sound then tended not to highlight the string bands. After years of struggle, by the 1960s, the Possom Hunters were merged with the Crook Brothers band, who would remain on the Opry in the 1980s. When the string bands were merged together, the other group that was left were the Fruit Jar Drinkers. In the early 1970s, Alcyone went into semi-retirement, and after 40 some years of being part of the Opry, the Possom Hunters were no more. Alcyone would continue to be a regular backstage visitor at the Opry and would appear yearly at the reunion shows, or old-timers night that the Opry would hold, ususally each April.

Alcyone is often credited with being the first woman on the Opry. And while it is difficult to find detailed information about her, there is a wonderful facebook page devoted to Dr. Humphrey Bate and The Possom Hunters that I urge all my readers to check out.

Last month, I posted the line up from the Grand Ole Opry show that was held on April 4, 1981, which was that year's reunion show. I believe that was the last reunion show that she performed at as she passed away October 1982 at the age of 70.

Alcyone Bate Beasley is one of the early forgotten pioneers of the Opry and I wanted to take a moment and remember her on what would have been her 99th birthday.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mother Maybelle Carter & The Carter Family

I just wanted to look back and remember, for a moment, Mother Maybelle Carter and her daughters, Helen, June and Anita, who joined the Grand Ole Opry on May 29, 1950, as "The Carter Family." Over the course of their time at the Opry, they would also be known as Mother Maybelle and the Carter Sisters, or just as Mother Maybelle Carter, with daughters in support roles. June Carter would also perform on the Opry as a solo act.

As everyone knows, Mother Maybelle was part of the original Carter Family from Maces Spring, Virgina and who, with Jimmie Rogers, were involved in some of the first recordings in country music, known as the "Bristol Sessions." The original Carter Family included A.P, Carter, his wife Sara Carter and Maybelle. A.P. and Sara were married for a time and their divorce contributed to the breakup of the original group. After they broke up in 1942, Maybelle started to work with her daughters.

As with most of the acts from this time period, they bounced around from radio station to radio station, and the cities that they lived in included San Antonio, Richmond, Knoxville and Springfield before moving on to Nashville.

It was during their time in Knoxville that Chet Atkins joined them as a guitar player, and he continued on with them to Springfield and then on to Nashville. Chet gave an interview at one time and talked about how the Carters ended up in Nashville and at the Opry:

"George Morgan was comin' up there to Springfield and doin' some syndicated radio shows and he like the girls a lot--he liked all pretty girls a lot--and through him we went to Nashville and auditioned for the Martha White portion of the Opry. They liked us and offered us a spot. Now, I was making fifty dollars a week at Springfield and they offered e seventy-five if I'd stay. I called Fred Rose--the greatest man that ever hit Nashville--and I said, 'Fred, what shall I do? Could you use me on some records as a sideman if I come down there?' He said, 'Yeah, come on down.' So I came down with the Carter Sisters and I worked the Opry, and right away I started working as a recording musician. Jim Denny didn't like that too much, but Jack Stapp kept me on."

While the Carters would remain on the Opry for a number of years, Chet left after about a year to pursue his own career.

At the Opry, the Carters were very popular backstage and made friends with many of the members, including Hank Williams. However, they did avoid Mom's, later to be known as Tootsie's. Most of the old-timers at the Opry knew Mother Maybelle and the original Carter Family and they made sure that the younger Opry members treated Maybelle and her daughters with the respect expected. It was known that around Maybelle, they watched their manners and their language. They were always treated with respect.

Of the sisters, Anita Carter probably had the finest voice and did record some albums, but never achieved any great success. She did have some very nice duets with Hank Snow. June would become the most famous of the Carter Sisters, as she performed on the Opry both as a single singing act (although her singing left something to be desired) and as a comedienne, doing comedy with with an assortment of Opry members. June would also be married for several years to Opry star Carl Smith, a marriage that produced a daughter Rebecca, more widely known as Carlene Carter.

While they were very popular in the 1950s and occupied prime spots on the Opry, usually on the Martha White show, as the 1960s progressed, Mother Maybelle would be given less spots on the show, including being given only given one spot each Saturday night instead of the traditonal two. And, she would be on the less desirable portions. (gee, and many of you thought this was a new thing-the way veterans and legends are treated at the Opry).

After June became part of the Johnny Cash road show in the 1960s, the Carter Family would join the show and that included Mother Maybelle. And thanks to Johnny and his influence at Columbia Records, the Carter Family was able to make new albums which allowed them to once again play folk festivals and get back out on the road. Between those festivals and the appearances at Johnny's concerts, her Opry appearances became less and less. Opry management had little interest in promoting Mother Maybelle and scheduled her appearances to suit themselves. Dixie Deen Hall remember one time when Maybelle was trying to change an Opry date so that she could play a well paying folk festival in California but the Opry refused to do it. It was shortly after that when she would leave the Opry.

It was also Johnny who felt that it was an injustice that the original Carter Family had not been inducted in the Country Music Hall of Fame, and he would use his ABC television show to showcase Maybelle and would make a point of saying that the Carters were not in the Hall of Fame, while many acts that followed them were. On October 14, 1970, she was elected into the Hall of Fame, as a part of the Carter Family. Bill Monroe was also inducted the same night.

It should be noted that Maybelle lived in Madison and her two best friends were Minnie Snow, Hank's wife, and Dixie Deen, who would become the wife of Tom T. Hall.

Mother Maybelle Carter passed away on October 23, 1978, after several years of poor health. Oh, and one more thing. She picked up the nickname of "Mother Maybelle" back in the 1950s, when she was only in her 40s. It was given to her as a sing of the respect that she had achieved in the country music community.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Grand Ole Opry 5/27 & 5/28--Updated

Opry semi-regular Rebecca Lynn Howard has been added to the 1st segment on Saturday night. As of this moment, Jimmy Dickens is still on the schedule for Friday and Saturday night.

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the artist line ups for the shows this weekend. There is the usual one show on Friday night and again, one show on Saturday night.

Jimmy Dickens is scheduled for both shows. He missed last Saturday night and also missed the Tuesday Night Opry. Vince Gill is also scheduled for both nights, and I have to complement Vince as he has been making some regular Opry appearances as of late.

The Friday Night Opry will feature guest appearances by Sunny Sweeney, Jake Owen, Heidi Newfield and Lee Greenwood. It is always nice to see Lee on the Opry and he usually makes several appearances each year. Several years back, I heard Lee give a radio interview in which he said that he had been asked to become an Opry member at one time, but that he declined due to his heavy touring schedule. But he also said that Opry management told him that he was welcomed to do the Opry whenever he wanted.

Saturday night's show will feature Opry member Josh Turner. This will be only his 3rd appearance of the year and being one of the Opry's newest members, we need to see him more. Also on Saturday night will be Johnny Counterfit, who always does a fine job, and newcomer Sarah Jarosz. If you are not familiar with Sarah, she is a fairly new artist who just received a nomination from the Americana Music Associaton in the Instrumentalist Of The Year catagory.

Here is the line up for both shows:

Friday May 27
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jim Ed Brown; Sunny Sweeney
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press; Jake Owen
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Jack Greene; Heidi Newfield
8:45: Vince Gill (host); The Whites; Lee Greenwood

Saturday May 28
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Rebecca Lynn Howard
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Johnny Counterfit; Sarah Jarosz
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Jan Howard; Josh Turner; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Jean Shepard; Connie Smith

There is still a slot to fill on Saturday night in the first segment and in looking at the line up, I do not know what the back up plan would be if Jimmy Dickens cancels out.

Finally, Gary Bennett will be the host for this weeks Midnight Jamboree at the Ernest Tubb Record Shop.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Tuesday Night Opry 5/24 & Opry Country Classics 5/26

Update: No Jimmy Dickens on Tuesday night. He cancelled and was not replaced. He is still currently scheduled for this upcoming Friday and Saturday night.

The Tuesday Night Opry on May 24 will feature Gene Watson and Rhonda Vincent, and I am sure they will be performing together songs off of their new duet CD that is coming out. I am hearing that it is very good and they will be making numerous appearances around Nashville to promote it during the CMA Music Festival. Also, Mandy Barnett has a new CD out and she will be at the Opry gift shop on Tuesday night, signing copies of it and she will also be appearing on the Tuesday Night Opry. I really hope that at some point Mandy gets that big break as I feel she has one of the finest voices out there today.

7:00 Riders In The Sky; James Ottt
7:30 Edens Edge; Mandy Barnett
8:15 Gene Watson; Rhonda Vincent
8:45 The Grascals; Jimmy Dickens

On Thursday Night, Opry County Classics will feature The Time Jumpers as the featured attraction and Larry Gatlin returns as the host. No word if Vince Gill will be appearing with The Time Jumpers. He is part of the group and performs with them at The Station Inn on Monday nights.

Host: Larry Gatlin
Spotlight Artist: The Time Jumpers
Also appearing: Johnny Lee; Chuck Mead; Shelley Skidmore; James Wesley

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Billy Walker

I did not want this day to pass without remembering Grand Ole Opry star Billy Walker, who passed away on this date, May 21, 2006, in a car accident that took place as he was returning to Nashville after a concert. His wife, Bettie, along with several members of his band, also passed away in the one van accident.

Billy was born on January 14, 1929 and had a very interesting career. He stared off singing Texas honky-tonk style music, was involved for a short period of time in rock & roll, and then went to Nashville and was part of the "Nashville Sound" that was influencing country music at the time.

Billy started out professionally in 1948, just after finishing high school. He was soon a part of the Big D Jamboree in Dallas, and worked with Hank Thompson. It was with the help of Hank that he received his first recording contract in 1949 from Captiol Records. A little over a year later, he switched to Columbia Records. In 1952, he joined the Louisiana Hayride and then in 1954 he joined the Ozark Jubilee, before returning to Texas in 1958.

In 1959, he moved to Nashville and on January 1, 1960, he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry, even though he had only charted in the top 10 once on the Billboard charts. It was then that his career really took off. One of his most famous songs, "Funny How Time Slips Away" came out of the gate first, but only reached #23 on the charts. That was followed by his only #1 record of his career, "Charlie's Shoes", which reached the top of the charts in April 1962. He would continue to hit the charts until the late 1980s.

Billy was a regular performer on the Opry. While he joined the Opry in 1960, he had first appeared on the show in 1954. That was during the time that he had his first record on the charts, "Thank You For Calling." Billy was quoted about how he came up to the Opry:

"I was working the Louisiana Hayride and was from Texas, and didn't really have any thought about moving to Nashville. But in 1959 Randy Hughes, who was pretty well associated with the Opry and had Ferlin Husky and a couple of other acts, began to talk to me about coming to the Opry. By that time I had been on the Ozark Jubilee with Red Foley and had left there to move back to Fort Worth. And when Hughes mentioned the Opry to me, I said, 'Well, usually you come to the Opry when you get a number one record, and I don't have anything going at this particular time.' And he said, 'I don't think that will be the case.' So he got me booked in on The Prince Albert Show as a guest. Ott Devine had taken over the Opry and he began talking to me about it and I said, 'Yeah, I'd love to be a member.' That was in November. I started working it regular the first of January 1960."

Billy maintained a regular number of Opry appearances and would continue to average about 80-90 appearances each year, right up until he passed away. He was, however, part of the group of Opry veterans, that included Charlie Louvin, Stonewall Jackson and Del Reeves, that did make public comments about the number of appearances that they were making and the time slots that they were being scheduled for. However, as I said, Billy continued to be a regular part of the show until he passed away.

I had the opportunity to meet Billy once. Back in the 1990s, he came into the Cracker Barrel restaurant in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, which was near his home, to have breakfast with his wife. To say that he stood out with his hair would be an understatement. But after he ate and I approached him while he was paying for his breakfast, he was as nice and as pleasant as you could ask. His wife was also particuarly nice. She was one of the organizers of some of the early legend shows that took place in Nashville and you could tell that they were a devoted couple.

In honor of Billy Walker, here is the Opry line up from Saturday May 13, 2006, which were the final Opry shows that Billy performed at. He appeared on both shows that Saturday night. He had been scheduled for the Tuesday Night Opry on May 23rd, but he passed away before that performance. I am sorry that I do not know what Billy's final Opry songs were, as I do not have the song list from that night:

Saturday May 13, 2006

Jimmy Dickens
Connie Smith
Jimmy C Newman
Keni Thomas

Jeannie Seely
The Whites
Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys

Riders In The Sky
Jan Howard
Jim Ed Brown
The Wreckers

Porter Wagoner
Billy Walker
Jean Shepard
Buddy Jewell
Opry Square Dancers

Bill Anderson
Eddy Raven
Ricky Skaggs

Jimmy Dickens
Connie Smith
Jimmy C Newman
Keni Thomas

Porter Wagoner
The Whites
Eddy Raven

Jeannie Seely
Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
The Wreckers
Opry Square Dancers

Bill Anderson
Jean Shepard
Jack Greene
Ricky Skaggs

Riders In The Sky
Charlie Louvin
Billy Walker
Buddy Jewell

God Bless Billy Walker. You are missed.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Jean Shepard

This Sunday night, May 22nd, Jean Shepard will be officially inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. The following article was printed in today's Wall Street Journal and it is an outstanding article. It was written by Barry Mazor, and I am going to post it here:

On Sunday night, at the age of 77, Jean Shepard, the "Grand Lady of the Grand Ole Opry," will be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, alongside latter-day superstar Reba McEntire and classic songwriter Bobby Braddock. To fans of traditional, hardcore country music around the world, a common response will be "at last." What the famously outspoken honky-tonk heroine has to say about this delayed acceptance, characteristically, is not the studied sort of humble affirmation typical of so many Nashville stars, but to-the-point, good-natured and simply true. "I appreciate this; it's a thrill-and it should have happened 20 years ago."

She was the first woman in country music to have a million seller ("A Dear John Letter," a 1953 duet with Ferlin Husky); the first to offer a themed "concept" LP (the daring "Songs Of a Love Affair" in 1956); the supple, potent singer of dozens of hits, including such standards-to-be as "A Satisfied Mind," "Second Fiddle to an Old Guitar" and "Slippin' Away," and such unprecendented, transgressive songs for a 1950s country "girl singer" to take on as "Twice the Lovin' in Half the Time, "Beautiful Lies, "Did I Turn Down a Better Deal," and even "The Root of All Evil Is a Man." She remains a master of the lost art of country yodeling, envied by the likes of Dolly Parton, and has been a core star of the Opry longer than anyone else in the history of the broadcast. As she noted of that stand, when we sat down recently to discuss her career and coming induction, "I will be at the Opry 56 years in November, and I've enjoyed 58 of them! We still have people like Jimmy C. Newman, Jeannie Seely, Jack Greene, Stonewall Jackson, people who are family. If I needed something, I could call any of them."

The delay in garnering the votes of Hall of Fame electors needed for induction may have been set off when she spoke out about her dismay with the soft pop direction country music was taking in the Olivia Newton-John era, the mid 1970s.

"You know, when the music just started to change, I knew it was changing-and not for the good of country music. When people couldn't hear Ernest Tubb or Left Frizzell on the radio any more, it broke my heart. I may have made some mistakes when I got up and expressed my opinions on stage, and on the air, and if I hurt anybody's feelings, I'm sorry, but, you know, if the shoe fits-wear it! To me, you don't have a country band without a steel guitar and a fiddle; if you don't want them, you ain't country. I thank God that I came up in the '50s and '60s, because I got to work with the greatest people in the world."

Few could question that. Those "greatest people" of the '50s included Tubb, Frizzell and Hank Williams, Red Foley, Kitty Wells and Patsy Cline. (Ms. Shepard's first husband, country star Hawkshaw Hawkins, with whom she had two sons, died in the same 1963 plane crash as Cline.) But her original, potent combination of direct singing and straightforward arrangements with songs that didn't flinch from describing the straight facts of working-class women's lives continues to work, as a model for younger performers today.

Elizabeth Cook, a frequent Opry performer set to perform in the Hall of Fame's "Medallion Ceremony" induction salute to Ms. Shepard, who's shared dressing rooms with her and whose own work can be both traditional and edgy in today's terms, noted in a separate interview, "Jean Shepard's legacy is huge. It's hard enough to be a woman in this field-and it really is-for my generation; I can't imagine what it must have been like for her in the '50s. The trail that she blazed is right on the heels of Kitty Well's, and as a honky-tonk singer with her own musical identity. That she refused to compromise her artistry, to succumb to the changing sounds and trends, has been a big inspiration. She not only showed that all that can be done, but that you can survive it."

Ms. Shepard was practically a survivor. She spent the first 10 years of her life in Oklahoma, one of 10 children to an impoverished family that made the historic "Okie" trek to Bakersfield, Calif., area during World War II. Singing by age 12, she was playing bass in an all female band, The Melody Ranch Girls, when honky-tonk star Hank Thompson spotted her and got her a contract with Capital Records at 17. She was soon backed by teenage Bakersfield friends, an unknown Buck Owens among them.

There was a famous moment when that poor girl from Oklahoma first learned she had a hit with "A Dear John Letter," an event that would change her life. As Ms. Shepard tells the story, she and her band were heading to Los Angeles for another recording session. "Buck and all of them were saying, 'Let's stop and get a Billboard.' And I thought, 'What do you want a billboard for?' This is how dumb I was. I didn't know it was a magazine. They said they wanted to check after my record. Well, how would you get that off a billboard, and how are you gonna get it in the car? They stopped adn brought in the magazine; Buck threw it in my lap and asked me, 'So how does it feel to have a No. 1 record?' And that's how they told me I had one."

Producer Ken Nelson, who's in the Hall of Fame himself, both encouraged her to take on those groundbreaking woman's songs and worried about her resulting image.

"Ken would find me more of those songs-and every once in a while I'd put one in that I liked. About, 'The Other Woman,' one of those, he said: 'It puts you in a bad light. We want to keep you as a sweet little country girl.' And I said, 'Well, then, Ken-you don't know me very well!' They always tried to protect my career," (In real life, whatever her image, Ms. Shepard has been happily married to Benny Birchfield, harmony singer with the bluegrass Osborne Brothers and road manager for Roy Orbison, for 43 years.)

Ms. Shepard won a special place in the hearts of forgotten, rural people, men and women alike, which was one of traditional country's attractions for her: "It was," she recalls, "the music of the everyday working people-the farmers, like my daddy; the mechanics; guys who worked in a gas station. This was their music; it told their story. It told of them working 60 hours a week and then going down to the beer joint on Saturday night and relaxing with a good cold beer. That's what it was about; it wasn't about being queen of England. I took the battered woman's side, the other woman's side, and every other side. I recoreded a story called 'Another Neon Night' and it's the story of a prostitute., and I got a lot of response from those things. Because this is the core of country music."

This week, Jean Shepard will be recognized not for going along and getting along, but for breaking and resetting the country mold. And it is about time.

(Congratulations from all of us to Jean Shepard upon her induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame).

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Grand Ole Opry Line Up 5/20 & 5/21

For the past several weeks, the Opry shows have been relatively weak, with very little star power. This weekend, there is some improvement, especially on Friday Night. That show will feature Opry member Dierks Bentley, who will be making his 1st appearance of 2011. Also on Friday will be Rhonda Vincent and Mark Wills.

Another Opry member who will be making her 1st appearance of the year will be Patty Loveless, who will be on both Friday and Saturday night. I will say that when Patty joined the Opry, I really thought she would be on the show much more than she is. Being a traditional country singer from Kentucky, I thought she understood what the Opry was about. Recently, she has moved more into bluegrass, but the Opry appearances have not increased. In 2010, she was only at the Opry one time, and had 3 appearances in 2009. For the past decade, the most she has been at the Opry has been 7 times, and that was in 2007 and 2000. We need to see her more.

Also appearing on Friday and Saturday night is an Opry member who does get it, and that is Vince Gill. This August, Vince will be celebrating 20 years as an Opry member. And Hall of Famer Bill Anderson will be joining Vince at the Opry on Friday and Saturday.

Friday May 20
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Jean Shepard; Rhonda Vincent
7:30 Jimmy Dickens (host); Jesse McReynolds; Mark Wills
8:15 Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; Dierks Bentley
8:45 Vince Gill (host); Mike Snider; Patty Loveless

Saturday May 21
7:00 Jimmy Dickens (host); Jeannie Seely; James Wesley
7:30 Mike Snider (host); Jack Greene; Gene Watson
8:15 Bill Anderson (host); Riders In The Sky; Bo Bice; Opry Square Dancers
8:45 Vince Gill (host); Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press; Patty Loveless

The host of the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree will be Ben Hall.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Tuesday Night Opry 5/17

Here is the line up for the Tuesday Night Opry, May 17:

7:00 John Conlee; Andy Griggs
7:30 The Whites; Randy Montana
8:15 Jeannie Seely; Del McCoury Band
8:56 Jimmy Dickens; Diamond Rio

8 acts and 6 of them are Opry members!! Good to see.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Grand Ole Opry Line Up 5/13 & 5/14

After being off the air due to some technical difficulties, we are back on and we have the Opry line up for this weekend. The Opry continues with one show on Friday night and one show on Saturday night.

The Friday Night Opry features Dailey & Vincent making another appearance at the Opry. Why they are not members yet, I do not know. Also appearing on Friday will be The Derailers and Old Crow Medicine Show. Jesse McReynolds is also scheduled and again he is listed without the Virginia Boys. I did notice on last week's show, it was just Jesse by himself without his group. I hope this is by choice and not the Opry's management forcing him to cut back on his group.

Saturday nights show has Opry member Charlie Daniels returning. Other than that, you have The Bowling Family guesting, along with Joey+Rory. Not a particularly strong show.

Friday May 13
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jesse McReynolds; The Derailers
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C. Newman; Old Crow Medicine Show
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press; Elizabeth Cook
8:45: Jim Ed Brown (host); Troy Olsen; Dailey & Vincent

Saturday May 14
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jim Ed Brown; Del McCoury Band
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); The Whites; The Bowling Family
8:15: Mike Snider (host); Jack Greene; Joey+Rory; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Charlie Daniels Band

And, just for those who might have missed the line up from Thursday night's Opry Country Classics show at the Ryman Auditorium:

Host: Bill Cody
Spotlight Artist: Pam Tillis
Also Appearing: Bobby Bare; Rebecca Lynn Howard; Jim Lauderdale; Ray Pillow; T.G. Sheppard

Not a bad line up for the Thursday night show. Actually, anything with Bobby Bare is probably pretty good.

Finally, the host for this weeks Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree is Ron Williams.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Tuesday Night Opry 5/10

Here is the line up for tonight's Tuesday Night Opry

7:00: Jimmy C. Newman; Brett Eldredge
7:30: Jean Shepard; Danny Gokey
8:15: George Hamilton IV; Randy Houser
8:45: Jimmy Dickens; Darryl Worley

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Remembering Hank Snow

I have stated many times that while there are many Opry performers that I have enjoyed over the years, my favorite Grand Ole Opry member of all time is Hank Snow. And I want to take a moment to remember Hank, on what would have been his 97th birthday.

Hank was born on May 9, 1914 in Nova Scotia, Canada. He is considered the most successful Canadian country music star. Between 1936, when he first started recording, until his recording career ended in 1985, he recorded over 840 songs. During the prime of his recording career in the 1950s, 60s and into the 70s, 85 of his singles would be on the Billboard charts.

Growing up in Canada was not easy on Hank. He was abused and would run away from home, going to work on shipping vessels. His mother had a love of music and would get Hank his first guitar and records to listen to, with Jimmie Rodgers becoming his favorite.

In 1933, he began singing on the radio, on CHNS in Halifax. It was there that he met Minnie Blanch Aalders, who would become his wife. He patterned his singing after his idol, Jimmie Rodgers, and it was through his love of this music that he would meet Ernest Tubb. As a Canadian star, he had troubles getting his records released in the United States. He tried Hollywood and getting into the movies, but failed. Finally, he began to develop a following in Dallas, Texas and it was there that he met Ernest. Ernest thought enough of Hank that he was able to get Hank onto the Grand Ole Opry, where he started in January 1950.

Without a hit record, it looked like it would be a short stint at the Opry as management was not impressed with him. But in 1950, he would hit it big with his career record, "I'm Movin' On". This record would be one of the biggest hits in the history of country music, staying at #1 for months, and staying on the charts well into 1951. Hank called it a miracle. In 1979, Hank was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, and would later be elected into the Canadian Hall of Fame. He spent the majority of his career on RCA records and would be one of their top sellers.

Hank took the name, "The Singing Ranger", and called his band the "Rainbow Ranch Boys". But, he was not a ranger and did not own a ranch. His home in Nashville was called "Rainbow Ranch", but in reality was a modest sized home on a several acre lot. Even after he became a huge star, he never moved.

Hank Snow published his autobiography, "The Hank Snow Story" in 1994. As I have said many times before, if you have not read the book, I highly recommend that you do. In the book, Hank is pretty honest about some of the things that he did in his life, and not all were good. He admits in his book that he is a pretty complicated man. And if you would like another view of Hank, I suggest that you read Jimmy Snow's book, "I Cannot Look Back". That one is a little harder to find as it has been out of print for a while, but Jimmy also presents his view of his dad, some good and some not so good.

Up until 1995, Hank enjoyed good health, but starting that year, he began to experience the health and respiratory issues that would bother him the rest of his life. In fact, his final Opry appearance on Saturday August 31, 1996, was his only Saturday Opry appearance of the year. His first Friday Night Opry appearance that year was on August 9, and he appeared on the first show that night. That would be his final Friday Night Opry appearance. He was on the line up for Saturday September 7 and Saturday September 14, but cancelled both nights. Those would be the final Opry shows that he was scheduled for. As he finished out his life, he basically stayed home and out of the public eye as his health continued to decline. He passed away on December 20, 1999, just weeks short of what would have been his 50th year as an Opry member, at his home in Madison, Tennessee.

In honor of the birthday of Hank Snow, here is the actual running order of the 2 Opry shows on Saturday August 31, 1996, Hank Snow's final night appearing on the Opry. One of the things that I found interesting when looking at this line up, was the choice of songs that Hank did on the first show. For someone who was making their first Opry appearance in a year, he stayed away from his #1 legendary country songs and did a song that was not a hit for him, but a song that he often sang on the Opry. Interesting choice.

First Show
6:30 GHS Strings
Mike Snider (host): Tennessee Rhapsody/Cotton-Eyed Jo
Bill Carlisle: Rusty Old Halo
Mike Snider: Shuckin the Corn/Foggy Mountain Chimes

6:45 Joggin' In A Jug
Grandpa Jones (host): Ol' Blue
Jan Howard: My Heart Skips A Beat
Grandpa Jones: Gooseberry Pie

7:00 Shoney's
Johnny Russell (host): Good Hearted Woman
Charlie Louvin: The Precious Jewel
Jean Shepard: Let's All Go Down to the River/I Saw the LightWill the Circle Be Unbroken/ I'll Fly Away/Somebody Touched Me
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells/ Looking Back to See
Johnny Russell: Act Natually

7:30 Standard Candy
Jeannie Seely (host): Burning that Old Memory
Cumberland Boys: Nothing But Love
Ray Pillow: She's Doing it to Me Again
Margaret Whiting: I Can't Help It
Opry Squardance Band: Durang's Hornpipe
Jeannie Seely: When He Leaves You

8:00 Martha White
Porter Wagoner (host): On A Highway Headed South
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Stonewall Jackson: Muddy Water
Del Reeves: Got A Little Bit of Heaven on Earth
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up on Your Way Down
Porter Wagoner: The Cowboy's Hat
Porter Wagoner & Christie Lynn: Forty Miles From Poplar Bluff

8:30 Kraft
Hank Snow (host): In the Misty Moonlight
Jimmy C Newman: Cajun's Dream
Stu Phillips: Colorado
The Whites: Pins and Needles
Connie Smith: Then and Only Then
Hank Snow: It Kind of Reminds Me of Me

Second Show
9:30 Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Tell Her Lies and Feed Her Candy
Brother Oswald: The Girl I Love Don't Pay Me No Mind
Jeanne Pruett: Temporarily Yours
Jimmy C Newman: Big Mamou/Texa-Cajun
Porter Wagoner: I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name
Porter Wagoner: Freight Train Boogie

10:00 Massey-Ferguson
Grandpa Jones (host): Fifteen Cents Is All I Got
Stonewall Jackson: Me and You and a Dog Named Boo
Grandpa Jones: Any Old Time

10:15 Opryland
Jean Shepard (host): I Thought Of You/It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels/You Win Again/A Dear John Letter
Roy Drusky: Waltz of the Angels/One Day at a Time
Jean Shepard: A Phone Call Away

10:30 Purnell's
Jim Ed Brown (host): Pop-A-Top
Cumberland Boys: Today I Might Be Going Home
Jim Ed Brown & Kristi Russell: Lyin' In Love With You

10:45 Fairfield
Mike Snider (host): Lonesome Road Blues
Opry Squaredance Band: Ragtime Annie
Mike Snider: Battle Cry of Freedom/Get You Hand off My Knee and Load the Cannon

11:00 Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): I Don't Hurt Anymore
Del Reeves: I Would Like to See You Again
Connie Smith: Amazing Grace
Charlie Walker: Who'll Buy the Wine
The Whites: I Took Your Place
Hank Snow: I Almost Lost My Mind

11:30 Loreal
Johnny Russell (host): Red Necks, White Socks and Blue Ribbon Beer
Stu Phillips: Blue Canadian Rockies
Jeannie Seely: Bubbles In My Beer
Ray Pillow: Someone Had to Teach You
Colleen Walters: Walkin' After Midnight

Hank Snow was one of the more colorful characters in the history of the Opry. Almost every Saturday night, you could count on Hank hosting the 8:30 and 11:00 portions of the show. As I wrote a while back, the Opry is a better place for having performers such as Hank Snow as a member, but the days of Hank Snow are long gone. Actually, I think the Opry would be better today if more entertainers followed the example set by Hank. He was a true country music legend.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Opry Memories on PBS/ Marty's Late Night Jam

A couple of pieces of news regarding Opry performers and Opry related programming. The first is that PBS is going to be offering an Opry show in June. From their press release:

"Take a trip down memory lane with historic performances from the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, 1965-1975. Opry memories will take you back to the golden era of country music. Join host John Schneider from the Grand Ole Opry as he brings you stars like Dolly Parton, Johnny Cash, George Jones and Loretta Lynn performing their biggest hits in the prime of their careers. These performances have been preserved and restored to pristine condition, with top quality sound and video and all are in beautiful, full color. Highlights include 'Folsom Prison Blues' by Johnny Cash, 'I Will Always Love You' by Dolly Parton, 'The Grand Tour' by George Jones, 'Stand By You Man' by Tammy Wynette, 'Coal Miner's Daughter' by Loretta Lynn, and 'Jackson' by Johnny Cash and June Carter."

The following is the song list for the show:

'Stand By Your Man'-Tammy Wynette
'The Grand Tour'-George Jones
'Ring of Fire'-Johnny Cash
'Flowers on the Wall'-The Statler Brothers
'Kaw-Liga'-Charley Pride
'I Will Always Love You'-Dolly Parton
'After the Fire Is Gone'-Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn
'Jackson'-Johnny Cash and June Carter
'Still'-Bill Anderson
'Oh Lonesome Me'-Don Gibson
'Rose Garden'-Lynn Anderson
'Coal Miner's Daughter'-Loretta Lynn
'Hello Darlin'-Conway Twitty
'We're Gonna Hold On'-George Jones and Tammy Wynette
'Holding Onto Nothin'-Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton
'For the Good Times'-Ray Price
'Help Me Make It Through The Night'-Sammi Smith
'Folsom Prison Blues'-Johnny Cash

The show will also feature Bill Anderson and highlight his 50th year as an Opry member, which will take place in July. Also, from looking at preview clips of the show, these will not be necessarily Grand Ole Opry performances, but will be from taped syndicated Opry shows that were filmed either at the Ryman Auditorium or the Grand Ole Opry House. So for those looking for a "real" Opry performance, this will not be the show for you. Finally, and these are just my thoughts, there are many, many great Opry stars that are missing. Roy Acuff, Ernest Tubb, Bill Monroe, Hank Snow, Minnie Pearl come to mind very quickly. And there are others. While I know this is a fundraising program for PBS, I would have liked the show to feature more artists than featuring multiple songs from just a few artists. And, from the years that PBS televised the Opry, I would think that there would have been a wealth of actual Opry performances to show.

The other piece of news this weekend is that the line up and dates have been announced for this years Marty Stuart's Late Night Jam, which always takes place during CMA Music Fest week. This years show will be the 10th anniversary edition of the show and will take place on June 8, starting at 10:00pm, from the Ryman Auditorium. And, this year's show will have one of the strongest line ups in recent years. The artists on this years show are Dolly Parton, Mel Tillis, Connie Smith, The Quebe Sisters and Doug Kershaw, with more artists to be named. And of course, the Fabulous Superlatives will be featured. With a strong line up like this one, the show will sell out very quickly.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Grand Ole Opry Line Up 5/6 & 5/7

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line up for this weekends shows. There will be one show on Friday Night and on show on Saturday night. Friday night's show features non-Opry members John Anderson, Neal McCoy and Lee Brice, along with a number of Opry members.

Saturday night features non-Opry members Holly Williams, LoCash Cowboys and Aaron Tippin, along with Opry members Larry Gatlin and his brothers.

Jimmy Dickens is scheduled for both nights. He missed both shows last weekend due to an illness, but was on the Tuesday Night Opry and sounded pretty good.

Finally, if you don't know who the LoCash Cowboys are, they are 2 guys, who have a hard country sound to them. Looking at their website and listening to the music, they are not your traditional country act. This will be their first Opry appearance, and they will probably join the long line of those who don't make a 2nd one.

Here are the line ups with one slot to fill on Friday night:

Friday May 6
7:00: John Conlee (host); The Whites; John Anderson
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jesse McReynolds; Neal McCoy
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Del McCoury Band
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); George Hamilton IV; Lee Brice

Saturday May 7
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C. Newman; Holly Williams
7:30: Jean Shepard (host); Jan Howard; Jack Greene; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers (host); Stu Phillips; LoCash Cowboys; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); The Whites; Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press; Aaron Tippin

Opry Country Classics 5/5

For those who are interested in the Opry Country Classics show, this weeks shows will have the Oak Ridge Boys as the featured artists. These guys really do need to be Opry members, but I understand that it is their choice. I have seen them on the Opry several times, and each time is a standing ovation as they are really crowd favorites. I am sure it will be the same tonight.

Host: Bill Cody
Spotlight Artist: Oak Ridge Boys
Also appearing: Mandy Barnett; Andy Griggs; George Hamilton IV; Ronny Robbins; The Whites; Billy Yates

What can you say!! At least this weeks show has 2 Opry members appearing, while only 1 last week and it is nice to see Ronny Robbins making another appearance on the Classics show. Now, if we can only get him on the weekend Opry, things will be good.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Remembering June Webb

One of the great joys of doing this blog is that it has brought me into contact with numerous Opry performers or their representatives, retired country music performers and of course, great Grand Ole Opry fans.

Recently, I came into contact with a performer, who appeared on the Opry in the 1950's as part of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys, and who had started on a very promising individual career and that is June Webb.

If I have my dates right, June was with Roy Acuff from around 1957 until the middle of 1960. I know many of you Opry veterans will remember her. During her time with Roy, she received Billboard Magazine's "Most Promising Female of the Year Award." But, instead of me telling you about her, I highly recommend that you visit her website,, which is a nice website that outlines her career.

Also on her website, you will see that for sale, is her album, of course now a CD, called, "June Webb then...with a hint of now!" I received a copy of the CD last week, and I have been listening to it since. It is wonderful. She has a great voice and the song selection is excellent. The CD has 16 songs on it and it is truly classic country music at its finest.

Roy always thought highly of June and in 1992, the year that Roy Acuff passed away, he asked her if she would come and do the Opry with him for a final time, which she did. That took place on August 15, 1992, during the 2nd show that Saturday night. Some of you have good memories and may have remembered listening to the Opry that night and hearing June. For those who did and remember, and for those who were too young to listen that night, I am posting the line up for that 2nd show on Saturday August 15, 1992.

9:30 Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): On A Highway Headed South
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World
Stonewall Jackson: Why I'mWalkin'
Bill Carlisle: Same Old Tale That The Crow Told Me
Alison Krauss: I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name/Standing By The Bedside of a Neighbor
Porter Wagoner: I'm Gonna Act Right

10:00 Little Debbie
Bill Monroe (host): Why Did You Wander
Roy Drusky: Blues In My Heart
David Houston: My Elusive Dreams
Bill Monroe: A Beautiful Life

10:15 Tennessee Pride/Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host); Night Train To Memphis
4 Guys: My Prayer
June Webb: I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry/ Making Believe

10:30 Pet Milk
Ricky Skaggs (host): I Wouldn't Change You If I Could
The Whites: Pins and Needles
Ricky Skaggs: Country Boy

10:45: B.C.Powder
Jack Greene (host): Try A Little Kindness
Jan Howard: Rock Me Back To Little Rock/Evil On Your Mind
Opry Squaredance Band: Lost Indian
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything

11:00 Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): I've Been Everywhere
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Jean Shepard: Above & Beyond
Charlie Louvin & Charles Whitstein: Knoxville Girl
Ray Pillow: Please Don't Leave Me Anymore
Hank Snow: My Little Old Home Down In New Orleans

11:30 Creamette's
Jimmy C. Newman (host): Colinda
Jim Ed Brown: The Three Bells
Connie Smih: Once A Day
Johnny Russell: In A Mansion Stands My Love/He'll Have To Go
Jimmy C. Newman: Jambalaya

Again, I hope you enjoy that look back to remember June and please check out her website:

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Tuesday Night Opry 5/3

It has been one year since the big flood in Nashville that resulted in the relocation of the Opry until September of last year, and to remember the event, the Opry has scheduled a "big" Tuesday Night Opry show. In looking at the performers scheduled, it is really an impressive list. The only thing missing are the veteran Opry members, who continued to support the show during its relocation.

Yes, Jimmy Dickens is on the schedule, but that is it!! Where is Jean Shepard, Jeannie Seely, The Whites, Jimmy C. Newman, Jack Greene, Stonewall Jackson, Jan Howard, Mike Snider and the other great legends who support the show each week.

While there is no room for those Opry members, there is room for Luke Bryan, Cherryholmes and the Carolina Chocolate Drops, all of whom are non-Opry members. Yes, they will sell more tickets with there people on. But, come on, they could have made room for a few of the veterans. Maybe even expanded the show by a half hour to include a few.

Anyways, here is the line-up:

7:00 Luke Bryan; Cherryholmes
7:30 Jimmy Dickens; Carolina Chocolate Drops
8:15: Dierks Bentley; Trace Adkins
8:45 Charlie Daniels Band; Brad Paisley with special guest Alabama