Sunday, July 15, 2012

Tuesday Night Opry 7/17 & Wednesday Night Opry 7/18

The Grand Ole Opry begins its series of Wednesday night shows this week, which will continue for about a month. This week's Wednesday Night Opry will feature Vince Gill, who will get the last segment to himself. The Wednesday night show appears to be structured the same way as the Tuesday Night Opry, as far as four, half-hour segments. And speaking of the Tuesday Night Opry, they have changed the format a bit for this weeks show as they are going with 2, hour long segments. I don't know if that is a permanent change or not.

I have received a few questions asking my thoughts regarding the Opry adding a Wednesday night show. I really don't have much of an issue with it as this is something the Opry has done before. If you remember, and for those who are to young to remember, when Opryland opened and was going strong, the Opry was having matinee shows most of the days of the week. I found some old schedules, and in the spring of 1974, right after the Opry moved to Opryland, there was 1 show on Friday night, a Saturday matinee, 2 Saturday night shows and a Sunday Grand Ole Gospel show.

By the spring of 1976, there was a Friday matinee, a Friday night show, a Saturday matinee, 2 Saturday night shows and a Sunday matinee. By 1978, in addition to the shows listed for 1976, the Opry was up to 2 shows on Friday night, for a total of 7 shows. And I know that they were also running a matinee or two during the week. By the 1980s, the Friday matinee was dropped and the Sunday show was only run during the peak season. So really, the Opry having multiple shows during the week is really nothing new.

I often worried that having more week night shows would take away from the Friday and Saturday night shows, which were considered the "big" shows during the week. At this point, and the way the Opry is being run today, it doesn't seem to matter. While Saturday will always be the night most associated with the Opry, I see nothing wrong with promoting the Opry brand through other shows. And it gives those missing Opry members, or those who tour on the weekends, more opportunity to appear at the Opry. And many of the Opry's members seem to be taking advantage of those chances. In the coming weeks, the Tuesday and Wednesday shows will feature Opry members Oak Ridge Boys, Charlie Daniels, Vince Gill, Rascal Flatts, Marty Stuart and Lorrie Morgan. As long as they don't forget about the weekend shows, I am fine with it.

It has also been noticed that Opry seems to have lost a couple of their sponsors in recent weeks. Bass Pro Shops appears to be gone, while Cracker Barrel has been missing from the Friday Night Opry. Currently the Opry is using the Country Music Hall of Fame as a sponsor on Friday night, which brings them back as sponsors, and Opry Backstage Grill, which is owned and operated by Gaylord. It will be interesting to see what the Opry does for sponsorship in the coming months. Could Marriott be coming aboard, now that they are operating the Gaylord hotel properties? Or possibly a former sponsor such as Martha White or Coke? Or maybe someone like Southwest Airlines, who does a lot of cross-promotion with the Opry.

Tuesday Night Opry, June 17:
7:00: Oak Ridge Boys; Lee Brice; Jimmy Dickens
8:15: Brantley Gilbert; Kevin Costner & Modern West; Lily Costner; Charlie Daniels Band

Wednesday June 18:
7:00: John Conlee; Dustin Lynch
7:30: The Whites; Mark Wills
8:15: Bill Anderson; Point of Grace
8:45: Vince Gill


  1. I am scared that Cracker Barrel and Bass Pro Shops have apparently jumped ship.
    My Cracker Barrel (Bloomington, IN) has turned the volume way down on the music in the restaurant. Not sure if that means anything or not.
    I would love to see Martha White and Coke return. Maybe Rhonda Vincent could become a member!

  2. Cracker Barrel and the Opry seemed to have such a great relationship. I have found some very good music in the Cracker Barrel stores. Plus, that is the only place around here (Southeast Missouri) that I can find my Goo Goo Clusters !

    Goo Goo advertisements is what I really miss on Opry nights.

  3. I'm with both of you, especially on Martha White and Rhonda Vincent. I can think of only one bluegrass member under age 70, and that's Alison Krauss, who doesn't care about her membership. Am I missing anybody?

  4. I do not understand at all why Rhonda Vincent is not a member. She has been appearing on the Opry since at least the very early 90's starting with her family, maybe even earlier. She to will be considered too old before long, shes 46 or 47 I think. She was really on top in the bluegrass field winning all kinds of awards a few years ago and I believe she plays the Opry as much as she can and/or they will let her. She dose keep a busy schedule. She has also indicated through correspondence or while signing at shows that she would love to be a member. I actually thought she appealed to a younger crowd and would be a great fit. From what I understand, Jeanne Pruett suggested that Rhonda be her replacement when she announced her retirement a few years ago. There must be a lot of politics involved in the Opry!

    Byron, were the matinee shows of the 70's and 80's ever broadcast on WSM and did they have sponsors? If not, the fact that we can set at home and listen to all of them now is nice!


  5. I agree on Rhonda Vincent becoming a member. There is no reason why she should not be. I would also like to see The Grascals become members. They have been making appearances now for several years. On their last performance a few weeks ago, they announced it was their 120th Grand Ole Opry appearance.

    Comedy is also something missing. But I really do not know who they could get for that particular part missing from the Opry. Not many Minnie Pearls', Rod Brasfields' and Archie Campbells' left.

    In addition to Bluegrass and Comedy I wish they would add some of those artists that Bill Anderson has on the Country Family Reunion shows: Gene Watson, Neal McCoy, Johnny Lee, Moe Bandy, Barbara Fairchild, Linda Davis, Helen Cornelius, Buck Trent, Doug Stone..etc.. I think all of these have reached the point where they could be VERY FAITHFUL to the Opry. They need the Opry and The Opry needs them. They are still popular artists and could keep the crowds coming.

    As someone pointed out last week: Little Jim, Jean, Jim Ed, Jan, Jack, Jesse, Stonewall, George IV, Bobby and Whispering Bill are all well into their 70's, 80's & 90's. I do not see the acts that the Opry is inducting into membership these days filling those legends shoes on a weekly basics in the future. So who will???

  6. I do not believe that the matinees were broadcast on WSM. If you remember, back in those days, WSM was not necessarily a country station, even with the Opry.

    As far as sponsors, the Friday matinee did not have any, while the Saturday and Sunday shows had "sustaining" listed as the sponsor for each segment, which meant no sponsor.

  7. Fred in Bismarck:

    Opry management acts like that of an old, formerly glorious hotel or resort that is being let slide while it lives off its reputation. Gaylord is doing nothing to "grow" the show; indeed, the property grows less every year with thinner bills, no Opryland, no museum, and on and on. All they're doing is running the cash register for as long as they can.

    This way lies death for the show. And, let's face it, the Opry would only be following all of its mates, going back to the WLW Barn Dance, to the bone pile.

    I suspect the route to revival, presumably under new management, would follow one of two routes:

    ** The Opry is already charging concert prices. So make it a formal concert, with a real headliner each week, along with an opening act and a couple of trappings of the old Opry, like a comedian, the square dancers, what have you. (And what's with all this crepe hanging about comedians? What's wrong with Johnny Counterfeit and Jeff Foxworthy, for starters?)

    ** Or it could retain the present format but go back to what it was in the beginning, featuring real country music instead of the pop or rock that calls itself country now. The string band and bluegrass outfits are out there, and would fall all over themselves to play for union scale and a national audience on Saturday nights ... as many Saturdays as management liked! In this format, the Opry would go back to MAKING stars, as in the old days, rather than signing them after they are already too important to show up.

    The latter is the show that I'd go to. I'll admit it would be a gamble -- lots of folks profess love for the "old" country music, but what do they really buy and listen to? The tastes of an awful lot of folks have changed ... maybe the kind of audience I have in mind isn't out there in commercial numbers any longer. I honestly don't know.

  8. The matinees were never broadcast, featured 8-9 Opry stars (and occasionally a guest...Johnny Russell was a favorite) and usually took place during the summer months to handle the summer overflow. Once Opryland opened there was usually at least one matinee during the months that the park was open and at peak season there could be 7 shows a weekend (3:00 matinees and 6:30 & 9:30 shows on Friday and Saturday and a 3:00 Sunday matinee). The matinee times changed on occasion and I have a program from a Canadian holiday weekend that has 2 Saturday matinees listed...the first starting at noon! Later on there were Tuesday and Thursday matinees during the Opryland peak season. The format was much the same as the Tuesday show now with 2 or 3 artists on each 30 minute segment. At one point, Chevrolet was the official sponsor or the matinee but since the shows weren't broadcast there were no Chevy commercials...just a mention at the beginning and end of each show. During the mid-70's, there was an hour-long concert featuring 1 or 2 Opry stars Monday through Thursday when Opryland was open which at one point were sponsored by Coca Cola.

  9. One of my absolute favorite Opry shows happened on a Thursday sponsored by Toyota in about 1989. There was a last minute addition to the published schedule and the one person I wanted to see most as the last act -- Minnie Pearl. If you will remember Minnie got in a habit of playing the matinees after signing autographs at her museum. I dont think the museum had relocated to Opryland at this point. I used money I earned mowing yards to buy tickets for me and my brother. I think they costed $16. Our seats were under the balcony but I moved down front and sat on the floor when Roy came out. There was an unbelievable electricity that swept through the Opry House when he introduced Minnie, a thunderous ovation and flashbulbs everywhere. It went by like a flash and they were soon singing I Saw The Light to close the show. Minnie headed for the wings and the curtain started down when Acuff looked directly at me, waved and said "bye bye.". 23 years later and lots if amazing Opry shows including all three the weekend they went back to the Ryman the first time, all four shows of the 75th Birthday weekend and Porters 50th Anniversary, several times watching the show from backstage but I dont think anything equals that matinee with Roy and Minnie!!

  10. Above comment from Oldtimeopry

  11. Fred in Bismarck:

    Wonderful account, Oldtime. I feel like I was there myself.

  12. If I am correct, the matinees occasionally were taped in the early 1980s and used for a TNN series, "Stars of the Grand Ole Opry." Usually it would be one person on a segment--Mr. Acuff, Mr. Monroe, Ernest Tubb, etc. I remember when ET finished--and it would have been one of his last performances--the crowd just wouldn't stop applauding.

    This also included one of my favorite Bill Monroe moments, when he introduced the song "Come Hither to Go Yonder" by saying, "This song has kind of a funny title, but don't laugh." I mean, if Mr. Monroe said not to laugh, I wasn't laughing!

  13. The TNN shows were taped during the daily hour-long concerts that were done Monday through Thursday when the park was open back then and not the matinees. The matinee format was pretty much exactly as the Tuesday night show is now, minus the commercials.