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.


  1. I love these old lineups, but I have a couple of quibbles. The McGees were still around in 1971, and I think Bobby Lord was still a member.

    I also noticed in several lineups from that era that Earl was on with Mr. Monroe. I have the feeling that with the two of them getting along, the Opry was trying to get across that Earl's long-haired sons were all right?

  2. Yes, Kirk was still performing with Sam. Sam died in 1975 and Kirk stayed on the Opry as a solo artist until his death in 1983. Usually, in his later years, Sam was the featured performer (in this case, on "Wildwood Flower"), so that may have been why Kirk was not mentioned specifically in the lineup.
    Great lineups! I was noticing the same thing about Earl being on Bill's show. There's some footage on youtube from a documentary on Earl from around this time (it may have even been from a little earlier), and it has some footage of Earl performing on the Opry on Bill's segment, and of Earl jamming backstage with Bill and the Blue Grass Boys.
    After Lester and Earl split, Bill mended his differences with both of them pretty quickly I think - Earl a little sooner than Lester, I believe.

  3. Robert, as I recall the story, the great Monroe-Flatt reunion was at Beanblossom in 1971. They came out and sang together. Beforehand, Mr. Monroe walked up and said, "Welcome to Beanblossom." Apparently, his ex-wife booked Flatt. He and Earl did reconcile sooner. Flatt and Scruggs reconciled on Lester's deathbed. Marty Stuart said he met Bob Dylan who asked about Lester. Marty replied that he was dying. Dylan said that Abbott and Costello were supported to meet and one of them died before they could. Marty went to Earl's house and talked with him, and then Earl visited Lester. Lester said he'd like for them to perform together again and Earl said they would but, first, Lester had to get well. Of course, sadly, he didn't.

  4. It's a shame that 3 men just about any blue grass fan would say are among the greatest ever spent 25 years with at least 2 of the 3 not on speaking terms.

  5. According to what I've read, although Mr. Monroe was upset when Flatt and Scruggs left him, they stayed friendly. He objected to them joining the Opry and, in his opinion, diluting his music--now, of course, we know that they helped build it up, but we couldn't know that THEN. Apparently, after they came to the Opry, Flatt saw him and greeted him, and Mr. Monroe walked by. Lester tried once more, figuring that Mr. Monroe (I have trouble thinking of him as anything but Mr. Monroe) just hadn't seen him--given his eyesight, a possibility. Ignored again, he wouldn't speak to his old boss, who also ignored Scruggs. After the breakup in 1969, things changed. It WAS a loss, for them personally and for us as their fans. But Ricky Skaggs once said he felt that Mr. Monroe mellowed a bit with age as he realized that his music would outlive him.

    Byron, a question for you, although others may be able to answer this. What were the years of Margie Bowes's Opry membership? I've seen conflicting dates.

  6. Mike, I think you read the same book I did which was the excellent Bill Monroe biography, Can't You Hear Me Callin'. Excellent and well done.

    On the subject of country music books, in my opinion, the Bill Monroe and Ernest Tubb biographies are excellent. Although I really enjoy Hank Snow's autobiography, I would love to see a book done by someone else who has no real connection to Hank and can maybe fill in some of the missing dots. Same with a Roy Acuff biography. You would think there would be a book on Roy, other than Elizabeth Schlappi's book, which while nice, does not go much into much detail on Roy and his body of work.

    Mike, as far as Margie Bowes, I would have to look that up and see what I have as far as her Opry dates.

  7. Fred, Bismarck::

    I can understand Monroe being upset ... virtually inventing a new music (with all due credit to the contribution of Scruggs), then being forced to listen to it on every side, as the years went on. It probably struck him as rank plagiarism. Doubless the father of jazz, whoever that may have been, felt the same way. It's the price paid by someone who succeeds too well.

  8. Byron, that was the book, and either I've read it elsewhere, too, or the other sources I've read took it from there. Jack Hurst's history of the Grand Ole Opry told the Beanblossom story. And I wish someone else would indeed get some biographies going.

    Fred, I follow you. It's easy for us NOW to realize that they were spreading the gospel, but it was less clear at the time.

  9. I did some checking and Margie Bowes came to the Opry toward the end of 1958 after winning the Pet Milk country contest. From what I can tell, and I am pretty sure, her last Opry appearance as a member was on November 27, 1971. That year, her Opry appearances dropped to just 8, including no appearances from February 6 until August 21. For most of those shows in 1971, she had just one slot.

    In 1972, she was already taken out of the History Picture book and made no appearances. She did come back and do a reunion show or two when the Opry had the Old-Timer's nights.

  10. Fred, Bismarck:

    Margie Bowes is one of those talented artists who reminds us of how tough it is to make that breakthrough that leads to real stardom. There is so much talent out there, in all the fields we can think of. But it takes something extra -- sometimes the ingredient of a super gift, merely a little luck, or simple timing -- to make the difference between, say, a Kitty Wells and a Margie Bowes.

    Margie Bowes won a big contest of her time. Later, so did Carrie Underwood, with much different results.

    A humbling thought, or a consolation, for all of us!