Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Grand Ole Opry 6/5 & 6/6

Before reviewing this weeks Grand Ole Opry line-ups, I wanted to share a message that was posted today on the Facebook page of Jim Ed Brown:

"Hello everyone! This is Kim, Jim Ed's daughter. This is a prayer request. They worked before so I am hopeful they will this time too. Dad's cancer has returned (not in his lungs) and he is undergoing chemotherapy. We are hopeful for a positive outcome, but it's a combination of hope and prayers that will get him through this. We all thank you in advance."

All I can add is that this is very troubling news, coming so quickly after the news that Jim Ed had made a full recovery and was cancer free. Obviously this explains his absence from the Opry. I am sure all of the followers and readers of the blog share my concern and offer our thoughts and prayers to Jim Ed and his family.

As far as the Grand Ole Opry this weekend, there are a couple of milestones to mention. First, it was on Saturday June 2, 1990 that Mike Snider became a member of the Grand Ole Opry, so this weekend will be his 25th as an Opry member. Congratulations to Mike, who is scheduled for both shows this weekend. Secondly, for this keeping count, Saturday night will mark the 100th guest appearance for Chris Janson. Congratulations to Chris and as I have mentioned before, I think it is just a matter of time before Chris is asked to become an Opry member.

Looking at the rest of this weekend's line-ups, the Friday Night Opry will feature another Opry appearance by the newest members Little Big Town. This makes two Friday nights in a row and it's nice to see this popular group coming out to support the show. They will be joined by guest artists, and "Nashville" stars Chris Carmack and Charles Esten. Newcomer Mo Pitney, Shelly Skidmore and Exile round out the guest list. As far as Opry members, besides Mike Snider and Little Big Town, there is Jeannie Seely, The Whites, Connie Smith and Bill Anderson, each of whom is also scheduled for Saturday night.

Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will also feature Opry member Ricky Skaggs, along with Bobby Osborne and Jesse McReynolds. It has been a while since these three bluegrass legends have been on the same Opry show. Guest artists, besides Chris Janson, include Sara Haze, Ashley Clark and The Shires. For The Shires, this will be their Opry debut and they are described as an "English country pop duo consisting of singer-songwriters Ben Earle and Crissie Gudgin." As far as Ashley Clark, I had to double check but he has been on the Opry before.

Friday June 5
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Mo Pitney; Mike Snider
7:30: The Whites (host); Shelly Skidmore; Exile
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Chris Carmack; Charles Esten
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Little Big Town

Saturday June 6
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Sara Haze; Mike Snider
7:30: Connie Smith (host); Ashley Clark; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jesse McReynolds; The Shires; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Chris Janson

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from five years ago this weekend, June 4 & 5, 2010. The Friday Night Opry was at the Ryman Auditorium, while Saturday's Grand Ole Opry took place at Lipscomb University.

Friday June 4
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Jimmy C Newman; Terri Clark
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; T.G. Sheppard
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); Connie Smith; Jason Crabb; The Whites
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Jean Shepard; Gene Watson

Saturday June 5
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jesse McReynolds; Sunny Sweeney
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); George Hamilton IV; Charlie Nagatani; Wade Hayes
8:15: Mike Snider (host); Jim Ed Brown; Opry  Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); The Whites; T.G. Sheppard

And from ten years ago this weekend, June 3 & 4, 2005:

Friday June 3
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Mel McDaniel; Jean Shepard; Lane Turner
8:00: John Conlee (host); George Hamilton IV; Riders In The Sky; Elizabeth Cook
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; Daryle Singetary
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Mike Snider; T. Graham Brown
9:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jimmy C Newman; The Whites; Bering Strait

Saturday June 4
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jean Shepard; Jason Aldean
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jim Ed Brown; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Susan Haynes; Charlie Walker; Jack Greene
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Billy Walker; Osborne Brothers; Riders In The Sky; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Little Big Town; T. Graham Brown

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Mike Snider; Jason Aldean
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jean Shepard; Mel McDaniel; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
10:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); George Hamilton IV; Susan Haynes; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Osborne Brothers; Little Big Town
11:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Billy Walker; Jack Greene; T. Graham Brown

Finally, it was on Saturday June 4, 1988 that Herman Crook of the Crook Brothers made his final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry.

When he passed away on June 10, 1988 at the age of 89, even the New York Times printed a brief story:

"Herman Crook, a harmonica player who was the oldest member of the Grand Ole Opry, died today of a heart attack at Park View Medical Center. He was 89 years old. Mr. Crook was the last remaining charter member of the Grand Ole Opry, founded in 1925. He returned to the Opry last weekend after a nine-week absence because of health problems. Mr. Crook, orphaned early in life, was reared in Nashville by brothers and sisters, from whom he learned songs. In 1926, he led a country music string band on the Saturday Night Barn Dance and went to the Opry in 1927. The band is the only act left that represents the original tradition of the Opry; it plays for cloggers, who perform traditional mountain dancing. Mr. Crook was among the Opry musicians who participated in Nashville's first recording sessions in 1928. By the 1960's, the Opry had become a modern, highly professional program, and the traditional sound of Mr. Crook's group, called the Crook Brothers Band, became a less prominent part of the show. He is survived by his wife, Helen, five sons, two daughters, 19 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren."

It should also be mentioned that the following Saturday night June 11, Larry McNeely played "Amazing Grace" in memory of Herman, and it was mentioned that this was Herman's favorite song. June 11 was also the final time that the Crook Brothers were listed on an Opry program as after that date, the group playing for the square dancers was simply called the Opry Square Dance Band. Earl White, a member of the Crook Brothers Band, was the last surviving member of that group and he performed on the Opry until passing away last year.

Here is the Opry running order from Saturday June 4, 1988, the final night that Herman Crook, the last link to the start of the WSM Barn Dance and Grand Ole Opry, performed on the show. (it should be noted that Herman only performed on the first show.)

1st show
6:30: Bonanza
Jack Greene: (host): Walking On New Grass
4 Guys: What'll You Do About Me
Jack Greene: You Are My Treasure

6:45: Rudy's
Billy Walker (host): Down to My Last Cigarette
Jeannie Seely: (?)
Billy Walker: Wild Texas Rose

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Dooley
Wilma Lee Cooper: No One Now
Jan Howard: You Don't Know Me
Charlie Louvin: See the Big Man Cry/You Are What Love Means to Me
Porter Wagoner: I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name
Right Combination: Turkey in the Straw

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Hank Locklin: Danny Boy
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Michael Johnson: I Will Promise Forever to Whisper Your Name/The Moon is still Over Her Shoulders
Dan Kelly: Sally Goodin

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): The Corner of My Life
Del Reeves: The Great Chicago Fire
Jean Shepard: Someone's Gotta Cry
Roy Drusky: Blues In My Heart
Crook Brothers/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Sally Goodin
Bill Anderson: Golden Guitar

8:30: Music Valley
Hank Snow (host): Between Fire & Water
Connie Smith: Did We Have to Come This Far to Say Goodbye
Stu Phillips: Think I'll Go Somewhere And Cry Myself to Sleep
Del Wood: Piano Roll Blues
Charlie Walker: Does Ft. Worth Ever Cross You Mind
Hank Snow: Old Shep

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
4 Guys (host): How Married Are You Mary Ann
Bill Carlisle: Is Zat You Myrtle
Lorrie Morgan: Crazy
Jim Ed Brown: Pop A Top/The Three Bells
4 Guys: Fox On the Run

10:00: Little Debbie
George Hamilton IV (host): I Saw the Light/I'll Fly Away
Skeeter Davis: I Ain't Never
George Hamilton IV: A Farmer's Dream Plowed Under

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Night Train to Memphis
Jack Greene: I Need Somebody Bad Tonight

10:30: Pet Milk
Roy Drusky (host): Mississippi
Charlie Louvin: In the Pines
Roy Drusky: The Last Farewell

10:45: B. C. Powder
Del Reeves (host): Two Dollars In the Jukebox/A Dime at A Time/Looking at the World Through A Windshield
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Crook Brothers/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Durham's Bull
Del Reeves: She's Still the Only Girl I Can't Forget

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Tangled Mind
Jean Shepard: I'll Sail My Ship Alone
Justin Tubb: Thanks Troubadour, Thanks
Hank Locklin: Send Me The Pillow You Dream On
Hank Snow: She Wears My Ring

11:30: Creamette
Charlie Walker (host): Deep Water
Connie Smith: Walk Me to the Door
Stu Phillips: Great El Tigrae
Johnny Russell: Kawliga
Charlie Walker: Take Me Back to Tulsa

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!


  1. Just so sad to have read the news about Jim Ed Brown today. Poor guy, he was telling everyone he was cancer free, just so sorry to hear of its return. My thoughts & prayers are with Jim Ed & his entire family.

    I knew Chris Janson has made a ton of Opry appearances, did not realize they have totaled 100 + ....

    Byron, how many Opry appearances have the Gatlin Brothers made since the first of the year? So happy & surprised that all three are on the majority of the time. I am very impressed & happy that they are. Such great music they recorded with great family harmonies.

    Ricky Skaggs played country music last week - yippee! I love when he sings/plays bluegrass, because he & his Kentucky Thunder are just plain great - but his country music is even better, in my opinion.

    Mo Pitney makes another appearance - he is just so terrific & what a great voice he has. And I do enjoy Little Big Town - for four people who are non- related, they sure sing beautiful harmonies.

    Have a good weekend everyone.


  2. The thing I always remember about Herman Crook, aside from being a very nice gentleman, was his very strong opinion of what kind of music should be on the Opry. He didn't care for most of the "modern" music and he did NOT like drums. The fact that Harold Weakley played behind him for the benefit of the dancers always seemed to rankle him a bit. I can recall several occasions where he said you could take "those tin things they bang on" (cymbals) and "throw them all in the garbage. There's not a bit of music in those things." There was an episode of "Yesteryear in Nashville" in the early days of TNN that featured Mr. Herman and Bill Carlisle where he got off on a tirade about drums and rock and roll...and Bill Carlisle nearly fell off the couch with laughter. I think it was so uncharacteristic of Herman Crook to be so angry and vocal in public but if anybody has that show on tape it would be a fascinating piece of history to recall. I wish I had taped it myself. When Bill Monroe would be asked about adding modern elements like drums to bluegrass music he would often say "That ain't no part of nothin' there." Grandpa Jones wasn't a big fan of drums, either. There's a Grandpa story about the time he walked into a recording studio and the producer asked him how much of the drums he wanted on the record and Grandpa said, "Very little if any". You'll recall it wasn't until 1975 that a full drum kit was even allowed on the Opry stage. It feels like the drums are now the primary instrument (along with the electric guitar) in modern country music.

  3. That is some unhappy news about Jim Ed Brown ...... if I thought my loyalty was REALLY tested with the passings of Jimmy C. Newman and Tater ..... there will be no words in the future....

    On another note, The Ernest Tubb Jamboree starts up again this weekend. I am happy to see that they will be starting it at 10 P.M. and taping it to be aired at midnite. This way they will have more chances of getting Opry crowds. Looks like many artists are coming out and supporting it, and I am happy to see that!!!!! The Trobadour has alwats been my favorite of all time, along with The Man in Black.

    In a previous post I mentioned..... yes, I would also like to see some new bluegrass acts inducted...such as The Grascals, Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, Dailey & Vincent, and I wouldnt mind someone like the Quebe Sisters as well with their brand of Texas Swing.

  4. Sad news about Jim Ed. Here's hoping.

    I think there were 29 members on that lineup in 1988. Wow.

    A couple of notes. There are some great videos of the Crook Brothers on You Tube, including one from the National Life Opry in the 1960s. One member of the group is alive: Larry McNeely, who lives in North Carolina. He started playing guitar for the Crook Brothers when Hubert Gregory stopped performing, and moved to harmonica when Herman died; that's when Charlie Collins joined the group. I looked her up and Larry's wife Beth has a Facebook page and she has a photo that appears to be from last year of Larry with Glen Campbell--speaking of sad stories, indeed.

  5. Fred, Bismarck:

    Herman Crook had it right. It's a no-brainer, when you think about it: There's no music in a drum. Period. Whereas a bass fiddle gives you tunefulness AND the rhythm. The drum is one of the downfalls of modern country music, and the electric guitar, mentioned by Barry, is another. Played by Billy Byrd, it was one thing; played and amplified into today's snarl, it is something else.

    Re. Jim Ed: I hate it too, but the percentage of people who beat lung cancer is in the low single digits. The lungs are usually just one of the stops.

  6. One of the things I remember about this night was Roy Acuff introducing Michael Johnson. "I'm not familiar with you but I'm sure you will do a good job" is what he said as Johnson joined him on stage. Roy was nice but you could tell he wasn't all that interested. I don't remember anything else about him so maybe Roy's impression was right!

    I always liked Wild Texas Rose that Billy Walker performed this night. As I recall at this time in the 80's Roy Drusky wasn't hosting much. Interesting to see him and Charlie Louvin do a 15 minute segment.

    Here's hoping that Jim Ed will beat this thing again. My brother and I are going to the ROPE lunch next Wednesday June 10th and when I called about tickets early last week the lady said that Jim Ed had told her he would be there if he got up that morning and felt good enough to come. That was before this latest news. If anyone interested it sounds like there would still be tickets available. Several veteran artist are already lined up to be there and I am told that many will just show up if there schedule allows. Only $35 and it just might be the last time to meet some of these never know.

    Knightsville, IN

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  8. During tonight's Friday Night Opry, Pete Fisher came out and recognized Mike Snider for 25 years of Opry membership. Pete had some nice words to say and gave Mike the standard framed poster to remember the night. Mike was nice and thanked everyone. Also, The Whites sang "Keep on the Sunny Side" and dedicated the song to Jim Ed Brown.