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.


  1. Fred, Bismarck:

    I looked up the review, and to be honest, Byron, the writer sounded (to me) knowledgeable about country music (except for his use of the word 'countrypolitan,' which I haven't heard since the early 1950s and whatshername, "the Park Avenue Hillbilly").

    In addition, it sounds as if Gatlin got porky with an audience that didn't fall all over him. Not a good way to win friends ... a better way would have been to show 'em with his music, as the Oaks did.

    With Crystal, the reviewer at least knew enough -- maybe only from reading her press release and list of hits -- that she was doing "covers" instead of her own stuff.

    As an old newspaper guy, maybe I'm being the devil's advocate here.

  2. We saw Larry Gatlin in a concert (theater style) several years ago and he talked and talked so much that one person yelled at him to get on with it and sing - that's what they paid for - Larry got a little indignant and told the man to go out front and get his money back - not sure what option the venue takes on that - he also made many "political"
    comments. Oak Ridge Boys are always fantastic; have seen them many times and again end of this month.

  3. Anon, I confess that I have been curious about that. Here goes.

    I've seen Larry Gatlin on Fox News, and he takes conservative positions. Now, if he wants to do that, fine. But if I am going to a concert, I wouldn't want him spouting conservative rhetoric any more than I would want--to name a Democratic supporter in country music--Emmylou Harris spouting liberal rhetoric. So if he did any of that, I could see the reaction to him. If I want to discuss or hear about politics, I'll go to a place where I look to discuss or hear about it.

  4. The only time I have seen Larry in concert was back in the mid-1970s when he opened for Johnny Cash at the Ohio State Fair. Obviously he was being advertised as the next great songwriter, not so much a singer as he had just finished some writing for Cash's "Gospel Road." I will say I have been impressed when I have seen him at the Opry, but I also know that concerts are a bit different.

  5. Fred, Anonymous & Michael,

    I will start off by saying in my opinion,I think that Larry Gatlin has one of THE best voices in country music & always has & when he & his brothers are together, their family harmony is as beautiful as when I listen to The Whites on the Opry. The Gatlin's have made some great country music over the last 30 or so years ... however, I am going to agree with all of you. I have watched Larry on the Country Family Reunion & Larry's Country Diner programs on RFD-TV & I listen to him almost every time he is on the Opry & he tends to verbally overtake the crowd. There are times when he just sits at a table at Larry's Country Diner, not as Larry's guest, just sits in the audience, but he takes over & interrupts the guest. He is a non-stop chatter bug & he makes it about him. I have heard him take people to task as they are making their way to their seats at the Opry because they are late. In my opinion, he is insulting his audience. While I am all for being prompt, there are times when one cannot be & they don't need to be reminded that they are late by anyone. They could be late because they had a flat tire & unless it has changed since the major Nashville flood a few years back, that parking lot outside of the Grand Ole Opry House is shared by people going to the Opry, the Opry Mills Mall & the General Jackson. They are all on the same piece of property & it can be very tough finding a parking space. If someone is going to the Opry for the first time, they don't know of the parking issue & they need to be given a some slack.

    Larry was on Fox News in the last week or so. He was dressed VERY nicely & he made some great comments about saving money & that is perfectly fine - that is the forum for all that stuff, not the stage where the audience is expecting to hear music.

    It is my opinion, that these artists should check all of their political views before walking on stage - what makes them think we want to hear what they have to say, or how we should think or vote? I am quite capable of doing that for & by myself. For as GREAT as they were when they first hit the radio airwaves, the backlash the Dixie Chicks received after 9/11, in my opinion, they deserved. It's really too bad, because their sound was fresh & country. Instrumentation was brought back to country music when it was sorely lacking & needed. To hear the fiddle, mandolin & banjo in a country music again song was just great. I saw them in concert before all this happened ... Ricky Skaggs opened the show for them & all I can say is that I was in country AND bluegrass music heaven for a few hours. They were all just so great.

    The Oaks - what more can be said about their character or music? I am really hoping that in the next couple of years they get the call from the Country Music Association telling them that the doors are opening up for them & they will have a plaque hanging on a wall in the rotunda of the Hall of Fame. I have seen them a few times in concert & they are just terrific & I so love their music.

    Years ago, I saw Crystal Gayle in concert & was not overly impressed - but that was years ago & she hasn't come around the Chicago area for me to see/hear her in recent time. When she is on the Opry she seems pleasant enough.

    Recently saw Willie Nelson in concert, not one word about the farmers & their continued plight. I will be seeing Alabama at the end of the month & I will be very surprised if I hear anything but "mountain music" from them - :-)

    Bottom line for me is when I buy a concert ticket all I want to hear is someone open their mouth & sing or play whatever instrument they are playing. Sing & play, that's all I'm paying any of them to do.


  6. I'd add Ricky Skaggs to this list. While I enjoy his music, he often says political things from the stage and makes negative comments about the President (So does Charlie Daniels.) Also, I'm a Christian and I believe in being a strong witness but Ricky tends to be very condescending. Once asked him to sign an autograph and he was totally put off. Guess that's why they call him "Picky Ricky." I have to wonder if his attitude will hurt his Hall of Fame election. As far as Larry Gatlin goes, I agree... too much talk, too much politics. Saw him once in concert with the Gatlin Brothers and they opened the show with "America the Beautiful" then he made a negative comment about being in California where all the nuts were at. But of course, I'm sure he didn't hesitate to pocket the performance fee. An Opry member once told me that Larry had a real problem with his fans, especially if asked to sign an autograph because he believed he "gave all he had to give on the stage." It's nice that he's taking his Opry membership more seriously but I have a hard time with him. Dolly's got it right when she steers clear of politics.

  7. Jeanene and Anon, I'd like to echo you. Without getting into my personal life, I certainly am not where, say, Ricky Skaggs is on religion. But I love gospel music. For some people, it has deeper meaning. That's great. But I'm not at a show for religious reasons, unless it's a show dedicated to that topic. Same with politics. On his website, Charlie Daniels has a "soapbox" where he expresses his views. That's fine. You can click on it if you want and ignore it if you want. But if I pay for a ticket, I am not paying for that. That doesn't mean I mind jokes or even political humor if it's part of the show--if there's a comic, or they are making jokes, as, say, Jean Shepard does.

  8. Going a bit off-topic here- but when I read Jeanene mention she is going to see Alabama soon, I had to smile a little. Their "Farewell Tour" that began about ten years is still going strong! Alabama's final tour has now gone on longer than The Judds. Back in the early '90s when Naomi was supposedly dieing, and they toured the nation for years, performing for the final time with tears rolling down their cheeks, as Naomi struggled to stay alive... lol random funny memories

  9. I also do not like it when artists mix politics with their stage performance. And I mean that on both sides of the political spectrum. I recently saw John Conlee. Great show and then we got his political beliefs. Didn't ruin the show, just shut up. I paid to hear you sing. Sorry if I am a bit direct. I also saw Crystal Gayle in March and she sang all of her hits in a one hour show. Love the comments everyone!

    Neil in Florida

  10. Michael,

    Yes, I am aware that Charlie Daniels has his "soapbox" on his website, that's fine. Everyone has an opinion & we should but keep it on a website or Facebook page - I am on Facebook with Ronnie Dunn - VERY smart guy, VERY intellectual guy - VERY impressed with what he says & how he says it - just a reminder to me (not that I need the reminder) that he "writes" songs - so how he speaks will be a reflection on how he writes. Just like Bill Anderson - they ALL have a way with words.

    I agree that if a political joke is thrown in who cares - anymore than that, shut up & sing!

    Anonymous - Aug. 6 @ 9:32pm

    I do believe that Alabama's "Farewell Tour" got started 10 year ago when Dick Clark announced on tv, with Alabama surrounding him, that they were retiring. The looks on their faces were like "huh?" Maybe I misread their faces & that could be. I think they were starting to think about it but I don't recall reading at that time that they had made a final decision on retirement. I think Dick Clark got ahead of himself - maybe & maybe not. All I know is that I am looking forward to seeing them. I've seen them twice & I can say, that when they are done with their last song, you will never forget seeing them. Of course the first time I saw them was close to 20 years ago, locally, & then they were the closing act on one of the nights of Fan Fair - they were just so, so great! The audience did not want them to leave the stage that night in Nashville. Such a great night of their music.