Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Grand Ole Opry 10/10 & 10/11-89th Birthday Celebration

Gee, what can I say. We expected it but to actually see it in print just causes me to shake my head. You know what I am talking about and that is the line-up for this weekend's Opry, the 89th birthday bash. 2 shows on Friday and 2 shows on Saturday. 9 acts for each show, and only 4 Opry members on Friday night and 5 Opry members on Saturday night. I know I am showing my age a bit, but the birthday shows used to be some of the strongest and biggest line-ups of the year. I still remember when the annual DJ convention was part of the Opry's birthday and it was just about mandatory that every Opry member be there. But, those days are gone. In a way, the birthday celebration has kind of been lost in the news about Little Big Town, and their induction next week, and the Reba appearance from last weekend.

As far as what we have for this weekend, the big news (at least at my end), is the return of Mike Snider to the Opry stage. He is scheduled for all 4 shows this weekend and this will be his first Opry appearance in 2014. Joining Mike on Friday night will be guest artist Lady Antebellum,who is scheduled to close out both shows that night, along with The Willis Clan. Besides Mike, the other Opry members scheduled are Bill Anderson, Jan Howard and Jeannie Seely.

Saturday's Grand Ole Opry has a couple of the veterans on the schedule, with Ray Pillow and Stu Phillips set for both shows. Trace Adkins is also scheduled, along with Clare Bowen from "Nashville" and Opry member John Conlee. And of course, both shows will feature the rolling out of the birthday cake.

Friday October 10
1st show
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Chris Janson; Josh Abbott Band
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); John+Jacob
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; The Willis Clan
8:30: Lady Antebellum

2nd show
9:30: Mike Snider (host); Chris Janson; Josh Abbott Band
10:00: Jeannie Seely (host); John+Jacob
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; The Willis Clan
11:00: Lady Antebellum

Saturday October 11
1st show
7:00: Mike Snider (host); JT Hodges
7:30: Ray Pillow (host); Greg Bates; Clare Bowen
8:00: John Conlee (host); Stu Phillips; Keb' Mo'; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Trace Adkins

2nd show
9:30: Mike Snider (host); JT Hodges
10:00: Ray Pillow (host); Greg Bates; Clare Bowen
10:30: John Conlee (host); Stu Phillips; Keb' Mo'; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Trace Adkins

There you have it. I think on Friday night there is a chance that another artist will be added to fill out the line-up and on Saturday night, maybe a Jimmy Dickens appearance? And who knows, we may be surprised by a guest appearance by someone.

For those interested, I did some checking and a number of the Opry's members are on the road doing shows this weekend. That list includes Riders In The Sky, Marty Stuart, Connie Smith, Ricky Skaggs, Mel Tillis, Pam Tillis, Lorrie Morgan, and even Bill Anderson and Jeannie Seely have shows scheduled on Saturday night.

I still think it will be an exciting weekend in Nashville with sold-out shows and lots going on in the Opry plaza. They have free concerts scheduled along with various contests and Opry House Tours. I will be there all weekend and feel free to look for me down toward the front of the Opry House. I love meeting those who comment, send me emails and read the blog.

Now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 5 years ago this weekend, October 9 & 10, 2009. This was also the weekend of the Opry's 84th birthday celebration:

Friday Ocrober 9
7:00: John Conlee (host); Jeannie Seely; Riders In The Sky; Ricky Skaggs
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Patty Loveless
8:00: Mike Snider (host); BJ Thomas; Josh Turner
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jack Greene; Jean Shepard; Montgomery Gentry

Saturday October 10
1st show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Kathy Mattea
7:30: Lorrie Morgan (host); Jan Howard; George Hamilton IV; Jean Shepard
8:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jim Ed Brown; Joe Diffie; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Mike Snider; Diamond Rio

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Lorrie Morgan; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
10:00: Mike Snider (host); Ray Pillow; Kathy Mattea
10:30: Diamond Rio (host); Stu Phillips; Jean Shepard; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jim Ed Brown; Joe Diffie

And from 10 years ago, the weekend of October 8 & 9, 2004:

Friday October 8
1st show
6:30: John Conlee (host); Connie Smith; Jim Lauderdale
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Helen Cornelius; Eddy Raven
7:30: Jean Shepard (host); Jack Greene; Mountain Heart
8:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Charlie Walker; George Hamilton IV; Paul Brandt
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Osborne Brothers; Mandy Barnett

2nd show
9:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Helen Cornelius; Jimmy C Newman; Eddy Raven
10:00: John Conlee (host); Connie Smith; Jim Lauderdale
10:30: Jean Shepard (host); Stu Phillips; Jack Greene; Mountain Heart
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jeannie Seely; Paul Brandt
11:30: Riders In The Sky (host)

Saturday October 9
1st show
6:30: John Conlee (host); Connie Smith; Mountain Heart
7:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Jack Greene; Jimmy Wayne
7:30: George Hamilton IV (host); Ralph Stanley; Catherine Britt
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Mandy Barnett; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Paul Brandt; Rhonda Vincent

2nd show
9:30: John Conlee (host); Connie Smith; Mountain Heart
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Ralph Stanley; Mandy Barnett
10:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); Jan Howard; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: George Hamilton IV (host); Catherine Britt; Paul Brandt
11:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Stonewall Jackson; Rhonda Vincent

For this week's featured line-up, I go to Saturday October 12, 1985 which was the Opry's 60th birthday celebration. It was a pretty big weekend with a couple of very nice shows on Saturday night. Here is that show from 29 years ago this weekend.

1st show
6:30: Bonanza
Del Reeves (host): Two Dollars in the Jukebox/A Dime at a Time/Looking at the World Through A Windshield
4 Guys: Whiskey and Water
Del Reeves: Louisiana Legs

6:45: Rudy's
Jim Ed Brown (host): Southern Loving
John Conlee: The Old School
Jim Ed Brown: Morning

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): On A Highway Headed South
Larry Gatlin: Houston/Run Away; Go Home
Charley Pride: Lovesick Blues
Raymond & Leo Duffie: Somebody Touched Me
Roy Acuff and Cast: Happy Birthday Grand Ole Opry
Porter Wagoner: Y'All Come

7:30: Standard Candy
Bill Monroe (host): It's Mighty Dark For Me to Travel
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything
Jean Shepard: Slippin' Away
The Whites: I Don't Wanna Get Over You
Jimmy C Newman: My Toot Toot
Crook Brothers/ Melvin Sloan Dancers: Sally Goodin
Bill Monroe: Just A Little Talk With Jesus

8:00: Martha White
Grandpa Jones (host): Baptism of Jesse Taylor
Jeannie Seely: How Will I Stand the Rain Once Your Gone
Billy Walker: Coffee-Brown Eyes
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Carlisles: In the Pines
Grandpa Jones: The Sweet Sunny South

8:30: Music Valley Drive
Hank Snow (host): Snowbird
Roy Drusky: If the Whole World Stopped Loving
Wilma Lee Cooper: Honey in the Rock
George Hamilton IV: Forever Young
Hank Locklin: Send Me the Pillow You Dream On
Hank Snow: I Stepped Over the Line

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Bill Monroe (host): Uncle Pen
4 Guys: How Married Are You Mary Ann
Lorrie Morgan: Crazy
Ray Pillow: Dim Lights; Thick Smoke
Larry Gatlin: Run Away; Go Home
Bill Monroe: Wayfaring Stranger

10:00: Little Debbie
Stonewall Jackson (host): Me and You and A Dog Named Boo
Connie Smith: Did We Have to Come this Far to Say Goodbye
Charlie Louvin: Near the Cross
Stonewall Jacksoon: Why I'm Walkin/Waterloo

10:15: Sunbeam
Porter Wagoner (host): On A Highway Headed South
John Conlee: Rose Colored Glasses
Del Reeves: Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me
Roy Acuff and Cast: Happy Birthday Grand Ole Opry

10:30: Martha White
Grandpa Jones (host): Nashville on My Mind
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells
Jean Shepard & Roy Drusky: Will There Be Sweethearts in Heaven
Grandpa Jones: I'll Meet You In the Morning

10:45: Beech-Nut
Jack Greene (host): Try A Little Kindness
Jimmy C Newman: Jambalaya
The Whites: House of Gold
Crook Brothers/ Melvin Sloan Dancers: (?)
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Why Do You Punish Me
Osborne Brothers: Old Flames
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Justin Tubb: Thanks Troubadour Thanks
Charley Pride: Now and Then/Kiss An Angel Good Morning
Raymond & Leo Duffie: Cryin' My Heart Out Over You
Hank Snow: Bluebird Island

11:30: Quincy's
George Hamilton IV (host): Abilene
Wilma Lee Cooper: Poor Ellen Smith
Hank Locklin: Please Help Me, I'm Falling
Jeannie Seely: When Your Heart's Been Stepped On
Carlisles: Is Zat You Myrtle
George Hamilton IV: The Way Old Friends Do


  1. That lineup is really odd. Stu Phillips hasn't been allowed 2 songs in a weekend in many years and here he is doing both shows. And Ray Pillow hosting both shows. When has that happened? Personally, I would love to be there just for those 2 guys and Mike Snider. I love John Conlee and Trace is okay, but the others I could do without. I watch the "Nashville" TV show, but when I go to the Opry, I want to see Opry, and not them.
    As for Friday night, like Stu Phillips, I can't remember Jan Howard being on 2 shows in one weekend since pre-Pete Fisher.
    Regarding Little Big Town, I did see them when I went to the Opry in July, and I was very impressed. I hope they make good members.
    Mt. Olive, NC

  2. I look at those old birthday lineups and would be willing to bet some substantial money that a lot of the older artists who are on the road thought, the Opry doesn't care about me, why should I care about its birthday?

    That 1985 birthday show was Mr. Acuff's first appearance on stage in several months, due, as I recall, to a pulmonary embolism. He announced he was not well enough to perform. The next week he was back and hosted the TV portion for Lonzo and Oscar's retirement, and he was boinging around the stage the whole time like a kid in a candy store.

  3. Maybe the Opry, or management, is ashamed of it's age! Maybe weakness this year props up next year. Or as Byron suggests, maybe there are some surprises but I won't hold my breath.

    I agree with Danny about Ray, Stu and Jan. Quite strange to be ask to do two shows the same night. Something odd going on but hey, you already got them in the building and you need to kill a little time and fill out the show, why not take advantage. What may be foul on managements part is rewarding to some of us though. Jan and Ray have been okay but lets hope Stu is up to it, Great to see Mike Snider on all four shows. Can't wait to hear what he has to say!

    Have fun Byron and be safe.

    Knihgtsville, IN

  4. I think one reason for the booking of Jan Howard, Ray Pillow and Stu Phillips might be the lack of veterans available to fill out the line-up and the available acts that some of the older folks would be comfortable seeing.

    When you look at it, Jimmy C Newman and George Hamilton IV both passed away earlier this year and Jim Ed Brown is gone at least into next year. Jean Shepard has missed a couple of weeks, and I hope she is fine. Bill Anderson and Jeannie Seely are on the road Saturday night, Bobby Osborne is doing road dates over the weekend, as is Connie Smith. That doesn't leave much. The only real veteran missing is Stonewall Jackson, and I am not sure if he is doing a date this weekend or if the Opry even asked him. Jimmy Dickens, if the past pattern holds, will probably do a cameo during the first show on Saturday and that will be about it. Not sure about The Whites as they cancelled on Tuesday night and are not scheduled for the weekend.

    So what you end up is Jan Howard for 2 shows on Friday, and Ray Pillow and Stu Phillips on Saturday. Ray always does a great job hosting and we might see more of him if they need someone more often to host. I haven't personally seen Stu at the Opry in probably 10 years, so I am really looking forward to seeing and hearing him.

    Giving Pete Fisher the benefit of the doubt, perhaps they did reach out to others and were turned down. That does happen. But this just seems to continue the pattern of what we have seen on recent birthday weekends. Maybe instead of booking Loretta for separate shows at the Ryman, they could have used her on the Opry. There is no doubt that this is the thinnest Opry birthday line-up ever. As always, let's just hope for the best and that we get 4 pretty good shows.

  5. Fred, Bismarck:

    Mike Snider is enough to deliver me both nights.

  6. From Anonymous in PA: will definitely look for you - we also are near the front; look forward to talking to you; this confirms for me that this year and the 90th are the last for us - just not worth the trip/$ any more; we have been to so many good Opry shows AND great anniversaries, this is just so disappointing. Glad to see Mike Snider returning, love Bill Anderson, look forward to seeing The Willis Clan, Ray Pillow, Stu Phillips, and Little Jimmy. Lady Antebellum and Trace Adkins will add to the whole event, don't know or care about the others.

  7. Good grief! I thought the 2009 Birthday Show was a weak lineup. That show is a superstar spectacular compared to this year's "event". I'm actually embarrassed for the Opry. I hate to think about it, but I'm not hopeful the show will be around for it's 100th birthday.

  8. Fred, Bismarck:

    Or it'll still be around, Chris -- from Byron's reports, the box office is healthy -- but morphed into something we scarcely recognize (or care about) and whose quaint moniker will require explaining to the fans. It's happened to other colorful old institutions, such as the national conventions of the Republicans and Democrats.

  9. Fred, Bismarck:

    The Opry's already two-thirds there, in my opinion -- not only in the music (bad) but in its dull, scripted presentation. Whatever happened to the "good-natured riot"?

  10. I've been watching some TNN portions from around 1990. Even on TV with the tight timing, it was still loose and unscripted. Pete Fisher would go nuts watching Roy Acuff on stage visiting with the guests. In his later days he didn't care if the show ended on time, he was going to ask George Jones or whoever, whatever he wanted and then ask for one more song than was planned. Acuff wasn't the only one but others with more TV experience could wrap it all up a little cleaner.

    However, maybe because I am not interested, but some of these current folks can get out on stage and talk and talk and say nothing and nobody seems to care. Only us fans who then get cheated when Bill, Jim Ed or whoever is hosting says "that's all the time we have, we are running behind, thank you and good night" and we loose there closing song.

    Knightsville, IN

  11. Fred, unfortunately, I think you are right on the money. The Opry will probably be around for its 100th, but it will be the Grand Ole Opry in name only. The show today is barely recognizable to what most of us cherish, and it will almost certainly continue on this downward spiral. And you are definitely right about the "dull, scripted" presentation. Nothing seems spontaneous anymore and it all just seems so stuffy and rehearsed, that it's just downright boring. The "good-natured riot" moniker no longer fits this show - and for all the wrong reasons! Wow, now I've really depressed myself!

  12. I was at the country classics opry tonight... It was a real good show expect for it being shorter...Larry gatlin is a great host... I'f they let the host song more songs in the middle in between the acts or just have them host more 2 segments... I think this will work... However I understand it breaks away from he tradition... Also another problem I see on most shows the hosts have no idea who is on there segment. I think the hosts should learn a fact or two about each artist.

  13. I had the chance to listen to last weeks Opry Country Classics show (10-2-14) and I must say it was one of the better overall Opry presentations I've heard in a while. Larry Gatlin did a great job hosting and I think the crowd really enjoyed him. Steve and Rudy were there and so was their mom and dad. Bill Anderson opened, Connie Smith, the Whites, Mandy Barnett and Ray Scott were on. Mel Tillis was the featured artist and did about 20 minutes and sounded good. Someone posted here that they were disappointed in what Mel did over the weekend. If you get the chance listen to the archive of this show. I may be lowering my standards but as the Opry goes these days this was enjoyable to listen to all the way through.

    Knightsville, IN

  14. Listening to the Friday Nite Opry; both shows, minus Chris Janson, it has been rather solid. Also, does anyone know if Ricky Skaggs was playing dates this weekend, or the Whites?? Nice to see Mike Snider back...... I like that old string music. Reminds me of the traditional music we have in Northwest Spain, lots of that Celtic influence

  15. Also, saw that Loretta Lynn is at the Ryman this same weekend. Shame she could not swing by.

  16. Wow. Poor Stu Phillips. This is painful.

  17. Fred, Bismarck:

    Nice to hear Mike and his music on the first show. That, with the decent opening number by the Square Dance Band, set the stage for what should have been a better half-hour. But J.T. Hodges is a waste of musical flesh, and surely Jimmy Dickens has reached the diminishing-returns stage.

    I did enjoy Mike's sly take on "putting your hands together" (after the similar request by Hodges): "Now stop -- I listened to you before, and you can't keep very good time."

    The house commercial before Ray Pillow's segment had Brad Paisley saying, of the Opry: "I'd rather do that on the weekend than anything else." In which case, he must manifest masochism, denying himself that pleasure, or else what psychologists would call approach-avoidance.

  18. Fred, Bismarck:

    I hasten to add that Paisley's appearance -- or non-appearance -- on the Opry is a matter of utter indifference to me. In my opinion, his contribution to the library of great country music is right up there with Shania Twain's and Taylor Swift's.

  19. Nat you are being too tough on Stu.
    I suppose you feel the same about little Tater too.
    Don't get old Nat.
    I am 71 and it doesn't get any easier to do stuff ---
    I admire and treasure what those folks are trying to do.
    They deserve all the support we can give them while they are still here.
    Stu is 81 and cared enough about the Opry to make an appearance on the birthday show.
    He picked some better songs on Saturday night and sounded terrific for his age.
    Opry forever !!!!

    Dashmann --Flushing, Michigan

  20. I totally respect both Stu and Jimmie Dickens.
    I especially feel good every time Jimmie shows up to do his best.
    But I honestly felt sorry for Stu. His throat sounded like it was killing him to sing. It was hard for me to listen, because I can remember what his voice used to sound like.
    I'm 66, and totally get the gettin' old stuff. There's a whole bunch of stuff I can't do that I once found easy.
    But I also hope when I get to the point that I can't do something reasonably well, I hang it up and let somebody who can do it well take over.
    Nobody of any age can do it like little Jimmie can, so he gets a lifetime 'Opry pass from me. I look forward to hearing him ANY week he's able to perform.
    Probably too hard on Stu, I'll grant you that. But itwas WAS painful for me to hear him sound like that.

  21. I agree that it was hard to listen to Stu on the first show. Most of my concern is that it might be the one and only time some in the crowd will ever hear him and they will never know what a beautiful voice and great singer he can be. They'll never hear him on the radio and unless they go to ET's they will never see a CD to buy.

    He sounded much more respectable on the second show. Not as we all remember but much better.

    It was so good to have Mike back and for me what was probably the best part of the night was his stories and comments about Tater. That was priceless!

    Most all the performances by the veterans got nice applause and the crowd seem to appreciate them on all four shows this weekend.

    Can't wait to hear what Byron has to say!

    Knightsville, IN

  22. Nat;

    Appreciate your comments ---- it is truly sad for us longtime Opry fans to watch the demise of the original spirit of the Opry shows ---- I was lucky enough to be there many years ago when Marshall Barnes cut Joe Edwards pantlegs about 18 inches shorter as Joe thumb picked his guitar and grinned the entire time. I don't believe the radio audience had a clue as to the actual happenings on stage - Bill Carlisle and his brood always brought some surprises !!!

    Peace and keep supporting the Opry -----

    Dashmann ; Flushing , Michigan

  23. I miss the free-for-all nature of yesterday's shows.
    When I hear Mike Snyder obviously reading word for word exactly what he has been told to say when he introduces one of today's no-talent acts, it makes me sad.
    The show still has its moments. You can NOT keep Little Jimmie Dickens down. When he forgets the words, who cares? And you can just feel the whole crowd hoping he gets the jokes right we all know by heart on any given night.
    I will continue to check onwho is scheduled, and make some trips to Nashville from time to time to see the 'Opry when it's got enough 'Opry talent to warrant it.