Thursday, May 23, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 5/24 & 5/25

As we move into Memorial Day weekend, the Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the two shows this weekend. The highlights are appearances both nights by Opry members Vince Gill and Steve Wariner, both of whom are hosting segments. Joining them on Friday night will be guest artists Eric Paslay and Andrew Peterson, on what is looking like a pretty thin night with just 10 acts scheduled.

Saturday night's Grand Ole Opry, in addition to Vince and Steve, will feature guest artists Billy Dean, Mark Wills and Ayla Brown. In the case of Ayla, this will be her first appearance at the Opry and what is of interest to me is that she is a former NCAA Women's basketball star, playing at Boston College in the Big East Conference. Saturday is also a little on the thin side with 11 acts scheduled, but in looking at both nights, I think there is the possibility of one more act being added in the final segment each night. We shall see.

Friday May 24:
7:00: John Conlee (host); Eric Paslay; Mike Snider
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jim Ed Brown; Andrew Peterson
8:15: Steve Wariner (host); George Hamilton IV
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press

Saturday May 25:
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Billy Dean; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: Steve Wariner (host); Mike Snider; Mark Wills
8:15: John Conlee (host); Jan Howard; Ayla Brown; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Jesse McReynolds

Now it is time for this's week's look back at past Opry line-ups. For this one I go back 64 years, to Saturday May 28, 1949. I picked this line-up from my file because it features the great Mac Wiseman, who on May 23 celebrated his 88th birthday. He is one of the true legends in the business, and while I am not 100% sure on this fact, I believe that he, along with Jimmy Dickens, are the only 2 performers on this show that are still alive today. One show that night, as usual for that time period.

7:30: American Ace Coffee
Roy Acuff (host): Please Stay Home With Me
Tommy Magness: Mulberry Gap
Dot & Smokey: Picture On The Wall
Jimmy Riddle: Rubber Dolly
Roy and Pete: Branded Wherever I Go
Uncle Dave: Tennessee Farmer
Jug Band: A Little Birdie Told Me
Roy Acuff: Thank God
Joe Zinkas: Corina
Dot & Smokey: Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain
Oswald: The Girls I Love Don't Pay Me No Mind

8:00: Purina Show
Cowboy Copas (host): Tragic Romance
Lonzo & Oscar: My Little Indian Maid
Cowboy Copas: It's Wrong To Love You Like I Do
Lazy Jim Day: Singing The Blues
Blue Grass Quartet: Remember The Cross
Possum Hunters: Off To Charleston
Cowboy Copas: I Love To Tell The Story
Red Heron: Chuck Old Hen

8:30: Prince Albert
Red Foley (host): Home In San Antone
Milton Estes: Keep A Talking Baby
Wally Fowler: The Hallelujah Song
Red Foley: No Tears In Heaven
Old Hickory Quartet: Home On The Range
Zeb Turner: To Be Announced
Red Foley: Born To Lose
Minnie Pearl: Gags
Square Dance: Ida Red

9:00: Royal Crown Cola
Crook Brothers: Green Back Dollar
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannon Ball
Jamup & Honey: Gags
Jimmy Riddle: I'm Looking Over A Four Leaf Clover
George Morgan: Please Don't Let Me Love You
Jug Band: Camptown Races
Uncle Dave: Going Back To Dixie
Rachel & Oswald: Little Pal
Roy Acuff: Where The Soul Never Dies
George Morgan: The Gods Were Angry With Me
Tommy Magness: Wake Up Susan

9:30: Warren Paint
Lew Childre: Hang Out The Front Door Key
Ernest Tubb (host): The First Year Blues
String Beans: Crazy War
Jimmy Dickens: Cold Tater
Robert Lunn: Crawdad Song
Ernest Tubb: I Believe I'm Entitled To You
Mel & Stan: Whispering Now
Jimmy Dickens: Pennies For Papa
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bile Them Cabbage Down
Ernest Tubb: I Hung My Head And Cried

10:00: Wallrite
Bill & Don: Molly And Ten Brooks
Lew & String: Maple On The Hill
Mack Wiseman: Six More Miles
Blue Grass Quartet: Shine Hallelujah Shine
Trio: Blue Eyes Crying In The Rain

10:15: Gaylark
Roy Acuff (host): Have You Ever Been Lonely
Uncle Dave: Good Bye My Honey
Roy Acuff: Poem
Roy & Gang: Glory Bound Train
Tommy Magness: Up Jumped The Devil

10:30: Royal Flour
Milton Estes (host): Wish I Had A Nickel
Jimmy Dickens: John Henry
Jmimy Selph: Beautiful Moonbeams
Milton Estes: Give Me Your Hand

10:45: Dr. Le Gear
Cowboy Copas (host): Package Of Lies Tied In Blue
Robert Lunn: Blue Ridge Blues
Lazy Jim Day: Singing The Blues
Cowboy Copas: Waltzing With Tears In My Eyes
Red Heron: Fire In The Mountain

George Morgan (host): Chime Bells
Lonzo & Oscar: Good Old Mountain Dew
Velma: Chain Of Broken Hearts
George Morgan: Will The Angels Let Me Play
Crook Brothers: Chicken Reel

Ernest Tubb (host): Our Babys Book
Butter Ball: Mind Your Own Business
Drake Brothers: Memember Me
Ernest Tubb: I Hate To See You Go

Jimmy Dickens (host): Look What Those Blue Eyes Did To Me
Mel & Stan: In The Blue Hills Of Virginia
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Free A Little Bird
Jimmy Dickens: Charming Betsy
Zeb Turner: A Little Bit Of Boogie

Wally Fowler (host): Lead Me To That Rock
Gully Jumpers: Forked Deer
Bradley Kincaid: Somebodys Waiting For You
Wally Fowler: I Cried And I Cried To The Lord
Bradley Kincaid: Blue Tail Fly

A couple of things that stand out from this show. First, considering the time frame, the line-up is not what I would call especially loaded. But in looking at the Opry cast from that time period, most of the Opry's members are on this show. Also, the number of slots that featured the band members and musicians of the various stars. For example, Roy Acuff's segment featured Oswald, Rachel and "The Gang", while Ernest Tubb's segment featured Butter Ball. Also, it would appear much like today, that the Opry was having sponsorship issues even back then, as the last hour had no sponsor listed. And finally so that many of you don't think my spell check is broken on my computer, I typed the spelling as it was listed in that program. And yes, there are a number of errors. Mac Wiseman somehow came out as "Mack" Wiseman, and of course you had "String Beans" which is how it was printed and spelled in numerous Opry programs.

May all of you enjoy the Memorial Day weekend.


  1. Fred, Bismarck:

    And a happy Memorial Day to you, Byron, and all the Fayfarers. Thanks for another provocative post.

    They didn't exactly overwork Mac, did they? I remember seeing Mac on a TNN Opry segment -- again, he was given only one number -- and thinking, "What a wasted opportunity." Mac is one of the all-time purveyors of what has always been understood as true country music.

    Good heavens, when you're lucky enough to land a treasure like that, work him to death, why don't you?

  2. I'd STILL work him to death. Mac is wonderful.

  3. No Jean Shepard this week. Tour date ? or I wonder if it could be her health ?

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  5. Velma Williams Smith, singing on 11:00 portion, is still living. Also, Billy Robinson, although not listed individually like the other three, was playing steel guitar in Red Foley's band at this time, and is still living. All four were also on the show a month later - the night of Hank Williams' famous debut (despite the fact that Little Jimmy is usually given credit as being the last person around with a first-hand account).

    And one reason Mac only got one song on the 1949 program was that he was Bill Monroe's lead singer and guitar player at that time, and Bill's band was generally only featured in the Wall-Rite segment.

    Thanks, Byron, for the post!

  6. Fred, Bismarck:

    Bingo, Robert! I forgot Mac had not yet gone out on his own. In 1949, it was like Oswald stepping out of Roy's band to do a number.

  7. I'd forgotten that, too. It was interesting. He had been working with Flatt & Scruggs on radio, and Mr. Monroe literally offered him a job on the air during a guest spot. Late in his life, someone asked Mr. Monroe who his greatest lead singer was and he said, "Oh, Mac," in a way that suggested, how could you even ask? And when you consider Lester Flatt and Clyde Moody and Jimmy Martin also had that designation ....

  8. Fred, Bismarck:

    Yet, Michael, listening to those wonderful old Columbia recordings, I always felt Mac's voice -- splendid as it is on its own -- made a poor "fit" with Bill's. (Although I'm braced for plenty of argument about that!)

  9. Not to start the whole Hall of Fame debate again, but I really do think Mac Wiseman is completely deserving of induction. No one disputes he is one of the all time great vocalists and had an impact as an executive with DOT records and was one of the founders of the CMA. Besides, probably no one has done as much to keep the old songs alive as Mac has done -- and he's also one of the nicest people I've ever met. Anyone got any info on Milton Estes? I know the name but can only find a recording of him doing Whoa Sailor on YouTube and says he died at 49. (oldtimeopry)

  10. Fred, Bismarck:

    Amen to Mac for the Hall. However, that he isn't in there already probably means he's in the electors' blind spot, along with so many other worthies that have been named here. I can't see any hope for the Hall unless it were to purge most of the current electors and go strictly with people with solid scholarly/historical credentials.

    Does anyone doubt that a panel made up of, say, Doug Green, Bill Malone, the late Charles Wolfe, Eddie Stubbs and Ronnie Pugh would have had Mac in the Hall 20 years ago?

  11. A couple of items to respond to and to add:

    First, Larry Gatlin has been added to both Opry shows this weekend. He will host on Friday night with Steve Wariner moving over as the last act during Vince Gill's segment. Sara Haze has also been added. For Saturday night, Larry will close out the final segment.

    Next, as far as some information on Milton Estes. He was born on May 9, 1914 in Arthur, Tennessee and passed away on August 23, 1963. He came to the Grand Ole Opry in 1937 as a featured performer with Pee Wee King's Golden West Cowboys. He was noted as being a fine musician, playing guitar, bass, mandolin and piano. He left Pee Wee in 1941 to lead Stamps-Baxter's Lone Star Quartet, who performed at various radio stations in the South. In 1946, he returned to WSM and the Grand Ole Opry as the Old Flour Peddler and formed a band called the Musical Millers, and they promoted Martha White Flour. The band members included Jimmy Selph, Curly Rhodes, Tommy Jackson and Clell Summery, known of course as Cousin Jody, and Dale Potter. During this time, Milton did ten live WSM radio shows weekly, including the weekday "Noontime Neighbors" with Owen Bradley's orchestra. He also appeared on the Opry's NBC radio segment and was a familiar voice calling square dances at the Opry. Between 1947 and 1950 he recorded for Decca Records. He left country music in 1951, but his impact with Martha White is still felt today. It was Milton who first used the slogan, "How Many Biscuits Can You Eat This Morning" and he was the one who began the Martha White slogan, "Goodness, Gracious, It's Good."

    Third, I agree that Mac Wiseman should be in the Hall of Fame. I think, and I may be wrong on this, but he may be the only person who was involved in the founding of the Country Music Association that is not in the Hall of Fame. If there ever should be a "Legends" category for the Hall, it would be to make sure people such as Mac Wiseman, along with Bradley Kincaid, were elected to the Hall of Fame. But I am afraid that their contributions to country music are largely forgotten.

    Finally, if you look at the 1948 program that I posted, Bill Monroe's name is not listed on it, although you would assume that he was on the show that night. The Blue Grass Quartet, as is "Bill & Don", which I would assume was Bill Monroe.

    And Robert, thanks for the information involving Velma and Billy Robinson. And you are right in the fact that many people think that Jimmy Dickens is the last one left who was there on the night Hank Williams came to the Opry.

  12. Yes, "Bill and Don" is Bill Monroe and Don Reno, Bill's banjo player in 1948 and 1949.

  13. Regardless of what some might think of her singing or contributions to the Opry, Jan Howard's time on stage last night was very touching and fitting for this Memorial Day weekend. She has done "My Son" several time in the past few years and never did she receive the applause or a standing ovation as last night. I don't recall her setting up with such and in depth account of Jimmy and Corky's entering the service and returning home! Nice job Jan!

    Knightsville, IN

  14. I didn't hear much of the 'Opry this weekend, but I did manage to hear Jan Howard.
    At first I thought she was talking too much, but then I was drawn in and began to understand just how much she has gone through as a mother of soldiers.
    Touching 'Opry moment for sure.
    God Bless Jan Howard!