With things a little slow around the Grand Ole Opry right now, as they usually are toward the end of summer, I thought I would take the time to pass along some Opry notes involving some of the Opry's veteran members and some thoughts.
It would appear that the Opry will honor Loretta Lynn for 50 years of Opry membership on Tuesday September 25. So far announced for that show are Crystal Gayle, Trace Adkins and Lee Ann Womack. But not Loretta!! It is expected that she will be part of the show and an announcement will be coming soon. Loretta officially joined the Opry on September 25, 1962. While it is great that Loretta has been an Opry member for 50 years, it would mean a lot more if she actually did the Opry more than a few times each year. Back in her earlier days, she was a regular performer at the Opry, but it seems that after Ernest Tubb died was when her appearances really went down.
The Opry's 87th birthday celebration will take place on Saturday October 6, with 2 shows. If that seems earlier than normal, it is. Traditionally, the Opry's birthday weekend, which grew out of the old DJ convention, took place the 3rd weekend of October. A few years ago, it moved up to the 2nd weekend, and now it is the 1st weekend. So far the only announced artist is Rodney Atkins for Friday night and Ray Stevens for Saturday. Usually by now there is a pretty good idea on who the "big" names will be, but with only 6 weeks to go until the big weekend, nothing has been announced. The birthday concert is scheduled for 1:00 on that Saturday, but as with the Opry, nothing has been announced. Usually it is one of the Opry's older members from the 80s. And for those who like me make a weekend out of it, Opry Country Classics will take place on Thursday night, but like the Opry's weekend shows, nothing has been announced. But, the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree has Wanda Jackson scheduled to host that night. If you are thinking ahead to 2013 and the 88th Opry birthday weekend, the dates are again the 1st weekend, October 4 & 5.
October 25, 2012 will mark the 100th birthday of Minnie Pearl and on the October 23 Tuesday Night
Opry, a special show is planned to mark the date. While no artists have been announced as of yet, it is expected to be a star filled night. I hope that they add some of the Opry's veteran artists who actually worked with and remember Minnie.
Marty Stuart will be celebrating his 20th anniversary as an Opry member on Saturday December 1 with 2 shows at the Ryman Auditorium. Much like Vince Gill's 20th last August, I would expect a big show with some good guest artists. I have already purchased my tickets for that night as I plan on being there. While nothing has been announced, I would not be surprised if the Ernest Tubb Record Shop made an effort to have Marty host the Midnight Jamboree that night. Marty has hosted in the past and that would round out the evening.
The Country Music Hall of Fame has recently added an exhibit honoring Jack Greene. The display includes his CMA Awards, his drum set and a few other items. In 1967, Jack had one of the biggest years an artist has ever had in country music. Over the past several years there has been a growing underground movement to push forward Jack's name for consideration for the Hall of Fame and some feel that this exhibit will help in that effort. That I don't know as there are so many veteran artists up for consideration who honestly, have had better overall careers than Jack. Jack last appeared on the Opry in December 2011.
Fresh off sell-out Opry appearances, both Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban have scheduled additional Opry appearances in September. For Carrie it will be September 1st and for Keith it will be September 4th. I am glad to see both of them taking their Opry membership more seriously than some of the other younger members and continuing to support the show.
George Jones announced that he will be ending his touring career with one last tour in 2013. While as fans we hate to see George retire, it is time. Honestly it should probably have happened sooner. The great voice is just not there anymore and I have spoke to people who have gone to his more recent shows and said they were just sad at how George sounded. You always wish that the great ones would go out while still on top instead of hanging around too long. George does have a new CD coming out.
On August 14, Opry member Ricky Skaggs was inducted into the GMA Gospel Music Hall of Fame. Congratulations to Ricky.
Finally, while this past weekend's Opry shows were not as strong as many this summer, it was still a good night. And I will say that overall, the Opry has presented some great shows this summer. Several weeks ago, Ray Price was outstanding and received standing ovations at both shows. As mentioned above, both Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban, along with Rascal Flatts and Randy Travis have all made Opry appearances. The crowds have been good with 2nd Saturday shows added on a couple of the weekends. Upcoming shows also look strong with Dierks Bentley, Martina McBride and Roy Clark scheduled for appearances along with many others. It would appear that with the Marriott deal being completed and the ownership/management situation at Gaylord Entertainment becoming more clearer, the Opry will come out of this ok as management seems committed to the show.