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!!!!


  1. If I counted correctly, in 1992, Hal Durham managed to shoehorn 34 members into the two shows, or more than three times the number of members who will there on what we now consider a wonderful Friday night lineup. Oh, how the mighty have fallen. One of my favorite Emmylou memories is of her dancing one night on the Opry with Mr. Monroe, who seemed to enjoy it. Seemed?

  2. Fred, Bismarck:

    I remember that show, too, Michael. It was nice to see Bill lighten up some in his old age. But then, who would pass up the opportunity to hoof with pretty Emmylou?

  3. Fred, do you remember when Loretta, Tammy, and Dolly did an album together? They did a video where they're in their dressing room and guys would come to the door to escort them and they'd close the door. I could swear even Porter did a cameo. But when Daddy Grass showed up and put out his arm, Loretta left with him!

  4. Mike and Fred, I do remember that video and Mike, I do believe that you are right about Porter. Maybe a copy of it is floating around on YouTube or somewhere. Might have to look.

  5. It's not that good a copy, but ....

    I don't see Ol' Slicknickel, but Loretta does leave with Bill Monroe, and the roster is pretty impressive.

  6. What a totally enjoyable video, although it appears Chet Atkins is the big winner!
    I thought it was a great copy, Michael.

  7. Update: No Hal Ketchum this weekend. He has been replaced by Chris Janson. I don't know about anyone else, but losing Trace Adkins and Hal Ketchum, and adding Chris Janson doesn't seem like an equal replacement.

  8. Fred, Bismarck:

    I don't want to become a bore on the subject, so will let it suffice to say I caught Old Crow last night and loved them. Charlie Pride wisely did his "closing" number before bringing these show-stoppers on.

    The Opry was running about 15 minutes late, so I suffered through Bill Anderson's guests, Leah Turner and the braying, self-infatuated Chris Janson. Dear Lord, where does Pete Fisher find these people? I understand Fisher (1) not wanting to let the Opry turn into a geriatric show and (2) having to fill out the lineup with SOMEBODY, given the non-attendance of "members."

    But why can't more of his placekeepers be people who sing something more closely resembling country music? Turner and Janson don't come close, by any reasonable measurement.

  9. Except for Craig Morgan's first song and his introduction of Jeannie Seely, it did not catch any of the Opry last night. Why you ask? Because once again, the WSM on-line stream went out. Everytime I rebooted it, it would come back to Craig introducing Jeannie and then cutting out. (he was still introducing Jeannie at 7:35!!!). Even on my I-Pod it wasn't working. And due to weather conditions, WSM itself was not coming in too strong last night---lots of interference. I know this has been a problem with WSM and their on-line streaming as others have been complaining. Somehow, it has got to get fixed. After about 45 minutes I gave up.

    Fred, it just seems like when there is a cancellation, much like Trace Adkins (who was originally on the schedule for last night until he went back into rehab) and Hal Ketchum (who due to travel conditions could not make it), Pete has his list of "go-to" people who seem to be always available. Folks like Jimmy Wayne, Chris Janson, Mandy Barnett, Rebecca Lynn Howard, among others. They are all ok, but especially in the case of Jimmy and Chris, I think I have heard enough. Almost always the same songs each time they are on. And I am sure Pete would rather call a Jimmy or Chris, who is younger and would appeal to more folks, then calling in a veteran Opry member, who you know is probably available. And actually last night, instead of calling in Chris Janson, he probably could have spread Jim Ed, Jimmy C or Jeannie out, giving them the opportunity to do another song.

  10. With the exception of Turner & Janson, last night's was a great show to listen to.

  11. Interesting Byron, I was able to listen to the entire Opry show online from start to finish. The stream never went out. It has to be this horrible weather, which is about to go back into the deep freeze starting tomorrow night through Wednesday with MORE snow & very high winds in the Chicago area - oh gee, just can't wait - :-(

    In fact, I have found all winter long that WSM hasn't come in over my home radio's nearly as terrific as in past winters. There were nights when I could listen to Eddie Stubbs as if the WSM studio was sitting in Chicago, it came in that strong with not much fading in & out at all. Maybe WSM did something to change that.

    Thoroughly enjoyed Craig Morgan as always - however, when Eddie Stubbs was welcoming Craig Morgan to the stage as he was going to host the first segment, Eddie said that it was the first time Craig was hosting a segment of the Opry. Byron, by chance do you keep records on who hosts & when? I thought Craig had previously hosted a segment. Maybe Eddie meant on the Friday Night Opry, I don't know. Craig sang his new song "Wake Up Lovin' You" at the end of the segment. What a great song & he really has a really good & powerful voice. Big fan of his.

    Sorry that Hal Ketchum wasn't on. Hopefully he'll be able to get back to Nashville soon. I know when he does & they celebrate his 20 years of membership it will be a great night for him. I watched the night he was inducted into the Opry & he gave that wonderful speech, he loves being a member & for a while there he really did appear quite often but health issues has prevented him from appearing as much as I am sure he would like to. Another one with a great voice.

    Thoroughly enjoyed The Old Crow Medicine Show as always - they performed three songs - of course Wagon Wheel was the show closer & stopper as always & Old Crow appears again tonight. Yah!!! Big fan of theirs. Tonight's line-up is a pretty good one.

    I fully agree with you Byron, there is a core group of "go-to's" when the Pete Fisher most likely isn't able to get his own members to the stage. Make 'em members & we'll be assured that we won't see them very often - oh wait! Maybe THAT'S why they aren't members, Pete can be assured they WILL answer the call. ugh! I really do like Chris Janson a whole lot but for someone who has an album out he really should try to do other songs from it, though I do have to say the two that he does do, I really like him a whole lot. Great backstory ... And I fully agree with you as far as Pete would rather call the younger artists & why.

    And one more request Byron, can you tell me when it was, that Reba appeared last on the Opry stage as a member. I read on a FB page where she was quoted as saying that 28 years ago she became a member of the Grand Ole Opry - my thought after reading that was, big deal - when was the last time you stood on the stage & performed as a member?

    Stay warm everyone ... no matter how cold & snowy we are, we are one day closer to Spring!


  12. Fred, I think the older members would be glad to perform, but management doesn't want them to. Jimmy C., for example, does one show a weekend. Now, I'm sure Miss Mae likes having him around on a Friday or Saturday night, but I'm also sure he would be glad to do two weekend shows more often.

    I understand the logic of putting on "younger" acts. But at the same time, Jimmy Wayne and Mandy Barnett, for example, don't have a LOT of appeal to the younger set, it seems to me--that isn't to knock them, either.

    I'm sorry I missed last night, and I really like Old Crow. I haven't had streaming issues with WSM for quite a while. But I wonder about the various computers and browsers and video streaming systems. I guess just about anything is possible!

  13. Jeanene, you asked a few questions and here are the answers. Regarding Craig Morgan and Eddie's introduction, I did hear that and I wondered also what Eddie was thinking. Maybe the Friday Night Opry or 1st time at the Ryman, or 1st time in 2014? But anyways, Craig hosted 3 times in 2013, which were his first times hosting.

    As far as Reba McEntire, since she joined the Opry in 1985/1986 (the special was filmed in November 1985 and shown in January 1986), she has made a total of 13 Opry appearances. Yes, that is right: 13 appearances in 28 years of membership. The breakdown is 1986-3; 1987-2; 1990-2; 1993-2; 1996-1; 2000-2; 2009-1. Her last Opry appearance was on Saturday May 9, 2009. On that night, there was 1 show starting at 7 and with no intermission, ending at 9. The Opry (Pete Fisher), added an additional segment with Reba as the only guest. If I remember right, she only did 3 songs and was on for a little less than 15 minutes.

    Just for the heck of it, here is the entire line-up from that night:
    7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Helen Cornelius; Jimmy C Newman; James Otto
    7:30: Jean Shepard (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
    8:00: Mike Snider (host); Stonewall Jackson; Darryl Worley; Opry Square Dancers
    8:30: Hal Ketchum (host); Jan Howard; Jack Greene
    9:00: Reba McEntire

    I would have to check to be sure, but on a quick glance, Reba has made the least number of Opry appearances of anyone who joined the show in that 1980s to mid 1990s time period. Yes, even Clint Black, Alan Jackson and Garth Brooks have made almost double the appearances that Reba has made.

    1. Wow, Byron, that is unbelievable! That has to be the worst record of appearances by a member in the history of the show. If Reba ever appears again, they should give her an award for being the Opry's WORST Member ever! Consider that folks like Carrie Underwood make their 10 requested appearances per year (or close to it), which means they have appeared almost as much in one year as Reba has in 28! I really wish Pete Fisher would just quietly removed folks like these from the roster and stop promoting them as "members".

    2. Thank you for your very thorough reply to my questions, Byron. 13 whole appearances ... it's been 5 years since her last appearance, which I totally remember & with that poor track record, we now know that the Opry does not fit her image - whatever image that is or isn't. But wait, that means that Travis Tritt is just as bad if not a worse Opry member. If I recall correctly it has been 7/8 years since he last showed up & I don't see him showing up any time soon. He was in Franklin, TN for a two night concert in the last couple of weeks & was a stones throw away from the Opry stage & just couldn't get to it. Marty Stuart was one of Travis's guests one of the night's & HE couldn't show up either. Terrible. As far as Clint Black, Alan Jackson & Garth Brooks, the only one that shows up with a once a year, give or take a few of months, regularity is Alan Jackson & that certainly isn't saying much, the other two, eh ... and I am a fan of Clint Black, whatever happened to him, period. I'm not talking just the Opry, he recorded some great music & then dropped out of sight. That's too bad, he's talented & has a pretty darned good voice. I did not miss Garth Brooks since he retired from the business & then he hooked up with Steve Wynn & did his thing in Las Vegas for a couple of years. I'm sure he still has an audience out there so his return to the concert stage should be successful.

      The Old Crow Medicine Show - last night & tonight performed "CCR Rider" not sure if that is the name of the song but they did just a great job & the audience very much appreciated when one of them whistled at a point during the song, I would think that is hard to do. This group of musicians just blows me away with their musicianship & harmonies. As always a huge reception from the audience.

      Two terrific Opry shows this weekend.

      Now to watch Larry's Country Diner - Larry's guest is Bill Medley & his daughter, McKenna Medley - yes, from the Righteous Brothers fame ... hmm, should be quite interesting, never knew Bill "went country." Of course, that doesn't mean he did - need to check it out.


  14. If I recall, Reba had a new album out about that time. Byron, I have to say, Garth was pretty good until he retired; now that he is unretired, I am less tolerant of him. But I wondered, and if you don't have it at hand, don't worry, but in the same time period, has Dolly been on fewer times than Reba?

    1. Michael, I'll bet you're right. In the past 20 years, I'll bet Dolly has appeared less than 20 times. I would be surprised if she has made more appearances than that. Bryon can certainly clarify this, but Dolly has been a very poor supporter of the show over the last two decades.

  15. Fred, Bismarck:

    Michael, I sure didn't mean to include folks like Jimmy 'C' among the hard-to-find members. I know they'd play more often if they were allowed to. I intended the Alan Jacksons and Dolly Partons and just about everybody added in the last 25 years.

    Imagine going to the Opry 35 years ago and not getting to see ANY among Ernest Tubb, Hank Snow, Roy Acuff, Bill Monroe, Hank Locklin, Grandpa Jones, Wilma Lee Cooper, the Wilburn Brothers, Stonewall Jackson, Porter Wagoner, Bill Anderson, Jimmy Dickens, etc. That's the kind of negative "attraction" Pete Fisher holds out to fans today. Really, it's a wonder anybody shows up at the ticket window.

    Byron, that Internet reception is a sometimes thing, isn't it? And hit and miss. I did fine last night, but a couple of weeks ago ... when we had reports on the show from several Fayfarers ... I was "down."

    I will do tonight as I did last night and tune in for the last segment and Old Crow.

    1. Fred, I'm sorry--I didn't realize it. Of course you're right. And you're right about the "negative attraction," too!

  16. I did some quick adding, and I might be off by one or two appearances, but here is the number of Opry appearances by those who joined the Opry from the middle 1980s into the 1990s. I did not include Riders In The Sky or The Whites, as there is no question that they are at the Opry a lot. Also, Johnny Russell, Mel McDaniel and Johnny Paycheck have passed away so I didn't include them.

    Ricky Skaggs (1982)-1,005 appearances
    Lorrie Morgan (1984)-754
    Vince Gill (1991)-449
    Holly Dunn (1989)-342
    Marty Stuart (1992)-305
    Hal Ketchum (1994)-278
    Charley Pride (1993)-230
    Joe Diffie (1993)-151
    Alison Krauss (1993)-141
    Patty Loveless (1988)-118
    Brad Paisley (2001)-98
    Roy Clark (1987)-89
    Martina McBride (1995)-87
    Emmylou Harris (1992)-70
    Alan Jackson (1991)-64
    Garth Brooks (1990)-61
    Ricky Van Shelton (1988)-50
    Randy Travis (1986)-41
    Clint Black (1991)-27
    Trisha Yearwood (1999)-24

    And to answer the Dolly Parton question, since 1985 she has found the Opry House 11 times.

    Finally, Mike you are right. Reba was promoting a new album at the time of her last appearance.

  17. Thank you for the Opry appearance list, Byron ~ 1,005 appearances by Ricky Skaggs makes me say even more so that he should be in the Country Music Hall of Fame ... just wow ~ and Lorrie Morgan comes in at #2? And Alison Krauss comes in with 141 appearances?? I remember when she was inducted, she had to have front loaded about 130 appearances as she rarely comes to the Opry now. Ricky Van Shelton, now retired, still miss him & he won't be returning. "I'll Leave This World Loving You", "I Meant Every Word He Said", "I've Cried My Last Tear for You" & "Statue of a Fool" great, great songs & a true vocalist. I was so happy for Johnny Paycheck when he was invited & inducted into the Opry - I miss him a lot too. Great voice - SO much more than the "Take This Job & Shove It" song. Thanks to Eddie Stubbs who has played a great deal of Johnny's music - he has quite the catalog. Mel McDaniel, always liked him & he put out some good music. And every time Johnny Russell hosted the Opry back in the TNN days - would stand sideways & ask "can you see me now?" Always made me laugh ... great guy & really good music.


  18. Byron, that is incredible. Thanks. Also, remember that Holly Dunn left around, oh, 2003? All I can say is that a lot of people should be ashamed of themselves.

  19. Minor note on Eddie and his Craig Morgan comment. It might have been an outright mistake on his part but he cleared it up before introducing Craig to close by saying it was his first time to host an opening portion of the Opry but he had hosted before.

    Although Bill Anderson has opened the show it seems rare and was just different on Saturday. Not sure yet what I think of his cute little Bubba song but in the right young cool hands he might just have a big hit! Just for the record I AM a big Whisper fan!

    As for who is appearing on the Opry these days, I am convinced that not everyone is as interested and up on the Opry or country music as a whole as many who comment here. I believe that a majority who come to the Opry really don't know what they are participating in but know it is an internationally famous show so whatever is presented must be hip if the artist is young and it sounds like something they have heard on their top 40 country station. These days you can tell so many people what is right or cool and make them feel like they are stupid if they don't agree and they will go to be PC. Far be it for them to think for themselves and like something because it appeals to them. I am appalled at the great applause some of these flat whining performers get. Oh but I must remember that folks like Acuff and ET weren't great singers either! Should they be compared?

    Has anyone listened to the commercials about how great the Opry is and why you should come to the show. I especially like the one with Brad Paisley where he states that if he is in town there is no place he'd rather be than at the Opry. I really don't have a preference whether he is there on not but I wonder if his statement is true. Byron's notes indicate Brad has made an average of 8 appearances per year. Byron, does your count include those made before membership? It seems he was there a lot before and just after becoming a member.

    As much as I dislike it, Fisher and company seem to have their finger on the pulse of the crowd they are trying to draw. My worry is that it will be a get rich quick scheme and ten years from now the Opry will be worse for it. I don't think they are adding to the foundation of the show, just making money.

    Off my stump!

    Knightsville, IN

  20. Jim, thanks as always for the comments and views. Always appreciated.

    As far as Brad Paisley, no those are just the appearances he has made since becoming a member. The breakdown by years has 2001-28 (all after he joined in February); 2002-13; 2003-12; 2004-3; 2005-7; 2006-5; 2007-4; 2008-4; 2009-3; 2010-4; 2011-3; 2012-4; 2013-2. You can see that his appearances really dropped off after he made it big, but at least he has not missed a year. I do give Brad credit in that he has been one of the big supporters of Jamboree USA in Wheeling and getting that show going again. Brad recieved his first recognition on that show. I understand he and his father have given the show financial and management support. The show is not like it was in its prime, but at least it is still taking place.

    For the Holly Dunn fans out there, Diane Diekman, who wrote the great Faron Young book, and the recent book on Marty Robbins, which is also very good, has a website, She features a newsletter/blog and this week's featured artist is Holly Dunn. Some good comments by Holly on what she is doing now and why she left the Opry. I hope Diane, who I think checks out this site once in a while, doesn't mind the mention.

  21. Fred, Bismarck:

    Some great insights, Jim, particularly characterizing some of the Opry's more casual visitors. I think you are correct, judging from the approximately equal enthusiasm -- about which I've wondered -- that seems to be the response to about everybody. There may well be a good part of every crowd that thinks, because a performer is on the Opry, he or she has to be great.

    That's a feather in the Opry's cap, but thin soup for the rest of us.

  22. I really believe that at least half the audience has no idea going in that this is a live radio show with commercials or that there are usually a dozen performers. They would really be shocked if it was the two dozen plus we used to expect! I then wonder how many actually return unless they get wind of a Carrie or Dierks being there.

    On the other hand, how many visitors in past years returned year after year and passed that tradition on to the next generation of the family.

    This is why I think they are on a planned course that once they get rid of the white hairs they will turn the show into a four act or less event with one or two sponsors. Just my negative thoughts! Hope I am so wrong.

    Knightsville, IN

  23. Fred, Bismarck:

    Yes, seeing the Opry turned into just another concert venue would be a comedown, the official end of the Opry we used to know. Yet, Gaylord may have no other choice, if they want to commit their radio "stars" to enough (well-paid) appearances to continue the show and protect their investment.