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


  1. Homecoming???? I thought a Homecoming was designed to bring back old acquaintances.

    Where's Ray Price? Where's Bobby Bare? Where's Leroy Van Dyke ? Where's Norma Jean ?

    Not to mention Stonewall Jackson, Ray Pillow, Jan Howard, Stu Phillips, Ralph Stanley and other veteran members we do not see much of these days.

  2. Speaking of Norma Jean, January 30th was her 75th birthday. I think most of us remember when she was the "pretty new girl" singing with Porter Wagoner.

  3. I counted 23 members on the earlier show.

    David B, they redefined it to mean Fisher gets to spend two nights in the accustomed location.

    I have been posting at every opportunity on the Opry Facebook page, attacking them over Blake Shelton, and a few people do seem to agree.

  4. Dolly is much more star quality and a fine singer but for my money I'll take Norma Jean any day.

    Knightsville, IN

  5. Jim, I agree. There was just something about Norma Jean that we all loved. Also, as I posted on my facebook page this morning, it has been 74 weeks since Blake Shelton's last Opry appearance. Now that he has made nice with Ray Price, I wonder how soon it will be until he does show up.

  6. I guess this proves that the "Opry" is defined as the building, and not the members who make up the cast... since a total of 10 members and zero former members are allowed to celebrate the Opry's "Homecoming".

    Do we get a weekly update on Blake Shelton's weeks without an appearance? haha. Some of the Opry "members" would be way up in the hundreds by now I'm sure. I know it has been pointed out that the pre-Fisher members were given no yearly obligations of appearing when they were inducted, but I don't see why that is an issue. Just an analogy here, but, how often is a company of some sort been taken over by new management, and the employees who already worked there were just grandfathered in and got to keep working under the old rules regarding time off, etc? But then again, there are no rules... Fisher's 10 shows a year might as well be 200. There's plenty of Fisher's members who do not even show up for 10, with no consequence. The only way to get fired around the Opry is to be the Four Guys, or Holly Dunn, or to be old enough that they don't want you any more. Jan Howard's, or Stu Phillips', or Stonewall Jackson's "careers" would not be hurt at this point if Fisher went ahead and fired them - they are not actively pursuing a career to speak of anymore. The Opry was actually a career-investment, you might say, for these older stars, and now the Opry has taken back their end of the bargain. But you can't get fired for not making the appearances per year you agreed to make when you joined... or for making public derogatory comments that apply to a majority of your fellow castmates.

    Opry membership is irrelevant now - the members who would come aren't allowed to, and the members they would allow to come won't show up any more regularly than they would if they just brought them in occasionally as guests. They can talk pretty much anybody they want into appearing as a guest every 72 weeks. Come to think of it, just about all of these "members" appeared more regularly before they were members. I understand she makes a better effort than most, but how many times is Carrie Underwood, or Blake Shelton, when playing a big arena somewhere on tour, introduced as "Grand Ole Opry Star, Carrie Underwood!". Or how many posters are put out advertising Carrie Underwood coming to said arena with a big "Grand Ole Opry Show". Whether they play it regularly or don't show for 74 weeks at a time, Opry membership is more like an Entertainer of the Year award to most newer members - something to put on one's resume without any real commitment in return. In the old days it mutual: the Opry helped the artists make more money by being able to use the Opry name everywhere they went, and advertise show dates on the air (both of which are not done anymore), and the artists helped the Opry by giving the Opry a consistent show with mostly the same artists each week. If people are coming to Opry today thinking they will see ANY specific member, they are liable to go home disappointed. Do they think these newer members are selling tickets despite not appearing regularly? If so, I'm sure people aren't getting burned the second time.

  7. Fisher and Buchannan have turned the Opry into just another marketing vehicle for whatever program, product or record company is the latest attempt to shill a buck. There's a good video on YouTube circa 1974 where Roy Acuff talks about how what's being recorded then is "hurting country music."

    I'm just disgusted that the Opry is now just a place to promote these TV actors from Nashville every week. And the sad part is that the majority of the general public just eats it up as entertainment.

  8. Anonymous, I have to say, I would have no problem with tying the Opry to the TV series. I think it's good marketing on both sides. That's fine.

    What I DO have a problem with is that the management doesn't care about anyone or anything BUT marketing to non-country fans. Proof of which is not having on Rhonda Vincent. I don't mean this unkindly to her at all when I say that you would think Buchanan and Fisher would love her since she isn't a member. If you want Opry management to love you, don't be a member, or be a member and don't show up.

  9. @Robert Montgomery

    You said: "I understand she makes a better effort than most, but how many times is Carrie Underwood, or Blake Shelton, when playing a big arena somewhere on tour, introduced as "Grand Ole Opry Star, Carrie Underwood!". Or how many posters are put out advertising Carrie Underwood coming to said arena with a big "Grand Ole Opry Show"."

    During Carrie Underwood's big arena tour in 2010 (she played more than 100 dates across North America), she actually had a segment where she brought a replica of the Opry stand and mic onto the stage, had the lighting simulate the Opry, and she sang I Told You So with a screen projection of Randy Travis. She would always introduce that part of the show by talking about how she couldn't make it the Opry as much as she'd like when she was on the road, so they brought a little piece of the Opry with them every night on stage.

    She didn't include that set piece for her current arena tour but, I just wanted to point out she has in the not so distant past. Every press release for Carrie Underwood notes in a feature line that she is a "proud member of the Grand Ole Opry," and she consistently cites her Opry membership as the professional accomplishment that means the most to her.

    @Anonymous I actually think Charles Esten and the duo of Clare Bowen/Sam Palladio are pretty good - they have the best songs on the show, they have T Bone Burnett's endorsement, they can actually sing, and they strike me as appropriately respectful of the Opry. Esten has been writing songs for years. They are also the ones on the show singing real country songs so it is fitting to see them, as opposed to the show leads, at the Opry. I also agree with Michael that this is good marketing on both sides. The Opry is the only place where Esten and Bowen/Palladio have performed more than once. 'Nashville' the TV show is in the position to showcase the Opry and what it means to country music.

    I also agree with Michael about the skew of Opry's marketing. That's why last week I talked about hoping the Opry can take advantage of Americana's increased popularity and become more of a showcase for rising acts in that field, to bring younger fans of that style of music to the Opry. I also really agree about Rhonda Vincent and how deserving she is of Opry membership. I wish Mr. Fisher would highlight bluegrass at the Opry this year by increasing its representation in the membership because it seems to me like its influence on popular acts like Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers presents a good opportunity to showcase bluegrass at the Opry more.

  10. Robert, thanks. I have not seen Carrie on tour, but I have found her to be respectful of the Opry and making an effort to be there, so I don't want to criticize her. Truthfully, she has been better recently than Brad Paisley, whom I also like, but who also seems to talk a far better game than he actually plays, if you get my drift.

    The idea of marketing brings us back to Rhonda Vincent. If I recall, the guest hosts of the Midnight Jamboree used to do the Opry more often? Am I off on that? It seems to me that some cross-marketing is not a bad idea.

    Bluegrass also brings up that Bud Wendell did a lot to promote bluegrass when he was manager. He didn't actually add bluegrass acts as members, except to allow both Lester and Earl to continue after they split up. I don't object to the idea that Opry management will have some favorites and some un-favorites: that's being human. Far more human and humane than what they do now.

  11. FROM Anonymous in PA. More bluegrass acts as members would be great; we love Rhonda Vincent too and she would be a wonderful asset. Have you noticed whether in attendance or listening to the shows, how much the audiences like the bluegrass music - often those acts receive the greatest applause. The first couple of years that the anniversary weekend had the matinee bluegrass acts, attendance was very high; it was good for the others (Larry Gatlin, Mel Tillis, Charley Pride, Ronnie Milsap) as well, and then bluegrass again with Ricky Skaggs in 2012 which was well attended and received. I'll harp again that if they do have "guest" acts who are what I define as country rock, at least don't have them play too loud - keep it within the Opry house norm/venue, not rockin' the arena. We have pretty much decided that Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry will not be a "destination trip" for us anymore; we'll still go for the October Anniversary weekend and may go if we are passing thru. The expense just doesn't correlate with what we would get; and yes, we spent money elsewhere and purchased music too.

  12. @windmills Thanks for the info. I am glad to hear that she does promote the Opry to her fans. I did not mean to single out Ms. Underwood personally anyhow; I was only using her as an example of the younger Opry member, since from my limited knowledge of modern "country" music she seems to be one of the biggest. I will ammend my statement to say that MOST of the younger generation will not put the Opry out front in their careers at the point she is at, whereas in the older days - from Uncle Dave Macon, to Roy Acuff, to Bill Monroe, to Flatt & Scruggs, to Porter Wagoner - an Opry star felt they NEEDED to associate themselves with the Opry while on the road, to help bolster their own show. There are still artists out there (like the aforementioned Rhonda Vincent, and others) who would proudly put the Opry out front in their career. My original point was, if fans are coming to the Opry to see Blake Shelton, they've got a 1 in 74 shot (and I'm being generous with those odds - since I don't know how long it had been since his next to last visit, or how long till his next).

  13. I listened to the Grand Ole Opry last night and I have to say it was a pretty good show. Scotty McCreery continues to do an excellent job at his Opry appearances, while Holly Williams and The Band Perry did well. That was the first time I had heard The Henningsens and did not realize that they were a big family.

    My only complaint would have been Jean Shepard only being scheduled to sing 1 song, while The Band Perry got 3 in that segment. Mike Snider even did 2 closing numbers. There easily could have been room for Jean to do a 2nd song. Even with Scotty as the only guest in the final segment, the show ran about a half hour over. The crowd sounded good and excited.

    However, as a few others have mentioned, if you are going to call it a Homecoming show, I would have expected a number of the Opry's legends to have been scheduled.

  14. It's all about marketing. Homecoming in this case means we're coming back to the new house where the venue fits today's music better. We were only at the Ryman so we could make more money having the Rocketts at the Opry House. Not saying they shouldn't make money, it's a must, but that is what it appears to be to me, just marketing for the highest return. I would be shocked if they ever have and promote a homecoming show as we used to know it, deliberately featuring older folks who might even be retired. I would be there if they did. We are about to pass a point in history where those from what I call the golder era, 50's and 60's, will be gone. Right now would be a good time to round them all up at the Opry for a big event. Maybe if Billy and Bettie Walker were still with us we'd have a chance! Marty Stuart would be our best chance at getting something like this done today.

    This weekends shows indicate that move I think Fred and I often bring up and that is to go to four to eight acts doing 15-30 minutes, sort of a mini concert with a couple of headliners and a couple opening acts. Regardless of opinions on quality this weekend the number of acts on both shows is getting close to single digits! And I think the time is going to come when commercials are eliminated as much as the radio broadcast will allow. Few people coming to the Opry now understand the radio concept even if Eddie does try to explain it. The commercials are a boring necessity where they used to be somewhat entertaining and involve the audience which made the time without music seem go much quicker.

    Sorry if some feel I am too partial to the veterans but I still say they are being used. There is still enough support for the older acts at the Opry that eliminating them would be a publicity nightmare. And, Jim Ed, Bill and Jeannie in particular still provide a much needed asset, a good host. Connie Smith and Bobby Osborne were also limited to one spot this weekend. I guess these folks are following the path given to acts like Kirk McGee in his last days when he would get one Saturday spot on the 11 or 11:30 show. Management may feel that these older acts are still good enough to do more than one spot but that would mean only giving 2 spots to the new kid on the block and that may run the risk of the younger demographic they are after going away unhappy because they "only got two songs". I say let the crowd determine how many songs they get!

    Something else that most of us understand or maybe got to experience was the big package show of old. Correct me if I'm wrong but today that only happens at a festival or special events where at one time it was common for a half dozen or more acts to come to town and do a two hour plus show. Sort of a mini Opry road show. Most folks coming to the Opry have not experienced that so seeing so many acts in one show might be more than they can absorb!

    I have to agree with Robert that Opry membership has become a trophy to set on the shelf or a public relations tool used only in extreme necessity to maintain a wider audience base. At least that seems the case with most superstars. There are others who do well in the business who would proudly promote the Opry at every turn and support it by being there every chance they get, say Rhond Vincent! How can Rhonda Vincent be in town performing and not get a slot on the Opry? I appreciate the information about Carrie Underwood from Windmills, I was surprised that she did not get to perform longer on Friday night. I too have a limited knowledge of modern country so I try not to complain about it unless I have some facts.

    Speaking of Rhonda Vincent, did anyone hear the Midnite Jamboree? Jim Ed and Rhonda had a nice visit and then sing Making Plans. Nice to see the mutual respect from two different generations.


  15. To add to my last post, we should remember there were big names who walked away or shunned the Opry in days of old. Eddy Arnold, Webb Pierce, Hank Thompson, Jim Reeves and others. I can think of several others but the facts are not clear in my head at the moment so I won't drop names.

    Just want to be fair!

    Knightsville, IN