Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Grand Ole Opry 9/12 & 9/13

Before I get to the Grand Ole Opry line-up for this weekend, I had a couple of comments to pass along. First, the Opry has added a 2nd show on Friday October 10, which is the weekend of the 89th birthday bash. There were already 2 shows for Saturday. My guess is that they are going to add a few more "stars" to the line-up, which right now is pretty thin. They only add a 2nd show if they feel they can come close to selling it out.

My other comment does not relate to the Opry, but I wanted to mention the new Birthplace of Country Music Museum that has recently opened in Bristol. My wife and I have visited the area many times and we know the heritage of country music. In fact, the "Bristol Sessions" are considered the "big bang" of country music. Many people have spent a lot of time in making this project a reality and it opened last month. This past weekend, we went down for a visit. The Museum, while not huge, is very well done. The displays are impressive and the people working were very friendly and knew their stuff. There were displays on Jimmie Rodgers, The Carter Family, Ralph Peer, Pop Stoneman and Tennessee Ernie Ford. There was live music and I was told there is room for expansion. I would say their were 40-50 visitors when we were there Saturday afternoon. Of course, when in the area, make sure to visit The Carter Fold, up in the hills. Every Saturday night they have a show and A.P. Carter's cabin is open and filled with different items. I highly recommend that if you get the chance, head down for a visit.

As far as the Opry this weekend, I think they have come up with a couple of respectable shows. First, I was very happy to see Roy Clark scheduled for both shows this weekend. This will be his first Opry appearance of the year. I have seen some recent pictures of Roy on the web, and while he has aged, he is looking pretty good. Also scheduled both nights is another Country Music Hall of Fame member, Mel Tillis. Joining Roy and Mel on Friday night will be someone who should be in the Hall of Fame, and that is Ray Stevens. You never know what you will get from Ray. Also scheduled is Lee Greenwood and Elizabeth Cook. Making his first Opry appearance will be Noam Pikelny. He is a fine banjo player and part of the Punch Brothers. While not country, they are right on the fringe and having seen them previously, they are good.

Saturday's line-up includes Crystal Gayle. I have said many times, and I think others agree, Crystal would make a fine Opry member. Also scheduled for another appearance is Fiddlin' Carson Peters Band, Mary Gauthier and frequent Opry guest, Chris Janson.

Friday September 12
7:00: John Conlee (host); Leah Turner; The Whites; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Connie Smith (host); Jimmy Wayne; Mel Tillis
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Elizabeth Cook; Ray Stevens
8:45: Roy Clark (host); Noam Pikelny & Stuart Duncan; Lee Greenwood

Saturday September 13
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Katie Armiger; Jimmy Dickens (?)
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Fiddlin' Carson Peters Band; Crystal Gayle
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jean Shepard; Marty Gauthier; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Roy Clark (host); Chris Janson; Mel Tillis

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 5 years ago this weekend, September 11 and 12, 2009:

Friday September 11
7:00: Steve Wariner (host); Jeannie Seely; Mike Snider
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Stonewall Jackson; Joe Diffie
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jean Shepard; Pam Tillis
8:30: Marty Stuart (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Jim Ed Brown; Connie Smith

Saturday September 12
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; The Infamous Stringdusters
7:30: Lorrie Morgan (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jack Greene; Jean Shepard
8:00: Mike Snider (host); Jan Howard; The Carter Twins; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); The Whites; Pam Tillis

I am sure everyone will take note that the Friday night show featured all Opry members.

Now from 10 years ago, the weekend of September 10 & 11, 2004:

Friday September 10
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Connie Smith; Radney Foster
8:00: John Conlee (host); Osborne Brothers; Christy Sutherland
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Mel McDaniel; Anita Cochran
9:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Kylie Harrie; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Mandy Barnett
9:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jeannie Seely; Mark Wills

Saturday September 11
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; Brad Cotter
7:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Shawn Camp; Dan Seals
7:30: Charlie Walker (host); Mel McDaniel; Jessi Alexander
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Billy Walker; Jeff Bates; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: The Whites (host); Jack Greene; Osborne Brothers; Mandy Barnett

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; Brad Cotter
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Billy Walker; Shawn Camp; Dan Seals
10:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); Stonewall Jackson; Jessi Alexander; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: The Whites (host); Osborne Brothers; Jeff Bates
11:30: Ray Pillow (host); Jack Greene; Mandy Barnett

For this week's special look back into Grand Ole Opry history, it was on Saturday September 13, 1958 that Ben Smathers and the Stoney Mountain Cloggers became members on the Grand Ole Opry. The Stoney Mountain Cloggers were actually a family act that consisted of Ben and Margaret, along with Hal, Tim, Candy and Debbie. When they came to the Opry from North Carolina in 1958, they were given a guest spot. It was written that during that appearance, they received "wild ovations and numerous encores" and have been regulars on the Opry since. The Stoney Mountain Cloggers were much more than just an Opry act. They appeared on over 130 network television shows, 6 movies and at 40 state fairs and numerous county fairs. They even spent a considerable amount of time touring with Charlie Daniels.

Here is the running from Saturday September 13, 1958, 56 years ago this weekend, when the Stoney Mountain Cloggers first performed on the Grand Ole Opry.

7:30: Sessions Peanut Butter
Marty Robbins (host): Just Married
Porter Wagoner: Tell Her Lies and Feed Her Candy
Jordanaires: Little Miss Ruby
Jean Shepard: Secret of Life
Marty Robbins: I Can't Quite
Carlisles: Leave That Liar Alone
Porter Wagoner: Haven't You Heard
Square Dancers: Sally Goodin
Stringbean: Shotgun Boogie
Jean Shepard: Sweet Temptation
Marty Robbins: Story of My Life
Fiddle Tune: Leather Britches

8:00: Martha White
Flatt and Scruggs (host): I Don't Care
Jimmy Newman: Send Me the Pillow You Dream On
Carl Butler: The Blues Come Around
Benny and Jo Ann: My Fortune
Flatt and Scruggs: Heaven
Del Wood: Down Yonder
Hilo Brown: Stonewall
Possum Hunters: Bill Cheatham
Jimmy Newman: The Way You're Living
Flatt and Scruggs: Dear Old Dixie
Fiddle Tune: Devil's Dream

8:30: Prince Albert
Hawkshaw Hawkins (host): I'll Get Even With You
Rod Brasfield: Comedy
Don Gibson: Look Who's Blue
Tommy Jackson: Katy Hill
Hawkshaw Hawkins: If I Could Hear My Mother Pray
Chet Atkins: Bells of St. Mary
June Carter: Comedy
Don Gibson: I'm Going to Give Myself A Party
Grandpa Jones: Daylight Saving Time
Hawkshaw Hawkins: I Don't Apologize
Tommy Jackson: Wake Up Susan

9:00: Jefferson Island
Jordanaires: Theme
Ernest Tubb (host): Two Glasses Joe
Bill Monroe: Sitting on Top of the World
Porter Wagoner: Turn It Over in Your Mind
Cousin Jody: Television Set
Ernest Tubb: Half A Mind
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Sally Johnson
Bill Monroe: Sally Joe
Stonewall Jackson: Grieving In My Heart
Porter Wagoner: Satisfield Mind
Ernest Tubb: Hey, Mr. Bluebird
Fiddle Tune: Soldier's Joy

9:30: Stephens
Coopers: Theme
Hank Snow (host): The Woman Captured Me
Cowboy Copas: Won't You Ride in My Little Red Wagon
Carl Butler: Nothing Can Stop Me
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: Loving You
Hank Snow: I'm Hurting All Over
Crook Brothers: Bile Them Cabbage Down
Benny Martin: Border Baby
Cowboy Copas: Don't Shake Hands With the Devil
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: We Live in Two Different Worlds
Hank Snow: Big Wheel
Fiddle Tune: Forked Deer

10:00: Standard Brands
Marty Robbins (host): Sweet Lies
Hawkshaw Hawkins: Sensation
Don Gibson: Blue Blue Day
Jean Shepard: Sad Singing Slow Riding
Marty Robbins: I'll Step Aside
Del Wood: Echo Waltz
Grandpa Jones: Mountain Dew
Jordanaries: In the Great Getting Up Morning
Marty Robbins: Singing the Blues
Fiddle Tune: Soldier's Joy

10:30: Delited
Carlisles: Theme
Ernest Tubb (host): You Don't Have to Be A Baby to Cry
Stonewall Jackson: Living This Way
Carlisles: Zat You Myrtle
Ernest Tubb: Driftwood on the River
Fiddle Tune: Paty on the Turnpike

10:45: De Con
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper (host): Cheated Too
Jimmy Newman: Why Baby Why
Crook Brothers: 8th of January
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: Walking My Lord Up Calvery Hill
Fiddle Tune: Buffalo Gal

11:00: Coca Cola
Jordanaires: Theme
Hank Snow (host): Caribbean
Carl Butler: I Know What it Means to Be Lonesome
Benny Martin and Jo Ann: My Fortune
Flatt and Scruggs: Before I Met You
Hank Snow: Whispering Rain
Rod Brasfield: Comedy
Stringbean: Nine Pound Hammer
Gully Jumpers: Grey Eagle
Carl Butler: Jealous Heart
Hank Snow: Rumba Boogie

11:30: Jamison Bedding
Jordanaires: Theme
Porter Wagoner (host): Trade Mark
Don Gibson: Oh, Lonesome Me
Bill Monroe: Brand New Shoes
Porter Wagoner: Eat Drink and Be Merry
Fiddle Tune: Flop Eared Mule

Cowboy Copas (host): Feeling Low
Sam and Kirk: I Wish I Had A Nickel
Cousin Jody: Dear John
Fruit Jars: Ida Red
Cowboy Copas: The Man Upstairs

The Stoney Mountain Cloggers remained on the Opry for 35 years, until September 11, 1993 when Margaret Smathers and the group made the decision to retire. Ben Smathers had died in September 1990 at the age of 61, following complications from open heart surgery but Margaret and the group continued to appear at the Opry, usually in an every-other week rotation with the Melvin Sloan Dancers.

On that final Saturday, the Nashville Tennessean had a very fine write-up on the group, that was written by Brian Mansfield. Here is that article, which was headlined, "They're clogging off the stage-Stoney Mountain Cloggers retiring from the Grand Ole Opry.:

"After 35 years on the Grand Ole Opry, the Stoney Mountain Cloggers kick up their heels for a final time tonight. The family-based troupe will retire from the Opry after performing on each of tonight's shows. 'It probably is a half dozen reasons,' says Margaret Smathers, the leader of the group since the death of her husband Ben in 1990. 'One big reason is I'm 66 and not getting any younger, I find. I feel I'm still dancing as good as I did a few years ago. I just think it's kind of time for the older ones to step down and let the younger ones have their turn. I'd like to think that a younger group would come in and start working on their 35 years.'

The Smathers family first began performing on the Opry in 1958, making weekly trips from their home in North Carolina. The group eventually relocated to Nashville and became a popular Opry feature even though people listening to the show on the radio could only imagine the dance steps. 'I've always thought the Opry, because it's a radio show, is kind of an unusual place to have clogging,' says Opry general manager Hal Durham. 'The radio listener hears the square-dance band playing and hears the sound of dancing, but they can't see.'

Smathers says the Stoney Mountain Cloggers went into semi-retirement five or six years ago, and her three children  who dance in the group found additional jobs. Candy Smathers Johnson works for Joyce Daniel & Associates doing make up for TNN; Hal Smathers is with Carter & Associates, and Debbie Smathers Wilson works as bar manager for the Santa Fe Steak Co.

Fellow Opry stars Vince Gill and the Whites asked to perform with the Stoney Mountain Cloggers on their final segments. Mickey Smathers, who used to dance with the troupe, now works as a production manager for Gill. He'll rejoin the family for the final performance, as will a non-dancing daughter, Sally. Margaret says she's concerned that the role of the traditional dances on the Opry may decrease with the Cloggers' departure. 'That has bothered me,' she says. 'I hope they will go on with it. Hal Durham and I talked recently about this, and he asked me if I thought clogging and square dancing should be kept. I feel like it's tradition.' 'We haven't determined yet what we're going to do about that,' says Durham. 'For the time being, Melvin Sloan's group will dance.'"

Here is the line-up from Saturday September 11, 1993, 21 years ago this weekend, when the Stoney Mountain Cloggers made their final Grand Ole Opry appearance, an appearance that was part of the televised Opry on TNN.

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
4 Guys (host): Turn Your Radio On
Wilma Lee Cooper: Give Me the Roses While I Live
4 Guys: All Tied Up

6:45: Country Music Hall of Fame
Jack Greene (host): Until My Dreams Come True
Jean Shepard: Wabash Cannonball
Jack Greene: You Are My Treasure

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Company's Comin'
Jim Ed Brown: Lyin' In Love With You
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Del Reeves: Luckenbach, Texas
Jeannie Seely: Don't Touch Me
Porter Wagoner: Forty Miles From Poplar Bluff

7:30: Standard Candy
Vince Gill (host): Give Me Just One More Last Chance
Barry and Holly Tashian: I Dreamed of An Old Love Affair/If I Knew Then What I Know Now
The Whites: House of Gold
Opry Square Dance Band/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Bill Cheatham
Vince Gill: (?)

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): Southern Fried
Riders In The Sky: Blue Montana Skies
Jimmy C Newman: Cajun's Dream
Oswald: Mountain Dew
Charlie Louvin: Will You Visit Me On Sundays
Bill Anderson: The Touch of the Master's Hand

8:30: Kraft
Hank Snow (host): Breakfast with the Blues
Billy Walker: Cross the Brazos at Waco
Connie Smith: I Never Once Stopped Loving You
Roy Drusky: I Really Don't Want to Know
Mike Snider: Battle Cry of Freedom/Get Your Hand Off My Knee and Load the Cannon
Hank Snow: I've Cried A Mile

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): On A Highway Headed South
Jeannie Seely: When He Leaves You
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells
Ray Pillow: Someone Had to Teach You
Charlie Louvin: The Hand that Rocks the Cradle
Porter Wagoner: Ol' Slewfoot

10:00: Little Debbie
Jack Greene (host): I Don't Believe I'll Fall In Love Today
Jean Shepard: Second Fiddle
Jack Greene: Ever Since My Baby Went Away

10:15: Tennessee Pride/Sunbeam
Bill Anderson (host): Wild Weekend
4 Guys: Shut the Door
Bill Anderson: Golden Guitar

10:30: Piccadilly
Charlie Walker (host): Right or Wrong
Mike Snider: Bells of St. Mary's
Charlie Walker: Smoke, Smoke, Smoke

10:45: Opry Book
Vince Gill (host): Take Your Memory With You When You Go
The Whites: Keep on the Sunny Side
Opry Square Dance Band/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Black Mountain Rag
Vince Gill: I've Been Hearing things About You

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Giesha Girl
Billy Walker: A Million and One
Roy Drusky: Mississippi
Riders In The Sky: Cowboy Jubilee/Riding Down the Canyon
Hank Snow: The Third Man

11:30: General Jackson
Jimmy C Newman (host): Big Mamou
Justin Tubb: Walkin', Talkin', Cryin' Barely Beatin' Broken Heart
Connie Smith: Sing, Sing, Sing
Johnny Russell: In A Mansion Stands My Love/He'll Have to Go
Jimmy C Newman: Jambalaya

As we all know now, the Stoney Mountain Cloggers were not replaced and clogging disappeared from the Opry stage. Melvin Sloan and his dancers carried on each week until Melvin retired and now the group is just known as the Opry Square Dancers.

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!


  1. What a weekend. Friday night is PERFECT.
    Noam Pikelny Plays Kenny Baker Plays Bill Monroe is Noam's latest record.
    Stuart Duncan is perpetual ACM fiddle player of the year.
    Everybody else suits me just fine.
    I hate it that I can't get away.
    This is what the 'Opry SHOULD be.

  2. This isn't on topic but I wanted to drop off link to this video of Carrie Underwood talking about the Opry at 1 of her 2 sold out Ravinia Festival shows near Chicago, Illinois last weekend:

    Here's what she said:

    ...all kinds of music, but the kind that I chose to listen to - my parents kind of had their own things, and then I had, like teenage sisters when I was really young - but the kind that I felt like I really discovered and that's what I wanted was country music. And I remember...we didn't have...we only had like, 4 TV stations and they were all fuzzy, but my grandparents down the street had cable. And...I would see them talk about the Grand Ole Opry, and just how amazing that seemed, and if I could just go there some day...then when I was about 10 or 11 years old, my Mom and I went to Nashville TN, and I got to see the Ryman from the outside. We didn't get to go in, but I saw it and I felt like if I could one day just get to go in there, that would be awesome.

    The first time I got to go on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry was when I was playing there, which was absolutely insane. It's the heart and home of our music, it's our church. If you guys ever get to go to Nashville, I recommend - no, no - I demand - that you go to the Grand Ole Opry. And the reason I talk about that is that this next song, it holds one of my most special memories ever.

    Then she goes on to talk about Randy Travis and "I Told You So."

    I'm not looking to persuade anybody here to like Carrie's music. I disagree with some comments I've seen here about her music having nothing to do with country music, but I'm not going to argue that point now either. I just thought this was a nice example of somebody in the Opry's younger generation going out in the world and making a case for the Opry and what it means.

  3. Windmills, I'm not wild about Carrie Underwood's music, but, please understand, I can name some country singers I don't really need to hear! But all along, I've read about her and heard her, and when it comes to the Opry and country music, she's the real deal.

    Byron, great stuff as always, and thanks for the information about the Stoney Mountain Cloggers. Margaret remarried and lives in North Carolina. I think I've mentioned this on here, but on her final night, Oswald also came out for a round, which he often used to do. When they were done, something interesting happened. In classical music, the conductor will point at musicians or sections to stand for applause. Vince Gill did something like that. He pointed at the balcony and swung his finger across, and then did the same in the lower tier, and when he did, everybody stood up. Maybe they would have anyway, but it was interesting.

  4. I seen on Teea Goens and Gene Watson's Facebook page that several artists were filming Country's Family Reunion this week. Two shows, A Christmas Special and a tribute to Ray Price. Roy Clark and Mel Tillis were both included in this. I guess they hung around to do the Opry this weekend. There were several other artists included that could have filled some spots at the Opry, particularly Texas artists, Johnny Bush, Curtis Potter and Darrell McCall. I'm sure they never got the invitation.

    I really enjoy these Country Family reunion shows. They are really what the Opry used to be.

  5. Fred, Bismarck:

    I used to be a faithful watcher of the Family Reunion shows in TNN days. Didn't know they were still being produced. Where are they aired, please? (If it's on RFD, I'm out of luck.) And who does hosting duties these days? (If it's still Ralph Emery, that will make me feel that much younger!)

  6. Fred, they air on RFD, but this site tells you how to get them: Ol' Whisper seems to handle most of the hosting duties.

  7. For those who were wondering why the Opry added a 2nd Friday show during the birthday bash, the question has now been answered: Chris Janson is now on the schedule.

    On a serious note, in my mind if there was one weekend a year that the veteran acts should be scheduled, it is during the birthday weekend.

  8. Fred, Bismarck:

    Many thanks, Michael. I have made a note of the site.

  9. I have RFD and watch many of the family reunion shows. Bill does a great job hosting these and I enjoy the variety of acts they have. They had a "kinfolk" series last year that brought back two of my favorite sister acts from the 80s/90s: The Forester SIsters and Sweethearts of the Rodeo. Listening to how well they still perform really makes me miss the days when country radio was still worth listening to and acts had their unique individual sound. Interestingly enough, Connie Smith has never appeared on any of these shows. It makes one wonder if she has a beef with Larry Black. She didn't even appear on the star studded tribute they did for Bill's 50th anniversary a couple years back.

  10. It is also interesting that Porter never appeared on these shows. They started around 1996 I think. Ray Pillow has never been on any of them. I also find it interesting that Connie is not part of the Grand Ladies. She is never introduced that way and at least in recent years has not performed when they do things as a group.

    When you see the Family Reunion shows on RFD I'm pretty sure you are not seeing the full shows. Certain segments are cut out. Each series is several hours long and the RFD presentations are one long advertisement. Even though I have many of them I still stop and watch, and tear up, when I come across them. I commend Larry Black for doing these but if you pay attention to him on the "Dinner" it is obvious is background in radio was Rock and Roll and he really knows little about the history of country. He's luck Whisper handles the shows!

    Knightsville, IN

    1. Ray Pillow was on CFR 2010 series. I found it odd that Porter was never on them as well. But after his passing they did a special tribute to him on the 2007 Nashville series and Bill said had committed to being on that show but didn't live long enough to be a part of it.


  11. I remember Larry talking to Bill during one of the Looking Back series that Larry asked Connie to come on when CFR first started and she said she was busy.

    I find it interesting that Bill Anderson has never been on The Marty Stuart Show.


  12. Just in: Next Friday's lineup does not yet include a single 'Opry member!
    "Steep Canyon Rangers, Sleepy Man Banjo Boys, Mo Pitney, The Willis Clan, Kelleigh Bannen, Mark Chesnutt and more to be added."

  13. Nat, for what it's worth, the promotional schedule often doesn't list Opry members or, if it does, lists only those who Fisher thinks will appeal to people under 30.

  14. That makes some sense, but it's a little sad.
    As an old guy (66), I would be far more inclined to buy tickets if I knew in advance which of my favorites were going to appear a week ahead, not just a few days ahead.

  15. On the Grand Ole Opry tonight, Mike Terry asked for prayers and thoughts for George Hamilton IV, who had a heart attack earlier in the day and was in a Nashville hospital. From the somber tone that Mike used, I would gather it might be pretty serious. I can say from personal experience, that George is one of the kindest and nicest men in country music.

  16. Here's hoping that it's just concern that would be automatic at a time like this and that IV will be better soon.

  17. Fred, Bismarck:

    One of the good ones for sure, who looks brighter and brighter in retrospect. Good health and long life to him!

  18. Elvis, Kenny Rogers, the Everly Brothers and the Jordanaires are in the Hall of Fame and very deserving.
    George the IV has honored the Opry with his presence faithfully over the years, had cross-over hits and taken real country music all over the planet, especially to the British Isles. Aren't his H of F credentials at least as good if not better than those previously mentioned artists ??? Put him in the H of F while he is still alive, unlike Cowboy Jack who wrote country hit after hit after hit for over 50 years and entered posthumously.

    Flushing, Michigan