Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 10/25 & 10/26

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.

1st show
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

6:45: Rudy's
Willis Brothers (host): Chant of the Plains
Louie Roberts: Singing the Blues/Lovesick Blues
Willis Brothers: Cool Water

7:00: Rudy's
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

8:30: Stephens
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

2nd show
9:30: Kelloggs
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

10:00: Fender
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

10:30: Trailblazer
Roy Acuff (host): Cottonfields/Night Train to Memphis
Grandpa Jones: Banjo Sam
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Little Darling Pal of Mine
Larry McNeely: Breakaway

10:45: Beech-Nut
Bobby Bare (host): Detroit City
Jerry Clower: The Coon Hunt
Crook Brothers: Eighth of January
Bobby Bare: The Streets of Baltimore

11:00: Coca-Cola
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.


  1. Good comments about Jerry Clower; we were fortunate to see him "in concert" at a VA county fair. It may have been September 1997. He was the opening act and I don't recall if it was for Ricky Skaggs or Bryan White , HOWEVER, Jerry Clower was great that night. We had previously seen him at the Opry where he only did a story or two - his "show" did almost all of them, wonderful entertainment !

  2. Byron, thanks for taking us back to the night Jerry Clower joined the Opry. He was one of my all-time favorite entertainers (and still is!) At one point, I had all of his MCA albums (or cassettes) in my personal collection. I can listen to him tell those stories over and over and never get tired of listening. His storytelling abilities are a lost art at the national level. Like many folks raised in rural areas, I could connect with Mr. Clower and could identify with how he was raised. His stories had an almost personal meaning to me. And his wit was impeccable; he was so gifted in his abilities. He certainly helped to make my childhood a very special one. My grandparents played his records over and over when they babysat for me. Those were wonderful times, indeed! That got me hooked on Mr. Clower and the love affair continues.

    Byron, do you have an idea of how often Jerry performed at the Opry in a year? I was only able to see him once, in person, on the Opry stage (my family and I attended about once a year, sometimes twice for about a decade in the mid-80s to mid-90s). My guess was maybe once a month or so. He certainly proclaimed his love for the Opry as evidenced by how many times he mentioned it on his albums. Of all the members that have passed on in the past decade or so, I probably miss him the most.

  3. Chris, the most Jerry performed at the Opry was in 1977 and that was 25 times. He was right around the 20 per year level until the early 1980s, then it was down to about 10 per year during that decade. He dropped a little in the 1990s, and was averaging about 7 appearances over his last half dozen years. What is strange was that in 1994, he did not appear on the Opry at all.

    I know in addition to the shows and concerts he did, he was also a motivational speaker and did a lot of private events. Right up to the end, he was in great demand.

    1. Thanks for the info, Byron. I looked back at my old programs, and it was in the summer of 1991 that I saw Jerry at the Opry. I guess this was in the time period when he was down to about 10 times per year; I was pretty fortunate to see him when I did!. I knew that he had a pretty heavy touring schedule back then, sort of like Roy Clark, in a way. That is odd that he didn't appear at all in 1994. It seems like that sort of thing has happened to a few artists in recent memory. If I am remembering correctly, didn't Mike Snider have a year recently when he was virtually absent, then started appearing regularly again the next year?

  4. Other than the Reverend Grady Nutt I cannot think of a funnier human being than Jerry Clower. Both good Christians and very clean storytellers

  5. Chris, you have a good memory. In 2008 Mike did the Opry just 20 times. That compares to 77 the year before, and 121 the year after. If I were to guess, he might have been doing a show someplace for most of the year. Archie Campbell was that way. He had his theater and show in Gatlinburg where he would perform from Spring through late fall, doing the Opry only during the winter months.

    1. That makes perfect sense, Byron. Probably was something of that nature. And, no, unfortunately my memory is really not that good. I'm pretty sure the reason I knew this was because I read it in one of your blog posts! ;)

      Btw, I had a question for you regarding stars and their Opry appearances since we're on that topic. I know that Don Gibson did not appear much on the Opry during the 80s and 90s, much of that due to his heart problems and other ailments I suppose. But, I do remember him making several appearances relatively close together on the TNN televised portion sometime in the late 80s/early 90s. I remember, vividly, one televised portion in which he appeared with the Jordanaires providing backup. I guess I remember it so well was because I had never seen him perform on the Opry until that time and I was very excited about seeing him performing live. Then, very soon after this, he made at least one or two other appearances on the TV portion. Do you have an idea of the time frame I'm remembering? (Don't feel compelled to look this up now, just if you have some spare time)

  6. Yes, comedy is missing from the Opry. Henry Cho is the closet thing to a strait stand up comedian I could even imagine becoming a member. He is in tight with some of the well-to-do artists, touring with them, including Vince Gill and wife Amy Grant. I believe we'll never see another comedian join the Opry again. Just the occasional guest. Leroy Troy is a very funny comedian, musician and singer. To me, he is what the Opry needs again to help revive that old spark. However, with him and Mike Snider, being so similar in many ways, it is doubtful he will ever be asked to become a member. Now that I think about it, I can't even pinpoint the last time I heard him even guest at the Opry.

  7. Fred, Bismarck:

    Please, let's not forget Johnny Counterfeit.

  8. Chris, regarding Don Gibson: He appeared on the Opry several times each year up until 1982 and then he stopped coming. He returned to the Opry 12 years later on Saturday November 26, 1994. He appeared on the televised segment during the 1st show hosted by Porter Wagoner. The other guests on that segment were Martina McBride and Charlie Daniels. Don sang "Oh, Lonesome Me" "Where No One Stands Alone" and "Sweet Dreams." If I remember right, Carol Lee Cooper had a lot to do with getting Don to come back to the Opry. I seem to remember Don being on the "Backstage" show on TNN prior to the actual "Opry Live" and Carol Lee was part of it.

    He did the Opry 4 more times after that, 3 in 1995 and then his final Opry show was on Saturday March 16, 1996. On that final show, he was again on the televised portion with Jimmy Dickens hosting. He did "Oh, Lonesome Me" and "I Can't Stop Loving You."

    The Jordanaires were not on any of those shows. Not sure about the 1995 shows as I would have to look those up and those I don't have in front of me.

    1. Thanks for the info, Byron!

  9. David .... I agree, Leroy Troy is very funny & he is a very good musician. He is a founding member of the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band & is a regular cast member on the Marty Stuart show. His very young daughter (whose name I cannot remember right now) & his son, Cash (you see WHY I am able to remember that name? ha-ha!)
    have appeared on Marty's show "backing up their Dad with some very funny instruments" - both very cute kids. If the "Jug Band" has been on the Opry, more than likely Leroy Troy has been on the stage. I think Henry Cho is very funny as well as Mike Snider but for whatever the reason, Mike has stuck to playing music rather than incorporate his jokes/stories which are based on his real-life wife, Sabrina - aka Sweetie, that's too bad, his jokes/stories were just hilarious! I really like his music though.

    Tonight's Opry line-up is pretty darned good - The Isaacs - their family harmony is out of this world fabulous - Darryl Worley, I enjoy him, Brandy Clark - Marty Stuart had Brandy on his show this past season - she is pretty darned good - she writes/sings "old school" & I was impressed. And of course Marty & Connie Smith are on as well. Noticed Marty has picked just up a tick in performances this year - not by a whole lot but better than the last couple of years.

    Tomorrow night's line-up is pretty darned good as well. I love Steve Wariner's music & his musicianship & let me see if I can stay awake long enough to listen to him on the Midnight Jamboree - I don't know if he has ever hosted the Jamboree before - very cool for him. I enjoy Elizabeth Cook & I love Del McCoury & his band - they just blow me away when they play & the fabulous family harmonies of The Whites. The rest of the line-up is good.

    Enjoy the Opry everyone ~


  10. Charles Esten is great at improv. Give him a subject and he can make up a song on the spot. I'd like to think the Opry would use him for improv in the future if Nashville doesn't get renewed.

    Jeanene - Leroy's daughter is Liza Jane like the Vince Gill song.


    1. A.B. - yes, Liza Jane - thank you for providing her name & I love the song as well. Neither were on Marty's show this last season. Hopefully they will be on this coming season. I am taking a guess that his children are about 6 & 4 years old, Liza Jane being the older child. Just cutie-pies. Paul Martin's four children have been on Marty's show - Paul Martin's wife is Jamie Allen - Duane & Nora Allen's daughter - if you want to hear an entire family of singers/musicians, this is the family to check out. I just stare at them not believing what I am seeing/hearing from them! Unbelievable - two boys, two girls - the two boys already play electric guitar & their oldest boy is 14 & plays extremely well. Their talent just blows me away. Vince Gill nicknamed them the "Martin Family Circus." Paul posts video's of their work on Facebook - they perform in the Nashville area. Paul Martin is no slouch when it comes to musicianship either - he plays the upright double bass, electric bass, drums, piano, steel guitar & was part of the group Exile many years ago. He has played all of these instruments on Marty's show. He just sets his guitar in it's holder & takes over for Harry Stinson who is the drummer or gets behind Gary Carter's steel guitar or sits behind the piano. Like the Sleepy Banjo Boys - so young & so impressive. I hope Marty has these brother act on his show this coming season.

      Listened to last night's Opry show - Mike Snider did tell a few jokes - one just left us hanging on the edge of that ledge .... when they don't finish the punch line - ya gotta know where they want to go but know they can't. Funny .... The show itself was very good. I'm sure tonight's show will be very good as well. Enjoy!!


  11. Fred, Bismarck:

    The Tennessee Mafia Jug Band itself would look mighty darn fine on the Opry, livening up these dull, cookie-cutter Saturday nights. They've guested already, and are in Marty's camp; don't know what's taking Pete Fisher so long.

  12. I forgot to mention that tonight Del McCoury is celebrating 10 years as an Opry member. Del has taken his Opry membership seriously and has made more Opry appearances than anyone else who has joined the Opry while Pete Fisher has been the General Manager. Congratulations to Del and his group.

  13. A wonderful set of performers, and it's great that they are on the Opry so often.

    I've been listening to the classic Opry broadcasts and it's just a joy.