Thursday, January 31, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 2/1 & 2/2

After spending the winter months at the Ryman Auditorium, the Grand Ole Opry returns to the Grand Ole Opry House this weekend with what is being called the Opry Homecoming. The line-up is pretty solid as on Friday night, Grand Ole Opry member Carrie Underwood is scheduled. Also on the line-up are the Blue Sky Riders, which includes Kenny Loggins. They have performed at the Opry before. Nashville television show star Charles Esten will also be making another Opry appearance as the cross-promotion continues. Saturday night's Grand Ole Opry will feature guest artists Scotty McCreery and The Band Perry, along with The Henningsens and Kristen Kelly.

For the big "Homecoming" there are only 11 acts scheduled each night, with 7 Opry members on Friday night and only 6 members on Saturday night. Originally Jimmy Dickens and Roy Clark were scheduled to appear this weekend, but both have cancelled out. For Jimmy, he has been missing from the Opry since December, and he is listed as returning next weekend. Also, you will notice that there is no Blake Shelton again this week. I assume he is still an Opry member as the publicity from his recent comments has died out. I think it can be safely assumed that the Opry is not going to do anything regarding Blake's Opry membership.

Friday February 1:
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); The Whites; Charles Esten
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Sarah Darling; Gloriana
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Blue Sky Riders (Kenny Loggins, Georgia Middleman and Gary Burr)
8:45: John Conlee (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Carrie Underwood

Saturday February 2:
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Kristen Kelly; Connie Smith
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Jean Shepard; The Band Perry
8:15: John Conlee (host); Holly Williams; The Henningsens; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Scotty McCreery

The Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree returns to live shows this Saturday night/Sunday morning with Rhonda Vincent as the host. Too bad that the Opry didn't invite Rhonda to perform on Saturday night. I would have thought they could have made some room for her.

For the look back at Opry history for this week, I go to Saturday February 2, 1980, which was 33 years ago this Saturday night. There were 2 shows on that Saturday night.

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
David Houston (host): Lord, Don't Give Up On Me
Justin Tubb: Take A Letter Miss Gray
David Houston: My Elusive Dreams

6:45: Rudy's
Charlie Walker (host): Don't Play Me No Songs About Texas
Billy Grammer: Rose of Old Pawnee
Del Wood: 12th St. Rag
Charlie Walker: San Antonio Rose

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Ole Slewfoot
Wilma Lee Cooper: As Long As I Live
Lonzo & Oscar: Up This Hill and Down
Vic Willis: American Trilogy
Ernie Ashworth: There's No Place I'd Rather Be Tonight
Porter Wagoner: Everything I've Always Wanted
Porter Wagoner: Cold Hard Facts of Life/Carroll County Accident/Green, Green Grass of Home

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jean Shepard: I Think I'll Go Somewhere & Cry Myself to Sleep/Slippin Away
Jim & Jesse: Let Me Whisper
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Gray Eagle
Roy Acuff: Carry Me Back to the Mountains/I Saw the Light

8:00: Martha White
Billy Walker (host): When A Man Loves A Woman
Connie Smith: When I Need Jesus He's There/Sing, Sing, Sing
Ray Pillow: Hungry Man's Dreams
Stu Phillips: Oh, Canada
Billy Walker: You Turn My Love Light On

8:30: Acme
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets/Back to Back
4 Guys: Mama Rocked Us To Sleep With Country Music
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cacklin Hen
Hank Snow & Kelly Foxton: Hasn't It Been Good Together

2nd show
9:30: Kelloggs
Porter Wagoner (host): Tennessee Saturday Night
Lonzo & Oscar: Family Bible
David Houston: Lord, Don't Give Up On Me
Del Wood: Ballin' the Jack
Porter Wagoner: Satisfied Mind/I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name/Your Old Love Letters
Porter Wagoner: Ole Slewfoot/Everything I've Always Wanted

10:00: Little Debbie
Billy Grammer (host): My Little Snow Deer/Silver Bells/Rainbow
Wilma Lee Cooper: A Daisy A Day
Ernie Ashworth: Each Moment Spent With You
Billy Grammer: Columbus Stockade Blues

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Meeting in the Air
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird
Howdy Forrester & Jimmy Riddle: Jesse Polka
Roy Acuff: I'll Fly Away

10:30: Trailblazer
Billy Walker (host): Don't Stop in My World
Jean Shepard: Slippin Away
Vic Willis: You Feel Good All Over
Billy Walker: You Turn My Love Light On

10:45: Beech-nut
Ray Pillow (host): Super Lady
Jim & Jesse: Paradise
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Lafayette
Ray Pillow: Another Day; Another Dollar

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): My Nova Scotia Home
Connie Smith: When God Dips His Love Into My Heart
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge
Justin Tubb: Travelin' Singing Man
Kirk McGee: Blue Night
Hank Snow & Kelly Foxton: After The Love Is Gone

11:30: Tennessee Pride
4 Guys (host): Let Your Love Flow
Jeanne Pruett: Break My Mind/Back to Back
Stu Phillips: Great El Tigrae/Crystal Chandeliers
4 Guys: Daytime Friends/Fire

Thursday, January 24, 2013

The Grand Ole Opry Needs To Fire Blake Shelton

As many of you are aware of, Grand Ole Opry member Blake Shelton made some very disparaging remarks about traditional country fans in a recent interview with GAC as part of their Backstory series. Here is the direct quote from Blake:

"If I am 'Male Vocalist of the Year' that must mean that I'm one of those people now that gets to decide if it moves forward or if it moves on. Country music has to evolve in order to survive. Nobody wants to listen to their grandpa's music. And I don't care how many of these old farts around Nashville going, 'My God, that ain't country!' Well that's because you don't buy records anymore, jackass. The kids do, and they don't want to buy the music you were buying."

As an article that I read stated, Blake Shelton's comments are not only hurtful to classic and traditional country fans, they are incorrect. According to a study of country radio conducted by Edison Research and released during last year's Country Radio Seminar in Nashville, listeners actually want more classic country on radio, and the lack of it has been given credit for the contraction being experienced in the radio format. Blake's comments also specifically mentions "records," but the statistics show that older country music listeners are the ones that still buy music in physical formats, while younger listeners tend to download music illegally, stream it at very low margins for artists and their labels, or purchase individual songs.

Furthermore, Blake Shelton brought up the common misconception that classic and traditional country fans do not want country music to evolve. Though this may be true for some traditional fans, as Saving Country Music pointed out in a piece titled "Progress Vs Traditionalism in Country Music," the progression of country music while still keeping it tied to its roots is the foundation of Americana which has benefited from tremendous growth over the last few years.

This is not the first time that Blake Shelton has landed in hot water over some of this comments. In May 2011 he was accused of advocating violence against gays by re-writing the words to a Shania Twain song. He also is noted for the use of fowl language on his twitter account.

Since this morning, a number of country music stars have spoken out against Blake and his comments, including Ray Price, Ray Stevens and Dale Watson. Since then, some comments have been taken down from Blake's facebook page and there are reports of at least several radio stations pulling his songs out of their play rotations.

While he responded to Ray Price and tried to say that he didn't mean to offend anyone, he did not take back any of his comments and tried to justify that statements by saying he is doing the same thing that Ray did when he recorded "For The Goodtimes."

Blake Shelton is a member of the Grand Ole Opry. He was asked to join the cast in September 2010. You can tell how he feels about the Opry based on the fact that he made no Opry appearances last year. Since the Opry is built on the foundation of traditional country music, and most of their members sing traditional country music in some form, I really don't think Blake will have the guts to show himself around the Opry anytime soon. But if I were Pete Fisher, I would not give Blake the chance. I would fire Blake Shelton from the Opry immediately!!!! Think about it. Those that he is calling "old farts and jackass" are the ones purchasing the tickets to the show. Many of the artists appearing on the Opry set the table for him to succeed in country music. I wonder how his friend Trace Adkins feels about his comments?

Blake Shelton would not be the first artist to have been fired or not invited to appear on the Opry. We all know about Hank Williams III and his insult that he directed to the Opry. I put Blake's comments in that same class.

Many of us wondered why Pete Fisher asked him to join the Opry and questioned the decision at the time. I think many of us were correct in our thoughts. It is time for Pete to admit his mistake and to terminate Blake as an Opry member.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 1/25 & 1/26

The Grand Ole Opry concludes the winter run at the Ryman Auditorium this weekend with 2 shows. The Friday Night Opry has the usual 12 performers while the Grand Ole Opry has only 9 listed. It will be interesting to see if any other artists are scheduled, but like last weekend, I doubt if they will be Opry members.

While the Saturday show is low on numbers, the talent level is pretty good as Opry members Ronnie Milsap and the Oak Ridge Boys will be on. On February 6, Ronnie will be celebrating 37 years as an Opry member, so perhaps some mention will be made during the show. Each week it seems like someone from the cast of "Nashville" is on, and this weekend it will be Sam Palladio making a return visit. I will say that at least several of the stars of the television show do have talent and good voices and have added to the Opry.

The Friday Night Opry will feature another Opry visit from Ricky Skaggs. Ricky has been on the majority of Opry shows so far in 2013. Joining Ricky will be guest artists Sunny Sweeney, Joey+Rory, and a personal favorite of mine, Sarah Darling. I think Sarah is one of the bright new artists in the business. It is also nice to see The Isaacs making another Opry visit. And, as it has been since the 1st of the year, there is no Jimmy Dickens again this weekend. With the flu going around, and Tennessee among the states hard it, Jimmy is being very careful, as he should be at the age of 92. I would not be surprised to see him back next weekend, when the Opry returns to the Grand Ole Opry House.

Friday January 25:
7:00: Diamond Rio (host); Jimmy C Newman; Sunny Sweeney
7:30: John Conlee (host); Jean Shepard; Joey+Rory
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Jim Ed Brown; Sarah Darling
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; The Isaacs

Saturday January 26:
7:00: Diamond Rio (host); Connie Smith
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Ronnie Milsap
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host); Jesse McReynolds; Sam Palladio; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Oak Ridge Boys

Like I said, while light on numbers, there are 2 pretty good shows this weekend.

For this week's look back in Opry history, I have Saturday January 25, 1992. It was on this night 21 years ago that Emmylou Harris became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. I have to say that I enjoy Emmylou and she has done some great things in her career, but her commitment to the Opry is not one of them. When she joined the cast, I really thought that as someone who really understood the history of country music and the Opry, along with her love of the Louvin Brothers, she would be there more often. But like many others of her generation, she makes very few appearances. I find that sad as she lives in Nashville and is always around town. She does not tour as much as she used to. When she does appear on the Opry, it is usually when the show is at the Ryman Auditorium. When she does do the Orpy she is very well received and she seems to enjoy herself. I can remember one night a few years back when I was at the Ryman for an Opry show and Emmylou hosted a segment. She stayed on stage and backed up each group and danced with the square dancers. It was a fun segment. I think I speak for a lot of fans when I say that we need to see more of Emmylou at the Opry.

Here is the line-up from Saturday January 25, 1992, the night Emmylou Harris joined the Opry.

1st show
6:30: Opry Tours
Boxcar Willie (host): Train Melody
Jeanne Pruett: Temporarily Yours
Boxcar Willie: Cowboys & Horses; Hobos & Trains

6:45: Hall of Fame
Grandpa Jones (host): Apple Jack
4 Guys: Tennessee
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): You Gotta Have A License
John Conlee: I Don't Remember Loving You
Osborne Brothers: Nearer My God to Thee
Lorrie Morgan: Except for Monday/Autumns Not That Cold
Porter Wagoner: Wake Up Jacob

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Vince Gill: Take Your Memory With You/When I Call Your Name/Drifting Too Far From the Shore
Emmylou Harris: Walls of Time/Blue Kentucky Girl

8:00: Martha White
Bill Monroe (host): Nine Pound Hammer
Jimmy Dickens: John Henry
The Whites: Doing it By the Book
Del Reeves: There She Goes
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Bill Cheatham
Bill Monroe: Body and Soul

8:30: Opryland
Bill Anderson (host): Don't She Look Good
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells
Jimmy C Newman: (?)
Riders In The Sky: Blue Shadows on the Trail
Jean Shepard: Gospel Melody
Bill Anderson: Still

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Dooley
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away
John Conlee: Friday Night Blues
Emmylou Harris: Guitar Town
Emmylou Harris & Vince Gill: If You Needed Me
Porter Wagoner: Misery Loves Company

10:00: Little Debbie
Grandpa Jones (host): Ol Rattler
Charlie Louvin: The Precious Jewel
Wilma Lee Cooper: I Dreamed About Mama Last Night
Grandpa Jones: Arkansas Traveler

10:15: Tennessee Pride/Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Once More
Ray Pillow: Please Don't Leave Me Anymore
George Hamilton IV: I'm Using My Bible For a Roadmap/Cabin in Gloryland
Dan Kelly: Sally Goodin

10:30: Pet Milk
Bill Monroe (host): True Life Blues
Roy Drusky: Too Old to Die Young
Boxcar Willie: Hobo Heaven
Bill Monroe: I'm Working on a Building

10:45: B.C. Powder
Jimmy Dickens (host): Take An Old Cold Tater and Wait
Vince Gill & Patty Loveless: When I Call Your Name
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Lafayette
Jimmy Dickens: Life Turned Her That Way

11:00: Coca-Cola
Bill Anderson (host): You Can Have Her
Osborne Brothers: Low and Lonely
Jeannie Seely: Go Down Swinging
Stonewall Jackson: Side Steppin the Blues
Bill Carlisle: Too Old To Cut the Mustard
Bill Anderson: Golden Guitar

11:30: Creamette
Charlie Walker (host): Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind
Riders In The Sky: How Does He Yodel
The Whites: Swing Down, Chariot
Johnny Russell: No One Will Ever Know
Charlie Walker: Take Me Back To Tulsa

There you have it. And yes, all Opry members!! And 11 of the artists on the 2nd show did not do the 1st show, while 7 on the 1st show did not do the 2nd. That gave both shows good variety.

Congratulations to Emmylou Harris and 21 years of Opry membership.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Remembering Stoney Cooper

Many of today's Grand Ole Opry fans are familiar with the late Wilma Lee Cooper, who passed away in 2011 after being a member of the Grand Ole Opry for 54 years. As time has passed, many people have forgotten that she originally came to the Opry with her husband Dale T. Cooper, known professionally as Stoney, and that they performed on the Grand Ole Opry for over 20 years as Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper. It was on Saturday January 22, 1977 that Stoney Cooper performed for the last time on the Grand Ole Opry.

Dale Cooper was born on October 16, 1918 in Harman, Randolph County, West Virginia. Growing up in the Appalachian mountains influenced the type of music that he would play. He became a proficient guitar and fiddle player. While in high school, he performed with the Leary Family Singers and in 1941, he married Wilma Lee Leary.

Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper formed the Clinch Mountain Clan and began performing in Fairmont, West Virginia on WMMN radio. In 1947 they became part of the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree. They stayed as members of the Jamboree until 1957 when they left to come to Nashville and join the Grand Ole Opry, which they did on January 12, 1957.

As a duo, Wilma Lee & Stoney ranked as one of country music's premier husband-and-wife teams for almost three decades. After originally signing with Rich-R-Tone Records in 1947, they would eventually join Columbia Records, where they had their first chart success. Their hit records included "Legend of the Dogwood Tree," "Thirty Pieces of Silver," "Sunny Side of the Mountain," and Walking My Lord up Calvary Hill." In 1955, Wilma Lee & Stoney moved to Hickory Records where they would have the biggest hits of their career. Those hits included "Cheated Too," "Come Walk With Me," "Big Midnight Special" and "There's a Big Wheel." Their chart success ended in 1961, but they continued to record for various smaller labels.

Being from the Appalachian mountains and rural West Virginia, they kept their sound simple. The Clinch Mountain Clan had an acoustical sound that featured the dobro, fiddle and mandolin.

Stoney Cooper had health issues during his later years and passed away on March 22, 1977 at the age of 58. Wilma Lee, of course, continued on at the Opry as a solo act, and did some recordings on her own.

As most Opry fans know, Wilma Lee & Stoney had one daughter, Carol Lee, who in 1973 formed the Carol Lee Singers, who were the back-up singers at the Opry for many years, until Carol Lee retired in 2012. Carol Lee originally came to the Opry with her parents and was part of their group during their early years on the show. Carol Lee left the Opry after she married Jimmie Snow, the son of Hank Snow.

After Stoney passed away and Wilma Lee continued on her own career, she received many awards and at times, has been mentioned as a Hall of Fame candidate. Yet that success has come largely on the career that she had with Stoney. As it has been over 35 years since he has passed away, I think people have forgotten what a great duo they were. We are lucky that the Ernest Tubb Record Shop, among other outlets, have continued to stock a greatest hits CD by the Coopers. While I really believe that Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper should be in the Country Music Hall of Fame, I just don't see it happening. They are another of the legendary country acts that have been lost to history. If you haven't, take time to go back and listen to some of their great recordings and you will see what I mean.

To remember Stoney Cooper, here is the Grand Ole Opry line-up from Saturday January 22, 1977, which was the final Grand Ole Opry performance for Stoney.

1st show
6:00: Vietti
Bill Anderson (host): Don't She Look Good
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: God Gave Noah Rainbow Sign
Lonzo & Oscar: Los Vegas
Ernie Ashworth: The Shamrock Motel
Mary Lou Turner: It's Different With You
Bill Anderson & Mary Lou Turner: Sometimes

6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Billy Walker (host): Don't Stop In My World
Jim & Jesse: Ballad of Thunder Road
Willis Brothers: Wild Side of Life
Billy Walker: Behind Closed Doors

6:45: Rudy's
Roy Drusky (host): Peel Me A Nanner
Ray Pillow: Bubbles in My Beer
Justin Tubb: As Long As There's A Sunday
Roy Drusky: One Day at A Time

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): On A Highway Headed South
Jim Ed Brown & Helen Cornelius: Saying Hello, Saying I Love You, Saying Goodbye
Skeeter Davis: Only Mama That'll Walk The Line
Charlie Louvin: Sweet Texas
Jim Ed Brown: I've Rode with the Best
Skeeter Davis: I'll Fly Away
Porter Wagoner: Cold Hard Facts of Life/Carroll County Accident/Green Grass of Home/The Funky Grass Band

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Billy Grammer: I Saw Your Face in the Moon
Minnie Pearl: Careless Love
Crook Brothers/Ralph Sloan Dancers: Soldier's Joy
Roy Acuff: Hold to God's Unchanging Hand

8:00: Martha White
Grandpa Jones (host): Banjo is the Instrument for Me
Wilburn Brothers: Making Plans
4 Guys: Don't It Make You Want to Go Home
Jimmy C Newman: Diggy Liggy Lo
Marion Worth: Under Your Spell Again
Wilburn Brothers: Arkansas
Grandpa Jones: Arkansas Traveler

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): Merry Go Round of Love
Jeanne Pruett: Hold to My Unchanging Love/Love Me/You Don't Need to Move A Mountain/Satin Sheets
Stu Phillips: Have a Nice Day
Stonewall Jackson: Why I'm Walking
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Lost Indian
Jeanne Pruett: Break My Mind
Hank Snow: My Mother

2nd show
9:30: Kelloggs
Bill Anderson (host): Liars 1; Believers 0
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Keep on the Firing Line
Jim & Jesse: A Bird With Broken Wings Can't Fly
Lonzo & Oscar: Thank God I'm A Country Boy
Ernie Ashworth: Each Moment Spent with You
Mary Lou Turner: Cheating Overtime
Bill Anderson: Mama Sang A Song

10:00: Fender
Jim Ed Brown (host): w/Helen Cornelius: I Don't Want to Have to Marry You
Roy Drusky: Don't It Make You Want To Go Home
Skeeter Davis: On The Way Home
Jim Ed Brown: Morning

10:15: Union 76
Porter Wagoner (host): Wake Up, Jacob
Charlie Louvin: When I Stop Dreaming
Ray Pillow: Gone at Last
Porter Wagoner: When Leah Jane Would Sing/Swing Lo, Sweet Chariot

10:30: Trailblazer
Roy Acuff (host): Just A Friend
4 Guys: Cottonfields/Maria
Willis Brothers: Truck Stop
Roy Acuff: Shake Hands With Your Mother Again

10:45: Beechnut
Grandpa Jones (host): Baptism of Jesse Taylor
Billy Grammer: Somewhere My Love
Crook Brothers/Ralph Sloan Dancers: Old Joe Clark
Grandpa Jones: Night Train to Memphis

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Wreck of the Old 97/One More Ride
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Wilburn Brothers: Country Kind of Feelings
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Rachel
Justin Tubb: Cold Brown Bottle
Kirk McGee: Alabama Jubilee/Just Because
Hank Snow: Black Diamond

11:30: Elm Hill
Jimmy C Newman (host): Take Me Back Into Your Heart
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry/Be & You & A Dog Named Boo
Stu Phillips: Have A Nice Day
Marion Worth: Just A Little Lovin
Jimmy C Newman: Jambalaya

I don't know what it is, or was, but it seems like after Stoney Cooper died, nothing was ever mentioned about him again. It was all about Wilma Lee Cooper. But, Stoney was a star in his own right and I thought it would be nice to remember.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 1/18 & 1/19-Updated

Note: The Opry has filled out the line-up for this weekend by adding 2 non-Opry members. Tyler Farr and Charlie Worsham are the 2 lucky people added. I guess none of the other 57 Opry members available were able to be there Saturday night. Or none of them were asked.

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend, the Friday Night Opry and the Grand Ole Opry. The Friday Night Opry will feature the return of Hunter Hayes to the Opry. Hunter is definitely an artist that will appeal to the younger fans of country music. In addition to Hunter, the Friday show will feature Christian music artist Andrew Peterson, along with Opry members Ricky Skaggs, Diamond Rio, Joe Diffie and the Del McCoury Band. Of the 12 acts featured on Friday night, 10 are Opry members.

At the point, the line-up for Saturday's show is on the "lite" side, with just 10 acts listed, of which 8 are Opry members. Among those Opry members on Saturday are Terri Clark, who we do not see enough of at the Opry and Ricky Skaggs and Del McCoury, both of whom also are on Friday night. Joining her will be guest artists T.G. Sheppard and The Mavericks.

Friday January 18
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Joe Diffie; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: Diamond Rio (host); Jan Howard; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Andrew Peterson
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Jesse McReynolds; Hunter Hayes

Saturday January 19
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Tyler Farr; T.G. Sheppard
7:30: The Whites (host); Terri Clark; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Ricky Skaggs (host); Connie Smith; Charlie Worsham; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-Press; The Mavericks

We will have to see if the Opry fills the 2 available slots on Saturday night. The guess is that at least one will be filled from one of the various non-Opry members that get called at the last minute.

On another Opry note, this past week was Jack Greene's 83rd birthday and a birthday party was held for him that featured many of Jack's friends, along with a number of Opry members. Jack attended and I am told he looked good and enjoyed himself. While he was not scheduled to sing, Jack did and sang his 2 biggest hits "There Goes My Everything" and "Statue Of A Fool". Jeannie Seely helped on harmony and he nailed the songs.

Now for the look back in Grand Ole Opry history, I go to Saturday January 20, 1990. This was the night that Hank Snow was honored for 40 years of Opry membership. Hank joined the Opry on Saturday January 7, 1950. During the 1st show, Hank hosted the televised segment and among the guests that he asked to be on were the Tompall and The Glasser Brothers, former Opry members. The Glaser Brothers had not performed for many years and in fact, were barely speaking to each other. But they had such a respect for Hank that they agreed to come. A video of their performance is on YouTube and it is great. And, this was the last time that the Glaser Brothers have performed.

Here is the line-up from that night, January 20, 1990:

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Bill Anderson (host); Southern Fried
Skeeter Davis: If I Don't Have You
Bill Anderson: Po' Folks

6:45: Rudy's
John Conlee (host): Got My Heart Set On You
Jeannie Seely: Tell Me Again
John Conlee: Don't Get Me Started

7:00: Shoney's
Bill Monroe (host): I'm On My Way Back to the Old Home
Jimmy C Newman: Happy Cajun
Jean Shepard: Someone's Gotta Cry
Charlie Louvin: He Keeps On Crying
Jack Greene: Precious Memories/There Goes My Everything
Bill Monroe: Little Cabin on the Hill

7:30: Standard Candy
Hank Snow (host): Send Me The Pillow You Dream You
Glasser Brothers: Loving Her Was Easier/Melody
Mel Tillis: Tall Drink of Water/It Makes No Difference Now

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Marshall Barnes: Tender Years
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top/Rank Strangers to Me
Opry Square Dance Band/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Dance All Night

8:30: Music Valley Merchants
Jim Ed Brown (host): Southern Loving
Jim & Jesse: Truck Stops and Pretty Girls
Connie Smith: The Key's In The Mailbox
Del Reeves: Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me
Stonewall Jackson: Muddy Water
Jim Ed Brown: Fools

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Bill Anderson (host): Before I Met You
George Hamilton IV: Forever Young
Jeanne Pruett: Temporarily Yours
Ray Pillow: I Wonder Where You Are Tonight
Billy Walker: Behind Closed Doors
Bill Anderson: Still

10:00: Little Debbie
Bill Monroe (host): Stay Away From Me, You're Causing Me Trouble
Roy Drusky: Too Old To Die Young
Justin Tubb: Texas Dance Hall Girl
Bill Monroe: Come Back to Me In My Dreams

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Traveling the Highway Home
Jeannie Seely: It Should Be Easier Now

10:30: Pet Milk
John Conlee (host): Domestic Life
Jean Shepard: At The Time
Charlie Walker: Deep Water
John Conlee: Don't Get Me Started

10:45: B. C. Powder
Del Reeves (host): Two Dollars in the Jukebox/A Dime At A Time/Looking at the World Through A Windshield
Jimmy C Newman: Thibodeaux and His Cajun Band
Opry Square Dance Band/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Rachel
Del Reeves: The Race Is On

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Gonna Find Me A Bluebird
Jim Ed Brown: Morning Comes Too Early
Jim & Jesse: Dream of Me
Mel Tillis: Good Woman Blues/I've Got the Horse and You've Got the Saddle
Hank Snow: Brand On My Heart

11:30: Creamette
Jack Greene (host): Walking On New Grass
Osborne Brothers: Harvest of My Heart
Dottie West: Are You Happy Baby/Together Again
Johnny Russell: Making Plans/Act Naturally
Jack Greene: Until My Dreams Come True

On a final note, it was on January 21, 1995 that Brother Oswald (Pete Kirby), officially became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Oswald originally came to the Opry in the late 1930s as part of Roy Acuff's band. After Roy passed away in 1992, Brother Oswald teamed with Charlie Collins and continued to perform on the Opry. In January 1995, he became an official member at the age of 84. He would remain with the Opry until he passed away in 2002. As far as the night Oswald became a member, I was there that night and it was a surprise as I do not remember it being announced before hand. I also remember that Marty Stuart, Porter Wagoner and Boxcar Willie were all on stage for the official induction. Here is the line-up from the night Brother Oswald became an Opry member:

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
Grandpa Jones (host); Mike Snider

6:45: Country Music Hall of Fame
Bill Monroe (host); Bill Carlisle

7:00: Shoney's
Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Stonewall Jackson; Jeanne Pruett; Jim Ed Brown

7:30: Standard Candy
Marty Stuart (host); Porter Wagoner; Connie Smith; Brother Oswald & Charlie

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host); Jimmy C Newman; Boxcar Willie; Charlie Louvin; Opry Squaredance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers

8:30: Velveeta Shells & Cheese
Hank Snow (host); The 4 Guys; Billy Walker; Doug Stone; Osborne Brothers

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General Store
Porter Wagoner (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Osborne Brothers; Stu Phillips; The Whites

10:00: Goodys Headache Powder
Grandpa Jones (host); Roy Drusky

10:15: Sunbeam Bread/Tennessee Pride
Bill Monroe (host); Ray Pillow

10:30: Gruhn Guitar
Marty Stuart (host); Boxcar Willie

10:45: Fairfield Nashville
Jimmy Dickens (host); Del Reeves; Opry Squaredance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers

11:00: Coke
Hank Snow (host); Connie Smith; Charlie Walker; Doug Stone

11:30: Cates Pickles
Bill Anderson (host); The 4 Guys; Jack Greene; Johnny Russell

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Who Should Or Should Not Be An Opry Member

A topic that comes up from time to time is the question of who should be a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Some of the discussion concerns current members that should be dropped from the cast, along with the names of new members that should be added. With the start of the new year I thought it would be a good time to open this topic up for more discussion.

I looked at the list of the current Grand Ole Opry members and came up with 10 artists that I would immediately drop as members of the Opry. Here is my 10 and the reasons why, which should be obvious:

1) Clint Black: Clint joined the Grand Ole Opry in January 1991, making him an Opry member for 21 years. So what has Clint given the Opry? Since 1998, he has made 20 Opry appearances. That averages out to just over 1 Opry appearance each year. From 2004 through 2010, he made 2 appearances. Last year he managed 1 Tuesday night show. His high point for Opry shows was in 2002 and 2003, when he made 5 appearances each year. Clint continues to be based in California and makes very few Nashville trips.

2) Garth Brooks: Garth says he is retired but for the past several years, when the money was right, he did weekend shows in Las Vegas. It would be just as easy for Garth to fly from Oklahoma to Nashville for a few Saturday night shows as it is to fly to Vegas. Garth says Opry membership is the most important thing to him and that anytime the Opry calls, he will be there for the Opry. Either Pete Fisher has lost Garth's number or feels no reason to call him, or Garth is just fooling everyone. In 2000, he made 4 Opry appearances, all the weekend of the 75th anniversary of the Opry. Since then, he has appeared just 3 times, with his last Opry visit coming in 2008 to induct Carrie Underwood as a member. He last sang on the Opry in 2005 for the Opry's 80th birthday. To carry the retirement thought a little further, for most of the Opry's history, when you retired from performing you gave up your Opry membership. I think the first member who retired and asked to stay a member was Barbara Mandrell. I think the show needs to go back to the policy that except for illness, as long as you are an Opry member, who need to be an active performer. (oh by the way, you will notice that I did not put Trisha Yearwood on the list. She should also go, but the reason I did not include her was the if Garth goes, Trisha will probably follow It has been a couple of years since she has done the Opry).

3) Tom T Hall: Tom T has not performed on the Opry for 20 years. He has said that he is never coming  back to the Opry, so why keep him a member? Really it is too bad as in the late 1980s and early 1990s, he actually was on the show often. And he was well received. But for some reason, he just quit coming. Time for Tom T to go.

4) Alan Jackson: Why is Alan Jackson a member of the Grand Ole Opry? He joined the Opry in 1991. In 2011, the Opry wanted to do a show to honor Alan for 20 years of Opry membership. The show was never scheduled because Alan would not commit to it. I think that says it all. It is not hard to figure out how often he is at the Opry. In 2012-1; 2011-1; 2010-1; 2009-0. His high point was 4 shows in 2005, but except for that it was generally 2 shows per year through 2008. With his love of George Jones and traditional country music, you would have thought Alan would be there to support the Opry, but that is not the case. Actually, in many ways, he is following the example of his idol when it comes to supporting the Opry.

5) George Jones: I really hate to put this name on the list, but George has given up on the Opry a long time ago. While he has battled voice problems the past few years, he has still toured, but his tour schedule does not seem to include the Opry House. His last show was a Tuesday night in 2011 when he was honored for his 80th birthday. In 2008 and 2009 it was 1 show, with 2 in 2010. While he originally joined the Opry in 1956, he has left several times but comes back. The question is why, as even when he returns to the Opry, he does not perform on the show. As a legend who was influenced by Roy Acuff, he understands what the Opry is all about. And of course, he recorded, "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes". With George retiring this year, perhaps this is the time for George to retire from the Opry.

6) Reba McEntire: Since 2001, Reba has appeared on the Opry 1 time. That was in 2009 when the Opry extended a Saturday night show by an extra segment that was for her, and she was the only performer for that segment. She did 3 songs and hit the door. She is active in the business and tours. While she has been busy with television work, she still finds time to come to Nashville. I think in 12 years, she could have made it out to the Opry House more than once. The Opry would not lose anything if they dropped her from the cast.

7) Randy Travis: I know Randy has had some personal issues lately. I wish him well, and that is not the reason I would drop him as an Opry member. The reason is that Randy really doesn't seem concerned about doing the show. For the past couple of years, he has appeared once per year, with the 2011 show honoring him for 25 years of Opry membership. In 2008, he appeared 3 times, which included the night that he surprised Carrie Underwood with an invitation to join the Opry. From 2002 thru 2007, he made no Opry appearances. Randy needs to get himself straightened out and get his career back on track. If that includes the Opry, that is great. If not, time for Randy to go.

8) Travis Tritt: Travis joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1992. He last appeared on the Opry in 2007 and nobody seems to know why he has not been back. I do not know if there is something behind it, but Travis has not appeared on the Opry since Porter Wagoner passed away. We'll, I don't think Porter is coming back anytime soon, and I don't think Travis is either. When Travis was appearing at the Opry, his high point was 5 in 2001 and 2006. Other than that, it was an average of 2 shows per year.

9) Blake Shelton: Pete Fisher has had pretty good luck with the members that he has asked to join the Opry, in relation to Opry appearances. He has asked for a commitment of 10 shows per year, and most have come pretty close. But I think in the case of Blake, he missed. Blake joined in 2010, when the Opry House reopened after the flood. In 2011, he did 4 Opry shows, while in 2012 he did zero. He is busy with television work, and seems to be hosting a lot of "specials". But he apparently does not have time for the Opry. Even before he joined the show, he did not make a lot of guest appearances. I know Blake is a big name and his career is hot right now, but as an Opry member, it just is not working.

10) Ricky Van Shelton: Yes, I know Ricky is retired. He has not been at the Opry since 2005. But, while Barbara Mandrell and Jeanne Pruett are also retired, they both are still around Nashville and are involved with Opry events. Jeanne is a backstage visitor to the show, while Barbara is still involved in the music industry. Ricky is in Virginia and shows no sign on coming back to town. Even when he was a member, he was not making a lot of Opry appearances. It is time to give Ricky's spot to someone else.

Now, if these 10 were to go, who could they be replaced with? I have my own list of whom I think would make good Opry members and would support the show. Most of them have been guest artists at the Opry for a number of years and come whenever asked. It is time to take the guest label off of them and make them Opry members. Here is my list of 10:

1) Rhonda Vincent: The person I get asked the most about when it comes to Opry membership is Rhonda Vincent. When is it going to happen? Why is she not a membership? Who at the Opry is mad at her? Is her Martha White association hurting her? Those are the questions I get and I just don't have the answers. From what I have been told, Rhonda would love to be an Opry member. She appears more than most of the members, with 16 appearances over the last 2 years. Here is another fact: of the Opry's 67 members, only 18 are females and that includes several who are retired. The last group of new members have all been male. I think it is time to add some females to the cast to help balance it out. And in the case of Rhonda, she would be only the 2nd female bluegrass artist to be at the Opry.

2) Elizabeth Cook: Like Rhonda, Elizabeth has been a frequent guest artist at the Opry. In Americana music, she has been making a name for herself and brings a lot of energy when singing. She also has a great voice. Over the past 2 years, she has made 29 Opry appearances, more than a majority of the members. Time to bring her on board.

3) Mandy Barnett: Mandy seems to be on the Opry a lot and her past CDs were produced by the Grand Ole Opry and distributed by them. She is a Pete Fisher favorite. No, she has not had any hit records and in that way, I would view her more like former Opry member Marion Worth. Someone with a nice voice that can fill a spot. She has made 39 Opry appearances over the past 2 years. Again, she would not bring star power but would be there.

4) The Grascals: This group is another popular bluegrass act that brings a lot of energy and enthusiasm to their Opry appearances, which have numbered 25 since 2010. They have won numerous bluegrass awards and are headliners on the circuit. Bluegrass music is a foundation of the Opry and with the aging of many of the bluegrass acts, they would fill a void.

5) Crystal Gayle: A legend, she would be the female version of such performers as Mel Tillis, Oak Ridge Boys and Charley Pride. She has had numerous hit records and at some point, will be elected into the Country Music Hall of Fame. She has made guest appearances at the Opry over the years and is well received. I think at some point, she could be an Opry member.

6) Sarah Darling: Ok, I will admit that she is a personal favorite of mine. She is popular with Opry audiences and has the beginnings of a good career going. The Opry has treated her well, much like Brad Paisley and Josh Turner were at the beginning of their careers. Both of those eventually became Opry members and the same could happen to Sarah. She is young, beautiful and talented and good things are going to happen to her in the next few years.

7) Gene Watson: While I don't see this happening, Gene would make an outstanding Opry member. He is a legend who has always done the Opry over the years. I think a lot of the reason why Gene has never become an Opry member is that he does the majority of his touring and work in Texas and Oklahoma and just doesn't get to Nashville often enough. But, he would make a good member.

8) Love and Theft: This group made 12 Opry appearances last year, and were at the Opry the first weekend of this year. They are up and coming and do a nice job. They seem to enjoy the Opry and are well received. They, along with Sarah Darling, would bring some youth to the Opry.

9) Jim Lauderdale: Jim is another popular Nashville artist who's work is much admired by many in the industry. He also is a frequent Opry visitor. He is a star on the Americana music scene and plays all types of music. He also has an appreciation of the history of country music and bluegrass and has recorded and played with many of the legends. He has averaged about 8 Opry appearances over the past several years. In addition, he has hosted his own show on WSM.

10) Jimmy Wayne: Jimmy performs at the Opry so much that most people think he is already a member. ln 2012, he was at the Opry 23 times, while in 2011 it was 17 shows. What hurts Jimmy is that after his first CD, he has not followed it up with anything new. And from what I have been told, he seems to turn some people the wrong way. While the Opry likes him as a guest, they really don't want him to become a member. But everytime the Opry calls, he answers and comes. He would be there more than most of the members. He already is.

Now, while we hope some of this could happen, in reality we know it will not. The Opry is not going to fire 10 of the most popular acts, even if those 10 are not appearing at the Opry. The Opry wants publicity, but not that kind. On the other hand, I think true Opry fans would understand and appreciate the fact that the Opry is doing something to make Opry membership important again.

So for now, the Opry Picture History Book will continue to be filled with pictures of members who rarely appear at the Opry, or not at all. And while new members will continue to say how important Opry membership is to them, the proof is otherwise. And the audiences will continue to see more and more guest artists, and as the Opry continues to blur the line between who is a member and who is not, many in the audience will not know otherwise.

And for true Opry fans, it gives us another topic for discussion.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 1/11& 1/12

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend, the Friday Night Opry and the Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night. For a few more weeks, the Opry will continue to be at the Ryman Auditorium.

There is some interesting booking on the shows this week. The Grand Ole Opry fill feature 2 more stars of the "Nashville" television show as Clare Bowen returns for another Opry appearance, joined by veteran performer JD Souther. Also appearing on Saturday night will be comedian Henry Cho and Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out. Opry members Vince Gill and Del McCoury will be appearing both nights, joined on Friday night by Jana Kramer and the legendary Johnny Rivers. I am guessing that this might be Johnny's first Opry appearance. Popular duo Thompson Square will be joining them.

Friday January 11
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Mark Wills; Mike Snider
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jesse McReynolds; Jana Kramer
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Jean Shepard; The Whites; Del McCoury Band
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Johnny Rivers; Thompson Square

Saturday January 12
7:00: Opry Square Dancers; Jeannie Seely (host); Josh Thompson; Mike Snider
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Connie Smith; Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Del McCoury Band; Henry Cho
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Clare Bowen; JD Souther

Interesting that they are listing the Square Dancers as only appearing on the opening segment. Could they be down to just 1 spot? We will have to wait and see. And, no Jimmy Dickens again this weekend.

To recap, Friday night's show features 14 acts, with 10 Opry members, while Saturday night has 8 Opry members.

On another Opry note, it was announced that CRS and The Grand Ole Opry have joined forces to bring the legendary program to the Feb. 27 opening night of CRS 2013. Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Vince Gill, Scotty McCreery and Dustin Lynch will perform, with more guest announcements to come. The "Opry At CRS" will mark a rare appearance for the show away from its usual home at the Grand Ole Opry House or its winter venue, the Ryman Auditorium. "We're excited to deliver a special show featuring some of radio's biggest current hit-makers who are also some of the most popular artists who visit our stage for all our friends in Country radio, when CRS returns to town next month," says Opry VP/GM Pete Fisher. The show immediately follows the Artist/Attendee Opening Reception. CRS Executive Director Bill Mayne says, "My thanks to Pete Fisher and the Opry staff for allowing me to present the show on the opening night of CRS 2013, as both events are such a great fit for each other." CRS 2013 takes place Feb. 27-March 1 at the Nashville Convention Center. (courtesy of Country Aircheck)

I do have a couple of thoughts on this. First, the Opry has performed on the road before. I remember a show they did in Houston many years ago when George Bush was President and I believe it was tied in to the G8 meeting. Secondly, it is nice that the Opry can get Brad Paisley to do a show for a special event, but seems to have a problem getting him to do a show at the Opry House. And finally, 2 of those mentioned are not actual Opry members, although Scotty McCreery and Dustin Lynch are no strangers to the Opry. I am just asking and throwing this out there, and knowing how the Opry likes to make news, but could this be a time to ask Scotty to become the Opry's newest member? Again, not suggesting it. Just asking the question.

Now for this week's look back at the Grand Ole Opry in days gone by with another Opry line-up from the past. I have 2 this week. The 1st one is from Saturday January 12, 1952, 61 years ago this weekend.

7:30: Warren Paint
Roy Acuff (host)
Lew Childre; The Le Croix Sisters; Brother Oswald; Joe Zinkas

7:45: American Ace
Roy Acuff (host)
Uncle Dave Macon; The Jug Band; Jimmy Riddle

8:00: Martha White
Ernest Tubb (host)
Bill Monroe; Maybelle Carter; Hank Snow; The Crook Brothers; Cowboy Copas; June Carter; Chet Atkins

8:30: Prince Albert
Red Foley (host)
Lonzo and Oscar; The Square Dancers; The Jordanaires; Stringbean

9:00: Royal Crown Cola
Roy Acuff (host)
The Fruit Jar Drinkers; George Morgan; Duke Of Paducah; The Le Croix Sisters; Johnny & Jack; Brother Oswald

9:30: Fortune Feed
Carl Smith (host)
Jimmy Dickens; Anita Carter; Jamup & Honey; The Possum Hunters; Moon Mulligan; Hal Smith

10:00: Wall Rite
Bill Monroe (host)
The Old Hickory Singers; George Morgan; Old Joe Clark

10:15: Dr. Le Gear
Roy Acuff (host);
Uncle Dave Macon; Robert Lunn; Big Howdy

10:30: Jefferson Island Salt
Ernest Tubb (host);
Jimmy Dickens; The Gully Jumpers; Johnny & Jack; June Carter; Jordanaires; Chet Atkins; Maybelle Carter

11:00 D Con
Cowboy Copas (host)
Annie Lou and Danny; Moon Mulligan; Lazy Jim Day

11:15 Soltice
Carl Smith (host);
Lew Childre; Sam and Kirk McGee; Hal Smith

11:30: ABC-Chick
Hank Snow (host)
Stringbean; The Crook Brothers

George Morgan (host)
Lonza and Oscar; The Fruit Jar Drinkers

The 2nd line-up, and song list, is from Saturday January 12, 1980, 33 years ago.

1st show
6:00: Vietti
Jim Ed Brown (host): w/Helen Cornelius: I Don't Want to Have to Marry You
4 Guys: Fire
David Houston: My Elusive Dreams
Ernie Ashworth: There's No Place I'd Rather Be Tonight
Helen Cornelius: That's What You Do to Me
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells

6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Del Reeves (host): Lay A Little Lovin' On Me
Jimmy Dickens: Out Behind the Barn
Wilma Lee Cooper: I Don't Care (If Tomorrow Never Comes)
Del Reeves: She Thinks I Still Care

6:45: Rudy's
Bill Monroe (host): Mule Skinner Blues
Vic Willis: Colorado
Bill Monroe: Crying Holy Unto the Lord

7:00: Shoney's
Charlie Louvin (host): See the Big Man Cry
Connie Smith: He Touched Me/When God Dip's His Love In My Heart
Jim & Jesse: Freight Train/Stormy Horizons
Charlie Louvin: Think I'll Go Somewhere And Cry Myself to Sleep/Have I Told You Lately That I Love You

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jean Shepard: Saturday Night Sin
Stonewall Jackson: Me & You & A Dog Named Boo
Charlie Walker: Don't Play Me No Songs About Texas
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Eighth of January
Roy Acuff: Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine/I'll Fly Away

8:00: Martha White
Billy Walker (host): When A Man Loves A Woman
Jeanne Pruett: Back to Back
Wilburn Brothers: God Bless America Again
Bill Carlisle: Same Old Tale That the Crow Told Me
Osborne Brothers: Take Me Home Country Roads
Billy Walker: You Turn My Love Light On

8:30: Acme
Hank Snow (host): In The Misty Moonlight
Roy Drusky: Remember Me
Marion Worth: Someone Is Looking for Someone Like You
Stu Phillips: Great El Tigrae
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge
Hank Snow & Kelly Foxton: Stop Me From Loving You

2nd show
9:30: Kelloggs
Bill Monroe (host): My Sweet Blue Eyed Darling
Jim Ed Brown & Helen Cornelius: Golden Ring
David Houston: Almost Persuaded
Jimmy Dickens: John Henry
4 Guys: Woman, Woman
Wilma Lee Cooper: Poor Ellen Smith
Bill Monroe: Right On

10:00: Fender
Del Reeves (host): The Race is On
Billy Grammer: Spanish Fandango
Ernie Ashworth: The DJ Cried
Del Reeves: Bad News

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Down in Union County
Connie Smith: Sing, Sing, Sing
Charlie Walker: Don't Play Me No Songs About Texas
Roy Acuff: The Things That Might Have Been/I Saw the Light

10:30: Trailblazer
Osborne Brothers (host): Rocky Top
Jean Shepard: Slippin' Away
Vic Willis: Last Cheater's Waltz
Osborne Brothers: Fastest Grass Alive

10:45: Beech-Nut
Roy Drusky (host): Don't It Make You Want to Go Home
Jim & Jesse: Orange Blossom Special
Charlie Louvin & Ernie Ashworth: Houston Is A Honky-Tonk Town
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Cotton-Eyed Joe

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Gonna Find Me A Bluebird
Billy Walker: You Turn My Love Light On
Marion Worth: New Lips
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bill Cheatham
Wilburn Brothers: Because He Lives
Kirk McGee: Blue Night
Hank Snow & Kelly Foxton: After the Love Is Gone

11:30: Little Debbie
Stonewall Jackson (host): Don't Be Angry
Jeanne Pruett: Back to Back/Satin Sheets
Stu Phillips: Have I Told You Lately That I Love You/You Win Again/Release Me
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Stonewall Jackson: Washed My Hands in Muddy Water

Sunday, January 6, 2013

2012 Grand Ole Opry Recap

With 2013 upon us, it is now time to do a recap of 2012 at the Grand Ole Opry, including show counts and member appearances. Looking at the year 2012, the Opry started the year with 65 members. 2 were added this year, Keith Urban and Darius Rucker. That brings the total number of Grand Ole Opry members to 67. No Opry members passed away this past year. Both Keith are Darius made 7 Opry appearances in 2012, with several of those taking place before they became Opry members. (Just as a point of reference, Pete Fisher has asked for a commitment of 10 Opry appearances by each of the new members that he has been adding to the cast).

Of the remaining Opry members, 3 are listed as retired. Those are Jeanne Pruett, Barbara Mandrell and Ricky Van Shelton. In additon, Hal Ketchum and Jack Greene made no Grand Ole Opry appearances due to health reasons. In addition to those 5, 8 additional Opry members made no appearances in 2012. Those were Garth Brooks, Tom T Hall, George Jones, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Blake Shelton, Travis Tritt and Trisha Yearwood. 5 of those 8 did not make any Opry appearances in 2011 either, those being Garth, Tom T, Reba, Travis and Trisha. In addition to that group, there were a number of Opry members who made only 1 appearance in 2012. Those were Clint Black, Emmylou Harris, Alan Jackson, Ronnie Milsap and Randy Travis. And to add to this shameful list of "so-called" Opry members, Stonewall Jackson, Loretta Lynn and Martina McBride made only 2 Opry appearances, while Dierks Bentley, Roy Clark, Terri Clark, Patty Loveless, Montgomery Gentry and Stu Phillips made only 3 appearances each. That list totals 27 of the 67 Opry members, or just over 40% of their membership. (I do give slack to both Stonewall Jackson and Stu Phillips, both of whom had some health issues in 2012 and would have done more Opry shows if they had been asked).

In 2012, there was a total of 184 Opry shows, with 71 on Saturday night, 52 Friday Night Opry shows, 43 Tuesday night shows, 13 on Thursday night, 4 on Wednesday night and 1 Saturday matinee. By comparison, in 2011 there were 181 total Opry shows, with 188 in 2010, 200 in 2009 and 201 in 2008. The additional shows this past year versus 2011 were the result of the Wednesday night shows being added.

Looking at the list of Opry members and the number of appearances in 2012, the leader was Jimmy Dickens, who appeared on 120 shows. Considering that Jimmy is the Opry's oldest member and has had his share of voice issues this past year, that is amazing. Here is a look at the top 10 for Opry appearances last year:

1) Jimmy Dickens-143
2) Bill Anderson-81
3) Jim Ed Brown-79
4) Mike Snider-76
5) Jeannie Seely-75
6) Connie Smith/The Whites-73
7) Jimmy C Newman-66
8) Riders In The Sky-64
9) John Conlee-59
10) Jean Shepard-46

What is amazing about the top 10 list from 2012 is that it is the same 11 acts that were on the top 10 list in 2010. So as you can see, many of the Opry's legends and senior members are still carrying the bulk of the work load despite the efforts to make the Opry younger and more relevant.

Continuing on with the list, these are the members who made the 10 shows that are being asked for by Pete Fisher:

Bobby Osborne-45
Jesse McReynolds-42
Ricky Skaggs-32
Del McCoury-28
George Hamilton IV-27
Diamond Rio-25
Jan Howard-21
Vince Gill-19
Larry Gatlin-18
Charlie DanielsMarty Stuart-11
Craig Morgan/Ray Pillow/Steve Wariner-10

That comes to just 25 of the Opry's 67 members, or 37% of the membership, honoring their commitment to the show. (Remember that in today's Opry world, an Opry appearance is counted for any show that the member appears during the week).

Of those listed, Ray Pillow and Marty Stuart added themselves to the list of 10 or more shows, while Joe Diffie, Jack Greene, Charley Pride, Terri Clark, Oak Ridge Boys and Pam Tillis dropped off the list from the previous year.

As far as the rest of the Opry's members, here are their 2012 appearances:

Charley Pride-9
Carrie Underwood-8
Joe Diffie/Oak Ridge Boys/Mel Tillis-7
Josh Turner-6
Trace Adkins/Alison Krauss/Lorrie Morgan/Ralph Stanley/Pam Tillis-5
Brad Paisley/Rascal Flatts-4

That takes care of all 67 members. Obviously more than a few of the Opry's members are not holding up their end of the bargin. And to take it further, of those who did not appear in 2012, Garth's last appearance was a walk-on in 2008, while his last singing performance was in 2005. Tom T last showed his face at the Opry in the early 1990's, George Jones came on his birthday in 2011, Reba made 1 show in 2009, which was her only show since 2000, and Travis Tritt last came to the Opry in 2007. Blake Shelton has only been an Opry member since 2010, and it would appear that he is now going to be a member of the "no-show" club. I have to ask why in the world are Tom T, Reba and Travis still Opry members? I could also ask that same question to a few others.

As far as who hosted segments in 2012, 21 of the Opry's members had that honor, with Jimmy Dickens leading the way with 91. The rest of the list is as follows:

Mike Snider-71
Bill Anderson-69
Jeannie Seely-48
Riders In The Sky-42
Jim Ed Brown-38
John Conlee-35
Ricky Skaggs-21
Vince Gill/The Whites-10
Ray Pillow/JeanShepard/George Hamilton IV-8
Marty Stuart-7
Larry Gatlin-6
Steve Wariner-3
Charley Pride/Mel Tillis-2
Emmylou Harris/Jimmy C Newman/Connie Smith-1

Ray Pillow saw an increase in hosting assignments in 2012 and it was nice to see Jimmy C Newman host a segment after going several years without, and Connie Smith getting an opportunity.

Finally, the Opry had a number of guest artists perform in 2012. Those who had more than 10 guest appearances were:

Jimmy Wayne-23
Sarah Darling-18
Elizabeth Cook-17
Mark Wills-16
Mandy Barnett/The Grascals/Andy Gibson/Canaan Smith-13
Love and Theft-12
Holly Williams-11
Rhonda Vincent/Dailey & Vincent/Dustin Lynch-10

Compared to the 2011 list, Jimmy Wayne, Sarah Darling and Elizabeth Cook went up, while Mandy Barnett went down. And yes, several of those on the guest list should be Opry members.

That is a recap of 2012. I think it is always interesting to go back and look at the numbers. Many of the Opry's members have done a nice job fulfilling their obligations to the show. I think a number of the legends woudl have made more Opry appearances if asked. But, there are still a great number of Opry members who need to step up their appearances and support the show. I know I have said this before, but there is no excuse for some of these artists to be showing up once or twice per year and calling themselves Opry members, especially when they still have active careers going.

Now that 2012 is in the books, let's see what 2013 brings us.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 1/4 & 1/5

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend, both at the Ryman Auditorium. Usually the winter months of January and February produce some of the better Opry shows, but looking at the line-ups to start off the year, they are average at best.

Opry members Ricky Skaggs, Riders In The Sky, John Conlee and Bill Anderson will be appearing both nights, along with non-members Love and Theft. Joining them on Friday night will be Striking Matches and Kelleigh Bannen, along with Opry members Bobby Osborne and Jeannie Seely. Saturday night's Grand Ole Opry will feature the Opry debut of High Valley, a Canadian group that has been on the scene for a few years. Also appearing on Saturday will be Maggie Rose and frequent Opry guest Mandy Barnett.

Friday January 4
7:00: John Conlee (host); Greg Bates; Jeannie Seely
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Kelleigh Bannen; Riders In The Sky
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Striking Matches
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); Love and Theft; Jim Ed Brown; The Whites

Saturday January 5
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Maggie Rose; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: John Conlee (host); Jean Shepard; Love and Theft
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jesse McReynolds; Mandy Barnett; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); High Valley; The Whites; Riders In The Sky

That comes out to 14 artists on Friday night, with 10 of them Opry members, and 13 acts on Saturday night, of whom 9 are Opry members. Among the missing this weekend is Jimmy Dickens, who cancelled out on both shows last weekend. Here is hoping he makes a quick recovery and return to the Opry stage.

I also wanted to note the passing this week of the great Patti Page. While never an Opry member, Patti did guest at the Opry on occasion. I can specifically remember one appearance that she made several years ago, on a segment that Vince Gill hosted. Vince went on about how Patti was his mother's favorite singer and he was so honored and excited to be introducing her at the Opry. Of course she sang "Tennessee Waltz", which was her biggest hit, but she had others. Up until recently, she was still doing some shows. Patti was 85 years old. Another legend that is now gone.

For this week's look back at Opry history, I have a couple of line-ups of shows that took place when a couple of new members joined the Opry. The first is from Saturday January 9, 1965, 48 years ago, which was the night Norma Jean became an Opry member. The second is from Saturday January 9, 1971, 6 years later, which was the night Tom T Hall joined the Grand Ole Opry.

Saturday January 6, 1965 (one show)

7:30: Luzianne
Jimmy C Newman (host): (?)
The Carlisles: The Great Snowman
Bobby Lord: (?)
Loretta Lynn: Before I'm Over You
Jimmy C Newman: You're Still On My Mind
Del Wood: Piano Roll Blues
Ernest Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips
Bobby Lord: You've Gotta Take The Bucket To The Well
Ed Hyde: Ida Red
Jimmy C Newman: (?)

8:00: Martha White
Porter Wagoner (host): Howdy Neighbor, Howdy
Charlie Louvin: I Don't Love You Anymore
Dottie West: In Its Own Little Way
Willie Nelson: Hello Walls
Osborne Brothers: This Heart Of Mine
Porter Wagoner: One Way Ticket To The Blues
Norma Jean: Lonesome Number One
Crook Brothers: Liberty
Charlie Louvin: Once A Day
Buck Trent: Instrumental

8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host): (?)
Wilburn Brothers: Never Alone
Bill Anderson: Three AM
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Roy Acuff: Freight Train Blues
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: This Train
Margie Bowes: Big City
Wilburn Brothers: I'm Gonna Tie One On Tonight
Bill Anderson: In Case You Every Change Your Mind

9:00: Pet Milk
Leroy Van Dyke (host): Your Money
Skeeter Davis: The End Of The World
Sonny James: The Minute Your Gone
Curly Fox: Listen To The Mockingbird
Leroy Van Dyke: Lonely Street
Glaser Brothers: The Ballad Of Kitty Wells
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
Sonny James: You're The Only World I Know
Leroy Van Dyke: Ann Of A Thousand Days

9:30: Kelloggs
Hank Snow (host): The Wishing Well
Bill Monroe: There's An Old Home
Roy Drusky: Strangers
Willis Brothers: Give Me 40 Acres
Hank Snow: Lonesome 7-7203
Marion Worth: The French Song
The Browns: The Three Bells
Hank Snow: (?)

10:00: Schick
Bobby Lord (host): When The Snow Falls
Loretta Lynn: Happy Birthday
Osborne Brothers: Give This Message To Your Heart
Del Wood: Night Train To Memphis
Bobby Lord: Y'all Come

10:15: Mary Carter
Jimmy C Newman (host): Summer Skies & Golden Sands
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: I Couldn't Care Less
Bill Anderson: You Can Have Her, I Don't Want Her
Bill Carlisle: Little Liza Jane
Jimmy C Newman: Cry, Cry Darling

10:30: Harvey's
Porter Wagoner (host): Will You Be Loving Another Man
Norma Jean: Go Cat Go
Sonny James: Young Lovve/You're The Only World I Know
Porter Wagoner: I'll Go Down Swinging

10:45: Newport
Roy Acuff (host): All The Things That Might Have Been
Margie Bowes: Overnight
Wilburn Brothers: I Don't Care
Crook Brothers: (?)
June Stearns: Release Me

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): I'm Movin' On
Bill Monroe: Goodbye, Old Pal
Leroy Van Dyke: The Auctioneer
Glaser Brothers: All Night Cafe
Hank Snow: My Life With You
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Alabama Gal
Dottie West: Here Comes My Baby
Sam & Kirk McGee: Nine Pound Hammer
Hank Snow: My Blue Eyed Jane

11:30: Lava
Roy Drusky (host): Second Hand Rose
Charlie Louvin: Just Between The Two Of Us
Marion Worth: He Thinks I Still Care
Willis Brothers: Blazin' Smoke Stacks
Roy Drusky: Strangers
The Browns: Everybody's Darling, Plus Mine/Then I'll Stop Loving You
Willie Nelson: Family Bible
Curly Fox: Alabama Jubilee
Charlie Louvin: Less & Less
Roy Drusky: Anymore

What a difference between now and 1965. If I add right, there were 36 performers on this show, with all of them either Opry members or employed by an Opry member. The last segment on this particular Saturday night had 11 songs while a couple of others had 10. Talk about moving them on and off in a hurry. I don't think anyone was complaining about the line-up that night.

Now to Saturday January 9, 1971, just 6 years later. Notice the difference in just that short amount of time.

7:00: Rudy's
Roy Drusky (host): Don't It Make You Want To Go Home
Jimmy C Newman: Louisiana Dirty Rice
Jim & Jesse: Freight Train
Ray Pillow: Heart Over Mind
Roy Drusky: All My Hard Times
Jim & Jesse: My Baby's Gone
Jimmy C Newman: Release Me
Ray Pillow: I'll Break Out Again Tonight
Roy Drusky: Long, Long Texas Road

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jean Shepard: Another Lonely Night
Charlie Walker: Don't Squeeze My Sharmon
Tom T Hall: Ballad Of Forty Dollars
Roy Acuff: Pins & Needles
Jean Shepard: Second Fiddle
Charlie Walker: Waiting For A Train
Roy Acuff: I Saw The Light

8:00: Martha White
Lester Flatt (host): Wake Me When It's Over
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Hank Locklin: Send Me The Pillow You Dream On
Del Wood: Down By The River Side
Lester Flatt: I Can't Tell The Boys From The Girls
Crook Brothers: Old Joe Clark
Stonewall Jackson: Life To Go
Hank Locklin: If Not For You
White & Jordan: Mocking Banjo

8:30: Stephens
Bill Monroe (host): Mule Skinner Blues
Earl Scruggs Revue: (?)
George Morgan: For The Good Times
Stringbean: Mountain Dew
Bill Monroe: Sweetheart, You Done Me Wrong
Stu Phillips: Great El Tigrae
Earl Scruggs Revue: Green Back Dollar
George Morgan: Candy Kisses

9:00: Luzianne
Porter Wagoner (host): Old Slewfoot
Dolly Parton: Joshua
Osborne Brothers: You Win Again
Ernie Ashworth: Lips, Start Talking
Porter Wagoner: The Last One To Touch Me
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Soldier's Joy
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton: Daddy Was An Old Time Preacher Man
Osborne Brothers: Listening To The Rain

9:30: Kelloggs
Hank Snow (host): I'm Movin' On
Willis Brothers: Cimmaron
Del Reeves: Bar Room Talk
Grandpa Jones: Kitty Klide
Marion Worth: Okie From Muskogee
Del Reeves: If I Lived Here
Hank Snow: Traveling Blues

10:00: Fender
Bill Monroe (host): I Haven't Seen Mary In Years
Jean Shepard: I Thought Of You/It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels/You Win Again/A Dear John Letter
Jimmy C Newman: Cry, Cry Darling/Blue Lonely Winter
Jim & Jesse: Where The Chilly Winds Don't Blow

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Ball Knob, Arkansas
Earl Scruggs Revue: Nine Pound Hammer
Ray Pillow: (?)
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird

10:30: Trailblazer
Lester Flatt (host): I've Been Walking
Grandpa Jones: I'm Sorry I Caused You To Cry
Willis Brothers: I Still Do
Tom T Hall: 100 Children
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Uncle Josh: Just Joshin'

10:45: Beechnut
Porter Wagoner (host): Big Wind
Dolly Parton: Joshua
George Morgan: Snowbird
Hank Locklin: Country Hall Of Fame
Crook Brothers: Chicken Reel

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Millers Cave
Osborne Brothers: There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight
Stringbean: Hot Corn, Cold Corn
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hickory Leaf
Del Wood: Bill Bailey
Margie Bowes: Understand Your Gal/Big City
Sam McGee: Wildwood Flower
Hank Snow: Born To Lose

11:30: Lava
Del Reeves (host): Help Me Make It Through The Night
Marion Worth: Sleeping At The Foot Of The Bed
Justin Tubb: Big Fool Of The Year
Ernie Ashworth: Love Finally Found It
Stu Phillips: For The Good Times
Del Reeves: Women Do Funny Things To Me/Bells Of Southern Bell/Girl On The Billboard/The Chair That Rocked Us All

Again, over 30 acts on the show, all Opry members or Opry related. But look at the difference in just 6 years. Gone in that time span were Bobby Lord, Willie Nelson, Kirk McGee, Norma Jean, Leroy Van Dyke and Sonny James, with the Glaser Brothers getting ready to go in just another couple of years. Another interesting aspect from the 1971 show was Earl Scruggs appearing on the segment hosted by Bill Monroe and not Lester Flatt's.

The Opry today is nothing like it was years back. No matter what we think, those days are not returning, but we can still enjoy what we have of the Opry today and the memories that we have.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January Opry Highlights

Happy New Year to Grand Ole Opry fans everywhere. As I do each month, here is a review of the important and historical events that have taken place in Grand Ole Opry history during the month of January.

January 16, 1943: Ernest Tubb makes his Grand Ole Opry debut. When he makes his Opry debut, Ernest plays a guitar that belonged to his idol Jimmie Rodgers, which was given to him by Carrie Rodgers, Jimmie's widow who took Ernest under her wing and gave him much help at the start of his career. Ernest would remain one of the Opry's most loyal and important members until his death in September 1984.

January 7, 1950: The legendary Hank Snow makes his first appearance on the Opry. As he wrote in his book, this was one of the very few times on that Opry that Hank wore a hat. It was Ernest Tubb who convinced Opry management to give Hank a chance. For his debut performance, Ernest let Hank use his band as Hank could not afford to pay any musicians to appear with him. That night, Ernest introduced Hank by saying, "From up Canada way, here's the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry, the Singing Ranger, Hank Snow!" Hank said that he didn't know if he was considered an Opry member or not and was too afraid to ask. Hank sang "Brand On My Heart", which up to that point had been the big single in his career. While his debut performance would not be considered a flop, he received little audience reaction. It upset him so much that after the show he told his wife Min that he was never going back and that the Opry was not for him. Min's response was "Now, you can't expect everything to happen in just one night. People will become more familiar with you as time goes on. You're lucky you've been given this chance." Hank did come back the following weeks and for many more weeks after that. But even though he stayed as an Opry member for just short of 50 years, he almost didn't last that first year. He was about to get released from the Opry when "I'm Movin' On" was released and became a monster hit. After that record, Hank established himself as one of the top stars in country music. Later in his life, Hank wrote a very good autobiography, "The Hank Snow Story", which I highly recommend.

January 7, 1950: On the same night that Hank Snow was making his Opry debut, so was another future Country Music Hall of Fame member, Tennessee Ernie Ford. He was featured on the Prince Albert portion of the show that was hosted by Red Foley. Ernie forgot what he sang that night as his son had been born when he was flying from California to Nashville the day before. Minnie Pearl would later say that he sang "Anticipation Blues." While he never became an Opry member, Ernie Ford had an open invitation to appear on the Opry whenever he was in the neighborhood and he would take the Opry up on it's offer many times during his career.

January 1, 1953: Hank Williams was found dead in the back seat of his car was he was being driven to Canton, Ohio to perform on a New Year's Day show. Also booked on the show was Jimmy Dickens, who didn't make the trip due to bad weather. By the way, the auditorium where Hank was to have performed is still standing and in use today and is located just several miles from my home. After word was received that Hank had passed away, a tribute show took place that featured those who had been booked for the show. 60 years after his death, Hank is still considered one of the greatest stars in the history of country music.

January 19, 1953: Marty Robbins makes his Grand Ole Opry debut.

January 22, 1955: The Ozark Jubilee makes its television debut on ABC. The show is hosted by former Grand Ole Opry member Red Foley, who left as the host of the Prince Albert Show due to personal problems.

January 12, 1957: Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper became members of the Grand Ole Opry. They came to the Opry from the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree and were noted for their gospel recordings. Stoney died in 1977 and Wilma Lee continued as a solo artist. She suffered a stroke in 2001 that ended her performing career, but in 2007 she was able to appear at the Opry and be honored as being an Opry member for 50 years. She passed away in 2011.

January 1, 1960: Billy Walker joins the Grand Ole Opry. Billy would be a loyal and popular Opry member, but later in his career and toward the end of his life, he spoke out against Opry management, as his appearances, along with a few of the other veteran artists, were cut back. Billy remained an Opry member until his death in a car accident in 2006.

January 9, 1960: Patsy Cline joins the Grand Ole Opry. In a pretty famous and often told story, Patsy, who had been appearing as a regular guest artist for a few years, approached Opry manager Ott Devine and asked if she might one day become an Opry member. Devine's response was "Patsy, if that's all you want, you are on the Opry." As her career continued to grow, she would remain an Opry member until she passed away in a plane crash several years later.

January 9, 1965: Norma Jean became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Much like Dolly Parton, she joined the show while performing as part of Porter Wagoner's show. After leaving Porter's show in 1967, she left Nashville and gave up her Opry membership. She is still active today and performs in Branson. "Pretty Little Miss Norma Jean", as Porter often introduced her, will be 75 this year.

January 7, 1967: Charley Pride became the first black solo singer to perform on the Opry. He was introduced by Ernest Tubb and sang, "The Snakes Crawl At Night" and "I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You." Shortly afterwards, he was asked to become an Opry member, but he declined due to his heavy touring schedule. He would be asked again, and in 1993 he accepted the invitation to join the Opry's cast. DeFord Bailey, an early Opry regular, was the first black artist to appear on the show.

January 4, 1969: Dolly Parton becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be her 44th year as an Opry member. While she was at the Opry often while singing with Porter Wagoner, her appearances dropped off greatly since she separated herself from Porter. Over the past decade, he Opry appearances have been few and she even commented that if she was in charge of the Opry, she would probably have fired herself for not appearing. It was Carl and Pearl Butler, themselves former Opry members and who were friends with Dolly, that first brought her to Nashville at the age of 12. As she remembered, "They used to have this Friday Night Frolics and I went up there one night with the intention of being on it. I kept telling everybody I'll sing just one song. Most of the Opry artists had two spots on the show and I walked up to Jimmy C Newman, who was going to sing his second song next and I told him I wanted to be on. I didn't know why he did it, but Jimmy gave me his spot and I sang a George Jones song."

January 1, 1971: Tom T Hall accepts an invitation and joins the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 42nd year as an Opry member, but sadly he has not appeared on the show in over a decade and has made comments to people that he has no intentions on making any Opry appearances any time soon. After he joined in 1971, he quit the show when it moved from the Ryman Auditorium to the new Grand Ole Opry House. He rejoined the show in March 1980, at the urging of Ernest Tubb.

January 2, 1974: Grand Ole Opry member Tex Ritter passed away in Nashville after suffering a heart attack while bailing one of his band members out of the Nashville jail. Tex joined the Opry in June 1965 and would become one of the Opry's most popular members. He was also among the first to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

January 28, 1976: Skeeter Willis, part of the Willis Brothers, passed away at the age of 58. The Willis Brothers had joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1946. They were famous for the Western style music that they played on the Opry.

January 27, 1979: Sissy Spacek, who played the part of Loretta Lynn in the movie "Coal Miner's Daughter", joined Loretta in a performance at the Opry.

January 20, 1984: Future Grand Ole Opry member Mike Snider made his first appearance on the Opry. He was a cast member for Hee Haw, and his banjo and comedy skills led to his appearance at the Opry.

January 11, 1986: Mel McDaniel joins the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. He would remain an Opry member until he passed away in 2011.

January 10, 1991: Clint Black becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 22nd year as an Opry member, but as with several others, he makes very few Opry appearances. He continues to live in California and makes very few trips to Nashville.

January 25, 1992: Emmylou Harris joins the Grand Ole Opry at the invitation of Roy Acuff. This will be her 21st year as an Opry member.

January 22, 1994: Hal Ketchum joins the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 19th year as an Opry member. As Hal has battled some health issues, he has not been on the Opry stage in a few years. Hopefully his health will improve and we will again see Hal at the Opry.

January 21, 1995: Brother Oswald, longtime member of Roy Acuff's band, became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Among others, Marty Stuart was one of those that pushed for Brother Oswald to become an Opry member. After Roy Acuff's death, Brother Oswald, along with Charlie Collins, continued to perform on the Opry. He would remain an Opry member until his death in October 2002. It was during the late 1930s that Brother Oswald first came to the Opry with Roy.

January 7, 1997: Gaylord Entertainment, in a move that seemed good at the time, acquired Word Records and Music, a contemporary Christian music company. A few years later, when Gaylord was selling off many of their properties, Word Music was one of the first to go.

January 3, 1998: Grandpa Jones makes his final Grand Ole Opry appearance. After hosting his segment on the 2nd show that evening, Grandpa suffered the first in a what was to become a series of strokes. He was taken directly from the Opry House to a Nashville hospital. His condition would continue to decline and he passed away on February 19, 1999.

January 24, 1998: Grand Ole Opry member Justin Tubb passed away. He was the son of Ernest Tubb, who was not only a fine country singer, but a talented song writer.

January 15, 1999: The Grand Ole Opry returns to the Ryman Auditorium for the first time since moving to the Grand Ole Opry House in 1974. There were 3 shows that weekend, which included 1 show on Friday night and 2 shows on Saturday night. All the shows were sold out. During the 1st show on Saturday night, Trisha Yearwood was asked by Ricky Skaggs if she would like to become the Opry's newest member, and of course, she said yes. Her official induction took in March. On a personal note, I was at all 3 shows that weekend and they were fantastic.

January 15, 2000: Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley joins the Grand Ole Opry. He had been asked to become a member the previous night and he immediately accepted the invitation. This will be his 13th year as an Opry member.

January 4, 2003: Hank Williams Jr and Hank Williams III perform together at the Grand Ole Opry in a show commemorating the 50th anniversary of the death of Hank Williams. Also appearing in the tribute were Jimmy Dickens, along with Vince Gill and The Whites. While Hank Williams Jr has appeared a few times at the Opry, Hank III does not.

January 1, 2007: Grand Ole Opry member Del Reeves passed away from an extended illness. He was 73 years old at the time of his death and had been an Opry member for 41 years.

January 19, 2008: Charlie Daniels becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 5th year as an Opry member. He said at the time of his induction that becoming an Opry member had been a dream for him and he was very happy to being a member. Charlie continues to make regular Opry appearances.

There you have it!!