Friday, January 31, 2014

February Opry Highlights

Here are the historical and important events that have taken place in February regarding the Grand Ole Opry or its members:

February 9, 1914: This year will mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Ernest Tubb. Ernest was born in Crisp, Texas. He came to the Grand Ole Opry in the early 1940s and immediately became one of the Opry's most popular and influential members. He was known for his kindness to new artists including Hank Snow, Loretta Lynn, Patsy Cline, Jack Greene and Cal Smith, just to name a few. He was one of the first to use an electric guitar at the Opry. In 1947 he opened the Ernest Tubb Record Shop and along the way started the Midnight Jamboree. He was one of the first members to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Ernest would remain an Opry member until his death in 1984 after a long illness.

February 1, 1917: Mary Jane Dezurik was born in Royalton Minnesota. Along with her sister Carolyn, they were the "Cackle Sisters", who in the 1940s were members of the Opry. They were only at the Opry for a very short time before moving on to Cincinnati at WLW. Mary Jane passed away in 1981.

February 25, 1927: Grand Ole Opry member Ralph Stanley was born. Although he doesn't sing much anymore or play his banjo, at the age of 87 Ralph is still out there touring and making a few Opry appearances.

February 1, 1928: Harry Stone becomes the Grand Ole Opry's staff announcer. Harry would eventually rise in the ranks at WSM radio and would later become the general manager of the station. He would often clash with Opry founder George D. Hay over the direction of the Opry. Judge Hay wanted to keep the show with a rural flavor, featuring non-professional acts. In his words, keeping it "close to the ground. Harry Stone saw the value of the Opry to National Life and WSM and wanted to professionalize the show and bring in full-time, paid performers who would also have shows on WSM. We know who eventually won that argument and once the Opry started down that road, it never looked back.

February 25, 1932: Faron Young was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. Faron joined the Louisiana Hawride in 1951. In 1954 he came to Nashville and joined the Grand Ole Opry. Faron would remain an Opry member until December 1964, when he was fired for not fulfilling the attendance requirements of the show. While he would never rejoin the Opry, he did make guest appearances on the show. He passed away in 1996 and following his death was elected to the Hall of Fame.

February 5, 1938: Roy Acuff makes his second Grand Ole Opry appearance, along with his band, the Crazy Tennesseans. His first appearance had taken place several months prior and was not considered very good. He worked hard to get another chance and on the return date he sang "The Great Speckled Bird" and the listeners responded with an avalanche of mail. 2 weeks later, on February 19, 1938, he was added to the cast. Along with the prior addition of Pee Wee King and The Golden West Cowboys, Roy would help to lead the shift of the Opry to an emphasis on professional singers rather than local instrumental groups. In fact, when Roy auditioned it was based on his instrumental work and not his singing. After Roy joined the Opry, he spent time touring with Uncle Dave Macon and the Delmore Brothers. On a final note, Harry Stone did not like the name "Crazy Tennesseans." He felt it was a slur on the state so he recommended to Roy that since he was from Knoxville and the Smoky Mountain area of Tennessee that he adopt that name. So beginning February 26, 1938, it was Roy Acuff and his Smoky Mountain Boys and it would remain that way until his death in November 1992.

February 18, 1939: The Andrew Brothers become regular performers on the Opry. They were brought in to replace the Delmore Brothers, who had left the show. The two brothers were from Mobile, Alabama and were known for their harmony work.

February 18, 1950: On of the Opry's competitors, the WSB Barn Dance, took place for the final time. The show had started on November 16, 1940 and was a nice regional show that was popular in the Atlanta area.

February 23, 1952: Del Wood makes her debut on the Grand Ole Opry. The previous year, she had a million selling instrumental record with "Down Yonder", which featured her signature ragtime piano playing. When Del accepted the invitation to play the Opry, she turned down a two week engagement to play with Bob Crosby and his orchestra. She would join the Opry the following year and would remain an Opry member until her death on October 3, 1989. Those who knew Del will tell you that she was one of a kind and her ragtime piano playing is missed even today. I always found it interesting that in the Grand Ole Opry Picture History Book, they would always right in her biography that she was famous for her canning!!

February 26, 1955: The Louvin Brothers, Charlie and Ira, became members of the Grand Ole Opry. Some consider the Louvin Brothers the greatest duo in the history of country music, and some of the greatest songs in history were Louvin Brother compositions. Ira passed away on June 20, 1965 in an automobile accident. Charlie would continue as an Opry member until his death in January 2011. In his later years, Charlie would be bitter over the way he felt he was treated by the Opry's management, some of whom did not appreciate how important Charlie and Ira were in the history of country music. He saw his appearances reduced and he was scheduled in less desirable time slots. (On a side note, some publications list the Louvin's induction date as February 10, however this was not a Saturday night. As many of us know, the Opry is famous for not keeping track of their dates).

February 23, 1957: Porter Wagoner joins the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. He would become one of the Opry's more popular and colorful members. Porter made his first Opry appearance in 1956 and he would later write about that night. "The first night I appeared on the Opry, I came off the stage and went back to the little dressing room area, and I met Roy Acuff in the hallway there. And he came up to me and he said, 'Porter, I was awful glad that you're becoming a part of the Grand Ole Opry. We need more of your kind of people here.'" It was ironic that when Roy died in 1992, Porter would replace him as the face of the Opry. That first night at the Opry, he was introduced by Carl Smith, who would later become one of Porter's good friends. During his time at the Opry, he brought Norma Jean, Mel Tillis and Dolly Parton to the show, along with James Brown. Porter died on October 28, 2007, shortly after celebrating his 50th year as an Opry member.

February 27, 1959: The late Billy Grammer joined the Grand Ole Opry. Billy would be an Opry member for just over 52 years, before passing away in April 2011. On the Opry the week following Billy's death, Vince Gill opened the show by singing Billy's signature song, "Gotta Travel On", playing tribute to one of the finest singers and guitar players that the Opry has known. Vince also played a Grammer Guitar that night.

February 4, 1960: Billy Walker, "The Tall Texan" joined the Grand Ole Opry. Billy would have a long career in country music and would remain an Opry member until his death in a car accident in May 2006. On the night he joined the Opry, he was introduced by his fellow Texan, Ernest Tubb.

February 6, 1960: George Hamilton IV becomes a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 54th year as an Opry member, although he did leave Nashville and the Opry for a short period of time. George has traveled all over the world to promote country music and still does today. I can tell you from personal experience, George Hamilton IV is about the nicest man in country music. He has always had time to talk and share stories. Many nights, even though he will not be scheduled, George will be back stage at the Opry to greet visitors.

February 23, 1963: Patsy Cline makes her final Grand Ole Opry appearance. Less than 2 weeks later, she would die in a plane crash, along with fellow Opry members Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas, along with Randy Hughes. Patsy was an inspiration to a generation of female country music singers including Loretta Lynn, Dottie West and Jeannie Seely. Patsy would later be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

February 8, 1975: After an absence of 18 years, Jimmy Dickens rejoined the cast of the Opry. He was introduced by Hank Snow, who noted how much Jimmy had been missed and how good it was that he was back on the show. That night Jimmy sang "Family Reunion" which seemed like the right song. Unlike the first time that Jimmy joined in 1948, this time he stayed around. Jimmy has battled some health issues over the past year, but he can still be found at the Opry from time to time.

February 6, 1976: Ronnie Milsap joins the cast of the Opry. This will be his 38th year as a member. Sorry to say, but Ronnie has not taken full advantage of his Opry membership and his appearances have been pretty limited. But whenever he plays the Opry, he is well received and gets a great ovation.

February 7, 1981: John Conlee joined the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 33rd year as a member. I am sure that John was a funeral director in Kentucky before joining the Opry. He has one of the most distinctive voices in country music and his hit, "Rose Colored Glasses" is one of the all time classics in country music. It is also one of my wife's favorite songs. After first appearing on the Opry, John was quoted as saying, "I made sure to stand on the circle from the stage of the old Ryman. That circle has been so important to me because so many big stars had stood on that wooden flooring." Early on as an Opry member, John made limited appearances. But over the years, as his touring has slowed down, John has become one of the Opry's more dependable members and has set an example for others of his generation. My favorite John Conlee story comes from a couple of years ago when I was walking from my car to the Opry's stage door and not paying much attention when I almost got hit by a tour bus. I looked up and it was John Conlee driving. I got a honk and a wave.

February 21, 1981: Boxcar Willie joined the Opry. Boxcar became a star late in life, thanks to his hobo character and his late night television commercials promoting his album of train songs. He made his first Opry appearance on June 19, 1980 at the age of 49. He was "discovered" while performing in England by Wesley Rose, who encouraged him to head to Nashville as he knew his partner Roy Acuff would love to meet him. He got to Nashville, met Roy, and the rest is history as Roy immediately got Boxcar a guest slot on the show. Boxcar was also one of the first country music starts to own a theater in Branson. Lecil Travis Martin passed away in April 1999.

February 20, 1988: The Grand Ole Opry honored Roy Acuff for 50 years of Opry membership. TNN devoted a one hour segment to Roy that featured Minnie Pearl and Loretta Lynn. The previous evening, Johnny Cash and June Carter were also scheduled to appear in tribute to Roy, but had to cancel due to illness. They would make it up to Roy by appearing several weeks later. On an additional note, during the Opry segment following Roy's that night, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton reunited on the Opry stage for the first time in 14 years.

February 24, 1991: Webb Pierce passed away in Nashville. Webb came to Nashville in 1952 from the Louisiana Hayride and made his first Opry guest appearance on the "Prince Albert" portion of the show. When he joined the Opry in 1953, it was as a replacement for Hank Williams. Webb was considered one of the biggest stars in country music in the 1950s, but he did not say an Opry member for very long. He later said, "You had to be there every Saturday night and that was too much, because, you see, most of our money, we made it on Saturday night. Of course, we'd be on a tour and then we'd have to turn around at the end of the week and be back at the Opry. I don't care if you was in Podunk, Canada." Webb was also a very successful business man, but he made some enemies along the way, most notable Ray Stevens. Webb built a guitar shaped swimming pool at his home, which was in one of Nashville's most exclusive areas, and Webb's neighbors did not appreciate the busses stopping for pictures and autographs. In 2001, Webb was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

February 29, 1992: Travis Tritt joined the Opry. This will be his 22nd year as a member. While still an Opry member, Travis has not appeared at the Opry since 2007. It was also on this night that Trisha Yearwood made her first Opry appearance. (I am sure it is just a coincidence that these 2 both appeared on this night as they are both poster children for those members not appearing at the Opry).

February 21, 1998: The Opry honored long-time Opry member Grandpa Jones, who had passed away earlier in the week from complications after suffering a stroke in January, just after finishing an Opry performance. Grandpa's close friend and neighbor Bill Carlisle, along with Vince Gill, Ramona Jones and Grandpa's children led the cast in the singing of the great Grandpa song, "Falling Leaves." On a side note, Ramona Jones celebrated her 90th birthday this past week.

February 17, 2001: Brad Paisley joins the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 13th year as an Opry member. On the night Brad was inducted, he wore the bright yellow jacket that Buck Owens, one of his idols, wore on the cover of the 1966 "Live at Carneige Hall" album. Like many others, Brad made lots of Opry appearances early in his career, but not so many recently.

February 16, 2002: Marty Stuart, Travis Tritt and Hank Williams, Jr., performed on the Opry in tribute to Waylon Jennings, who had passed away earlier that week. Porter Wagoner, who hosted the segment, would call it "the most exciting night I can ever remember on the Opry." I would not go that far, but the 4 entertainers spent an hour on stage singing Waylon hits.

February 18, 2003: Grand Ole Opry member Johnny Paycheck passed away following a long illness. After a career as an "outlaw", Johnny joined the Opry on November 8, 1997. Sadly, Johnny died in near poverty and the cemetary plot that he was buried in was donated by George Jones. He was just 64 when he passed away. On his Opry membership, Johnny said, "I'm so honored and proud that I'm going to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry. After a lifetime of work, this is one of the most wonderful honors bestowed on me in my entire career." Johnny had such great hits in the 1970s and it was hard to see what became of him in the 1980s. It was nice that he got his life in order and was once again making music.

February 26, 2005: Grand Ole Opry member Charlie Louvin was recognized for 50 years of Opry membership. He appeared on both shows that night. Later that evening, he hosted and was honored at the Midnight Jamboree.

That covers it for this month!!!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Grand Ole Opry 1/31 & 2/1

The Grand Ole Opry returns to the Opry House this weekend after spending the winter at the Ryman Auditorium. Usually when the Opry returns, that first weekend back is pretty big. While the line-ups are good for this weekend, there is nothing special.

The Friday Night Opry will feature Opry members the Oak Ridge Boys. Having seen these guys at the Opry several times, they always bring excitment to the show. Also appearing on Friday will be guest artists The Black Lillies, who have always impressed me on their prior appearances. In addition, The Gibson Brothers, Elizabeth Cook and Kree Harrison are scheduled.

The Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night will feature 2 Opry members that we don't see enough of, Terri Clark and Mel Tillis. Not to mean that they don't come to the Opry, just that it would be nice to see more of them. Tracy Lawrence is also scheduled. I know a few years back there was some talk of Tracy becoming an Opry member but he made the comments that he was too busy touring and doing other things to be a part of the Opry at that time, but maybe later after his career had settled down. It is safe to say that his career is settled and he has been a guest at the Opry a few times, but I don't see an Opry invitation coming anytime soon. Also appearing will be Frankie Ballard and Dan + Shay. These are a couple of new guys who are currently touring with Hunter Hayes.

And hold the presses, but I think this might be the first week in a while without anyone from "Nashville" performing on the Opry.

Friday January 31
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Elizabeth Cook; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: John Conlee (host); Connie Smith; The Gibson Brothers
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Kree Harrison; The Black Lillies
8:45: Larry Gatlin (host); George Hamilton IV; Oak Ridge Boys

Saturday February 1
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Dan+Shay; The Whites
7:30: John Conlee (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Terri Clark
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jean Shepard; Frankie Ballard; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Tracy Lawrence; Mel Tillis

Ronnie Milsap was originally set for this weekend but cancelled out. 7 Opry members on Friday night and 9 on Saturday. And Larry Stephenson is the host of the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree this weekend as the Jamboree is back to doing live shows. Larry would have made a fine addition for the Opry on Saturday.

For this week's look back in Grand Ole Opry history, I have the line-up from Saturday January 27, 1973. This was the night that Marty Robbins celebrated his 20th anniversary as a member of the Opry.

7:00: Shoney's
Roy Drusky (host): Long, Long Texas Road
Justin Tubb: Traveling Singing Man
Lonzo & Oscar: Moving On
Opry Staff Band: Cajun Hop
Roy Drusky: Jody and the Kid
Justin Tubb: Lodi
Lonzo & Oscar: Pass Me By (If You're Only Passing Through0
Roy Drusky: Guess I Must Be Doing Something Right

7:30: Standard Candy
Tex Ritter (host): Boll Weevil
Billy Walker: Sing Me A Love Song to Baby
Charlie Louvin: Bottom of the Fifth
Stoney Cooper: Nobody's Darling But Mine
Tex Ritter: Green Grow the Lilacs
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away
Charlie Louvin & Diane McCall: A Man Likes Things Like That

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Del Reeves: Trucker's Paradise
Billy Grammer: Tennessee Polka
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Roy Acuff: Lonely Mound of Clay
Del Reeves: Philadelphia Fillies
Billy Grammer: Gotta Travel On

8:30: Stephens
Porter Wagoner (host): Katy Did
Dolly Parton: My Tennessee Mountain Home
Stringbean: Roll On Buddy
Porter Wagoner: The Last One to Touch Me
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton: We Found It
Dolly Parton: Joshua
Stringbean: Train 45
Porter Wagoner: What Ain't to Be Just Might Happen
Mac McGaha & Buck Trent: Turkey in the Straw

9:00: Rudy's
Glaser Brothers (host): Me & Bobby McGee
Charlie Walker: Soft Lips and Hard Liquor
Stu Phillips: There Must Be Another Way to Say Goodbye
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Sally Goodin
Glaser Brothers: A Girl Like You
Charlie Walker: The Lord Knows I'm Drinking
Stu Phillips: I Hear Your Name
Glaser Brothers: Release Me/Then I Turned & Walked Away/Many Tears Ago/You Win Again/There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight

9:30: Kelloggs
Hank Snow (host): Gonna Find Me A Bluebird
4 Guys: Hello Walls/Big Bad John/Wings of A Dove
Ray Pillow: Cinderella
Hank Snow: With This Ring I Thee Wed
4 Guys: Shenendoah
Ray Pillow: Slipping Around
Hank Snow: Where Has All the Love Gone

10:00: Fender
Billy Walker (host): Charlie's Shoes
Justin Tubb: Lonesome 7-7203
Lonzo & Oscar: Borrowed Angel
Billy Walker: My Mind Hangs Onto You

10:15: Union 76
Tex Ritter (host): Coming After Jenny
Del Reeves: Whole Lotta Shaking Going On/I'm Walking
Charlie Louvin: Will You Visit Me On Sundays
Stoney & Carolee Cooper: My Mansion in the Sky

10:30: Trailblazer
Roy Acuff (host): Home in San Antone
Billy Grammer: Detroit City
Stu Phillips: There Must Be Another Way to Say Goodbye
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird

10:45: Beechnut
Porter Wagoner (host): Be A Little Quiter
Dolly Parton: Wash Day Blues
Stringbean: Hot Corn, Cold Corn
Crook Brothers: Liberty
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton: Someone I Used to Know

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Golden Rocket
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
Charlie Walker: Soft Lips and Hard Liquor
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Soldiers Joy
Osborne Brothers: Ruby
Sam McGee: Victory Rag
Hank Snow: So Goes My Heart

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): Devil Woman
Ray Pillow: Excuse Me
4 Guys: Sing Me Back Home/I'll Fly Away/Jambalaya/She'll Be Coming Round The Mountain/You Are My Sunshine/Shutters & Boards
Marty Robbins: Big Boss Man/A Walking Piece of Heaven/Long, Gone Lonesome Blues/Don't Worry/This Much A Man/It's Not Love/El Paso/Singing The Blues

Quite a night at the Opry.

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Grand Ole Opry 1/24 & 1/24

This weekend wraps up the Opry's run at the Ryman Auditorium as the show will return to the Grand Ole Opry House next weekend. The "big" news this weekend is Hal Ketchum returning to the Opry to celebrate 20 years as an Opry member. Hal joined the Opry on Januar 22, 1994 and it is good to have him back.

Also appearing on both shows this weekend are the newest members of the Opry, Old Crow Medicine Show, along with fellow Opry members and Hall of Famer's Charley Pride and Bill Anderson.

Among the guest artists on Friday night will be Jewel, who last year played the part of June Carter Cash in the Lifetime movie. While I thought Jewel did a nice job as June, I can't say the same about the gentleman who played Johnny Cash (who I forget). Also on Friday will be newcomer Leah Turner.

Saturday's Grand Ole Opry features a couple of different things on the line-up. First, Bill Anderson is hosting the opening segment. That is something you do not normally see. And the Opry Square Dancers have been moved up a segment. And what is an Opry weekend without any stars from the Nashville show? Saturday we have Jonathan Jackson, along with Lennon & Maisy. My thought is that since both are "back-to-back" on the same segment, and the Square Dancers moved up, I am wondering if they are going to film that segment to use on a future broadcast of the network show. Just a thought.

Friday January 24
7:00: Craig Morgan (host); Jeannie Seely; Jimmy C Newman; Jim Ed Brown
7:30: John Conlee (host); Riders In the Sky; Jewel w/Art Kilcher
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Leah Turner; Hal Ketchum
8:45: Charley Pride (host); Jean Shepard; Old Crow Medicine Show

Saturday January 25
7:00: Bill Anderson (host); Craig Campbell; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: John Conlee (host); Jan Howard; Hal Ketchum; Opry Square Dancers
8:15: Charley Pride (host); Jonathan Jackson; Lennon & Maisy
8:45; Riders In The Sky (host); Connie Smith; Old Crow Medicine Show

I can't believe it, but we actually have 11 Opry members scheduled on Friday night. That might be a high point in recent months. 8 are set for Saturday night.

For this week's look back into Grand Ole Opry history, since this is Hal Ketchum's 20th anniversary as an Opry member, I want to go back to Saturday January 22, 1994, which was the night Hal joined the Opry. Hal grew up in New York and he has admitted that he had little knowledge of the Opry while growing up. After playing the Opry for the first time Hal commented, "There is an indescribable place on that stage where it feels like you are a part of history, a very fine history. And I really like that a lot. I felt the magic of the Opry for the first time, and, so, I came to it in amazement."

While he grew up in New York, in 1981 he moved to Austin, Texas and released his first album in 1986, "Threadbare Alibis", on which he wrote 10 of the songs. From Austin, he began making trips to Nashville, eventually signing with Curb Records. In 1991, "Small Town Saturday Night" was released and Hal was on his way. He had a number of hit records after that which led to the invitation to join the Opry.

As with many of the artists who joined the Opry during that period, Hal's appearances were limited. However, starting in 2001 and up through 2009, he averaged almost 30 appearances per year and became one of the Opry's more popular members. However, health issues took him away from the Opry as he stopped performing. After just 1 appearance in 2010, he did not return to the Opry until November of last year and his return was a success. It was nice to hear Hal again on the Opry and to have him back to be honored for 20 years of Opry membership.

Here is the Opry line-up from Saturday January 22, 1994, the night Hal Ketchum joined the Opry:

1st show
6:30: GHS String
Jimmy Dickens (host): Out Behind the Barn
Skeeter Davis: Lovesick Blues
Jimmy Dickens: Another Bridge to Burn

6:45: Country Music Hall of Fame
Grandpa Jones (host): (?)
Jean Shepard: A Dear John Letter
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Grandpa Jones: It's Raining Here This Morning

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Howdy Neighbor, Howdy
Bill Carlisle: Leave That Liar Alone
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Alison Krauss: I'm Blue, I'm Lonesome
Oswald: Instrumental
Porter Wagoner: Sugarfoot Rag

7:30: Standard Candy
Marty Stuart (host): Burn Me Down
Hal Ketchum & Ferlin Husky: Wings of A Dove
Jan Howard: Rock Me Back to Little Rock
Vince Gill: When I Call Your Name
Hal Ketchum: Small Town Saturday Night
Marty Stuart: Kiss Me; I'm Gone

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): Family Reunion
Jeannie Seely: Don't Touch Me
Roy Drusky: Don't It Make You Wanna Go Home
The Whites: Move It On Over
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Durango's Hornpipe
Bill Anderson: Still

8:30: Kraft
Hank Snow (host): Address Unknown
Connie Smith: Did We Have to Come This Far to Say Goodbye
Jimmy C Newman: Allons 'A Lafayette
Mike Snider: Lonesome Road Blues/The Fir Coat
Hank Snow: A Message From the Tradewinds

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Y'All Come
Hal Ketchum: We Just Might Fall in Love/Small Town Saturday Night
Jean Shepard: Farewell Party
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything/He Is My Everything
The Whites: Swing Down, Chariot
Porter Wagoner: Green Green Grass of Home

10:00: Little Debbie
Grandpa Jones (host): What'll I Do With The Baby-O
Jeanne Pruett: Temporarily Yours
Grandpa Jones: Gone Home

10:15: Sunbeam/Tennessee Pride
Jimmy Dickens (host): Take An Old Cold Tater
Vince Gill: Trying to Get Over You/A Pocket Full of Gold
Jimmy Dickens & Vince Gill: May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose

10:30: Opry Tours
Bill Anderson (host): Did She Mention My Name
John Conlee: Common Man
Alison Krauss: Dark Skies
Bill Anderson: Golden Guitar

10:45: Opry Book
Marty Stuart (host): That's Country
Charlie Walker: Smoke, Smoke, Smoke
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Rachel
Marty Stuart: Kiss Me, I'm Gone

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Giesha Girl
Mark Collie & Marty Stuart: When The Sun Goes Down, I Go Crazy
Jeannie Seely: Go Down Swinging
Billy Walker: You Gave Me A Mountain
Mike Snider: Little Maggie/Dueling Banjos
Hank Snow: The Third Man

11:30: General Jackson Showboat
4 Guys (host): If It's From the Country, It's Coming From the Heart
Connie Smith: I Never Once Stopped Loving You
Jimmy C Newman: Jambalaya
Johnn Russell: Got No Reason Now For Going Home
4 Guys: I Know, I Know

The 2nd date to mention is Saturday January 25, 1992, 22 years ago this weekend as that was the date Emmylou Harris became an Opry member. I have to admit that when Emmylou joined the Opry I acutally thought she would understand what the Opry was about and be there to perform. Especially considering her rich understanding of the history of country music and her own efforts to preserve it. But of course, I was wrong. Emmylou has been good for an average of 1 or 2 Opry appearances per year, usually when the Opry is at the Ryman Auditorium. That's too bad, as I have seen Emmylou several times at the Opry and she seems to really enjoy it. You will see her dancing at times with the square dancers and she will bring on a variety of her friends to perform with her. We can still hope that Emmylou will make more Opry appearances.

Here is the line-up from Saturday January 25, 1992, the night Emmylou Harris became an Opry member.

1st show
6:30: Boxcar Willie (host): Jeanne Pruett
6:45: Grandpa Jones (host): 4 Guys; Skeeter Davis
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host): John Conlee; Osborne Brothers; Lorrie Morgan
7:30: Roy Acuff (host): Vince Gill; Emmylou Harris
8:00: Bill Monroe (host): Jimmy Dickens; The Whites; Del Reeves; Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host): Jim Ed Brown; Jimmy C Newman; Riders In The Sky; Jean Shepard

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host): Billy Walker; John Conlee; Emmylou Harris; Vince Gill
10:00: Grandpa Jones (host): Charlie Louvin; Wilma Lee Cooper
10:15; Roy Acuff (host): Ray Pillow; George Hamilton IV
10:30: Bill Monroe (host): Roy Drusky; Boxcar Willie
10:45: Jimmy Dickens (host): Vince Gill; Patty Loveless; Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host): Osborne Brothers; Jeannie Seely; Stonewall Jackson; Jean Shepard; Bill Carlisle
11:30: Charlie Walker (host): Riders In The Sky; The Whites; Johnny Russell

Finally, the Opry has set Saturday March 1 as the date for Jesse McReynolds to be honored for 50 years of Opry membership. Jesse has been missing from the Opry over the past several weeks but is doing better and we hope to see him back very soon.

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Grand Ole Opry 1/17 & 1/18

The Grand Ole Opry continues the winter run at the Ryman Auditorium with the usual two shows this weekend, the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry. Overall, the line-ups looked pretty solid, especially the Friday night show.

That show will feature 4 of the Opry's more popular members hosting segments as John Conlee, Larry Gatlin, Ricky Skaggs and Vince Gill are scheduled. Along with them will be guest artists Lauren Alaina and someone who I am personally pleased to see on the Opry, Dean Miller. This fine songwriter, who will also be appearing on Saturday night, is the son of Roger Miller and has been making a name for himself in the country music community.

Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will have Opry members Diamond Rio returning to the Opry for the first time in 2014. Joining Diamond Rio and Dean Miller will be guest artist Sarah Darling, making another of her long line of Opry appearances, along with Joel Crouse and Austin Webb. And not to forget this week's "Nashville" star at the Opry, as Clare Bowen will be performing

Friday January 17
7:00: John Conlee (host); Striking Matches; George Hamilton IV; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: Larry Gatlin (host); Ayla Brown; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
8:15: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Lauren Alaina
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Dean Miller; Connie Smith

Saturday January 18
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Sarah Darling; Dean Miller
7:30: Diamond Rio (host); Joel Crouse; Connie Smith
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jean Shepard; Austin Webb; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Clare Bowen

That comes out to 9 Opry members on Friday night and 7 on Saturday.

For this week's look back into Grand Ole Opry history, there were several important events that have taken place corresponding to this weekend. On January 15, 1999, the Opry returned to the Ryman Auditorium for the first time since leaving for the new Opry House in March 1974. It was a great weekend of shows, all of which were sold out. Bobby Bare was introduced on Friday night, which was fitting as on the final Friday Night Opry in 1974, he hosted a segment and it was also his last night performing as an Opry member. On Saturday night, Chet Atkins was introduced from the stage and Ricky Skaggs asked Trisha Yearwood to become the Opry's newest member. I was at all 3 shows that weekend and it was a great time and the Opry felt home.

On January 20, 1990, 24 years ago, Hank Snow was honored for 40 years of Opry membership. He hosted the televised portion that night and featured as his guests Mel Tillis and The Glaser Brothers. For the Glaser Brothers, it was their first Opry appearance since giving up their Opry membership and it was their first time performing together in years. It was also their final time together. They got back together at the personal invitation of Hank who always was impressed by them. Clips of the performance are on YouTube and if you haven't seen them, check it out. It shows the Glaser Brothers at their best.

And it was on January 21, 1995 that Brother Oswald became an Opry member. I was there that night also and it was a surprise. Beecher Ray Kirby was born in 1911, which made him 84 at the time of his Opry induction, the oldest person to ever join the Opry. Oswald came to the Opry in 1939 as a member of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys. Roy featured Oswald a lot on the Opry and we all know he was a great comedian and dobro player. He was introduced as Bashful Brother Oswald, posing as the brother of Rachel Veach, nicknamed Queen of the Hills. In those times, it was not acceptable to have a female in the group except if she was "related" to another of the band's members, so that is how Brother Oswald came about. Oswald also played banjo and guitar and was a very fine tenor singer, singing on many of Roy's great records. When Roy passed away, Oswald continued on at the Opry with Charlie Collins, performing as "Os and Charlie". Finally in 1995, thanks to the efforts of Porter Wagoner and Marty Stuart, the Opry did the right thing and allowed Oswald to become a member. Oswald passed away in October 2002. His total time at the Opry was 63 years.

Here is the Opry line-up from Saturday January 21, 1995, the night Brother Oswald joined the Grand Ole Opry:

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
Grandpa Jones (host): Are You From Dixie
Mike Snider: Foggy Mountain Chimes
Grandpa Jones: My Little Old Home Down in New Orleans

6:45: Hall of Fame
Bill Monroe (host): A Feast Here Tonight
George Riddle & Bill Carlisle, Jr: White Lightening
Bill Monroe: A Voice From On High

7:00: Shoney's
Jimmy Dickens (host): I'm Little But I'm Loud
The Whites: He Took Your Place
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Jeanne Pruett: Back to Back
Jim Ed Brown: Will The Circle Be Unbroken/I Saw the Light/I'll Fly Away/Gone at Last
Jimmy Dickens: Take Me As I Am, Or Let Me Go

7:30: Standard Candy
Marty Stuart (host): Don't Be Cruel
Porter Wagoner: Wabash Cannonball/The Precious Jewel/Fireball Mail/Night Train to Memphis/The Great Speckled Bird
Connie Smith: Sing, Sing, Sing
Oswald: Hawaiian March/Mountain Dew/I'll Be All Smiles Tonight
Jimmy Dickens/Marty Stuart/Porter Wagoner/Connie Smith/Boxcar Willie/Oswald: Wabash Cannonball

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): Southern Fried
Jimmy C Newman: Allons A Lafayette
Boxcar Willie: Train Melody
Charlie Louvin: Nearer By God to Thee
Opry Square Dance Band: Bill Cheatham
Bill Anderson: The Touch of the Master's Hand

8:30: Kraft
Hank Snow (host): Silver Rails
4 Guys: Big River
Billy Walker: Adam's Side
Doug Stone: Love Grows Best in Little Houses
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
Hank Snow: The Prisoner's Song

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Y'all Come
Wilma Lee Cooper: The Legend of the Dogwood Tree
Osborne Brothers: I'll Be All Right Tomorrow
Stu Phillips: That's A Chance I'll Have to Take
The Whites: Hangin' Around
Porter Wagoner: Dim Lights; Thick Smoke

10:00: Goody's
Grandpa Jones (host): Banjo Sam
Roy Drusky: Always/One Day at a Time
Grandpa Jones: Dear Old Sunny South By the Sea

10:15: Tennessee Pride/Sunbeam
Bill Monroe (host): Say Away From Me; You're Causing Me Trouble
Ray Pillow: Too Many Memories
Bill Monroe: Tombstone Junction/Crying Holy Unto the Lord

10:30: Gruhn Guitars
Marty Stuart (host): Tempted
Boxcar Willie: Train Melody
Marty Stuart: Blue Train/Hillbilly Rock

10:45: Fairfield Communities
Jimmy Dickens (host): Take An Old Cold Tater
Del Reeves: The Race Is On
Opry Square Dance Band: Ragtime Annie
Jimmy Dickens: She Always Got What She Wanted

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Giesha Girl
Connie Smith: You & Your Sweet Love
Charlie Walker: Who Will Buy the Wine
Doug Stone: A Different Light/A Jukebox With A Country Song
Hank Snow: A Message From The Trade Winds

11:30: Cates Pickles
Bill Anderson (host): Wild Weekend
4 Guys: I Know; I Know
Jack Greene: Highway to the Sky
Johnny Russell: Baptism of Jesse Taylor
Bill Anderson: Deck of Cards

2 real nice shows and a lot of variety between the 2 shows. It was nice to remember Brother Oswald and his Opry anniversary.

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!!!!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Country Music Hall of Fame-Election of 2014

The voting for the 2014 inductees to the Country Music Hall of Fame is now getting underway. The rotating category this year is for songwriters. This individual will join the person, or persons, elected from the modern and veteran eras. As far as when the announcement will be made, last year's took place on April 10. In past years, the inductees have been announced anywhere from late February or into March. It all depends on how many of the new inductees are living and on what date they can get everyone together for the announcement.

As in the past, I am sure there will be articles from various writers that will list who they believe are the 5 finalists in each category. But as we learned again last year, these so-called lists are just about worthless. 2 of those elected, Bobby Bare and Jack Clement, did not appear on any of these lists. I think it just shows that we are not the only ones guessing. And I think it also confirms that the voters are sworn to secrecy as to who is on the final ballot. From a personal standpoint, I enjoy the days when the finalists were announced aheard of time. It allowed for discussion and debate. As close knit as things are in Nashville, I have to believe that those who are on the final ballot, know who they are.

That said, here are my thoughts on each category and who I feel will be among those that will receive serious consideration. And as usual, I will offer my choices.

Since the "songwriters" category was established, Bobby Braddock has been elected to the Hall. Other songwriters who have been elected include Kris Kristofferson, Harlan Howard, Cindy Walker, along with Boudleaux and Felice Bryant. Yes, there are other members of the Hall of Fame who were very successful songwriters, including Bill Anderson, Tom T. Hall, Charlie Louvin among others, but they were also very talented performers. This category is tough because there are so many deserving songwriters and a case could be make for any of them. 2 names that I will throw out are Hank Cochran and Don Schlitz. If you want a third name, how about Dean Miller. I know there are many others, but they come to mind first. You can't go wrong with any of them. My first thought would be Hank Cochran. His first songwriting credit was in 1960 with "I Fall to Pieces", which he co-wrote with Harlan Howard. "Make the World Go Away" came next and the hits just followed. He passed away in 2010.

Next up is the "veteran" era nominee. It is the one category that seems to create more of a backlog each year and as with the songwriter category, there are so many deserving candidates. Those in the veteran era category are eligible for election 45 years after they achieve "national prominence". That would take it back to 1969 or earlier. I bring this up because, as always, there are individuals or groups that could fall into either the veteran era or the modern era, depending on how "national prominence" is determined. The 2 that come to mind this year are Ronnie Milsap and the Oak Ridge Boys. Both have been mentioned as finalists previously, usually in the modern era category. But depending on circumstances, they both could land in the veterans category this year. In the case of Ronnie Milsap, he did not hit it big as a singer in the country field until after 1970, but prior to that he was writing and performing. His first single was actually released in 1963. In the case of the Oak Ridge Boys, they have been around since the 1940s. However the current country line-up did not come together until the early 1970s. This past year, they toured in celebration of their 40th anniversary. I guess if there was someone who had similar circumstances it would be Kenny Rogers. Although he first became known in the 1960's as part of the First Edition, he did not hit it big in the country field until the mid 1970s. And last year, he was elected in the modern category.

In looking at the veteran category, those who have received serious consideration in the past several years, and have been finalists depending on who you ask, would include Hank Williams, Jr., Jim Ed Brown, The Browns, The Wilburn Brothers, Archie Campbell, Jerry Reed, Ray Stevens, June Carter Cash, Mac Wiseman and Dottie West. I would assume that these will be the main contenders again this year. Last year, a big push was made for Dottie West. I know there were some who felt she should have been elected before Connie Smith and I think her election in 2012 might have stimulated the push for Dottie. The supporters for Dottie West have been very vocal and active. They have a Facebook page devoted to her and getting her elected and in 2013 they had a strong campaign going to make sure the voters were educated in what a great career she had. There is also a small exhibit for her in the Hall of Fame. While she did not get elected in 2013, an impact was made with the voters. Even with that, it could still be tough for her to get elected in 2014.

In my mind, the strongest candidate will be The Browns. 2013 was a good year for Jim Ed, Maxine and Bonnie as Jim Ed was recognized for being a member of the Grand Ole Opry for 50 years. Maxine and Bonnie were included in the August celebration and at the Opry that night, a lot of people in the music industry came to visit with them. I think it shed some new light on their careers and how successful they were. While Maxine and Bonnie retired in the late 1960s, Jim Ed has continued on with a great solo career and as a successful duet with Helen Cornelius. A strong argument can be made that Jim Ed could be elected as a solo artist. I think another thing going for The Browns is the election of Bobby Bare last year. There was some confusion over the outcome and Bobby Bare and The Browns have been tied so closely together that perhaps Bobby's election will actually help The Browns.

Arguments can also be made for Mac Wiseman, who was a pioneer in the business. The major success for him came in the 1950s through the 1960s and he will always be associated with Bill Monroe and Flatt & Scruggs. But he also had a fine career as a solo artist. He was also one of the founding members of the Country Music Association. Jerry Reed was one of the finest guitarists in any form of music and he had a fine string of hit records in the 1970s and 80s and he also acted in some movies. Archie Campbell was a country comedian who was a writer and performer on Hee Haw. He was also a long time member of the Grand Ole Opry. In fact, he was the first comedian at the Opry who insisted on performing dressed in a suit and not in the usual rural country clothing that the Opry's management insisted that comedians wear. Archie also wrote a few songs and was one of the first country entertainers to operate a theater in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which was the part of the country where he was from. June Carter's career has been well documented as has the career of Hank Williams, Jr. Hank Jr., will be elected at some point, but I can't say the same for June. I think people sometimes forget what a talent Ray Stevens is. Not only is he a great writer and performer, but he is also one of the smartest businesmen in country music.

My guess for 2014 would be The Browns. I think this could be their year. But, and this is a big but, if for some reason the Oak Ridge Boys end up in this category, I could easily see them getting in. The Oaks had a big year in 2013 with the tour and new music, and say what you will about them, they put on a great show and are very popular.

Now for the "modern"category, which is for those who have had a career of 20 years or more. That would include anyone who's career acheived "national prominence" from 1970-1994. To really nobody's great surprise, Kenny Rogers was elected in 2013, with Garth Brooks getting in the previous year. There was some thought that when Garth got elected it would begin the era of electing those who came into their own in the early 1990s, but last year the voters retreated and took a step back. It was almost as if in 2012 the voters thought that Garth would get in sooner or later, so let's get it over with. But who can complain when he has been the biggest thing in country music for the past 25 years.

So let's step forward to 2014. I think there are 3 names to watch this year: Ricky Skaggs, Alan Jackson and Randy Travis. Let's start with Ricky. There is no doubt that he has the resume to get elected. His career has been long and successful and he helped to lead the traditionalist movement in the 1980s. Yes, he is outspoken at times. One thing to think about is that he is the current "artist-in-residence" at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Why is that important to note? We'll the last 2, Kenny Rogers and Connie Smith, were elected to the Hall in that same year. Previous residences have included Tom T Hall, Jack Clement, and Kris Kristofferson, all eventually elected to the Hall.

If there was an artist from the early 1990s that would be next in line for election after Garth Brooks, it would be Alan Jackson. Alan has won so many awards that I could not list them all. He has had 35 #1 singles and has sold more than 60 million records worldwide. If there was anything holding Alan back it has been his personality and the way he has treated some folks around Nashville. But, he was a friend of George Jones and that association never hurts.

Randy Travis has had a tough year. It is so said to see what has happened to this great singer and now at the young age of 54, his career seems finished. After a career that saw him achieve 16 #1 singles and over 50 singles on the charts, things started to fall apart for Randy in 2010 when he divorced his wife Lib Hatcher and she no longer was his manager. He was arrested several times in addition to several embarrasing incidents involving public nudity. It seemed he had it rock bottom but it got worse for Randy as in July 2013 he was admitted to a hospital with a serious life threatening heart condition. Several days later he suffered a stroke. Depending on what report you read, or believe, Randy remains at least partially paralyzed and will never be able to perform again. While Randy has never been listed as a finalist before, and I don't know why, nothing helps a person get an award or recognition as much as a serious health crisis or death. The reason Chet Atkins was elected to the Hall at such a young age was because people thought he was going to die. Thankfully, he recovered. The voters might feel that this would be the time to honor Randy. If his condition is as serious as some have reported and his recovery is in doubt, the voters might want to make sure he receives the recognition before his condition becomes even more serious.

Others who should receive serious consideration include Ronnie Milsap (depending on what category he ends up in), Brooks & Dunn and probably The Judds.

My guess is probably Randy Travis, for the reasons I stated above, with Ricky Skaggs right behind.

Those are my thoughts. Randy Travis, The Browns and Hank Cochran.

Reaction and thoughts!!!!!!!

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Grand Ole Opry 1/10 & 1/11

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the schedule for the two shows this weekend, the Friday Night Opry and the Grand Ole Opry. Both shows continue at the Ryman Auditorium.

The Friday Night Opry will feature another guest appearance by The Grascals. This bluegrass group has had a following since they first appeared on the Opry and there are many folks who think that they would make good Opry members. While I don't disagree, what is obvious is that they appear on the Opry more than many of the Opry's members. Joining them as guesting on the Friday show will be Gwen Sebastian, Sundy Best, Collin Raye and Ashley Monroe.

The Grand Ole Opry on Saturday night will feature guest artist Eric Church. He is one of the bigger names in country music and from what I have heard, this show is a sell-out. With a big name such as Eric, this would have been one of the nights where you would have thought that the Opry would add a second show. Joining him will be non-members Morgan Frazier, Will Hoge and Parmalee.

As far as Opry members, it will be the veterans carrying the load this weekend, including Bill Anderson, who will be appearing both Friday and Saturday night.

Friday January 10
7:00: John Conlee (host); Gwen Sebastian; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); The Grascals
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); The Whites; Sundy Best
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Collin Raye; Ashley Monroe

Saturday January 11
7:00: John Conlee (host); Morgan Frazier; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Connie Smith; Will Hoge
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jean Shepard; Parmalee; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Eric Church

Looking back in Grand Ole Opry history, it was on Saturday January 9, 1971 that Tom T Hall first joined the Grand Ole Opry. If he was around to enjoy it, this would be his 43rd year as an Opry member. But as we know, Tom T last appeared on the Opry in 1992 and from what he has said, he has no intention of coming back.

As I mentioned, Tom T first joined the Opry in 1992, but then he quit the Opry in 1974 when the Opry moved to the new Grand Ole Opry House. He said that he was a "romantic" that thought the Opry should have stayed at the Ryman. He rejoined the Opry in 1980. The story goes that he ran into Ernest Tubb in the parking lot one night who told him that he needed to get back to the Opry, and Tom T did. Whether that is true or not, who really knows but it sounds good enough to me.

I find it too bad that he does not want to come back and appear on the Opry. I know he doesn't do many shoes anymore, but I think his style and sound would do well on the show. And with his personality, he would be the perfect segment host, much like Larry Gatlin.

Here is the Opry line-up from Saturday January 9, 1971, the night Tom T Hall joined the Opry:

7:00: Rudy's
Roy Drusky (host); Jimmy Newman; Jim & Jesse; Ray Pillow
7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host); Jean Shepard; Charlie Walker; Tom T Hall
8:00: Martha White
Lester Flatt (host); Stonewall Jackson; Hank Locklin; Del Wood; Crook Brothers
8:30: Stephens
Bill Monroe (host); Earl Scruggs Revue; George Morgan; Stringbean; Stu Phillips
9:00: Luzianne
Porter Wagoner (host); Dolly Parton; Osborne Brothers; Ernie Ashworth; Fruit Jar Drinkers
9:30: Kellogg's
Hank Snow (host); Willis Brothers; Del Reeves; Grandpa Jones; Marion Worth
10:00: Fender
Bill Monroe (host); Jean Shepard; Jimmy Newman; Jim & Jesse
10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host); Earl Scruggs Revue; Ray Pillow
10:30: Trailblazer
Lester Flatt (host); Grandpa Jones; Willis Brothers; Tom T Hall; Charlie Walker
10:45: Beech-Nut
Porter Wagoner (host); Dolly Parton; George Morgan; Hank Locklin; Crook Brothers
11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host); Osborne Brothers; Stringbean; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Del Wood; Margie Bowes; Sam McGee
11:30: Lava
Del Reeves (host); Marion Worth; Justin Tubb; Ernie Ashworth; Stu Phillips

For the final line-up this week, I go to Saturday January 12, 1980, 34 years ago this week. There is really nothing special about this line-up other then it is a good solid Saturday night at the Opry.

1st show
6:00: Vietti
Jim Ed Brown (host) & Helen Cornelius: I Don't Want to Have to Marry You
4 Guys: Fire
David Houston: My Elusive Dreams
Ernie Ashworth: There's No Place I'd Rather Be Tonight
Helen Cornelius: That's What You Do to Me
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells

6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Del Reeves (host)L Lay A Little Lovin' On Me
Jimmy Dickens: Out Behind the Barn
Wilma Lee Cooper: I Don't Care (If Tomorrow Never Comes)
Del Reeves: She Thinks I Still Care

6:45: Rudy's
Bill Monroe (host): Mule Skinner Blues
Vic Willis: Colorado
Bill Monroe: Crying Holy Unto the Lord

7:00: Shoney's
Charlie Louvin (host): See The Big Man Cry
Connie Smith: He Touched Me/When God Dips His Love In My Heart
Jim & Jesse: Freight Train
Jim & Jesse/Charlie Louvin: Stormy Horizons
Charlie Louvin: Think I'll Go Somewhere and Cry Myself to Sleep/Have I Told You Lately That I Love You

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jean Shepard: Saturday Night Sin
Stonewall Jackson: Me & You & A Dog Named Boo
Charlie Walker: Don't Play Me No Songs About Texas
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Eighth of January
Roy Acuff: Thy Burdens Are Greater Than Mine/I'll Fly Away

8:00: Martha White
Billy Walker (host): When A Man Loves A Woman
Jeanne Pruett: Back to Back
Wilburn Brothers: God Bless America Again
Bill Carlisle: Same Old Tale That the Crow Told Me
Osborne Brothers: Country Roads
Billy Walker: You Turn My Love Light On

8:30: Acme
Hank Snow (host): In The Misty Moonlight
Roy Drusky: Remember Me (I''m the One Who Loves You)
Marion Worth: Someone Is Looking For Someone Like You
Stu Phillips: Great El Tigrae
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge
Hank Snow/Kelly Foxton: Stop Me From Loving You

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Bill Monroe (host): My Sweet Blue Eyed Darling
Jim Ed Brown/Helen Cornelius: Golden Ring
David Houston: Almost Persuaded
Jimmy Dickens: John Henry
4 Guys: Woman, Woman
Wilma Lee Cooper: Poor Ellen Smith
Bill Monroe: Right On

10:00: Fender
Del Reeves (host): The Race Is On
Billy Grammer: Spanish Fandango
Ernie Ashworth: The DJ Cried
Del Reeves: Bad News

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Down In Union County
Connie Smith: Sing, Sing, Sing
Charlie Walker: Don't Play Me No Songs About Texas
Roy Acuff: The Things That Might Have Been/I Saw the Light

10:30: Trailblazer
Osborne Brothers (host): Rocky Top
Jean Shepard: Slippin' Away
Vic Willis: Last Cheater's Waltz
Osborne Brothers: Fastest Grass Alive

10:45: Beech-Nut
Roy Drusky (host): Don't It Make You Want to Go Home
Jim & Jesse: Orange Blossom Special
Charlie Louvin/Ernie Ashworth: Houston Is A Honky-Tonk Town
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Cotton-Eyed Joe

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Gonna Find Me A Bluebird
Billy Walker: You Turn My Love Light On
Marion Worth: New Lips
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bill Cheatham
Wilburn Brothers: Because He Lives
Kirk McGee: Blue Night
Hank Snow/Kelly Foxton: After the Love Is Gone

11:30: Little Debbie
Stonewall Jackson (host): Don't Be Angry
Jeanne Pruett: Back to Back/Satin Sheets
Stu Phillips: Have I Told You Lately That I Love You/You Win Again/Release Me
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Stonewall Jackson: Washed My Hands In Muddy Water

Notice that it was only Opry members that night. And Porter Wagoner, along with Skeeter Davis were scheduled by cancelled out.

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

2013 Grand Ole Opry Year In Review

With 2014 upon us, it is now time to review 2013 at the Grand Ole Opry, including show counts and appearances by Opry members and guests. Overall, it was a year that featured the usual ups and downs as the Opry entered into it's 89th year.

2013 started with 67 members. 2 Opry members passed away during the year, Jack Greene and George Jones. In September, Old Crow Medicine Show became the Opry's only new members in 2013, which brings the current membership to 66.

Of those 66 members, 57 made Opry appearances during the year. That included 2 Opry members who had been gone for a while. Jeanne Pruett, who is retired, made a return appearance to the Opry stage in honor of her 40th year as an Opry member. And Hal Ketchum returned after an absence of several years due to health concerns.

There were a total of 182 Opry shows during the year. That compares with 184 in 2012 and 181 in 2011. Of those 182 shows, there were 61 Saturday night shows (down 10 from 2012), 54 Friday Night Opry shows (up 2), 44 Tuesday Night Opry shows (up 1), 14 Opry Country Classics (up 1), 8 Wednesday night shows (up 4), and the 1 Saturday matinee both years. The drop in Saturday night shows can be attributed to the fact that the Opry scheduled only one show on Saturdays except in October and late November thru early December.

Looking at the Opry's members and their appearances in 2013, the Top 10 breaks down as follows (remember that in today's Opry, any Opry appearance, no matter what night, is counted):

1) Jeannie Seely-81
2) The Whites-73
3) Bill Anderson, Jim Ed Brown-71
4) John Conlee-70
5) Riders In The Sky-68
6) Connie Smith-54
7) Jimmy C Newman-52
8) Jean Shepard-50
9) Bobby Osborne, Mike Snider-45
10) Jesse McReynolds-38

Compared to the Top 10 last year, the only one who dropped out was Jimmy Dickens, who was down to 8 Opry appearances in 2013 (from 143 in 2012), with Bobby Osborne and Jesse McReynolds joining the list. What is amazing is that out of 182 shows, the top appearing Opry member was there only 81 times. And it should be noted that the great majority of the Opry's veteran members would have done more Opry shows if asked.

As has been reported before, the goal of Pete Fisher is for each Opry member to appear 10 times per year. That is the commitment he is asking of those who currently join the Opry. (Remember that for Opry members who joined during the mid 1980's thru 2000, no commitment was asked). In addition to those listed above, here are the members that made at least 10 shows:

Larry Gatlin, Ricky Skaggs-33
George Hamilton IV-31
Del McCoury-28
Vince Gill, Jan Howard-21
Diamond Rio-20
Mel Tillis-12
Charlie Daniels, Lorrie Morgan, Ray Pillow, Carrie Underwood-10

Of those with 10 appearances or above, compared to last year, Craig Morgan, Marty Stuart and Steve Wariner dropped off the list, while Mel Tillis and Carrie Underwood were added on.

24 of the Opry's members made 10 or more appearances in 2013. What about the rest? Let's start at the opposite end of those who made 0 Opry shows: Garth Brooks, Tom T Hall, Barbara Mandrell(retired), Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Ricky Van Shelton(retired), Randy Travis(disabled), Travis Tritt and Trisha Yearwood. Of those on this list, the big mysteries are Travis Tritt and Dolly Parton. Travis hasn't appeared since 2007 and has never said why. Dolly Parton lives close by and is active around town. On the other hand, Tom T Hall has said he is never coming back while Reba McEntire has said that the Opry no longer fits her image.

Then you have the group that made just 1 Opry appearance in 2013. That group includes Clint Black, Roy Clark, Alan Jackson, Alison Krauss, Loretta Lynn, Ronnie Milsap and Jeanne Pruett(retired).

And now the rest:

Steve Wariner-9
Terri Clark, Jimmy Dickens, Craig Morgan-8
Rascal Flatts, Marty Stuart, Josh Turner, Old Crow Medicine Show-7
Pam Tillis-6
Joe Diffie, Oak Ridge Boys, Charley Pride-5
Dierks Bentley, Montgomery Gentry, Darius Rucker-4
Stonewall Jackson-3
Trace Adkins, Emmylou Harris, Hal Ketchum, Patty Loveless, Martina McBride, Brad Paisley, Stu Phillips, Blake Shelton, Ralph Stanley, Keith Urban-2

That accounts for all of the Opry's 66 members. If you look at a few of the Opry's newest members, such as Keith Urban, Blake Shelton and Darius Rucker, they are already trending toward the bottom of the list.

Looking at who hosted segments in 2013, 28 different members hosted. Connie Smith was added to the list of those who regularly host segments and she did a nice job. The Whites and Craig Morgan also saw more hosting duties. On the other side of the coin, Jimmy Dickens did not host one segment in 2013, while Mike Snider saw a big decrease, going from 71 to 22. The Top 10 list for 2013:

1) Jeannie Seely-67
2) Bill Anderson, John Conlee, Riders In The Sky-53
3) Jim Ed Brown-45
4) Ricky Skaggs-25
5) The Whites-24
6) Mike Snider-22
7) George Hamilton IV, Vince Gill-18
8) Connie Smith-15
9) Larry Gatlin, Ray Pillow-9
10) Jean Shepard, Steve Wariner-7

Taking a look at the non-Opry members who made appearances in 2013, a total of 227 guest artists made appearances. Most just did 1 or 2 shows, but there are some who were there much more often then members. The Top 10 list includes:

1) Mandy Barnett-22
2) Chris Janson-20
3) Sarah Darling-19
4) Kristen Kelly, Striking Matches-17
5) Mark Wills, Jimmy Wayne-16
6) Greg Bates-14
7) Grascals-13
8) Elizabeth Cook, Maggie Rose, The Willis Clan, Dailey & Vincent, Craig Campbell-11
9) Sara Haze, Jim Lauderdale, Exile-10
10) Joey+Rory, Lennon & Maisy, Restless Heart, TG Sheppard, Charles Esten-9

And 42 appearances were made by actors associated with the television show "Nashville".

The highlight of the year was the 50th anniversary of Jim Ed Brown as an Opry member. Bonnie and Maxine joined them and it was a wonderful tribute. The Opry also did a show to remember the 50th anniversary of the plane crash that killed Patsy Cline, Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins. And they continued the tradition of honoring Opry members for various years as an Opry member, including remembering Jeanne Pruett on her 40th anniversary and Joe Diffie for his 20th.

They Opry did a terrible job with the 88th birthday celebration. It was probably the weakest ever, and in fact, seemed like a very ordinary Opry show. And it was sad to see the decline of Jimmy Dickens and the serious health issues affecting Randy Travis.

Overall, we saw the Opry in 2013 continue the trend of having more guest artists perform than members. We also saw the continued decline in appearances by the veterans, and I would expect to see more of the same in 2014. 2014 will mark a couple of milestones with Jesse McReynolds and Bobby Osborne each reaching the 50 year mark as Opry members, while The Whites and Lorrie Morgan will become 30 year members, Hal Ketchum marking 20 years and Terri Clark reaching 10. I would expect the Opry to do a show for each of these members.

And here is hoping that the 89th birthday celebration of the Opry is much improved from the 88th. They did move it back a weekend, to the 2nd weekend in October. Maybe that will help.

All in all, 2013 continued to be a year of change at the Opry. What will 2014 bring? Only time will tell.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Grand Ole Opry 1/3 & 1/4

It took a while, but I think the Grand Ole Opry has finalized the line-ups for the 2 shows this weekend. For whatever reason, the Opry posted the line-ups for this weekend last Saturday night, which is about the earliest that I can remember. I am assuming that Pete Fisher and some of the staff took the week off between Christmas and New Years which could explain why the early posting. Of course, the line-up posted had some slots open. They were filled by adding Ralph Stanley for Friday and Saturday night, and now, as of this afternoon, Ralph has cancelled out and Restless Heart has been added, at least for Saturday. And, continuing on, has everyone seen the new Opry website? So far I am not so sure I like it. My biggest complaint is that the weekly line-up for both nights is not posted on one page together. And while I like the artists section, which is in alphabetical order by first name, I still wish they would separate members from the non-members, although now the print and pictures are bigger so it is easier to read. At least we can all feel good that the money from the increased ticket prices is going somewhere.

As far as the Friday Night Opry, non-members Elizabeth Cook, Wade Hayes and Chuck Wicks are scheduled, along with "Nashville" star Charles Esten. What would an Opry show be without someone from the television show. The most prominent Opry member scheduled is Del McCoury, who will also be appearing on Saturday night.

Joining Del Saturday will be Christian singer Francesca Battistelli, who will be making her first Opry appearance. Elizabeth Cook will also be returning, doing both shows this weekend, along with Billy Dean, Chuck Mead and Restless Heart.

Friday January 3
7:00: John Conlee (host); Joanna Smith; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: Connie Smith (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Chuck Wicks
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); Wade Hayes; Del McCoury Band
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Elizabeth Cook; Charles Esten

Saturday January 4
7:00: John Conlee (host); Greg Bates; Restless Heart
7:30: Connie Smith (host); Billy Dean; Elizabeth Cook
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jean Shepard; Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Francesca Battistelli; Del McCoury Band

That comes out to 7 Opry members on Friday and 6 on Saturday. The segment hosts are the same for both nights.

For this week's look back into Grand Ole Opry history, I have a couple of line-ups to share. The first is from Saturday January 7, 1967, which was the night that Charley Pride made his 1st appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Charley was so impressive that a short time later he was asked to join the Opry. However, due to his heavy touring schedule and the demands on his career, he declined. Over the years, Charley would make more Opry appearances and would continue to be asked to join. Finally, he accepted the Opry's invitation and on May 1, 1993 he became a member. Here is the line-up from Saturday January 7, 1967:

7:30: Luzianne
Bobby Lord (host): Out Behind the Barn
Margie Bowes: Come On Home
Jim Ed Brown: You Can Have Her
Minnie Pearl: Maple on the Hill
Bobby Lord: Old Enough to Die
Stringbean: Run, Little Rabbit, Run
Ernie Ashworth: The D.J. Cried
Bobby Lord: Hawkeye

8:00: Martha White
Flatt & Scruggs (host): Gonna Have Myself A Ball
Charlie Louvin: Think I'll Go Somewhere And Cry Myself to Sleep
Bill Carlisle: Doctor R.D.
Jean Shepard: I'd Rather Be the One
Flatt & Scruggs: Call Me on Home, Too
Crook Brothers: Eighth of January
Bill Carlisle: Knothole
Flatt & Scrugg: You Are My Flower
Uncle Josh: Just Joshin'
Flatt & Scruggs: Nine Pound Hammer

8:30: Stephens
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Don't Let Your Sweet Love Die
Justin Tubb: Take A Letter Miss Gray
Del Wood: Down at Papa Joe's
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Wilma Lee Cooper: A Hero's Death
Ray Pillow: Common Colds & Broken Hearts
Cousin Jody: I Miss Him So
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Satisfied

9:00: Pet Milk
Ernest Tubb (host): Filipino Baby
Wilburn Brothers: Hurt Her Once For Me
Jim & Jesse: Cotton Mill Man
Charley Pride: The Snakes Crawl at Night
Ernest Tubb: Another Story; Another Time; Another Place
Wilburn Brothers: Knoxville Girl
Fruit Jar Drinkers: The Old Hen Cackle
Steve Chapman: Wildwood Flower

9:30: Kellogg's
Willis Brothers (host): Cimarron
Tex Ritter: High Noon
Osborne Brothers: The Kind of Woman I Got
Marion Worth: Burning Bridges
Willis Brothers: When My Blue Moon Turns to Gold Again
Curly Fox: The Old Gray Mule
Tex Ritter: Take Him Fishin'
Willis Brothers: If I Can Help Somebody

10:00: Schick
Flatt & Scruggs (host): My Saro Jane
Stringbean: Walk Up, Little Betty
Ernie Ashworth: Sad Face
Flatt & Scruggs: Mama, You've Been on My Mind
Earl Scruggs: Foggy Mountain Special

10:15: Pure
Charlie Louvin (host): Apartment #9
Margie Bowes: Enough to Make A Woman Lose Her Mind
Jim Ed Brown: Yesterday
Cousin Jody: Jody's Chimes
Charlie Louvin: Off & On

10:30: Buckley's
Ray Pillow (host): And I Like That Sorta Thing
Jean Shepard & Ray Pillow: Willingly
Del Wood: Melinda
Ray Pillow: 'If' Is A Mighty Big Word

10:45: Kent
Ernest Tubb (host): Answer the Phone
Bill Carlisle: What Kinda Deal is This
Wilburn Brothers: Just to Be Where You Are
Crook Brothers: Chicken Reel

11:00: Coca-Cola
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): It Started Again
Justin Tubb: As Long As There's A Sunday
Jim & Jesse: Don't Let Nobody Tie You Down
Charley Pride: I Can't Help It
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Each Season Changes You
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bill Cheatham
Jim & Jesse: Memphis
Sam McGee: Wheels
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Wabash Cannonball

11:30: Lava
Marty Robbins (host): Running Gun
Tex Ritter: Boll Weevil
Osborne Brothers: The Kinda Woman I Got
Marion Worth: There Goes My Everything
Marty Robbins: El Paso
Curly Fox: Listen to the Mockingbird
Tex Ritter: I Dreamed of A Hillbilly Heaven
Marty Robbins: Devil Woman/Bouquet of Roses/I Could Never Be Ashamed of You

It seems hard to believe that it has been 16 years since Grandpa Jones did his final Opry show, but it was on Saturday January 3, 1998 that he performed on the Opry for the final time. Immediately after he came off stage following his appearance on the 2nd show, he suffered the first of what would become a series of strokes that would lead to his death in February. Grandpa had been an Opry member for over 50 years, yet he really didn't become known nationally until he became a member of the cast of Hee Haw. Country music knew of Grandpa, but then everyone did. Many feel that it was this recognition from Hee Haw that helped to get Grandpa elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Here is the line-up from his final night at the Opry, January 3, 1998:

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
Grandpa Jones (host): Banjo Sam
Wilma Lee Cooper: Wedding Bells
Grandpa Jones: My Little Old Home Down in New Orleans

6:45: Jogging In A Jug
John Conlee (host): As Long As I'm Rocking With You
Bill Carlisle: Elvira
John Conlee: Domestic Life

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Y'all Come
Brother Oswald: Praire Queen
Jimmy C Newman: Gumbo Song
Osborne Brothers: World of Forgotten People/Rocky Top
Porter Wagoner: Green Green Grass of Home
Porter Wagoner & Cristy Lynn: Milwaukee, Here I Come

7:30: Standard Candy
Johnny Russell (host): Someday I'll Sober Up
Ricochet: Connected at the Heart
Del Reeves: I Would Like to See You Again
Tracy Bird: Don't Take Her, She's All I Got
Riders In The Sky: Always Drink Upstream From the Herd
Johnny Russell: Act Naturally

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): Southern Fried
Ricky Skaggs: Dim Lights, Thick Smoke
Vince Gill: Key to Life
Opry Square Dance Band: Cherokee Suffle

8:30: Clifty Farms
Jimmy C Newman (host): Take An Old Cold Tater
Mike Snider: Foggy Mountain Breakdown
The Whites: Pins & Needles
Billy Walker: You Gave Me A Mountain
4 Guys: I'm Bound for Higher Ground
Jimmy Dickens: Another Bridge to Burn

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Ol' Slewfoot
John Conlee: Rose Colored Glasses
Riders In The Sky: Where the Bloom Is On the Sage
Ricochet: A Lot to Be Desired/She's Got Her Daddy's Money
Cristy Lynn: Walk Softly on My Heart
Porter Wagoner & Cristy Lynn: Forty Miles From Poplar Bluff

10:00: Opry Book
Grandpa Jones (host): Stop That Ticklin' Me
Tracy Bird: Roly Poly/Watermelon Crawl
Grandpa Jones: Any Old Time

10:15: Banquet
Jimmy Dickens (host): Out Behind the Barn
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything
Jimmy Dickens: Mountain Dew

10:30: Purnell's
Bill Anderson (host): But You Know I Love You
Osborne Brothers: Beneath Still Waters
Bill Anderson: A World of Make Believe

10:45: MTD
Ricky Skaggs (host): Hold Watcha Got
Jean Shepard: A Phone Call Away
Opry Square Dance Band: Durang's Hornpipe
Ricky Skaggs: I'm Lost and I'll Never Find the Way

11:00: Coca-Cola
Mike Snider (host): The Whole World Smiles With You
Del Reeves: A Lover's Question
The Whites: Swing Down, Sweet Chariot
Vince Gill: A River Like You/Key to Life
Tom Brantley: Wheel Hoss

11:30: Opry Book
Johnny Russell (host): Got No Reason Now for Going Home
4 Guys: Moments to Remember
Charlie Walker: Who'll Buy the Wine
Stu Phillips: Dust in My Eyes
Johnny Russell: Ain't You Even Gonna Cry

And finally, not to forget Norma Jean. She joined the Opry on January 9, 1965. Norma Jean stayed at the Opry only as long as she was a part of Porter Wagoner's show, eventually leaving the Opry and Nashville, moving back to Oklahoma. She is still performing today, usually in Branson. For more on Norma Jean, I would recommend that you read the Porter Wagoner biography. Here is the Opry line-up from the night she joined:

7:30: Luzianne
Jimmy C Newman (host)
Bobby Lord
Loretta Lynn
Del Wood
Ernest Ashworth

8:00: Porter Wagoner (host)
Charlie Louvin
Dottie West
Willie Nelson
Osborne Brothers
Norma Jeean
Crook Brothers

8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host)
Wilburn Brothers
Bill Anderson
Archie Campbell
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper
Margie Bowes

9:00: Pet Milk
Leroy Van Dyke (host)
Skeeter Davis
Sonny James
Curly Fox
Glaser Brothers
Fruit Jar Drinkers

9:30: Kellogg's
Hank Snow (host)
Bill Monroe
Roy Drusky
Willis Brothers
Marion Worth
The Browns

10:00: Schick
Bobby Lord (host)
Loretta Lynn
Osborne Brothers
Del Wood

10:15: Mary Carter
Jimmy C Newman (host)
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper
Bill Anderson
Bill Carlisle

10:30: Harvey's
Porter Wagoner (host)
Norma Jean
Sonny James

10:45: Newport
Roy Acuff (host)
Margie Bowes
Wilburn Brothers
Crook Brothers

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host)
Bill Monroe
Leroy Van Dyke
Glaser Brothers
Fruit Jar Drinkers
Dottie West
Sam & Kirk McGee

11:30: Roy Drusky (host)
Charlie Louvin
Marion Worth
Willis Brothers
The Browns
Willie Nelson
Curley Fox

I think it is safe to say that each of these shows was much better than what is scheduled for this weekend at the Opry. Oh, the old days!!!!

This weekend, I will offer my early wrap-up of the Opry for 2013 and then next week will offer a post on the Country Music Hall of Fame as the voting is now underway for the Class of 2014. I will offer my thoughts and will look forward to hearing from everyone else.

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!