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!!!


  1. Fred, Bismarck:

    One of the few shows from those days on which Roy did not do the "Cannonball"! (He did do "Speckled Bird," though.)

    I know I felt I had experienced the classic, on my Opry visit in '69, when Roy did both numbers, on the same segment, as I recall.

    I remember a lot of people thought he was making a big mistake by doing those same numbers every week, and begged for relief. He said simply that he always had requests for them from Opry visitors and didn't want anybody leaving Nashville disappointed.

    Spoken like a man who put the fans first!

  2. Fred, I know that in his later years, he always did the Cannonball on one show, but he didn't always do the Bird. I know he also would give up a song or two to the band or guests. Anyway, I just wanted to say that it's always nice to see recognition for Ray Pillow, always an underrated singer, and apparently an all-around good guy to boot.

  3. Special appearance by Brad Paisley tonight on the Friday Night Opry.

  4. Interesting tidbit. On Saturday night, the classic Opry transcriptions included the lineup this blog recently featured on Norma Jean's induction night. It was the 8:00 Martha White segment from January 9, 1965.

  5. Mike, I did not listen as I was out of town this weekend. I only caught the last hour of the Friday Night Opry. Interesting information and I can't believe that you noticed it. Thanks.

  6. Byron, my brain always does things it doesn't need to do. Now, where did I put my car keys ....