The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line ups for the 2 shows this weekend, 1 on Friday night and 1 on Saturday night. The big event his weekend will be on Saturday night, when the Opry honors Emmylou Harris on the 20th anniversary of her Opry membership. (Her actual Opry induction date is January 25, 1992). The Opry is going to devote a whole hour to Emmylou and she will be celebrating with a bunch of her friends, including Vince Gill, Rodney Crowell and Buddy Miller.
According to Pete Fisher, Opry vice president and general manager, "Emmylou is treasured not just by all of us at the Grand Ole Opry, but also by fans around the world. She's shared so many great musical moments with us over the past 20 years, singing with and introducing us to some of her favorite musical collaborators. We're excited to celebrate her Opry anniversary at the Ryman, a stage on which she's displayed such incredible artistry through the years."
Taking the information from the Opry's press release, "During her career, Harris has successfully erased boundaries between country, folk and rock n' roll. During the 60s she fell in love with folk music and began performing while in college. In the late 60s Harris met Gram Parsons, formerly of The Byrds, and he became her mentor and singing partner, drawing her into the 70s country rock movement. She toured with and recorded with Parsons until his death in 1973. Since then, Harris has continued to develop her musical style by combining folk music with an electric base and has a sound that is uniquely her own. She has enjoyed seven No. 1 and 27 Top 10 hits. Among her most memorable releases: 'If I Could Only Win Your Love,' 'Together Again,' 'Sweet Dreams,' 'Making Believe,' 'To Daddy,' and 'Heartbreak Hill.' In 1999 Billboard Magazine recognized her distinguished career achievements with its highest honor-the Century Award. Harris was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008 and has won 12 Grammy awards."
As far as my comments, I will admit that I am an Emmylou Harris fan. I have seen her many times at the Opry and she has always done a fine job. When she joined the Opry, I was pleased and being located in Nashville and an active part of the music community, I really thought Emmylou would take her Opry membership seriously and would have appeared on the show more than she has. In that respect, she has been a disappointment. In 2006, she appeared at the Opry 9 times, and that is her high water mark. In 2010, she made 8 appearances, but only 2 last year. Since 2000, she has made just 44 Opry appearances, or an average of just under 4 per year.
When I see her at the Opry, she seems to really enjoy it. She gets a great crowd reaction, will usually host a segment on which the Opry will allow her to bring pretty much anyone she wants to perform with, and will usually dance a bit with the square dancers. I do know that she enjoys the Ryman Auditorium more than the Opry House, and most of her appearances with the Opry have come when the show is at the Ryman.
My other issue is not so much with Emmylou but with the Opry. In the past year, the Opry has devoted large segments of their shows to honor Vince Gill on his 20th anniversary as an Opry member, to honor Randy Travis on 25 years on Opry membership and to honor George Jones on his birthday. I know that they tried very hard to get Alan Jackson in to honor him for 20 years as an Orpy member last year, but they couldn't come up with a date. (I guess Alan was too busy for the Opry!!). My issue is how they have treated the real milestones of Opry membership. When George Hamilton IV, Jimmy C Newman, Billy Grammer, Charlie Louvin and Jean Shepard all celebrated 50 years of Opry membership, they were "allowed" to sing 2 songs, get a watch from Pete Fisher, and then sent on their way. They were not even given the honor of hosting a segment on their big night. Granted the Opry did better with Bill Anderson's 50th anniverary last year, and I am sure there will be a big, big show for Loretta Lynn's 50th anniversary later this year.
Opry membership is important to many of the artists and all should be honored for reaching certain levels of membership. While George, Jimmy C, Billy, Charlie and Jean were not the big stars they once were, they are still important to the history of the Opry and of country music. The Louvin Brothers might be the greatest duo in country music history. Honor them the way they should be honored!!
My thinking is that you can mark the occasion of an artist being an Opry member at the 10 year mark, then at 20 years and every 5 years after that. And special mention should be given to those artists who actually show up and support the show. To me, the biggest laugh was honoring Randy Travis on 25 years of Opry membership and he probably hasn't even done 25 Opry shows in his life
Anyways, sorry for being on the soapbox.
As far as the rest of this week's line up, both nights look very good. In addition to Emmylou and Vince on Saturday night, Craig Morgan will be on. The Friday Night Opry will feature Opry members Diamond Rio, Terri Clark and Ricky Skaggs.
Friday January 20
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Jimmy C Newman; Connie Smith; Diamond Rio
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host); Terri Clark; Darryl Worley
8:45: John Conlee (host); Eric Paslay; Ricky Skaggs
Saturday January 21
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jeannie Seely
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jean Shepard; Jesse McReynolds; Craig Morgan
8:15: Emmylou Harris (host); Shawn Colvin; Rodney Crowell; Vince Gill; Buddy Miller; Kimmie Rhodes; The Whites; Opry Square Dancers
With 1 more slot to be filled on Friday night, there are currently 12 artists scheduled, of whom 10 are Opry members. On Saturday night, there are currently 13 artists scheduled, with 1 slot to fill. 9 of those are Opry members.
This week's Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree will feature an archived show hosted by Mac Wiseman. That should be a good one.
For the ranting that I did, both shows this weekend look pretty good and my congratulations to Emmylou Harris on 20 years of Opry membership.