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:
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
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.