Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 5/17 & 5/18

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend, but before I get into my thoughts on this week's shows, I want to offer a little editorial comment. This past week it was announced that an exhibit dedicated to the television show "Nashville" will be set up backstage and will be included as part of the Opry backstage tour that is offered for a fairly significant price. Since I have been lucky to have been able to be  backstage several times over the past couple of years, I have not had to pay to take the tour, but I have watched the tours as they are given and the are actually "ok." But my problem is that backstage at the Opry, there are very little exhibits dedicated to the Opry itself. You have the wall of bricks, which lists all of the Opry members in the history of the Opry; the pictures hanging up in the hallways and dressing rooms; Roy Acuff's and Jimmy Thompson's fiddle; Minnie Pearl's hat, and that is about it.

When the Grand Ole Opry Museum was open, I thought it was excellent in telling the story and history of the Opry. Through the years, there were exhibits dedicated to Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Tex Ritter, Hank Snow, Jim Reeves, Patsy Cline, Jimmy Dickens, Marty Robbins, and I know I am missing others. And before that you had the Roy Acuff Exhibits and the Minnie Pearl Museum. But since the flood, when the museum was damaged and closed, you have nothing. The museum building is still standing, but it is used for storage.

I seems to me that if you have room for an exhibit dedicated to a television show, that was one of the last shows renewed for next season, then you have room for some exhibits dedicated to actual members of the Opry, past and present. Just my thoughts.

As far as the Opry this week, the Friday Night Opry will feature an appearance by LeAnn Rimes. It has been several years since she last did the Opry. You also have Charlie Nagatani, who seems to have made an annual appearance for the past couple of decades (at least it seems that way), along with Lennon & Maisy. Non-Opry regulars The Grascals and Sarah Darling are also scheduled this week.

The Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night will feature 2 Opry newcomers making their first appearances. Johnny Reid, who is considered a superstar in Canada, will be making an appearance. I have to confess, I had to look him up as I did not know who he was. Also making his first Opry appearance will be Corey Smith. In looking at his material, I think there are a few songs that he has recorded that he will not be singing at the Opry. Also visiting are Elizabeth Cook and Radney Foster.

As far as Opry members this weekend, Ricky Skaggs and Diamond Rio are scheduled for Friday night, while Jim Ed Brown is scheduled for Saturday night and will continue to feature his new single. He will be joined by Jeannie Seely and John Conlee, who is hosting both nights.

Friday May 17:
7:00: John Conlee (host); Sarah Darling; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Chris Janson; The Grascals
8:15: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jean Shepard; Charlie Nagatani; Lennon & Maisy
8:45: Diamond Rio (host); The Whites; LeAnn Rimes

Saturday May 18:
7:00: John Conlee (host); Greg Bates; Jesse McReynolds
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Jimmy C Newman; Johnny Reid
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); George Hamilton IV; Corey Smith; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Jeannie Seely (host); Elizabeth Cook; Radney Foster

Of the 13 acts on Friday night and 12 on Saturday night, only 7 are Opry members. And I guess after only 10 acts last Saturday night, we should feel better that we have what is now considered a "full" line-up for both shows this weekend.

For this week's look back in Grand Ole Opry history I go to Saturday May 18, 1991, which was 22 years ago this Saturday night. As you look at the line-up, just notice how many great Opry stars we have lost since 1991, which really doesn't seem so long ago.

1st show
6:30: Bonanza
Porter Wagoner (host): Dooley
Del Reeves: The Race is On
Porter Wagoner: I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name/Sugarfoot Rag

6:45: Hall of Fame
Grandpa Jones (host): Kitty Klyde
Jan Howard: Rock Me Back to Little Rock/Evil On Your Mind
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away
Grandpa Jones: Gone Home

7:00: Shoney's
Bill Monroe (host): Will You Be Lovin' Another Man
Jim Ed Brown: Morning
Skeeter Davis: I'm Saving My Love
Ray Pillow: The Kind of Love I Can't Forget/Please Don't Leave Me Anymore
Riders In The Sky: Cool Water
Bill Monroe: Just A Little Talk With Jesus

7:30: Standard Candy
Jimmy C Newman (host): La Cajun Band
The Whites: Hangin' Around
Connie Smith: I Never Once Stopped Lovin' You
Mel McDaniel: Shoe Shine Man/Mother's Bible/Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On
Jimmy C Newman: Jambalaya/Texa-Cajun

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
4 Guys: We're Only Here For A Little While
Jean Shepard: Let's All Go Down To The River/I Saw the Light/Will The Circle Be Unbroken/I'll Fly Away/Somebody Touched Me
Jean Shepard: I'll Sail My Ship Alone
Wilma Lee Cooper: Philadelphia Lawyer
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Hatti on the Turnpike

8:30: Pops Rite
Hank Snow (host): Send Me The Pillow You Dream On
Jack Greene: Midnight Tennessee Woman
Roy Drusky: Somewhere My Love
Charlie Louvin: The Precious Jewel
Jeannie Seely: Go Down Swinging
Hank Snow: I Kinda Reminds Me of Me

(on that first show, there were 24 acts. Of those 24, 13 have passed away and 2 others (Melvin Sloan and 4 Guys) are no longer part of the Opry. That leaves only 9 left from that night-Jan Howard, Jim Ed Brown, Ray Pillow, Riders In The Sky, Jimmy C Newman, The Whites, Connie Smith Jean Shepard and Jeannie Seely).

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Ole Slewfoot
Mel McDaniel: Stand Up
Jan Howard: Heartaches by the Number
Wild Blue Country: (?)/Auctioneer
Porter Wagoner: Green, Green Grass of Home

10:00: Little Debbie
Grandpa Jones (host): Banjo Sam
Del Reeves: The Old Girl I Can't Forget
Charlie Walker: Deep Water
Grandpa Jones: Nashville On My Mind

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Meeting in the Air
Riders In The Sky: There's A Blue Sky Way Out Yonder/Tumbling Tumbleweeds

10:30: Pet Milk
Jim Ed Brown (host): Lyin' In Love With You
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World
Jim Ed Brown: The Old Lamplighter

10:45: B. C. Powder
Bill Monroe (host): In Despair
The Whites: Swing Down, Chariot
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Blackberry Blossom
Bill Monroe: Take Courage Un Tomorrow

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Silver Rails, Keep Me Free
Jimmy C Newman: Big Mamou
Jean Shepard: Above and Beyond
4 Guys: Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
Bill Carlisle: I've Waited Too Long
Hank Snow: Ol' Shep

11:30: Creamette
Jack Greene (host): Satisfaction
Roy Drusky: Have I Stayed Away Too Long
Charlie Louvin: If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again
Johnny Russell: In A Mansion Stands My Love/He'll Have to Go

That takes care of 1991. Now here is another line-up from May 18, but this one is from 1968. 1 show in those days:

7:30: Bill Monroe (host); Jean Shepard; Justin Tubb; 4 Guys; Del Wood
8:00: Flatt & Scruggs (host); George Hamilton IV; Margie Bowes; Billy Grammer; Stringbean
8:30: Roy Acuff (host); Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper; Tex Ritter; Skeeter Davis: Charlie Louvin
9:00: Ernest Tubb (host); Bill Carlisle; Jeannie Seely; Cousin Jody
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Willis Brothers; George Morgan; Archie Campbell; Ernie Ashworth
10:00: Tex Ritter (host); Charlie Louvin; Margie Bowes
10:15: Roy Acuff (host); Bill Monroe; Jean Shepard;
10:30: Flatt & Scruggs (host); Billy Grammer; 4 Guys
10:45: Ernest Tubb (host); George Hamilton IV
11:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Roy Drusky; Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper; Skeeter Davis
11:30: Marty Robbins (host); Willis Brothers; Jeannie Seely; Bill Carlisle; Archie Campbell

Notice that each segment was hosted by artists that would all be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. And also notice, that each of the artists are no longer with us.

On a final note, and I am reminded of this after seeing her name in this last line-up, but Margie Bowes was hospitalized a week or so ago after suffering a stroke. She has been in rather poor health over the past several years and our thoughts are with this former Grand Ole Opry member.


  1. Good to see that 1968 lineup with "The Mayor of Bull's Gap", Archie Campbell included. A very underrated figure in the annuals of Country Music History.

  2. Re: the Opry museum and the backstage tours. We really miss the museum; always visited every time we were there, even if the exhibits didn't change; hope they didn't lose all of those wonderful artifacts. I always thought that many people didn't even know the museum was there. As for the backstage tours, haven't been since the flood; would like to go again however am definitely not interested in the "Nashville" show exhibit; we only watched a few shows at the beginning; didn't care for it. They have added that to pull in more interest in the tour :-( As you mentioned, more Opry artifacts backstage would be more appropriate.

  3. Hey Guys My Predictions For The Hall Of Fame For The Next 5-6 Years
    Veterans Era The Browns Hank Williams Jr Ray Stevens Crystal Gayle Tanya Tucker And Larry Gatlin
    Modern Era Ronnie Milsap The Oak Ridge Boys Ricky Skaggs The Judds Randy Travis Alan Jackson And Brooks & Dunn I Bet One Of Those Years Well See A Tie In That Category

  4. Question for Byron: is the Opry Fan Club dead? I got a message after the flood that said they had lost all the records and I haven't heard anything since. The Opry Fan Club Party used to be the highlight of Birthday Weekend and Fan Fair at the Opry House. So many of the legends always came to meet the fans, sign autographs and take pictures and NO you did NOT have to buy their latest CD or get some kind of limited number of passes. People who always came when we went were artists who truly appreciated their fans like: Wilma Lee Cooper (even after her stroke, she came and signed autographs) Billy Walker, Jean Shepard, Charlie Walker, Charlie Louvin, Jeannie Seely, Jimmy Dickens, Brother Oswald, Melvin Sloan, Ernie Ashworth, Del Reeves, the Four Guys, George Hamilton IV, Jan Howard, Ray Pillow -- mainstays on the Opry. I'm going to Nashville three days the week of Fan Fair and hate to say it but my trip will NOT include an Opry Show... I'm going to the ROPE Show instead where I can see more of the actual legends as opposed to the Tuesday Night Opry which has Rascal Flatts, Keith Urban, Kellie Pickler, the two little girls from the Nashville TV Show, Ricky Skaggs & Diamond Rio. I like Ricky but what kind of an Opry Show doesn't have ANY regulars? And I know they will sell out both shows but gosh I hate to see them keep leaving out the legends. I saw more Opry members last fall in Fort Worth than a typical Saturday Night Opry Show these days (Jimmy Dickens, Jim Ed Brown, Jeannie Seely, Bill Anderson and Connie Smith -- all on ONE show!)

    Last thing while I'm on my soapbox -- have you noticed on the Nashville TV Show how they go out of their way to never say GRAND OLE Opry? It's always just "Opry"... I suspect they think Grand Ole must sound too "Old" for new country.

    I know the Opry must change to survive but there are plenty of good traditional younger country, americana and bluegrass acts out there to balance everything out. You know things are upside down when a "Pop" act like Mumford & Sons sounds more country that what you hear on "country radio." ET and Acuff must be spinning in their graves! (oldtimeopry)

    ps I always really enjoyed the Opry Museum too... I suspect with Taylor Swift's big donation to the Hall of Fame and their new contemporary exhibit we're starting to see the Hall shifting from the traditional to what's hot to sell tickets. I'm sure they'll be replacing the corn field exhibit from Hee Haw before long so no one thinks we're all a bunch of hicks!

  5. I've got to take a different view of the Nashville exhibit. Yes, I would rather they focus more on the legends, especially those still with us, and I would love to see the museum return. I think I've been to the museum more times than to the Opry, because sometimes my wife and I would go by there if we were in town for just a bit.

    We often talk about how to keep the Opry alive and I think the association with Nashville (the TV show) is a step in that direction. I don't have any insight into what the relationship between the Opry and the show/production company is, only that the Opry logo is usually (maybe always, I haven't seen every episode) at the end of the episode. This may be part of the quid pro quo of that promotional relationship.

    I know it could be seen as just some sort of cash grab or way to appeal to just the new country fans, but I think that is being shortsighted. The show is seen by over 5 million viewers each week. On last nights episode they mentioned the Opry more times than I've heard in any hour (heck, six hour!) stretch on either CMT or GAC, two networks supposedly geared to Country music fans (debatable, I know).

    A couple of other things about last nights episode and the Opry: one of the main characters used her Opry appearance to not only announce her own label imprint, but to debut her first act. At least in the storyline, if not in real life, this gave back the major promotional power that artists used to use the Opry for. The debuting artist spent the episode being nervous and talking up her Opry appearance.

    So I choose to look at this as a way to bring viewers of the show to the Opry and give them a little incentive to take the backstage tour. Some of the viewers are probably not country music fans, so one exhibit among other things referring to the heritage of the Opry seem reasonable to me.

    Regarding them always referring to it as the Opry and not the Grand Ole Opry, I have to think that that is a branding choice, for one thing. The other thing is that the characters are supposed to be familiar with the Opry so it would seem a little strange, and too much like product placement, if they always referred to it as the Grand Ole Opry. If that seems like a stretch consider that the only person that has referred to it as the Grand Ole Opry in this discussion is Byron. Even Anonymous III only said Grand Ole Opry when commenting that none of the characters call it that ;)

  6. Fred, Bismarck:

    Good, thoughtful observations, Music Tomes -- discussion expanders. Thanks.

  7. Fred, I'll second that. Music Tomes, I'd also add that I think promotion is good. I have never thought there was anything wrong with the Opry engaging in cross-promotion or inviting in unusual acts. The problem now is that the guests matter to the management more than the members, and that is diluting the show's connection to the audience.

  8. Thanks, Fred and Michael.

    Michael, I think you have a point that it does seem that they've increasingly focused on guests, particularly those that are on Nashville. As far as diluting the show's connection to the audience, I don't think it is as cut and dry as that, unfortunately. As much as most of us (myself included) don't like to think about it, the Opry is a for-profit business, and division of a much larger for-profit business. That means they have to make money, which comes from advertising/sponsorship and ticket sales. That means they have to put on the stage what will put the most people in the seats. Right now, that means newer artists, and occasionally actors that portray them on TV. So what they are doing is maybe diluting the connection to some of their audience while making, or attempting to make, new connections.

    That opens up another conversation: what audience should they be connecting to? I don't have the answers, but I think it would be interesting to know, if there was a way, the generalized demographic breakdown of the ticket buyers. In my opinion one of the problems is that, with the guests they do get, they cut out a potentially large section of their audience. Looking at the upcoming weekend schedule you could, roughly, divide them up as artists that were popular in the 1970s and earlier, artists from the 1980s, the 1990s/2000s, the newer artists, and those, like Mike Snider or the Whites, who can't be defined by era of popularity. Friday night is a little more even with 2 artists from each era except 3 newer artists, and 4 of the unclassifiable. Saturday it is overwhelmingly artists popular in the 1970s or earlier, then 3 newer artists and 1 from the '80s and one from the '90s. In my opinion, that balance on Friday is where they need to be. To continue to grow the audience they should be appealing to not only the new listeners, but those who were listeners from the 1980s and 1990s (even 2000s) when country was having a bit of a boom period. Of course these feeds directly into Byron's discussion of of the non-appearances of some of the biggest stars from that era - Travis Tritt, Alan Jackson, and, of course, Garth.

  9. I should have made clear in my thoughts on the "Nashville" exhibit, that it is not so much that particular exhibit that I have an issue with, it is just that I would like to see more items or displays devoted to the Opry stars, past and present. I always felt that the Opry Museum did an excellent job in that regard but there doesn't seem to be a push to reopen it. And to answer the question posted in one of the earlier comments, I have been told that all of the exhibits are safe and had no water damage. The flood waters were not very deep in the Museum and one person told me that the only things that got wet were the tires on Marty Robbins's car.

    My hat goes off to Music Tomes as that is a very nice observation that you made regarding the line-up for this weekend and the age of the audience that the show is appealing to. I think it is no secret that the Opry is trying to appeal to a younger audience as they need those younger fans to survive. While I don't know the audience breakdown, I will make one observation: when the Opry announces what groups are in attendance, I have noticed more and more school and youth groups. Back in the day, it was almost always church or senior citizen bus tours. And I will say that these younger fans are very loud and enthusiastic, not only to the younger acts, but also to the older veterans.

    As far as the Grand Ole Opry fan club and what was lost in the flood, I will have to get a clarification on that one. I just want to make sure I have the right answer. I do know that the Fan Club still has its President.

    PS-I never really thought about the comment that I seem to be the only one who uses the words "Grand Ole Opry" versus "Opry". What is interesting is that while I will use Grand Ole Opry in print, when I am talking about the show with someone, I too just call it the "Opry."

  10. Fred, Bismarck:

    Funny line by Mike Snider last night, following number by Johnny Reid (may he find lots of work in Canada): "That's the one I was going to do next!"

    That had the well-polished feel of a line Snider has had occasion to use before.

    George IV provided an old-fashioned touch with his mention of his Sunday date and also with his acknowledgment, by name and hometown, of some visitors in the crowd.

    Maybe 30 years ago my wife's sister & brother-in-law were taking in the Opry for their 25th wedding anniversary. I wrote Roy Acuff, asking for a mention, which he faithfully delivered, to the great surprise and delight of the anniversary couple.

    My wife and I, in North Dakota, were just able to make it out through that night's static-y reception. Meanwhile, my good friend in Ohio was making, over his radio, a crystal-clear tape, with which we were able to surprise the couple a second time a little later!

    These are the kinds of memories of which a lifetime of country fandom are made!

  11. Fred, was it just me or did Johnny Reid sound a lot like Tom Jones? Just curious.

    Nice story about Roy Acuff. Shows how much he and the others really thought of the fans back in those days. I am sure so many of the stars in the 1940s into the 1970s made many great fans on the summer country music park circuit. And those days are missed.

  12. After one line, I turned down the sound on the internet and can't tell you much about Johnny Reid. Some of the other old-timers do what George IV did, and it's nice to hear. Also, nice "old" Opry afterward, with a great moment. Someone I had never heard of, Don Bailey, made his debut and got a great reception. Doyle Wilburn said, "If you'd done it right the first time, they wouldn't be making you come out and do it again." THAT is a great line for an encore. Snider will steal it, I guarantee (bow to Justin Wilson).

  13. Fred, Bismarck:

    Hi, Byron and Michael. And a good weekend to you.

    Yes, Byron, Reid sounded very like a white "singing black," after Tom Jones and others, including Charlie Rich, whose song I think Reid said he was doing on that execrable 2nd number.

    Michael, I try to be tolerant and remember the Opry must be relevant to younger fans. But does it have to be relevant to younger fans of rock & roll, or rhythm & blues, rather than country? (The only reason I heard Reid all the way thru is that, in MY rush to turn down the sound, I fell and broke my arm.)

  14. Fred, I love your comment on so many levels.

    I'm with you. I wouldn't mind guests like Reid if he and they weren't the rule now instead of the exception. Remember that Porter Wagoner brought in James Brown because he thought it would be an interesting change. The operative word there is change. For him or the Pointer Sisters to do the Opry was so unusual. In the Buchanan-Fisher era lineups, the big event is when an older member gets two songs, as Jimmy C. Newman did last night. I can't remember (and I know Byron could find it) the last Opry show lineup with no guests. It's a lack of respect not only for the audience, but also for the members.

  15. Mike, that sounds like a nice little project. I will give it a go and see what I can come up with.

  16. Mike: the last Grand Ole Opry show that featured only Opry members was on Saturday June 11, 2011. The line-up that night was the following:

    7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Mike Snider
    7:30: Roy Clark (host); George Hamilton IV; The Whites
    8:15: Mel Tillis (host); Jan Howard; Jack Greene; Opry Square Dancers
    8:45: Charley Pride (host); Jean Shepard; Diamond Rio

    A pretty nice line-up. And actually, I am surprised that I didn't have to go back farther.

    I did find a few shows that had only 1 non-Opry member on the schedule, but it is pretty obvious that shows featuring only Opry members are few and far in-between. A big difference from the Hal Durham and Bob Whittaker years.

  17. Thanks, guys. I really enjoy the conversations at this blog.

    I will say, because I think it might have been read differently, I'm not a fan of the new country stuff :) And, actually, the audience I feel like they should be aiming for a little more are the fans of the '90s country (maybe age 30-ish to 50-ish).

    I missed the Opry last night since I had a rare opportunity for a date with the Mrs with no kids.

  18. Fred, Bismarck:

    That WAS a good lineup from 2011. Altho I gotta say, Charlie and especially Roy and Mel show up rarely enough to just about rank as guests rather than members. Certainly they aren't ones Pete could call up in a pinch and ask, "Say, could you help us out?"

    The planets must have lined up just right for the three of them to be there on the same night. A rare conjunction indeed.

    Also, notice how Pete is so happy and excited -- unbecomingly, so, in my opinion -- that the seldom-seens are pushed front and center, into host slots, with the usual hosts being bumped back.

    Don't mean for this to come off as snarky, for I like the trio named above well; any night one of them makes the Opry is a good night.

  19. Byron, thanks. Fred, that was indeed a good lineup. Maybe some members could try emulating it, as might Buchanan and Fisher.

  20. I don't know how Pete Fisher and Steve Buchanan rank those who they assign as hosts, but there does appear to be an "A" team, a "B" team and a "C" team, along with a list of those who will never host, for I am sure various reasons.

    The "A" team would probably include Jimmy Dickens (when there), Bill Anderson, Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Marty Stuart, Lorrie Morgan and then those who make just an appearance now and then, such as Emmylou Harris, Roy Clark, Charley Pride, Mel Tillis and a few others. These acts seem to be in a hosting slot more times than not.

    Then there are the "B" team members, that more often than not, will host a segment, unless there are too many of the "A" list hosts on a given show. The "B" list would seem to include Jeannie Seely, John Conlee, Diamond Rio, Mike Snider, Jim Ed Brown (in other words, most of the Opry's regulars.

    Then there is the "C" list, which are the Opry members that Pete goes to when they absolutely need a host and no one else is available. On that list you would have Ray Pillow, The Whites, Jimmy C Newman and maybe Jean Shepard (I slide her down to the "C" list only because of her health issues).

    Then you have the younger Opry members, such as Craig Morgan, that they have been trying out as segment hosts. Some such as Craig, do a good job, while others seem lost.

    There are others, but those are just my thoughts.

  21. The interesting thing about hosting is that some of them are almost completely lost--Charley Pride and Mel Tillis have struck me that way. Vince Gill was quaking when he started doing it.

    Once upon a time, my mother wrote a letter to complain to Hal Durham that her guy Jimmy C. didn't host. He soon hosted a segment, but Durham wrote back that the Hall of Famers host. Then, of course, Bill Anderson, who was not yet in the Hall of Fame, hosted a segment where one of the guests was The Potato, who was in. Go figure.

  22. I wonder if sometimes back in the 80's or 90's it was a scheduling issue with the artist. Say I'm Jim Ed and I am willing to do the Opry but it is going to be close getting there in time so I opt out as a host and if I don't show my spot is easier to fill. These days that is probably different.

    As for Charley Pride and Mel Tillis as host, Charley seems to be a fidgety person so he isn't always fluid on stage with the MC or announcing the acts. I believe he and Mel know how the show flows but since they are not there that often they are not comfortable. They know most of the veteran Opry members and do a good job chatting with them.

    On the other side of the coin, Pam Tillis really seems lost when she hosts. The fact that she has the history with her dad helps her get by because she is somewhat familiar with the Opry history and the older acts.

    This kind of ties into our past discussions about the veterans and when and how they are used. Ray Pillow may not have the star power or fill the seats but he can keep the show on track and coherent so he is called on to host and what seems to be a last resort. I have to wonder when the last time was that he appeared as a guest and not a host. I think it would be very difficult for some of the newer members to host a segment. However, Craig Morgan has surprised me and done a good job!

    This is where the Opry is soon going to be hurting if the show is to continue in the current format. Who will host the segments. Will we soon have to rely on the MC to host so to speak. I'm wondering if the Tuesday night Opry is a test bed for the future format. I think Fred or someone has talked about this before.

    As a side note, I think someone made positive comments about Larry Gatlin hosting the Opry Country Classics on Thursday. The times that I have caught him I would agree.

    Knightsville, IN

  23. One of the projects that I have been working on is tracking every Opry appearance by the members of the Grand Ole Opry. So far, I have every year done since 1979, with the exception of 1982. It has been quite a project but lots of fun.

    What I can tell you, that since 1979, only Roy Acuff, Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb, Porter Wagoner and Lester Flatt always hosted segments when they appeared on the Opry. (There was one show when Hank did not host, and that was when TNN was televising the Opry and there was a night when all the Hall of Fame members were highlighted). Only those 5 did not guest on someone else's segment.

    I was surprised that even in the 1990s the number of times Grandpa Jones was a guest on a segment, many times hosted by lesser Opry members, such as Mike Snider. Same with Bill Monroe, although I think we can all agree that Bill was not the best segment host. Bill Anderson, in the TNN days when he was hosting the Backstage show, would often appear on Roy Acuff's segment at 8. And there were a few times when Marty Robbins did the early show and would be on Roy's segment.

    As far as Ray Pillow, I think he actually was a guest on the weekend following the death of George Jones, on the night of his Opry anniversary.

    Jim, I agree with your comments regarding Pam Tillis as a host. I really enjoy Pam and like her music. But I was at the Opry one night when she hosted a segment, and one of her assistants kept coming out during the commercial breaks, telling her where to stand, who was on next, etc. She just didn't seem sure of herself and slightly out of place.

  24. On hosting ....

    Larry Gatlin clearly has a lot of fun out there when he's hosting. That helps the segment. Bill Anderson and Jim Ed Brown have a lot of TV experience, which is why they (and Porter Wagoner) did extra TV hosting duties when TNN showed the Opry, to make sure the trains ran on time, and they do run their segments when they're doing them today. Also, Whisper sometimes appears to have done Mr. Acuff's segment as a backup in case Mr. Acuff wasn't well enough that night.

    I can remember Hank Snow appearing on two segments. One, the salute to the Hall of Famers. The other, for Minnie Pearl's 50th anniversary, when the Hall of Famers present all came out and did a song. As for Daddy Grass, I have to laugh because he wouldn't cue commercials usually except by nodding at the announcer, although one night he said, "Now it's time for the commercial," and I don't think Hairl Hensley was ready for it! Eddie Stubbs tells the story of the night he auditioned to announce the Opry and it was Mr. Monroe's 8:00 segment on a Friday night. He said Mr. Monroe always called him "Boy" but when he introduced him that night, he said, "Thank you, thank you Eddie Stubbs."

  25. Mike, you are right. I forgot about the Minnie Pearl salute. Thanks for the correction.

  26. Byron,

    Short memory I have.....I was listening the night of Ray Pillow's anniversary and he was a guest. I thought his brief comments about the Opry were very nice.

    I agree with Michael that Bill Anderson might have been placed with Mr. Acuff just in case and I remember times when he did have to step in for him. Glad he was a guest that last night they got to do their song together. I wasn't there but even listening on the radio it was very emotional.

    Knightsville, IN

  27. Jim, I didn't get to hear it--I didn't get to listen to the Opry regularly out here in Las Vegas until the internet--but Bill wrote about it very movingly in one of his books.

    1. Michael,

      As I recall you could tell by listening to Roy do is opening song that he was pretty weak that night. Bill was his guest and I remember that when he ask Roy to help with a song I thought "why are you asking him to do this, what if he can't make it?" I remember being in tears by the time they were done. Roy had almost lost his sight by then and I remember Bill saying "they're standing up Mr. Roy" and Roy saying "are they leaving?". Listening on the radio I could not see how near the end was and I think Bill knew this might be his last chance to do this. It may be the most precious performance I ever listened to or saw live on the Opry. I'm so glad someone took a picture that night and Bill published in his book.

      Knightsville, IN