Monday, September 30, 2013

October Opry Highlights

October has traditionally been one of the busiest months in the history of the Grand Ole Opry. Lots of important and historical events have taken place during this month. So here we go with those events that have taken place during the month of October.

October 25, 1912: Sarah Ophelia Colley, known the world over as Minnie Pearl, was born. Minnie first appeared at the Grand Ole Opry on November 30, 1940. She would remain an Opry member for over 50 years, until her death on March 4, 1996. She was an active Opry member until June 1991 when she suffered a stroke that left her unable to perform.

October 20, 1913: Louis Marshall Jones was born in Henderson County, Kentucky. This 50+ year Opry member would become better known by his stage name, Grandpa Jones. Grandpa was a great banjo player and comedian and became nationally known through his work on Hee Haw.

October 5, 1925: WSM radio went on the air. Edwin Craig was given the honor of starting off the broadcast, and he said some very simple words: "This is WSM. We Shield Millions. The National Life and Accident Company." National Life President C.A. Craig dedicated the station to public service. Shortly after, George D. Hay, who was present that night as a special guest, was hired as the program director at WSM.

October 27, 1934: The Grand Ole Opry moved from Studio C at WSM to the Hillsboro Theater. The move was made because of the larger crowds that wanted to see the Opry in person. The Hillsboro sat 2,400 people and also offered the performers dressing rooms. Because they were now performing before a sizeable audience, they were told to "dress" for their performances. That meant to wear rural clothes that reflected the image of a country show. This also marked the beginning of Vito Pellettiere as the Opry's stage manager. He was the one that helped move the Opry into segments with sponsors, along with setting up specific times for the performers to appear. Many felt that Vito was the most important person at the Opry and he operated the show like it was a train that had to be kept on the track and on schedule. Many of the Opry's veterans have often said that the Opry has not been the same since he passed away, which was way back in 1977. An interesting fact is that Vito never owned or drove a car and always took the bus to and from the Opry.

October 14, 1939: The NBC radio network begins carrying a half-hour Opry segment hosted by Roy Acuff. The show was sponsored by the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company to promote it's Prince Albert brand. The story behind this is that the William Esty Agency of New York had been employed by WSM to sell time on the Opry. That station had worked with the network in the past by providing live network feeds from Nashville to New York. In the fall of 1938, Esty added R.J. Reynolds as an Opry sponsor, and since Prince Albert smoking tobacco was big in the South, it was decided to promote that brand. It was Dick Marvin, an account executive, that got the idea of trying to sell R.J. Reynolds on sponsoring part of the show on the NBC network. Marvin had to work through the agency, which thought it was not that good of an idea, but he was finally able to notify George D. Hay and Harry Stone that starting on the October date, 26 network stations would broadcast the Opry. On that first show, David Stone announced the open and introduced Roy Acuff and his group, who played the theme song, "Have A Big Time Tonight." Along with George D. Hay, that first show included Uncle Dave Macon, George Wilkerson and his Fruit Jar Drinkers, DeFord Bailey and Brother Oswald and the other members of Roy's band. Over time, the show would expand to the entire NBC radio network.

October 28, 1939: Bill Monroe becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. On his first night, he performed "Muleskinner Blues." Opry founder George D. Hay was so impressed with the performance that he told Bill that if he ever wanted to leave the Opry, he would have to fire himself. Bill would never do that and he would remain an Opry member until his death on September 9, 1996.

October 2, 1954: Elvis Presley makes his first and only appearance as a guest on the Opry. He sang the great Bill Monroe hit, "Blue Moon of Kentucky." Elvis received only modest applause after his performance, which was not unusual at the Opry. Legend has it that after he finished, Jim Denny, the Opry's manager, told Elvis that he should go back to driving a truck. However, like many other stories in the Opry's history, there is some doubt that this actually happened. What did happen was that Elvis was never invited back to the Opry by Jim Denny. And while he might not have been impressed, Bill Monroe was, especially after he started to see the sizeable royalty checks coming in.

October 30, 1955: Jim Reeves joins the Grand Ole Opry. Over time, he would become one of the Opry's biggest stars, but like so many others, he realized the limitations that were placed on him by being an Opry member, so he would move on. His last Opry performance was on June 29, 1963.

October 15, 1960: Loretta Lynn made her first appearance on the Opry. The Wilburn Brothers were instrumental in getting her a guest slot, and she appeared on the segment hosted by Ernest Tubb. At the time, she did not have a band so Leslie Wilburn played bass and Lester Wilburn played rhythm guitar for her. She sang, "I'm A Honky Tonk Girl." The Opry was impressed by her and she joined the Opry in September 1962 and remains an Opry member today.

October 27, 1962: Sonny James becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. As with many others, Sonny would leave the show after being a member for just a short period of time.

October 23, 1965: Roy Acuff, Jr. made his first appearance on the Opry. He sang, "Baby Just Said Goodbye." while his father stood behind him watching. His recording and performing career were short has he preferred to work behind the scenes instead of being in the public eye.

October 14, 1966: Del Reeves is introduced as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. He was a guest on the segment hosted by Porter Wagoner and it was a very emotional night for Del, as his parents were in the audience. Del broke down and couldn't make it through his song. Del would remain an Opry member until his death on January 1, 2007 at the age of 75.

October 21, 1967: The Browns gave their final appearance as Opry members. Jim Ed Brown would continue as an Opry member and earlier this year he celebrated 50 years as an Opry member, joined by Bonnie and Maxine. The sisters would continue to perform with Jim Ed on special occasions, including many times at the Opry. The Browns made a huge impact on country music and many feel, as I do, that they should have been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame a long time ago.

October 8, 1968: Harry Stone, former WSM executive, passed away at the age of 70. The influence that Harry Stone had at the Opry was great, perhaps more so than George D. Hay. While George D. wanted to keep the show simple and down to earth with local and regional musicians, Harry wanted to move the show forward by hiring established and professional entertainers, and while George D. was away from the show due to personal issues, Harry moved forward with his plan and as a result, there was great conflict between the two. In 1932, Harry became the general manager of WSM, and was George D. Hay's boss. Among the first artists he brought to the Opry were Roy Acuff and Pee Wee King, later adding Eddy Arnold. He saw what the show could do for WSM and National Life on a national level and thanks in part to his leadership, the Opry survived while other regional country dance shows failed.

October 19, 1968: In an interview with the Nashville Tennessean, WSM President Irving Waugh said that the Opry's days at the Ryman Auditorium were numbered. The article stated, "The initiation of plans for the relocation of the Opry, possibly as the center of a mult-million dollar hotel and amusement complex, was announced at a breakfast at Municipal Auditorium sponsored by WSM." Irving Waugh said, "Our feeling is that the Grand Ole Opry needs a new, modern facility. And we would like a facility that would be very active. It is estimated the center, which would be called Opryland USA, would require between one hundred fifty and two hundred acres of land. The location would not be in the Music Row area." Over time, detailed plans would be announced, including the location of Opryland USA, out of the center of the city.

October 27, 1973: Comedian Jerry Clower becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. He was the last member to join the Opry's cast before it moved from the Ryman Auditorium to the new Grand Ole Opry House. When he joined the Opry, Jerry followed in the tradition of a long list of Opry comedians that included Minnie Pearl, Archie Campbell, Stringbean, Lew Childre, Duke of Paducah, Rod Brasfield, Cousin Jody and Lonzo & Oscar. Sorry to say, but comedy seems to have become a lost art at the Opry. Jerry remained a popular Opry member until he passed away on August 24, 1998.

October 18, 1975: The Grand Ole Opry celebrates it's 50th anniversary. The 50th anniversary show si considered one of the biggest in the history of the Opry, with many of the Opry's biggest names performing as part of the show.

October 16, 1982: Opry member Doyle Wilburn passed away in Nashville at the age of 52. The Wilburn Brothers first came to the Opry as children but were forced to leave because of the child labor laws that were in effect at the time. The later came back, becoming members in 1953. They are considered one of the great duets in the history of country music. After Doyle passed away, Teddy Wilburn continued as a solo artist at the Opry, and remained until his death in 2003.

October 29, 1982: Alabama made their first guest appearance on the Opry.

October 24, 1983: Opry member, and one of the originals, Kirk McGee passed away, Along with his brother Sam, Kirk made his first Opry appearance in 1926, back in the WSM Barn Dance days. Over the years, he would be a part of the Fruit Jar Drinkers and the Dixieliners. He was one of the last links to the start of the Opry.

October 3, 1989: Grand Ole Opry member Del Wood passed away in Nashville. Del, whose real name was Adelaide Hazelwood, had joined the Opry in 1953. She was famous for her ragtime piano, and her great record, "Down Yonder." In looking at my past Opry line-ups, I find it hard to find many shows that she did not perform that number. In another interesting note about Del, the Opry Picture History Book wrote that, "She was famous for her canning and jams."

October 4, 1989: Holly Dunn becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. She would remain an Opry member until she retired from the music business and moved to New Mexico. If it were up to Holly, she would still be an Opry member today, but after she retired she was dismissed from the cast.

October 6, 1990: Garth Brooks joins the Grand Ole Opry. Garth always remembered that Johnny Russell was the one who first introduced him at the Opry and Garth always would insist on appearing on Johnny's segment when doing the Opry. Johnny was also the host of the segment the night Garth was inducted. On that night, he sang, "Friends In Low Places", "If Tomorrow Never Comes" and "The Dance." Like many others of his generation, and even though he calls his Opry membership one of the most important things in his life, Garth hasn't been seen around the Opry lately. His last singing appearance was at the Opry's 80th birthday celebration 8 years ago, although he did come around to induct Carrie Underwood. This will be his 23rd year as an Opry member. Can we begin the countdown to Garth's 25th anniversary of joining the Opry, which will also be the Opry's 90th anniversary? If I was a betting man, I would bet that we might see Garth then. On another note, this was the same night that Alan Jackson made his Opry debut.

October 4, 1991: Diamond Rio made their first appearance at the Opry. They would later join the Opry on April 18, 1998. Not only have they been good Opry members, but they have been very involved in the Nashville community.

October 19, 1991: Grand Ole Opry announcer and Country Music Hall of Fame member Grant Turner passed away hours after announcing the Friday Night Opry. He was the "dean" of the Opry's announcers and was at WSM and the Opry since 1944. He also hosted the Opry warm-up show on WSM and had been an announcer of the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree.

October 24, 1991: Gaylord Entertainment Company, owners of WSM and the Grand Ole Opry, listed its stock for the first time on the New York Stock Exchange and offered shared for sale to the general public. Many say that this was the event that started the downfall of Gaylord and the Opry and changed the focus at the Opry to a profit making enterprise.

October 23, 1992: Roy Acuff makes his final Opry appearance. It was a Friday night show and he did his segment sitting in a directors share. He had appeared for his final Saturday night show the week before at the Opry's birthday celebration. After the Friday Night Opry on October 23, he was scheduled for the following Saturday night, however he took an afternoon nap and his family did not wake him to do the Opry. Exactly one month later, he would pass away at the age of 89.

October 15, 2000: The Grand Ole Opry celebrated its 75th anniversary with 4 shows that weekend, including 2 shows on Saturday night that featured the majority of the Opry's cast, including Garth Brooks and Dolly Parton, among others.

October 25, 2003: Del McCoury becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 10th year as an Opry member. Del has always fulfilled his Opry commitments and many times if he is on the same show as Vince Gill, Del and his boys will provide back-up for Vince.

October 1, 2005: Dierks Bentley joins the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 8th year as an Opry member. He had made his Opry debut in April 2003 after hanging around the Opry for a number of years as an employee of the Nashville Network.

October 15, 2005: The Grand Ole Opry celebrated its 80th birthday. Garth Brooks marked the occasion by coming out of retirement and performing on the Opry for the 1st time in 5 years. He was joined on the Opry stage by Hall of Famers Porter Wagoner, Bill Anderson and Jimmy Dickens, along with his good friend Steve Wariner.

October 27, 2007: Josh Turner becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 6th year as an Opry member. Josh had made many Opry appearances before becoming a member and was asked to join the cast by Roy Clark.

October 28, 2007: Grand Ole Opry member Porter Wagoner passed away in Nashville after a short illness at the age of 80. One of the most popular Opry members in history, he had celebrated his 50th year as an Opry member earlier that year. Not only a great solo artist, Porter was also known for his duets with Norma Jean and Dolly Parton.

October 25, 2008: Craig Morgan joins the cast of the Opry. This will be his 5th year as an Opry member, and it will be interesting to see if he gets the same 5 year treatment as Charlie Daniels and Carrie Underwood received earlier this year. Craig was inducted by John Conlee.

October 22, 2010: Blake Shelton joined the Grand Ole Opry. He had been invited to join the show the previous month by Trace Adkins during the show that celebrated the grand reopening of the Opry House. Sorry to say, but since joining the show, Blake has made very few Opry appearances. It would appear that Pete Fisher missed on this one.

October 8, 2011: During the Opry's 86th birthday celebration, Rascal Flatts became members of the Opry. This will be their 2nd year as Opry members. Among those at the Opry that night to help induct Rascal Flatts was Vince Gill.

October 16, 2012: Darius Rucker joins the Grand Ole Opry. He had been invited to join the show earlier by Brad Paisley, who made a surprise appearance from the audience. Interesting that over the past 3 years, October has produced a new Opry member.

There you have it for October. Enjoy the month and the Opry.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Tuesday Night Opry 10/1 & Opry Country Classics 10/3

Remember when October used to be called "Country Music Month"? The CMA Awards show took place, the DJ convention and the Opry's birthday celebration, the Hall of Fame announcements. I can remember all of the local DJ's up here in Ohio going to Nashville for the week, doing live remotes and interviews with all the country stars. Now it is all a distant memory. There is no more "Country Music Month", the CMA show is in November, there is no DJ convention, the Opry's birthday bash has seen better days, and the Hall of Fame announcement comes in March.

If you get a chance to see the video "The Nashville Sound", it was filmed during the DJ convention in 1969. A great piece with some very nice Opry performances at the Ryman by Earl Scruggs, Tex Ritter, Roy Acuff, Johnny Cash, Charley Pride, Porter & Dolly, Jeannie C Riley, Loretta Lynn, Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt and others. That is my recommendation for the night.

As far as this week's mid-week Opry shows, here is what we have for the Tuesday Night Opry on October 1:

7:00: Rachel Farley; Larry Gatlin
7:30: Jason Crabb; John Jorgenson Bluegrass Band
8:15: Connie Smith; Striking Matches
8:45: Marty Stuart; Vince Gill

Opry Country Classics returns for it's October run and will feature Lorrie Morgan as the Spotlight Artist. Joining Lorrie will be Rebecca Lynn Howard, Chris Janson, Riders In The Sky and TG Sheppard, along with Bill Cody as the host. I will be there for that show as it is the start of the Opry's 88th birthday weekend.

Finally, has anybody else noticed that Bill Cody is doing more and more Opry announcing, in addition to Eddie Stubbs and Mike Terry?

No complaints as he does a nice job.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 9/27 & 9/28

Before getting into this week's Opry line-ups, which are pretty good, next week is the Grand Ole Opry's 88th birthday bash and at this point, it continues to look pretty disappointing. Nothing has been added or posted to the upcoming schedule in the past week. At this point, all that is announced is TG Sheppard for the Classics Show on Thursday night, Kathy Mattea on Friday night and Tate Stevens, Casey James and Sarah Darling for Saturday night, along with Steve Wariner for the birthday concert. What makes me really wonder is the fact that there has been very little buzz from the Opry regarding the birthday weekend. By this point each year, we have a very good idea who the big names are going to be and what to look forward to. Either they are still trying to figure things out and get commitments from people, or this is all we are going to get. I know that besides myself, there are people checking each day to see if anything new has been added. We can still hope. Either way, I still plan on going and keeping my streak alive.

As far as the Opry shows this weekend, the line-ups are very solid with some good quality talent on both nights. One of the newest Opry members, Darius Rucker will be on the Friday night Opry and he will be joined by Opry members Marty Stuart, Joe Diffie, Craig Morgan, Mel Tillis and Ralph Stanley, who continues on his farewell tour as he has announced that this will be his final year of touring. As far as guest artists on Friday night, the name that sticks out is former Opry member Leroy Van Dyke. Leroy was an Opry member in the early 1960's and he still continues to visit the Opry each year. He still looks and sounds great and I am looking forward to hearing him again.

Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will feature guest artists John Anderson and The Black Lillies, along with another night of Mel Tillis and Opry member Ricky Skaggs. I am somewhat surprised that Mel is not hosting a segment either night, as he usually will when he is on the Opry and I think he does a nice job hosting. He would be a nice break over Jeannie Seely, who is hosting both nights.

Friday September 27:
7:00: Marty Stuart (host); Lauren Alaina; Connie Smith
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Joe Diffie; Amos Lee
8:15: Craig Morgan (host); Leroy Van Dyke; Mel Tillis
8:45: Jeannie Seely (host); Ralph Stanley; Darius Rucker

Saturday September 28:
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Sarah Darling; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jesse McReynolds; John Anderson
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jean Shepard; The Black Lillies; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Mel Tillis

Baillie & the Boys, who had their string of hits, will be hosting the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree after the Opry, and as you have noticed, there doesn't appear to be a slot set aside for Jimmy Dickens this week. Of the 12 artists on each show, 9 are Opry members.

Next week we go into the month of October and each year the month has featured the Grand Ole Opry birthday bash, before that known as the DJ convention. Starting on Sunday with my Opry October historical notes, I will be posting on an almost daily basis, many of the line-ups from past Opry Birthday shows, which in the early days were highlighted by the annual Disc Jockey conventions. I think many of you will enjoy seeing how in the days of the DJ festivities, just about every Opry member would be there as the conventions were considered one of the most important events on the calendar. It was a chance to meet their friends in Nashville that they would see while out on the road, and to promote records and their careers. I hope you will enjoy those looks back.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 9/20 & 9/21-Updated

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the schedules for the 2 shows this weekend and while the line-ups look pretty solid, there is nothing spectacular about them. I will say that the Opry's management was kind enough to give us 6 Opry members on Friday night and 7 on Saturday night.

As far as the Friday Night Opry, the non-members scheduled include Kristen Kelly, Wade Hayes, The Henningsens, The Willis Clan, Jim Lauderdale and Mark Chesnutt, who is probably the biggest "name" that is scheduled. Of those that I have listed, I do have to say that I enjoy The Willis Clan. There must be a dozen of them and they are very, very talented. When I was at the Opry last month, they were on the schedule and drew a huge ovation from the audience.

Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will feature several stars from the "Nashville" television show as Jonathan Jackson and Charles Esten will be making appearances. Also scheduled will be a return appearance by Sons Of Fathers, and making their first Opry appearance, American Young.

Friday September 20:
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Kristen Kelly; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: The Whites (host); Wade Hayes; The Henningsens
8:15: George Hamilton IV (host); Jesse McReynolds; The Willis Clan
8:45: John Conlee (host); Jim Lauderdale; Mark Chesnutt

Saturday September 21:
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Morgan Frazier; The Whites
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jean Shepard; American Young
8:15: John Conlee (host); Jan Howard; Jonathan Jackson; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Sons Of Fathers; Charles Esten

You will notice no Jimmy Dickens on the schedule this weekend and there doesn't appear to be an empty slot for him to do a walk-on. Also, Jan Howard will be hosting the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree.

I know that there have been further comments regarding the Opry's Birthday Bash and 2 more names were added over the past several days, Casey James and Sarah Darling. Sorry to say that these are not the big names that people have been waiting for. Perhaps over the next several days we will hear something further. I know personally that Casey was there for the birthday bash last year and didn't really impress me at all. Sarah Darling I do enjoy. Now somebody must know something because for the heck of it, I went on StubHub this evening and tickets are up for sale anywhere from $105 in the balcony up to $159 on the main floor for both the 1st and 2nd shows. What makes this interesting is that there are tickets available at face value from the Opry ticket office for both shows, including almost 3,000 available for the 2nd show. I have heard from others that it has become a problem at the Opry where people are buying blocks of tickets and reselling them on StubHub and other secondary ticket sites. I know that this goes on in the real world today, but I just hate to see it at the Opry.

The Opry has announced the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry on September 24:

7:00: Maggie Rose; The Whites
7:30: Drake White; Aaron Tippin
8:15: Jimmy Wayne; Larry Gatlin
8:45: Chris Stapleton; Restless Heart

Now for this week's look back at past Grand Ole Opry line-ups.

This one is a little more recent than some of the ones I have posted. It is from Saturday September 23, 1989, 24 years ago. There is nothing really special about this show except that it is a good representation of the Opry during that time period. The other thing that is interesting is that all of the performers that night were Opry members. A little different than today.

1st show
6:30: Bonanza
George Hamilton IV (host): Break My Mind
Skeeter Davis: I Ain't Never
George Hamilton IV: Life's Railway to Heaven

6:45: Rudy's
Charlie Walker (host): Roly Poly
Jim & Jesse: Thanks For the Trip to Paradise
Charlie Walker: Take Me Back to Tulsa

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Wake Me Up, Jacob
Osborne Brothers: Ruby
Jean Shepard: Slowly
Billy Grammer: I Dreamed of an Old Love Affair/Gotta Travel On
Jeannie Seely: One Step Away from Coming Home
Porter Wagoner: Tennessee Saturday Night

7:30: Standard Candy
Del Reeves (host): Girl on the Billboard
Jeanne Pruett: I Oughta Feel Guilty
Roy Drusky: Have I Stayed Away Too Long
Charlie Louvin: The Precious Jewel/Everytime You Leave
Del Reeves: Bad News

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Connie Smith: I Never Once Stopped Loving You/Once A Day
4 Guys: When You've Got A Good Woman, It Shows/How Married Are You, Mary Ann
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Gray Eagle

8:30: Music Valley Merchants
Jim Ed Brown (host): Lyin In Love With You
Vic Willis Trio: Beer Barrel Polka
Jan Howard: The One You Slip Around With
Bill Carlisle: Little Liza Jane
Ray Pillow: I'll Break Out Again Tonight
Jim Ed Brown: The Old Lamplighter

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Dooley
Del Reeves: Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me
Ray Pillow: Days When You Were Still in Love With Me
Jim & Jesse: When I Dream About the Southland/The Night Runner
Porter Wagoner: I've Enjoy As Much of This as I Can Stand/You've Gotta Have A License

10:00: Little Debbie
Osborne Brothers (host): My Cabin in Caroline
Jean Shepard: I Just Had You On My Mind
Osborne Brothers: Beneath Still Waters

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Meeting in the Air
Billy Grammer: Happy Birthday Donna/I Was Born in Renfro Valley/The Waltz You Saved for Me
Dan Kelly: Sally Goodin

10:30: Pet Milk
George Hamilton IV (host): Abilene
Charlie Louvin: My Baby's Gone
George Hamilton IV: Forever Young

10:45: BC Powder
Charlie Walker (host): Does Ft. Worth Ever Cross Your Mind
Jeannie Seely: I'll Be Around When It's Over
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Bill Cheatham
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down

11:00: Coca-Cola
Jim Ed Brown (host): Pop A Top
Justin Tubb: As Long As There's A Sunday
Connie Smith: Walkin After Midnight
Bill Carlisle: Oh, What A Party
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells/Send Me the Pillow You Dream On

11:30: Creamette
4 Guys (host): I'm All Tied Up
Roy Drusky: More & More
Jan Howard: Heartaches by the Number
Vic Willis Trio: Sioux City Sue
4 Guys: Wings of a Dove/My Special Angel/I've Had the Time of My Life

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 9/13 & 9/14

Before getting into the Grand Ole Opry line-ups for this weekend, I just have a couple of thoughts and opinions to throw out there.

First, there has been a lot of comment, both on and off the blog, regarding Jimmy Dickens and his performance last Friday night. It would seem to many that we was a little confused, was in poor voice, and had somebody directing him on what to say and when it was time to leave. Like others, I really don't know what to make of it. He did not appear on Saturday night, although it appeared that they left a slot open for him, and based on this week's schedule, he is not going to appear. We all know Jimmy has had a tough year with his health and it may be that his age has finally caught up with him. I continue to give him credit for trying. As I have mentioned before, I hate to see any entertainer decline, but like many sport stars, they love it so much they want to keep going. I just hope when the time comes that it is Jimmy's decision when to retire and not someone else's.

Secondly, on Tuesday night Old Crow Medicine Show will become the newest members of the Grand Ole Opry. While certainly a surprise, I still think it is a good choice and I hope that they will be good, loyal Opry members. They bring a different sound to the Opry and their string band sound is more traditional in it's roots than what we hear on the radio today. On various websites and facebook pages, many are blasting Pete Fisher and the Opry's management for giving the invitation to Old Crow. Even more surprising, and it should not be, many of those complaining are admitting that they have not heard of Old Crow or have listened to any of their music. Personally, I own a couple of their records and I enjoy them. For those who do not like this decision, I say give them a chance.

My only complaint on their induction is that it is taking place on a Tuesday night. I would prefer to see the Opry do all of their inductions on Saturday, which is the traditional night for the Opry. Back in the day, Saturday was "the show". The Friday Night Opry was considered as less important and there were no mid-week shows. Heck for many years, many of the Opry's main members did not do the Friday Night Opry. By having some of their major stars or events on Tuesday night instead of Saturday, I think the Opry's management just continues to deemphasize the Saturday night show.

Finally, we are now just about 3 weeks away from the birthday weekend, as I write this all we have to show for it so far is Kathy Mattea on Friday night and Tate Stevens on Saturday. Obviously, that is not going to cut it. This is the latest I can remember the Opry holding off on any birthday announcement. Either they have something really big planned and are going to make the huge announcement, or they truly are having a problem this year. The birthday weekend, or the old DJ Convention that it used to be called, was the biggest Opry show of the year. Now, it just seems like another Saturday night. I am not ready to give up on the birthday weekend yet, but I am beginning to wonder.

As far as the Opry this weekend, the shows do not look too bad. The Friday Night Opry will feature guest artists T.G. Sheppard, Mandy Barnett and The Grascals, all of whom have done the Opry numerous times. Marshall Chapman will be making her 2nd Opry appearance, after first appearing on the Opry last month. Also appearing on Friday night will be Opry member Steve Wariner, who will be promoting his new CD, and Connie Smith, who for the 2nd week in a row will be hosting a segment.

Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will feature guest Crystal Gayle, who many think would make a great Opry member. She will be joined by guest artists Chuck Wicks, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, and Sara Haze. Steve Wariner will follow up his appearance on Friday night with a Saturday Opry show, along with Opry member George Hamilton IV.

Friday September 13:
7:00: The Whites (host); Jamie O'Neal; Aaron Lewis
7:30: Connie Smith (host); Kalisa Ewing; T.G. Sheppard
8:15: Steve Wariner (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Marshall Chapman
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Mandy Barnett; The Grascals

Saturday September 14:
7:00: The Whites (host); Greg Bates; Jean Shepard; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: George Hamilton IV (host); Rebecca Lynn Howard; Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper
8:15: Steve Wariner (host); Jesse McReynolds; Sara Haze; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Chuck Wicks; Crystal Gayle

For those keeping track, that is just 5 Opry members on Friday night and 7 Opry members on Saturday night, 3 of whom will be in the 1st segment.

As mentioned, on Tuesday September 17, Old Crow Medicine Show will become the newest members of the Opry. Here is the line-up for that show:

7:00: Diamond Rio; Eric Pasley
7:30: Dustin Lynch; Dierks Bentley
8:15: Del McCoury Band; Hunter Hayes
8:45: Old Crow Medicine Show

No idea who will do the actual induction. The only name standing out from Tuesday night is Dierks Bentley, but I would think the Opry could do better. Marty Stuart is the one that stands out as he has been one of Old Crow's biggest boosters. While not scheduled at the Opry, he is free that night so he is a possibility. But it looks like none of the Opry's veterans will be there to welcome Old Crow to the Opry.

As far as this week's look back into Grand Ole Opry history, I go to Saturday September 18, 1965. While it is listed in the Grand Ole Opry's Picture History Book that Connie Smith joined the Opry on June 13, 1965, from what I can determine, it was actually the September 18th date that Connie made her 1st appearance as an Opry member. (What is interesting is that June 15th, the date given by the Opry is actually a Sunday and nobody joined the Opry on Sunday's). Connie has had an interesting history at the Opry. Within a few years of joining the Opry, she was let go for not appearing the required 26 weeks. She came back in the 1971, and Opry management reportedly had to give her a warning for giving religious testimony while performing on the show. Either way, today Connie is one of the Opry's more loyal and popular members. And of course, she has that wonderful voice.

Here is the Opry line-up and show running order from Saturday September 18, 1965:

7:30: Luzianne
Leroy Van Dyke (host): Auctioneer
Bill Carlisle: Business Man
Connie Smith: Then and Only Then
The Auctioneers" Remington Ride
Leroy Van Dyke: Just A State of Mind
Bill Carlisle: Same Ol' Tale That the Crow Told Me
Connie Smith: The Hinges on the Door
The Auctioneers: Old Joe Clark
Leroy Van Dyke: It's All About Your Baby Blues

8:00: Martha White
Roy Drusky (host): Strangers
Jim & Jesse: Memphis
Merle Kilgore: Tiger Woman
Allen Shelton: Bending the Strings
Roy Drusky: Peel Me A Nanner
Crook Brothers: (?) Instrumental
Jim & Jesse: I Wish You Knew
Merle Kilgore: Ring of Fire
Jerry Whitehurst: Java
Roy Drusky: White Lightening Express

8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host): Gathering Flowers From the Hillside/Freight Train Blues
Howdy Forrester: Instrumental
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Onie Wheeler: Hang My Britches Up
Brother Oswald: Worry, Worry Blues
Roy Acuff: The Great Judgement Morning
Jimmy Riddle & Howdy Forrester: Jessup Polka

9:00: Pet Milk
Ernest Tubb (host): Lots of Luck
Wilburn Brothers: It's Another World
Loretta Lynn & Teddy Wilburn: The Race is On
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Fire on the Mountain
Ernest Tubb: A Memory (That's All You'll Ever Be To Me)
Wilburn Brothers: I'm Gonna Tie One On Tonight
Jack Greene: Ever Since My Baby Went Away
Loretta Lynn: The Home You're Tearing Down
Ernest Tubb & Loretta Lynn: Our Hearts are Holding Hands

9:30: Kelloggs
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Willis Brothers: Pinball Anonymous
Hank Locklin: Wild Side of Life
Marion Worth: (?)
Hank Snow: Tears in the Trade Winds
The Blue Boys: I Hear Little Rock Calling
Willis Brothers: A Satisfied Mind
Hank Snow: My Memories of You

10:00: Schick
Leroy Van Dyke (host): Walk on By
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
The Auctioneers: Sweet Georgia Brown
Bill Carlisle: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Leroy Van Dyke: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue

10:15: Mary Carter
Roy Acuff (host): Tennessee Central #9
Roy Drusky: Second Hand Rose
Harold Weakley: Where No One Stands Alone
Jimmy Riddle & Onie Wheeler: Fox Chase

10:30: Harveys
Jim & Jesse (host): I Like the Old Time Working of the Lord
Connie Smith: If I Talk to Him
Jim & Jesse: Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Allen Shelton: Cripple Creek

10:45: Newport
Ernest Tubb (host): Filipino Baby
Crook Brothers: Chicken Reel
Cal Smith: Oklahoma Hills
Ernest Tubb: Waltz Across Texas

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): I Don't Hurt Anymore
Wilburn Brothers: Making Plans
Harold Morrison: I'm A Bluebird
Loretta Lynn: Blue Kentucky Girl
Hank Snow: The Queen of Draw Polka Town
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Soldier's Joy
Wilburn Brothers: It's Another World
Loretta Lynn: When Lonely Hits Your Heart
Chubby Wise: Lee Highways Blues

11:30: Lava
Hank Locklin (host): Send Me the Pillow You Dream On
Willis Brothers: A 6 ft by 4
Marion Worth: I'm Picking Up the Pieces of Your Heart
Archie Campbell: Most Richly Blessed
Hank Locklin: Flying South
Merle Kilgore: Wolverton Mountain
Willis Brothers: I Still Do
Marion Worth: Silver Threads & Golden Needles
Hank Locklin: Danny Boy

Enjoy this weekend's Opry!!!!!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 9/6 & 9/7

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the shows this weekend. I was interested to see if Jimmy Dickens would be on the schedule for this weekend after his surprise appearance on Friday night, but he is not listed. I would imagine any future Jimmy Dickens appearances would probably depend on how he feels, or how his voice is, on the day of the shows.

In looking at the names listed for the shows on Friday and Saturday night, my first reaction is that there is not a lot of "star" power this weekend. On Friday night there is the Opry debut of Erin Enderlin, who is a very talented songwriter and performer who does a lot of dates in the Nashville area. Also appearing will be Opry regulars Jim Lauderdale, Striking Matches and Jimmy Wayne. When I say Opry regulars, in this case, they are not Opry members but seem to be on the show more than a majority of the members.

Saturday night will feature the return of Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers. This will be their 2nd Opry appearance after they really rocked the house during their first appearance. They are a very talented bluegrass group out of Ohio. Also appearing will be Deana Carter, who I am sure many will remember for her late 1990's hits. (hard to believe she is now 47!!). Joining them will be Chris Janson, Sara Haze and James Otto, all making repeat Opry appearances.

On the hosting side of things, Ray Pillow will be hosting segments on both Friday and Saturday night, along with The Whites and Jim Ed Brown. And Connie Smith gets an opportunity to host a segment on Saturday night.

Friday September 6:
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); James Wesley; Jean Shepard; Jesse McReynolds
7:30: Ray Pillow (host); Mandy Barnett
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jim Lauderdale; Erin Enderlin
8:45: The Whites (host); Striking Matches; Jimmy Wayne

Saturday September 7:
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); James Otto; Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers
7:30: Ray Pillow (host); Sara Haze
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Jimmy C Newman; Chris Janson; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: The Whites (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Deana Carter

There is an empty slot on the 7:30 segment each night. Perhaps there is a chance Jimmy Dickens might make a walk-on, or they have someone else lined up.

For this week's look back into Opry history, I have an Opry line-up from Saturday September 5, 1964 (49 years ago this week).  Lots of great names on this show.

7:30: Luzianne
Faron Young (host); Jean Shepard; Stonewall Jackson; Osborne Brothers; Del Wood; Cousin Jody
8:00: Martha White
Flatt & Scruggs (host); George Hamilton IV; Carter Family; Billy Walker; Crook Brothers; Ernie Ashworth
8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host); Hank Locklin; Loretta Lynn; Bill Carlisle; Marion Worth
9:00: Pet Milk
Ernest Tubb (host); Wilburn Brothers; Bill Anderson; The Browns; Margie Bowes; Fruit Jar Drinkers
9:30: Kelloggs
Hank Snow (host); Bill Monroe; Charlie Louvin; Willis Brothers; Skeeter Davis; Glaser Brothers; Stringbean
10:00: Schick
Hank Locklin (host); Del Wood; Ernie Ashworth; Cousin Jody
10:15: SSS Tonic
Roy Acuff (host); June Stearn; Curly Fox
10:30: Harveys
Flatt & Scruggs (host); Billy Walker; Stonewall Jackson
10:45: Newport
Ernest Tubb (host); Loretta Lynn; Bill Carlisle; Crook Brothers
11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host); Skeeter Davis; Charlie Louvin; Glaser Brothers; Marion Worth; Bill Anderson; Sam & Kirk McGee
11:30: Lava
Marty Robbins (host); Wilburn Brothers; Bill Monroe; Margie Bowes; Stringbean

I also wanted to post the line-up from Saturday September 9, 1989 (24 years ago this weekend), which was the final Opry appearance for the "Queen of the 88's, Del Wood. This great honky-tonk piano player joined the Opry in 1953 and would remain an Opry member until she passed away in October 1989. Who can forget "Down Yonder", which she did practically each week. She sold over a million copies of this song and well the records are not complete, she might have been the first female country solo artist to sell a million copies of any single. Here is the line-up from her final Opry show.

1st show
6:30: Bonanza
Stonewall Jackson (host); Jeannie Seely
6:45: Rudy's
Bill Anderson (host); Stu Phillips
7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host); Del Reeves; Ray Pillow; Dottie West
7:30: Standard Candy
4 Guys (host); Del Wood; Jean Shepard; Charley Pride
8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host); Connie Smith; Jimmy C Newman; Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Music Valley
Hank Snow (host); Skeeter Davis; Charlie Louvin; Ernie Ashworth; Bill Carlisle

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Stu Phillips; Dottie West; Ray Pillow
10:00: Little Debbie
Bill Anderson (host); Jeannie Seely
10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host); Charley Pride
10:30: Pet Milk
Del Reeves (host); Jean Shepard
10:45: B.C. Powder
Jimmy C Newman (host); Connie Smith; Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host); Skeeter Davis; Charlie Walker; Justin Tubb
11:30: Creamette
4 Guys (host); Ernie Ashworth; Bill Carlisle; Charlie Louvin

There you have it for this week. Rumors are always flying around and I have one for you (nothing official so don't go and buy tickets, just what a little bird told me and I might be totally wrong), but could we see Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton at the birthday bash?? Just a thought.

Enjoy the Opry shows this week!!!