Saturday, August 31, 2013

September Opry Highlights

As I do each month, here are the important and historical events that have taken place in Grand Ole Opry history during the month of September.

September 15, 1903: Country Music Hall of Fame member and the "King of Country Music" Roy Acuff was born in Maynardville, Tennessee. Roy came to the Grand Ole Opry in 1938 and would remain an Opry member until his death in 1992. I think it is safe to say that Roy was the most influential member in the history of the Opry and the Opry hasn't been the same since he passed away.

September 13, 1911: The "Father of Bluegrass Music" Bill Monroe was born. Bill was born in Rosine, Kentucky and he came to the Opry in October 1939. He remained with the Opry until he passed away in 1996.

September 26, 1925: Marty Robbins was born near Glendale, Arizona. Marty came to the Opry for his first appearance in 1953 and he joined the show shortly after that. He would become one of the most popular members in the history of the Opry and his 11:30 shows became legendary. Marty would remain an Opry member until he passed away in December 1982.

September 26, 1926: Jerry Clower was born near Liberty, Mississippi. This great comedian practiced his skills while he was a fertilizer salesman and speaking at local banquets. Jerry joined the Opry in 1973 and he was the last member to join the cast while the show was still at the Ryman Auditorium. Jerry remained an Opry member until his death in 1998. In the history of the Opry, there have been a number of great comedians and this is something that is missing at the Opry today.

September 1, 1931: Lecil Travis Martin was born in Sterratt, Texas. He made his Grand Ole Opry debut in 1980 at the age of 49 and a year later became a member. He would remain an Opry member until his death in 1999 and was one of the first country entertainers to open a theater in Branson. By the way, in 1975 after watching John Denver and Olivia Newton John win CMA awards, Lecil decided that he needed to take country music back in a different direction and at that point in his career, he became known as "Boxcar Willie".

September 12, 1931: George Jones was born in Saratoga, Texas. There seems much confusion, even within the Opry, when George actually became an Opry member. The best guess is 1956, although he came and went, rejoining the show several different times. While he made infrequent Opry appearances, he was still proud of being an Opry member. George passed away earlier this year.

September 5, 1945: Wally Fowler joined the cast of the Opry. Wally was the founder of the Oak Ridge Quartet, which eventually became known as the Oak Ridge Boys. After he became a part of the Opry, he was frequently featured on the Prince Albert Opry shows. Wally had issues with money and in 1957, he sold the rights to the name Oak Ridge Quartet. Wally continued his career in gospel music and passed away in 1994.

September 18, 1947: On this night, and the night that followed, Ernest Tubb, Minnie Pearl, and a host of other Opry members played two shows at Carnegie Hall in New York. Here is how Ernest remembered that night: "The radio and newspaper people ignored us the first night we were there, but we turned away six thousand people and the next night, every reporter was there. " Billboard magazine also reported that, "such screaming and wild applause after each number hasn't been heard in town since Frank Sinatra brought out the bobbysoxers at the Paramount."

September 4, 1948: Eddy Arnold leaves as a cast member of the Grand Ole Opry. At the time he was the Opry's biggest star and he left to star on his own CBS network radio show. Eddy did an interview with Ralph Emery in 1991 and talked about leaving the Opry, "I thought I had done about as much as I could do there. I had two network radio programs outside the Opry." It was said that Eddy had outgrown the Opry. On his final night as an Opry member, Eddy finished his set and stood on stage looking out over the Ryman Auditorium. He thanked Harry Stone, WSM, and the Opry fans and then turned to walk away from the microphone. Harold Bradley, who backed Eddy on guitar that night said, "We went around the curtain and he and Minnie Pearl hugged and both of them cried like babies because he was leaving." Eddy created some controversy because he was the first "star" to leave the Opry. But Irving Waugh of WSM had this to say, "We hated to see Eddy leave. But, as I recall, it didn't make that much difference to the Opry. At that stage, people were lined up all the way around the block to get in. New people, including Hank (Williams), were coming all the time." Oh by the way, after Eddy left the Opry, he never came back.

September 24, 1948: WSM began the Friday Night Frolics. This program took place in Studio C at the WSM. It continued as a studio show until 1964 when the show was moved to the Ryman Auditorium and would become known as the Friday Night Opry. The show was originally started in an effort to keep Eddy Arnold, who had left the Opry several weeks earlier, on WSM radio.

September 13, 1952: Webb Pierce makes his first appearance on the Opry. He joined the show a year later to help fill the absence after Hank Williams left. Webb would remain an Opry member until February 19, 1957, after a dispute with management over the paying of booking fees and commissions.

September 26, 1953: Skeeter Davis made her first appearance on the Opry. Skeeter joined the Opry in 1959 and remained an Opry member until she passed away in 2004.

September 10, 1955: Justin Tubb joined the Grand Ole Opry. At the time he was the Opry's youngest member. Justin, the son of Ernest Tubb, was an Opry member until his death in 1998 at the age of 62.

September 24, 1956: WSM radio fired Opry manager Jim Denny. He was replaced the next day by Dee Kilpatrick. Jim owned Cedarwood Publishing Company, which was becoming a major force in the music publishing business in Nashville. Jack Stapp, another WSM executive who was also dismissed, owned Tree Publishing. Irving Waugh said, "The Board of Directors had indicated that Denny and Stapp should be given the option of resigning or giving up their publishing interests." In Denny's case, WSM decided to make their own decision instead of waiting. Jim Denny had started at the Opry in the early days of the show and was involved behind the scenes. He was not only the Opry's manager, but a powerful force at WSM and the Opry, and with many of the Opry's members, who were signed with his publishing company.

September 25, 1956: Dee Kilpatrick was named the Grand Ole Opry's "general director." He not only took over for Jim Denny at the Opry, but he also was named the radio station's Artists' Service Bureau's manager. This was a fancy name for the Opry's own in-house booking agency. He was a former record company executive and he said at the time, "They asked me what I thought was wrong. We'll, back when I was working with Mercury Records I was at the Opry almost every Saturday night I was in town, and I could look at the audience and see what was wrong. The Opry didn't appeal to the younger audiences that you have to have if you're going to keep growing. All I could see there were older people and little tweeny kids. There wasn't any teenagers." Kilpatrick would begin to add younger acts to the Opry's cast including the Everly Brothers and Porter Wagoner. When you read that quote from 1956 about the Opry's aging audience, it sounds like Dee was dealing with many of the same issues that Pete Fisher is dealing with today.

September 29, 1956: Rose Maddox joined the Grand Ole Opry. Rose did not stay at the Opry for very long as many of the Opry's members, Roy Acuff in particular, didn't particuarly care for her.

September 13, 1958: Ben Smathers and the Stoney Mountain Cloggers joined the Grand Ole Opry. Ben Smathers passed away in 1990, while the Stoney Mountain Cloggers would remain a part of the Opry until 1993.

September 30, 1958: Grand Ole Opry member Marty Stuart was born in Philadelphia, Mississippi. Last year Marty celebrated 20 years as an Opry member. His RFD-TV show is reported to be the highest rated show on the network.

September 25, 1962: Loretta Lynn joins the Grand Ole Opry. This will be her 51st year as an Opry member. Loretta remains an Opry member although her appearances are very infrequent.

September 27, 1963: The National Life and Accident Insurance Company purchased the Ryman Auditorium from the City of Nashville for about $200,000. WSM, which operated the building, changed the name to the Grand Ole Opry House, but it would always be known as the Ryman. With ownership, WSM was able to make much needed repairs to the building that the city was unable to do, while also controlling the bookings at the facility.

September 15, 1965: In some of the Opry's historical records and publications, this is one of the dates listed for Connie Smith's Opry induction. Other dates have her joining in June 1965, which seems the "official" date. From what I can find, she might have been asked to join the Opry in June, but the September date seems to be the first date that Connie appeared on the show as an actual Opry member.

September 16, 1967: Jeannie Seely joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be her 46th year as an Opry member. When Jeannie first joined the Opry, females never hosted segments. But over time, that has changed and today Jeannie is one of the Opry's primary segment hosts, appearing most weeks at the Opry.

September 19, 1968: Former Grand Ole Opry member Red Foley passed away in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Red came to the Opry in 1946, replacing Roy Acuff as the host of the Prince Albert Show. He would stay with the Opry for about a decade, when he left the show to go to Springfield, Missouri to work in television. At the time, Red was having many personal issues and the Opry felt it was best that Red left. Red is a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and is one of the all time great gospel singers in country music history.

September 17, 1977: Reba McEntire made her first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. She would later join the Opry. This is just a rumor, but this was not Reba's final Opry appearance, although it seems like decades since she was last on the show.

September 6, 1984: Ernest Tubb passed away in a Nashville hospital. Ernest had been in declining health for a number of years and had made his last Opry appearance on August 14, 1982. That was also the last night that he hosted his Midnight Jamboree. He was 70 at the time of his death. He joined the Opry in 1943 and in 1965, Ernest was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Along with Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe, he is considered one of the greatest stars in Grand Ole Opry history.

September 4, 1991: Grand Ole Opry member Dottie West died in a Nashville hospital as a result of injuries suffered earlier in a car accident on her way to a performance on the Friday Night Opry. Dottie had been a member of the Opry since 1964.

September 4, 1992: Former Opry member Carl Butler died in Franklin, Tennessee. Along with his wife Pearl, they had joined the Opry in 1962. Carl first appeared on the Opry in 1948 and along with being a fine singer, was also a good songwriter. Dolly Parton would say that Carl and Pearl were instrumental in helping her out when she first came to Nashville and later in her life, Dolly returned the favor. After they left the Opry, they continued to tour and after Pearl passed away, Carl would occasionally play the Opry.

September 11, 1993: The Stoney Mountain Cloggers made their final Grand Ole Opry appearance. Ben Smathers, the leader of the group, had passed away on September 13, 1990 at the age of 62, and the group led by his wife Margaret, would continue on the Opry for three more years.

September 9, 1996: Grand Ole Opry member Bill Monroe passed away after being in declining health after suffering a stroke earlier in the year. Bill brought bluegrass music to the Opry and was one of the Opry's greatest members.

September 20, 2004: Grand Ole Opry member Skeeter Davis passed away in Nashville at the age of 72. Skeeter had battled cancer and other health related issues for a number of years. Skeeter was known for her bright outfits and her big smile while at the Opry. She brought joy to the show.

September 23, 2004: It was not a good week at the Opry as Roy Drusky passed away after a period of declining health. Roy had been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since the 1950s and was a great ballad singer.

September 1, 2006: Taylor Swift made her first appearance on the Opry. She would make several more over the next several years.

September 13, 2011: Grand Ole Opry member Wilma Lee Cooper passed away. Wilma, along with her husband Stoney Cooper, joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1957 after coming to Nashville from the Wheeling Jamboree. After Stoney's death, Wilma Lee continued as a solo artist, keeping her mountain music going. Her last Opry singing performance was in February 2001, when she suffered a stroke while performing on the show. She did return to the Opry stage to be honored for 50 years of Opry membership, and her last appearance at the Opry House was in September 2010 as part of the reopening of the Opry House.

September 27, 2011: Rascal Flatts were invited to become the newest members of the Opry. They would officially be inducted as members in October, as part of the Opry's birthday celebration.

September 27, 2011: Johnny Wright passed away in Nashville. He was the husband of Kitty Wells and was a former Grand Ole Opry member, first coming to the show in 1948. Along with Kitty, who would join the show with him in the 1950s, they would remain as Opry members until the early 1960s, after which they would continue to make appearances on the show.

There you have it for this month. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 8/30 & 8/31

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend. Historically, Labor Day weekend does not bring out the strongest shows as many of the country music stars are out doing road dates, especially at all the county and state fairs taking place. But overall, the Opry has managed to present a line-up that is not terribly bad.

The Friday Night Opry will feature guest artists The Henningsens, Keith Anderson, Joel Crouse, Kristen Kelly and Chris Janson, all of whom have played the Opry before. Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will feature Opry member Lorrie Morgan, along with guest artists The Isaacs, Chuck Mead and Kristy Lee Cook, along with Tate Stevens, who will be making a return Opry appearance.

Friday August 30
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Chris Janson; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Kristen Kelly; Chuck Mead
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Jean Shepard; The Whites; Joel Crouse
8:45: John Conlee (host); Keith Anderson; The Henningsens

Saturday August 31
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Kristy Lee Cook; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Grand Master Fiddle Champion; George Hamilton IV; Chuck Mead
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; Tate Stevens; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Lorrie Morgan (host); Connie Smith; The Isaacs

The host this week for the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree will be my friend Anita Stapleton. Anita is an amazing singer and she appears every other week, along with Leon Rhodes, at the downtown location for a free Saturday afternoon show. Now she is getting an opportunity to host the Jamboree. I know she will do a fine job and if you get the chance, listen in.

For this week's look back into Grand Ole Opry history, I go to Saturday August 31, 1996 (17 years ago this weekend), for what turned out to be Hank Snow's final Saturday night appearance on the Opry. Hank's Opry career came to a close rather suddenly, as in 1995 he made 125 Opry appearances but in 1996, he was down to just 5, with the August 31 date being his only Saturday appearance. Hank did the Opry the following Friday September 6, but cancelled out on Saturday September 7. He was also scheduled the following weekend but cancelled those appearances and that was the last time Hank was scheduled to do the Opry. Hank had been an Opry member since January 7, 1950 and died just short of 50 years as an Opry member. I know I have said it before but Hank Snow was/is my favorite Opry member of all time. (And yes, Roy Acuff is a close 2nd).

I know I print this line-up each year, so some of you may have seen it before, but for those who have not, or if you would just like to remember a memory, here is the Opry line-up from Saturday August 31, 1996, Hank Snow's final Saturday night Grand Ole Opry appearance:

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
Mike Snider (host): Tennessee Rhapsody/Cotton-Eyed Joe
Bill Carlisle: Rusty Old Halo
Mike Snider: Shuckin' The Corn/Foggy Mountain Chimes

6:45: Joggin' In A Jug
Grandpa Jones (host): Ol' Blue
Jan Howard: My Heart Skips A Beat
Grandpa Jones: Gooseberry Pie

7:00: Shoney's
Johnny Russell (host): Good Hearted Woman
Charlie Louvin: The Precious Jewel
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
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells/Looking Back To See
Johnny Russell: Act Naturally

7:30: Standard Candy
Jeannie Seely (host): Burning That Old Memory
The Cumberland Boys: Nothing But Love
Ray Pillow: She's Doing It To Me Again
Margaret Whiting: I Can't Help It
Opry Square Dance Band: Durang's Hornpipe
Jeannie Seely: When He Leaves You

8:00: Martha White
Porter Wagoner (host): On A Highway Headed South
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Stonewall Jackson: Muddy Water
Del Reeves: Got A Little Bit Of Heaven On Earth
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Porter Wagoner: The Cowboy Hat
Porter Wagoner & Kristi Lynn: Forty Miles From Poplar Bluff

8:30: Kraft
Hank Snow (host): In The Misty Moonlight
Jimmy C Newman: Cajun's Dream
Stu Phillips: Colorado
The Whites: Pins & Needles
Connie Smith: Then And Only Then
Hank Snow: It Kinda Reminds Me Of Me

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Tell Her Lies And Feed Her Candy
Brother Oswald: The Girl I Love Don't Pay Me No Mind
Jeanne Pruett: Temporarily Yours
Jimmy C Newman: Big Mamou/Texacajun
Porter Wagoner: I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name/Freight Train Boogie

10:00: Massy Ferguson
Grandpa Jones (host): Fifteen Cents Is All I Got
Stonewall Jackson: Me & You & A Dog Named Boo
Grandpa Jones: Any Old Time

10:15: Opry Book
Jean Shepard (host): I Thought Of You/It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels/You Win Again/A Dear John Letter
Roy Drusky: Waltz Of The Angels/One Day At A Time
Jean Shepard: A Phone Call Away

10:30: Purnell's
Jim Ed Brown (host): Pop A Top
The Cumberland Boys: Today I Might Be Going Home
Jim Ed Brown & Kristi Russell: Lyin' In Love With You

10:45: Fairfield
Mike Snider (host): Lonesome Road Blues
Opry Square Dance Band: Ragtime Annie
Mike Snider: Battle Cry Of Freedom/Get You Hand Off My Knee And Load The Cannon

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): I Don't Hurt Anymore
Del Reeves: I Would Like To See You Again
Connie Smith: Amazing Grace
Charlie Walker: Who'll Buy The Wine
The Whites: He Took Your Place
Hank Snow: I Almost Lost My Mind

11:30: Loreal
Johnny Russell (host): Red Necks, White Socks & Blue Ribbon Beer
Stu Phillips: Blue Canadian Rockies
Jeannie Seely: Bubbles In My Beer
Ray Pillow: Someone Had To Teach You
Colleen Walters: Walkin' After Midnight

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Jimmy Dickens' Opry Anniversary

In August 1948 (the exact date is lost to history), Jimmy Dickens joined the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 65th anniversary since he first joined the Opry. I bring this up as each year in August, the Opry would make a special mention of Jimmy's anniversary and have an Opry segment dedicated to him. You would have figured with this being Jimmy's 65th, there would be something big planned. However, this year appears to be different.

With only one weekend left in August, nothing at all has been mentioned about Jimmy and there is no sign that anything will be said this coming weekend. With out speculating, it would appear that this might be another sign that not all is well with Mr. Dickens. Jimmy last appeared on the Opry back in the winter. Then several months back, it was announced that Jimmy would be undergoing radiation treatments on his throat, as a preventive measure. Jimmy reportedly came through the treatments well and was released from the hospital and sent back home. There was even a message from Jimmy saying he hoped to be back to the Opry soon. Last week, it was reported that Jimmy was not feeling well and they were asking for prayers.

Jimmy was working on a small radio station in Saginaw, Michigan when Roy Acuff came to town. As Jimmy said, "I made his acquaintance before that in Cincinnati in 1945. And then in '48, why, he asked me if I would come down to the Grand Ole Opry, and at that particular time Red Foley had the network show for the Prince Albert people on NBC. I came as a guest. I had ten years of radio experience doing shows across the country and I thought I was ready for that--you know, I was over the stage fright and all that. But when I walked on that stage of the Ryman I've never been no more scared and shook up in all my life. My knees were knockin' and I couldn't understand it, because I thought I was ready for that, but I wasn't. But I did very well, luckily. I mean as far as response was concerned--and then a month later they asked me to come down again, and when I came that time Mr. Acuff asked me if I would be interested in staying."

Prior to coming to the Opry, Jimmy worked in radio in such cities as Fairmont, West Virginia; Indianapolis, Indiana; Cincinnati, Ohio; Topeka, Kansas; and then to Saginaw. He was not much different than any other country artist in that time period as they worked in various cities on local live country music radio programs and did personal appearances around the area until they had "worked out the territory."

What was interesting about Jimmy when he first came to the Opry was that he had no background at all as a recording artist. It was only after joining the Opry that Columbia Records signed him to a contract and his first record was "Take a Cold Tater and Wait" which would prove to be one of his biggest hits.

However, in 1957 Jimmy left the Opry for what he thought was a greater opportunity. He accepted an offer to head up a major road show for the Phillip Morris tobacco company. But at that time the Opry's sponsorship by the R.J. Reynolds Tabacco Company prohibited any Grand Ole Opry member from traveling with a tour sponsored by a competitor. So Jimmy left the Opry. He would always say that there were no hard feelings on either side.

On February 8, 1975, Jimmy returned to the Opry. He was introduced that night by Hank Snow who said, "Jimmy is one of the greatest showmen of all time. It's like replacing the most important spoke in a wheel to have him back on the Opry. We need more Jimmy Dickenses." Jimmy sang "Family Reunion" that night, saying that he thought it was the appropriate number to do.

I hope Jimmy is continuing to improve and that we will see him back at the Opry soon. Keep the good thoughts coming.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 8/23 & 8/24

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend, the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry. Before going into the line-ups in detail, I want to comment on something the Opry is doing this weekend that I don't like. On Friday night, the entire last segment is Trace Adkins and on Saturday night, the last segment is only Martina McBride. Granted that Trace Adkins will be celebrating his 10th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry and Martina is one of the Opry's bigger stars (although like a few others, she doesn't come around much), but to me the Opry is a show with a number of artists who bring variety to a show. When you highlight one artist for an entire segment, it is almost like the other acts are opening acts for that artist. My idea has always been that if you are going to have an artist in a segment by themselves, add a fifth segment to the show. The Opry did that with Reba McEntire a number of years ago, but not since. I just think it gives those buying tickets more value and also keeps the Opry's traditional line-ups in place.

As mentioned above, on the Friday Night Opry Trace Adkins will be honored for 10 years of Opry membership. This is a growing trend at the Opry where they are honoring artists for 5, 10, 20, 25 and 30 years of membership (providing the artists show up and want to be recognized), along with various years over 30, which at this point seems to be 40 and 50. I am ok with that as it does a couple of things. First, it gives the Opry a reason to promote a show and put more fans in the house. And
secondly, it gives the artist, who might not otherwise come to the Opry, a reason to actually show up. I am fine with this as long as the Opry does it to everyone, not just a select few. I know a few have turned it down (Alan Jackson for his 20th), but most of the others have come. It's just another nice touch by Pete Fisher and the Opry's management.

Joining Trace on Friday night will be Opry members Marty Stuart, Ricky Skaggs and the Opry's newest 50 year member Jim Ed Brown. Guest artists include Sam Palladio and Clare Bowen from the "Nashville" television show, along with Sturgill Simpson who will be making his 1st Opry appearance.

In addition to Martina McBride, Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will feature the return to the Opry stage by Jesse McReynolds, who seems to be doing much better and is ready to return after having a health issue. Ricky Skaggs will be back on Saturday night, along with guest artist Joanna Smith, another of country music's young talents.

Friday August 23
7:00: Marty Stuart (host); Connie Smith; Jim Ed Brown; Sturgill Simpson
7:30: The Whites (host); Will Hoge
8:15: Ricky Skaggs (host); Sam Palladio; Clare Bowen
8:45: Trace Adkins

Saturday August 24
7:00: John Conlee (host); Joanna Smith; Mike Snider
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jesse McReynolds
8:15: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jean Shepard; The Whites; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Martina McBride

6 of the 10 acts on Friday night are Opry members, while 9 of the 10 on Saturday night belong.

As far as the Tuesday Night Opry, it is pretty solid for this week.

7:00: Diamond Rio; Jim Ed Brown
7:30: Sara Haze; Steep Canyon Rangers
8:15: Charlie Worsham; Del McCoury Band
8:45: Easton Corbin; Montgomery Gentry

For this week's look back into Grand Ole Opry history, I want to highlight 2 line-ups. The first is from Saturday August 22, 1987, the night that Roy Clark joined the Opry. This will be his 26th year as an Opry member. I have mentioned it before that when Roy was asked to join the Opry, he initially declined due to his heavy touring and television schedule. But the Opry told him that would not be an issue so he joined the Opry with that understanding. With the granting of Opry membership to Roy, it was the beginning of the era of Opry members joining the show with no commitment as to any future Opry appearances, a practice that continued until Pete Fisher became the Opry's General Manager and he has since asked for a commitment of 10 appearances per year from his new members. I always thought Roy was good for the Opry and he tended to schedule his Opry appearances around his Hee Haw tapings. As he has aged and cut back on his touring, I thought we would see more of him at the Opry, but as history shows, his appearances have stayed around 2 or 3 per year. Here is the Opry running order from Saturday August 22, 1987, the night Roy Clark joined the Opry.

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
4 Guys (host): Mama Rocked Us to Sleep with Country Music
Lorrie Morgan: Lone Star State of Mind
4 Guys: God Bless the USA

6:45: Rudy's
Charlie Louvin (host): Let Her Go; God Bless Her
Del Wood: 12th Street Rag
Charlie Louvin & Jennifer O'Brien: Everytime You Leave

7:00: Shoney's
Jimmy C Newman (host): La Cajun Band
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World
Ray Pillow: I'll Break Out Again Tonight
Jeannie Seely: It's My Fault
Ernie Ashworth: Memphis Memory/Talk Back Trembling Lips
Jimmy C Newman: Colinda
Wade B. Landrey: Orange Blossom Special

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jan Howard: Wayfaring Stranger/Heartaches by the Numbers
Roy Clark: Thank God and Greyhound Your Gone/I Remember When Country was Country/Under the Double Eagle

8:00: Martha White
Jimmy Dickens (host): Me & My Big Loud Mouth
Tom T Hall: Ravishing Ruby
Tom T Hall & Lambchop: Old McDonald Had A Farm
Tom T Hall: I Love
Wilma Lee Cooper: Coming Down From God
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Gray Eagle
Jimmy Dickens: Another Bridge to Burn

8:30: Music Valley
Hank Snow (host): I'm Movin' On
Jean Shepard: I'll Sail My Ship Alone
Roy Drusky: Dear Heart
Stonewall Jackson: Smoke Along the Tracks
Bill Carlisle: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Hank Snow: The Prisoner Song

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Jimmy C Newman (host): Cajun's Dream
Jeannie Seely: It's My Fault
4 Guys: Fox on the Run
Tom T Hall: Faster Horses/Old Dogs, Children & Watermelon Wine
Jimmy C Newman: Diggy Liggy Lo

10:00: Little Debbie
Charlie Louvin (host): Kiss Me Again If You're Going Away
Skeeter Davis: My Last Date with You/Silver Threads and Golden Needles
Charlie Louvin: (?)

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Meeting in the Air
Roy Clark: Come Live With Me/(?)/ If I Had To Do It All Over Again

10:30: Pet Milk
Ray Pillow (host): You're One Memory That I'd Like to Make Again
Lorrie Morgan: Silver Threads and Golden Needles
Ray Pillow: The Kind of Love I Can't Forget

10:45: Heil-Quaker
Jimmy Dickens (host): Out Behind the Barn
Jan Howard: Take Me As I Am (Or Let Me Go)
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Soldiers Joy
Jimmy Dickens: Life Turned Her That Way

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Forever +1; Forever +2
Jean Shepard: The Old Rugged Cross
Ernie Ashworth: The DJ Cried
Wilma Lee Cooper: I Dreamed About Mama Last Night
Bill Carlisle: Elvira
Hank Snow: The Rainbow's End

11:30: B. C. Powder
Stonewall Jackson (host): Don't Be Angry
Roy Drusky: As Long As I Live/It's No Secret
Johnny Russell: No One Will Ever Know
Stonewall Jackson: Ol' Chunk of Coal

For the 2nd line-up, it was on Saturday August 24, 1991, 22 years ago this Saturday night that Dottie West performed for the final time on the Opry. Dottie West joined the Opry in 1964 and had an outstanding career in country music. Many feel that she should be in the Hall of Fame. But, the following Friday night, August 30, 1991, she was involved in the auto accident on her way to the Opry that would prove to be fatal. To remember Dottie West, here is the Opry line-up from Saturday August 24, 1991, her final night at the Opry:

1st show
6:30: Bonanza
Porter Wagoner (host): Company's Coming
Ernie Ashworth: Shamrock Motel
Porter Wagoner: Green, Green Grass of Home/Ole Slewfoot

6:45: Hall of Fame
Jim & Jesse (host): Dream of Me
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World
Bill Carlisle: Is Zat You Myrtle
Jim & Jesse: A Flower in the Desert

7:00: Shoney's
Del Reeves (host): Girl of the Billboard
Billy Grammer: Steel Guitar Rag
Jean Shepard: If You Can Live With It
Dottie West: I Can't Help It
David Houston: I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen
Del Reeves: Good Time Charlies

7:30: Standard Candy
Jimmy C Newman (host): La Cajun Band
McCarters: No Where to Go But Up/If I Could Stop Loving You
Clinton Gregory: If It Weren't for Country Music/Satisfy Me & I'll Satisfy You
Jimmy C Newman: Colinda

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Stonewall Jackson: Side-Steppin' the Blues/Muddy Water
Connie Smith: Did We Have to Come This Far to Say Goodbye/Louisiana Man
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Bill Cheatham
Roy Acuff: I Can't Help It

8:30: Opryland USA
Hank Snow (host): Tangled Mind
George Hamilton IV: Forever Young
Roy Drusky: Too Old to Die Young
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Johnson Mountain Boys: Maybe You'll Change Your Mind
Hank Snow: I'm Glad I Got to See You Once Again

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Ole Slewfoot
Connie Smith: The Key's In the Mailbox
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips
Billy Grammer: Steel Guitar Rag/Sentimental Journey/Gotta Travel On
Jeannie Seely: Too Far Gone
Porter Wagoner: I'll Go Down Swinging

10:00: Little Debbie
Del Reeves (host): Six Days on the Road/Truck Driving Man
Skeeter Davis: He Says the Same Things to Me
Del Reeves: Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me

10:15: Tennessee Pride/Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Just A Friend
Wilma Lee Cooper: Gathering Flowers From the Hillside
Dan Kelly: Sally Goodin

10:30: Pet Milk
Jimmy C Newman (host): Pistal Packin Mama
Jean Shepard: Days of Wine and Roses
Jimmy C Newman: Down on the Bayou

10:45: B.C. Powder
Charlie Walker (host): Right or Wrong
Clinton Gregory: Satisfy Me & I'll Satisfy You/Nobody's Darling But Mine
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Golden Slippers
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Giesha Girl
Jim & Jesse: When I Dream About the Southland
Dottie West: Here Comes My Baby
Justin Tubb: Keep Me From Blowing Away
McCarters: Everytime You Leave
Bill Carlisle: Gone Home
Hank Snow: It Kinda Reminds Me of Me

11:30: Creamette
George Hamilton IV (host): Early Morning Rain
Stonewall Jackson: Side Steppin' the Blues
Roy Drusky: I Really Don't Want to Know
Johnson Mountain Boys: Duncan & Brady/Springtime in Glory
George Hamilton IV: Life's Railway to Heaven

On a final note, we are just 6 weeks away from the Opry's 88th birthday bash and except for Steve Wariner being scheduled for the birthday concert, nothing has been announced as of yet. The past few years, the Opry has been late with the announcement and this year seems no different. They always manage to make a big splash with a couple of big names and I am sure they are close to nailing it down. Maybe this week we will find out.

Have a great Opry weekend!!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Old Crow Medicine Show-Newest Grand Ole Opry Members-Updated

Tonight during their concert in Cleveland, Ohio, Marty Stuart surprised Old Crow Medicine Show and invited them to become the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry. Their induction will take place on Tuesday September 17. Wow!! I have already heard from a few folks already. This really is a surprise and in my opinion, and admitting that I am a fan, an outstanding choice.

To give just a little history regarding Old Crow Medicine Show, they formed in 1998 in Harrisonburg, Virginia. While they are described as similar to an old-time string band, their music is actually all over the place, from bluegrass to folk. They have a high energy presence on stage. They were discovered nationally by Doc Watson, the great bluegrass pioneer, in 2000 and since then they have recorded a number of singles and albums. Their most famous song, and what has been adopted as their theme song, is "Wagon Wheel", which Darius Rucker has had great success with. The Old Crow version has sold over 2 million copies and was certified platinum earlier this year. They play a lot of festivals and are very popular with the younger Americana fans and have done a lot of touring with Mumford & Sons, who are one of the biggest acts in American music today. In 2002 they appeared on the televised portion of the Opry on CMT and that was their first national television appearance. They have also been heavily promoted by Marty Stuart.

Old Crow Medicine Show has appeared as guest artists on the Opry since the early 2000's. I saw them on the Opry in December during Marty Stuart's 20th anniversary show as an Opry member and they bring a lot of energy and enthusiasm to the stage. They were one of the highlights of the night and not only do they play and entertain well, they have fun doing it and involved the audience.

As I mentioned last night, I was very surprised at this news and I think it is a good move by the Opry. Their last several new members have included Darius Rucker, Keith Urban and Blake Shelton, so this is definitely a throw-back in the type of music that has been on the Opry. And I think Old Crow Medicine Show is the type of act that will make semi-regular appearances on the Opry and will fulfill the 10 shows per year requirement.

Some have mentioned the fact that if the Opry was going to go in more of a bluegrass direction with their next member that Dailey & Vincent or Rhonda Vincent should have been considered. I do agree with those thoughts. Dailey & Vincent have had great success in the world of bluegrass. They have won many awards and again have been nominated for various IBMA awards that will be given out in September at their annual show. In my thoughts, that would have been a perfect time to extend an invitation to them to join the show. As far as Rhonda Vincent, that is still a mystery. She wants to be an Opry member, plays the Opry on a regular basis, is well received and liked, yet no invitation seems to be coming. Many have thought that perhaps her association with Martha White, a former Opry sponsor, has something to do with it. That I don't know. But Rhonda has said that the Opry has treated her well and she has nothing bad to say about the Opry.

I also thought that the Opry's next member would be a female. Just looking at the numbers, the Opry is low on females, especially the younger ones. What they have among the younger females do not appear on the Opry on a regular basis and the last half dozen or so new members have been males. I still think we will see a new female member at some point, just not sure when.

What Old Crow Medicine Show does bring to the Opry is a connection to another new group of potential fans of the Opry. While not as big of superstars as Blake, Keith or Darius, they do have a huge following in their circles. Whether that will bring more ticket sales to the Opry remains to be seen, but I think it opens up a new potential market for the Opry. And I always find it interesting when and where these invitations take place. I always thought when the invitations are given at the Opry it creates a very special Opry moment. But it is interesting to see the Opry take these special moments on the road. They have done it in the past with Keith Urban and Craig Morgan coming to mind. Nothing wrong with that I just find it interesting how they decide to do the invites.

Again, I am fine with Old Crow Medicine Show becoming members of the Opry. I think their music in general fits the style of the Opry and only time will tell if this was the right decision or not. I wish them luck and congratulations.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 8/16 & 8/17

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the shows this weekend. After the big activites of last weekend with Jim Ed Brown and Carrie Underwood, this week's shows are somewhat of a letdown with the "featured" attraction on Friday night being "Nashville" star Charles Esten, who was backstage at the Opry this past weekend, and Johnny Rivers making a return Opry appearance on Saturday night.

Joining Charles on Friday night will be guest artists Brandy Clark and Lonesome River Band. I saw Brandy at the Opry in December during Marty Stuart's 20th anniversary show, and I was impressed with her. And stepping in to host on Friday night will be Ray Pillow. The Saturday show, in addition to Johnny Rivers, will feature very frequent Opry guests Sarah Darling, Chris Janson and Mark Wills, who is scheduled both nights.

Friday August 16:
7:00: Bill Anderson (host); Angie Johnson; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: The Whites (host); Brandy Clark; Lonesome River Band
8:15: Ray Pillow (host); Connie Smith; Mark Wills
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Charles Esten

Saturday August 17:
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Andy Gibson; George Hamilton IV
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Sarah Darling; Connie Smith
8:15: The Whites (host); Jean Shepard; Chris Janson; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Johnny Rivers; Mark Wills

Interesting that the Opry is going with The Whites hosting both nights instead of possibly Connie Smith or Jean Shepard. I know that The Whites hosted last Friday night, and I don't know how it sounded on the radio, but Sharon Skaggs, who did most of the talking, just did not seem very comfortable in the role. She tried a couple of jokes that really fell flat. I enjoy their singing but perhaps hosting a segment is not for them.

The Opry also posted the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry on August 20, which has already created a couple of comments with only 1 Opry member scheduled.

7:00: Craig Campbell; Bill Anderson
7:30: John Cowan Band; Tracy Lawrence
8:15: Sunny Sweeney; Dailey & Vincent
8:45: Greg Bates; Lee Greenwood

Now it's time for a look at an Opry line-up from the past. With the passing yesterday of former Opry member Tompall Glaser of the Glaser Brothers, I thought I would post a line-up that featured the Glaser Brothers and with what turned out to be their last appearance together. The occasion was Hank Snow's 40th anniversary as an Opry member, which took place on January 20, 1990. The brothers had not performed together for many years yet they came back at the special invitation of Hank. There is a clip of their performance on YouTube and in watching it you would never know that they had not performed in years. It is a classic performance.

Thomas Paul Glaser was born on September 3, 1933 in Spalding, Nebraska. Along with his brothers Chuck and Jim, he came to Nashville in the 1950s at the invitation of Marty Robbins. They spent time as backup vocalists for Marty Robbins while having success on their own. As a solo artist, his biggest hit was "Put Another Log On The Fire", which reached #21 in 1975. He was part of the album "Wanted! The Outlaws", along with Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter that was released in 1976 and went to #1 on the country charts. One of the greatest albums of all time, what makes it so interesting is that it contained all previously released material that RCA put together. Along with his brothers, Tompall was an Opry member, joining in the 1960s and continuing until 1973, after which the group broke up. They got back together in the early 1980s with a little chart success and then went on to solo careers. After that, Tompall faded from view, making few appearances or recordings. That what makes the 1990 Opry show so special. Over the past several years, he had been in declining heath.

In my opinion, the Glaser Brothers had some of the best harmony singing there was and I still enjoy their recordings. So here is the Opry line-up from January 20, 1990 as we remember Tompall Glaser.

1st show
6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Bill Anderson (host): Southern Fried
Skeeter Davis: If I Don't Have You
Bill Anderson: Po' Folks

6:45: Rudy's
John Conlee (host): Got My Heart Set On You
Jeannie Seely: Tell Me Again
John Conlee: Don't Get Me Started

7:00: Shoney's
Bill Monroe (host): I'm On My Way Back to the Old Home
Jimmy C Newman: Happy Cajun
Jean Shepard: Someone's Gotta Cry
Charlie Louvin: He Keeps On Crying
Jack Greene: Precious Memories/There Goes My Everything/He Is My Everything
Bill Monroe: Little Cabin Home on the Hill

7:30: Standard Candy
Hank Snow (host): Send Me The Pillow You Dream On
Glaser Brothers: Loving Her Was Easier/Release Me/Then I Turned & Walked Away Slowly/Many Tears Ago/You Win Again/Bouquet of Roses
Mel Tillis: Tall Drink of Water/It Makes No Difference Now

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Tender Years: Marshall Barnes
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top/Rank Strangers
Opry Square Dance Band/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Dance All Night

8:30: Music Valley
Jim Ed Brown (host): Southern Loving
Jim & Jesse: Truck Stops and Pretty Girls
Connie Smith: The Keys in the Mailbox
Del Reeves: Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me
Stonewall Jackson: Muddy Water
Jim Ed Brown: Fools

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Bill Anderson (host): Before I Met You
George Hamilton IV: Forever Young
Jeanne Pruett: Temporarily Yours
Ray Pillow: I Wonder Where You Are Tonight
Billy Walker: Behind Closed Doors
Bill Anderson: Still

10:00: Little Debbie
Bill Monroe (host): Stay Away From Me, You're Causing Me Trouble
Roy Drusky: Too Old to Die Young
Justin Tubb: Texas Dance Hall Girl
Bill Monroe: Come Back to Me In My Dreams

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Traveling the Highway Home
Jeannie Seely: It Should Be Easier Now

10:30: Pet Milk
John Conlee (host): Domestic Life
Jean Shepard: At the Time
Charlie Walker: Deep Water
John Conlee: Don't Get Me Started

10:45: B.C. Powder
Del Reeves (host): Two Dollars in the Jukebox/A Dime at a Time/Looking at the World Through A Windshield
Jimmy C Newman: Thibodeaux & His Cajun Band
Opry Square Dance Band/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Rachel
Del Reeves: The Race Is On

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Gonna Find Me A Bluebird
Jim Ed Brown: Morning Comes Too Early
Jim & Jesse: Dream of Me
Mel Tillis: Good Woman Blues/I Got the Horse & You Got the Saddle
Hank Snow: Brand On My Heart

11:30: Creamette
Jack Greene (host): Walking on New Grass
Osborne Brothers: Harvest of my Heart
Dottie West: Are You Happy Baby/Together Again
Johnny Russell: Making Plans/Act Naturally
Jack Greene: Until My Dreams Come True

Enjoy the Opry weekend

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Opry Recap-Jim Ed Brown's 50th Opry Anniversary

This weekend I had the honor of being in Nashville and at the Grand Ole Opry for Jim Ed Brown's 50th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. I know many of us made comments over the past several weeks about the Opry's lack of publicity for this special event and wondering what the Opry would do to honor Jim Ed, along with Maxine and Bonnie. We'll, let me tell you that in my opinion, the Opry did a very nice job. Or as I told Pete Fisher as we passed each other backstage, "Nice job honoring Jim Ed. You did it right."

During the 1st show, Jim Ed hosted the 3rd segment. Mike Terry did a nice job announcing that Jim Ed and The Browns joined the Opry on August 10, 1963 and continued with some very nice comments as the curtain went up. Jim Ed was at center stage and the crowd responded with some very nice applause. He then kicked into "Pop A Top." He had his entire group out with him. After finishing and making a few comments, he introduced Helen Cornelius, and they did "I Don't Want to Have to Marry You." They sounded great together and Helen looked very nice. Then Jim Ed introduced Bobby Bare. Bobby did "Detroit City' and he looked and sounded great. Jim Ed made some great comments regarding his friendship with Bobby and noted that they were long time label mates at RCA. After the commercial, Maxine and Bonnie came out. They stood at the side of the stage. I had a chance before the show to congratulate Bonnie and she was very friendly and outgoing (as usual). Maxine had assistance to walk out, with Pete Fisher helping her. (let me add that Pete was awesome in helping and assisting Maxine). They talked for a bit and Jim Ed told the story about how difficult it was to get Maxine to come to Nashville and how much he really wanted her there. Maxine basically took over at that point and she was just so great. Jim Ed, Bonnie and Maxine all said that they had not sung together for over 6 years and Maxine had vocal problems and could not sing. They went to a commercial and Jim Ed was again at center stage with his group and Pete Fisher was introduced. The backdrop showed some pictures of Jim Ed through the years while Pete had some very nice comments and presented Jim Ed with the gold railroad watch. The audience stood for what seemed like a 1 or 2 minute standing ovation and Jim Ed was moved to tears. He had trouble speaking and thanking the audience. Jim Ed then talked about his new single, produced by Bobby Bare, "In Style Again". While Jim Ed sang the song, a video of Jim Ed over the years was played on the Opry's video screens. At the end of the song, there was another long standing ovation. A very nice segment that honored Jim Ed very nicely.

During the 2nd show, the segment was basically the same, with Jim Ed and Helen doing the same songs, while Bobby Bare did "Margie's At The Lincoln Park Inn" (which I might add is my favorite Bobby Bare song). While Pete helped out Maxine during the 1st show, Eddie Stubbs did the honors for the 2nd show. And yes, I heard the joke and comments made by Maxine and it totally brought down the house. It has been a long time since I have seen that kind of a reaction at the Opry. (I am sure that the FCC will be calling this week). While Maxine was making those comments, I happened to look over at Pete Fisher, who was standing in his usual spot on the side of the stage, and his reaction was the same as the audiences. His mouth was hanging open and he was laughing like the rest of the folks. Nobody seemed offended. The band members were laughing so hard they had trouble holding their instruments. It was a classic Opry moment and it was Maxine being Maxine. (For those who did not hear the comment she made, it was a reference to Obama care and the word ended with, and I am sure it was the first time in the Opry's history that word got out on the air).

Prior to the show, there was a private reception for Jim Ed and his family backstage that was attended by many of the Opry's members. I saw Melvin Sloan there, and he is looking great. Also attending was Colin Reed, the CEO of Ryman Hospitalities, who was kind enough to pose for a picture for me with Jim Ed, and Steve Buchanan. I thought I also saw Charlie Monk there, along with a lot of other folks. As much as it was Jim Ed's night, Maxine and Bonnie seemed to be the center of attention. They seemed to know everybody and shared a dressing room that had visitors all night. I kept thinking that it might be the last time we see all 3 of them together at the Opry again. I am glad I was there.

As far as the rest of Saturday night's shows, both were sold out as you would expect with Carrie Underwood as the star attraction. While she may not be what many of us consider country, she did a very nice job and as I have mentioned before, I appreciate that fact that she actually comes out and does the Opry.

A few other random comments regarding a few things that I saw:

Some have mentioned in the comments that Jeannie Seely seems to be talking a lot when hosting and taking up air time. I think what she is doing is maybe in a way replacing Jimmy Dickens, in the sense that she is an Opry veteran and in that capacity, letting her tell a few jokes and talk for a bit longer than the other hosts. And speaking of Jimmy, no news on him. Nobody seemed to know anything.

For those who listened to Bobby Osborne doing "Ruby" on the 2nd show, it was classic. Yes, he did struggle. And, The Willis Clan is very, very talented. There was at least a dozen of them running all over the place, and while I have not seen it, they have a show on GAC. These kids have a future in this business.

And last, but not least, there is Larry Gatlin, who hosted a segment on each show. Let's just say that the Opry needs more folks like Larry Gatlin at the Opry. The guy is so enthusiastic and never stops moving. During his opening number, "Houston", he was out in the audience dancing with females and just having lots of fun. During commerical breaks he is all over the backstage area. On the 2nd show, he took off his jacket and was going full tilt with the square dancers. And he was that way backstage. He brings energy to the show. I wish more of the Opry's older members would be like him. During the high point of his career, he hardly ever did the Opry. He was out touring and too busy. He had his personal issues, which I am so glad that he has overcome. Now, as his career is in decline and his touring is cut back, he is at the Opry more. I think it started when he signed up to host the Opry Country Classics on Thursday nights, back in 2010. I think he found out he liked it and enjoyed coming out to the Opry. Pretty soon, he was coming out not only on Thursday, but on Friday and Saturday. Over the past year, his appearances have almost doubled. With so many of the Opry's members not coming out, he is needed and I am glad for whatever the reasons are, he is responding. Thanks Larry!!

A quick word on the Friday Night Opry. I made it down in time and went to the show. The lower level was mostly filled, while the balcony just had people in the lower sections. Joey+Rory were great and they need to be Opry members. So much talent and well liked. While Marshall Chapman is not classic country, she was very good in her tribute to Cowboy Jack Clement. At the age of 64, this was her first Opry appearance. TG Sheppard and Billy Dean were both ok. Riders In The Sky were very funny, as usual. Kelleigh Bannen and Kalisa Ewing, in my humble opinion, could have stayed home. They added nothing to the show. Overall, I would rate Friday a C+.

Now some final thoughts on this whole business of honoring Opry members and their anniversaries. In the past, the Opry would honor an artist on their 50th anniversary as an Opry member. Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Bill Monroe, Grandpa Jones, Porter Wagoner, Loretta Lynn and Bill Anderson all had entire segments dedicated to them. In the case of the early ones, since the Opry was being televised they were featured on that segment. In the case of Jean Shepard, Jimmy C Newman, Charlie Louvin and George Hamilton, it was a handshake during their appearance and a chance to sing a 2nd song.(in the case of Jean and Jimmy C, the Opry was still being televised on GAC and they didn't even rate the television portion). I think that is why all of us were wondering what Jim Ed Brown would get. He got the half hour treatment, and in my opinion, they all should. Not too may make it that long. They next to make it to 50 will be Jesse McReynolds in March 2014, with Bobby Osborne to follow in August. But the Opry needs to be consistent in how they honor their members. I know there is a pecking order, and in the Opry's view the Hall of Fame members get the better treatment. Regardless, it is a great accomplishment and they all should be recognized the right way.

To wrap it up, Jim Ed hosted the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree. It was a great show. The place was packed with people standing in the back and in the shop. The show lasted more than an hour and Jim Ed did a number of his songs, as did Helen Cornelius. Maxine and Bonnie joined Jim Ed, from their front row seats, and did a verse of "The 3 Bells." After the show there was cake and all 3 signed autographs well into the night. It was a great way to end the weekend.

Congratulations again to Jim Ed, Maxine and Bonnie and thanks to Pete Fisher and the Grand Ole Opry for honoring Jim Ed and letting Maxine and Bonnie be a part of it.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 8/9 & 8/10-50th Anniversary of Jim Ed Brown

It was on Saturday August 10, 1963 that The Browns were introduced as the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry. While Maxine and Bonnie retired from the group and left the Opry in 1967, Jim Ed has continued as an Opry member and this Saturday night he will be celebrating 50 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. As part of the celebration, he will be joined by Maxine and Bonnie, who will also be recognized. Joining them on both shows, in a segment that will be hosted by Jim Ed, will be Jim Ed's former duet partner Helen Cornelius and Jim Ed's friend and newest Hall of Fame member Bobby Bare.

I know many of us wondered what kind of recognition the Opry would be for Jim Ed, and even though the Opry website still has nothing listed to note the occasion, it looks like they are going to honor Jim Ed just fine.

The Browns originally came to Nashville from Sparkman, Arkansas thanks to the efforts of Chet Atkins, who produced so many of their great hits, and Jim Reeves, who became Jim Ed's neighbor and good friend. 1954 marked the beginning of their success as Jim Ed and Maxine had their first chart hit, "Looking Back to See." Bonnie joined them in 1955 and the group became popular on the Louisiana Hayride. After the first of their hits, "I'll Take the Chance" and "I Heard the Bluebirds Sing" Jim Ed went into the Army. In 1959, after Jim Ed returned, they had their biggest hit, "The Three Bells", which reached #1 on both the country and pop charts. National television appearances followed as did the hits, including "The Old Lamplighter" (my personal favorite) and "Scarlett Ribbons." In 1965, Jim Ed began recording solo material and in 1967 he reached the Top 10 with "Pop A Top." With all the great songs that Jim Ed has recorded it is hard to believe that his only #1 songs have been "The Three Bells" and "I Don't Want to Have to Marry You" with Helen Cornelius.

In Maxine's wonderful autobiography, "Looking Back to See", which I highly recommend, she says that the group was actually asked to join the Opry in 1957, but turned it down because they needed the money after touring Europe and couldn't afford to be in Nashville every Saturday night. After they came back, they continued to record for RCA but they could not come up with a hit record. All that changed of course with "The Three Bells" and they later did join the Opry.

Also appearing on the Opry this weekend will be Carrie Underwood. She will be performing on both shows on Saturday night, as a 2nd show was added as soon as it was announced that Carrie would be there. Larry Gatlin and The Willis Clan will also be performing. The Friday Night Opry will feature a lot of guest artists this week as Joey + Rory, Kelleigh Bannen, The Steeldrivers, TG Sheppard and Marshall Chapman will all be performing.

Friday August 9:
7:00: John Conlee (host); Joey + Rory; Mike Snider
7:30: The Whites (host); Kelleigh Bannen; TG Sheppard
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Marshall Chapman
8:45: Jeannie Seely (host); Kalisa Ewing; The Steeldrivers

Saturday August 10:
1st show
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Craig Campbell; Mike Snider
7:30: Larry Gatlin (host); John Conlee; The Willis Clan; Opry Square Dancers
8:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Helen Cornelius; Maxine & Bonnie Brown; Bobby Bare
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Carrie Underwood

2nd show
9:30: John Conlee (host); Craig Campbell; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
10:00: Larry Gatlin (host); Jimmy C Newman; The Willis Clan; Opry Square Dancers
10:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Helen Cornelius; Maxine & Bonnie Brown; Bobby Bare
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Carrie Underwood

To honor Jim Ed, Maxine and Bonnie, I have 2 line-ups to post. The 1st is from Saturday August 10, 1963, which was the night that The Browns were introduced as the newest members of the Opry. The 2nd line-up is from Saturday October 21, 1967, the final Opry show as members for Maxine and Bonnie.

Saturday August 10, 1963:
7:30: Kelloggs
Porter Wagoner (host): My Baby's Not Here in Town Tonight
Billy Walker: Heart, Be Careful
Justin Tubb: (?)
Margie Bowes: Boll Weevil
Porter Wagoner: One Way Ticket to the Blues
Del Wood: Piano Roll Blues
Merle Kilgore: Ring of Fire
Fiddle Tune (?): Old Joe Clark
Billy Walker: Storm of Love
Porter Wagoner: In the Shadows of the Wine

8:00: Martha White
Jimmy C Newman (host): Alligator Man
Jim & Jesse: My Empty Arms
Bill Anderson: Eight by Ten
Jean Shepard: Foggy Mountain Top
Jimmy C Newman: Everything
Crook Brothers: (?)
Ray Pillow: (?)
Jim & Jesse: Congratulations Anyway
Jimmy C Newman: Bayou Talk

8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host): No Letter Today
June Stearns: Just Another Song
Sonny James: The Minute You're Gone
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird
Gordon Terry: Wild Honey
Brother Oswald: Southern Moon
Roy Acuff: Cabin in Gloryland

9:00: Jefferson Island Salt
Ernest Tubb (host): Thanks A Lot
Kitty Wells: A Heart for the Keepsake
Johnny Wright: Down South in New Orleans
The Browns: The 12th Rose
Ernest Tubb: Thru That Door
Harold Morrison: (?)
Kitty Wells: I Gave My Wedding Dress Away
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bill Cheatham
Ernest Tubb: Jealous Loving Heart

9:30: Pet Milk
Roy Drusky (host): You Never Cried (When You Were Mine)
Bill Monroe: (?)
Glaser Brothers: Tracking Me Down
Cousin Jody: Lady Cop
Roy Drusky: My World Is Losing You
Curly Fox: (?)
Melba Montgomery: The Hall of Shame
Bill Monroe: (?)
Roy Drusky: Anymore

10:00: Gates Rubber
Jimmy C Newman (host): Big Mamou
Margie Bowes: Sweet Dreams
Justin Tubb: (?)
Jimmy C Newman: Already I'm Falling

10:15: Luzianne
Roy Acuff (host): Night Train to Memphis
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Jim & Jesse: Diesel Train
Roy Drusky: Wreck on the Highway
Howdy & Jimmy: Jesse Polka

10:30: Harvey's
Sonny James (host): (?)
Jean Shepard: Waltz of the Angels
Del Wood: Columbus Stockade Blues
Sonny James: (?)

10:45: Ford
Ernest Tubb (host): Answer the Phone
The Browns: The 3 Bells
Crook Brothers: (?)
Ernest Tubb: The Way You're Living

11:00: Coca-Cola
Porter Wagoner (host): Misery Loves Company
Kitty Wells: We've Missed You
Johnny Wright: The Moon is High and So Am I
Glaser Brothers: South of the Border
Porter Wagoner: Your Old Love Letters
Billy Walker: Charlie's Shoes
Sam & Kirk McGee: It's Raining Teardrops Tonight
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Sally Johnson
Kitty Wells: Mommy for A Day
Porter Wagoner: I've Enjoyed As Much of this as I Can Stand

11:30: SSS Tonic
Roy Drusky (host): Second Hand Rose
Bill Monroe (?)
Bill Anderson: Still
Cousin Jody: Don't Make Love in a Buggy 'Cause Horses Can Talk
Roy Drusky: Another Chance to Fall in Love
Curly Fox: (?)
Melba Montgomery: What's Bad For You Is Good For Me
Bill Monroe: (?)
Bill Anderson: Little Band of Gold
Roy Drusky: Another

What is hard to believe is that The Browns (Jim Ed, Maxine and Bonnie) were only Opry members for just over 4 years as Maxine and Bonnie left the trio to raise their families. Jim Ed carried on as a solo artist and remained a member of the Opry. Although The Browns would get together for special appearances on the Opry, and other shows, their last show as Opry members was on Saturday October 21, 1967, which was the Opry's 42nd birthday celebration. The Browns used this special occasion to thank their fans and they did a melody of their songs. I have heard a tape of that night and their were a lot of tears. Here is the line-up and running order of the show from that night:

6:00: Vietti
Bill Anderson (host): Bright Lights, & Country Music
Osborne Brothers: Roll Muddy River
Ernie Ashworth: Tender & True
Del Wood: Piano Roll Blues
Stu Phillips: Little Old Wine Drinker Me
Bill Anderson: I Get the Fever
Charlie Walker: Don't Squeeze My Sharman
Jimmy Gatley: Orange Blossom Special/She Wants to be Like You

6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Bill Monroe (host): Uncle Pen
Willis Brothers: Bob
Cousin Jody: Mockingbird
Bill Monroe: Molly & Tenbrooks

6:45: Rudy's
Billy Walker (host): I Taught Her Everything She Knows
Stringbean: Gonna Make Myself A Name
Jim & Jesse: Ballad of Thunder Road
Billy Walker: Cattle Call

7:00: Luzianne
Porter Wagoner (host): Ol' Slewfoot
Hank Locklin: Country Hall of Fame
Bob Luman: Memphis
Minnie Pearl: Maple on the Hill
4 Guys: Walking in the Sunshine
Del Reeves: One Dime At A Time
Jeannie Seely: Don't Touch Me
Porter Wagoner: Cold Hard Facts of Life

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Ball Knob, Arkansas
Charlie Louvin: How Great Thou Art
Wilburn Brothers: Just To Be Where You Are
Loretta Lynn: What Kind of A Girl
Grandpa Jones: Old Dan Tucker
Bobby Lord: Shadows on the Wall
Bill Carlisle: Dr. R.D.
Ray Pillow: (?)
Roy Acuff: Cabin In Gloryland

8:00: Martha White
George Hamilton IV (host): Break My Mind
Jean Shepard: Happy Tracks
George Morgan: Your The Only Good Thing
The Browns: Looking Back to See/(?)/(?)/I Heard the Bluebirds Sing/Old Lamplighter/Scarlet Ribbons/The 3 Bells/Send Me the Pillow You Dream On
Crook Brothers: Cotton Eyed Joe
Dottie West: Like A Fool
Jim Ed Brown: Pop A Top
George Hamilton IV: Truck Driving Man

8:30: Stephens
Ernest Tubb (host): Thanks A Lot
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Big Midnight Special
Tex Ritter: Just Beyond the Moon
Archie Campbell: The Cockfight
Glaser Brothers: Gone on the Other Hand
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World
Billy Grammer: Mabel
Margie Bowes: Boll Weevil

2nd show:
9:30: Kelloggs
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Bill Monroe: You'll Find Her Name Written There
Bill Anderson: I Love You Drops
Marion Worth: A Woman Needs Love
Willis Brothers: Give Me 40 Acres
Grandpa Jones: Kitty Klyde
Del Wood: Waiting for the Robert E Lee
Norma Jean: Jackson Ain't A Very Big Place
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cracklin Hen
Hank Snow: There's A Fool Such As I

10:00: Schick
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Wilburn Brothers: Trouble's Back in Town
Loretta Lynn: What Kind of A Girl
Stringbean: Gonna Make Myself A Name
Jim & Jesse: Diesel On My Tail
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird

10:15: Pure
Ernest Tubb (host) & Loretta Lynn: Sweet Thang
Bobby Lord: Look What You're Doing to You
Charlie Louvin & Bobby Osborne: When I Stop Dreaming
Stu Phillips: Juanita Jones

10:30: Buckley's
Hank Snow (host): I've Been Everywhere
Skeeter Davis: What Does it Take
George Hamilton IV: Urge for Going
Jim Ed Brown: Bottle, Bottle
Hank Snow: (?)

10:45: Newport
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): The Birds Are Back
George Morgan: Misty Blue
Crook Brothers: Old Joe Clark
Margie Bowes: Overnight
Osborne Brothers: Roll Muddy River
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: There's A Big Wheel

11:00: Coca-Cola
Porter Wagoner (host): Dooley
Tex Ritter: A Working Man's Prayer
Jean Shepard: I Don't See How I Can Make It
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Devil's Dream
Hank Locklin: Country Hall of Fame
Sam McGee: (?)
4 Guys: Ruby
Del Reeves: Chug-A-Lug
Porter Wagoner: Julie

11:30: Lava
Roy Drusky (host): White Lightening Express
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Glaser Brothers: Through the Eyes of Love
Marion Worth: Tennessee Waltz
Ernie Ashworth: My Love For You
Ray Pillow: Take Your Hands of My Heart
Charlie Walker: Don't Squeeze My Sharman
Roy Drusky: Anymore/Strangers/Second Hand Rose

Folks, that is a Grand Ole Opry show for the ages and what many of us remember that the Opry once was. I lost track of the number of Opry members on the show that night but needless to say, it was the vast majority of them. And up to 10 acts per segment and 1 song and they were off. That also shows how important the birthday celebration was to the Opry in those days.

In addition to the Grand Ole Opry this weekend, Jim Ed will also be hosting the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree, where I am sure he will be joined by many of his friends. There will be a public reception before the jamboree.

As for myself, I will be in Nashville this weekend for both shows on Saturday night and the Jamboree and I will offer my first hand accounts when I return next week.

Again, congratulations to Jim Ed, Maxine and Bonnie Brown as the are honored for joining the Grand Ole Opry 50 years ago.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Mid-Week Opry Shows 8/6 & 8/7

Here is the line-up for this week's mid-week Opry shows.

Tuesday August 6:
7:00: Sarah Darling; John Conlee
7:30: Frankie Ballard; Exile
8:15: Jeannie Seely; Striking Matches
8:45: Aaron Tippin; Justin Moore

Wednesday August 7:
7:00: Chris Janson; The Whites
7:30: Rhonda Vincent; Larry Gatlin
8:15: Bill Anderson; Keith Anderson
8:45: Jana Kramer; Del McCoury Band

Just a quick word on Larry Gatlin. This past week, he and The Gatlin Brothers played the Ohio State Fair with Crystal Gayle and the Oak Ridge Boys. Originally George Jones was scheduled for the date but since George passed away, the Fair had to make a switch and I thought they came up with a good show.

I was not there, but a friend of mine was and forwarded to me the review of the show that was printed in the Columbus Dispatch newspaper and to put it kindly, the reviews on Larry Gatlin and Crystal Gayle were not good.

The arena was about half full, which in itself is bad. Larry Gatlin and his brothers opened the show and apparently the crowd, or this reviewer specifically, did not know Larry's songs except for "Houston" and "All The Gold In California." The words bland and countrypolitian were used and Larry even made a comment on the less than enthusiastic reaction from the crowd. Crystal Gayle was next and the reviewer complained that she did not sing enough of her #1 hits, instead singing "cover" material from others. He did say the Oak Ridge Boys were fine.

It just gets to me when these great legends such as Larry Gatlin and Crystal Gayle not only step in to pick up dates so that those at the fair get a good show, but then get no respect from the crowds or those writing about the show. I have seen both Larry and Crystal give live shows and they are good. Their voices are still fine and I have not seen any true country fans go away unhappy. It just gets to me, that is all.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August Opry Highlights

As is done each month, here are the important and historical events that have taken place in the history of the Grand Ole Opry, or regarding Opry members, during the month of August.

August 22, 1910: Country Music Hall of Fame member and former Grand Ole Opry member Rod Brasfield was born in Smithville, Mississippi. Rod was famous for his comedy routines with Minnie Pearl that were featured on the Prince Albert Opry shows for many years. Rod came to the Prince Albert show in 1948 and replaced comedian Whitey Ford, the Duke of Paducah, who had a disagreement with R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and its advertising agency. Rod also appeared in several movies, the most famous being "A Face in the Crowd" with Andy Griffith. Rod led a difficult life that ended way too soon, as he passed away on September 15, 1958 after suffering a heart attack. He was just 48 years old.

August 30, 1919: Muriel Ellen Deason, better known as Kitty Wells, was born in Nashville. Kitty, along with her husband Johnny Wright, were Opry members from the early 1950s until they left the show in December 1964 in a dispute over booking fees. Even though she left the Opry, she continued to make guest appearances and there are some reports that she expressed an interest in re-joining the Opry later in her life, but was turned down. Kitty passed away in July 2012.

August 8, 1921: Former Opry member Webb Pierce was born in West Monroe, Louisiana. He first appeared on the Opry in 1952, but he quickly figured out he could make more money by not being an Opry member. He left the show and proceeded to have a great career in country music that eventually led to the Hall of Fame. As to the reasons for leaving the Opry so soon, Webb said, "You had to be there every Saturday night, and that was too much, because, you see, most of our money, we made it on Saturday night. Of course, we'd be on tour and then we'd have to turn around at the end of the week and be back at the Opry. I don't care if you was in Podunk, Canada!" Of all the great country stars of the 1950s, Webb had the greatest chart success, but he also made a lot of enemies along the way. Because of that, and the fact that many of the Hall of Fame voters said they would never vote for Webb while he was alive, it wasn't until 2001 after he passed away, that he was finally elected. Webb was also famous for his guitar shaped swimming pool and his feud with Ray Stevens, his neighbor. Webb's house is now owned by Colin Reed, the chief executive officer of Ryman Hospitalities, the owners of the Opry. And yes, the swimming pool is still there but off limits to the public.

August 25, 1925: Billy Grammer was born in Benton, Illinois. Billy joined the Opry in 1959 and remained an Opry member until his death in August 2011. "Gotta Travel On" is the song most associated with Billy, along with the Grammer Guitar.

August 12, 1927: Porter Wagoner was born in West Plains, Missouri, the same hometown of Jan Howard. Porter came to the Opry from the Ozark Jubilee in 1957. He would remain an Opry member until his death on October 28, 2007, shortly after celebrating 50 years as an Opry member. During his career, he had over 80 singles on the country charts, and had a number of others with duet partners Norma Jean and Dolly Parton.

August 27, 1927: Grand Ole Opry member Jimmy C Newman was born in High Point, Louisiana. Hard to believe that Jimmy C will be 86 this month and he still sounds great.

August 4, 1931: Former Grand Ole Opry manager Hal Durham was born in McMinnville, Tennessee, the hometown of Dottie West. After the Opry moved to Opryland and the new Opry House, Bud Wendall was promoted go general manager of both the Opry and Opryland and he asked Hal to take over as the Opry's manager. In 1978 he was promoted to the position of general manager of the Opry and held that position for 15 years. While many people want to blame Pete Fisher for the fact that many of the Opry's members make few appearances on the show, it was actually Hal who was responsible for relaxing the membership requirements and allowing individuals to join the Opry with no commitment to the show. Among the artists he brought on as members were Ricky Skaggs, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, The Whites and Riders In The Sky. He left the Opry in 1993 and was the President of the Opry Group until 1996 when he retired. He died in March 2009. In many ways, it was Hal who started the Opry down the path that led to the position that the Opry is in today.

August 20, 1935: Justin Tubb was born in San Antonio, Texas. Justin would follow in his father's footsteps and become a successful country music singer and songwriter. He joined the Opry in 1955 at the age of 20, and for several years was the Opry;s youngest member. He passed away from a sudden illness on January 24, 1998.

August 14, 1941: Constance June Meador, otherwise known as Connie Smith, was born in Elkhart, Indiana. Connie has been recognized for having one of the greatest female voices in the history of country music. She first joined the Opry in 1965, the same night that Bob Luman became a member. She left the show for a short period of time while raising her family. In 2012 she was elected to the Hall of Fame. Time travels fast and it is hard to believe that Connie will be 72 this month.

August 7, 1942: Former Opry member B.J. Thomas was born in Hugo, Oklahoma. He joined the Opry on his 39th birthday, August 7, 1981. His stay at the Opry was very short, so short in fact that many people forget that he was even a member. He still performs as a guest on the Opry, and some say that he makes more appearances now then he did as a member.

August 11, 1946: Grand Ole Opry member John Conlee was born in Versallies, Kentucky. John came to Nashville and joined the Opry in February 1981. He is a former funeral director and has one of the most distinctive voices in country music.

August 11, 1952: Hank Williams was fired as a member of the Opry. Jim Denny, the Opry's manager, made the call to Hank. He had Ernest Tubb in the room with him when the call was made as a witness. Hank always hoped to make it back to the Opry, but it never happened. Even though Hank has been dead for over 50 years, there are still those, including Hank Williams III, who feel he should be reinstated as a member.

August 29, 1953: Cousin Jody rejoined the Grand Ole Opry. He would often appear with Lonzo & Oscar, along with his solo performances. He would remain an Opry member into the 1970s, passing away on August 18, 1975 at the age of 55. Jody had first come to the Opry in 1938 and played with Roy Acuff, Eddy Arnold and Pee Wee King.

August 14, 1954: Ernest Tubb took a leave of absence from the Opry. He would remain away from the show until November. Many feel that the reason he left the Opry for a period of time was due to his drinking problems. While absent from the Opry, Ernest would continue to host the Midnight Jamboree and it was during this period that Ernest brought Elvis Presley to the Jamboree as a guest.

August 28, 1954: Grand Ole Opry member Stringbean, or "String Beans" as he was referred to during this time period, left the cast of the Opry to join the Ramblin' Tommy Scott Show. Stringbean would rejoin the Opry and remain a member until his death in November 1973.

August 4, 1956: Jimmy C Newman became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 57th year as an Opry member. Jimmy C still performs each week on the show and the Cajun music sounds as good as it ever has.

August 11, 1956: George Jones first joined the Grand Ole Opry. George and his history with the Opry is very interesting. See if you can follow the dates. First, some list is original induction date as August 4, the same night as Jimmy C Newman. But the August 11 date is the one listed in the current Opry History Picture Book. Prior to this edition, his Opry induction date was listed as January 4, 1969, as he had left the show for a while. In the 1979 edition of the book, he is listed as having returned to the Opry in 1973 after a short absence. In the 1972 edition of the book, he is not mentioned at all. Not that all of that mattered as George rarely appeared on the Opry. After what might have been 56 years of Opry membership, George passed away earlier this year.

August 22, 1957: Former Opry member Holly Dunn wsa born in San Antonio, Texas. Holly having a number of hits, including "Daddy's Hands", Holly retired from the music business and left Nashville in 2003. She now is an artist and has a studio in New Mexico. After leaving Nashville, the Opry dropped her as a member.

August 4, 1959: Skeeter Davis joined the Grand Ole Opry. With the exception of a short period of time when she was suspended from the show, she would remain an Opry member until her death on September 19, 2004, although she last appeared on the Opry in 2002. Skeeter was known for her colorful skirts and bursts of energy while doing the Opry. Her final yearss were difficult as she battled serious health issues.

August 12, 1963: The Browns joined the Grand Ole Opry. While Maxine and Bonnie retired from the group in 1967, Jim Ed continued as a solo act and this year will be the 50th anniversary of The Browns joining the Opry. Even after Maxine and Bonnie left, they would continue to get together for special appearances and for Opry shows. Their harmony was some of the best ever recorded and the hits are timeless. Jim Ed would also record duets with Helen Cornelius. The Browns have been finalists for the Country Music Hall of Fame for a number of years and deserve induction.

August 23, 1963: Former Opry member Milton Estes died at the age of 49. Milton was part of Pee Wee King's Golden West Cowboys and acted as the group's announcer.

August 27, 1963: Former Opry manager Jim Denny died from cancer at the age of 52. In 1966 he was one of the early inductees into the Hall of Fame. Jim was the first WSM employee who was specifically assigned the job of Opry manager. When he started at WSM he would hang around the backstage area at the Ryman Auditorium and would become friendly with many of the major artists. He also ran the Opry concession business which supposedly made him some serious cash. During his time at the Opry, he brought dozens of acts to the Opry including Webb Pierce. It was with Webb that Jim started Cedarwood Music Publishing and it was the success of this firm that caused Jim to leave the Opry and WSM. When he left the Opry, many of the Opry's members joined him and his new artist bureau over the one operated by the Opry and WSM, causing him more issues with the Opry's management. If you believe the story, he was the Opry manager who told Elvis Presley after his only Opry appearance to go back to driving a truck. He was also noted for his long running feud with Ernest Tubb.

August 8, 1964: The Osborne Brothers, Sonny and Bobby, joined the Grand Ole Opry. While Sonny retired in 2005, Bobby continues on as an Opry member, now in his 49th year.

August 14, 1965: The newest member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, Bobby Bare, joined the Grand Ole Opry. Bobby would remain an Opry member for about a decade, leaving the show after it moved to the new Opry House. In fact, Bobby was one of the few acts that did not perform on the opening night of the new building. Bobby continues to make great music and guest appearances on the show.

August 17, 1967: Charlie Walker joined the Grand Ole Opry. Charlie would remain an active Opry member until his death in September 2008. I had the opportunity to meet Charlie back in the 1990s, and I can tell you what a fine gentleman he was and a pleasure to talk to. He started out as a DJ in Texas and never forgot his roots. In 1981 he was elected to the Country Music Radio DJ Hall of Fame. In addition to being a fine singer, he was also a very good golfer.

August 5, 1968: Opry member Terri Clark was born in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. As a Canadian, she would join Hank Snow and Stu Phillips as Opry members from the northern land.

August 21, 1975: Opry member Sam McGee died in a tractor accident on his farm in Tennessee. He was 81 and still working the farm. Along with is brother Kirk, he first performed on the Opry in 1926, when it was still the WSM Barn Dance. During his time on the Opry, he would appear with several different groups including the Dixieliners. Sam was also the first Opry member to use an electric guitar on the Opry, after which George D. Hay politely told him to put it back in its case and not bring it back.

August 14, 1982: Ernest Tubb made his final appearance on the Opry. He was suffering from emphysema and that made it difficult for him to tour and make public appearances. He was on oxygen and breathing was difficult. He also gave up hosting the Midnight Jamboree, turning those duties over to his son Justin. He would spend his final years at his home and passed away on September 6, 1984. His influence is still felt in country music today.

August 22, 1987: Roy Clark joined the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 26th year as an Opry member. I know that since Roy joined the show, he has made few Opry appearances including just 1 so far this year. When Roy was asked to join the show, he told management (Hal Durham) that he was declining due to the fact that his heavy touring schedule would prohibit making the required appearances. Hal told him that was ok, they still wanted him as a member. While Roy makes few Opry shows, he is appreciative of being an Opry member.

August 29, 1987: Former Opry member and great comedian, Archie Campbell died in Knoxville, Tennessee. He had suffered a heart attack, but had been in declining health for a few years. Archie joined the Opry in 1958 and was also associated with Hee Haw. In fact, he was one of the writers on the show, although it has been told by others that Archie used the jokes that he had learned from the Duke of Paducah. In his later years, Archie made most of his Opry appearances in the winter months, spending the prime tourist season operating his own theater in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. A strong case can be made that Archie deserves election to the Hall of Fame.

August 10, 1991: Vince Gill joined the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 22nd year as an Opry member. The night he joined the Opry, he was inducted by Roy Acuff and over the years Vince has made known his love of the Opry and as much as anyone from his time period, has supported the show. Vince turned down his first invitation to guest on the Opry in order to appear at his daughter's school function. Lucky for Vince, the Opry invited him back. Vince is married to the equally talented Amy Grant.

August 30, 1991: On her way to the Friday Night Opry, Dottie West was involved in a serious car accident at the entrance to Opryland. She would not recover from the injuries and passed away on September 4. Even to this day, my wife always makes a comment to slow down whenever I drive through that curve.

August 31, 1995: Former WSM and Grand Ole Opry announcer David Stone died at the age of 93. Along with his brother Harry, David was responsible for changing the face of the Opry from a rural part-time performers show to a show featuring professional artists. He helped to bring Pee Wee King, Roy Acuff and Eddy Arnold to the Opry, among many others. By 1940, he had left the Opry and WSM.

August 24, 1998: Opry member Jerry Clower died in a Jackson, Mississippi hospital after heart surgery. He was 71. He joined the Opry in November 1973 and was the last member to join the cast before the show moved from the Ryman Auditorium to the new Opry House. Jerry was one of the greatest story tellers of all time and was also a deeply religious Baptist.

August 26, 2000: Pam Tillis joined the Grand Ole Opry. This will be her 13th year as an Opry member. As much as I love Pam and her singing talents, I wish she would do the Opry more often.

August 18, 2001: The Grand Ole Opry moved their televised portion of the show from TNN to CMT. The first show on CMT was highlighted by Vince Gill celebrating his 10th year as an Opry member. Also on the show that night were Steve Wariner, Sonya Isaacs, Jimmy C Newman, Brad Paisley, Elizabeth Cook and Loretta Lynn. Nice to know that in 2001 they were still letting the veterans on the television segments.

August 10, 2002: During the televised portion of the Grand Ole Opry on CMT, the Dixie Chicks announced that Porter Wagoner and Bill Carlisle had been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. I always thought that the Hall of Fame did a great injustice to Porter and Bill by having the Dixie Chicks do the announcement. Nothing against the Dixie Chicks, I just thought it should have been a Hall of Famer making the announcement. In Porter's case, the induction was long overdue, but like many others in the history of country music, Porter had made an enemy or two over the years. I also found it sad that Dolly Parton had been elected to the Hall before Porter, but I was glad that Dolly did the acutal induction in October. On a final note, if you get a chance to watch a video from that night, perhaps it will show up on YouTube some day, watch the expression on Porter's face. You just knew what he was thinking, such as it's about time and I thinking about what he wanted to say, much like his friend Ray Price had done. But he knew that was not the place or time for that.

August 23, 2003: Trace Adkins joined the Grand Ole Opry. Ronnie Milsap handled the induction and this will be Trace's 10th year as an Opry member. Even though he has not made an Opry appearance this year, I would not be surprised, knowing the Opry's past history, that they come up with some sort of show to honor Trace for 10 years of Opry membership.

August 6, 2011: The Oak Ridge Boys joined the Grand Ole Opry. The Opry had wanted the Oaks as members for many years, but they were always turned down due to their heavy touring schedule. But things changed 2 years ago and the Oaks finally accepted.

And finally, it was in August 1948 that Jimmy Dickens first became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. The exact date is lost to history but this year will mark 65 years since Jimmy first became an Opry member. In 1957, Jimmy left the Opry to head up a major road show sponsored by the Phillip Morris company. This was in violation of Opry rules as R.J. Reynolds was a major Opry sponsor and would not accept Jimmy working for a rival company. Jimmy would claim there were no hard feelings in him leaving. On February 8, 1975, Jimmy rejoined the Opry, being introduced that night by Hank Snow, who said Jimmy was missed. So even though many will say that it has been 65 years since Jimmy joined it will actually be 47 years as an Opry member. Jean Shepard is currently the Opry member with the longest consecutive streak of Opry membership. And Jean mentions that a lot and is proud of it. Regardless of the date and time, congratulations to Jimmy Dickens and here is hoping he can get back to the Opry to be honored.

There you have it for August.