Monday, April 29, 2013

May Opry Highlights

Here are the historical and important events that have taken place in Grand Ole Opry history during the month of May:

May 1, 1894: Sam McGee was born. He would team with his brother Kirk and together would appear on the Opry. Sam passed away in 1975, while Kirk would remain with the show until he died in 1983. They made their first Opry appearance in 1926 and would appear individually, as a duet, and as part of the Fruit Jar Drinkers and Dixieliners.

May 12, 1901: Benjamin Francis Ford was born in DeSoto, Missouri. Later known as Whitey Ford, the Duke of Paducah, this comedian would join the Grand Ole Opry in 1942. He was brought to the Opry specifically to appear on the Prince Albert Show. He remained an Opry member until 1959, but he would continue to appear on the show at the annual reunion shows. He passed away in 1986, the same year that he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

May 30, 1909: Lewis Crook of the famed Crook Brothers, was born. While not an original member of the Crook Brothers, he would eventually join the group, and would perform on the Opry until his death in 1997, with the last several years as part of the Opry's Square Dance Band.

May 1, 1910: Ott Devine, who at one time was the Opry's manager, was born.

May 17, 1912: Grand Ole Opry announcer, and WSM staff member, Grant Turner was born. He joined the staff at WSM on June 6, 1944, D-Day. He would remain an Orpy announcer until his death on October 19, 1991, hours after announcing the Friday Night Opry. He was an Opry announcer for 47 years and was a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame. In addition to announcing on the Opry, he hosted the Opry Warm-Up show for a number of years.

May 30, 1912: Alcyone Bate Beasley was born. She was there at the start of the Opry in 1925, performing with her father's group, Dr. Humphrey Bate and His Possum Hunters. They would remain a part of the Opry until Dr. Bate's death in 1936. After his death, Alcyone worked to keep the Possum Hunters together but it was a struggle as the Opry went with a more modern sound. By the 1960s, the Possum Hunters had been merged with the Crook Brothers. In the 1970s, she went into semi-retirement after over 40 years of performing on the Opry. After that, she would appear yearly as part of the Opry's reunion shows. She passed away in October 1982.

May 9, 1914: Hank Snow was born in Liverpool, Nova Scotia. He would join the Grand Ole Opry in January 1950 and would remain an Opry member until his death in December 1999, jsut short of celebrating 50 years as an Opry member. He was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1979.

May 1, 1926: Uncle Dave Macon joins the WSM Barn Dance, later called the Grand Ole Opry. He would remain a part of the Opry for the next quarter century, making his final Opry appearance on March 1, 1952. A short time after that show, he became ill and passed away several weeks later at the age of 81. He was considered the first professional performer to join the Opry with a national reputation. He always considered himself an old country boy, and in 1966 he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was known for his banjo playing and comedy.

May 25, 1936: Grand Ole Opry member Tom T Hall was born in Kentucky. And, much like Abe Lincoln, Tom T was born in a log cabin. The Country Music Hall of Fame member joined the Opry on January 1, 1971. He left the Opry in 1974 when it moved from the Ryman Auditorium to the new Grand Ole Opry House, but after a discussion with Ernest Tubb, he would rejoin the show. As many of you know, even though he is an Opry member and still active in the music business, he has not been at the Opry in decades and gives no indication of returning any time soon.

May 31, 1938: Donald Lytle was born in Greenfield, Ohio. He would be professionally known as Johnny Paycheck. As we was coming up in the music business, he would perform as a band member with Ray Price, Porter Wagoner, George Jones and Faron Young. In 1997, with the endorsement of his friend Johnny Russell, he would join the Grand Ole Opry. He would remain an Opry member until his death in February 2003 after a long illness.

May 2, 1948: Grand Ole Opry member Larry Gatlin was born. Larry, along with his brothers, joined the Opry on Christmas Day 1976. In recent years, Larry has returned to the Opry stage on a more frequent basis and spends many weeks hosting the Thursday night Opry Country Classics show, on which he does an excellent job.

May 29, 1950: Mother Maybelle Carter and the Carter Sisters join the Grand Ole Opry. The sisters, of course, were Helen, Anita and June. When the Carters joined the Opry, they brought along their guitar player, Chet Atkins, who would continue on with a Hall of Fame career as a musician and a record company executive. Over the years, while the Sisters would come and go, Mother Maybelle would remain at the Opry. Later in her Opry career, she along with some of the veterans such as Sam and Kirk McGee, would spend some of their time complaining about their Opry spots being poorly timed and limited. The McGees were very vocal at always having to appear after 11:00, which was after the farmers went to bed. Sounds like some things haven't changed regarding how the veterans and legends are treated!! Mother Maybelle would remain an Opry member until the late 1960s, when she left the show to travel as part of the Johnny Cash show.

May 11, 1957: The Everly Brothers make their first appearance at the Opry. They were brought in along with a few others, in an attempt to capture the younger crowd that was turning to rock n' roll. They would eventually join the cast of the Opry, but would stay only for a very short period of time, leaving the Opry in 1958. In 2001, they were elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

May 20, 1958: Don Gibson joined the Opry. This Country Music Hall of Fame member was part of a large group of Opry members who were fired by the Opry in December 1964 for not making the required number of annual appearances. He would eventually rejoin the show and would remain an Opry member until his death in 2003. However after he returned to the show, his appearances were very infrequent. On a related note, he never acknowledged his election to the Hall of Fame.

May 1, 1960: The WLS National Barn Dance, one of the Opry's early competitors, came to an end as WLS in Chicago changed formats, ending country music on the station. The Barn Dance had started on April 19, 1924, before the Grand Ole Opry started.

May 13, 1967: Merle Haggard makes his first appearance at the Opry. Former Opry manager Hal Durham would later say, "The girls were always crazy about Merle." While never joining the Opry, Merle would make some appearances over the years.

May 8, 1968: Grand Ole Opry founder George D. Hay passed away at his home in Virginia Beach, Virginia. He started the WSM Barn Dance in November 1925 and would later rename it the Grand Ole Opry. After he started the show, he would clash with WSM management, specifically Harry and David Stone, over the direction and management of the show. He wanted to keep the Opry "close to the ground" with rural and string performers, while the Stone's wanted a more professional show, with professional entertainers. We know who won that battle!! Over the years, he would suffer from various health issues and would see his influence and role at WSM and the Opry greatly reduced. By the time he retired from the Opry, his role was that of an announcer. On Saturday May 11, which was the next Opry show after his death, Grant Turner paid tribute to him, saying, "He called himself the Solemn Old Judge. If he was solemn, it was only in the face of those who thought to change or corrupt the purity of the barn-dance ballads he sought to preserve. We, the performers and friends of the Grand Ole Opry, salute the memory of one whose influence is felt on the stage of the Opry tonight-the Solemn Old Judge, George D. Hay." Of course, by the time of his death, Harry and David Stone were long gone from the Opry, but their direction helped to make the Opry what it has turned out today.

May 10, 1969: Opry member Stonewall Jackson rejoins the cast of the Opry. Stonewall had been fired from the Opry in December 1964, along with several other Opry members, for failing to make the required number of appearances. Stonewall remains an Opry member to this day. He created news several years ago when he sued the Opry for age discrimination. He refused to appear on the Opry for several years, until the lawsuit was settled. Since coming back to the Opry, he has made few appearances, and so far in 2013, has appeared just once.

May 27, 1972: Opryland opens. On the first day, it drew over 10,000 visitors and by the end of the year, over 1,400,000 would visit the park. Opryland would remain one of Nashville's most popular tourist attractions before Gaylord Entertainment officials made the decision to close the park. While Opryland opened in 1972, it would not be until March 1974 that the Opry House would be finished. After moving from the Ryman to Opryland, the Opry would enjoy a surge in attendance thanks to the out-of-town park visitors who would enjoy the park and stay to take in an Opry show.

May 22, 1977: The Grand Ole Opry held a special Sunday matinee show that was dedicated to their Canadian fans. The following day was Victoria Day in Canada, a national holiday.

May 11, 1979: Lester Flatt passed away in Nashville at the age of 64. He had been in declining heath for a number of years. After he split from Earl Scruggs, Lester stayed with a more traditional bluegrass sound and formed the Nashville Grass. As Lester moved forward with his solo career, he would reach legendary status among bluegrass followers. Lester would remain an Opry member until his death and would always host the Martha White segment while appearing on the show. One of the most famous members of Lester's band was Marty Stuart, who began his own professional career with Lester.

May 15, 1982: Ricky Skaggs joins the cast of the Opry. this will be his 31st year as an Opry member. When Ricky became a member, he was quoted as saying, "That was a childhood dream of mine. Because I used to go to sleep on my grandfather's lap listening to the Grand Ole Opry in his Ford pickup truck out by the barn. We'd pull away from the barn, and he would turn his radio on, an old tube radio that he had in his pickup and, of course, Nashville always came and went, you know, the frequency and the signal would just come and go up in those Kentucky mountains. But, you know, when it would come back in, you'd hear Earl Scruggs playing the banjo, it was the greatest sound in the world. And I used to listen to that. I'd been playing since I was five years old, when I played with Bill Monroe up in Martha, Kentucky, in a little high school." Ricky also said, "And I don't ever-ever want to get to the point where I don't come and play the Opry, where I feel like I'm too good to play the Opry. Mr. Acuff said that I would do that. He said, 'You'll get so big you'll do like all the rest of them.' And I said, you don't know me. You just watch me and see, I'm not made that way. I didn't join the Opry for that." After that, each time Ricky would come back and play the Opry and Roy was there, he would always make it a point of going to Roy's dressing room and telling him he was there. Except for a few bumps here and there, Ricky has stayed true to his word and has supported the Opry. He helps to keep the bluegrass sound alive at the show.

May 5, 1991: Travis Tritt makes his first appearance at the Grand Ole Opry. He would eventually join the Opry, becoming a member on February 29, 1992. And I make this little joke each time I write this, which is to remind people that it is only a rumor that his induction date was his last Opry appearance. In reality, his last Opry show was in 2007.

May 1, 1993: Charley Pride joins the cast of the Opry. This will be his 20th year as an Opry member and he was honored for that achievement last weekend. Charley had appeared on the Opry since the late 1960s and had been asked many times to become an Opry member, but he always declined the invitation due to his heavy touring schedule and the fact that he lived in Dallas. By 1993, he felt that the time was right and he joined. He normally appears around 10 times each year, which is the number that new members are asked to commit to.

May 11, 1996: Steve Wariner becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 17th year as an Opry member, and like Charley Pride, Steve has been pretty good about keeping up his Opry appearances. I had the chance to meet Steve backstage last year, and he was about the nicest guy around.

May 31, 1997: Lee Ann Womack makes her first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. While never becoming an Opry member, Lee Ann would make numerous Opry appearances over the years.

May 21, 2006: Grand Ole Opry member Billy Walker, along with his wife Bettie and two members of his band, were killed in a traffic accident on their way back to Nashville after performing a show in Alabama. Billy had joined the Opry in 1960.

May 19, 2007: Porter Wagoner celebrated his 50th year as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. He was joined on the special show by Dolly Parton, Patty Loveless, Buck Trent, and Marty Stuart, who hosted the segment. The celebration was shown on GAC as part of an hour long tribute. Sadly, Porter was in declining health and would pass away in October 2007. This was the last time that Porter and Dolly shared the stage together.

May 10, 2008: Carrie Underwood joins the Opry. This will be her 5th year as an Opry member. Even with her career as big as it has been, Carrie has always found time to appear on the Opry, making up to 10 appearances each year. While that may not seem like a lot, it is more than many of her fellow Opry members.

May 30, 2009: Comedian and banjo player Steve Martin makes his first Opry appearance. He led an all-star band in playing, "Foggy Mountain Breakdown."

May 1, 2010: The Grand Ole Opry House sustained major damage as the Cumberland River spilled over its banks after heavy rain hit Nashville. The Opry was unable to return to the Opry House until September of that year as there was severe water damage. The Opry would spend the summer at a number of various sites prior to returning. Bill Anderson was the last Opry artist to be on stage prior to the flood and was the first be perform after the Opry House reopened.

There you have it for this month. Enjoy!!

Friday, April 26, 2013

George Jones

I am sure that everyone by now knows that Grand Ole Opry member and Country Music Hall of Fame member George Jones passed away early this morning. His biography is well known and has been printed elsewhere. He was a country music icon who influenced so many others, as he was influenced himself. He said on numerous occasions that Roy Acuff was his favorite singer growing up and that he wanted to sing like Ray. In many ways, George copied Roy's style.

This weekend's Grand Ole Opry performances will be dedicated to George Jones, and the following is the tribute that will be read before the performances tonight and tomorrow:

"This performance of the Grand Ole Opry is dedicated to Grand Ole Opry member George Jones, who passed away in Nashville this morning at age 81.

For countless country fans and fellow country artists, George Jones was, simply put, the greatest country singer who ever lived. His career achievements are as impressive as anyone else's in country music. George charted more singles in his extraordinary career than any other artist in any other format. In 1992, he was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and won the Academy of Country Music's Pioneer Award. Ten years later, he was presented with the National Medal of Arts, the nation's highest honor for artistic excellence.

George has given us countless songs that will live as long as there is a Grand Ole Opry and as long as people everywhere are singing country music. Among his enduring standards are "Why, Baby, Why?", "White Lightnin'," "She Thinks I Still Care," "The Race Is On, "Walk Through This World With Me," "The Grand Tour," "Who's Gonna Fill Their Shoes," and so many more. Another of his classics is often named by fans the world-wide as the best country music song of all time, the unforgettable "He Stopped Loving Her Today."

As if his body of work as a solo artist was not enough, George added to his repertoire work as part of duo teams, including some of the most popular duets in country music history with Tammy Wynette. Their signature releases include "We're Gonna Hold On," "Near You," and "Golden Ring."

George was known by his many friends as "The Possum", was a matchless influence on the artistss who came after him. Among the many, many Opry members who have cited George as a major career influence include Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Joe Diffie, Vince Gill, Lorrie Morgan, Brad Paisley, and Randy Travis, to name just a few. Virtually everyone who will take the Opry stage this weekend and for years to come have been inspired by the music of George Jones.

One of the many gifts that was bestowed on George during his time with us is that he lived to an age in which he was able to see the legacy he would one day leave country music. He lived to know what an impact he had made on the music he loved.

We are honored that George chose to spend his 70th, 75th, and 80th birthdays with us here at the Opry. On those very special nights, George was surrounded by an Opry House packed with loyal fans. On stage, some of his best friends sang several of George's biggest hits, told great George Jones stories, and shared what the songs and their dear friend meant to them.

Tonight, we're even more thankful for those songs and stories....and for the man who made them an indelible part of our lives. Tonight we think of George's wife Nancy, his family, and friends. Tonight, the Grand Ole Opry salutes our dear friend, Opry member George Jones."

George's history with the Grand Ole Opry is mixed at best. He originally joined the Opry on August 11, 1956. He stayed for a while and then he left, rejoining the show on January 4, 1969. Some say he left again right after that, rejoining the show for a 3rd time on March 31, 1973. What I do know is that he never did the Opry more than a couple of times each year. It is interesting that in their dedication, the Opry highlights his birthday appearances. It should be noted that for each of those years, those were George's only Opry shows. Understand, I agree that George was a country music icon, just not a great Opry member.

I never met George Jones, although I did meet his wife Nancy, who was kind enough to have George autograph his biography to me. Like many others, I saw him several times at the Opry and he was always well received. I just wish that he had been there more often. I also saw him in concert several times and they were great shows. I am sorry that his great voice left him over the past several years. What I find most amazing about George Jones is the fact that he lived to age 81. When you consider his life, the drinking and drugs, the marriages and business failures, that is truly amazing.

I would expect at some point the Opry will have a special show dedicated to the music of George Jones. They are good at doing shows such as that, and they should. His life and legacy should be celebrated and the success he had should be highlighted.

Prayers and thoughts go to Nancy and his entire family.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 4/26 & 4/27

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry. On Saturday night, Ray Pillow is on the schedule and he will be celebrating 47 years as a member of the Opry, as he joined the show on April 30, 1966. My hope is that they will take a moment and recognize Ray, especially considering that the Opry now seems to recognize almost any Opry anniversary. In my mind, if Charlie Daniels can be honored for 5 years of membership, then Ray can certainly be honored for 47. While Ray is mostly retired these days, and his Opry appearances are few, he still has maintained that great voice that can do a "Texas Swing" about as well as anyone.

Also on the schedule is Jeannie Seely, who will be hosting a segment on both Friday and Saturday night. Jeannie has cancelled out the past several weeks and it will be interesting to see if she makes it back. Scheduled to join Jeannie on Friday night are Opry members Mel Tillis and Montgomery Gentry, along with guest artists Jason Crabb, Mark Chesnutt and Sarah Darling. I do find it surprising that Mel is not hosting a segment, as when he is on the Opry he usually does. Mark Chesnutt does not play the Opry very much, but when he does appear he is well received. I do have a favorite memory of him. I was at the Opry one night a few years back when the show was doing their winter run at the Ryman. For just about the entire show, Mark sat on the side of the stage just watching and enjoying. He could have stayed in the dressing rooms, visiting other artists, but instead he wanted to watch the show, just like any other fan.

Saturday's Grand Ole Opry, in addition to Ray and Jeannie will have Rhonda Vincent visiting. Again, we can speculate why she is not an Opry member, and even though she is not, she still is invited numerous times to do the show. Joining Rhonda are non-Opry members The Boxcars, Striking Matches, and a young lady who has been making frequent guest appearances, Kristen Kelly.

Jim Ed Brown is scheduled to host segments on both nights and he has promised a surprise this weekend. I do know that he has recorded a new song and is planning on debuting it. I have heard clips of the song and it sounds great, as does Jim's voice. And again, no Jimmy Dickens on the schedule for this weekend.

Friday April 26:
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Chris Janson; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jean Shepard; Montgomery Gentry
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host); Jason Crabb; Mark Chesnutt
8:45: John Conlee (host); Sarah Darling; Mel Tillis

Saturday April 27:
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Morgan Frazier; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); The Whites; Rhonda Vincent
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host); Ray Pillow; Striking Matches; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: John Conlee (host); The Boxcars; Kristen Kelly

Since this is Ray Pillow's 47th anniversary as an Opry member, I just wanted to add a few quick notes regarding Ray.

Ray was born in Lynchburg, Virginia on July 4, 1937. Ray was a veteran of the Navy who graduated from Lynchburg College with a business degree, that he would later put to good use. While attending college, he played with various bands. In the early 1960s, he entered the WSM Pet Milk talent contest, and despite losing, he moved to Nashville in 1963 to begin a career in country music. That same year he signed with Capital Records and within several years, he was on tour sponsored by Martha White Flour and has his first chart success with "Thank You Ma'am". He recorded a duet with Jean Shepard, "I'll Take the Dog", and by 1966 was a member of the Opry. He also won a national poll naming him "Most Programmed New Male Country Artist."

While Ray had moderate success as a performer, his big success came on the business side of the industry. Ray and his manager Joe Taylor started a booking agency and he also established his own publishing company, Sycamore Valley Music. He was the one who brought Lee Greenwood to Nashville and he signed Lee to his publishing company. As a result, in 1985 "God Bless the U.S.A." which was the CMA Song of the Year, had publishing rights held by Ray and his company. In 1990 Ray was hired by Liberty Records as their A&R man, a position he held for several years. He also held the same position with Capital Records. Even though he is semi-retired, Ray still works behind the scenes in the music business and is always on the look out for new talent and new songs.

I know I have posted this before, so I hope nobody mines if I do it again. Here is the running order of the Grand Ole Opry, from Saturday April 30, 1966, the night Ray Pillow joined the Grand Ole Opry:

7:30: Luzianne
Billy Walker (host): How Do You Ask Someone to Love You
George Hamilton IV: Big Steel Railroad
The Homesteaders: Flowers on the Wall
Cousin Jody: Steel Guitar Rag
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away
Curly Fox: Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey
George Hamilton IV: Write Me A Picture
The Homesteaders: Going Down the Mountain
Billy Walker: Charlie's Shoes

8:00: Martha White
Flatt & Scruggs (host): Nine Pound Hammer
Bobby Bare: Four Strong Winds
Grandpa Jones: (?)
Del Wood: Piano Roll Blues
Flatt & Scruggs: I Know What It Means to Be Lonesome
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Bobby Bare: Detroit City
Grandpa Jones: Old Rattler
Flatt & Scruggs: Foggy Mountain Breakdown

8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host): Tennessee Central No. 9
Wilburn Brothers: It's Another World
Marion Worth: One Has My Name, The Other My Heart
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Roy Acuff: Wreck on the Highway
Wilburn Brothers: Troubles Back In Town
Brother Oswald: Roll On Buddy, Roll On

9:00: Pet Milk
Ernest Tubb (host): Jealous Lovin' Heart
Glaser Brothers: A Girl Like You
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hickory Leaf
Ernest Tubb: Waltz Across Texas
Margie Bowes: That Completely Destroyed My Plans
Glaser Brothers: Teardrops Till Dawn
Leon Rhodes: Leon's Guitar Boggie

9:30: Kelloggs
Willis Brothers (host): Give Me 40 Acres
Carter Family: It's Ain't Me Babe
Waylon Jennings: Time to Bum Again
June Carter: Tall Loverman
Willis Brothers: Love Thy Neighbor
Harold Weakley: To Mommy, In Care of God
Carter Family: Wildwood Flower
Skeeter Davis: Maiden's Prayer

10:00: Schick
Billy Walker (host): Cross the Brazos At Waco
Curly Fox: The Old Grey Mule
Cousin Jody: Wabash Blues
Billy Walker: Cattle Call

10:15: Pure
Wilburn Brothers (host): I'm Gonna Tie One On Tonight
Del Wood: Night Train to Memphis
Wilburn Brothers: Someone Before Me
Don Helms: The World Is Waiting for the Sunrise

10:30: Harvey's
Bobby Bare (host): A Man of Constant Sorry
Grandpa Jones: I Don't Love Nobody
Bobby Bare: 500 Miles
Grandpa Jones: Eight More Miles to Louisville
Bobby Bare: It Ain't Me Babe/The Answer is Blowing in the Wind/Worried Man Blues

10:45: Newport
Ernest Tubb (host): Till My Getup Has Got Up and Gone
Jack Greene: Born to Lose
Crook Brothers: Ida Red
Ernest Tubb: Half a Mind

11:00: Coca-Cola
Roy Acuff (host): The Great Speckled Bird
Glaser Brothers: Same Old Memories
Margie Bowes: Big City
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bill Cheatham
Sam McGee: Wheels
Onie Wheeler: Too Hot to Handle

11:30: Lava
Willis Brothers (host): Gonne Swing Till My Rope Breaks
George Hamilton IV: Abilene
Waylon Jennings: Anita, You're Dreaming
Archie Campbell: The Men in My Little Girl's Life
Willis Brothers: A 6 Ft 2 By 4
Marion Worth: Cryin' Time
George Hamilton IV: Truck Driving Man
Willis Brothers: Walk These Hills With Me

A pretty powerful line up that night. Interesting to see Waylon Jennings guesting on the Opry, and Roy Acuff taking the 2 segments usually hosted by Hank Snow, who was absent that night.

Again, congratulations to Ray Pillow!!!

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Tuesday Night Opry 4/23 & Opry Country Classics 4/25

I haven't really spent much time mentioning the Tuesday Night Opry or Opry Country Classics since both have returned to the Opry's schedule after the winter break. Overall, the line-ups for the Tuesday Night Opry have been pretty strong and this week is no exception as Alabama and Shooter Jennings will be the headliners. Since they have gotten back together, Alabama has made several Opry appearances and they always draw a good crowd. This week's show is broken down into only 3 segments instead of the traditional 4.

7:00: Striking Matches; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: Jimmy Wayne; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Connie Smith; Shooter Jennings; Alabama

The spring series of Opry Country Classics continues with Larry Gatlin again hosting. As I have said before, Larry does an outstanding job hosting the Classics show and is perfect in this role. He tends to get a little excited at times, but he keeps the show on track and has fun doing it. The spotlight artist continues and this week it is Opry member and Country Music Hall of Fame member Mel Tillis.

The entire line-up this week included Craig Campbell, Mark Collie, Sarah Darling and Jan Howard. Nice to see the Opry book one of the bright young female talents in country music, Sarah Darling, along with one of the great female Opry legends, Jan Howard.

Finally, just wrapping up the Opry again from this past weekend, I thought both shows were excellent. Friday night, Diamond Rio was honored for 15 years of Opry membership and on Saturday night, Charley Pride was honored for 20. I like the fact that the Opry is doing a better job of honoring anniversary dates for its members, but as I have said before, I would like it more if they did it for everyone and not for a select few. In other words, don't leave out the legends.

As far as other thoughts, Jim Lauderdale stepped in on Friday night when Jeannie Seely cancelled out and did his usual fine job. He has a great voice and can belt out a good country or bluegrass number. On Saturday night, we got to hear Jimmy C Newman host a segment for the first time this year, and we got to hear Vince Gill get mixed up with his song, and as was commented earlier, it sounded like the band was playing one song and he was trying to sing another. And I give it up to Billy Ray Cyrus, who again did a fantastic job.

The Opry is fun and I hope all of you got a chance to enjoy it.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Past Mid-April Opry Line-Ups

Sometimes it is fun to go back in Grand Ole Opry history and compare line-ups from years past. Since this is the middle of April, I thought I would go back to this time period and compare some Opry line-ups and so some can see how the Opry has progressed over the years.

The first one is from Saturday April 19, 1952 (61 years ago). 1 show from 7:30-Midnight and notice the quality of the line-up and all the Hall of Famer's on the show.

7:30: Warren Paint
Roy Acuff (host): My Tears Don't Show
Lew Childre: Riding On The Elevated Railroad
The Le Croix Sisters: Cabin In Glory Land
The Jug Band: Barney Google
Joe Zincan: Alabama Jubilee

7:45: American Ace
Roy Acuff (host): It's All Right Now
Oswald: Weary Lonesome Blues
Roy Acuff: Branded Whereever I Go
Jimmy Riddle: Darling Nellie Grey

8:00: Martha White
Ernest Tubb (host): Daisey May
Bill Monroe: Uncle Pen
Mama Maybelle: Wildwood Flower
Cowboy Copas: Copy Cat
The Crook Brothers: Bile Them Cabbage Down
Ernest Tubb: Driftwood On The River
June Carter: Around The Corner
Chet Atkins: Stars And Stripes Medley
Bill Monroe: Raw Hide
Fiddle: Sally Goodin

8:30: Prince Albert
Red Foley (host): Salty Dog Rag
Rod Brasfield: Comedy
Webb Pierce: Wondering
The Square Dancers: Old Joe Clark
Red Foley: Just A Closer Walk With Thee
The Jordanaires: Walk Those Golden Stairs
Minnie Pearl: Comedy
Webb Pierce: New Silver Bells
Stringbean: Nine Pound Hammer
Red Foley: The Convict And The Rose
The Square Dancers: Money Musk

9:00: Royal Crown Cola
Roy Acuff (host): South Bound Train
The Fruit Jar Drinkers: Stump Tail Dog
George Morgan: You're A Little Doll
Pap And The Jug Band: Too Old To Cut The Mustard
Hank Williams: Honky Tonk Blues
Oswald: Blue Ridge Mountain Blues
Roy Acuff: The Heart That Was Broken For Me
The Le Croix Sisters: Practice What You Preach
Howdy Forrester: Bonapart's Retreat

9:30: Fortune Feed
Carl Smith (host): Don't Just Stand There
Hank Snow: The Gold Rush Is Over
Johnny and Jack: Three Ways Of Knowing
Anita Carter: Just When I Needed You
The Possum Hunters: Billy In The Low Ground
Ray Price: Talk To Your Heart
The Jordanaires: Read That Book
Carl Smith: Little Girl In My Home Town
Hank Snow: Why Do You Punish Me
Hal Smith: Here And There

10:00: Wall Rite
Bill Monroe (host): I'm On My Way Back To The Old Home
The Old Hickory Singers: Waiting For The Robert E Lee
George Morgan: Almost
Bill Monroe: Swing Low Sweet Chariot
Old Joe Clark: Ground Hog

10:15: Dr. Le Gear
Roy Acuff (host): The Great Speckled Bird
The Le Croix Sisters: I Miss Old Oklahoma
The Jug Band: Uncle Noah's Ark
Roy Acuff: This World Is Not My Home
Big Howdy: Wake Up Susan

10:30: Jefferson Island Salt
Ernest Tubb (host): Travelin' Blues
Hank Snow: Golden Rocket
Ray Price: Hurry, Hurry, Hurry
The Jordanaires: Did A Little Deeper
The Gully Jumpers: Mocking Bird
Ernest Tubb: Slipping Around
June Carter: I Ain't Been Yet
Chet Atkins: Five Foot Two
Hank Snow: I Wonder Where You Are Tonight
Mother Maybelle: I'm Leavin' You

11:00: D Con
Cowboy Copas (host): 'Tis Sweet To Be Remembered
Annie Lou and Danny: You Ain't Got No Hillbillies Any More
Stringbean: Cindy
Cowboy Copas: I Love You My Darling

11:15: Soltice
Carl Smith (host): Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way
Sam and Kirk: While I'm Away
Johnny and Jack: Ashes Of Love
Carl Smith: Let's Live A Little
Hal Smith: Turkey In The Straw

11:30: ABC Chick
Hank Williams (host): Baby We're Really In Love
Lew Childre: Put On Your Old Grey Bonnet
The Crook Brothers: Sally Goodin
Hank Williams: Lost Highway
The Crook Brothers: Trouble Among The Yearling

11:45: O-Cel-O
George Morgan (host): Cry Baby Heart
Bill Monroe: Blue Moon Of Old Kentucky
The Fruit Jar Drinkers: Mississippi Sawyer
George Morgan: My Baby Lied To Me
The Fruit Jar Drinkers: Down Yonder

Now, let's jump to April 17, 1971. This was 42 years ago and the Opry had started having 2 shows. You will notice a big difference in the line-up.

1st show
6:30: Mrs. Grissoms: Jim Ed Brown (host): 4 Guys
6:45: Rudy's: Ray Pillow (host): Del Wood; Bobby Lewis
7:00: Luzianne: Billy Grammer (host): Earl Scruggs Revue; Justin Tubb; Joe & Rose Lee Maphis
7:30: Standard Candy: Roy Acuff (host): Skeeter Davis: Stringbean; Crook Brothers
8:00: Martha White: Ernest Tubb (host): Hank Locklin; Connie Smith; Floyd Tillman
8:30: Stephens: Hank Snow (host): Bob Luman; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Harold Weakley

2nd show
9:30: Kelloggs: Jim Ed Brown (host): 4 Guys; Justin Tubb; Del Wood
10:00: Fender: Hank Locklin (host): Stringbean; Bobby Lewis
10:15: Union 76: Billy Grammer (host): Skeeter Davis; Joe & Rose Lee Maphis
10:30: Trailblazer: Roy Acuff (host): Ray Pillow; Floyd Tillman
10:45: Beech-Nut: Ernest Tubb (host): Leon Boulanger; Crook Brothers
11:00: Coca-Cola: Hank Snow (host): Connie Smith; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Sam McGee
11:30: Elm Hill: Charlie Louvin (host): Bob Luman; Diane McCall

Moving up 20 years, here is April 20, 1991, which was 22 years ago this weekend.

1st show
6:30: Bonanza: Grandpa Jones (host): Wilma Lee Cooper
6:45: Hall of Fame: Bill Monroe (host): Charlie Walker; Jack Greene
7:00: Shoney's: Porter Wagoner (host): Hank Locklin; Jim Ed Brown; John Conlee; The Whites
7:30: Standard Candy: Del Reeves (host): Osborne Brothers; Jeannie Seely; Lee Greenwood
8:00: Martha White: Roy Acuff (host): Jimmy Dickens; Jeanne Pruett; Bill Anderson; Opry Square Dance Band
8:30: Pops Rite: Hank Snow (host): Jean Shepard; 4 Guys; Ricky Skaggs

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General: Porter Wagoner (host): Stonewall Jackson; Jeannie Seely: Charlie Walker; Jack Greene
10:00: Little Debbie: Grandpa Jones (host): Roy Drusky; Del Reeves
10:15: Tennessee Pride/Sunbeam: Roy Acuff (host): Jeanne Pruett
10:30: Pet Milk: Bill Monroe (host): John Conlee
10:45: BC Powder: Bill Anderson (host): Bill Carlisle; Opry Square Dance Band
11:00: Coca-Cola: Hank Snow (host): The Whites; Jim Ed Brown; Jimmy Dickens; Justin Tubb
11:30: Creamette: Ricky Skaggs (host): 4 Guys; Jean Shepard; Ray Pillow; Osborne Brothers

Finally, lets jump to Saturday April 16, 2005, 9 years ago.

1st show
6:30: Cracker Barrel: John Conlee (host): Connie Smith: Bobby Pinson
7:00: Tootsie's: Jim Ed Brown (host): Jean Shepard; Jimmy C Newman; Hanna-McEuen
7:30: Standard Candy: Lorrie Morgan (host): Billy Walker; Osborne Brothers; The Whites
8:00: Martha White: Porter Wagoner (host): Jan Howard; Jesse McReynolds; Trent Willmon; Opry Square Dance Band
8:30: Odom's: Bill Anderson (host); Jeannie Seely; Larry Gatlin

2nd show
9:30: Cracker Barrel: John Conlee (host): Connie Smith; Bobby Pinson
10:00: Martha White: Porter Wagoner (host): Jimmy C Newman; Jean Shepard; Larry Gatlin
10:30: Rutledge Hill Press: Lorrie Morgan (host): Billy Walker; The Whites; Opry Square Dance Band
11:00: Johnny Walker Tours: Bill Anderson (host); Osborne Brothers; Hanna-McEuen
11:30: Grand Ole Opry Visa: Jeannie Seely (host): Ray Pillow; Jesse McReynolds; Trent Willmon

As you can see, there has been quite a difference in the Opry line-ups over the years. While we may all have our own preference, I will take the 1952 show any day of the week.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 4/19 & 4/20

First, sorry for the lack of posts over the past week. While some may find it hard to believe, I do have a full-time job, which is not this!! Anyways, things were a little busy the past week and are now taken care of. So with that, I am back in business.

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend and at first glance, it looks like another nice weekend for the Opry. The shows look solid and there are a couple of events scheduled for this weekend. The first involves Opry members Diamond Rio, who on April 18 will celebrate 15 years as Opry members. They will be honored this weekend for their achievement. It goes without saying that Diamond Rio have been pretty loyal members of the Opry and have always come thru with their Opry appearances. Also being honored this weekend will be Charley Pride, who on May 1 will be celebrating 20 years as an Opry member. As with Diamond Rio, Charley has been pretty good with his Opry appearances and has almost always made the 10 yearly appearances that Pete Fisher has asked of new Opry members. Even though Charley joined teh show before Pete took over and joined during the time period that nothing was asked of Opry members, he has made sure to be at the Opry whenever he is in Nashville.

The newest Opry member, Darius Rucker, will also be appearing on Friday night. For Darius, this will be his 2nd Opry appearance of the year, after also appearing this past Tuesday night, and he has a couple of more scheduled. When Darius joined the Opry many of us wondered how he would respond as an Opry member, and so far it looks promising. Joining Darius on Friday night will be Clare Bowen from "Nashville", continuing the cross promotion with the television show. I know this past week, the show was doing some filming at the Opry.

The Saturday night Grand Ole Opry will feature Billy Ray Cyrus, always a crowd favorite whenever he performs. Also scheduled is the very fine bluegrass artist Sam Bush, who usually makes several Opry appearances each year.

It seems like each week we have someone making their first appearance ever on the Grand Ole Opry and this week it is Sir Cliff Richard, from the United Kingdom. Sir Cliff is 72 years old and the information that I found states that he is the 3rd highest selling singles artist in the history of the United Kingdom. He obviously is not country and he is on Vince Gill's segment on Saturday night, so I would assume that there is a connection there.

Also scheduled to appear this weekend is Jeannie Seely, who cancelled out on her Opry appearances last weekend and on Tuesday night. Also, Jimmy Dickens is not on the schedule. He made a surprise appearance again on Friday night. It looks to me that if Jimmy is feeling ok, he heads to the Opry and hits the stage for a few minutes. But he must not be well enough to put on the schedule each week or to host a segment. And in his brief Opry appearances this year, he has been well received and has done a fine job.

Friday April 19
7:00: John Conlee (host); Maggie Rose; The Whites
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Diamond Rio
8:15: Charley Pride (host); Jim Ed Brown; Elizabeth Cook
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Clare Bowen; Darius Rucker

Saturday April 20
7:00: John Conlee (host); Kelleigh Bannen; Jesse McReynolds; Jean Shepard
7:30: Diamond Rio (host); Jim Ed Brown; Sam Bush
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host); Jimmy C Newman; Billy Ray Cyrus; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Sir Cliff Richard; Charley Pride

Again, 2 very solid line-ups and it looks like a fine weekend at the Opry.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 4/12 & 4/13

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend and both nights are looking pretty good. The Friday Night Opry will feature non-Opry members Crystal Gayle, The Isaacs and Lonestar. For The Isaacs, it continues the string of Opry appearances that they have been making over the last 6 months. They are popular and are well received. The same can be said for Crystal Gayle, who over the past year has increased the number of Opry shows that she has done.

While it would be easy to say that the highlight for Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will be the return of Scotty McCreery to the Opry stage, for many of us it will be the return of Stonewall Jackson that will excite us. For Stonewall, this will be his 1st Opry show of 2013. He did have a procedure done on his back and it is great to see Stonewall back. He will also be hosting the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree Saturday night/Sunday morning. Also appearing on Saturday will be The Grascals, along with Lennon and Maisy Stella, from the "Nashville" television show, who will be making their 2nd Opry appearance. One again this weekend, no Jimmy Dickens.

Friday April 12
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Kristen Kelly; Jesse McReynolds
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Mike Snider; Lonestar
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); The Whites; Chuck Wicks
8:45: Jeannie Seely (host); Crystal Gayle; The Isaacs

Saturday April 13
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Mark Wills; Mike Snider
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jimmy C Newman; The Grascals
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Stonewall Jackson; Lennon and Maisy Stella; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Scotty McCreery

For this week's look back into Grand Ole Opry history, I go back to 22 years ago this Saturday night, April 13, 1991, for the annual Grand Ole Opry reunion show. I know I have done a few of these lately, and I hope you enjoy the look back at when former Opry members came back to visit the show.

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Grandpa Jones (host): Ball Headed End of A Broom
Bill Anderson: Still
Grandpa Jones: Dear Old Sunny South By the Sea

6:45: Hall of Fame
Bill Monroe (host): Blue Moon of Kentucky
Ricky Skaggs: Let It Be You/Honey, Open That Door
Bill Monroe: Southern Flavor

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Company's Comin'
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells
Jan Howard: Heartaches by the Number
Jim & Jesse: It's A Lonesome Feeling
The Whites: He Took Your Place
Porter Wagoner: Ole Slewfoot

7:30: Standard Candy
Jimmy Dickens (host): Country Boy
Margie Bowes: When I Call Your Name
Zeke Clements: No More Smoke on the Water
Faron Young: Wine Me Up/Hello Walls
Jimmy Dickens: Another Bridge to Burn

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Pee Wee King: Tennessee Waltz
Charlie Louvin: When You Can Only Dream That Far/When I Stop Dreaming
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted/Elvira
Opry Square Dance Band/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Bill Cheatham

8:30: Pops Rite
Hank Snow (host): Send Me the Pillow You Dream On
Skeeter Davis: Who's Gonna Tell Marie
Ray Pillow: That Ain't No Way to Treat My Heart
Riders In The Sky: How The Yodel Was Born
John Conlee: Common Man
Hank Snow: My Little Old Home Down in New Orleans

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Country Music Has Gone to Town
Wilma Lee Cooper: The Picture on the Wall
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything/He Is My Everything
George Hamilton IV: Forever Young
The Whites: Doing It By the Book
Porter Wagoner: I'll Go Down Swinging

10:00: Little Debbie
Grandpa Jones (host): Better Time's A'Comin
Stonewall Jackson: Muddy Water
Jeannie Seely: One Step Away From Coming Home
Grandpa Jones: The Sweet Sunny South

10:15: Tennessee Pride/Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): I'll Fly Away
Faron Young: It's Four in the Morning/Hello Walls

10:30: Pet Milk
Ricky Skaggs (host): He Was On To Something
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Ricky Skaggs: Lovin Only Me

10:45: B C Powder
Bill Anderson (host): Son of the South
Jim & Jesse: Dream of Me
Opry Square Dance Band/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Rachel
Bill Anderson: Thank You Darling For Loving Me

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Franie & Johnny
Jimmy Dickens: Me and My Big Loud Mouth
Justin Tubb: Keep Me From Blowing Away
John Conlee: Common Man/Rose Colored Glasses
Hank Snow: Whispering Rain

11:30: Creamette
Bill Monroe (host): Old Dangerfield
Mike Snider: Shuckin The Corn
Charlie Louvin: In the Pines
Riders In The Sky: When The Bloom Is On The Sage
Charlie Walker: Deep Water
Bill Monroe: Dark As The Night; Blue As The Day

On a final note, here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, April 16:

7:00: Mark Wills; Jeannie Seely
7:30: Blackberry Smoke; The Whites
8:15: Aaron Tippin; The Greencards
8:45: Mandy Barnett; Darius Rucker

Nice to see the Opry's newest member back at the Opry. Enjoy the shows this weekend.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

CMA To Live Stream Hall of Fame Announcement On Wednesday

As they have done previously, the Country Music Association has announced that they will live stream the Hall of Fame announcement on Wednesday April 10 at 9:00 am, Central Time. If you go to the CMA website, it will provide you with the direct link. Bill Anderson will be the host and has the honor of making the formal announcement. This will be Bill's first year, as Kix Brooks has handled that role in the past.

As a reminder, there will be 3 selected to the Hall this year:

Modern Era (eligible for induction in this category 20 years after they first achieve national prominence)

Veterans Era (eligible for induction in this category 45 years after they first achieve national prominence)

Non-Performer (active prior to 1980 and this is a rotating category)

As I do each year, and I might add with some success, here are my final picks on this year's class. ( I always break it down who I think should get in and who actually will get in).

Non-Performer: All indications this year are that Buddy Killen is the favorite. This former bass player at the Grand Ole Opry has done it all. He was a music producer and publisher. He helped to grow Tree Publishing into one of the largest in Nashville. The list of  those he has worked for is endless. He was one of those who helped to make Nashville into Music City USA. I think his closest competition will come from producer Tony Brown. Much like Buddy, Tony has deep roots as a music producer and was the involved with some of Nashville's biggest stars of the 1980s and 1990s. He has been one of the power players in Nashville. As far as who I think should get elected, it would be a gentleman who is not even on the ballot and that is Cowboy Jack Clement. He is nothing short of an icon in Nashville and can trace his roots back to Sun Records and Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash.

Who Should Be Elected: Cowboy Jack Clement

Who Will Be Elected: Buddy Killen

Veterans Era: This is always a difficult category just from the number of worth candidates that are out there. And this year is no different with several groups actually trying to influence the voters on behalf of their favorites. One of the most active has been by people supporting Dottie West. Dottie is certainly deserving and the effort has been amazing, but all indications are that the effort came up short. The consensus is that it is down to 2 favorites. The first is The Browns, and there is no question that they deserve election. While everyone remembers the great songs that The Browns had, their careers were relatively short. They came into prominence in the late 1950s and by the late 1960s, they were done. While they would appear together on occasion, their recording careers had ended. Jim Ed Brown has continued to carry on and a case can be made that he should be a Hall of Famer. The other favorite this year is Bobby Bare. What is interesting is that when the various "finalist" lists were being published, he was not listed in one of them. He has been a finalist in the past and his career speaks for itself, and in fact in many ways is similar to other Hall of Famers such as Tom T Hall and Mel Tillis. Bobby is still active around Nashville and continues to be popular with the folks.

Who Should Be Elected: The Browns

Who Will Be Elected: Bobby Bare

Modern Era: The debate in this category is always "are we electing someone too soon?" Last year it was Garth Brooks that was the subject of this question and this year it is Alan Jackson. Garth was certainly deserving and could not be overlooked. But is Alan in the same class as Garth, and if he is, will this continue a trend of electing more of the artists from that era while overlooking those from the 1970s and 1980s, and having those folks wait until they fall into the veterans category? Alan's competiton is from Kenny Rogers, Oak Ridge Boys and Ronnie Milsap. All of these are very close to being in the veterans class, and depending on how the CMA determines, "prominence", they could be on that ballot next year. There is no question that all 4 are deserving and will get in some day. The question is which one this year. For what it is worth, I think the voters are going to take a step back and go with an icon from the 1970s and 80s, which would be Kenny Rogers. And while I have nothing to base this on, I think one of the reasons for the delayed announcement this year was Kenny's touring schedule. It just seems "funny" that this week there is a break in his touring.

Who Should Be Elected: Oak Ridge Boys

Who Will Be Elected: Kenny Rogers

No matter who is elected, all the names mentioned are deserving. My own personal view is that I would like to see the older artists elected so they can enjoy the honor before passing away. Like everyone else, I will be watching on Wednesday morning.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 4/5 & 4/6

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry, along with next weeks Tuesday Night Opry.

Overall, the shows are pretty solid considering that the ACM Awards are in Las Vegas on Sunday night and most of the "big" names in country music will be out there for the weekend. As far as the Friday Night Opry, Marty Stuart will be returning to the Opry stage for the 2nd time since being honored in December for 20 years of Opry membership. (His 1st appearance will be the night before at the Opry Country Classics show). Joining Marty on Friday Night will be the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys, who have played the Opry previously, along with Amanda Shires. Among the veteran artists, Darryl Worley and Restless Heart will be visiting, along with bluegrass sensation Rhonda Vincent.

The Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night will feature guest artists Point Of Grace and Bucky Covington, along with Opry members John Conlee, Connie Smith and Bill Anderson, all of whom will be appearing both nights. And speaking of Connie Smith, she will be hosting a segment on Saturday night. If I have my records right, this will be her 3rd time hosting, as she hosted a segment last year and one many years ago. Just an opinion on my part, but I like the fact that the Opry is using different artists to host segments. In addition to Connie this weekend, Craig Morgan got another shot last week and he did well. I think it brightens up the show instead of having the same acts hosting week after week. I know back in the day, you had the usual hosts such as Roy Acuff, Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, Porter Wagoner, Grandpa Jones and Bill Monroe among many others, but the Opry also used just about any other male artists at times to host, including some of the "lower end" acts. It just seems like in the last 5-10 years, the Opry has kind of gotten in a rut regarding the segments.

Friday April 5
7:00: John Conlee (host): Rhonda Vincent; The Whites
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host): Amanda Shires; Restless Heart
8:15: Bill Anderson (host): Jan Howard; Jimmy C Newman; Darryl Worley
8:45: Marty Stuart (host): Sleepy Man Banjo Boys; Connie Smith

Saturday April 6
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host): J.T. Hodges; Jim Ed Brown
7:30: John Conlee (host): Carolyn Dawn Johnson; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
8:15: Connie Smith (host): Jesse McReynolds; Bucky Covington; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host): Jean Shepard; Point Of Grace

And you will notice that Jimmy Dickens is not on the schedule for this weekend. Last weekend, Jimmy surprised everyone by making an appearance both Friday night and Saturday night. Friday he was on John Conlee's segment, while Saturday he was with Jeannie Seely. He came out with his guitar and told some of his jokes. He sounded a little weak, but otherwise looked pretty good. The audience both nights gave him a standing ovation. Perhaps he will be on again this weekend and just didn't want to commit until he knew for sure. Also, I am fine with Jimmy not hosting a segment and just coming out and telling some jokes. He is funny and if the voice isn't quite there to sing, that is ok.

The Opry also announced the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, April 9:

7:00: The Henningsens; Connie Smith
7:30: Jimmy Wayne; Dailey & Vincent
8:15: Jim Ed Brown; Holly Williams
8:45: Lorrie Morgan; Pam Tillis

A pretty solid show and it is nice to see both Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tillis back at the Opry. They have each made previous appearances this year and both are scheduled for some future shows. They have been missed at the Opry and with their family history, should be supporting the show more.

Now, for our look back in Grand Ole Opry history:

For a period of time in the Opry's history, they held annual reunion shows, also called "Old-Timers' night", when they invited back former Opry members. These shows usually took place in either March or April. One of the shows took place on Saturday April 4, 1981, 32 years ago. Here is the line-up from that night:

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Charlie Walker (host): San Antonio Rose
Stu Phillips: Great El Tigre
Charlie Walker: Crazy Arms

6:45: Rudy's
Jack Greene (host): I'll Be There
Jan Howard: The Story of Hondo Crouch
Ernie Ashworth: Memphis Memory
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Dooley
Skeeter Davis: Take It Easy
Curly Fox: The Old Gray Mule
Wilburn Brothers: I'm Gonna Tie One On Tonight
Duke of Paducah: Comedy
Porter Wagoner: Trouble In Amen Corner

7:30: Standard Candy
Jimmy C Newman (host): Happy Cajun Country
David Houston: Texas Ida Red
Zeke Clements: Where Could I Go, But to the Lord
Billy Grammer: Somebody Loves You
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Sally Goodin
Jimmy C Newman: Cajun Country Special

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Connie Smith: Give Them All to Jesus
Pee Wee King: Tennessee Waltz
Alcyone Beasley: Silver Threads Among The Gold
Jack Shook: Tumbling Tumbleweeds
Alcyone Beasley & Jack Shook: (?)
Bill Carlisle: Is Zat You Myrtle
Roy Acuff: I'll Fly Away

8:30: Acme
Hank Snow (host): Storms Never Last
4 Guys: Swing Down Chariot
Ray Pillow: Too Many Memories
Lonzon & Oscar: Delta Dirt
Paul Howard: Stay A Little Longer
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge
Hank Snow & Kelly Foxton: Before the Next Teardrop Falls

2nd show
9:30: Kelloggs
Porter Wagoner (host): Y'All Come
4 Guys; Woman, Woman
Justin Tubb: Pull the Covers Over Me
Jeannie Seely: Somebody's Knockin'
Vic Willis Trio: Shenendoah
Porter Wagoner: I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name

10:00: Little Debbie
Jack Greene (host): Sing For The Good Times
Curly Fox: The Old Gray Mule
Wilma Lee Cooper: Walking My Lord Up Calvary Hill
Jack Greene: Try A Little Kindness

10:15: Sunbeam
Jimmy C Newman (host): Louisiana Cajun Band
Skeeter Davis: Just When I Needed You Most
Zeke Clements: Why Should I Cry Over You/Just A Little Lovin
Wade B. Landrey: Orange Blossom Special

10:30: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): I Couldn't Believe It Was True
Pee Wee King: Deck of Cards
Howdy Forrester & Jimmy Riddle: Jesse Polka

10:45: Beechnut
Roy Drusky (host): Strangers
Connie Smith: When God Dips His Love Into My Heart
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Arkansas Traveler
Roy Drusky: Last Farewell

11:00: Coke
Hank Snow (host): With This Ring I Three Wed
Billy Grammer: Kentucky
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
Duke of Paducah: Comedy
Kirk McGee: Milk'em In The Evening Blues
Hank Snow & Kelly Foxton: After The Love Is Gone

11:30: Bama
David Houston (host): Texas Ida Red
Lonzo & Oscar: Up This Hill And Down
Paul Howard: It Makes No Difference Now
Bill Carlisle: Too Old To Cut The Mustard
David Houston: After All

Another of the shows took place on April 7, 1984, 29 years ago:

1st show
6:30: Jim Ed Brown (host): 4 Guys
6:45: Bill Monroe (host): Stonewall Jackson; Clyde Moody
7:00: Grandpa Jones (host): Skeeter Davis; Jordanaires; Jimmy C Newman; Jan Howard
7:30: Bill Anderson (host): Ricky Skaggs; Ferlin Husky; Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers
8:00: Roy Acuff (host): Jean Shepard; Roy Drusky; Sid Harkreader;
8:30: Hank Snow (host): Pee Wee King; Curly Fox; Wilma Lee Cooper; Boxcar Willie

2nd show
9:30: Bill Anderson (host): Ray Pillow; Jim Ed Brown; David Houston; Jordanaires
10:00: Bill Monroe (host): Jeannie Seely; Clyde Moody
10:15: Grandpa Jones (host): Lonzo & Oscar; Pee Wee King
10:30: Roy Acuff (host): Charlie Louvin
10:45: Ricky Skaggs (host): Bill Carlisle; Crook Brothers.Stoney Mountain Cloggers
11:00: Hank Snow (host): Jean Shepard; Ferlin Husky; Jimmy C Newman; Justin Tubb
11:30: Roy Drusky (host): Boxcar Willie; Curly Fox; 4 Guys

There you have it. A big week coming up with the Hall of Fame announcement on Wednesday.