Thursday, August 6, 2015

Grand Ole Opry 8/7 & 8/8

The line-ups have been posted and the big news this weekend is Connie Smith being honored on Saturday night on her 50th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. And to help Connie celebrate, the Opry has scheduled two shows for Saturday and the line-up is very, very solid, including a few Opry members that we don't see at the Opry often enough.

One of those is Connie's own husband, Marty Stuart. He will be hosting segments on both shows Saturday night, and Connie is scheduled for both. Another "lost" Opry member, Alison Krauss is also set for both shows on Saturday. Alison will be joined by her friends Larry Sparks and The Cox Family. Much like Emmylou Harris, the Opry seems to let Alison pick and choose who she would like with her when she appears on the Opry.

Back to Marty and Connie, and joining them on the first segment Saturday, when Connie will be officially recognized will be Opry members Jeannie Seely, The Whites, Mel Tillis and Del McCoury. Yes, the first segment is an hour and will feature all Opry members, each of whom Connie has ties to.

The final Opry member scheduled on Saturday is Bill Anderson who wrote in his recent newsletter that he will be "sharing a very surprising and thrilling even in my life" on that Opry stage during both shows on Saturday. He is giving no clues other then it is not related to Connie's Opry anniversary. I have no clues either so I guess we will just have to listen and find out together.

The Friday Night Opry will feature Opry members Jeannie Seely, Mike Snider, Pam Tillis, The Whites, Bill Anderson, Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers and Mel Tillis. It is nice to see Pam back on the Opry and no, she is not scheduled in the same segment as Mel. What is interesting is that Pam will actually be hosting a segment while Mel will finish out the show.

Finally, as far as guest artists this weekend, Friday night has Mickey Guyton, RaeLynn and Mark Wills scheduled. Mark will be back for both shows on Saturday, and what is interesting is that on all three shows, he is slotted with Bill Anderson. The final guest on Saturday is "Nashville" actor Sam Palladio.

Friday August 7
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Mickey Guyton; Mike Snider
7:30: Pam Tillis (host); The Whites
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Mark Wills
8:45: Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers (host); RaeLynn; Mel Tillis

Saturday August 8
1st show
7:00: Opry Square Dancers; Marty Stuart (host); Connie Smith; Jeannie Seely; The Whites; Mel Tillis; Del McCoury
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Mark Wills; Sam Palladio
8:30: Alison Krauss (host); Larry Sparks; The Cox Family

2nd show
9:30: Opry Square Dancers; Bill Anderson (host); Mark Wills; The Whites
10:00: Alison Krauss (host); Larry Sparks; The Cox Family
10:30: Mel Tillis (host); Jeannie Seely; Sam Palladio
11:00: Marty Stuart (host); Del McCoury; Connie Smith

Constance June Meador was born on August 14, 1941 in Elkhart, Indiana. At an early age, her family moved to West Virginia and eventually to Ohio. Growing up she listened to the Grand Ole Opry and while recovering from a serious leg injury, was given her first guitar. The story on how she was discovered by Bill Anderson is pretty well known, but for those who do not know the story, in August 1963 she entered a talent contest at Frontier Ranch in Ohio. She won the contest, performing the Jean Shepard hit, "I Thought of You." Bill Anderson was performing at the park that day, heard Connie and was impressed enough by her voice that he remembered her when she ran into Bill at a country music package show in January 1964. Bill invited Connie to Nashville to perform with him on the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree, where she was well received and which eventually led to a recording contract with RCA Records. Her very first single, "Once A Day" was released on August 1, 1964 and went to #1 on the country charts, where it stayed for 8 weeks. Her debut album also went to #1 on the album charts, where it stayed for 7 weeks. Connie's association with Bill Anderson would continue through much of Connie's career as she would go on to record numerous Bill Anderson songs.

Through the course of her career, Connie has usually stayed close to home with traditional country music, along with her gospel recordings. During her career, she has had 20 singles reach the Top 10 on the country charts, with "One A Day" being her only #1 single. "Ain't Had No Lovin" and "Just One Time" would each reach #2, while "Then and Only Then," "If I Talk to Him," "Nobody But A Fool," "The Hurtin's All Over," "Cincinnati, Ohio," "Burning A Hole in My Mind," "I Never Once Stopped Loving You" and "Just For What I Am" all reached the Top 5. Her last charted single was in 1985.

After Connie joined the Opry in 1965, there was a time when she did leave the show. Depending on the source, she was either fired in the mid 1960s for failing to appear the required number of times, or she left the show on her own to take a step back from the pressures of  her career and spend time with her young children. However, after a short amount of time she was back, rejoining the cast on April 17, 1971. She has also been very vocal about her religious beliefs, which also caused some issues with her at the Opry. For a time, she appeared regularly on "Grand Ole Gospel Time" which followed the Friday Night Opry. Some have said that she did not have the drive as others such as Loretta Lynn or Dolly Parton have had, which caused her not to reach the same superstar status as those entertainers. Regardless, in 2012 she was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame, becoming just the 12th solo female artist to be elected. In 1997 she married Marty Stuart and has gained additional exposure as a featured cast member on his television show.

While Saturday night is the night Connie is being recognized, as with a lot of dates in the history of the Opry, this are a few differences as to when the date actually is. In most editions of the Grand Ole Opry Picture History Book, her induction date is listed as June 13, 1965. Then the date changed to September 18, 1965, which I can confirm is the first night that Connie appeared on the Opry as a member. Now what is interesting in 1965 is that June 13 was a Sunday and not a Saturday and on Saturday June 12, Tex Ritter actually became an Opry member. And just checking the following Saturday night, June 19, neither Connie nor Bob Luman were on the Opry that night. Connie has always said that Bob joined the Opry the same night she did, yet he is not on the September 18 date.

Here is the running order of the Grand Ole Opry from Saturday September 18, 1965, the first time Connie Smith performed as a member on the Grand Ole Opry:

7:30: Luzianne
Leroy Van Dyke (host): Auctioneer
Bill Carlisle: Business Man
Connie Smith: Then and Only Then
The Auctioneers: Remington Ride
Leroy Van Dyke: Just A State of Mind
Bill Carlisle: Same Ol' Tale That the Crow Told Me
Connie Smith: The Hinges on the Door
The Auctioneers: Old Joe Clark
Leroy Van Dyke: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue

8:00: Martha White
Roy Drusky (host): Strangers
Jim & Jesse: Memphis
Merle Kilgore: Tiger Woman
Alan Shelton: Bending the Strings
Roy Drusky: Peel Me A Nanner
Crook Brothers: (?)
Jim & Jesse: I Wish You Knew
Merle Kilgore: Ring of Fire
Jerry Whitehurst: Java
Roy Drusky: White Lightening Express

8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host): Gathering Flowers From the Hillside/Freight Train Blues
Howdy Forrester: (?)
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Onie Wheeler: Hang My Britches Up
Oswald: Worry, Worry Blues
Roy Acuff: The Great Judgment Morning
Jimmy Riddle & Howdy Forrester: Jessup Polka

9:00: Pet Milk
Ernest Tubb (host): Lots of Luck
Wilburn Brothers: It's Another World
Loretta Lynn & Teddy Wilburn: The Race Is On
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Fire on the Mountain
Ernest Tubb: A Memory (That's All You'll Ever Be)
Wilburn Brothers: I'm Gonna Tie One on Tonight
Jack Greene: Every Since My Baby Went Away
Loretta Lynn: The Home You're Tearing Down
Loretta Lynn & Ernest Tubb: Our Hearts Are Holding Hands

9:30: Kellogg's
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Willis Brothers: Pinball Anonymous
Hank Locklin: Wild Side of Life
Marion Worth: (?)
Hank Snow: Tears in the Trade Winds
The Blue Boys: I Hear Little Rock Calling
Willis Brothers: A Satisfied Mind
Hank Snow: My Memories of You

10:00: Schick
Leroy Van Dyke (host): Walk on By
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
The Auctioneers: Sweet Georgia Brown
Bill Carlisle: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Leroy Van Dyke: It's All Over Now, Baby Blue

10:15: Mary Carter
Roy Acuff (host): Tennessee Central No 9
Roy Drusky: Second Hand Rose
Harold Weekly: Where No One Stands Alone
Jimmy Riddle & Onie Wheeler: Fox Chase

10:30: Harvey's
Jim & Jesse (host): I Like the Old Time Working of the Lord
Connie Smith: If I Talk to Him
Jim & Jesse: Swing Low, Sweet Chariot
Alan Shelton: Cripple Creek

10:45: Newport
Ernest Tubb (host): Filipino Baby
Crook Brothers: Chicken Reel
Cal Smith: Oklahoma Hills
Ernest Tubb: Waltz Across Texas

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): I Don't Hurt Anymore
Wilburn Brothers: Making Plans
Harold Morrison: I'm A Bluebird
Loretta Lynn: Blue Kentucky Girl
Hank Snow: The Queen of Draw Poker Town
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Soldiers Joy
Wilburn Brothers: It's Another World
Loretta Lynn: When Lonely Hits Your Heart
Chubby Wise: Lee Highways Blues

11:30: Lava
Hank Locklin (host): Send Me the Pillow You Dream On
Willis Brothers: A 6ft 2 by 4
Marion Worth: I'm Picking Up the Pieces of Your Heart
Archie Campbell: Most Richly Blessed
Hank Locklin: Flying South
Merle Kilgore: Wolverton Mountain
Willis Brothers: I Still Do
Marion Worth: Silver Threads and Golden Needles
Hank Locklin: Danny Boy

Regardless of the exact date, congratulations to Connie Smith on her 50th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from five years ago this weekend, August 6 & 7, 2010. The Friday Night Opry took place at the War Memorial Auditorium, while Saturday's Grand Ole Opry was performed at the Ryman Auditorium.

Friday August 6
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Jeannie Seely; Elizabeth Cook
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Chris Scruggs
8:15: Mike Snider (host); George Hamilton IV; Andy Griggs
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); Connie Smith; The Whites

Saturday August 7
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Teea Goans
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jack Greene; Steep Canyon Rangers
8:15: Mike Snider (host); Jan Howard; Radney Foster; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Steve Wariner (host); Stonewall Jackson; Jeannie Seely; Jim Ed Brown

Now from ten years ago, the weekend of August 5 & 6, 2005:

Friday August 5
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); The Whites; George Hamilton IV; John Cowan
8:00: Mike Snider (host); Charlie Walker; Jimmy  C Newman; Steve Azar
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jan Howard; Jim Ed Brown; Lauren Lucas
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jeannie Seely; Riders In The Sky; Jimmy Wayne
9:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Billy  Walker; Jack Greene; Mark Wills

Saturday August 6
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Junior Brown
7:00: Steve Wariner (host); Josh Turner; Rodney Crowell; T. Graham Brown; Gene Watson
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jimmy C Newman; George Hamilton IV; Riders In The Sky; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jim Ed Brown; Mike Snider

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Mike Snider; T. Graham Brown
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; The Whites; Rodney Crowell
10:30: Steve Wariner (host); Stu Phillips; Gene Watson; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jeannie Seely; Josh Turner
11:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jack Greene; Junior Brown

Nice to know that even ten years ago, the Opry was still turning in some very solid shows.

The name that may not ring a bell from that weekend is Lauren Lucas. She was from South Carolina and was signed to her first record deal in 2003. In 2005, Warner Bros. Records released "What You Ain't Gonna Get." It only went to #52 on the country charts and was considered such a failure that no further single or album was ever released by the label. Several years later she did make an independent recording that also went nowhere. As far as recognition, in 2003 she was nominated for a Tony Award as a composer for "Urban Cowboy on Broadway." As of 2014, she was still out touring as an opening act for major label artists, or playing in small venues, however her website has not been updated in over a year.

Enjoy the Opry this weekend and congratulations again to Connie Smith!!


  1. For those interested, the Opry posted the first group of artists confirmed for the 90th. They include Little Big Town, Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, Joe Diffie, Oak Ridge Boys and Trace Adkins. I will have more thoughts last on this.

  2. I have been meaning to ask this question for quite some time: whatever happened to Jerry Whitehurst, who was a former piano player with the Opry?

  3. They have not added any additional acts for tonight's Friday Night Opry. That doesn't mean they won't, but the Opry is honoring Medal of Honor winners from the military tonight and that might be a reason they have not filled those slots.

  4. I didnt get to hear tonight's Opry. Did they have any other acts or special moments of note that I missed?

  5. Listening to the Connie Smith 50th Anniversary Show ..... its awesome!!!!! Loving all the guests and songs!!!!!

    Also interested to hear what Bill Anderson has to say tonite!!!!!!!!!

    1. Isn't it nice to have an Opry segment lasting an hour with just Opry members appearing? All picked by Connie.

    2. It was absolutely glorious, not to mention the banter between Connie and that guy she married. I hadn't known that the Apostle Paul Martin had left the Fabulous Superlatives, and that his successor is Chris Scruggs, who also happens to be the grandson of a banjo player.

    3. Mike, Paul Martin left a few months ago to concentrate on his family act, The Martin Family Circus. He also has been doing some back-up work with the Oak Ridge Boys, which would make sense considering that Duane Allen is his father-in-law. I hated to see Paul go as I always thought Marty's Fabulous Superlatives was one of the best bands around and modeled after Johnny Cash's Tennessee Three.

  6. I thought that the first hour tonight was outstanding. Marty Stuart, Connie Smith (who basically co-hosted the segment), Jeannie Seely, The Whites, Mel Tillis and Del McCoury. Marty and Del tore it up on "Orange Blossom Special.". Pete Fisher did the presentation to Connie, presenting her with a bracelet in honor of her 50 years. They also did a video tribute to Connie, which of course listening to it on the radio, was unable to see. I am sure they will post the video on YouTube or the Opry website.

  7. Bill is talking about Billy Grammer and the Grammer Guitar. Billy presented a guitar to Bill and years ago and it disappeared. Bill heard from a man at a pawn shop in Phoenix that said he had received the guitar, that Bill verified. Bill asked what he wanted and the man said he had never been to the Opry and he wanted to come for his anniversary with his wife. Bill brought him to the Opry and onto the Opry stage and received the guitar back. Bill was very emotional over getting it back.

    1. Just great, and not a bad guest to help him break it back in! Nice of Jamey Johnson to come out.

    2. I thought that was a cool story when hearing it over the radio here in Spain.... Although I thought the song he was going to play was "Golden Guitar", the one about the guitar that sits behind the bar, and belonged to the son of a bartender. Was one of the most requested songs for years around the Opry.
      Though I liked the song chosen tonite for the occasion, was perfect as was the guest.

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  9. I agree Fayfare the segment where it was just Opry Members picked by Connie Smith was awesome!!!!! Could tell by the quality, style, comraderie, etc. Should have more segments like that. I dont mind the occasional guest or two, but sprinkled out. I yes to full segments with just Opry Members.