Thursday, April 2, 2015

Grand Ole Opry 4/3 & 4/4

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the two shows this weekend, the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry.

As far as Opry members this weekend, Larry Gatlin and The Gatlin Brothers are again set for both shows this weekend. This will make three weekends in a row that Larry and the brothers have performed on the Opry, and that is great to see. You can say what you want about Larry, but he brings a lot of energy to the show. And speaking of energy, Chris Janson is also set for both shows this weekend. Larry and Chris are both in the closing segments each night and they could bring down the house. I will say that it is nice to see that Chris is finally acheiving some success after years in the business.

Also set for both nights are Opry members John Conlee, Mike Snider, Bill Anderson and Riders In The Sky. On Friday night, they will be joined by Connie Smith and Jesse McReynolds. Jesse has missed the last couple of weeks, so it will be good to see him back at the Opry. Also joining that group will be recent Hall of Fame inductee, Jim Ed Brown. Saturday night, Opry members Jeannie Seely and The Whites are on the schedule.

As far as guest artists this weekend, in addition to Chris Janson, Friday night will feature Will Hoge and Lauren Alaina. Will Hoge will be signing copies of his new CD after the show. I know when Sunny Sweeney was on a few weeks ago, she had Will as her special guest. Maybe she will return the favor this weekend. Saturday night will feature Casey James, Mo Pitney, Rhiannon Giddens and Charles Esten, from the "Nashville" show. Rhiannon, who is one of the founding members of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, is appearing in support of her new solo CD and will be signing copies after the Opry. And it is nice to see Mo Pitney back on the Opry.

Friday April 3
7:00: John Conlee (host); Mike Snider
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Lauren Alaina; Jim Ed Brown
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jesse McReynolds; Will Hoge
8:45: Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers (host); Connie Smith; Chris Janson

Saturday April 4
7:00: John Conlee (host); Casey James; Mike Snider
7:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jeannie Seely; Mo Pitney
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Rhiannon Giddens; The Whites; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers (host); Chris Janson; Charles Esten

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from five years ago this weekend, April 2 & 3, 2010:

Friday April 2
7:00: John Conlee (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Lee Brice
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jean Shepard; Del McCoury Band
8:15: Mike Snider (host); Jan Howard; Jack Greene; Holly Williams
8:45: Vince Gill (host); The Whites; The Time Jumpers

Saturday April 3
7:00: John Conlee (host); Jimmy C Newman; Lee Brice
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Jean Shepard; Restless Heart
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Stonewall Jackson; Holly Williams; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Vince Gill (host); The Whites; Connie Smith

And from ten years ago, the weekend of April 1 & 2, 2005:

Friday April 1
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Connie Smith; Billy Walker; Trent Willmon
8:00: John Conlee (host); Blue Country; Charley Pride
8:30: Jean Shepard (host); Osborne Brothers; Emerson Drive
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); The Whites; Mark Wills
9:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jan Howard; Jimmy C Newman; Mountain Heart

Saturday April 2
1st show
6:30: Jeannie Seely (host); The Whites; Mark Wills
7:00: John Conlee (host); Jack Greene; David Lee Murphy
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jimmy C Newman; Emerson Drive
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Charlie Walker; Jean Shepard; Josh Turner; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Riders In The Sky; Charley Pride

2nd show
9:30: Jeannie Seely (host); The Whites; David Lee Murphy
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jack Greene; Mark Wills
10:30: John Conlee (host); Stu Phillips; Charley Pride; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jean Shepard; Emerson Drive
11:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Ray Pillow; Josh Turner

For this week's featured line-up, it was on Saturday April 5, 1975 that Skeeter Davis returned as an Opry member after being suspended from the show in December 1973 for comments she made while performing on the Opry that evening.

In her book, "Bus Fare To Kentucky, Skeeter wrote, "I would call the Opry each week to ask if I was scheduled, but Bud Wendell would tell me not to come in. I asked if they had fired me. He said they would just call it a suspension. I didn't really know what taht meant but I found out. Suspended means you just hang in space and wait."

She further wrote, "Perhaps the unkindest cut of all came from the many Opry artists who used my misfortune to further their own media coverage through their interviews with the papers. Many of them said that I should know the Opry stage isn't for religion or politics. That I should know better. That I shouldn't speak for all of them. Anyone who heard me that night or listened to the tape of that night's performance would know that I was only speaking for myself. Teddy Wilburn knew what I said. When he heard the tape, he found it hard to believe that this one incident had been blown so far out of proportion. I've tried to forgive and forget, that's for sure. I love Teddy so much because he did come and talk with me about it; he was not one of the people who relied on hearsay about the doings of others."

"As the battle was being fought, my personal situation was still generating ill will at the Opry and with the police department. Lieutenant Ezell (a Nashville police officer and Opry security member) insisted that I apologize to the police department-publicly. The day I had scheduled my public apology, the papers carried it as a footnote on the front page beneath the caption, 'Jesus on the Front Page,' complete with a wallet-sized photo of me at the Opry microphone. The headlines of the paper that day read, 'Five Nashville Police Indicted on Vice Charges.' With this new development exposed, I found it impossible to apologize. I found that I did not owe an apology to anyone. I just held up the headline of the paper, believing that it spoke for itself. My action was not done with malice or bad intent. I was paying the price for not giving in to the demands of those who would control me."

After the suspension, Skeeter went on a trip to Africa. When she returned to America and Nashville, she found the situation unchanged. She still wasn't scheduled for the Opry and when she called she was told they would call her. Attorneys contacted her, suggesting that she should sue the Opry for violation of her right to free speech, but she declined those offers.

Finally, she was told she could come back to the Opry. Again from Skeeter, "My return to the Opry stage demonstrated my forgiveness of the Opry management and theirs for me. Mr. Hal Durham was the manager of the Opry now, Bud Wendell having been promoted to another position. After my first song that first evening back, many of the artists made gestures of welcoming me back. I confessed to them that their negative comments had injured me personally, especially when they spoke without knowledge of what I had really said that night. I heard of the positive efforts made to redress the situation by my friends Jean Shepard, Kirk McGee, George Hamilton IV and Teddy Wilburn. To them I am truly grateful, as I am to others who many have supported me during those long months of loss."

Here is the running order of the Grand Ole Opry, Saturday April 5, 1975, the night Skeeter Davis made her return:

1st show
6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Charlie Louvin (host): Freight Train Boogie
Bill Carlisle: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Charlie Louvin: When You Have to Fly Alone/See The Big Man Cry

6:45: Rudy's
Ray Pillow (host): Countryfied
Stu Phillips: She Thinks I Still Care
Del Wood: The Entertainer
Ray Pillow: The Simple Things In Life

7:00: Rudy's
Billy Grammer (host): Lonesome Road Blues
Skeeter Davis: I Can't Help It
Lonzo & Oscar: When I Stop Dreaming
Ernie Ashworth: The High Cost of Living
Skeeter Davis: Bus Fare to Kentucky
Becky Gallion: Green Back Dollar
Billy Grammer: What A Friend

7:30: Standard Candy
Charlie Walker (host): Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
Jimmy C Newman: Thibodeaux Cajun Band
Marion Worth: Delta Dawn
Jim & Jesse: Ashes of Love
Charlie Walker: The Last Supper
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Old Joe Clark
Jimmy C Newman: Before the Last Teardrop Falls
Charlie Walker: Lucille

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jeanne Pruett: Just Like Your Daddy
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Poor Ellen Smith
Justin Tubb: Sunshine Lady
Roy Acuff: Carry Me Back to the Mountains
Jeanne Pruett: Hold To My Unchanging Love/Love Me/You Don't Need to Move A Mountain/Satin Sheets
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: There's A Big Wheel

8:30: Stephens
Jack Greene (host) & Jeannie Seely: If You're Going Down
Jeannie Seely: Catfish John
Willis Brothers: Truck Stop
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Soldiers Joy
4 Guys: Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything
Jeannie Seely: He Can Be Mine

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
4 Guys (host): What About Me
Willis Brothers: Give Me 40 Acres
Bill Carlisle: Rough Stuff
Marion Worth: The Hands You're Holding Now
Ray Pillow: She's Doing It To Me Again
Del Wood: Alabama Jubilee
4 Guys: Cottonfields/Maria

10:00: Fender
Charlie Walker (host): Stay A Little Longer
Skeeter Davis: I Believe In Music
Lonzo & Oscar: Mountain Dew
Charlie Walker: The Last Supper

10:15: Union 76
Stu Phillips (host): Have I Told You Lately That I Love You/You Win Again/Release Me
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips
Rosemary Clooney: Half As Much

10:30: Trailblazer
Roy Acuff (host): Back in the Country
Jim & Jesse: Paradise
Billy Grammer: Peace In The Valley
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird

10:45: Beech-Nut
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Big Midnight Special
Justin Tubb: Loving Arms
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Black Mountain Rag
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Each Season Changes You

11:00: Coca-Cola
Jack Greene (host) & Jeannie Seely: Take Me Home Country Roads
Jeannie Seely: The First Time
Jimmy C Newman: Potato Song
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cacklin' Hen
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything
Jeannie Seely: Delta Dirt
Sam McGee: Victor Rag

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): Don't Worry
Jeanne Pruett: Just Like Your Daddy/Welcome to the Sunshine
Ronnie Robbins: Mama Tried/If You Love Me Let Me Know
Marty Robbins: Love Me/I'm Wanting To/Devil Woman/El Paso/Ka-Lu-A

Interesting that the artists that Skeeter named specifically for helping her get back on the Opry, Jean Shepard, Kirk McGee, Teddy Wilburn and George Hamilton IV, none were scheduled on the Opry that night. This was also the first night that Skeeter performed in the new Opry House.

Enjoy the Opry this weekend and a very Happy Easter to All!!


  1. Byron, a technical question. Kirk McGee performed with the Fruit Jar Drinkers and his brother, so he normally would have been there that night. Was he off for some reason? I was struck when WSM was playing the 1960s recordings that one week they said Herman Crook was away visiting Florida, and I thought, but they always said he never missed a Saturday night. Maybe he missed one!

    I wonder whether Bud Wendell ever would have given in. Hal Durham was newer as manager at that point, and of course as an announcer had been around the Opry even longer than Wendell had.

  2. The most unusual thing about the 1975 show is the appearance of Rosemary Clooney. Guest spots like that are too few and far between these days... and mostly always initiated by Ricky Skaggs.

  3. The Opry Facebook Page posted a picture where Steven Tyler of Aerosmith made a surprise appearance on the Opry with Eric Paslay. Eric was scheduled Tuesday, and I didn't listen to that show, but I am sure the picture was from Tuesday.

    But I agree. As much as I enjoy the Opry and its country music roots, it would be a nice change of pace to see a few artists who are admittedly non-country every now and then as a special guest. It surprises me that when Rosemary Clooney appeared in 1975, she only performed 1 song, and on the late show! I thought having her on would be a bigger deal than a single song.

  4. Yes, Steven Tyler was on Tuesday night during the Eric Paslay segment. He just did a walk-on.

  5. Mike, that is a great question. I don't know if Kirk was off that week or not. I would assume that Kirk, Sam and the Crooks would have taken a few Saturday nights off over the 40+ years they were around.

  6. I thought Rhiannon Giddens absolutely stole the Saturday Night Show.
    Would love to see her (and her band) made the newest members of the 'Opry.
    It's probably just a passing feeling, but for the last few months I have felt the 'Opry is on an upswing, bringing in more new acts that understand what country music is about while at the same time bringing energy and entertainment value.
    Haven't heard a Nashville show entertainer for a while either.