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.

52 comments:

  1. I completely agree. Fire him. He has already forfeited his membership rights anyway by not appearing in 2012. These latest comments would only be the last straw for me.

    Willie's Roadhouse Facebook page has posted Ray Price's followup. "It's a shame that I have spend 63 years in this business trying to introduce music to a larger audience and to make it easier for the younger artists who are coming behind me. Every now and then some young artist will record a rock and roll type song , have a hit first time out with kids only. This is why you see stars come with a few hits only and then just fade away believing they are God's answer to the world. This guy sounds like in his own mind that his head is so large no hat ever made will fit him. Stupidity Reigns Supreme!!!!!!! Ray Price (CHIEF "OLD FART" & JACKASS") " P.S. YOU SHOULD BE SO LUCKY AS US OLD-TIMERS. CHECK BACK IN 63 YEARS (THE YEAR 2075) AND LET US KNOW HOW YOUR NAME AND YOUR MUSIC WILL BE REMEMBERED."

    Well said Ray.

    Now, the chances of Fisher firing Shelton is little to none I'm certain..

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  2. Bless you, Ray Price, and bless you both. I went on the Opry's Facebook page and it turns out I'm not the only one. There are some angry Opry fans out there.

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  3. I completely agree! He doesn't deserve to be a member.

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  4. 'He also is noted for the use of fowl language on his twitter account'.

    If Mr. Shelton would like to talk about his duck, or his goose that is his prerogative. That is fine with me, just as long as he does not use foul language.

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  5. It is not a good career milestone when you tick off Ray Price. That's a low point for ol' Blake's epic career.

    Maybe if he actually made a few Opry appearances instead of being Mr. Hollywood, and spent a little more time hanging around backstage with some of the legends at the Opry who play "Grandpa's music," he might actually learn to show a little more respect and to think twice about name-calling those who enjoy the classic stuff.






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  6. He does not deserve to be a member. Fire him.

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  7. Fred, Bismarck:

    Byron's points are all excellently made, including about who is putting out good money for the music. It's true, my collection on Blake Shelton and others like him is small -- shelf space of 0 inches -- but that's because I am a COUNTRY fan buying COUNTRY music. (I cannot chew bubble gum, or wear my cap backwards, and listen to music at the same time.)

    However, I spend hundreds of dollars a year on COUNTRY music -- more than I was able to afford when I was one of the kids, or when I was raising kids of my own. True again, not much of that goes to the major labels, whose rosters are filled with people like Blake Shelton. It goes instead to the "indies" who think enough of COUNTRY music -- and the bucks fans like me bring to the table -- to record some of the many acts out there who are still making our music.

    Incidently, Shelton might want to keep an eye on the retail space devoted to him and his kind. It's shrinking fast. I suspect he and the major labels are going to find the living they make off the Internet is about as poor as that made there by newspapers and magazines.

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  8. Fred, I agree with you, I spend hundreds a year to but not so much to the majors unless they get a cut from folks like Bear Family.

    I think I beat this dead horse a lot but again this is a reflection of our American culture these days. So many people say things that are disrespectful or just not true. If they get called on it then "Oh I didn't really mean it that way or I wasn't talking about you or I had my facts wrong". By then the damage is done or the people they want to sway have moved on and never get all the facts. Shelton knew what he was saying and who it would offend and he dose not care. He's just that much cooler to the young ones he's trying to appeal to. I'm confused as to why everywhere you look our society is trying to forget how we got to where we are. If it's before my time who cares what happened or who did it! Maybe you don't like what went before but if they paved the way then have some respect. I could go on and on!

    I'd sure like to hear Jean Shepard's true feelings about now!

    Maybe if Blake is ever scheduled to make another appearance on the Opry the other members should refuse to appear. But, the way it goes, they would be we is ridiculed for their actions. They should find someway to so their feelings even if it is just doing an old song and pointing out how old it is.

    Oh, and fire him from the Opry? You bet. Don't tell me you appreciate the roots and then come out and put it down and say that nobody is interested in it. I guess the only way you should be interested is in the way Blake cares to interpret it and supposedly incorporate it in his music. It's all about keeping up appearances and saying the right things to get what advances you the most.

    Just think of how nice a conversation we were just having about Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper. Any comparison? I don't think so.

    Byron: Thanks for letting us know.
    Keep us posted on this, I'd like to know who all stands up to him and, I think, the industry as a whole.

    Jim
    Knightsville, IN

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  9. Yes, Jim I would love to hear what Jean Shepard has to say on the matter. LOL.

    She recently was quoted as saying, "These new artists wouldn't know who Roy Acuff was if he hit them in their rear with his yo-yo".

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    1. . Well said Jean Shepard. That is the absolute truth!!

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  10. Jim and David, I normally would like to hear what Jean would say about this, but I am afraid that we would get burned if we got too close!

    I returned to the Opry's Facebook page and asked when they plan to fire Blake Shelton. I would urge everybody else to do the same.

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  11. https://www.facebook.com/BoycottBlakeShelton Help us make a stand against the BS!

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  12. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mf_LdPxKkoE&feature=share&list=UUaHkDyvWVXXAGyG2lURMaYg

    (some mild profanity, but nothing that isn't spot-on!)
    outstanding effort

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  13. First, if you have the chance I would recommend that you listen during the 7:30 segment tonight. I would not be surprised if Jean Shepard made some reference to being an "old fart." I have heard rumors and she has the guts to say it.

    The other thing with this whole Blake Shelton thing and the Opry, it got me to thinking how many people the Opry has actually suspended or fired in its history. We all know about those who were fired or suspended for lack of appearances back in the day, and the Opry Staff Band from a few years ago.

    As far as being fired or suspended from the Opry, either as members or guests, for their behavior or statements, of course you have Hank Williams. Johnny Cash was told not to come back after knocking out the stage lights. Skeeter Davis was suspended for her religious comments, and at one point Justin Tubb was suspended for a week for his comments. I am sure there are others I am just forgetting.

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  14. Fred, Bismarck:

    Byron, I've heard of all the cases you named except the one involving Justin Tubb. Could you refresh our memories on that one? Thanks.

    I saw Justin on an Opry package bill in Bismarck about 1980, when his song was "What's Wrong with the Way That We're Doing It Now?" In his chatter he made a derogatory comment about the CMA award to "Oliver Newton John" (his humorous rendering), an award controversial with more than Justin.

    I wonder if his difficulty with the Opry wasn't part of the quarrel raging way back then over what was country and what wasn't.

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  15. Fred, Justin was suspended for one week, which was for the weekend of November 16, 1985. He was actually on the schedule and was suspended for making some sort of remark that the Opry found offensive.

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  16. Sure enough, Jean did make a comment about being one of the "old farts." She would not say his name, other than the initials were BS!!

    That was probably as far as Jean was willing to go, especially with Pete Fisher probably standing in the wings.

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  17. Jean Shephard: "I'm not going to say his name, but his initials are BS, and he's full of it."
    Grand Old 'Opry stage, live, January 25, 2103.

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  18. And I missed it because I was out! Oh, well. Nat, thanks for sharing. Did she get a reaction?

    I think Justin stole Mr. Acuff's line. Am I right that he was the one who called her "Oliver Newton-John" when presenting an award to her? If I remember the story--Byron will know it and I'm sure others will--he claimed that he didn't have his glasses.

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  19. you have it right Michael. But of course the Opry was not going to suspend Roy Acuff for that type of comment

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  20. I hope it's OK for me to chime in for the first time. I read here a lot because I enjoy reading about the Opry. I don't live close enough anymore to go there on a regular basis but I try to tune in online as much as possible.

    I like a lot of the new country and I like a lot of the purer country too. What I've always loved about the Opry is I can listen to some Carrie Underwood performances and some Bill Anderson performances in the same half hour, or some Del McCroury Band performances and some Eric Church performances in the same half hour. And every now and then I can hear Carrie Underwood singing an old time country song at the Opry. Isn't that what the Opry's about, bringing the history of country music and the present day of country music together to show what a rich, diverse genre we're blessed with?

    The worst part of Blake Shelton's comments for a person like me is the way they pit the new country against the old time country. You can see that all over now in the reactions. New country people are saying Blake's right, the old country stuff doesn't sell, it's not what young people want, and the old time country people are just fuddy duddies who can't accept change. The old time country people are saying the new country isn't country and new country fans are clueless as to what country music really is. But what about young people like me who think country music needs both? I think there are connections between some of the new country sounds and the old time country, and some of the new country people are actually trying to do something fresh without forgetting or disrespecting the roots of country music.

    I respect how a lot of the new country isn't everybody's cup of tea, especially at this blog. I'm just trying to express a different perspective. The worst thing about Blake Shelton's comments is how divisive they were. Me, I think there's new country acts out there today who do make that effort to respect what came before them, especially at the Opry, and it's important that they stay engaged with the Opry. I also think the old time country needs and deserves as much exposure as possible at places like the Opry because it sure isn't getting the attention it deserves at FM radio. The Opry IMO needs to stay a place where the new country and the traditional country can thrive side by side. Blake Shelton's not much of an Opry member if he doesn't see that but then again, he's not much of a member anyway since he doesn't bother showing up.

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  21. Fred, Bismarck:

    Welcome to the gang, Windmills; we'll look forward to tilting with, and at, you!

    My appetite whetted by Byron's anticipation of reaction to Shelton's remarks, I actually listened in on the first hour of Friday's Opry ... my first exposure since TNN dropped the Saturday-night hour. (I haven't been able to draw in the Opry on my radio in 25 years, and I feel restless and stupid sitting in front of our computer listening to the radio.)

    I thought Jean Shepard could have done a lot better than repeat one of Shelton's crudities and then add one of her own. Beyond that, I actually found the hour fairly listenable and not too great a departure from the old format. More songs from fewer guests isn't all bad ... at least the oldtimers got to sing two apiece for once!

    I was struck that all the older acts, including Diamond Rio, were singing FLAT. Must be a function of aging tonsils. Jimmy sounded good on 'Cajun Man,' should probably stay away from the demanding 'Cry, Cry.' At least that is his song, and there is sentimental, if not strictly musical, satisfaction in hearing him sing it again.

    On the other hand, there is no excuse or reason for Shepard to sing 'Tennessee Waltz' or 'Silver Threads', on both of which she sounded awful ... and where did she get those words for 'Threads'?

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  22. Fred again:

    So THAT'S where "Oliver Newton-John" came from! Thanks, Michael and Fay ... I might have known. Roy, God bless him, for all his smarts, often had a tongue of wood. Also, the correct name probably had little resonance with him.

    But he was also a gentleman, and I can believe in this case his mistake was made in all innocence.

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  23. Some "next day" thoughts after listening to the Opry last night:

    I think Jean went as far as she dared. Like I mentioned, I am sure Pete Fisher was standing in the wings watching and while she has a lot of guts and "country" in her, I think she remembers what happened to Charlie Louvin, Del Reeves, Stonewall Jackson and Billy Walker when they spoke out against the Opry's management. While Pete and the Opry had nothing to do with Blake's remarks, they still depend on many of the younger stars to play the Opry when asked and I believe the last thing the Opry wants is to drive a wedge that would prevent that.

    Fred, I will tell you that how Jean sounded last night is about where she has been at for the past year or so. Considering she is 80, I give her some slack. She has been doing "Tennessee Waltz" on a pretty regular basis. "Silver Threads" I agree was not the best selection.

    Jimmmy C has been doing "Cry, Cry" a lot of the weeks that he gets 2 songs. You are right in the fact that the vocal range is not what it once was. He can still kick out a good Cajun song!!

    Sarah Darling has a future in this business. Sunny Sweeney continues to look for the big break. Diamond Rio and John Conlee were fine. Really, no complaints about last night's show.

    The Opry is really loading up the shows for next weekend with the return to the Opry House. Carrie Underwood, The Band Perry, Sarah Darling, Roy Clark and they are advertising the return of Jimmy Dickens. I am kind of surprised that they did not add a 2nd show for Friday night.

    A final note from me regarding Blake Shelton. He had the right to say what he did, but I think he was wrong. We all know Blake is dumb, stupid and drinks. I chalk his comments up to that. He self destructed his career once before. I would not be surprised if it happened again. But windmills (and thanks for joining us), is right. We should not let it drive a wedge between those who enjoy the new country and the traditionalists. We need the young ones to carry the torch and support the Opry. Many of them do, such as Carrie Underwood, and they are well received. We can't let one bad apple spoil the bunch.

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  24. Just seems to me a lot of this would be settled if they just required all Opry members to showup a few times a year. If BS was not a member of the Opry none of us would care.

    In case anyone saw Larry's Diner on RFD TV the other night, Bill Anderson had a 19 or 20 year old young man with him that was terrific and that kind of future artist offer tremendous hope for the future of the Opry. I thought it was interesting how Bill and I also think Larry Black "gently advised" this young man to not let success that will most likely come his way change him as a person/artist/songwriter. Perhaps that is what is needed - more mentoring on the part of the older artist.

    Mel

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  25. I think the Opry should kick him out, and re-instate Hank Sr while they're at it.

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  26. transcript from last night.
    "You know, we've got a young man in country music, who's made some pretty kind of dumb statements.
    What'd he say? He said country music was for old farts and jack (you know what).
    Well, I'm one of those old country farts. I love country music. (applause)
    I'm not gonna' tell you his name, but his initials are BS, and he's full of it."
    (more laughter than applause, but crowd was clearly on her side)
    Struck just the right tone with me, and I suspect any young person there would rather enjoy an 80 year old up there making fun of BS. Shoot, I think he would have enjoyed it himself.

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  27. I have to add something about how folks sound on the 'opry.

    There must be something acoustically difficult about singing live in either the Ryman or 'Opry house.

    When you attend the 'Opry in person, singers generally sound great. Go home and listen to a replay of the same show, and the same singer generally will not sound nearly as good.

    Brad Paisley sounded absolutely horrid a few years ago over WSM online, and it's clear to me that he knows how to sing.

    Keep that in mind when judging singers when they perform on the 'Opry.

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  28. One more comment, and then I'll be done (for a while).

    I TOTALLY agree with what Windmill had to say. Brilliant post.

    WSM radio is doing a great job of melding old and new, with most of the new being "Americana," which sounds an awful lot like what most of us think country music should sound like.

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  29. Everybody has really posted some great thoughts here. Thanks. Windmills, nice to see you here and you put it perfectly. I don't mind the variety of kinds of music--note I didn't even say country--on the Opry. Peter Cooper with the Tennessean had a blog about the night 40 years ago that Jerry Lee Lewis did his whole routine on the Opry and how it shook up the place. Today we'd think he's tame, I suspect.

    Most singers lose something as time goes on. To range into pop, Tony Bennett doesn't have quite the range he had, but he knows how to compensate. I see some of that on the Opry. And some of them have off nights. I've noticed that Jimmy C. can't go where he used to on "Cry, Cry Darlin'," but he still can deliver the number, and that's important.

    The truly great current stars, and I'd put Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood in this category, don't always sing what I want to hear, but they respect those who came before them--as they should. Just as I have to respect those in my profession who came before me and so on.

    As to BS--ahem--I'll use a baseball analogy. Years ago, Deion Sanders said he played two sports for the money; if one sport paid enough, he'd stay with that one. Vin Scully, the great Dodgers announcer, was asked what he thought of this. Vin doesn't like to take positions in public, so he looked a bit uncomfortable and then he said, in this country, we talk a lot about our rights, and they are truly important. But we also have obligations. Deion Sanders had the right to say what he did, but he had an obligation not to.

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  30. FROM PA; well I must say this is one of the most commented items on your blog ! Concur and way to go, Jean Shepherd.
    It is sad, but I believe it is only a few who have such disrespect for those who paved the way for them; they forget that's what they are doing as well. Regarding the sound from the Ryman and Opry House coming across the radio waves; there is a definite difference in being there and live on the radio. I had to leave once between the two Saturday night shows (that is when they have that) and listened on the radio until I got back to the Opry House; radio was not good (and I was tuned to WSM, not XM). There is also a big difference in the acoustics at the two venues; in my opinion, the Ryman is best. I know it will never be back to the "good old days" with two shows on Fridays and Saturdays; wow did we ever get our money's worth back then. Love reading all the posts.

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  31. I will add my .02's worth. While I am offended by the "old farts" and "jackasses" comments, the thing that actually bothers me more is that this guy thinks that winning a CMA award makes him lord and master of the future of country music. I also completely agree with Ray Price's retort. I saw Mr. Price in 2009: at the age of 82 he walked out, sat down on a stool, and owned the audience for over an hour...and nobody in the audience had to wear earplugs because of the decibel level!

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  32. Did anyone catch that Jimmy C also mentioned Blake? After he finished he said he wanted to dedicate it to Blake Shelton.

    I agree that folks like Jean and Jimmy have off nights and sing off key. They are 75-80 years old. What excuse does Diamond Rio or Brad Paisley have for signing flat....often. What will they sound like at 75? I caught just a couple of lines of Paisley singing at the inaugural ball on the news last week and he was as flat as a pancake. Ray Price is also a good example of a great singer adjusting to his age and vocal range. Ray does not sing "City Lights" or I Won't Mention it Again" in the same key he recorded them in but he has full control of the range in the key he now sings them in and he sounded great the last time I saw a little over a year ago.

    Nice to have windmills on board. I agree that there is and must be room for both the old and the new or the genre will not survive. I don't have to like the new the way I do the old but I can accept it IF the old (singers and the style) is still appreciated and given the chance to be heard. Therein lies the problem. I don't think the scales are close to even or the correct balance and non satellite country radio is the worst. I keep thinking about the days when Bill Anderson, Porter Wagoner, Mel Tillis, Roger Miller, Charley Pride, Loretta Lynn or Conway Twitty came along. Did they believe that nobody was interested in Acuff, Snow, Monroe, Wells, Dickens and all the others who proceeded then by 10-15 years once they arrived on the scene? If anyone has information about that I'd be very interested in hearing it. I realize that the generation gap we are now talking about is greater than that 10-15 years. I do agree with Byron that one bad apple shouldn't ruin the barrel. I do believe that there are big new names out there that have respect and appreciation for what went before.

    Jean Shepard has been singing Tennessee Waltz regularly for several years now. I think that it was on a project she did a dozen years or so ago that also included "Secret Love" which she used to do a lot. I think she gets a lot of request and it is also her way of keeping the memory of Pee Wee and Redd alive. As for "Silver Threads", she never mentions it but that is one of the more polished songs Hawk recorded so maybe that is why she chooses to do it. It is a little sad and hard to take when folks like Jean do go off key or mess up but would you rather not hear them at all? I find myself listening at home or in the audience holding my breath or crossing my fingers that they will make it right when that hard line or note comes and show the crowd how it should be done. I know there comes a time when they probably should bow out but I don't think she is there yet.

    I have not had the chance to see the Dinner yet but I'm guessing that the young man Bill had with him was Moe Pitney. He was a surprise guest at the Family Reunion Road show we went to in Huntingdon, TN back in August. He sang a Mel Street song and a new song and he was very good and seemed to be very respectful of the roots. Bill seems to be very proud of him.

    One last comment. It was nice to hear Jim Ed do "The Blizzard" last night. Few probably noticed but he did get the words a little mixed up but that has been the norm the past few time he has done it. Wonderful to hear anyway and it didn't ruin the coherency
    of the story.

    Great posts form everyone!

    Jim
    Knightsville

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  33. While I did post my belief that the Opry should let Shelton go, I do not expect it to happen. I don't believe Fisher would want that much negative drama directed to the Opry right now.

    And I have been reading many posts these last few days stating, "Reinstate Hank, Sr"... How can you reinstate a dead man? That campaign (which has been going on for several years now), I believe is going nowhere.

    I LOVE Hank Williams, Sr. music. He is probably the single most important person in the annuals of Country Music History. But what happened, happened and it can not be taken back. The Opry management did what they thought was best at the time. I firmly believe that if Hank's lifestyle would have improved they would have reinstated him. But, unfortunately, we lost him before that could happen.

    I was not surprised at all about Jean Shepard's comments. In fact I expected her to say something. Also, if next week brings the return of Little Jimmy Dickens, I would not be surprised if an "old fart" comment is not made by him either.

    It makes you wonder what younger stars, such as Brad Paisley, who have close relationships with older artists, has thought about Shelton's comments. I have not seen any posted. I have seen remarks from Price, Gene Watson, Ray Stevens, Leona Williams and Mrs. Tom T. Hall.

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  34. David, Mrs. Hall ought to be getting her husband's butt over to the Opry!

    As I recall it, Bob Luman often would be on segments hosted by Mr. Acuff or Mr. Monroe because he seemed so "out there," and he would do the number where he'd say, "Roy Acuff wouldn't hire me," etc. I think they were trying to promote the idea of a feud. But I also notice that Jimmie Riddle played harmonica with Luman on some numbers, and when I remember who employed Riddle .... There's such a thing as an honest disagreement and such a thing as a fake feud designed to have fun (Jack Benny and Fred Allen come to mind). Then there is the disrespect that Blake Shelton showed to people whose labors made it possible for him to be a wealthy jackass instead of a struggling one.

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    1. Michael:
      I was told the other day by a pretty reliable source I know in Nashville that both Tom T. Hall and Jeanne Pruett have asked to be removed as members? And that they would not be back to preform. Maybe Byron can confirm this?
      If they have actually done this, I believe the Opry should honor their request and give their membership slot to someone who is still performing.
      I absolutely love Jeanne Pruett and wish she would come back.

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  35. Fred, Bismarck:

    Michael, you deserve to know our newspaper, the Bismarck Tribune, ran your History News Service column on presidential cabinets, Lincoln's and Obama's, today. Complete with mug shot. A great read!

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  36. Fred, thanks! I appreciate it!

    I bet Blake Shelton won't read it ....

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  37. Fred here:

    Naw, Blake's in his cups already ... "many a good man's fault," as someone said charitably. I like to go there Saturday nights myself, with instrumental accompaniment ... but nobody's sticking a microphone in my face, for me to sound stupid into, either.

    Blake's a young punk who, if he's like most of us, will grow old enough to regret his worst moments. I suppose we grizzled veterans can forgive him that far.

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  38. Josh, from Nashville:

    Questions:

    1) What do you all think the rules of the Opry should be for membership in today's world?
    2) What would the Opry roster look like if all of the members who haven't fulfilled their contract (10 shows per year?) were removed?

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  39. Good to hear Ronnie Milsap and The Oaks on tonight. I would not be surprised at all if one of them is not the 2013 inductee into the Country Music Hall of Fame from the Modern Category.

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  40. This is probably a heretical statement, but I'm not sure 'Opry membership means very much to most of the current 'Opry members.
    It does to some, but not to many.
    It's sad that many artists who aren't deemed worthy of membership would love to be asked, while folks who could care less are listed as though they might be appearing next week.
    Pretty darned hypocritical on the part of 'Opry management.

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  41. Thanks everybody for your warm welcome :) A special "Ha!" to Mr. Fred for your "tilting" comment!

    I agree with Nat Hill IV & Anonymous from PA about the WSM stream: though it is better now than it was 5 years ago, I still hear distorted pitch and bad mixes from the Opry stage that don't reflect the live sound of the performance whether it's at the Ryman or the Opry House. The distortions seem to increase with the volume of the performances. May be a sign to some of our new country acts to tone it down a touch!

    I'm glad Nat Hill IV brought up Americana - this is a movement with growing mainstream momentum that WSM and the Opry would be smart to give more air. From a branding standpoint I think the Opry is in a great position to take advantage of the growing backlash against the narrow limitations of FM country radio and present itself as the place where ALL of country music can coexist peacefully. There are certain FM country stations that have started to play Mumford & Sons and The Lumineers, but the format hasn't embraced them fully yet. There are other acts like The Lone Bellow who are getting a lot of mainstream press attention as acts to watch in 2013. I think it would be great to see them play the Opry. Although the invitation to play the Opry is meant to be an honor extended to those who have earned it, I think it would be advantageous for the Opry to be seen as a place where people can be introduced to rising acts who aren't necessarily charting within the usual Music Row apparatus.

    I also think it has been a good decision to align with the ABC show 'Nashville' by having several of its stars, especially Clare Bowen, Sam Palladio & Charles Esten, perform. The Opry is the 1st place these people performed live and the only place where they have performed live multiple times. The show isn't a huge ratings hit but it has a committed young audience - there was a recent article in the Los Angeles Times quoting an ABC network executive who said ABC is very happy with the show's appeal to women between the ages of 18-34. With the show's demographic appeal and the fact that the show is committed to featuring music outside the limits of FM radio, the Opry has made the right decision to link up with the show.

    As a side note, I'd love to see even more activity on the Oprylive youtube channel which I think has already proved to be a popular destination for fans to seek out performances of their favorite acts. I remember when I was looking up live performances by this new fellow named Charlie Worsham, I was so happy to find one of the top search results was his Opry performance of Could It Be. I wonder how complicated it would be for Opry performances to get featured on artist's official VEVO channels or even their official VEVO channels. I think it could help serve the purpose of extending the Opry's brand to people around the world and it would only encourage them to come to a show or shows when they visited Nashville.

    Last but not least in this very disjointed post: I can't speak to everybody as far as how much Opry membership means and I think the proof is in the pudding to a certain extent, as far as how often they show up. But take somebody like Darius Rucker, a recent inductee. I truly believe this is somebody who values his membership and who knows & values the rich history of country music. He has had Vince Gill's strong endorsement ever since he came to Nashville. He is somebody who from the stories I hear is stuck in the major label system recording watered down songs for radio but who has some good old time country music in him. I for one would like to hear it because I think he has a very good voice that's well suited to the genre. Meanwhile he had the good taste to record and release a version of the Old Crow Medicine Show song Wagon Wheel as his new single.

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  42. As far as Jeanne Pruett, yes she asked to give up her Opry membership several years ago, and she specifically said at the time she wanted to make room for another female member, and she mentioned Rhonda Vincent. Pete Fisher turned her down and told her that she could remain a retired Opry member.

    As far as Tom T is concerned, yes he has told people that the will not come back to the Opry and that he doesn't know why they keep him as a member.

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  43. The question was asked how many of today's members would still be members if the 10 appearances per year requirement was strickly enforced. In 2012, only 25 Opry members would have met that standard. Bill Anderson, Jim Ed Brown, John Conlee, Charlie Daniels, Diamond Rio, Jimmy Dickens, Larry Gatlin, Vince Gill, George Hamilton IV, Jan Howard, Del McCoury, Jesse McReynolds, Craig Morgan, Jimmy C Newman, Bobby Osborne, Ray Pillow, Riders In The Sky, Jeannie Seely, Jean Shepard, Ricky Skaggs, Connie Smith, Mike Snider, Marty Stuart, Steve Wariner and The Whites.

    If you take 2011, the number would have been 29. Those would have included Bill Anderson, Jim Ed Brown, Terri Clark, John Conlee, Charlie Daniels, Diamond Rio, Jimmy Dickens, Joe Diffie, Larry Gatlin, Vince Gill, Jack Greene, George Hamilton IV, Jan Howard, Del McCoury, Jesse McReynolds, Craig Morgan, Jimmy C Newman, Bobby Osborne, Charley Pride, Riders In The Sky, Jeannie Seely, Jean Shepard, Ricky Skaggs, Connie Smith, Mike Snider, Pam Tillis, Steve Wariner, The Whites and Oak Ridge Boys.

    There were also a number of artists that were in the 8 or 9 appearance group each year including Josh Turner, Carrie Underwood, Mel Tillis and a few others. If there was a 10 show requirement, they could probably be there. And also remember that a number the legends would do more shows if asked.

    The 10 show requirement, and it doesn't matter what night they show, is what is asked by Pete Fisher of new Opry members that he has added to the show since June 1999, when he became the Opry's General Manager. When Hal Durham and Bob Whittaker ran the Opry, they dropped the attendance requirements. The majority of the acts that do not appear on the show were those that joined when Hal and Bob were in charge. Pete has actually done a pretty decent job with those he has added.

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  44. I'll agree with you, Byron, on both points: that Fisher has had better luck, so to speak, and that the ones who almost get to 10 would if they had to. I remember Jeannie Seely telling the story that when she and Jack Greene were touring, they fell one show short one year, and she asked Bud Wendell, who was then the manager, about making it up the next year and he was fine with it.

    The problem, in a sense, is what Del Reeves said when he took on management. In the old days, when you joined the Opry, the assumption was that you were giving up some of your touring time in return for the idea that you had a place to play regularly when you no longer toured. I would say that if older acts no longer have that privilege, than the acts who joined under Durham and Whittaker aren't bound by THOSE rules.

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  45. Bill Anderson had a nice closing comment to his blog this week (in reference to a Larry's Country Diner cruise which just ended):

    "Larry estimates that the average price for the fans to take part in the cruise was in the neighborhood of $1295.00 apiece. For those who think traditional country music is dead....or that our fans won't pay to see and hear what we have to offer anymore....I can only say:

    "You Shoulda Been There!""

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  46. I wish I "hada been there!" Cast looked great this year.
    The last cruise I went on had Dickens, Riders, Anderson, and Morgan.
    Three outa four is a good percentage!

    This has been a very entertaining series of insights. I've enjoyed it a bunch.

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  47. Did anyone see that Ray Price publicly accepted Shelton's apology?

    Jim
    Knightsville, IN

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  48. I do agree in firing Blake.I like old time country music,but I do like some of the modern singers too.Blake should put up or shut up.Better yet,get out.

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  49. First and last time I will ever go on this site. Blake brought me back to country music. Seems like this is just a hater site for grumpy old people who are stuck in the past. Seems like he performed to a packed house last night. He also brings country music to a lot of people who never would have listened to it before. JP

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  50. I agree in firing Blake. The old ones made. a way for him. I think the old one if the have a cd out they have a hard time getting played on the radio.

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