Saturday, November 30, 2013

December Opry Highlights

As the Grand Ole Opry prepares to close out another year, here are the important dates and events that have taken place in the history of the Opry, or regarding the Opry's members during the month of December:

December 2, 1898: Herman Crook was born. When he passed away in 1988, he was the last remaining charter member of the Grand Ole Opry. In fact, he performed at the Opry the weekend before he died. Roy Acuff said. "He loved country music, but he wanted it country. He didn't go for any of this rock' n' roll type stuff." He added that Herman's favorite number was "Amazing Grace." Herman first performed on the WSM Barn Dance on July 24, 1926 and when he passed away the Crook Brothers was the only act left that represented the original tradition of the Opry. The band played for the cloggers and square dancers, who performed the traditional mountain dancing.

December 14, 1899: DeFord Bailey was born. When George D. Hay changed the name of the WSM Barn Dance to the Grand Ole Opry, DeFord played the first song on the show. He first appeared on WSM on June 19, 1926. He was fired from the Opry in 1941 in a move that left him very bitter. Despite repeated attempts by Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, Bill Monroe and others, DeFord stayed away from the Opry until he finally returned on  February 23, 1974 for the Opry's 1st Old-Timer's night. DeFord passed away in 1982. In 2005, he was elected to the Hall of Fame.

December 11, 1914: Former Opry member James Clell "Tex" Summey was born. You may not recognize him by that name as his on-stage name was Cousin Jody. He came to the Opry in 1937 with Roy Acuff and later worked with Pee Wee King. Some of his finest work was with Lonzo & Oscar, after which he performed as a solo act. He was a member of the Opry until health issues forced him to retire. He passed away in 1975. Of historical note, he was the first person to play the dobro and the steel guitar at the Opry.

December 19, 1920: The Grand Ole Opry's oldest member, Jimmy Dickens, was born on this date in Bolt, West Virginia. Jimmy will be 93 this year. He first joined the Opry in 1948 and last appeared on the Opry during the Opry's 88th birthday weekend. He has had some health issues this past year and here is wishing him the best.

December 26, 1925: The WSM Barn Dance was formally listed on the WSM program schedule that was printed in the Nashville Tennessean. From the Tennessean, "Because of this recent revival in the popularity of the old familiar tunes, WSM has arranged to have an hour or two every Saturday night, starting Saturday December 26. Uncle Dave Macon, the oldest banjo picker in Dixie, and who comes from Readyville, Tennessee, and Uncle Jimmy Thompson of Martha, Tennessee, will answer any requests for old-time melodies."

December 10, 1927: While there seems confusion to the exact date, it would appear that it was on this date that the WSM Barn Dance became the Grand Ole Opry. The Barn Dance came on the air at 8:00. From 7-8, WSM broadcast a classical music show, via the NBC radio network called, "Music Appreciation Hour," which was under the direction of Dr. Walter Damrosch. At the conclusion of the Music Hour on this particular night, George D. Hay announced, "For the past hour we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera, from now on we will present The Grand Ole Opry." While this is the story that George D. Hay told many times, there seems to be no independent verification of this story. For example, the "Music Appreciation Hour" that he refers to did not premiere on until the fall of 1928. This explains why some historians think that the actual date for the name change was December 8, 1928. However, "Grand Opera" was on the air on WSM at the time, just on another night. To further verify the December 10th date, it was on December 11, 1927 that "Grand Ole Opry" was used for the first time in print in the Nashville Tennessean. Either way, for about a 6 month period, the show was alternately called both the WSM Barn Dance and The Grand Ole Opry, until finally the Opry name stuck.

December 13, 1930: Opry member Buck White was born. Along with his daughters Sharon and Cheryl, they have been members of the Opry since 1984.

December 7, 1931: Grand Ole Opry member Bobby Osborne was born in Leslie County, Kentucky. Along with his brother Sonny, he came to the Opry in August 1964. "Rocky Top" was made famous by the Osborne Brothers and is one of the most famous songs in the history of country music.

December 30, 1944: Bob Wills makes an appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. He was brought in to appear on the Prince Albert portion of the show that was broadcast on NBC radio. Minnie Pearl remembers that night, not only because a lady fell out of the balcony and onto the stage, but for other reasons. As Minnie later said, "That was the first time we ever put electrified fiddles on the Opry. Roy Acuff said it would ruin the Opry forever! I wish I had a nickel for every time I heard something like that." But those electric fiddles were not the first electric instruments to have been on the Opry stage. Pee Wee King and his Golden West Cowboys and Ernest Tubb had been using electric instruments before Bob Wills made his appearance. Another story regarding that night was that Bob Wills bought drums with him and he had to hide them behind a curtain. That story is interesting but there is no real documentation that it happened. Regarding drums at the Opry, Harold "Sticks" McDonald, who was part of the Golden West Cowboys, had brought drums to the Opry in the 1940s. They used the drums for a couple of weeks but were not allowed to announce on the radio that they were using them. After that time, George D. Hay told Pee Wee to take the drums back home and to leave them there. In a final comment regarding drums at the Opry, Bud Wendall was quoted in 1985 as saying, "That story about hiding drums behind a curtain is just one of those tales around here. As long as we remained at the Ryman, though, we never used anything other than just a standing snare drum. But that had as much to do with space restrictions as with the purity of country music. You just couldn't fit a whole set of drums on the stage at the Ryman. It just wasn't that big."

December 8, 1945: Earl Scruggs made his debut on the Opry as part of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys. He was the final member to join what is considered the greatest of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys line-ups. That line-up, which included Lester Flatt, Chubby Wise and Howard Watts, is considered the first real bluegrass group and defined Bill Monroe's sound. As great as this band was, it would not stay together for long, with Earl leaving in the spring of 1948. Among those who were watching that night at the Opry was Uncle Dave Macon, who billed himself as "The World's Greatest Banjo Player." Some of the Opry members watching were making a few comments about Earl's playing within earshot of Uncle Dave. Dave stood in the wings watching Earl for a few moments, then he turned and stalked away grumbling, "He ain't one damned bit funny." Earl would eventually become an Opry member himself.

December 24, 1960: The final Prince Albert Grand Ole Opry show is broadcast on the NBC radio network. Television and the decline of radio led to the death of the show.

December 3, 1961: "Doctor Lew" Childre passed away. Lew was born in 1901, he was a member of the Opry starting in 1945 and continued as a member through most of the 1950s. He often worked with Stringbean.

December 6, 1964: The Grand Ole Opry fired 12 of its members for not making the required number of appearances on the Opry. From the Nashville Tennessean, "Twelve top country and western stars will not appear on the Grand Ole Opry in 1965, and have been prohibited from using the Opry name in their outside billings, it was learned yesterday. Another entertainer, long-time favorite Minnie Pearl, has been given a leave of absence from the show for the coming year, but will continue to use the Opry billing in her present contracts", a WSM spokeman said. Those who were dismissed from the Opry were George Morgan, Don Gibson, Billy Grammer, Johnny Wright, Kitty Wells, the Jordanaires, Faron Young, Ferlin Husky, Chet Atkins, Justin Tubb, Stonewall Jackson and Ray Price. At the time, Opry members had to appear on 26 shows each year. It was later found out that Chet Atkins was not an actual Opry member, which led to some comments concerning if Opry management really knew what was going on at the show. Kitty Wells and Johnny Wright would later say that they quit and were not fired. Faron Young would say that it was a money issue. Many of those who were fired would later return to the show including George Morgan, Don Gibson, Billy Grammer, Justin Tubb and Stonewall Jackson, along with Minnie Pearl. Years later, Kitty Wells asked to come back as an Opry member and was turned down. Most of those who did not rejoin would later come back and make guest appearances on the show. On Tuesday December 8, the Nashville Tennessean, in an editorial, put it this way, "The Opry has been, and continues to be, the nucleus of Nashville's $40 million music industry. There is hardly a successful music enterprise in the city that does not owe its orgin and its longevity to the Opry. Thus, it seems that the Opry management has a responsibility to compel observance of reasonable restrictions for its own protection and for the protection of the rest of the music industry in Nashville. Most of the thousands of people who line up at the Opry House every Friday and Saturday might have traveled long distances to see in person the stars that they come to love by radio. It must be a disappointment for these fans to arrive at the Opry on this one big night for them and find that their favorite stars have found a more profitable audience in some other state." The Tennessean put it better than I could and they were right on with their comments. Of course times have changed and the Opry does not have the importance and influence in Nashville that it once had. But could you imagine what the reaction would be today if the Opry fired a dozen or so acts for not appearing on the show. And I think most of us could come up with a list of 12 pretty quickly.

December 23, 1967: Jack Greene becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Jack remained an Opry member until his death earlier this year. Jack was a member of Ernest Tubb's band and left after his solo career took off. He always said that he owed his success to Ernest.

December 14, 1973: Lorrie Morgan, age 14, made her first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Lorrie was brought out by her father, George Morgan, and did, "Paper Roses." Lorrie would later join the Opry and continues as an Opry membe today.

December 15, 1973: Skeeter Davis was suspended by the Grand Ole Opry for comments that she had made the previous Saturday night while performing on the show. As Skeeter said, "Hank Williams got kicked off the Opry for drinkin' too much old wine. Me? I got kicked off for singing about the new wine." What actually happened was that Skeeter was on her way to the Ryman for an Opry performance when she witnessed the arrest of what were known as "Jesus Freaks", which was another name for the young people who were protesting not only in Nashville, but around the country. The arrests enraged Skeeter and on the Opry she expressed her rage by talking about it, singing about it, and weeping about it. When she came off the stage, she faced an angry Opry manager. She was stunned when told she was no longer considered an Opry member. 18 months later, she was invited back.

December 29, 1973: Tex Ritter made his final Grand Ole Opry appearance. This member of the Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame would pass away a week later, on January 2, 1974. While only an Opry member since 1965, he was popular and very loyal to the Opry.

December 25, 1976: Larry Gatlin and the Gatlin Brothers, Steve and Rudy, joined the Grand Ole Opry. This will be their 37th year as Opry members. After making few Opry appearances for the majority of their careers, Larry has really stepped up his appearances over the past several years and has done a fine job as the host of Opry Country Classics.

December 27, 1978: Grand Ole Opry member Bob Luman passed away. He was just 41 when he died. He joined the Opry in 1965 and was known for his rockabilly music. When he joined the Opry, several of the Opry's more traditional members, including Roy Acuff, felt that Bob's music had no place at the Opry. Bob's final Opry show had been earlier in the month, on December 2.

December 8, 1982: Marty Robbins died in a Nashville hospital at the age of 57. Probably considered the Opry's most popular member among fans, he had been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame the past October. In the Opry's history, Marty's 11:30 Opry segments were legendary. The clock meant nothing to Marty as he would sometimes perform for more than an hour in that final segment.

December 20, 1986: Randy Travis joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 27th year as an Opry member. Randy is a fine country music singer and it is just a matter of time before he is elected to the Hall of Fame. Sadly, he had a serious heart problem and stroke earlier this year and will probably never perform again.

December 17, 1993: Herman Harper, the famous and very popular bass singer of the Carol Lee Singers, pased away. Herman had formally been a member of the Oak Ridge Boys, back in the days when they were a gospel quartet.

December 19, 1999: Former Grand Ole Opry member Marion Worth passed away at the age of 69. Marion had joined the Opry in 1963 and while she was not a superstar, she always was very entertaining and crowd favorite. Her final Opry show was on March 22, 1980. After leaving the Opry, she continued to do a few live shows before retiring.

December 20, 1999: The legendary Hank Snow passed away at his Rainbow Ranch in Madison, Tennessee. Hank was just 2 weeks away from celebrating his 50th anniversary as an Opry member. he last appeared on the Opry in 1996 and had been in declining health. Hank was a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame and the Canadian Music Hall of Fame. In the history of country music and of the Opry, Hank is one of the all-time greats.

December 16, 2000: Brad Paisley was surprised on the Opry stage by Jimmy Dickens and Jeannie Seely, who were dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus, with an invitation to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Brad accepted and was formally inducted in February 2001.

December 14, 2002: Toby Keith makes his first appearance at the Opry. Also appearing that night were Keith Urban and Trace Adkins.

December 31, 2002: Jim McReynolds, who performed with his brother Jesse McReynolds as Jim & Jesse, passed away in Gallatin, Tennessee after a long illness. Jim & Jesse joined the Opry in March 1964, and along with the Virginia Boys, were very popular in bluegrass circles. Jesse is still an Opry member and will celebrate his 50th anniversary in 2014.

To conclude the look back at the month of December, here is the Opry line-up from Saturday December 1, 1951, 62 years ago.

7:30: Warren Paint
Roy Acuff (host): Crawdad Song
Lew Childre: Hang Out the Front Door Key
The Le Croix Sisters: Down On My Knees
Oswald: Foggy Mountain Top
Howdy Forrester: Fire In the Mountain

7:45: American Ace Coffee
Roy Acuff (host): Just A Friend
Uncle Dave Macon: That's Where My Money Goes
Roy Acuff: Glory Bound Train
The Jug Band: I Like Mountain Music
Jimmy Riddle: They Cut Down the Old Pine Tree

8:00: Martha White
Ernest Tubb (host): Tomorrow Never Comes
Bill Monroe: Uncle Pen
Mama Maybelle: Keep on the Sunny Side
The Crook Brothers: 8th of January
Neal Burris: There's Been a Change in Me
June Carter: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Chet Atkins: Crazy Rhythm
Ernest Tubb: Bless Your Little Old Heart
Bill Monroe: Truck Driver Blues
Terry Young: Leather Britches

8:30: Prince Albert
Red Foley (host): Alabama Jubilee
Cowboy Copas: 'Tis Sweet to Be Remembered
The Square Dancers: Here and There
Red Foley: Farther Along
The Jordanaires: Search Me, Lord
Cowboy Copas: I Love You, My Darling, I Love You
String Bean: Lonesome Road Blues
Red Foley: Old Home Down On the Farm
The Square Dancers: Sally Goodin

9:00: Royal Crown Cola
Roy Acuff (host): Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine
The Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cotton Eyed Joe
Hank Williams: Cold, Cold Heart
Duke Of Paducah: Comedy
The Le Croix Sisters: Down Yonder
Moon Mulligan: Heartless Lover
Lonzo and Oscar: Why Should I Cry Over You
Roy Acuff: Don't Wait 'Til Judgement
Hank Williams: Crazy Heart
Oswald: Late Last Night
Howdy Forrester: Tuckey In the Straw

9:30: Fortune Feed
Carl Smith (host): Let Old Mother Nature Have Her Way
Little Jimmy Dickens: Cold Feet
Anita Carter: I'm Crying
Jamup and Honey: Comedy
Hank Snow: Music Making Mama
The Possum Hunters: Peacock Rag
The Jordanaires: Read That Book
Carl Smith: If Teardrops Were Pennies
Little Jimmy Dickens: It May Be Silly
Hal Smith: Sally Goodin

10:00: Wallrite
Bill Monroe (host): I'm On My Way Back to the Old Home
The Old Hickory Singers: I Want A Girl
Neal Burris: If You Need Me, I'll Be Around
Old Joe Clark: Shady Grove
Bill Monroe: Get Down On Your Knee and Pray

10:15: Dr. Le Gear
Roy Acuff (host): Who Broke the Lock
Uncle Dave Macon: Rock of Ages
Roy Acuff: The Heart That Was Broken for Me
Robert Lunn: Talking Blues
Howdy Forrester: Turkey in the Straw

10:30: Jefferson Island Salt
Ernest Tubb (host): Driftwood on the River
Little Jimmy Dickens: Lonesome
The Gully Jumpers: Mocking Bird
Moon Mulligan: Cherokee Boogie
The Jordanaires: Roll on Jordan
Ernest Tubb: I'm With A Crowd, But So Alone
June Carter: Mommy Real Pecooliar
Little Jimmy Dickens: If It Ain't One Thing, It's Another
Chet Atkins: Spanish Fandango
Mama Maybelle: Wild Flower
Fiddle: Ricketts Hornpipe

11:00: D-Con
Cowboy Copas (host): Down in Nashville, Tennessee
Annie Lou and Danny: I Still Do
Lazy Jim Day: Singing the News
Cowboy Copas: Shame, Shame on You
Fiddle: Bill Cheatham

11:15: Niresk
Hank Williams (host): Moaning the Blues
Sam and Kirk: While I'm Away
Audry Williams: Tightwad Daddy
Hank Williams: I Can't Help It
Fiddle: Bile Dem Cabbage Down

11:30: Soltice
Hank Snow (host): One More Ride
Lew Childre: Everybody's Fishing
The Crook Brothers: Fishers Hornpipe
Hank Snow: Brand On My Heart
The Crook Brothers: Trouble Among the Yearlings

Carl Smith (host): Part of My Heart Is Missing
Lonzo and Oscar: Let's Live a Little No. 2
The Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cacklin' Hen
Carl Smith: Let's Live a Little
The Fruit Jar Drinkers: Down Yonder

A good look back!!!

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 11/29 & 11/30

The Grand Ole Opry has gotten a head start on the Thanksgiving day weekend and has posted the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend. After going with 2 shows at the Ryman on Saturday nights for November, the Opry is back to 1 show this weekend and then resumes the 2 shows next Saturday night.

Overall, the quality of the shows is not that bad, considering that it is the holiday weekend. The Friday Night Opry is highlighted by Opry members Vince Gill and Mel Tillis. They will be joined by Ray Pillow, who is hosting for the 2nd week in a row. Guest artists Kalisa Ewing, The Willis Clan and Restless Heart are also scheduled.

The Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night will feature guest artists Guy Penrod, The Grascals, Jimmy Wayne, Chuck Mead, T.G. Sheppard and J.T. Hodges. If that sounds like a lot of guests, that is because there are just 6 Opry members scheduled. We should be grateful that we get 8 members on Friday Night.

Friday November 29
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Kalisa Ewing; Mike Snider
7:30: Ray Pillow (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; The Willis Clan
8:15: John Conlee (host); Jimmy C Newman; Restless Heart
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Janelle Arthur; Mel Tillis

Saturday November 30
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); J.T. Hodges; Mike Snider
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); T.G. Sheppard; The Grascals
8:15: John Conlee (host); Jean Shepard; Jimmy Wayne; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys; Guy Penrod

Interesting that the Opry decided to go with Ray Pillow hosting a segment on Friday night instead of Mike Snider. Based on past history, you would have expected Mike to have hosted. I have noticed that Mike has reduced his Opry appearances over the past several months. Makes you wonder if he is on the "outs" with Pete Fisher.

Sometimes it is hard to follow some of the dates and appearances that have taken place in the history of the Grand Ole Opry, but the best that I can determine, it was Saturday November 27, 1971 that Margie Bowes made her last appearance as a member of the Opry. Margie would return to the Opry on occasion, especially at the annual Old-Timer's Nights, that took place at the Opry. She was always well received and continued to impress the Opry audiences.

In the 1969 edition of the WSM Grand Ole Opry History Picture Book, Margie is described as "an animated, effervescent young singer whose lively presence has sparkled the Grand Ole Opry for little more than a decade". Margie came to Nashville from Roxboro, North Carolina and was the 1958 winner of the Pet Milk Grand Ole Opry talent contest and became an Opry members shortly after. During Margie's career, she had a number of chart records, with her best being "Poor Old Heartsick Me", which reached #10 on the charts. She also has written a number of songs, including "When Dreams Go Out of Style", which was recorded by Loretta Lynn. Margie was married for a time to Doyle Wilburn. Since leaving the Opry, Margie has continued to live in the Nashville area and worked in the medical field.

Here is the Opry line-up from Saturday November 27, 1971:

1st show
6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
4 Guys (host): Let The Sun Keep Shining
Stringbean: Ruby
Margie Bowes: Understand Your Gal/Big City
4 Guys: Shenendoah

6:45: Rudy's
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): This Train
Ernie Ashworth: Sad Face
Del Wood: Raggin' The Keys
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: I Couldn't Care Less

7:00: Luzianne
Charlie Louvin (host): I Don't Love You Anymore/Think I'll Go Somewhere And Cry Myself To Sleep/See The Big Man Cry
Earl Scruggs Revue: Lonesome Reuben
Grandpa Jones: Old Blue
Jack Barlow: Birmingham Blues
Charlie Louvin & Diane MCCall: I'm Gonna Leave You
Earl Scruggs Revue: You Ain't Going Nowhere
Grandpa Jones: Eight More Miles To Louisville
Jack Barlow: It Ain't No Big Thing
Charlie Louvin: Will You Visit Me On Sundays

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jean Shepard: Safe In The Loving Arms Of Mine
Merle Kilgore: Ring Of Fire
Crook Brothers: Chicken Reel
Oswald: Southern Moon
Jean Shepard: Just As Soon As I Get Over Loving You
Merle Kilgore: Honky-Tonk Man
Roy Acuff: I Saw The Light

8:00: Martha White
George Morgan (host): Easy Lovin'
Skeeter Davis: One Tin Soldier
Archie Campbell: Comedy
George Morgan: The Gentle Rains Of Home
Louie Roberts: Sandy
George Morgan: Candy Kisses

8:30: Stephens
Wilburn Brothers (host): Roll, Muddy River
Peggy Little: Little Henry Hurt
Jay Lee Webb: She's Looking Better My The Minute
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Walking In My Sleep
Wilburn Brothers: The War Keeps Dragging On
Peggy Little: Son Of A Preacher Man
Jay Lee Webb: The Happiness Of Having You
Wilburn Brothers: That She's Leaving Feeling
Ed Hyde: The Grey Eagle

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Doin' My Time
Margie Bowes: Will The Circle Be Unbroken
Louie Roberts: Come Back, Salina
Harold Weakley: Almost Persuaded
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Turn Your Radio On
George McCormick: Big Wind
Stoney Cooper: Back Up And Push

10:00: Fender
4 Guys (host): Over On The Other Side
Stringbean: Train 45 Heading South
Jack Barlow: Child Bride
4 Guys: Let There Be Peace

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Sunshine Special
Earl Scruggs Revue: Paul And Silas
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird
Howdy Forrester & Earl Scruggs: Sally Goodin

10:30: Trailblazer
Charlie Louvin (host) w/Diane McCall: Something To Brag About
Grandpa Jones: Kitty Klide
Del Wood: Beer Barrrel Polka
Charlie Louvin: I Placed A Call To My Conscience

10:45: Beechnut
George Morgan (host): Easy Lovin'
Jean Shepard: Safe In The Loving Arms Of Mine
Crook Brothers: Ida Red
George Morgan: The Last Letter

11:00: Coca-Cola
Archie Campbell (host): Make Friends
Skeeter Davis: One Tin Soldier
Merle Kilgore: Woverton Mountain
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
Phil Campbell: A Thing Called Love
Skeeter Davis: Love Takes A Lot Of My Time
Sam McGee: Under The Double Eagle
Merle Kilgore: Folsom Prison Blues

11:30: Elm Hill
Wilburn Brothers (host): It Looks Like The Sun's Gonna Shine
Peggy Little: Little Henry Hurt
Jay Lee Webb: The Happiness Of Having You
Wilburn Brothers: The War Keeps Dragging On
Peggy Little: My God Is Real
Jay Lee Webb: Heart Over Mind

Finally, another date that I want to mention is November 28, 1992, which was the night Marty Stuart joined the Opry. This will be his 21st year as an Opry member. Marty joined the show the week following the death of Roy Acuff, whose name was mentioned a lot that night.

While just a member since 1992, Marty has been around the Opry for many years, as he was part of Lester Flatt's Nashville Grass. After that, he was part of Johnny Cash's band and then in the 1980's, he signed a deal with Columbia Records and he was off and running. He had a number of hits including "Hillbilly Rock" and "Tempted", along with several duets with fellow Opry member Travis Tritt. While his hit making days have ended, he has made several fantastic albums on his own label, Superlatone Records, and since 2008 has had a hit series on RFD-TV, "The Marty Stuart Show." He claims it is the highest rated series on the network and they are starting to film a new season of shows.

One item that I find interesting with Marty is that he occupies a dressing room at the Opry that previously belonged to three of his heroes. As Marty said, "It's a special room. This room was originally occupied by Ernest Tubb and the Texas Troubadours, then Marty Robbins, and then Porter Wagoner had it. They've given this room to me and the Superlatives now." The dressing room is filled with many pictures and posters of his heroes and is a sight to see. My only wish is that Marty was in that room more often

Here is the line-up from Saturday November 28, 1992, the 1st Opry show after the death of Roy Acuff and the night Marty Stuart joined the Opry.

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
Boxcar Willie (host): There's Nothing Like A Good Old Country Song
Mike Snider: (?-Instrumental)/The Fur Coat
Boxcar Willie: The Great Speckled Bird

6:45: Country Music Hall of Fame
Grandpa Jones (host): Nashville On My Mind
Jim Ed Brown: The Doll Maker
Bill Carlisle: Elvira
Grandpa Jones: My Little Old Home In New Orleans

7:00: Shoney's
Del Reeves (host): Two Dollars In The Jukebox/A Dime At A Time/Looking At The World Through A Windshield
Charlie Louvin: The Family Who Prays
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
The Whites: Pins & Needles
Skeeter Davis: The End Of The World

7:30: Standard Candy
Jimmy Dickens (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jeannie Seely: As Long As I Live/My Tears Don't Show
Ray Pillow: I Wonder Where You Are Tonight
Marty Stuart: Tempted/The Long Black Veil
Jimmy Dickens: I Saw The Light

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): Wild Weekend
Connie Smith: How Great Thou Art
Oswald: I'll Be All Smiles Tonight
Jimmy C Newman: La Cajun Band
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Liberty
Bill Anderson: I Love You Drops

8:30: Kraft
Hank Snow (host): Forever And One Day
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
Roy Drusky: Too Old To Die Young
4 Guys: I'm Bound For Higher Ground
Stonewall Jackson: Ol' Chunk Of Coal
Hank Snow: I've Cried A Mile

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Jimmy Dickens (host): Sleeping At The Foot Of The Bed
Wilma Lee Cooper: He Will Set Your Fields On Fire
Jan Howard: Lord, I Hope This Day Is Good
Marty Stuart: This One's Gonna Hurt You A Long, Long Time/I'll Take The Blame/Hillbilly Rock
Jimmy Dickens: My Eyes Are Jealous

10:00: Little Debbie
Grandpa Jones (host): What'll I Do With The Baby
Del Reeves: Don't You Ever Get Tired Of Hurting Me
Grandpa Jones: Gone Home

10:15: Tennessee Pride/Sunbeam
Boxcar Willie (host): There's Nothing Like A Good Old Country Song
Billy Walker: Peace In The Valley
Boxcar Willie: Wabash Cannonball

10:30: Randy Travis Enterprises
Bill Anderson (host): Southern Fried
The Whites: San Antonio Rose
Bill Anderson: City Lights

10:45: B.C. Powder
4 Guys (host): How Married Are You Mary Ann
Charlie Louvin & Monroe Fields: I Love You Best Of All
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Snow Flake Reel
4 Guys: Farther Along

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): There's A Fool Such As I
Jean Shepard: Bouquet Of Roses
Charlie Walker: A Way To Free Myself
Justin Tubb: Waltz Across Texas
Mike Snider: Soldier's Joy/Angeline The Baker/Old Molly Hare
Hank Snow: These Things Shall Pass

11:30: Creamette
Jimmy C Newman (host): Cajun's Dream
Connie Smith: The Deepening Snow
Roy Drusky: As Long As I Live
Johnny Russell: In A Mansion Stands My Love/He'll Have To Go
Jimmy C Newman: Colinda

I hope that everyone has a very thankful and grateful Thanksgiving. I know up here in Ohio it is going to be a white Thanksgiving. As always, my thanks go to those who read the blog and to those who comment on the blog. I enjoy the "give and take", and please continue to visit.

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 11/22 & 11/23-Updated

Some changes to the Opry line-up for this weekend. The biggest is Vince Gill added to the 2nd show on Saturday night, hosting the final segment, with Bill Anderson and Jeannie Seely each moved to an earlier slot. The Whites are no longer hosting. Also on the 1st show, Jim Lauderdale has been added. Friday night changes have Austin Webb added and a few names shifting around. I guess they found someone else who will not be performing at the George Jones tribute. Line-up below reflects the changes.

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the shows this weekend, and the big news is Jean Shepard. It was on November 21, 1955 that Jean Shepard joined the Opry. This will be her 58th consecutive year as an Opry member, which is the longest streak by any current Opry member. (Jimmy Dickens joined in 1948, but he left the show and returned). It will also be Jean's 80th birthday and it is also her wedding anniversary.

Jean has quite a history in country music. She was the first country female artist to sell a million records in the post World War II era. She was the first to overdub her voice and the first to make a color television commercial. And she has been an Opry member longer than any other female in the history of the Opry.

Jean was born in Oklahoma and grew up in California. She was one of 10 children. By the time she was 14 she had formed an all-girl band called "The Melody Ranch Girls" who played at local dances and on local radio. One night the group played a show with Hank Thompson, who was so impressed with Jean that he arranged a meeting with Capital Records, and she was signed to a recording contract. She then moved to Springfield, Missouri and joined Red Foley on the Ozark Jubilee. She had a huge record with Ferlin Husky, "Dear John Letter" and followed that up with "Forgive Me John", both of which sold over a million copies. That led her to Nashville and the Grand Ole Opry.

During her career, she has recorded more than 25 albums and has had numerous charted singles. She was married to Hawkshaw Hawkins, who passed away in the March 1963 plane crash that took the lives of Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas and Randy Hughes. She later married Benny Birchfield, who still plays guitar for all of Jean's Opry appearances.

Jean will be hosting a segment on the Friday Night Opry and will be appearing on the 2nd show on Saturday night. I am sure she will be recognized on her Opry anniversary.

As far as the rest of the Friday Night Opry line-up, I know many of us were wondering who would be left to play the Opry, considering that over 100 artists, many of whom are either Opry members or frequent Opry guests, will be performing at the George Jones tribute concert on the same might. We'll, the Opry did come up with a suitable line-up. Appearing will be guest artists The Steeldrivers, Sarah Darling, Andy Gibson, Elizabeth Cook and The Willis Clan, all of whom have appeared on the Opry many times. Ray Pillow will be along to host a segment. The downside is that there are only 5 Opry members scheduled.

Saturday night's Grand Ole Opry will feature the return of Opry member Bill Anderson, who is scheduled for both shows. I have mentioned before how Bill seems to have really cut back his Opry appearances. Also scheduled are guest artists The Black Lillies and Lee Greenwood. Elizabeth Cook will be back, along with this week's "Nashville" star, Charles Esten.

Friday November 22:
7:00: The Whites (host); Drake White; Sarah Darling
7:30: Ray Pillow (host); Andy Gibson; The Steeldrivers
8:15: Jean Shepard (host); Austin Webb; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Elizabeth Cook; The Willis Clan

Saturday November 23:
1st show
7:00: John Conlee (host); Jim Lauderdale; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: The Whites (host); Elizabeth Cook; The Black Lillies
8:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jan Howard; Del McCoury Band; Orpy Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Charles Esten; Lee Greenwood

2nd show
9:30: John Conlee (host); Elizabeth Cook; Jean Shepard
10:00: Jeannie Seely (host); The Whites; The Black Lillies
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jesse McReynolds; Del McCoury Band; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Vince Gill (host); Charles Esten; Lee Greenwood

For this week's look back at past Grand Ole Opry line-ups, and continuing with Jean Shepard, on November 21, 1992, Jean celebrated 37 years as an Opry member. Here is the Opry line-up and running order of the show from that night, 21 years ago:

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
Porter Wagoner (host); On A Highway Headed South
Jim Ed Brown: I Don't Want To Have To Marry You
Porter Wagoner: Green, Green Grass Of Home

6:45: Country Music Hall Of Fame
Grandpa Jones (host): Old Blue
Skeeter Davis: The End Of The World
Riders In The Sky: How Does He Yodel
Grandpa Jones: Come And Dine

7:00: Shoney's
John Conlee (host): I'm Only In It For The Love
Roy Drusky: Second Hand Rose
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Jeannie Seely: Don't Touch Me
Ray Pillow: Please Don't Leave Me Anymore/Too Many Memories
John Conlee: Friday Night Blues

7:30: Standard Candy
Billy Walker (host): Coffee Brown Eyes
David Houston: Secret Love
Jean Shepard: I'm Just An Old Bridge That You Keep Burning
Stacy Dean Campbell: Singing The Blues/Poor Man's Rose
Billy Walker: Let My Faith Begin To Move

8:00: Martha White
Jimmy C Newman (host): Colinda
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
Oswald: Hawaiian March
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Opry Square Dance Band/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Forked Deer
Jimmy C Newman: Cajun's Dream/Happy Cajun

8:30: Kraft
Hank Snow (host): The Wreck Of The Old 97/One More Ride
4 Guys: Cottonfields/Mariah
Charlie Louvin & Monroe Fields: Must You Throw Dirt In My Face
Mike Snider: Foggy Mountain Breakdown/Eating Chicken Necks And Wings
The Whites: Keep On The Sunny Side
Hank Snow: My First Night Alone

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Ol' Slewfoot
Skeeter Davis: I Ain't Never
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Roy Drusky: Somewhere My Love
Jeannie Seely: Go Down Swinging
Porter Wagoner: An Old Log Cabin For Sale/Dooley

10:00: Little Debbie
Grandpa Jones (host): Kitty Klyde
Riders In The Sky: Boots And Saddle
Grandpa Jones: It's Raining Here This Morning

10:15: Tennessee Pride/Sunbeam
John Conlee (host): Backside Of Thirty
Stacy Dean Campbell: Poor Man's Rose
John Conlee: Rose Colored Glasses

10:30: Randy Travis Enterprises
Osborne Brothers (host): A Pain In My Heart And Blues On My Mind
Jean Shepard: I Don't See How I Can Make It With You Gone
Terry Eldridge: Your Own Set Of Rules
David Crowe: Sally Goodin

10:45: B.C. Powder
4 Guys (host): Operator, Get Me Jesus On The Line
Mike Snider: Soldier's Joy/Angeline The Baker/Old Molly Hare
Opry Square Dance Band/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Blackberry Blossom
4 Guys: Hand Me Over To The Twist And Shout

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): That Heart Belongs To Me
The Whites: Doing It By The Book
Charlie Walker: Who Will Buy The Wine
Justin Tubb: Thanks, Troubadore, Thanks
Jim Ed Brown: The Old Lamplighter
Hank Snow: Brand On My Heart

11:30: Creamettes
Jimmy C Newman (host): Big Mamou
Charlie Louvin: My Baby's Gone
Jeanne Pruett: Temporarily Yours
Johnny Russell: Me And Bobby McGee
Jimmy C Newman: Jambalaya

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 11/15 & 11/16

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the 3 shows this weekend as they continue the winter run at the Ryman Auditorium. The shows this weekend will feature the Opry's newest members, Old Crow Medicine Show, who will be performing on all 3 shows. This will be their first appearance since becoming Opry members.

On Friday Night, Old Crow Medicine Show will be joined by a group of guest artists who are no strangers to the Opry's audience. Craig Campbell, Daryle Singletary and Chuck Wicks will be among those appearing, along with one of my personal favorites, Joey+Rory, who I have said would make good Opry members.

The Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night will also feature the Charlie Daniels Band, appearing on both shows. They will be joined the guest artists The Greencards and Greg Bates. And this week's Opry performance by a star from the "Nashville" show will be Jonathan Jackson. I personally do not watch the show, but I have read where the ratings are down. It will be interesting to see how long the city of Nashville and Ryman Hospitalities continue to pump money into it.

Friday November 15
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Craig Campbell; Jesse McReynolds
7:30: The Whites (host); Daryle Singletary; Joey+Rory
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Amber Carrington; Chuck Wicks
8:45: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jean Shepard; Old Crow Medicine Show

Saturday November 16
1st show
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Greg Bates; Jean Shepard; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); The Greencards; Jonathan Jackson
8:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Charlie Daniels Band; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Connie Smith (host); Old Crow Medicine Show

2nd show
9:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Greg Bates; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
10:00: Riders In The Sky (host); The Greencards; Jonathan Jackson
10:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Charlie Daniels Band; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Connie Smith (host); Old Crow Medicine Show

7 Opry members on Friday Night, while we have 8 for the 1st show on Saturday with 7 on the 2nd show. The Whites and Connie Smith continue to be placed in the role of hosting segments. Both Connie and The Whites continue to get more comfortable in that role.

I was also noticing how the Opry has booked the veteran members this weekend. Jim Ed Brown and Jeannie Seely are on all 3 shows, hosting each night. Jean Shepard is on 2 of the 3 weekend shows, while Jimmy C Newman, Jesse McReynolds and Bobby Osborne each received 1 slot.

The Opry has also announced the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry , which will also feature a Tuesday afternoon matinee. The big, big news is the return of Hal Ketchum to the Opry. He is scheduled for both shows and this will be his first Opry appearance since the one appearance he made in 2010. Hal has been battling some health issues and many of us wondered if he would ever come back. Also appearing on both shows will be Opry members Larry Gatlin and Diamond Rio.

Tuesday November 19
3:30: Larry Gatlin; Mandy Barnett
4:00: Jeannie Seely; Hal Ketchum
4:45: Joel Crouse; The Grascals
5:15: Jim Ed Brown; Diamond Rio

7:00: Larry Gatlin; Joel Crouse
7:30: The Grascals; Hal Ketchum
8:15: Mandy Barnett; Henry Cho
8:45: Dustin Lynch; Diamond Rio

For this week's look back into Grand Ole Opry history, I wanted to follow-up on the line-up that I posted last week that featured the final performance on the Opry by Stringbean. This week I want just offer a few comments from the show  the week following his death, November 17, 1973. I know that last week on WSM they played what I think was the first hour of the 1st show, which began with a tribute from Bud Wendell. Tex Ritter hosted the 1st segment, which was appropriate considering that he had hosted the segment the previous week that featured Stringbean's final performance. During the 1st show, Roy Acuff hosted his segment but did not perform. He did sing on the 2nd show. As you would expect, Grandpa Jones did not appear. And finally, some of the song selections from that night reflected the sorrow that many of the Opry's members felt. It took the Opry a while to get over the Stringbean tragedy.

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!

Monday, November 11, 2013

2014 Grand Ole Opry Ticket Prices

During the past week, the Grand Ole Opry updated their upcoming shows on their website, including ticket and pricing information for the 2014 shows When I looked at the ticket prices for the shows starting in February, when the Opry moves back to the Grand Ole Opry House, I was amazed at the price increases that the Opry is taking and some of the changes in the pricing sections.

The Opry has added a "Premium Main Floor" ticket that will sell for $69.50. Yes, that is correct. $69.50 to sit in the first dozen rows in the center sections of the Opry House. That is an increase of $12.50 per ticket.

The rest of the main floor is broken down into 2 sections, with the rest of what we used to call the "Gold Circle Seating", which has expanded, costing $58.50, while the rest of the main floor that includes the end sections on each side and the seating under the balcony costing $46.50. That is an increase of $1.50 for each of those sections.

If you want to sit upstairs in the mezzanine or balcony, that will cost you also. The lower mezzanine  will cost $46.50 per ticket, an increase of $1.50. The upper mezzanine and balcony will be priced at $39.50, which is an increase of $4.50. And finally, the Opry is advertising what are called "limited view mezzanine" and "limited view balcony" tickets for $39.50. Those are the seats against the wall where you can only see the very front of the stage and the last several rows in the balcony, which is so far up that you need the video screens to really see what is going on.

As far as the schedule, it looks very pretty much the same as 2013. There will be one show Friday and Saturday night, unless the demand is there for a 2nd show. The Tuesday Night Opry and Opry Country Classics will also be returning. It still looks like 2 shows for the birthday weekend, and 2 shows on Saturday night when the Opry moves back to the Ryman in November and December.

When I go to the Opry, I tend to buy tickets right down front, but to be honest, I might have to think this over. $69.50 is a pretty hefty price for what is presented most weeks. And as the quality of some of the shows have gone down, so do the number of artists per show. If a family of 4 decides to go to the Opry and wants prime seats, it is going to cost them almost $300 to just get in the door.

When the Grand Ole Opry moved to the Opry House in 1974, it cost $2.00 to sit in the balcony.(I know some who read this blog go back further than that), and most years since, the Opry has raised their ticket prices in the range of $1.00 per year, But since 2000, it seems as if the Opry has gotten pretty aggressive with the price hikes. Just looking back, in 2000 for a main floor seat at the 75th anniversary show, it was $18.94 plus tax for a total of $20.50. That was also the year that the Opry started selling the "Gold Circle Seats", which were $32.33 plus tax for a total of $35.00.By 2003, those "Gold Circle Seats" were up to $36.61 plus tax for a total of $40.00. In 2005, 2 years later, that same seat would cost $45.00, while the back areas of the main floor could be had for $34.50 and $24.50 if you sat up in the balcony. By 2008, the Opry no longer printed the prices on the tickets.

So in the course of the decade from 2004 to 2014, for a prime seat, the Opry has gone from $40.00 to $69.50, and increase of just over 73%!! I have to ask, is the product that they are presenting that much better than 2004 to justify all of that increase? I'm not so sure.

But the formula and business model works. Reduce the number of shows which lowers the overall costs by reducing the number of artists to be paid, lower utility bills and less Opry staff needed to work, while at the same time raising the prices for the shows that they do put on, knowing that there will be an increased demand for those tickets. But at some point, you would think that the Opry will reach their limit with the fans who are paying those higher prices.

It hasn't reached that point for me, but it does have me thinking on where I will sit.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Stringbean's Last Opry Show

It was Saturday November 10, 1973 that David Akeman, otherwise known as "Stringbean" played his final Grand Ole Opry show. As I do each year, and this being the 40th anniversary of his murder, I would like to post the line-up from his final show:

1st show
6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Willis Brothers (host): Little Red Wagon
Johnny Carver: Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree
Willis Brothers: God Walks These Hills With Me

6:45: Rudy's
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Forget, Forgive Us #1
Bill Carlisle: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Josie Brown: Precious Memories, Follow Me
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: When My Time Comes to Go

7:00: Rudy's
Tex Ritter (host): Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
Stringbean: Hillybilly Fever
Karen Wheeler: The First Time for Us
Tex Ritter: Green Grow the Lilacs
Stringbean: Y'all Come
Karen Wheeler: Listen, Spot
Tex Ritter: Fall Away

7:30: Standard Candy
Bobby Bare (host): Ride Me Down Easy
Jimmy Martin: Just Plain Yellow
Melba Montgomery: Crawdad Song
Crook Brothers: Chicken Reel
Bobby Bare: The Streets of Baltimore
Jimmy Martin: Tennessee
Melba Montgomery: Wrap Your Love Around Me
Bobby Bare: Detroit City

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Night Train to Memphis
Grandpa Jones: Mountain Dew
Jimmy Driftwood: Run, Johnny, Run/Tennessee Stud
Roy Acuff: Wabash Cannonball
Grandpa Jones: Orange Blossom Special
Oswald: Roll On, Buddy

8:30: Stephens
Billy Grammer (host): Gotta Travel On
Marion Worth: Paper Roses
Billy Grammer, Jr: Orange Blossom Special
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Soldiers Joy
Billy Grammer: I'm Letting You Go
Marion Worth: Me and Bobby McGee
Billy Grammer: Just A Closer Walk With Thee

2nd show
9:30: Willis Brothers (host): Give Me 40 Acres
Johnny Carver: Tie A Yellow Ribbon Around the Old Oak Tree
Jimmy Martin: Honey, You Don't Know My Mind
Josie Brown: Precious Memories Follow Me
Skeeter Willis: Maiden's Prayer
Johnny Carver: Tonight Someone's Falling In Love
Jimmy Martin: Who'll Sing For Me When I Am Gone

10:00: Fender
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Little Darling Pal of Mine
Bill Carlisle: Have A Drink on Me/No Help Wanted
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Coming Down From God

10:15: Union 76
Tex Ritter (host): There's A New Moon Over My Shoulder
Stringbean: Gonna Make Myself A Name/Hot Corn; Cold Corn
Tex Ritter: Willie, The Wondering Gypsy and Me

10:30: Trailblazer
Roy Acuff (host): Ball Knob, Arkansas
Grandpa Jones: Bright Morning Stars Are Rising
Jimmy Driftwood: The Mixed Up Family

10:45: Beech-Nut
Bobby Bare (host): Four Strong Winds
Karen Wheeler: The First Time for Us
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Bobby Bare: Detroit City

11:00: Coca-Cola
Billy Grammer (host): Bonaporte's Retreat
Melba Montgomery: Don't Keep Me Lonely Too Long
Billy Grammer, Jr: Orange Blossom Special
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge
Billy Grammer: Somewhere My Love
Melba Montgomery: Let's All Go Down to the River
Sam McGee: Worry, Worry Blues
Billy Grammer: What A Friend

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): I Walk Alone
Marion Worth: Paper Roses/Sleeping At The Foot of the Bed
Ronnie Robbins: Too Much Love Between Us/Mama Tried
Marty Robbins: Love Me/Big Boss Man/Crawling On My Knees/Don't Worry/El Paso

It is important to remember, especially someone who's talents and contributions are often overlooked.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Grand Ole Opry 11/8 & 11/9

The Grand Ole Opry continues the winter run at the Ryman Auditorium with the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry, which will feature 2 shows. Overall, the shows for this weekend do not look too bad.

The Friday Night Opry will feature guest artist Scotty McCreery, who has made a good impression on each of his previous Opry visits. Also appearing will be Dailey & Vincent, who I have said before would make good Opry members, Kristen Kelly and The Henningsens, all frequent Opry guests.

Saturday's Grand Ole Opry is looking very nice. Opry member Vince Gill is scheduled for both shows, and it has been a while since he has been at the Opry on a weekend. As far as Opry members, Del McCoury, who is also scheduled for Friday night, is set for both shows on Saturday. And the 2nd show on Saturday will feature a rare appearance by Opry member Stonewall Jackson. Stonewall joined the Opry on November 3, 1956 so I am sure it will be mentioned that this is his 57th year as an Opry member.

Among the guest artists on Saturday night will be the great Gene Watson. It is always a treat when Gene is scheduled for the Opry. Holly Williams and Sons of Fathers are also scheduled. This week's Opry newcomer will be Austin Webb. His first single is currently on country radio and he has been featured in Country Weekly magazine. And finally, what is an Opry show without a star from "Nashville" and this week it will be Sam Palladio. I saw Sam at the Opry's birthday bash in October and he did a very nice job.

Friday November 8:
7:00: John Conlee (host); The Henningsens; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Connie Smith (host); Kristen Kelly; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys; Dailey & Vincent
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Jean Shepard; Scotty McCreery

Saturday November 9:
1st show
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Austin Webb; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: The Whites (host); Holly Williams; Gene Watson
8:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Jan Howard; Sons of Fathers; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Vince Gill (host); Sam Palladio; Del McCoury Band

2nd show
9:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Austin Webb; Jesse McReynolds
10:00: The Whites (host); Holly Williams; Gene Watson
10:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Stonewall Jackson; Sons of Fathers; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Vince Gill (host); Sam Palladio; Del McCoury Band

For those counting at home, that is 7 Opry members for each show.

This week's Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree Saturday night/Sunday morning, will be hosted by Roni and Donna Stoneman. They have hosted the Midnight Jamboree before and have always done a great job. It should be a good show.

For this week's look back into Grand Ole Opry history, I go to Saturday November 9, 1974. In looking at the line-up, which took place 39 years ago, there is nothing that really stands out. It looks like a typical show for that era with a good solid line-up. It was also the year that the Grand Ole Opry House opened.

1st show
6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Bob Luman (host): Lonely Women Make Good Lovers
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Little Darling Pal of Mine
Bob Luman: Let Me Make The Bright Lights Shine for You/I Got A Woman

6:45: Rudy's
David Houston (host): Jambalaya
Marion Worth: Put You Hand in the Hand
Charlie Walker: Odds and Ends
David Houston: Almost Persuaded

7:00: Rudy's
Roy Acuff (host): Cottonfields/Night Train to Memphis
Connie Smith: I Got My Baby On My Mind
Minnie Pearl: Careless Love
Ray Pillow: Living in the Sunshine of Your Love
Connie Smith: Down in the Valley
Roy Acuff: I Saw the Light

7:30: Standard Candy
Archie Campbell (host): Make Friends
Jean Shepard: Slipping Away
Bill Carlisle: Jack of All Trades
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Sally Goodin
Tommy Jones: Orange Blossom Special
Jean Shepard: Poor Sweet Baby
Bill Carlisle: Have a Drink on Me

8:00: Martha White
Lester Flatt (host): Lost All My Money
Jimmy C Newman: Bib Mamou
Jerry Clower: A New Bull
Stu Phillips: If You Love Me, Let Me Know
Nashville Grass: The Fall Is A Lonesome Time for Me
Jimmy C Newman: Your Cheating Heart
Stu Phillips: She Thinks I Still Care
Marty Stuart: Rawhide

8:30: Stephens
Stonewall Jackson (host): Wash My Hands In Muddy Water
Jan Howard: Rock Me Back to Little Rock
Willis Brothers: Cool Water
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Lost Indian
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Jan Howard: Poison Red Berries
Willis Brothers: There Goes the Farm
Stonewall Jackson: Waterloo

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
David Houston (host): Can't You Feel It
Willis Brothers: The Wild Side of Life
Jean Shepard: At the Time
Bob Luman: Still Loving You
David Houston: Almost Persuaded
Jean Shepard: I'll Fly Away
Bob Luman: Let Me Make the Bright Lights Shine for You

10:00: Fender
Charlie Walker (host): Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Marion Worth: Back Home Again
Ray Pillow: Countryfried
Charlie Walker: Odds and Ends

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: This Old House
Roy Acuff: I'll Fly Away

10:30: Trailblazer
Lester Flatt (host): Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms
Connie Smith: I Got My Baby On My Mind/He Touched Me
Lester Flatt: Great Big Woman and A Little Biddy Bottle of Wine
Charlie Nixon & Kenny Ingram: Maggie Blues

10:45: Beech-Nut
Jerry Clower (host): Marcel Bums Chewing Tobacco
Jan Howard: Love Is Like A Spinning Wheel
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Arkansas Traveler
Jerry Clower: Marcel's Talking Chain Saw

11:00: Coca-Cola
Archie Campbell (host): Make Friends
Jimmy C Newman: Potato Song
Bill Carlisle: Same Old Tale That the Crow Told Me
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Sally Goodin
Jimmy C Newman: Cold, Cold Heart
Sam McGee: San Antonio Rose
Tommy Jones: Somewhere My Love/Dixie Hummingbird

11:30: Elm Hill
Stonewall Jackson (host): Me & You & A Dog Named Boo
Stu Phillips: If You Love Me Let Me Know/Let Me Love You All Over Again
Ronnie Robbins: Ruby. Don't Take Your Love to Town/Mama Tried
Stonewall Jackson: Why I'm Walking/Waterloo

And moving forward 22 years later, here is the Opry line-up from Saturday November 9, 1996. Notice the difference between the 2 shows.

1st show
6:30: Grandpa Jones (host); Charlie Louvin
6:45: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Skeeter Davis; Jimmy C Newman; Oswald; Connie Smith
7:30: Del Reeves (host); Ralph Stanley; Stonewall Jackson; Jeff Carson; Ricky Van Shelton
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Nikki Jo Rooff; Bill Carlisle; Jean Shepard; Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Charlie Walker; Riders In The Sky

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Ray Pillow; Ricky Van Shelton
10:00: Grandpa Jones (host); Wilma Lee Cooper
10:15: Jimmy C Newman (host); Charlie Louvin
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Charlie Walker
10:45: Jean Shepard (host); Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Del Reeves (host); Stu Phillips; Stonewall Jackson; Riders In The Sky
11:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Connie Smith; The Whites

Finally, here is the line-up for the Tuesday Night Opry, November 12:

7:00: The Whites; The Farm
7:30: Mark Wills; Keith & Kristyn Getty
8:15: Larry Gatlin; Del McCoury Band
8:45: Danielle Bradbery; Tracy Lawrence

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November Opry Highlights

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

November 28, 1912: Early Grand Ole Opry member Robert Lunn was born in Franklin, Tennessee. George D. Hay named him the "Original Talking Blues Man." He first appeared on the Opry on March 31, 1934 and stayed with the Opry until retiring in 1958. What is interesting is that he was known for his "Talking Blues" but he never recorded it until 1947. He was very popular and did many of the Opry's tent shows, especially those with Roy Acuff.

November 2, 1925: George D. Hay began working at WSM radio in Nashville as the Radio Director. Later that month, he would start the WSM Barn Dance, which would later become known as the Grand Ole Opry. Hay would manage the show during its early years.

November 28, 1925: The WSM Barn Dance was broadcast for the first time. The show, which began at 8:00pm, was broadcast from the fifth-floor studio in the National Life and Accident Insurance Company's headquarters in downtown Nashville. The first broadcast, which featured George D. Hay as the announcer, had one performer who was a seventy-seven year old fiddler named Jimmy Thompson, who claimed to have known over 1,000 songs. "Tennessee Waggoner" was the first song played during the broadcast, which several years later would become known as the Grand Ole Opry.

November 2, 1926: Former Grand Ole Opry member Charlie Walker was born in Texas. This former disc jockey joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1967 and remained an Opry member until his death in 2008. In addition to being a fine western-swing singer, Charlie was one of the nicest men you could ever meet.

November 1, 1937: Grand Ole Opry member Bill Anderson was born. Bill has been an Opry member since July 15, 1961 (52 years). Not only had he had numerous country hits, this member of the Country Music Hall of Fame is one of the greatest songwriters in the history of country music. At the age of 76, he still performs on the Opry and still sounds fine.

November 2, 1948: Roy Acuff, the Republican candidate for Governor of Tennessee, was defeated. While Roy would not seek political office again, he would continue to support and campaign for Republican office seekers including Ronald Reagan and George Bush. During his 1948 campaign appearances, he would appear with his Smoky Mountain Boys and mix music with politics. The story goes that once the music stopped and the speeches began, the crowds would start to thin out. And the reason he decided to run was because the Governor of Tennessee insulted country music.

November 13, 1949: The Grand Ole Opry sponsored its first overseas tour as a group of Opry performers traveled to England, Germany and the Azores as part of a USO sponsored tour. The Opry stars who made the trip were Roy Acuff, Rod Brasfield, Jimmy Dickens, Red Foley, Minnie Pearl and Hank Williams.

November 14, 1953: Bill Carlisle joined the Grand Ole Opry. Over the years, he would be listed as a solo artist, as the Carlisles and as Bill Carlisle and the Carlisles. Bill had a nice career as a novelty singer and was known as one of the Opry's most loyal members. He came to Nashville from the Knoxville area, where he performed with Don Gibson, Chet Atkins, The Carter Family, Homer and Jethro, Carl Butler and Archie Campbell, all of whom would perform on the Opry. Bill passed away on March 17, 2003, the year after he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was an Opry member for just over 49 years.

November 21, 1955: Jean Shepard becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be her 58th year as an Opry member. Of the current cast, she has the longest consecutive years as an Opry member. Not only will she be celebrating her Opry membership, but it will also be Jean's 80th birthday and her wedding anniversary.

November 3, 1956: Stonewall Jackson becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This weekend will be his 57th year as an Opry member, yet he is not on the Opry's schedule to receive that recognition. I think everyone has heard the story before, but for those who have not, Stonewall just showed up outside the Opry one day and so impressed the folks with his singing that he was asked to become a member, even though he had never recorded a hit record. In the course of his career, Stonewall would have many hits and would become one of the best true country music singers in history. While this will be his 57th year as a member, he did leave the show in 1964, returning in May 1969. And it should be remembered that Stonewall sued Pete Fisher and Gaylord Entertainment several years ago, claiming age discrimination and a lack of Opry appearances. Although he was still asked to perform on the Opry, he elected to stay away until the lawsuit was settled, which it eventually was out of court. Stonewall returned to the Opry and his appearances did increase, but have since declined. On November 6th, Stonewall will be celebrating his 81st birthday.

November 9, 1960: Hank Locklin becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Hank made his first Opry appearance on November 28, 1953 and once he joined the Opry he would remain a member until his death on March 8, 2009 after 48 years of Opry membership. I always loved when Hank did "Danny Boy" on the Opry. Nobody did it better.

November 3, 1961: The Country Music Association announced the beginning of the Country Music Hall of Fame with the first group of inductees. The first class included Jimmie Rodgers, Fred Rose and Hank Williams, while Roy Acuff would follow the next year.

November 25, 1961: Grand Ole Opry announcer Eddie Stubbs was born in Gaithersburg, Maryland. Before joining WSM, Eddie was a fiddle player and was part of the Johnson Mountain Boys, and also played fiddle for Kitty Wells.

November 29, 1961: A group of Opry performers played a sold-out concert at Carneige Hall in New York. Among the Opry members who were part of the show were Jim Reeves, Marty Robbins, Bill Monroe, Patsy Cline and Grandpa Jones. With a show like that, no wonder it sold out.

November 28, 1963: Willie Nelson joined the Grand Ole Opry. As I usually do, I have to note that some publications list the date as December 6, but the November 28 date seems as good as any, and besides, Willie did not stay for very long. He constantly complained about the low pay and having to be there every Saturday night. And the crowd just did not respond to Willie. In fact, on his very first night, he was introduced by the wrong name!! Willie left Nashville in 1972 and returned to Texas, where he established himself as one of the greatest country singers and writers of all time. Willie is still going strong today and once in a great while, will make an Opry appearance.

November 20, 1968: While not specifically Grand Ole Opry history, the first televised Country Music Association Awards show was aired on NBC-TV. It was hosted by Roy Rogers and Dale Evans and was broadcast from the Ryman Auditorium. This was actually the second year for the CMA Awards, as the first awards the prior year were not televised.

November 12, 1971: Construction officially began on the new Grand Ole Opry House at Opryland. While there were those worried if the crowds would continue to come to the Opry once it moved out of downtown and into the "country", that would not be an issue. When it opened in March 1974, it was the first building built specifically for the Opry. Unless you are sitting way up in the balcony, it is a fine place to watch a show.

November 10, 1973: David Akeman, otherwise known professionally as "Stringbean" made his final Grand Ole Opry appearance. Later that night, when he and his wife Estelle returned home after the Opry, they were ambushed and murdered by two men who were waiting at their home to rob them. The killers sat in his house and listened to the Opry so they could judge when he would be home. The rumor at the time was that he kept large amounts of cash hidden in the cabin that he lived in, as he did not believe in banks. Nothing was found at the time, but years later when work was being done on the house, $20,000 of rotten money was found in the walls of the home. Stringbean and Estelle were found by their neighbor and good friend Grandpa Jones, who came the next morning to pick up Stringbean for a fishing trip. Grandpa was so shaken by the killings that he left Nashville for a number of years, living and performing at a theater in Arkansas. Roy Acuff and other Opry members called for the death penalty for the killers, who were quickly caught and sentenced to long prison terms. Not only was Stringbean famous for his work at the Opry, but he was also one of the stars of Hee Haw, and an excellent banjo player who was popular on the college and folk circuit. Opry announcer Grant Turner remembered Stringbean's final night at the Opry. "I'll never forget that night. I saw Grandpa Jones and Ramona talking with Stringbean and his wife. They were having so much fun; they were planning to go fishing. I was going to stop and say something to them, but they were busy talking. Thaat was just a short time before Stringbean and his wife....." Let's not forget that Stringbean was an early member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys.

November 24, 1975: Early Grand Ole Opry performer Asher Sizemore died at the age of 69. Asher appeared on the Opry with his son Jimmy, known as "Little Jimmy." According to George D. Hay, "Asher and Little Jimmy sang heart songs and closed their programs with a prayer. They got out a song book, which sold by the thousands. They broke records with their personal appearances on the road and people crowded into our studios to watch them work." While there has been some confusion regarding when they actually started on the Opry, with some listing the date as early as 1930 and as late as 1933, according to Charles Wolfe, their first Opry show was on September 24, 1932. They continued on-and-off on WSM through the rest of the 1930s. They left the Opry in 1942. It was said that Asher was not much of a singer but he was one of the first successful promoters in country music.

November 21, 1985: Reba McEntire made her first appearance as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Reba actually joined the show on November 14 as part of the Opry's 60th anniversary special that was on CBS. And to confuse it even more, that special had been taped earlier. This will be Reba's 28th year as an Opry member. But don't expect her to come and celebrate her anniversary as it has been years since Reba has appeared on the Opry.

November 3, 1990: Minnie Pearl was honored on her 50th year as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. She joined the show in November 1940 and is one of the most loved members in the history of the Opry.

November 15, 1992: The Grand Ole Opry is inducted into the Museum of Broadcast Communication's Radio Hall of Fame.

November 23, 1992: Grand Ole Opry star and Country Music Hall of Fame member Roy Acuff passed away in Nashville. one month after his final Grand Ole Opry appearance. His influence on the Opry and country music in general cannot be overstated. Thanks in large part to Acuff-Rose publishing, Nashville established itself as the home base of country music and it gave country music songwriters and singers a place to publish and claim ownership of their material without going to New York. Roy was a member of the Grand Ole Opry for over 50 years. There are many who feel that his death was the first nail in the coffin that has led to the decline at the Grand Ole Opry that we have seen over the past several years.

November 28, 1992: Marty Stuart becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 21st year as an Opry member. Marty, along with Ricky Skaggs and Vince Gill, has done much to carry on the tradition at the Opry and over that past two decades has generally done a good job supporting the show.

November 27, 1993: Joe Diffie becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 20th year as an Opry member. The Opry has been honoring Opry artists at various times during their membership including the 20th anniversary, but as of this point, Joe Diffie is not listed for any upcoming shows.

November 30, 1993: Grand Ole Opry member David Houston passed away at the very young age of 57. David had one of the biggest hits in the history of country music, "Almost Persuaded." He joined the Opry in 1972 and continued as an Opry member until his death.

November 30, 1995: Martina McBride becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry during a CBS television special that celebrated the Opry's 70th anniversary. This will be her 18th year as an Opry member. Loretta Lynn, who had a big influence on Martina's career, handled her induction. I still love this story, and I have told it before, as she did appear on the Opry's actual 70th anniversary birthday show, and was on the televised portion on TNN. This was just before she became an Opry member. Martina was the final performer on the televised segment before the cake was to come out and Martina sang two ballads that ran long, causing the Happy Birthday singing and the cake rollout to be delayed until the next segment, which was not televised. There were many unhappy viewers at home waiting for the cake, and many unhappy Opry members, who were looking forward to coming out on stage with the cake. Martina was really upset afterwards, believing that her mistake on the timing of her songs cost her any chance she had of becoming an Opry member, which was one of her dreams. She apologized to everyone she could find that night and the following month, her dream came true.

November 23, 1996: Trace Adkins makes his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. 7 years later, on August 23, 2003, he would become an Opry member.

November 7, 1998: Jimmy Dickens is honored for 50 years of Opry membership, originally joining the show in August 1948. It should be noted, as I always do, that Jimmy left the Opry for 18 years, rejoining the show in 1975. Either way, it was a great accomplishment for Jimmy. Joining him on the Opry that night were Carl Smith, Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare and Bill Anderson.

November 23, 2000: Dolly Parton and Vince Gill hosted a CBS television special celebrating the 75th anniversary of the Opry.

November 30, 2002: Tim McGraw makes his first appearance on the Opry. Although he would not become a member of the Opry, Tim has made a few Opry appearances over the years.

November 17, 2003: Grand Ole Opry member and Country Music Hall of Fame member Don Gibson passed away in Nashville. Don was one of the greatest songwriters in the history of country music. He originally joined the Opry on May 20, 1958, but was fired from the Opry in 1964 for failing to meet the mandatory number of Opry appearances. He rejoined the show several years later, but even after returning, he never came around much. His last Opry appearance was on March 16, 1996. In fact from 1983 until his last Opry show in 1996, he only made 5 Opry appearances. Don was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001 but sadly, he never acknowledged his induction and I am told he never visited the Hall of Fame to view his plaque.

November 15, 2005: The Grand Ole Opry returns to Carneige Hall in New York for a 3rd time to promote an Opry show. This was featured on a GAC special and was part of the Opry's 80th anniversary. The perfomers on this show included Trace Adkins, Bill Anderson, Jimmy Dickens, Vince Gill, Alan Jackson, Alison Krauss, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Charley Pride, Ricky Skaggs and Trisha Yearwood. Wasn't it nice of the Opry to pick some of their more loyal members to be on the show?

November 8, 2008: Actor Kevin Costner and his country & western band, Modern West, performed on the Opry for the first time. They have been back.

November 14, 2009: For the first time, the Opry streams part of its show on MySpace. The show featured Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Jack Owen and Rodney Atkins. The show had numerous technical flaws and problems, but despite the issues, the Opry considered it a success.

There you have it for this month.