Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas and Holiday Greetings

Each year around this time, I have taken a moment to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a Happy New Year. I hope that it is a blessed day for all of you and that you have family and friends to share the day with. I also hope that Santa brings each of you everything you have asked for.

I also want to take a moment to offer my personal thanks to all of those who have read or commented on the blog. I wish I could give each of you a personal present, but I guess in a way doing this blog could be considered my gift to you. Many of you have offered comments, some have emailed and others communicate with me on Facebook. No matter how you do it, my thanks and appreciation. While we may disagree on a few things, I like to think that we are all friends who care about the Opry.

Each year around this time, I have also offered my own Christmas wishes to the Opry and it's members. This year I am going to keep it pretty simple. To those such as Jimmy Dickens, Jesse McReynolds, Ralph Stanley, Roy Clark, Randy Travis, Stonewall Jackson, Stu Phillips, Jean Shepard and Hal Ketchum, who have been battling some health issues, my wish is recovery and more Opry appearances. To the veterans and legends, my wish is more Opry appearances and that maybe when you do appear, you can sing two songs instead just one. My wish to Steve Buchanan and Pete Fisher is please don't mess with the show anymore. Most of us liked it the way it was.

For the newer members, please don't forget where the Opry House is. The Opry needs you and cannot survive without you. And for those members who haven't been to the Opry in a while, please come back. I guarantee that you are missed and you will have a good time. And to those members who did make a few more appearances this past year than in the past, thanks.

For Jim Ed Brown perhaps a call from the Hall of Fame informing you that you are the newest member. You and your sisters have waited long enough. For Rhonda Vincent, Dailey & Vincent, Crystal Gayle, Gene Watson, and even a few others, my wish is for Opry membership. For several, you appear more than most of the members. So, why not? And for all of those who make guest appearances, thanks. The show needs you.

For Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Larry Gatlin and Carrie Underwood, thanks for understanding what Opry membership is all about and thanks for supporting the show. Others talk about it, you do it.

For the Opry, I think we can all agree that the 88th birthday bash wasn't very good. Please make a comeback in 2014 for the 89th. And don't forget that 2014 will be the 50th Opry anniversaries for Jesse McReynolds and Bobby Osborne. Please treat them right.

For the fans, my thanks. I know some weeks it is tough being an Opry fan. Some of the shows just haven't been up to par this past year, but just when you think you are ready to give up on the Opry, they come up with something great.

Finally, I do want to offer my own thanks to a special few who have been along for the ride for a while now and have made a habit of commenting regularly on the blog. That group would include Lindy, Michael, Barry, Fred, Robert, David, Art, Jim H., Jim R., Brian, Jeanene, Johnny, Nat, Alan, Tom and Linda. Oh, and those who go by the name of "Anonymous", of which there might be a few of you. If I didn't mention your name, please don't take it as a slight, as there have been so many of you. But no matter who you are or what you have written, thanks!! And I don't want to forget those who I have met, thanks to the blog. It makes the trips to Nashville much more enjoyable. Same with the phone calls. They are always appreciated.

I do want to mention Glen Thompson, who is the President of the Grand Ole Opry Fan Club, and has been since it started. He loves the Opry and especially Roy Acuff. He is probably the Opry's #1 fan. Whenever I visit Nashville, one of the first stops at make is to visit Glen. We don't always agree but that's ok. We all love the Opry and like Glen, many of us miss the old days when the Opry was really something special. Thanks Glen for your friendship and everything you have done.

Now to finish up this Christmas message, I want to post a few Opry Christmas line-ups from the past. I have a number of Grand Ole Opry line-ups from December 25, when the Grand Ole Opry took place on Christmas night. The first one is from 1971:

7:00: Shoney's
Tex Ritter (host): Wayward Wind
Archie Campbell: Make Friends
Jimmy C Newman: Alligator Man
Ernie Ashworth: Wanted Man
Tex Ritter: Fall Away
4 Guys: Turn Your Radio On
Jimmy C Newman: Louisiana Dirty Rice
Ernie Ashworth: My Bottle Is Dry

7:30: Standard Candy
Wilburn Brothers (host): It Look's Like The Sun's Gonna Shine
Earl Scruggs Revue: Nashville Skyline Rag
Ray Pillow: Step Aside
Tom T Hall: Chattanooga Dog
Earl Scruggs Revue: Swing Lo, Sweet Chariot
Ray Pillow: Since Then
Tom T Hall: That's How I Got To Memphis

8:00: Martha White
Lester Flatt (host): & Bill Monroe: Will You Be Loving Another Man/Little Cabin Home On The Hill
Grandpa Jones: Jingle Bells
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Lord, I'm Coming Home
Charlie Louvin & Diane McCall: I'm Gonna Leave You
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Stu Phillips: I'd Rather Be Sorry
Stringbean: Mountain Dew
Lester Flatt: Shuckin' The Corn

8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Tex Ritter: Here Was A Man
Jean Shepard: Safe In These Loving Arms Of Mine
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Del Reeves: The Best Is Yet To Come
Lonzo & Oscar: Charming Betsy
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Del Wood: Are You From Dixie
Roy Acuff: I Saw The Light

9:00: Luzianne
Ernest Tubb (host): Thanks A Lot
Dottie West: Six Weeks Every Summer, Christmas Every Other Year
Earl Scruggs Revue: T For Texas
Wilburn Brothers: Christmas At The Opry
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
George Morgan: Easy Loving
Jack Greene: Statue Of A Fool
Jeannie Seely: All Right, I'll Sign The Papers
Ernest Tubb: Women Make A Fool Out Of Me

9:30: Kellogg's
Hank Snow (host): As Love Goes
Willis Brothers: Women's Liberation
Marion Worth: For The Good Times
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Jim Ed Brown: Morning
Tom T Hall: The Year That Clayton Delaney Died
Jimmy C Newman: A Fallen Star
Hank Snow: My Blue Eyed Jane

10:00: Fender
Bill Monroe (host): Were You There
Wilma Lee Cooper: I Don't Care If Tomorrow Never Comes
Charlie Louvin: I Placed A Call/Will You Visit Me On Sundays
Stringbean: Herding Cattle
Ray Pillow: Heart Over Mind

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): When I Lay My Burden Down
Tex Ritter: Christmas Carols By The Old Corral
Jean Shepard: I Thought Of You/It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels/You Win Again/A Dear John Letter
Del Wood: Gloryland March

10:30: Trailblazer
Lester Flatt (host): Is Anybody Going North To Cincinnati
Grandpa Jones: The Valley Of The Never Do No Good
Stonewall Jackson: Life To Go
Lester Flatt: Sugar Tree Stomp

10:45: Beechnut
Ernest Tubb (host): Blue Christmas
Wilburn Brothers: The War Keeps Dragging On
Stu Phillips: Help Me Make It Through The Night
Crook Brothers: Mississippi Sawyer
4 Guys: Shenandoah

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): In The Misty Moonlight
Dottie West: Put Your Hand In The Hand
Willis Brothers: Give Me 40 Acres
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hickory Leaf
Lonzo & Oscar: Easy Loving
Dottie West: Here Comes My Baby
Sam McGee: Buck Dancer's Choice
Hank Snow: Christmas Roses

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): Singing The Blues
Marion Worth: I Really Don't Want To Know
Charlie Walker: My Baby Used To Be That Way
Marty Robbins: I Walk Alone/Long Gone Lonesome Blues/I'm So Afraid Of Losing You Again/Today I Started Loving You Again/They'll Never Take Her Love From Me/Begging To You/Don't Worry/Big Boss Man/The Best Part Of Living/Walking The Floor Over You

As you would expect with that kind of Christmas line-up, the Opry did not end until past 12:30. Also, interesting to see Lester Flatt and Bill Monroe performing together. That would have been a treat to see. I did notice that Earl Scruggs was also on that night, but he apparently did not wish to join the other two.

The next line-up that I wanted to post from Christmas past is from 1976. It was on this night 37 years ago that Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers became members of the Opry. Here is that line-up:

1st show
6:00: Vietti
Bill Monroe (host): Love Come Home
Ray Pillow: Love Is Slowly Coming Over Me
Marion Worth: Just A Little Lovin'
David "Lonzo" Hooten: If We Make It Through December
Bill Monroe: Bluegrass Breakdown
Ernie Ashworth: Shamrock Hotel
Bill Monroe: Mule Skinner Blues/Ashland Breakdown

6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Forgive And Forget Us
Charlie Louvin: Let's Put Our World Back Together Again/A Toast To Mama/Love Has To Die All By Itself/I Ain't Gonna Work Tomorrow/I Want A Happy Life
Del Wood: There's A Big Wheel
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Philadelphia Lawyer

6:45: Rudy's
Ernest Tubb (host): Women Make A Fool Out Of Me
Skeeter Davis: Desperado
Billy Grammer: My Life's Been A Pleasure
Ernest Tubb: Another Story

7:00: Shoney's
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Minnie Pearl: I'm Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes
Jimmy C Newman: Blue Lonely Winter
Stu Phillips: Have A Nice Day

7:30: Standard Candy
Porter Wagoner (host): Wake Up Jacob
Dottie West: Country Sunshine
Justin Tubb: You Nearly Lose Your Mind
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Black Mountain Rag
Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers: Broken Lady/Statues Without Hearts
Porter Wagoner: Happy Birthday Jesus

8:00: Martha White
Lester Flatt (host): Shuckin' The Corn
Jack Greene: You Don't Need A Cowboy
Jeannie Seely: Mama Never Told Me About Cowboys
Vic Willis: Christmas Carols By The Old Corral
Lester Flatt: Hot Corn, Cold Corn
Bob Luman: A Satisfied Mind
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything
Lester Flatt & Charlie Nixon: Dobro Instrumental

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Bill Carlisle: I've Waited Too Long
Jim & Jesse: Then I'll Stop Going For You
Fruit Jar Drinkers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Bill Cheatham
Hank Snow: Christmas Roses

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Ernest Tubb (host): I'll Get Along Somehow
Charlie Louvin: Sweet Texas
Skeeter Davis: The End Of The World
Wayne Hammond: Welcome To My World
David "Lonzo" Hooten: Daddy Looked A Lot Like Santa
Billy Grammer: I Dreamed Of An Old Love Affair
Ernest Tubb: Blue Christmas

10:00: Fender
Bill Monroe (host): A Beautiful Life
Ray Pillow: Gone At Last
Ernie Ashworth: My Love Will Never Change
Del Wood: My Country

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Old Time Sunshine Song
Marion Worth: Just A Little Lovin'
Charlie Walker: Who'll Buy The Wine
Onie Wheeler: Old Roy

10:30: Trailblazer
Lester Flatt (host): Why Do You Wander
Jack Greene: Birmingham
Jeannie Seely: American Trilogy
Jimmy C Newman: The Potato Song
Lester Flatt & Marty Stuart: Rawhide

10:45: Beechnut
Porter Wagoner (host): Highway Headed South
Justin Tubb: Sweetwater Texas
Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers: Statues Without Hearts/Allelujah
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Eighth Of January
Porter Wagoner: Birthday Jesus

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Lester The Long Eared Christmas Donkey
Bob Luman: Blue Christmas
Vic Willis: Cool Water
Fruit Jar Drinkers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Katy Hill
Kirk McGee: Always Be Kind To Daddy
Hank Snow: Silent Night

11:30: Baltz Bros.
Marty Robbins (host): Don't Worry
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Bill Carlisle: Have A Drink On Me
Marty Robbins: El Paso City/Love Me/Among My Souvenirs/Way Out There/El Paso

Another fine night at the Opry and congratulations to Larry Gatlin and his brothers for 37 years of Opry membership.

Now jumping up to Christmas night 1993, 20 years ago, and here is the line-up from that night:

1st show
6:30: Bill Monroe (host)
6:45: Jim Ed Brown (host); Bill Carlisle
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Charlie Walker; Wilma Lee Cooper; Oswald; Marty Stuart
7:30: 4 Guys (host); Jeanne Pruett; Charlie Louvin; Connie Smith; Osborne Brothers
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; Billy Walker; Jeannie Seely; Opry Square Dance Band
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Jean Shepard; Stonewall Jackson; Grandpa Jones

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Jan Howard; Osborne Brothers; Jean Shepard
10:00: Bill Monroe (host); Wilma Lee Cooper
10:15: Grandpa Jones (host); Charlie Louvin;
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jim & Jesse
10:45: Billy Walker (host); Jeannie Seely; Opry Square Dance Band
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Connie Smith; Stonewall Jackson; Charlie Walker; 4 Guys
11:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Cumberland Boys; Jeanne Pruett; Johnny Russell

I hope you enjoyed those looks back.

I want to end my Christmas message with a funny little story. One day my wife, who says she isn't a country music fan but really is, asked me who Maxine Brown was. I kind of looked at her and asked her why. She said that she noticed on my Facebook page that Maxine had a message for me. In reading the message, Maxine wrote that a friend had sent her the posting that I did regarding their August visit to the Opry and Jim Ed Brown's 50th anniversary and she wanted to let me know how wonderful she thought it was and to thank me. She asked if she could post it on her website, which of course, I said yes. She also wanted to know if it was ok to share it with Bonnie and Jim Ed. To have someone like Maxine Brown following the blog and the fact that something I posted made her feel good and appreciated makes the blog worth while. And it's just not Maxine, but others that I have heard from in the Opry community. Sometimes I wonder if anyone is really reading what I write and to hear these compliments makes me feel that what we are doing here is worth while.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone and thank you again for your support.

aka: Fayfare


  1. Byron, thank you--for your annual Christmas wishes, which I send back to you and your family and everybody else who pops up here, and for your wonderful blog. It's always full of great information and history, and it's fun to have debates here. And if you're reading this, Maxine Brown, we love you!

  2. Fred, Bismarck:

    Merry Christmas to you and yours, Byron, and I join Michael in thanking you for giving all of us country and Opry hardcores such an interesting and congenial home.

    Your blog is my first stop mornings and evenings after I have checked in with our personal e-mail and the weather forecast.

    My thanks and wishes for a Merry Christmas are also extended to all the good people on here. Truly -- and please allow secular application of the sentiment -- the fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above!

    And if Maxine Brown should look in from time to time, God bless her and her brother and sister. I have been a Browns fan since the 1950s, and am the happy owner of the Bear Family 8-CD box set!

  3. Adding my thanks and best holiday wishes as well!

  4. I found your blog about one year ago. I appreciate your dedication to posting the history and your observations. One of the joys of country music and particularly the Grand Ole Opry has been the history. One of the sad things about today is seeing the significance of the Opry waning. I keep thinking that the pendulum will start going the other way. Your blog gives us hope. Keep up the good work, Byron. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

  5. Haven't commented recently but that does not mean I do not read your blog every week, Byron ... thank YOU for all you do to keep Opry fans everywhere updated on what is going on at the Opry - from what I am reading above, I am not the only one that appreciates ALL of your efforts & thank you for mentioning me as a steady commenter. And also thank you to all fellow-posters - I love to read everyone's opinions. I always find them interesting & agree with most everything. We all have something to add to this blog.

    Like so many, I was saddened by the passing of Ray Price. I was raised on his music & in my opinion, he recorded some of the best country music one will ever hear. He introduced us to the 4/4 shuffle - aka the Ray Price beat, to me that is what country music is about - that 4/4 walking bass sound. Eddie Stubbs paid tribute on his night time show last week but he said last night that his official five hour tribute will be on January 2nd from 7 to midnight (central time) - I know I won't miss that show. Sirius/XM "Willie's Roadhouse" aired a 6 hour tribute last week - wow, the music was unbelievably great. There were some songs played that I had never heard - they did a great job. They also aired interviews from 2009 between Ray Price & Bill Mack - radio at its best. Ray Price and George Jones ~ two more faces, from what I refer to as the Mount Rushmore of country music, wing their way to heaven in the same year.

    Also saddened by the passing of Chicago radio legend, Larry Lujack (aka Ol' Uncle Lar) last week. He came to Chicago in 1967 as a rock n roll jock & he worked on both the Rock of Chicago (aka as the Big 89) - WLS-AM & a smaller Top 40 station WCFL - which is now the Chicago ESPN sports radio outlet now. I started listening to Larry when I was attending high school until after I had my children. He retired from radio 20 years later at aged 47 (a year after he lost his son quite suddenly) & he moved from the Chicago suburban area, not far from where I currently live, to Santa Fe, New Mexico. Practically every industry honor imaginable followed, including induction in the National Radio Hall of Fame, the National Association of Broadcasters Hall of Fame and the Illinois Broadcasters Association’s Hall of Fame. When he spoke, his fans listened & we laughed. He had a very self-deprecating, sarcastic (in a very funny way) type personality. His famed "Animal Stories", "Cheap Trashy Showbiz Report" & "Clunk Letter of the Day" - were all huge with his fans. He usually worked morning drive but he started out late night & also worked afternoon drive. He was one of a kind & I put him in the same category as Paul Harvey & that is saying a lot. Both true radio pioneers that don't come along every day.

    I so do hope that in 2014 that the doors to the Country Music Hall of Fame will swing open to The Browns, Dottie West, Ricky Skaggs & Alan Jackson. ALL are very deserving.

    Let us celebrate the many blessings we share ~ family, friends, joy, and love ~

    Merry Christmas & a Very Happy New Year to everyone!


  6. Merry Christmas to you, Byron, as well and all the artists, fans, and behind the scenes folks that make the Opry the wonderful institution that it is!

    (Assume you meant to say "perform two songs instead of one" when you wrote " maybe when you do appear, you can sing one song instead of two") I was starting to think maybe Pete Fisher was really writing this blog :)

  7. Merry Christmas to Byron and all the Fayfare Bloggers ! This blog is a daily part of my life now. Looking forward to another great year of Opry music and memories. Hard to believe in another few weeks we'll all properly start the Hall of Fame debates again. Thanks for all you do on here Byron.

  8. Byron, your blog is truly a joy in my life.
    Merry Christmas, and understand how much your work means to all of us.
    There are no doubt many, many readers who don't wish to offer up comments, but appreciate your work nonetheless.

  9. Merry Christmas to everybody on this web page.

  10. Maybe someone can answer my question. I recall a piano player named Jerry Whitehurst, who played on many of the country music programs (including "Nashville Now") and the Opry in days gone by. I haven't seen him on any program or any mention made of him in several years. Does anyone have any current information on him? Thanks.

  11. Byron - Appreciate all the work you do in preparing stories, lineups and topics on the blog. Glad to have gotten to know you as well!. Keep up the good work. Byron, you can correct me if I'm wrong, but regarding Jerry Whitehurst, I seem to recall he had a sick wife and left Nashville Now before it ended its run to care for her. That was over 20 years ago. Whitehurst left the Opry Staff Band several years before he left Nashville Now, so I would guess he hasn't been with the Opry Staff Band for at least 25 years, maybe 30 years. Tim Atwood took over the full time duties when Whitehurst left. I really don't recall hearing his name mentioned much by anyone on air at the Opry since he left. Not sure if he continued to so sessions or if he did any other shows/events after leaving Nashville Now. As far as I know he is still living and would have to be in his 70s at least by now.