With the CMA Music Festival getting underway in Nashville, there are some pretty strong Grand Ole Opry shows this week. The Tuesday Night Opry is no exception as there are 2 shows scheduled, with tickets very hard to come by for both shows.
The Opry has loaded up the line-up with Opry members Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts at the top of the list. If that is not enough, Kellie Pickler, who recently made a name for herself on "Dancing With the Stars" is scheduled, as is American Idol runner-up Kree Harrison.
Tuesday Night Opry, June 4:
7:00: Kellie Pickler; Diamond Rio
7:30: Bill Anderson; Lennon & Maisy
8:00: Ricky Skaggs; Rascal Flatts
8:30: Kree Harrison; Keith Urban
9:30: Kellie Pickler; Diamond Rio
10:00: Bill Anderson; Lennon & Maisy
10:30: Ricky Skaggs; Rascal Flatts
11:00: Kree Harrison; Keith Urban
I do want to take a moment to remember one of the early stars of the Grand Ole Opry, as June 4, 1988 was the final Grand Ole Opry show for Herman Crook and the Crook Brothers.
The early days of the Opry were dominated by the string bands. These groups included the Possum Hunters, the Gully Jumpers, Sam and Kirk McGee, the Fruit Jar Drinkers, and the Crook Brothers. Over time, these string bands were reduced and merged together, with many of the Gully Jumpers and Possum Hunters eventually becoming part of the Crook Brtohers.
The Crook Brothers first appeared on the WSM Barn Dance on July 24, 1926. For the next 62 years, they would appear on the Opry almost every Saturday night. The original group featured the twin harmonicas of brothers Matthew and Herman Crook, who came from the hill country south of Nashville. They appeared at various local functions and in 1925 they played on Nashville's first radio station, WDAD. But that was part-time work as they continued with their full time jobs as "twist rollers" with the American Tobacco Company. Soon after their WDAD debut, they were playing on stations WSM and WLAC. In In 1928 the band, consisting of Herman and Matthew, along with Tom Givans on banjo, George Miles on guitar and Hick Burnett on guitar, recorded four instrumental numbers for Ralph Peer and the Victor Recording company. These would be their only recordings until a joint album with the McGee Brothers in 1962.
In 1929 at a fiddlers contest, Dr. Humphrey Bate introduced the Crooks to banjo playing Lewis Crook, who was no relation to Matthew and Herman. Lewis then joined the Crook Brothers band. In 1930, Matthew left the group to join the police department. The band continued with Herman and Lewis remaining the only constant members. In the late 1950s the Crook Brothers were combined with the remaining members of Dr. Bate's Possum Hunters and accompanied the square dancers on the Opry. Herman Crook would also occasionally play the harmonica on the show as well. The group's long run at the Opry ended with the death of Herman on June 10, 1988.
To remember Herman Crook, here is the line-up from his final Opry shows, Saturday June 4, 1988:
6:30: Jack Greene (host); 4 Guys
6:45: Billy Walker (host); Jeannie Seely
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Jan Howard; Charlie Louvin
7:30: Roy Acuff (host); Hank Locklin; Jeanne Pruett; Michael Johnson
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Del Reeves; Jean Shepard; Roy Drusky; Crook Brothers/Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Connie Smith; Stu Phillips; Del Wood; Charlie Walker
9:30: 4 Guys (host); Bill Carlisle; Lorrie Morgan; Jim Ed Brown
10:00: George Hamilton IV (host); Skeeter Davis
10:15: Roy Acuff (host); Jack Greene
10:30: Roy Drusky (host); Charlie Louvin
10:45: Del Reeves (host); Jeanne Pruett: Crook Brothers/Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Jean Shepard; Justin Tubb; Hank Locklin
11:30: Charlie Walker (host); Connie Smith; Stu Phillips; Johnny Russell
With the death of Herman Crook, the Crook Brother name was no longer used for the square dance bands. In fact, it was just called the Opry Square Dance Band. Lewis Crook still played on occasion but eventually it was down to just Earl White and Charlie Collins. Now, it is just Earl White and the Opry Staff Band. And I am sure when Earl passes away or retires, or is told he is no longer needed, that Opry tradition will come to an end. It is too bad as the square dancers are the last link back to the start of the Opry. My hope is that the tradition will continue.