Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 8/2 & 8/3

One thing that you can say about the Grand Ole Opry is that some weeks are better than others. Last weekend, the Opry line-up was one of the better ones as Lorrie Morgan, Pam Tillis, Vince Gill and Larry Gatlin, among many others, performed. Next weekend, Carrie Underwood and Bobby Bare are scheduled, along with Jim Ed Brown, who will be celebrating 50 years as an Opry member.

While this weekend's line-ups are not terribly bad, they are somewhat of a let down from last week. The Friday Night Opry will feature guest artists Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale, along with Holly Williams and frequent Opry guest Mark Wills. Saturday's show will have Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, Jeff & Sheri Easter, Mindy Smith, along with very frequent Opry guest Jimmy Wayne. And not to forget one of my favorites and a very underrated entertainer, Johnny Counterfit is scheduled. Both nights feature the usual Opry regulars.

Friday August 2:
7:00: John Conlee (host); James Otto; Mike Snider
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Andy Griggs; Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jimmy C Newman; Holly Williams
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Jean Shepard; Mark Wills

Saturday August 3:
7:00: Bill Anderson (host); Andy Gibson; Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); James Wesley; Jeff & Sheri Easter
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); Johnny Counterfit; Mindy Smith; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Connie Smith; Jimmy Wayne

Not sure where all of the Opry's members are this weekend, but there are only 7 scheduled on Friday night and just 5 on Saturday night. 5 out of 65?

I can across an email that frequent Opry guest Kristen Kelly will be performing in Chicago on Friday August 9 as the Chicago White Sox will celebrate Country Music Night during their home game against the Minnesota Twins. Kristen will sing the national anthem following her performance in front of the "Grand Ole Opry's microphone stand." A post game fireworks display will be accompanied by video performances from various artists on "Grand Ole Opry stage." Not quite sure what all that means. Are they going to show a remote from the Grand Ole Opry or just show various media clips? Also, I just wonder why a non-Opry member singing in front of the Opry microphone stand. Could they not come up with an actual Opry member? Just curious. Whether an Opry member or not, I am glad to see the Opry spreading their brand and promoting the show to a potential new audience.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tuesday Night Opry 7/30 & Wednesday Night Opry 7/31

Here are the line-ups for the mid-week Opry shows for this week:

Tuesday July 30:
7:00: Rachel Farley; Riders In The Sky
7:30: Bill Anderson; Neal McCoy
8:15: Love & Theft; Ricky Skaggs
8:45: Josh Turner

Wednesday July 31:
7:00: Kristen Kelly; John Conlee
7:30: Del McCoury Band
8:15: Connie Smith; Josh Thompson
8:45: Lauren Alaina; Restless Heart

After the Opry on Wednesday night, Josh will be making a road trip as he will be appearing at the Hall of Fame Ribs Burnoff here in Canton at the Stark County Fairgrounds, which I can see from the upstairs of my house. Not sure if I will go down to see him or not, but I will be able to hear the show in my backyard.

On the good news front, Jimmy Dickens is reported to have completed his treatments regarding his throat issues and is doing very well and in good spirits. He hopes to get back to the Opry soon.

And still no news from the Opry regarding the August 10th show, which is Jim Ed Brown and The Browns 50th anniversary since joining the Opry. I know numerous people, including me, have asked and left comments, but to this point no news or no response. We shall see.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Former Opry Member Don Williams

It was on Saturday July 31, 1976, 37 years ago, that Don Williams made his first Saturday night appearance as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. (Don had actually joined the show in April 1976, but until that July date had only made a Friday night appearance).

Don Williams was born in Texas and grew up in the Southwest. By the age of 12 he was playing the guitar, taught to him by his mother. His first paid job as a singer was in Gregory, Texas during his sophomore year in high school. He later joined the Army and spent time in Japan. After leaving the Army, he took on various jobs before deciding to return to music. In 1964, he formed the Pozo Seco Singers, and they had a top 10 hit with "Time." They stayed together until 1970, when Don went out on his own. Don is one of the most talented songwriters in the history of country music, writing close to 500 songs. Not only have his songs been recorded by him, but by artists such as Sonny James, Jeanne Pruett, Johnny Cash, Lefty Frizzell and Lobo. During his career, he has had 17 #1 hits and in 2010 was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Today, at the age of 74, Don still makes personal appearances, but they are few. That is not a surprise as even during the peak of his hit making days, he was not much of a traveler.

Don was only an Opry member for a short period of time, and during that time, he made very few Opry appearances. In 1977, he made 3 Opry appearances and after that he made no more shows until his final night as a member in 1981.

Here is the Grand Ole Opry line-up from Saturday July 31, 1976, the first Saturday night show for new Opry member Don Williams.

1st show
6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Big Midnight Special
Willis Brothers: Home On The Range
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Nobody's Darling But Mine

6:45: Rudy's
George Hamilton IV (host): Country Music In My Soul
Bill Carlisle: Too Old To Cut The Mustard
O.B. McClinton: Blanket On the Ground
George Hamilton IV: Early Morning Rain

7:00: Shoney's
Charlie Louvin (host): Did You Ever
Billy Grammer: Detroit City
Justin Tubb: Cold Brown Bottle
Brother Oswald: Mountain Dew
Charlie Louvin: Let's Put Our World Back Together/A Toast To Mama/Love Has To Die/I Ain't Gonna Work Tomorrow/I Want A Happy Life
Billy Grammer: Gotta Travel On
Justin Tubb: Keep Me From Blowing Away

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Drusky (host): Second Hand Rose
Bob Luman: Neither One Of Us
Don Williams: You're My Best Friend/Turn Out The Lights & Love Me Tonight
Crook Brothers/Ralph Sloan: Soldier's Joy
Bob Luman: A Satisfied Mind
Roy Drusky: I Really Don't Want To Know

8:00: Martha White
Lester Flatt & The Nashville Grass (host): Ain't Nobody Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone
4 Guys: Top Of The World
Melba Montgomery: Lonely Street
Jim Mundy: Never Met A Girl I Didn't Like
Paul Warren: Orange Blossom Special
4 Guys: The Morning Sun
Melba Montgomery: Don't Let The Good Times Fool You
Lester Flatt: Great Big Woman & A Little Biddy Bottle Of Wine

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): Miller's Cave
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Ronnie Milsap: I'm A Stand By My Woman Man/Day Dreams About Night Things
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hickory Leaf
Jeanne Pruett: It Doesn't Hurt To Ask
Hank Snow: That's When He Dropped The World In My Hands

2nd show
9:30: Kelloggs
Charlie Louvin (host): Will You Visit Me On Sundays/What Are Those Things
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Where Is America Going
Bill Carlisle: Business Man
Charlie Louvin: Poison Red Berries
O.B. McClinton: I'm The Other One
Brother Oswald: Dobro Chimes
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Poor Ellen Smith

10:00: Fender
Roy Drusky (host): Fraulein
Willis Brothers: Ghost Riders In The Sky
Don Williams: I Recall A Gypsy Woman
Roy Drusky: Alone With You

10:15: Union 76
Billy Grammer (host): Under The Double Eagle
Melba Montgomery: Don't Keep Me Lonely Too Long
George Hamilton IV: Break My Mind
Billy Grammer: Somewhere My Love

10:30: Trailblazer
Lester Flatt (host)
Paul Warren: Black-Eyed Susie
Justin Tubb: Sweetwater, Texas
Bob Luman: A Satisfied Mind
Lester Flatt: Mama Don't Allow It

10:45: Beech-Nut
4 Guys (host): Turn Your Radio On
Ronnie Milsap: What Goes On When The Sun Goes Down
Crook Brothers/Ralph Sloan: Gray Eagle
4 Guys: The Morning Sun

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Hello Love
Jim Mundy: Never Met A Girl I Didn't Like
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hickory Leaf
Hank Snow: Old Doc Brown
Jim Mundy: The Rivers Too Wide
Kirk McGee: The End Of Forever
Hank Snow: Traveling Blues

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): El Paso City
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets/Break My Mind
Ronnie Robbins: Good Hearted Woman/Bitter They Are
Marty Robbins: Cool Water/Love Me/Don't Worry/El Paso

While this was Don Williams first Saturday night as an Opry member, his final show was on August 22, 1981. To show how little Don played the Opry, this was his first Opry show in over 3 years. Here is the line-up for that final show for Don Williams.

1st show
6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Stonewall Jackson (host): Full Moon, Empty Pockets
Ernie Ashworth: Irene
Stonewall Jackson: Muddy Water

6:45: Rudy's
Charlie Walker (host): T For Texas
Jan Howard: Six Weeks Every Summer; Christmas Every Other Year
Charlie Walker: Little Old Wine Drinker Me/Waltz Across Texas

7:00: Shoney's
Charlie Louvin (host): What Are Those Things
Billy Grammer: When Your Hair Turned To Silver
Ray Pillow: Too Many Memories
John Conlee: Could You Love Me One More Time/Miss Emily's Picture
Joe Edwards: Black Mountain Rag
Charlie Louvin: Ten Years, 3 Kids; 2 Loves Too Late

7:30: Standard Candy
Archie Campbell (host): Make Friends
Skeeter Davis: It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels/I'll Fly Away
Roy Drusky: If The Whole World Stopped Loving
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Lost Indian
Archie & Phil Campbell: Hey Waiter

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Vic Willis Trio: Colorado
David Houston: Bandera Waltz
Bill Carlisle: Elvira
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird/Shake My Mother's Hand For Me

8:30: Acme
4 Guys (host): Loving Up A Storm
Jeannie Seely: When Your House Is Not A Home
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hollow Poplar
Don Williams: Living On Tulsa Time/I Believe In You/Amanda
4 Guys: Swing Down Chariot

2nd show
9:30: Kelloggs
4 Guys (host): Mama Rocked Us To Sleep With Country Music
Ray Pillow: She Never Likes Nothing For Long
Jan Howard: Good Hearted Woman
Don Williams: Living On Tulsa Time/I Believe In You/Amanda
4 Guys: Turn Your Radio On

10:00: Little Debbie
Charlie Louvin (host): The Way I Am
John Conlee: Could You Love Me One More Time/Miss Emily's Picture
Charlie Louvin: Is This How It Is When It's Over

10:15: Sunbeam
David Houston (host): Texas Ida Red
Ernie Ashworth: Irene
David Houston: Bandera Waltz

10:30: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): I Couldn't Believe It Was True
Charlie Walker: The One Rose That's Left In My Heart
Howdy Forrester: Cotton-Eyed Joe
Roy Acuff: Jesus Will Outshine Them All

10:45: Beech-Nut
Stonewall Jackson (host): Don't Be Angry
Skeeter Davis: The Old Rugged Cross/The King Is Coming/I'll Fly Away
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Old Joe Clark
Stonewall Jackson: Me & You & A Dog Named Boo

11:00: Coca-Cola
Archie Campbell (host): Make Friends
The Pilgrims: When They Call My Name
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge
Kirk McGee: Blue Night
Jeannie Seely: I'm Almost Ready
Archie & Phil Campbell: The Interview

11:30: Bama
Roy Drusky (host): Billy Bayou
Billy Grammer: Somebody Loves You
Vic Willis Trio: Shenendoah
Bill Carlisle: Elvira
Roy Drusky: There'll Never Be Anyone Else But You For Me/Just A Closer Walk With Thee

Don Williams was only an Opry member for a little more than 5 years. Much like BJ Thomas, who joined the Opry during the same time period, Don came to realize that the Opry just wasn't for him. And instead of staying a member and not making any, or just a few appearances, he decided to move on. I give Don credit for that. In thinking about it, I wonder how many of today's Opry members have come to realize over time that the Opry just isn't for them. But instead of following Don and BJ's example, they have just stayed on as members.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 7/26 & 7/27

When I looked at the Grand Ole Opry line-ups for this weekend, the first thing that came into my mind was that these are the type of line-ups that I like to see, and what helps to make for a good weekend at the Opry. There is so much variety in the 2 shows this weekend, that there is something to please everyone.

The Friday Night Opry has a good solid line-up of 14 artists including guest artists Kim Richey, Chuck Wicks and bluegrass veterans The Grascals. If that is not enough, the legendary Gene Watson will be featured, along with the popular Larry Gatlin. Mike Snider will be on with his comedy and instrumental skills and Hall of Fame members Bill Anderson and Jean Shepard will entertain. Throw in a legend or two, and the show is ready to go.

Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will feature Hall of Fame member Vince Gill, performing with his fellow Time Jumper's member Paul Franklin. They will be featuring music from their new album, "Bakersfield", which is a tribute to the great Bakersfield sound. I have heard cuts of the album, which comes out this weekend, and it sounds like a winner. Also appearing, and promoting their new album, will be Lorrie Morgan and Pam Tills, who have been touring together. Bluegrass will be featured with Bobby Osborne and Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers. Joe is from southern Ohio and owns a group of classic country radio stations and he has a fine group that I have seen perform before. The western sound is covered with Riders In The Sky, young Elizabeth Cook will feature her honky-tonk style and Connie Smith and George Hamilton IV are also on the schedule. All in all, a good weekend at the Opry.

Friday July 26:
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Chuck Wicks; Jim Ed Brown
7:30: John Conlee (host); Jean Shepard; Mike Snider; Kim Richey
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; The Whites; The Grascals
8:45: Larry Gatlin (host); Mandy Barnett; Gene Watson

Saturday July 27:
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Elizabeth Cook; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: Lorrie Morgan & Pam Tillis (hosts); George Hamilton IV; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Billy Yates; Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Paul Franklin; Connie Smith

A few people have asked if I have heard any additional news on Jimmy Dickens. I have not so I hope all is as well as can be expected. Also, Jesse McReynolds was on the original schedule for this weekend and he has been taken off. I know he has missed the last several weeks so hope all is well with Jesse.

Enjoy the shows.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Question of Opry Membership and Guest Artists

Just to follow up on what my friend Barry commented on, I thought I would add some of my thoughts:

I go back to the comment that Pete Fisher made in 2001, "There is no longer a membership only approach in booking the show."

That is fine and as much as I enjoy going to the Opry and listening to the show each week, I do enjoy the variety. Nothing against Bobby Osborne, but how many weeks in a row can he sing "Rocky Top?" And I agree that in the 1980s and 1990s, the show was getting old and was more like a living museum of country music than a contemporary show. With so many of the same members performing each week, there were very few guest artists or younger acts performing.

But if you are going to have members, then have members who are going to appear on the show and allow those members who want to be on the show each week that opportunity. There are not that many legends left, maybe a dozen. Let them enjoy what is left of their performing careers and their time in the spotlight. The younger fans do enjoy the veterans and treat them with a lot of respect, and as long as you mix in the younger acts, everyone is fine.

But the issue is membership. I do think that while Pete Fisher is asking new members for 10 show a year, at the same time he is telling them no more than 10 shows a year, if that makes sense. If you look at all of the members he has brought on board since 1999, 7-10 shows per year is the average. I know that there was a case a year or so ago when Josh Turner, one of Pete's newer members, wanted to do the Opry one night and was actually on the Opry's upcoming schedule. He was called and told that they didn't need him that night. And that is one of the Opry's more popular younger acts.

At the same time, the Opry is doing things to merge the line on who is a member and who is not, so that the average younger fan of country music, doesn't really know. I have a few examples: for years, the Opry sold a small program at each show for 50 cents that included the names and a brief sentence on each Opry member. On the Opry's website, they not only have biographies of members listed, but also dozens and dozens of guest artists. Outside of a line by there name that says, "Opry member since.....", there is no real difference. Also on the website, there is more promotion of projects by non-Opry members than members. For weeks, The Band Perry was highlighted on the site, and not only are they not members, but they rarely appear on the Opry. I think that the only place you will find a list of just Opry members is the Picture History Book that is sold at the Opry House.

Barry is right that there are a lot of shows that have "B" and "C" class talent. Nothing against Jimmy Wayne, Rebecca Lynn Howard or Andy Gibson (who are on this week's schedule), but would anybody pay up to $60 to see them individually or as a group in concert? 2 nights ago I could have gone and seen Toby Keith and 2 opening acts in concert for $25 at Blossom Music Center. The Opry will tell you that you are not paying to see individual acts as much as to have the entire Opry experience. That is fine and I understand that, but at some point you have to have enough of the "A" acts to justify the price. And let's face it, this is not the Opry that many of us grew up to love. As times have changed, the Opry has changed.

Back to the membership question that Barry originally raised. I do think that for a lot of these artists, Opry membership is more of a symbol than an actual commitment. Something that they can point to, which makes them feel good, and something that is mentioned in interviews and other articles, which makes the Opry feel good. It's a win for both of them. And if they don't show up to perform on the show, the Opry has other acts that they can call and schedule, member or not.

But as an old-timer, I do wish that the Opry would enforce the membership requirement and add members who will be there. Those who attend the show and buy tickets do deserve that. Rhonda Vincent, Dailey & Vincent, Crystal Gayle and Gene Watson, just to mention a few, are several of those who make more Opry appearances a year than a majority of the members.

I find it interesting that they will limit the appearances of some one like Josh Turner to 10 or less, but at the same time they feel it is ok to schedule non-members such as Mandy Barnett, Sarah Darling, Jimmy Wayne or Chris Janson, up to 20 shows per year. That part of it doesn't make sense to me.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 7/19 & 7/20

They call these the "dog days of summer" and as the Opry rolls through summer, things seem pretty quiet on Opryland Drive in Nashville. There is the usual one show each on Friday and Saturday night this weekend and while the line-ups are "ok" there is nothing spectacular about them.

The Friday Night Opry will feature Opry members Larry Gatlin and Mel Tillis, along with guest artists Angie Johnson and our old friend Tracy Lawrence. Back in the 1990s when Tracy was having hit after hit, there was speculation that Tracy would perhaps become an Opry member. He may have even been asked, or at least an inquiry made. I remember at the time that Tracy had said that he was too busy at that point in his career, but perhaps later on. Well, Tracy is now 45 and his hit-making days are pretty much behind him and I don't think an Opry invitation is coming any time soon. But it is nice to see him back at the Opry.

Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will feature another guest appearance by "Nashville" star Jonathan Jackson, who actually is a pretty good singer. With the Opry's Steve Buchanan as the Executive Producer of the show, and the continue involvement of the Opry, we probably will continue to see more of the "Nashville" stars on the Opry and the Opry being featured on the television show.

In addition to Jonathan Jackson, Darryl Worley and Andy Gibson will be making guest appearances. Also on the schedule for Saturday night is Jesse McReynolds, who has missed the past couple of weeks. Saturday night will also feature this week's Opry newcomers, Sons of Fathers. This is a Texas based duo.

Friday July 19:
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Mike Snider
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jimmy C Newman; Tracy Lawrence
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Angie Johnson
8:45: Larry Gatlin (host); Mel Tillis

Saturday July 20:
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Andy Gibson; Mike Snider
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); The Whites; Sons Of Fathers
8:15: John Conlee (host): Jesse McReynolds; Jonathan Jackson; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Larry Gatlin (host); Connie Smith; Darryl Worley

This week's look back in Grand Ole Opry history will feature a couple of line-ups. The 1st is from July 21, 1973 (40 years ago), when Jeanne Pruett joined the Grand Ole Opry. Jeanne was the last singing member of the Opry to join the show before it moved to the new Grand Ole Opry House (Jerry Clower did join after her but he is a comedian). Jeanne originally came to Nashville from Alabama and was a songwriter with Marty Robbins Enterprises. She then started singing and RCA signed her to a recording contract. Jeanne mentions that she was actually an Opry member for about a year before her formal induction, which was delayed because Dolly Parton wanted to be the one to introduce Jeanne as the Opry's newest member. Of course "Satin Sheets" was her career song. Jeanne is now 76 and is retired from the music business. Her last Opry appearances were in 2001. There are some who say that she saw the writing on the wall at the Opry as her appearances went from 64 in 2000 down to 23 in her final year, and she didn't appreciate some of the comments being made by new Opry manager Pete Fisher concerning the direction he wanted to take the show. As classy as a performer that she is, she decided the time had come to move on, which she did without a fuss. At time she did say that she hoped the Opry would replace her with a younger female singer, such as Rhonda Vincent, which as we all know, did not happen.

I have printed the running order previously from July 21, 1973, the night Jeanne Pruett joined the Opry, so I will just print the artist line-up from that night:

1st show
6:30: Tex Ritter (host); 4 Guys
6:45: Tex Ritter (host); Ernie Ashworth
7:00: Roy Acuff (host); Hank Williams, Jr; Sandi Burnette
7:30: Osborne Brothers (host); Jean Shepard; Stringbean; Crook Brothers
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Dolly Parton; Jeanne Pruett
8:30: Billy Grammer (host); Arlene Harden; Fruit Jar Drinkers

2nd show
9:30: Tex Ritter (host); Bob Luman; Ernie Ashworth; Sandi Burnette
10:00: Osborne Brothers (host); Jean Shepard
10:15: Roy Acuff (host); Jeanne Pruett; Stringbean
10:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Dolly Parton
10:45: Billy Grammer (host); Jerry Clower; Crook Brothers; Billy Grammer, Jr.
11:00: 4 Guys (host); Arlene Harden; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Sam McGee
11:30: Marty Robbins (host); Louie Roberts; Don Winters

We talk many times about the "thin" line-ups that the Opry has these days, but I think all of us have to be honest that this July 1973 was not one of the Opry's strongest. To be fair, this line-up was fairly typical of the Opry during that time period. It was summer time and the Opry's final year at the Ryman, which was miserable in the summer.

Moving on to another Opry line-up, how about July 25, 1964. This one was significantly stronger than the one that I posted above. Nothing really special about that night except that it was a pretty solid show. 1 show that night from the Ryman

7:30: Billy Grammer (host); Bill Carlisle; Ernie Ashworth; Cousin Jody; Sue York; Stan Hitchcock
8:00: Flatt & Scruggs (host); Bill Anderson; Carter Family; Ray Pillow; Dottie West; Crook Brothers
8:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper; Charlie Louvin; Del Wood; Sonny James; Norma Jean
9:00: Ernest Tubb (host); Leroy Van Dyke; Jim & Jesse; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Jack Greene
9:30: Hank Snow (host); Roy Drusky; Bobby Lord; The Browns; Billy Walker; Homesteaders
10:00: Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host); Ernie Ashworth; Cousin Jody
10:15: Flatt & Scruggs (host); Bill Anderson; Bill Carlisle
10:30: Billy Grammer (host); Carter Family; Sonny James
10:45: Ernest Tubb (host); Crook Brothers; Jack Greene
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Charlie Louvin; Leroy Van Dyke; Del Wood; Roy Drusky; Fruit Jar Drinkers
11:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Billy Walker; Bobby Lord; The Browns; Jim & Jesse

On a final note, over the last week the reports on Randy Travis seem much better. He is reportedly awake and alert, responding to words from his family and doctors. He still is not out of the woods and has a very long recovery and rehabiliation period ahead of him. Nobody can predict when or if we will see Randy performing again, but the progress seems good. Nice to hear.

Enjoy the Opry this weekend.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 7/12 & 7/13

Looking at the Grand Ole Opry line-ups for the past several weeks, I was beginning to think that Pete Fisher was on vacation. Last week we had legends Stu Phillips, George Hamilton IV and Jan Howard, along with Ray Pillow and Jean Shepard, who each hosted segments. This weekend we have the legendary Stonewall Jackson on the Opry schedule. As a country music fan, I am happy to see that.

As far as the line-ups for this weekend, with Carrie Underwood out on the road, we are back to 1 show each on Friday and Saturday night. The Friday Night Opry will feature the Oak Ridge Boys. I kept looking to see if the Oaks would maybe cancel as they are stepping in on Saturday night to perform a show in Canada that Randy Travis was originally scheduled to do, but so far so good. Also on Friday will be guest artists Charlie Worsham, Jim Lauderdale, Kalisa Ewing Lee Greenwood and Sarah Jarosz, all of whom have performed on the Opry before. Friday will also feature this week's Opry newcomer, Drake White. He is your basic opening act who released his first music earlier this year.

Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will feature "Nashville" star Jonathan Jackson, along with Kip Moore, The Willis Clan, Elizabeth Cook and Restless Heart. Jesse McReynolds was on the original schedule posted but has been taken off on the latest version. Jesse was scheduled for both shows last Friday night but became ill shortly before his performance and was taken to the hospital and checked out. Last I heard, everything was ok for this legend who celebrated his 84th birthday earlier this week.

Friday July 12:
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Charlie Worsham; Jim Lauderdale
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Kalisa Ewing; Lee Greenwood
8:15: John Conlee (host); Drake White; Sarah Jarosz
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Stonewall Jackson; Oak Ridge Boys

Saturday July 13:
7:00: John Conlee (host); Kelleigh Bannen; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Kip Moore; Jonathan Jackson
8:15: George Hamilton IV (host); Jimmy C Newman; The Willis Clan; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Jim Ed Brown (host); Elizabeth Cook; Restless Heart

Looking back in Opry history this week, I wanted to mention former Opry members The Glaser Brothers. It was on July 14, 1973 that the Glasers made their final appearance as Grand Ole Opry members. In fact, it was their final appearance anywhere as a trio until they reunited on January 20, 1990 for an Opry performance at Hank Snow's 40th Opry anniversary celebration. The 1990 show was their final appearance together.

Officially known in Opry circles as Tompall & The Glasers, they joined the Opry in 1959. The brothers Tompall, Chuck, and Jim first came to the attention of Marty Robbins who really enjoyed their ranch and cowboy songs. They were soon singing with Marty and for a time were in back-up group. Eventually they struck out on their own. While they never had a #1 single or album, they did record 10 albums that resulted in 9 charted singles. Most of their hits were in the period of the mid-1960s and early 1970s. Personal differences led to their break-up. For a time, Tompall was a part of the "outlaw" movement with Willie and Waylon. Jim Glaser is still active today and has made several Opry appearances over the past several years.

Here is the Opry line-up from Saturday July 14, 1973, the final appearance as Opry members of the Glaser Brothers. (and yes, that is correct-George Jones was on the Opry and hosting segments that night and joined by Tammy Wynette).

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Charlie Walker (host): Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Bill Carlisle: Little Liza Jane
Charlie Walker: Soft Lips & Hard Liquor
Joe Edwards: Old Joe Clark

6:45: Rudy's
Justin Tubb (host): Lodi
Del Wood: Standing Room Only
Judy Bryte: Wabash Cannonball
Justin Tubb: Texas Dance Hall Girl

7:00: Rudy's
George Jones (host): White Lightning
Tammy Wynette: Your Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad
4 Guys: Cottonfields/Maria
Harold Morrison: Dueling Banjo
Patsy Sledd: Nothing Can Stop My Loving You
George Jones: A Picture of Me Without You
Tammy Wynette: Stand By Your Man
4 Guys: Sing Me Back Home/I'll Fly Away/Jambalaya/She'll Be Coming Round the Mountain/You Are My Sunshine/Shutters & Boards
George Jones & Tammy Wynette: We Go Together

7:30: Standard Candy
Tex Ritter (host): Fall Away
Stringbean: Cripple Creek
Willis Brothers: Cimmerron
Crook Brothers: Liberty
Tex Ritter: Green Grow the Lilacs
Stringbean: Battle of New Orleans
Willis Brothers: I Still Do
Tex Ritter: I Dreamed of A Hillbilly Heaven

8:00: Martha White
Lester Flatt (host): Foggy Mountain Breakdown
Charlie Louvin: Funny Man
Jimmy Newman: Back Pocket Money
Penny DeHaven: This Time
Lester Flatt: The Girl I Love Don't Pay Me No Mind
Charlie Louvin & Diane McCall: Did You Ever
Jimmy Newman: Diggy Liggy Lo
Marty Stuart: Roanoke

8:30: Stephens
Bill Anderson (host): Don't She Look Good
Mary Lou Turner: I Am Woman
Johnny Carver: Tie A Yellow Ribbon
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bill Cheatham
Bill Anderson: The Corner of My Life
Mary Lou Turner: Take Me Home Country Roads
Johnny Carver: You Really Haven't Changed
Bill Anderson: All the Lonely Women In The World

2nd show
9:30: Tex Ritter (host): Boll Weevil
Willis Brothers: There Goes the Farm
Charlie Walker: The Lord Knows I'm Drinking
Justin Tubb: Lonesome 7-7203
Tex Ritter: The Streets of Laredo
Judy Bryte: The Wreck of the Old 97
Charlie Walker: Don't Squeeze My Sharmon
Tex Ritter: High Noon

10:00: Fender
Charlie Louvin (host): Will You Visit Me On Sundays
Bill Carlisle: Have a Drink on Me/Rusty Old Halo
Charlie Louvin & Diane McCall: American Trilogy

10:15: Union 76
George Jones (host): She Thinks I Still Care
Tammy Wynette: Kids Say the Darndest Things
Harold Morrison: Dueling Banjos
Patsy Sledd: Pass Me By
Tammy Wynette&George Jones&Harold Morrison&Patsy Sledd: Let's All Go Down to the River

10:30: Trailblazer
Lester Flatt (host): Country Boy
Stringbean: Pretty Polly
Del Wood: Gloryland March
Lester Flatt & Marty Stuart: The Bluebird's Singing for Me

10:45: Beech-Nut
Bill Anderson (host): If You Can Live With It
Mary Lou Turner: The Shelter of Your Eyes
Crook Brothers: Chicken Reel
Bill Anderson: The Corner of My Life

11:00: Coca-Cola
Jimmy Newman (host): Good Time Charlie's Got the Blues
4 Guys: Hello Walls/Big Bad John/Wings of A Dove
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Take Me Back to Tulsa
Jimmy Newman: The Kind of Love I Can't Forget
4 Guys: Turn Your Radio On
Sam McGee: Farewell Blues/Alabama Jubilee/Just Because
Jimmy Newman: Jole Blon

11:30: Elm Hill
Glaser Brothers (host): Release Me/She Turned And Walked Away Slowly/Many Tears Ago/You Win Again/Bouquet of Roses/There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight
Johnny Carver: Tie A Yellow Ribbon
Penny DeHaven: Down in the Boondocks
Glaser Brothers: Rings
Johnny Carver: You Really Haven't Changed
Penny DeHaven: The Love of Your Life
Glaser Brothers: Faded Love/Rose of Old Pawnee/Just A Girl I Used To Know/I'll Hold You In My Heart/More & More

While the Glaser Brothers only had 1 segment that night, the hosted it and pretty much sang all of their hits and the songs that were associated with them. And it was nice of the Opry to let them close out the show on their final night. Also, many of the Opry's big names were missing: Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe, Ernest Tubb, Hank Snow, Marty Robbins and Porter Wagoner stand out. But even without them, it was a solid line-up.

It was sad to see the Glaser Brothers end their careers so early as in my opinion, they had some of the best harmonies around and really did a great job on the ballads. While I know it won't happen, I would love to see them get together one last time.

Not to forget the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, July 16:

7:00: Chris Janson; Rhonda Vincent
7:30: Thomas Rhett; Jim Ed Brown
8:15: Jimmy Fortune; Cassadee Pope
8:45: Darius Rucker

Finally, after coming off 4 sold-out Opry performances last weekend, Carrie Underwood has been scheduled for the Opry on Saturday August 10. The Opry has added a 2nd show that night. Also on the schedule so far is the newest Country Music Hall of Fame member, Bobby Bare. I am also hearing of maybe more special surprises for that night.

Enjoy the Opry this weekend.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Tuesday Night Opry 7/9 & Wednesday Night Opry 7/10

The line-up for the 2 Opry mid-week shows are as follows:

Tuesday July 9:
7:00: Tyler Farr; Dale Watson
7:30: The Whites; Lee Brice
8:15: Jeannie Seely; Craig Morgan
8:45: Amber Digby; Vince Gill

Wednesday July 10:
7:00: Kristen Kelly; TG Sheppard
7:30: Greg Bates; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Jim Ed Brown; Lauren Alaina
8:45: The Band Perry

I am sure everyone has read the news regarding Randy Travis. A tragedy and so young at 54. Here is hoping for a recovery but from the various reports I have read it just doesn't sound good.

On another note, Jimmy Dickens will began his radiation treatments this week. Best to Jimmy.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Mid-Year Opry Update

It is hard to believe that we have reached the mid-point of 2013. I thought this would be a good time to give a mid-year report on the Grand Ole Opry for the year thus far. This covers the period from the 1st of the year through the Wednesday night Opry show on July 3.

So far in 2013 there has been 85 Opry shows. The breakdown is 27 Friday Night Opry shows, 26 Saturday night Grand Ole Opry shows, 19 Tuesday Night Opry's, 9 Opry Country Classics, 3 Wednesday night shows and 1 Saturday matinee.

The Opry started the year with 67 members, a number that has reduced itself to 65 with the deaths of Jack Greene and George Jones. 3 members, Jeanne Pruett, Barbara Mandrell and Ricky Van Shelton are retired and 2 members, Jimmy Dickens and Hal Ketchum do not currently perform due to health reasons.

The following 11 Opry members have not made any 2013 appearances: Trace Adkins, Clint Black, Garth Brooks, Tom T Hall, Emmylou Harris, Martina McBride, Dolly Parton, Stu Phillips (although he did appear on Friday night), Randy Travis, Travis Tritt and Trisha Yearwood.

Of the remaining 49 Opry members, Roy Clark, Alan Jackson, Stonewall Jackson, Loretta Lynn, Ronnie Milsap, Brad Paisley and Ralph Stanley have made only 1 appearance, while Dierks Bentley, Patty Loveless, Montgomery Gentry, Ray Pillow, Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton, Marty Stuart and Keith Urban have managed to find the Opry House only 2 times.

So who has made the most appearances so far in 2013? Well, the Top 10 list includes the usual veterans that you would expect to see:

1) Riders In The Sky/The Whites-37
2) Bill Anderson-35
3) Jim Ed Brown/John Conlee/Jeannie Seely-32
4) Mike Snider-29
5) Jimmy C Newman-27
6) Ricky Skaggs-25
7) Jesse McReynolds/Bobby Osborne-24
8) Jean Shepard/Connie Smith-19
9) Larry Gatlin-17
10) George Hamilton IV-14

Interesting that Riders In The Sky lead the list so far for this year. But also notice on the list that the only "young" artists would be The Whites (without Buck), Mike Snider and Ricky Skaggs. And yes, we all know that many of the veterans and legends, both on and off the list, would make many more appearances if they were asked.

As far as segment hosts, here is how that list stacks up:

1) Bill Anderson-31
2) Riders In The Sky-28
3) Jeannie Seely-27
4) John Conlee-23
5) Ricky Skaggs-19
6) Mike Snider-17
7) Jim Ed Brown-15
8) Vince Gill-9
9) George Hamilton/Diamond Rio-6
10) The Whites-5

As far as non-Opry member guest artists, we have this:

1) Mandy Barnett-11
2) Sarah Darling/Chris Janson-9
3) Kristen Kelly/Striking Matches-8
4) Mark Wills-7
5) Greg Bates/Craig Campbell/Jimmy Wayne-6
6) Elizabeth Cook/Joey+Rory/The Grascals/Exile/Dailey&Vincent/Darryl Worley-5

So you can see that as in past years, a minority of the Opry's members are carrying the major load in supporting the show. And despite the efforts of Pete Fisher to make the Opry younger, which he has, the younger artists are not coming out in the numbers needed to support the show.

I wanted to finish this recap with a Tennessean article written by Peter Cooper that I recently found and was printed on Friday October 13, 2000, when the Opry was getting ready to celebrate it's 75th anniversary. This was just a little over a year after Pete Fisher took over as the Vice President and General Manager of the Opry and I think it tells you a lot as to what direction Pete Fisher wanted to take the Opry. 13 years later, each of you can be the judge to determine if he has been successful or not. (I highlighted a few key points).

As the Grand Ole Opry's 75th anniverary weekend kicks off today, the institution's importance to music history and to Nashville itself are indisputable. After all, those highway signs at the county line still advertise Metro Nashville as "Home of the Grand Ole Opry." But the notion of just what should constitute a 21st-century Opry is in dispute. The arguments are less often about the show's updated stage set or Internet viability than they are about the cast of performers gracing the stage. And the arguments go deeper than some members' anger over not being introduced by name at this weekend's celebration.

"I don't want this to sound like sour grapes, but why not honor the people who have made the Opry what it is for 75 years?" said longtime member Jan Howard, who made her Opry debut in 1959. A youth movement is afoot. General Manager Pete Fisher fired the first shots last autumn by dismissing several staff band mainstays with younger players. Now the youthful faces are coming out of the shadows and into the center stage spotlight. If nobody moves, nobody gets hurt. But, for what historians say is the first time in nearly 25 years, the Opry is moving. Certainly, it is different now thatn it was in June 1999, when Fisher took over as general manager and, in colaboration with Gaylord Entertainment's Grand Ole Opry Group president Steve Buchanan, began instituting significant booking changes. "We're projecting a 78% increase in the participation of contemporary members since the beginning of 1998 through the end of 2000." said Fisher, who defined "contemporary" as members 45 and younger. At the same time, the Opry has extended a hand to guests at an unprecedented rate. "This is no longer a membership only approach to booking the show," said Fisher, who projects a 440% increase in guest appearances from 1998 through December 2000.

More than in the past, young, radio-friendly country artists are giving the Opry more than lip service. Current hit makers Brad Paisley, Chely Wright, Lee Ann Womack and others are actually showing up to play. "When you're looking at the Opry's future success, it always comes back to the old 'Who's gonna fill their shoes?' question," Fisher said. "For nearly three decades, we've had a group of artists who, through their passion and commitment, have been a pillar of support for the show." Now, those performers' passion and commitment is being tested. The infusion of young blood, plus the greater participation of contemporary members, equals the exclusion of some ready, willing and able veterans.

"In corporate America, they call this downsizing," said Jeannie Seely, a member since 1967. "The department's the same size, but they get different people. All of us would like to remain the hot new kid on the block, but it doesn't work that way." Corporate America's veterans aren't quite so glittery or famous, though. Opry veterans are country icons, often referred to as "The Legends."

"They're getting fewer shows to do," said Chely Wright, whose respectful demeanor and knowledge of country music history have made her popular among The Legends even as her biggest hits stray far from the traditional country fold. "I don't want the mainstays to feel like we're trying to change it over. They're the ones who built it up strong. But you can't just put Jimmy Dickens in a new suit in order to bring in younger viewers." Most in the all-important younger-adult demographic know less about Dickens than they do about SHeDAISY, a poppy vocal group whose choreographed performance drew derisive hoots from the audience during an Opry appearance earlier this year.

"Pete Fisher has to make experiments," said Dr. Charles Wolfe, a music scholar whose book on the Opry's early history, 'A Good Natured Riot' just won an ASCAP-Deems Taylor Award as the year's best book on American music. "Some of those experiments work and some don't. But if we don't attract the modern country audience, the Opry is going to become an antique."

There is, of course, another way to look at this. Take the case of Billy Walker, a member since 1960. Walker played the Opry most weekends in 1962, when his 'Charlie's Shoes' was a No. 1 hit. Then and now, the Opry paid its performers the musician's union "scale" salary, and more money could be made by playing elsewhere on weekends. Walker is still in fine voice, and his fans still come to the Opry with hopes of seeing him perform. "We have our place in country music history, and we shouldn't be shoved out just because we're no longer youthful," Walker said.

No one's membership is being retracted but some members complain of disadvantageous time slots and of being told to "schedule yourself out" for weekend shows more often. "New talent is the lifeblood," Walker said. "But you have to be wise and not overkill with new talent and shove the cornerstone people out. They're doing this to geet a big crowd, but it's not working here."

Fisher said the show puts as many people in the seats as it did last year even while Nashville's tourism industry has suffered. He would not give attendance figures. On many Saturday nights over the past seven months, the 4,400 seat auditorium has looked to be about 75% full for the early evening performance. Of course, country music record sales are down, and the current crop of young performers has not caught the public's fancy as the youngsters did in the Garth Brooks-Clint Black era. "You check the lineup now, and they will have people no one has heard of," said Jean Shepard, a member since 1955. "I know we're trying to cultivate a younger audience, but sometimes good people are being shoved aside for unknowns." Shepard admits some of those unknowns are actually welcome additions, particuarly a traditional young country singer named Elizabeth Cook. Part of The Legends beef, then is qualitative: "I know there's a lot of great talent out there, but some of it is not," said Howard, who has been performing less often on the Opry of late and more often in Branson, Mo.

In his defense, Fisher has scheduled a number of young acts who have been received far better than SHeDAISY, including Clay Davidson, Gillian Welch, Mike Ireland, Jim Lauderdale and Nickel Creek. "Starting in the 1960s and continuing into the '70s and '80s, the Opry reached a plateau and didn't change or develop," Wolfe said. "It was the same faces every night, the same songs, even the same jokes. What Pete's trying to do is get the Opry going again." Which sounds good, and it is. But Fisher and the Opry's upper management are now faced with the task of instituting change without offending a core membership that has helped the Opry say afloat and without turning away The Legend's fans, who have supported the long-running program with decades of dollars and applause.

That means taking every opportunity to spotlight veterans' accomplishments. It means remaining as gracious and helpful to cast members as to guests. "The Opry is a concern to all of us," Walker said. "We've put our lives into it."

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 7/5 & 7/6

It will be a big weekend at the Grand Ole Opry as for the first time in many years, the Opry will have 2 shows on Friday and Saturday night. The reason for it is very simple and can be said in 2 words: Carrie Underwood. Carrie will be featured on all 4 shows this weekend and I am sure all 4 shows will be sold-out or close to it. I did some checking and counting the 4 shows this weekend, that will give Carrie 7 Opry appearances so far this year. What is remarkable about this (or sad depending on how you look at it), of the Opry's 65 current members, only 19 members have made more Opry appearances this year than Carrie. I think this says something about Carrie, but it also says something about the current Opry membership. No matter how you look at it, I appreciate the fact that Carrie, despite her busy schedule, finds time to make it to the Opry.

Joining Carrie on the Friday Night Opry will be guest artists The Band Perry, comedian Henry Cho, The Isaacs and Striking Matches. In addition, Opry veteran Stu Phillips is scheduled to make his first appearance of the year. Stu is a "senior member" of the Opry, thus is on a limited appearance schedule. Stu has been battling voice and health issues over the past several years, so I will be very interested to see if he does make it this weekend and if he does, how he sounds.

Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will also feature Opry legend Ray Pillow, who will be hosting segments on both shows. Guesting on Saturday night will be Eric Paslay, Lennon & Maisy and Jimmy Wayne. And it is nice to see Connie Smith back at the Opry this weekend. She has been touring with Marty Stuart lately and has been missing from the weekend Opry shows for several weeks.

Friday July 5:
1st show
7:00: Bill Anderson (host); Striking Matches; The Isaacs
7:30: Jean Shepard (host); Jesse McReynolds; Henry Cho
8:00: Mike Snider (host); Jan Howard; The Band Perry
8:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Carrie Underwood

2nd show
9:30: Mike Snider (host); Striking Matches; The Isaacs
10:00: Jean Shepard (host); Stu Phillips; The Band Perry
10:30: George Hamilton IV (host); Jesse McReynolds; Henry Cho
11:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Carrie Underwood

Saturday July 6:
1st show
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Eric Paslay; Connie Smith
7:30: Jean Shepard (host); Jimmy C Newman; Lennon & Maisy
8:00: Ray Pillow (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Jimmy Wayne; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: George Hamilton IV (host); Carrie Underwood

2nd show
9:30: Mike Snider (host); Eric Paslay; Connie Smith
10:00: Jean Shepard (host); Jimmy C Newman; Lennon & Maisy; Opry Square Dancers
10:30: Ray Pillow (host); Carrie Underwood
11:00: George Hamilton IV (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Jimmy Wayne

It is nice to see Jean Shepard getting hosting assignments on all 4 shows this weekend, along with George Hamilton IV having 3. I also like the fact that they have scheduled Jesse McReynolds for both shows on Friday night and Jimmy C Newman and Bobby Osborne for both shows on Saturday night. Usually they each get 1 slot and that it is.

Overall, it is a nice mixture of talent this weekend. You have the under superstars, bluegrass, comedy and the veterans and legends. It should be a fun weekend to listen to the Opry.

On another Opry note, as I type this post on Wednesday July 3, Alison Krauss will be celebrating 20 years as an Opry member tonight on the Wednesday night Opry show. Alison joined the Opry on July 3, 1993. Like many of those who joined during that era, she rarely plays the Opry. In fact, this will be her 1st appearance of 2013. It's too bad because Alison has a great sound, is very popular and is loved by the Opry audiences. With her tonight will be Union Station. I am sure something will be said about her 20 years at the Opry. That's fine. But I just think it would mean more if she actually played the Opry on a semi-regular basis.

Now for this week's look back in Opry history, it was on July 8, 1972 that Barbara Mandrell joined the Grand Ole Opry. This Country Music Hall of Fame member is one of the most awarded females in the history of country music. She has won numerous CMA Awards, Music City News Awards and Academy of Country Music Awards. She hosted and stared in her own television series. She has been married to her former drummer Ken Dudney since 1967. When Barbara joined the Opry, she was at the very beginning of her career that has produced almost 70 singles and over 30 albums. While many of her singles went to #1 on the charts, I find it hard to believe that non of her albums hit #1. For many of us who grew up listening and watching Barbara, we will find it hard to believe that she will be 65 this year and has been an Opry member for 41 years. Her last performing Grand Ole Opry show was in 1997 and since she retired from active performing, she has been to the Opry to host or participate in a show, but not to perform.

Here is the Grand Ole Opry line-up from Saturday July 8, 1972, the night Barbara Mandrell became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Billy Grammer (host): Wabash Cannonball
Oak Ridge Boys: (?)
Billy Grammer: Peace in the Valley

6:45: Rudy's
Charlie Walker (host): I Don't Mind Going Under
Bill Calisle: I'm Moving
Pete Stamper: (?)
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down

7:00: Luzianne
Tex Ritter (host): Green Grow the Lilacs
Bobby Bare: The Streets of Baltimore
Johnny Paycheck: Love Is A Good Thing
David Houston: Danny Boy
Tex Ritter: Lorena
Bobby Bare: Me & Bobby McGee

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Just A Friend
4 Guys: Turn Your Radio On
Stu Phillips: I'd Rather Be Sorry
Crook Brothers: Lost Indian
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird
Barbara Mandrell: Show Me

8:00: Martha White
Del Reeves (host): Girl on the Billboard
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Doin' My Time
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips
Ronnie Dove: Right or Wrong
Del Reeves: The Best is Yet to Come
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: White Dove
Del Reeves: Philadelphia Fillies

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): I Don't Hurt Anymore
Bob Luman: When You Say Love
Marion Worth: For the Good Times
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Blackberry Blossom
Justin Tubb: Lodi
Mel Street: Borrowed Angel
Hank Snow: Gisha Girl

2nd show
9:30: Kelloggs
Billy Grammer (host): Lonesome Road Blues
4 Guys: Shenendoah
David Houston: Soft, Sweet and Warm
Soji Tebuchi: Rainbow in the Valley
Billy Grammer: What A Friend
Pete Stamper: (?)
David Houston: Jambalaya

10:00: Fender
Charlie Walker (host): Little Old Wine Drinker Me
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Johnny Paycheck: She's All I Got
Charlie Walker: I Don't Mind Going Under

10:15: Union 76
Tex Ritter (host): High Noon
Bobby Bare: Come Sundown
Tex Ritter: Fall Away

10:30: Trailblazer
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Justin Tubb: Traveling Singing Man
Roy Acuff: Where Could I Go

10:45: Beechnut
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Coming Down From God
Ronnie Dove: Okie From Muskogee
Crook Brothers: Chicken Reel
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Each Season Changes You

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Golden Rocket
Barbara Mandrell: Tonight My Baby's Coming Home
Stu Phillips: Crystal Chandeliers
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cacklin' Hen
Barbara  Mandrell: Satisfied
Stu Phillips: A Castle; A Cabin
Sam McGee: Wheels
Hank Snow: I'm Glad I Got to See You Once Again

11:30: Elm Hill
Del Reeves (host): Down in the Boondocks
Bob Luman: When You Say Love/Guitar Man/Heartbreak Hotel
Marion Worth: Faded Love
Mel Street: Borrowed Angel
Del Reeves: The Bells of Southern Bell/A Dime At A Time/Looking at the World Through A Windshield/Whole Lotta Shaking Going On

(I don't think anyone can complain about that line-up).

Finally I want to mention the late Johnny Russell, who became a member of the Grand Ole Opry on July 6, 1985. Johnny was one of the great songwriters of all time and a great personality. He was at home during the 11:30 segment and while not going as long as Marty Robbins used to, Johnny still was liberal with the time, telling stories and singing his songs. Sometimes he hosted and sometimes he did not. Johnny was the first to introduce Garth Brooks at the Opry and after that, Garth always requested to be on Johnny's segment. And it was Johnny that inducted Garth as an Opry member. What I found interesting with his career was that he was the first to record "He Stopped Loving Her Today", but his label would not release it. Johnny had only 1 Top #10 hit in his career but he charted dozens of hits. Johnny always remembered his hometown of Moorhead, Mississippi as each year from 1987 until 2000, when he became too ill to perform, he would go back and host a benefit show. Johnny had his share of health issues and in April 2001, both of his legs were amputated due to diabetes. In July 2001, he passed away.

For Johnny Russell, here is the Opry line-up from Saturday July 6, 1985, the night he joined the Grand Ole Opry.

1st show
6:30: 4 Guys (host); Jean Shepard
6:45: Jack Greene (host); Brother Oswald
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Johnny Russell; Dottie West
7:30: George Hamilton IV (host); Ray Pillow; Crook Brothers/Melvin Sloan Dancers; Connie Smith
8:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jan Howard; Charlie Louvin; Roy Drusky
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Billy Walker; Jeannie Seely; Billy Grammer

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); 4 Guys; Bill Carlisle; Dottie West
10:00: Ray Pillow (host); Jean Shepard
10:15: Ricky Skaggs (host); Connie Smith
10:30: Billy Walker (host); Justin Tubb
10:45: Roy Drusky (host); George Hamilton IV; Crook Brothers/Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Jeannie Seely; Brother Oswald; Billy Grammer
11:30: Jack Greene (host); Charlie Louvin; Jan Howard; Johnny Russell

The line-up was a little thin that night with some of the bigger names missing. Roy Acuff, as evidenced by Oswald on the show, was out and Bill Anderson was scheduled but cancelled out.

I hope everyone has a very happy 4th of July and enjoy the fireworks. Be safe!!