Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Grand Ole Opry 9/7 & 9/8 & A Look Back at Del Wood---Updated

The Opry has filled out the line-up for this weekend.

As far as myself, I will be "off the air" for the weekend on an out-of-town trip to the great state of North Carolina. If there is anything breaking I will report it, but other than that don't expect any posts or updates from myself until Monday. Enjoy the weekend.

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend. As happens quite a bit at the Opry, after a strong Saturday night show featuring the Oak Ridge Boys and Carrie Underwood, and a Tuesday Night Opry with Keith Urban, the Opry falls back this week on the talent level of the shows.

The Friday Night Opry will feature previous Opry guests The Grascals, Mindy Smith and Canaan Smith, along with new group Due West. Saturday nights show will feature the very talented Kathy Mattea. In my opinion, she is one of the fine country singers of our generation and has gotten only better as she has aged. In addition, Sarah Darling and Mark Wills are listed, as is Jimmy Dickens, who did not appear last week on the Opry.

Friday September 7
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Canaan Smith; Due West
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Mindy Smith
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jesse McReynolds; Casey James
8:45: John Conlee (host); The Whites; The Grascals

Saturday September 8
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Bret Eldridge; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: The Whites (host); James Wesley; Kathy Mattea
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jean Shepard; Sarah Darling; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Mark Wills

With a couple of slots still to fill, there are 11 acts on the Friday night show and 10 for Saturday night, of whom 7 are Opry members each night.

The host of the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree will be Tony Booth, the fine honky-tonk singer out of Texas. Tony has been featured a lot on Willie's Place and does a very nice job.

This week's look back at the history of the Opry involves a former Opry star who many times is forgotten in the history of the Opry and that is the great piano player Del Wood, who on September 9, 1989 made her last Grand Ole Opry appearance.

Polly Adelaide Hazelwood, who was from Nashville, joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1953 after turning down a two-week engagement with Bob Crosby the year before to guest on the Opry. Her ragtime piano playing was a new sound for the Opry and brought an instrument to the Opry stage that was used by just a few groups. She started playing piano at an early age and attended East High School in Nashville. She was a true one-hit wonder with "Down Yonder."It is still considered the biggest-selling instrumental number of all time. Her nickname at the Opry was the "Queen of the Ivories" and even though she had just the one monster hit, Del actually recorded over 20 albums and had 60 singles to her credit. Del passed away about a month after her last Opry show, on October 3, 1989 at the age of 69 after suffering a stroke She was an Opry member for 36 years and while her Opry appearances seemed to be limited to just 1 show per weekend during her final year, she was a loyal member of the cast.

In honor of Del Wood and her final Opry appearance, here is the line-up and running order of the 2 shows on Saturday September 9, 1989.

1st show
6:30: Bonanza
Stonewall Jackson (host): Me & You & A Dog Named Boo
Jeannie Seely: I'll Be Around When It's Over
Stonewall Jackson: Muddy Water

6:45: Rudy's
Bill Anderson (host): Before I Met You
Stu Phillips: Blue Canadian Rockies
Bill Anderson: A World Of Make Believe

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): On A Highway Headed South
Del Reeves: Bad News
Ray Pillow: I Guess He Knows Something I Don't Know
Dottie West: Are You Happy Baby/Together Again
Porter Wagoner: Forty Miles From Poplar Bluff

7:30: Standard Candy
4 Guys (host): Baby, You Look Good To Me Tonight
Jean Shepard: Slippin Away
Charlie Pride: Looking Through Amy's Eyes/Moutain Of Love/There Goes My Everything
4 Guys: My Special Angel

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Connie Smith: I've Got My Baby On My Mind/Once A Day
Jimmy C Newman: LaCajun Band/Cajun Stripper
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Patti On The Turnpike
Roy Acuff: Once More

8:30: Music Valley Merchants
Hank Snow (host): Mama Tried
Skeeter Davis: I Ain't Never
Charlie Louvin: The Precious Jewel
Ernie Ashworth: There's No Place I'd Rather Be Tonight
Bill Carlisle: Leave That Liar Alone
Hank Snow: I'm Not At All Sorry For You

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): (?)
Wilma Lee Cooper: I'm Picking Up The Pieces
Stu Phillips: If Loving You Means Anything
Dottie West: Country Sunshine
Pay PIllow: The Kind Of Love I Can't Forget
Porter Wagoner: What Ain't To Be Just Might Happen/Y'All Come

10:00: Little Debbie
Bill Anderson (host): Son Of The South
Jeannie Seely: Don't Touch Me
Bill Anderson: Still

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Sunshine Special
Charley Pride: Looking Through Amy's Eyes/Mountain Of Love/Kiss An Angel Good Morning

10:30: Pet Milk
Del Reeves (host): Two Dollars In The Jukebox/A Dime At A Time
Jean Shepard: I'll Sail My Ship Alone
Del Reeves: There She Goes

10:45: B.C. Powder
Jimmy C Newman (host): Pistol Packin' Mama
Connie Smith: You're Cheatin' Heart
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Durham's Bull
Jimmy C Newman: Cajun Honey

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): I Don't Hurt Anymore
Skeeter Davis: Silver Threads & Golden Needles
Charlie Walker: Don't Squeeze My Sharmon
Justin Tubb: What's Wrong With The Way That We're Doing It Now
Hank Snow: Among My Souvenirs

11:30: Creamette
4 Guys (host) (?)
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips
Bill Carlisle: Happy Birthday Sheila/Too Old To Cut The Mustard
Charlie Louvin: New Dreams & Sunshine
4 Guys: I'm All Tied Up

What is interesting is that if you look at the timing of the show, the last 2 segments which would have been an hour in length, only lasted 45 minutes. Also, Del Wood's last Opry appearance was actually during the televised portion that week. While the 4 Guys hosted, Jack Greene was originally scheduled to host but cancelled out that night.

On a final note, there are 2 things that are no longer on the Opry and are missed. The first is comedy. There are no true comedy acts on the show. While Mike Snider is funny and tells jokes, he is not a true comedian. Comedy seems to have become a lost art at the Opry after the death of Jerry Clower. The second lost art at the Opry is instrumental music. There are no longer any string bands and no true instrumental acts. Del Wood was the end of the line for piano players. While Buck White and Ronnie Milsap play the piano on the Opry, that is not the primary part of their act. For Del Wood, the piano was it. As much as she was not a major act at the show, she was a distinctive act and is missed. The Opry continues to modernize itself, keeping up with the newest trends and newest acts in country music. I don't think it would hurt the Opry at all to look back once in a while and remember it's past.


  1. Kathy Mattea !! That's great. Maybe that will become a habit with Mr. Fisher.

    Del Wood was great. I'm just 32, but included in my over 4000 song collection of Classic Country iTunes is everything from Bradley Kincaid, to Conway, to Jimmie Rodgers to Haggard & Jones to Jean Shepard to Reba and OF COURSE "Down Yonder" by Del Wood. She was just one of the pillars of the Opry that help mold it to the Historic institution it is today. You expected her to be there, and she was. A lesson a few younger artists could learn by. She is missed.

    I firmly agree on the need for Comedy and the strings back at the Opry. Imagine erasing Minnie Pearl, Del Wood, Rod Brasfield, The Crook Brothers, DeFord Bailey, Stringbean, The Duke of Paducah, The Fruit Jar Drinkers and Archie Campbell from the History of the Opry !! Think of what we are missing out on by not including instrumental music and Comedy at the Opry.

  2. Thanks for remembering Del Wood. She was a very nice, kind and quiet lady but she was a big noise on that barrel house piano. Her style was all her own and no one will ever be able to duplicate it. Her house was on the "Homes of the Stars" circuit for years as you passed it on the way to Roy Acuff's home up on Moss Rose Drive (prior to his move to Opryland).

  3. Fred in Bismarck:

    Yes, bring back the string-band music! There is nothing that leads back in a straighter line to the roots of rural music and to the beginnings of the Opry itself.

    And there are a ton of string bands to be had out there. The music has undergone a huge revival in recent years, with young musicians absorbing the old music either from old musicians or old records.

    I was lucky enough to see Del Wood in the last big Opry show I ever saw ... more than 30 years ago now, in Bismarck. With a beefy bill worthy of even older days: the Kendalls, Tom T. Hall, Gene Watson, David Houston, Del Wood, Melba Montgomery, Justin Tubb, and I'm sure others I can't remember just now. Everybody wasn't an Opry member, but the show did bear the Opry name.

    Del was great and really got the crowd pumped.

    Variety, including comedy! That's what the Opry used to have and sadly misses today.

  4. I completely agree on the need for more variety. There is no true comedian on the Opry now. Mike Snider and Earl White's work with the dancers are the last vestiges of the old string bands.

    My mother remembers seeing a TV show in the 1950s where Del Wood and Moon Mullican--also an Opry member, though briefly--played a sort of dueling pianos. Both were hefty, and the sweat under those old lights was pouring off them as they pounded away. That was a sort of "Opry moment."

  5. Thanks so much for remembering Del Wood... what she didn't have in hits, she made up for in originality. Also, did you know Del can be heard quite clearly doing a break on Jimmy Dickens' original recording of "Out Behind the Barn" (and I'm sure others.)...

    Representing the barely under 40 crowd here, I can tell you Del was a definate influence on how I learned to play the piano. I tried to emulate that Del Wood "barrelhouse" style many, many years playing the old hymns as a church pianist!

    Thinking about Del makes me think of the recent discussion on the Hall of Fame. Who was an influence on Country Music and who leaves a lasting mark is sometimes not defined by "hits" alone, but rather in the hearts of the people touched. I doubt anyone would say Del is on the "short list" for the Hall of Fame but in the history of the Opry she was a very loyal and loved star in Nashville for many, many years.


  6. Oldtimeopry, I'd like to add she deserves credit for a loss that I think went unnoticed. The "new" Opry house had a grand piano. At the Ryman, they never had one because they lacked the space and used an old upright. That was far better for honky-tonk piano playing of the kind she did so well, and yet on the grand piano, she STILL got a honky-tonk sound out of it. THAT is impressive.

  7. I'm not sure what everyone can see if it is posted on something from a few days ago so I will post this here on a current discussion. This refers to the survey response after attending the Opry on August 18 that I posted a few days ago.

    I just want to follow up here and report that I did get a nice email back from Mr. Fisher thanking me for my comments and loyalty to the Opry and assuring me that they do pay attention to customer feedback. I emailed back thanking him for responding and he even briefly responded to that. This dose not change my thoughts or feelings about what I am hearing each week but it is nice to know someone is looking at the feedback. Since we can be so critical I felt it important to let everyone know I did get a response.


  8. The Tennessean is reporting that Oscar Sullivan (Lonzo & Oscar) died today...


  9. Thanks oldtimeopry for posting this. Bill Anderson said some nice words about Oscar on the Friday Night Opry tonight. I will have more on Sunday night.

    Also, Jimmy Dickens cancelled out for Friday night. The Whites hosted the segment and Jean Shepard took their spot in the last segment.

  10. Sorry I didn't get to listen. If I am correct, the only person still alive who performed on the Opry before Rollin Sullivan (he came there in 1942) is Little Jimmie Sizemore.

    What a career! What a life!

  11. Fred here:

    Lonzo & Oscar! There's nobody I get a bigger kick out of on those old Gannaway shows, with Cousin Jody on the dobro. Along with being funny, they sang one heck of a country song, not all of them novelties. One of my favorites, from an old LP, is "I Worship the Ground You Walk On (You Shouldn't Walk on Me)."

    Hank Snow devotees will of course remember his introduction of the pair at the Opry: "LON-ZO and OS-CAH!"

  12. I remember Lonzo & Oscar on the Ganneway shows from 1955-56.I saw them on PBS along with Marty Robbins,Ray Price,Minnie Pearl,Rod Brasfield,Duke of Paducah and many many more.Too bad that show didn't stay on the air for five more years.Too bad Hank Sr.didn't live to be on that show .It would have great to see Hank in color.I now watch that show on youtube.Great stuff and great country music.

  13. I saw the Gannaway shows in re-runs in the 1980s.I have one question:Lonzo & Oscar had Cousin Luther & Smokey working with them and I was wondering about those two.Are Luther and Smokey still around and how old are they now?

  14. Fred, I have to offer a slight correction. Oscar even talked about this, that for some reason, Hank Snow could not say "Lonzo," no matter how hard he tried. For a while he said "Alonzo." The only time I saw him introduce them on the TNN program, he said, "Friends and neighbors, munamunamunzo and OSCAR," sort of mumbling it. I also noticed Oscar and Dave picked on Mr. Snow as he did it, and he finally cracked up.

    Great old scene. RCA wouldn't let Homer and Jethro spoof "I'm Movin' On," so they gave it to Lonzo and Oscar. When they were finishing with, "We've got to go, here comes Hank Snow," he'd sometimes come out and glare at them to make it funnier.

  15. I am a bass player that had the tremendous honor of working with and getting to know Del back in the late 70s did some shows on the road with her backing her on bass. I was 17yrs old at the time and this lady was truly a precious person treated me like I was her equal. I will never forget her.

    1., would like to talk to someone that knew her personally.