Monday, February 13, 2012

Recap of Last Week's Opry

This past Friday and Saturday, my wife and I were in Nashville and attended both Opry shows. This was her 1st trip in 2 years, so I always enjoy hearing her opinions on what she sees and hears as it offers me a perspective of someone who does not see the show as often as I do. And, she does know enough about the Opry to offer some solid opinions on the show.

For the Friday Night Opry, the Opry House was actually pretty full. The lower level was completely filled as was a good portion of the balcony. I would guess the crowd at about 3,500, which for this time of the year, is very good. All the artists that were on the show looked and sounded great. Jean Shepard especially looked better than when I last saw her. Jeannie Seely looked a little ragged, but then she was saying that she was on the Opry cruise the previous week and apparently a number of people on the ship caught a virus, including Jeannie. But, she sounded good. The biggest reactions of the night were for Montgomery Gentry and Josh Turner, as you would expect. They each did 3 songs and really played up to the crowd. I also thought Diamond Rio did an excellent job. We were sitting in the 2nd row and Marty Roe of Diamond Rio gave my wife a little smile and wave, which made her day. (She did wave back). A new group called The Farm, was also on and I can't say I was really impressed by them. They are a trio and sounded good, but I just don't think they have the makings of being a big act. There already seems to be a number of country trio's out there right now. But all in all, Friday night was a good one.

Saturday night was very special. Thanks a friend in Nashville, (no names, please), we were granted access to backstage. I have to say, you know you are in for a special night when you park in the same lot as the artists and the bands behind the Opry House and when you walk into the performer's entrance to check in, (praying you are on the list), you are standing behind Jimmy C Newman and waiting for him to finish up at the desk. Anyways, it was a great night. We spent time walking the halls and checking out the dressing rooms and spent some time just hanging out in the green room behind the stage. We also able to be on the stage right before the show and able to say hi to the musicians getting ready to go. For most of the show, we either stood in the wings or sat in the seats up on the stage. (we sat right behind the drums and I was just amazed at how the musicians were switching off and communicating between the songs). My wife was thrilled that John Conlee came over and sat next to her for one of the segments. We also were able to get up close and personal with Craig Morgan, Buck White, Sunny Sweeney and James Wesley. They were all nice and pleasant and allowed us to listen in on conversations that they had with their band and friends.

As far as the show, it was another good crowd, with again the lower level pretty much filled out and all the balcony except for the very top rows and the wings. I would guess the crowd at about 3,800 or so. As with Friday night, it was a fine show and all the artists did a great job. There was a convention in town, the Wild Turkey Federation, and I think they made up a number of the crowd on Saturday. I have heard, though I cannot confirm it, that when conventions have been coming to town and staying at the Gaylord Opryland, that many of those attending the conventions have been offered free or greatly discounted tickets to the Opry. I do know that WSM was giving away lots of tickets over the weekend, so those 2 things might have helped to inflate the crowd. When we did walk out front for a short period of time, I did hear a few comments from people that while they were enjoying the show, they did not seem happy that there were no big names on the show.

As far as any news, I did not hear anything big. Jimmy Dickens has not been on the Opry for the past 2 weeks and I heard that it is just a case of Jimmy being week to week, which at his age, is understandable. Carol Lee Cooper is still not back and there was not a word of mention about her. Jack Greene has not been on the Opry so far this year, but I did not hear any information on Jack. I did hear that Jeanne Pruett was backstage but I did not see her. Some also said that she was at the Opry the week before also. There is no updated news on the museum, but the Opry is really pushing and promoting the backstage tours, so that might be the answer to what happens to the museum. No news on any new members, but a lot of people speak highly of Rhonda Vincent and wonder why she still is not a member.

As we were driving back yesterday, I asked my wife what she thought. She did say that both shows were very good. She did venture the opinion that as good as Montgomery Gentry are, they are not country. She also thought when Diamond Rio first came on stage that they were the stagehands moving equipment around as they were dressed pretty bad. And let's just say Josh Turner was not in his Sunday best. Like me, she was surprised at the crowd, thinking it would be a lot smaller. And, she was blown away by being backstage on Saturday night. She did say that when you read about the Opry and watch the videos, they give the impression that most of the Opry artists come before the show starts and hang around the dressing rooms all night, just visiting and playing their instruments. But she said that she saw a number of the artists come in just before their segments and leave right afterwards, which did surprise her.

Regarding the Hall of Fame, I did not hear anything specific, but there seems to be an opinion of some that Garth Brooks might be the one to get in this year. The comment seemed to be that he would get in eventually, so why not just get it over with. Interesting line of thought, but I just don't know.

It was a good weekend in Nashville and it is always great to be able to attend an Opry show. As my schedule looks right now, I should be back in mid-April.


  1. Byron, wow what a weekend for you. I've only been to the Opry one time (and never backstage). This was back in early 2003 or 2004 (February, I believe) when they were down at the old Ryman. I was about 22 or 23 years old. It was on a Friday night. If I live to be 100 I'll never forget the thrill that was sent all over me watching that curtain rise for the first time. Jim Ed Brown sang, "Southern Lovin'".

    Since then some of the artists I saw have left us: Porter Wagoner, Mel McDaniel and Hank Locklin (he sang "Danny Boy" that night!).

    Others on the bill that night was Vince Gill, The Whites, Jean Shepard, Jack Greene, Craig Morgan (before he was a "star"), Bill Anderson, Ray Pillow...and I'm certain others. I wish I would have wrote down who all I did see. I do know that Little Jimmy Dickens (who I wanted to see the most) was not there.

    The Opry is my "Graceland". Now, that I'm married and have children, I'm hoping to get back there soon.

  2. Byron: regarding the Hall of Fame, I found this link last week (Friday I believe).

    They are throwing out the same names as well; Garth, Jerry Reed, Kenny Rogers..etc.. and a few that I don't agree with, namely Gram Parsons and David Allan Coe (which I can't see happening, can you?)

    I'm thinking now It will be Garth Brooks. And possibly Reed, Hank, Jr. or Kenny Rogers or Connie Smith in the "Veterans" category. Their careers do go well past 40 years.

    I hope there is still a chance for Archie Campbell, The Browns and Bobby Bare at least.

  3. David, I really don't think there is any chance of Gram Parsons or David Allan Coe ever making it to the Hall of Fame. Just not going to happen. As far as the rest, I think we will just have to wait and see. Just a couple of more weeks!!


  4. Byron,

    So glad to hear you & your wife had a good time in Nashville & that you enjoyed both Opry shows. I agree with you, I didn’t care for “The Farm’s” performance either. Loved Craig Morgan’s segment & I love his “This Ole Boy” song. Too bad it isn’t doing much on the charts. Very cool that John Conlee sat by your wife & that you were able to get close to Craig Morgan, Buck White, Sunny Sweeney and James Wesley. And to go backstage sounds very awesome – isn’t it nice to have friends in all sorts of places?

    I agree with your wife about who is country & who is not – right about now, in my opinion, more aren’t, than are. I can’t say Montgomery Gentry head the list but they certainly are on it. And I will lightly touch on the subject on how some of the artists dress for the Opry stage. I will say as much as I really like Josh Turner & his music he is a big offender of dressing too casually for the Opry stage. When he was inducted into the Opry I took the drive to Nashville with ticket in hand. He dressed in jeans & a gingham checkered shirt for his induction. He looked like he just got off the bus from a gig. I was highly disappointed as when I drove down to see Trace Adkins' formal induction he was dressed to the nines. I still remember the audience gasping when he walked onstage seeing how fabulous he looked. I’ll never forget his long mustard/golden colored coat & matching trousers, ivory white shirt & the black hat. He said “my wife dressed me.” I didn’t care who dressed him ….. my bottom line is to look like the Opry star they are making you & don’t forget how to dress & act & represent the Opry because you are a part of it. I’m stepping off my soapbox now.

    Wanted to update you on Carol Lee Cooper …..

    I am on Facebook with “Larry's Country Diner” from RFD-TV. Earlier this afternoon, a video was posted with a very short interview with Carol Lee Cooper & Keith Bilbrey. She went "to the diner" (where the show is filmed) to visit with everyone & to thank everyone for their prayers, adding that the prayers are what worked from last year’s health issues. She said she is feeling much better & added she feels as good as she did when she was in her 20’s & 30’s & feeling stronger. She looks good. It is possible that the Opry made no announcement to protect her privacy or maybe they are not allowed to or were asked not to. It really doesn’t matter to see & hear her I’m good with that. Sure glad to see she is doing so much better.

    The following is the post under the posted video:

    Larry's Country Diner via Country's Family Reunion – it is apparently on YouTube named “Hello from Carol Lee Cooper!” the video is under 40 seconds but for those who are interested:

    For those of you asking and praying for Carol Lee Cooper, we're happy to report she's doing much better!

    Thank you for the great update from Nashville, Byron, very newsy.


  5. Jeanene, thanks for the update on Carol Lee. I did see the same thing on Larry's facebook page. Hopefully, she will be back on the Opry soon.

  6. My Predictions For The Hall Of Fame
    Recording Or Touring Sidemen Johnny Gimble Don Rich Or Bashful Brother Oswald
    Veterans Era Connie Smith The Browns Or Bobby Bare
    Modern Era Garth Brooks Ronnie Milsap The Oak Ridge Boys Kenny Rogers Randy Travis Or Hank Wiiliams Jr

    1. Within all of those names I would say there does lay our 3 inductees.

      Reading different blogs I am guessing it will be Garth, Connie Smith & either Gimble or Rich.

      Of course there could be a tie in the categories as well. This was the case in the years with Ferlin Husky/Jimmy Dean and The Statler Brothers/Tom T. Hall.

      Maybe we will get lucky and have another tie in that Veterans category.

  7. As far as the CMHOF, I would love to see Don Rich get in, but as far as pioneers it seems like they've passed over three pioneers that deserve to be put in - Johnny Horton, Cowboy Copas and the Maddox Brothers & Rose

  8. Hey The New Class Of The Hall Of Fame Will Be Announced On Tuesday March 6 Im So Excited And I Cant Wait