Thursday, March 22, 2012

Grand Ole Opry 3/23 & 3/24

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the schedule for the shows this weekend. There is 1 show on Friday night and 2 shows on Saturday night, along with the Tuesday Night Opry.

This weekend marks the return of Marty Stuart to the Opry stage. His last appearance was way back in July, which is not the norm for someone who has supported the Opry so strongly over the years. I know there was some speculation if there was an issue between Marty and the Opry's management, but there is nothing that I have heard of. Marty is scheduled to host on all 3 shows this weekend.

Joining Marty on Friday night will be Opry members Ricky Skaggs and Joe Diffie, along with Opry favorites Restless Heart. Also booked for the Friday night show are a couple of newcomers, Dustin Lynch and Mallary Hope.

Saturday night's show featured non-Opry members Exile, The Grascals and Frankie Ballard. Also appearing on Saturday night is Yuki Miyamae. Yes, I had to look her up and she is a female singer from Japan and from her YouTube video, I was not terribly impressed. Her website is written in Japanese, so I was unable to gain anything from that. And then you have The Dirt Drifters, who like Yuki, will be making their Opry debut.

Missing from the shows this weekend is Jimmy Dickens, who cancelled out of the Tuesday night Opry, while Jean Shepard and Jack Greene also are not scheduled.

Friday March 23
7:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Mallary Hope
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Jimmy C Newman; Joe Diffie
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Restless Heart
8:45: Marty Stuart (host); Dustin Lynch; Connie Smith

Saturday March 24
1st show
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Jimmy C Newman; Frankie Ballard
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Yuki Miyamae; The Dirt Drifters
8:00: Marty Stuart (host); Connie Smith; The Grascals; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jim Ed Brown; Exile

2nd show
9:30: Jeannie Seely (host); The Whites; Frankie Ballard
10:00: Ray Pillow (host); Yuki Miyamae; The Dirt Drifters
10:30: Marty Stuart (host); Connie Smith; The Grascals; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jim Ed Brown; Exile

Yes, Ray Pillow is back on the Opry this weekend and is hosting a segment. That is a surprise to me as Jim Ed Brown is available and could have hosted a segment. Ray is usually the person they go to when there is no one else available in their ususal rotation of segment hosts.

All 3 shows this weekend have 12 artists booked, of whom 9 are Opry members on Friday night and 7 are Opry members on each show Saturday night. Also, Jim Ed Brown will be the host of this week's Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree.

Finally, here is the line up for the Tuesday Night Opry on March 27, and this show will be a sellout:

7:00: Jim Ed Brown
7:30: Steep Canyon Rangers; Connie Smith
8:15: Del McCoury Band; Dierks Bentley; Carrie Underwood

All but 1 are Opry members and it is nice to see Carrie back on the Opry.


  1. I don't mean any disrespect but I think it's time for Little Jimmy to hang it up. He seems to be canceling Opry appearances often and, unfortunately, his voice is toast.

  2. Fred in Bismarck here:

    Can't go along with you on this one, Anon. To me -- and, I think, to many others who love them -- these old guys have value for as long as they can stagger onto the stage. When they perform, we hear (and see) them not just as they are now but as they used to be. (For me, Jumpin' Bill Carlisle was still good on a walker.)

  3. Fred again:

    Also, some of us fans have deteriorated almost as much as our old heroes, and so cut them a lot of extra slack!

  4. Fred III:

    Pardon my Miller Time gabbiness. Remember when Bill Carlisle claimed he could jump as high as ever, but admitted he "can't stay up as long."

  5. It's no secret that at the age of 91, Jimmy Dickens has his good days and his bad days. I think when Jimmy decides to "hang it up" he will make the decision himself and not be pushed out the door.

  6. Personally, I miss Little Jimmy when is not on the Opry. The audiences receive him wonderfully & lately they have been giving him standing ovations - it certainly isn't every day that someone his age goes to work regardless if their voice is what it once was. So for me, I am happy when he is on stage.

    Also, I am very happy to see Marty Stuart returning to the Opry stage - it has been way too long. Marty & his band will be in the Chicago area in the next month. Haven't seen him in concert in a long while & hope to be.

    The Opry Country Classics series begins this coming Thursday, March 29th, going through May 24th at the Ryman with Larry Gatlin as host. I, for one, am happy Larry's back as host once again. As he puts it, he & Nashville kissed & made up & that is a very good thing for both sides, as hosting this series is right up his alley & I missed hearing his fabulous voice.

    The series line-up has been posted on the Opry website & the first show features the Bakersfield Sound. Too bad I don’t see Dwight Yoakam’s name listed, dang! He has kept that sound going for a long time now. A lot of great country music has come from the left coast & I will be tuning in each Thursday starting with this one. I also see Marty as being one of the spotlight artists on April 26th, that’s cool.

    This weekend’s Opry line-up looks to be a good one – never heard of Mallory Hope so we’ll see about her & I really like the Grascal’s, love Ricky Skaggs, & I love The Whites. The Tuesday night Opry has a very good line-up & should definitely be a sell out with Dierks Bentley & Carrie Underwood (of which I do not at all like her current single “Good Girl” no thanks & I like her. I hear this song every few hours on the radio but never hear Craig Morgan’s “This Ole Boy” of which I love & I have not even heard Alan Jackson’s killer song “So You Don’t Have to Love Me Anymore” on the Chicago country station. At one time, Chicago was used as one of the barometers for the music industry. Not sure if that still holds true. I listen to the country station out of Milwaukee off & on & the music they play. Then I listen to the Chicago station & they don’t play some of the music I hear on the Milwaukee station. I find this part of the industry just so fascinating – why do some stations play certain songs others don’t & probably never will & all I want to do is ask why.

    So now I just flip on WSM-AM on the computer & listen to the music I want to hear vs. what we are being forced fed on today’s country radio – if we can call what is played on today’s country radio … country music.

    Have a fun weekend everyone.


  7. There's been a long tradition of Japanese country artists appearing on the Opry and I've always been surprised at how popular country music is there. Japanese country music fans tend to go all out with the big hats and boots and there are a couple of big festivals held in the country every year. Charlie Nagatani has been making an annual appearance on the Opry for as long as I can remember. At one time, there was a very popular showed called the "Tokyo Grand Ole Opry" and I've got several photos in my collection of Nashville's Opry stars performing there. I think there are one or two of those in Hank Snow's autobiography as he was very popular over there.

    Maxine Brown talked about one of the early Opry package tours to Japan in the 60's that featured The Browns, Hank Locklin, Skeeter Davis and Chet Atkins on her website a while back. (You may have to search for it but Maxine's site is worth wading through:

    Shoji Tabuchi, one of Branson's mainstays for many years, came to the Opry in the 70's as a member of David Houston's band and Marty Robbins' steel guitar player, Katz Kobayashi, was one Nashville best. Marty often introduced him by saying "He took a shot at me in the war and to get back at him I hired him!" Just one of those interesting, odd little tangets that people don't think about very often but makes country music such a fascinating field of study.

    To Jeanene: What's the big country station in Chicago now? WMAQ was the country radio juggernaut in the upper Midwest for years but I believe they went to a news-talk format quite a while back. In high school, I spent part of my summers working for a production company that produced the grandstand entertainment at dozens of county and state fairs in Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio and we could always tell which acts we would be working with every year largely based on who was popular on WMAQ. Of course, at one time the #1 country song on the station was "Let's Do Something Cheap and Superficial" by Burt Reynolds (!) so I often had a hard time taking the station seriously.

  8. Little Jimmy Dickens should hang it up.After all he has on the Opry and other places for 64 years now.His longevity has broken a record.Herman Crook and Sid Herkreader were on the Opry for 62 years each [1926-1988]

  9. Johnny, as much as I like your comments, and please keep them coming, I have to disagree with you on this one. I know Jimmy sounds a bit rough at times, but so did Roy Acuff toward the end, as did Grandpa Jones, Bill Carlisle, Ernest Tubb, Porter Wagoner and so many others.

    Voices don't always age gracefully, but it is still very, very special when Jimmy walks out on that Opry stage. And as bad as he might sound, he has actually been looking very good lately. His energy level is high and to see the crowd stand and cheer him is great. I know when the curtain opens up, the flash bulbs going off are as many as some of today's stars of country music.

    The time will come soon enough when he is gone, and when it happens, it will be the end of another great era of country music. Jimmy and Kitty Wells are about the last 2 left from the 40s.

    So, please enjoy Jimmy while he is still with us, voice or no voice. He loves the Opry and the Opry loves him. He is a special man.

  10. Johnny, I'll echo Byron. Your comments are great and I look forward to them. That doesn't mean we can't all disagree. Some performers should quit singing. They become painful to listen to. Little Jimmy is not painful (I could name a couple of Opry members who have been or were), except a couple of times when he has been sick but still performed.

    A minor correction, for what it's worth. Sid Harkreader was not a member for 62 years and returned only for guest appearances for most of those years. And The Potato is not actually a 64-year member. He was with the Opry from 1948 to 1957, then returned in 1975. The senior member in point of consecutive tenure and longevity is Jean Shepard, since October 1955, followed by Jimmy C. Newman, in August 1956. Dickens wasn't away from the Opry that whole time--he did perform there--but wasn't a member. That distinction matters to me and to some Opry members, though not necessarily to the management, which doesn't seem to care much about Opry members anyway.

    A note on Marty Stuart. I think he has a new album coming out, and it seems a lot of people go into hibernation to do those now.

  11. To Barry:

    WMAQ-AM – was a country music station from 1975 to 1985. WMAQ was a competitor to WJJD (which became a country music station in 1965 and this station promoted the “WJJD Shower of Stars country music concerts held at both the Arie Crown Theater & the Civic Opera House in Chicago’s Loop when I was growing up.) These concerts had packages of so many country music artists from the 50’s & 60’s & were absolutely wonderful. I saw them all back then. George, Tammy, Dolly, Johnny Cash, June Carter, The Statlers, Connie Smith, Loretta Lynn, Little Jimmy Dickens & more. The first song played on WMAQ as a country station was Your Cheating Heart by Hank Williams Sr.

    But it was the contest that changed the way Chicago answered their telephones and sealed the station’s fame as the most listened to country station in the US. In order to win big money, listeners replaced “hello” with “WMAQ Is Gonna Make Me Rich!” At the time, it was considered the most expensive contest in Chicago radio history, with hundreds of thousands of dollars given away and over 1.5 million WMAQ bumper stickers attached to cars, trucks, bikes and busses. In one ratings book, the station went from 15th place to 3rd.

    By the way – this is the same country music station that Lon Helton got his start – he is a native of the South Side of Chicago. I listen to Lon’s Country Countdown USA every Sunday morning on Chicago’s only country station – WUSN-FM – 99.5. Lon frequently talks about Chicago, being from Chicago & is always in Chicago for one country concert or another – Kenny Chesney, Keith Urban & others.

    WMAQ is no longer the call letters – for quite a while this station has been an all sports talk station referred to as 670-The Score as the call letters are now WSCR.

    To Michael:

    Marty’s new album “Nashville, Volume 1: Tear the Woodpile Down” has a release date of April 24th. It has 10 songs to it, whereas his Ghost Train album had 14 songs. I have almost every album Marty ever put out – my favorite album to this day is “The Pilgrim.” Never sold many – I read 25,000 copies but it was “critically acclaimed” as they say when something is highly praised by peers but goes nowhere on the street.


  12. I remember that "WMAQ is gonna make me rich" promotion. Seems like it went on for several years. The emcee on one of our shows was getting ready to introduce Cal Smith one night who at the time was riding the #1 slot on the charts with "Country Bumpkin". This was a large fair in southern Wisconsin and he asked the audience how many of them listened to WMAQ in Chicago. BIG, sustained roar from the crowd. While they were still cheering, he he says "How about WJJD?" I PROMISE could hear crickets chirping. NO response from the crowd AT ALL! It was like 4,000 people lost their voice at the same instant. I think it actually startled the emcee...he fumbled and stammered for a few seconds (while the rest of us were doubled over was just SO odd) and I think he completely forgot his prepared introduction. All he could manage to get out was, "well, uh, here's MCA recording artist Cal Smith"...and high-tailed it off that stage in a hurry!

  13. A very good Friday Night Opry last night. Everyone sounded great. To me, the highlight was Bill Anderson singing, "Peel Me A Nanner", which he wrote and of course, Roy Drusky had a nice hit with. Bill mentioned Roy and the fact that Roy had sang the song many times on the Opry. I really enjoy it when an artist will go back into their catalog and sing a song that you haven't heard in a while.

  14. Jeanene, thanks for the update, and no question, when Marty puts an album together, it's guaranteed to be a good one.

    Byron, unfortunately, I don't get to listen this weekend, but I'm glad Bill did that. And if he decided to do his whole catalog, we might be here a while!

  15. Correction;Kitty was around during the '40s,but didn't join the Opry till 1952.

  16. I know Tater was not on the Opry from 1957-1975.That's what I meant by ''other places''.I did not mean 64 consecutive years.

  17. I found ''Fiddlin' Sid Harkreader on Wikipedia.Says that Sid was modtly active from about 1924-1969.Was a member of Old Time Fiddler's Hall of Fame [2005]

  18. Johnny, as far as Kitty Wells is concerned, Johnny and Jack originally joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1947. Johnny, of course, was Johnny Wright, Kitty's husband. Kitty worked on and off with Johnny and Jack, and was part of their show when they joined the Opry. Johnny and Jack left the Opry after about a year, and rejoined the show in 1952, about the time that Kitty did. Kitty remained on Opry member until the mass firing in December 1964.

  19. For some of us, Little Jimmie Dickens IS the 'Opry. I don't care how many performances he misses or how bad he sounds when he shows up.
    Country fans are pulling for him every time he appears, and I will miss him greatly when he decides enough is enough.

  20. I know the Stanley Brothers were inducted in the Bluegrass Hall of Fame,but I also found they were inducted in the Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame [August 2011]