The Grand Ole Opry closes out the year at the Grand Ole Opry House this weekend before moving downtown next week to the Ryman Auditorium for the annual winter run of shows. There will be the usual one show each night and the line-ups for this weekend look very solid.
The Friday Night Opry will feature super-group Lady Antebellum. The will be joined by guest artists Love and Theft, Darryl Worley and The Isaacs. Also scheduled is Opry member Marty Stuart, who will be joined on his segment by newcomer Brandy Clark, who has impressed Opry audiences in her previous appearances.
The Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night also is looking solid with Opry members Steve Wariner and Del McCoury leading the way, along with guest artists Elizabeth Cook, Chuck Wicks, Mark Wills and Mallary Hope, all of whom visit the Opry frequently.
Also scheduled are two Opry members who have been missing in recent weeks. Mike Snider is back on the schedule, along with Jimmy C Newman, who has been missing from the Opry because of a fall at the Opry House. Glad to see Jimmy C back.
Friday October 25:
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Love and Theft; Mike Snider
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Darryl Worley; The Isaacs
8:15: Marty Stuart (host); Connie Smith; Brandy Clark
8:45: John Conlee (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Lady Antebellum
Saturday October 26:
7:00: John Conlee (host); Mallary Hope; The Whites
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jesse McReynolds; Mark Wills
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Jan Howard; Chuck Wicks; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Steve Wariner (host); Elizabeth Cook; Del McCoury Band
Wow!! We are up to 9 Opry members on Saturday night. That is one of the higher numbers in recent weeks. The one thing I will say as the Opry prepares to move downtown to the Ryman is that the quality of the line-ups generally improve greatly during November and December as many of the Opry's members are home for the holidays or coming off of holiday tours. Along with the guest artists that are scheduled, it creates some good shows.
In what should be an outstanding Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree this week, Steve Wariner will be the host. I am sure he will be playing many of his hits along with songs from his new CD. Should be a good night.
Now for this week's look back into past Grand Ole Opry line-ups, it was 40 years ago on Saturday October 27, 1973 that Jerry Clower joined the Grand Ole Opry. Jerry was the last artist to join the cast of the Opry before it left the Ryman Auditorium and moved to the Grand Ole Opry House.
He was born on September 28, 1926 in Liberty, Mississippi. After serving in World War II, he returned home and attended Mississippi State University. After finishing school, he worked as a county agent, a seed salesman and finally selling fertilizer for the Mississippi Chemical Corporation. As a salesman, he became successful and popular for his story telling and tapes of his speaking engagements eventually led to a recording contract thanks to Edwin Wilkes and Bud Andrews. Wilkes sent a copy of a tape to Grant Turner at WSM and Turner played it on the air. It was such a hit that MCA signed him to the label and his first album in 1971 "Jerry Clower from Yazoo, City, Mississippi Talkin'" reached the Top 20 and stayed on the charts for 30 weeks. Over the course of his career, he made 27 albums, all but one released on MCA.
Jerry was also known for his deep religious convictions, which played a part in many of his stories. In addition to his speaking engagements, he also co-hosted "Nashville On The Road", the popular television series hosted by Jim Ed Brown. The show aired from 1975 through 1981. He also wrote several books.
Jerry Clower was an Opry member until he died on August 24, 1998 following heart bypass surgery. He was 71. He had been married to Homerline, who played many a part in Jerry's stories, for 51 years.
When Jerry joined the Opry, Hal Durham mentioned that there had not been a new "straight comic" signed in years and immediately saw the potential for Jerry to be a part of the Opry. Jerry said of his Opry membership, "It's undescribable, because, you see, I had prayed as a little boy that at the end of a crop year we'd clear enough money for us to go see the Grand Ole Opry. And we never did make it. Now, here I was on it! Grand Ole Opry star Jerry Clower! Woooo!"
Here is the Grand Ole Opry line-up and running order from Saturday October 27, 1973, the night Jerry Clower joined the Grand Ole Opry.
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Osborne Brothers (host): Fireball Mail
Bill Carlisle: What Kind of Deal Is This
Sonny Osborne: Earl's Breakdown
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
Willis Brothers (host): Chant of the Plains
Louie Roberts: Singing the Blues/Lovesick Blues
Willis Brothers: Cool Water
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Don't Let Your Sweet Love Die
Jim & Jesse: A Bird With Broken Wings Can't Fly
Hank Wada: Columbus Stockade Blues
Wilma Lee Cooper: I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes
Jim & Jesse: Ashes of Love
Hank Wada: Jambalaya
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: I Shall Not Be Moved
7:30: Standard Candy
Porter Wagoner (host): Wake Up, Jacob
Dolly Parton: Joshua
Crook Brothers: Gray Eagle
Harold Weakley: Is Anybody Going to San Antone
Dolly Parton: My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton: Daddy Was An Old Time Preacher Man
Mac McGaha: Mockingbird/Orange Blossom Special
Porter Wagoner: What Ain't To Be Just Might Happen
8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Grandpa Jones: Kitty Klide
Del Wood: There's A Big Wheel
Jerry Clower: I'm That Country
Grandpa Jones: Any Old Time
Roy Acuff: I Saw the Light
Hank Snow (host): Miller's Cave
Bobby Bare: Ride Me Down Easy
Ray Pillow: Excuse Me
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge
Hank Snow: It Kinda Reminds Me of Me
Bobby Bare: Come Sundown
Ray Pillow: I Wish Somebody Loved Me That Much
Hank Snow: Tammy
Osborne Brothers (host): Rocky Top
Willis Brothers: Pretty Diamonds
Louie Roberts: Way Out There
Del Wood: There's A Big Wheel
Osborne Brothers: You Win Again/Today I Started Loving You Again
Willis Brothers: Bob
Osborne Brothers: Ruby
Jim & Jesse (host): I've Been Everywhere
Bill Carlisle: Jack of All Trades
Jim & Jesse: Johnny B. Goode
10:15: Union 76
Porter Wagoner (host): Company's Coming
Dolly Parton: My Tennessee Mountain Home
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton: We Found It/If Tear Drops Were Pennies
Roy Acuff (host): Cottonfields/Night Train to Memphis
Grandpa Jones: Banjo Sam
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Little Darling Pal of Mine
Larry McNeely: Breakaway
Bobby Bare (host): Detroit City
Jerry Clower: The Coon Hunt
Crook Brothers: Eighth of January
Bobby Bare: The Streets of Baltimore
Hank Snow (host): The Wreck of the Old 97/One More Ride
Ray Pillow: She's Doing It To Me Again
Hank Wada: Columbus Stockade Blues
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Old Hen Cackle
Hank Snow: Black Diamond
Sam McGee: Worry, Worry Blues
Hank Snow: Send Me The Pillow You Dream On
11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): Devil Woman
Mary Lou Turner: Slipping Away/Poor Sweet Baby
Marty Mitchell: Washed My Hands In Muddy Water/You Gave Me A Mountain
Marty Robbins: Love Me/Big Boss Man/Don't Worry/It's Not Love/El Paso
I have said before that comedy is a lost art at the Opry. Country comedy that is. And that is what Jerry Clower brought to the Opry. Some of his stories were classics and while he didn't appear at the Opry as often as many would have liked, he was always proud of his Opry membership and a good loyal Opry member.