Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Grand Ole Opry 10/30 & 10/31

Two weeks ago, the Grand Ole Opry had what was probably the worst line-up of the year. It was a very poorly scheduled Saturday night. Two weeks later, the Opry has one of the best line-ups of the year scheduled as both the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry look very, very good. The majority of the artists both nights are Opry members, and the members that are scheduled are some of the Opry's better members. 

Appearing both nights this weekend are Opry members Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, Hall of Fame members Bill Anderson and Mel Tillis, and two future Hall of Fame members in Ricky Skaggs and Charlie Daniels. They will be joined on Friday night by members Connie Smith, also a Hall of Fame member, Jeannie Seely, Jesse McReynolds, and by an Opry member who we all wish was at the Opry more often, Brad Paisley. Then on Saturday night, in addition to those already mentioned, you have John Conlee, The Whites, Bobby Osborne, and Hall of Fame member Vince Gill.

As far as guest artists, Chris Janson is scheduled for Friday night. He will also be signing copies of his new CD, and he has a new single out that is moving rapidly up the charts. And yes, I think it is about time that he becomes an Opry member. Everything I have read indicates to me that he appreciates the Opry, understands the history and tradition of the Opry, and I believe he will appear after joining. It's about time. 

Joining Chris on Friday night will be The Willis Clan and John Rich (of Big & Rich), with Bradley Gaskin. Bradley was discovered by John Rich in a talent contest a few years ago and has been working hard to get Bradley going on his career, so far with mixed results. As far as Saturday night, Morgan Evans and Restless Heart are the only non-members scheduled. 

Friday October 30
7:00: Connie Smith (host); The Willis Clan; Jeannie Seely; Jesse McReynolds
7:30: Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers (host); John Rich with Bradley Gaskin; Mel Tillis
8:15: Ricky Skaggs (host); Chris Janson; Charlie Daniels Band
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Brad Paisley

Saturday October 31
7:00: Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers (host); Morgan Evans; John Conlee
7:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Restless Heart
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Mel Tillis; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Charlie Daniels

Over the years, there have been a few weekends that are generally stronger then others. For whatever reason, the December Ryman shows fall into that group, along with the 1st weekend back at the Opry House in February and the final October weekend prior to the move to the Ryman. The pattern continues this year with a great weekend scheduled. And, I am sure a few of the 90th anniversary awards will be given out this weekend. 

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from five years ago, the weekend of October 29 & 30, 2010:

Friday October 29
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Connie Smith; Joe Diffie
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jeannie Seely; Rodney Atkins
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Brett Eldredge; Craig Morgan
8:45: Mike Snider (host); Jan Howard; Jesse McReynolds; Oak Ridge Boys

Saturday October 30
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; The Whites
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Laura Bell Bundy
8:15: Mike Snider (host); Jack Greene; Josh Thompson; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Connie Smith; Rascal Flatts

And from ten years ago, October 28 & 29, 2005:

Friday October 28
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); The Whites; Billy Walker; Alecia Nugent
8:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Charlie Louvin; Jack Greene; Emerson Drive
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); John Conlee; Blue Highway
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Restless Heart
9:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); w/Helen Cornelius; Osborne Brothers; Mandy Barnett

Saturday October 29
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Mike Snider; John Anderson
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Brad Paisley; Wynonna; Cherryholmes
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jimmy C Newman; John Conlee; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); The Whites; Rhonda Vincent

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Mike Snider; John Anderson
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jan Howard; Jack Greene; Rhonda Vincent
10:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jimmy C Newman; Wynonna; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; The Whites
11:30: John Conlee (host); Cherryholmes

Now for this week's look back into Grand Ole Opry history, I have the line-up from Saturday October 30, 1943. Here is the show from 72 years ago, or just 18 years after the Opry started:

8:00: Purina
Bill Monroe: Train 45
Uncle Dave Macon and Doris: Jenny Put the Kettle On
Bill Monroe: Never No More Blues
Daniel Quartette: The Sweetest Song I Know
Wilbur: Sweet Evalina
Curly Williams and Georgia Peach Pickers: Home In San Antone
Ernest Tubb: Blue Eyed Elaine
Carl Story: Bile Them Cabbage Down
Uncle Dave Macon and Doris: Chewing Gum
Bill and Clyde: In The Pines
Chubby Wise: Fishers Hornpipe
Bill Monroe: John Henry

8:30: Crazy Water Crystals
Paul Howard and Arkansas Cotton Pickers: With Tears In My Eyes
Marie and Clyde Dillaha: I Can't Go On
Crook Brothers: 8th of January
Eddy Arnold: The Hand Is Writing On The Wall
Jack Shook and The Missouri Mountaineers: Be Honest With Me
Possum Hunters: Ragged Bill
Ford Rush: Silver Threads Among The Gold
Sam, Kirk, and the Boys from Tennessee: If I Had My Life To Live Over
Lonny and Tommy Thompson: You're My Darling You're My Sunshine
Smith Sisters: No Letter Today
Uncle Rufus: My Mother In Law
Gully Jumpers: Chinese Breakdown

9:00: Royal Crown
Golden West Cowboys: Better Quit It Now
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Rolling Down The Line
Ernest Tubb: Last Night I Dreamed
Curly Williams and the Georgia Peach Pickers: When the Sun Goes Down
Robert Lunn: Military Talking Blues
Little Becky Barfield: Don't Forget
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Old Hen Cackled
Ernest Tubb: My Time Will Come Some Day
Curly Williams and The Georgia Peach Pickers: Columbus Stockade Blues
Tex Summey: Hawaiian Sunset
Golden West Cowboys: I Can't Forget Loving You

9:30: Prince Albert
Roy Acuff and His Smokey Mountain Boys: Green Back Dollar
Roy Acuff and His Smokey Mountain Boys: Live and Let Live
Minnie Pearl: In the Shade of the Pines
Mack McGarr: D Chord
Hoe Down: Arkansas Traveler
Jug Band: Pistol Packing Mama
Old Hickory Singers: Birmingham Jail
Whitey Ford: The Duke of Paducah
Jimmy Riddle: Fox Chase

10:00: Wallrite
Bill Monroe: Turkey In The Straw
Sally Ann: Nobody's Darling On Earth
Blue Grass Quartet: Lord Lead Me On
Clyde Moody: The Face I See At Evening
Chubby Wise: Here and There

10:15: Weatherman
Daniel Quartet: Waiting for the Boys to Come Home
Uncle Dave Macon and Doris: Going Down This Road Feeling Bad
Possum Hunters: Take Your Foot Out of the Mud
Eddy Arnold: I'm Coming Home Darling
Marie and Clyde Dillaha: Someday You'll Be Sorry
Uncle Dave Macon and Doris: Take Me Back to My Old Carolina Home
Daniel Quartet: We Are Climbing
Possum Hunters: Durang Hornpipe

10:30: Cherokee Mills
Roy Acuff: Beautiful Brown Eyes
Roy Acuff: Mother the Queen of My Heart
Rachel and Oswald: Gathering Flowers from the Hillside
Jimmy Riddle: San Antonio Rose
Jug Band: Hi-Di-Ho-Baby

10:45: Lazyu
Crook Brothers: Chicken Reel
Uncle Rufus: The Cat Came Back
Sam, Kirk, Art and Goldie: While I'm Away
Robert Lunn, Floyd and Goldie: Riding Down the Canyon
Lonny and Tommy Thompson: Song of the Bandit
Gully Jumpers: Grey Eagle
Sam and Kirk: It's Too Late to Say You Are Wrong
Crook Brothers: John Henry

11:00: Roy Acuff Song Book
Roy Acuff: I'll Reap My Harvest In Heaven
Roy Acuff: Pins and Needles
Rachel and Oswald: Girl I Love Don't Pay Me No Mine
Velma Williams: Too Late
Jimmy Riddle: Wang-Wang Blues

11:15: Ernest Tubb Songbook
Ernest Tubb: When the World Has Turned You Down
Ernest Tubb: I'm Tired of You
Leon Short: Won't You Come Back to Me
Ernest Tubb: I'm Wondering How

11:30: Saf-Kill
Golden West Cowboys: Just That Kind
Little Becky Barfield: I'll Betcha' My Heart I Love You
Tex Summey: San Antonio Rose
Pete Pyle: That Cheap Look In Your Eyes
Jal Smith: Black Mountain Stomp
Trio: Old Dusty Saddle

11:45: Coyne Electric
Curly Williams and The Georgia Peach Pickers: I'll Get Along Somehow
Smith Sisters: Columbus Stockade Blues
Paul Howard and The Arkansas Cotton Pickers: I'm Sending You Red Roses
Fruit Jar Drinkers: 8th of January
Curly Williams and The Georgia Peach Pickers: So Long to the Red River Valley

As you can see from this line-up, the show was still heavily packaged with some of the early string bands, many of whom were very familiar Opry members, including Curly Williams and his Georgia Peach Pickers, Possum Hunters, Gully Jumpers, Paul Howard and The Arkansas Cotton Pickers, Crook Brothers and Fruit Jar Drinkers. And of course, everyone knows who Roy Acuff, Eddy Arnold, Uncle Dave Macon, Pee Wee King's Golden West Cowboys and Ernest Tubb are. But there are a few acts who were on that night that some folks might have forgotten as early Opry members:

The John Daniel Quartet was one of the best known and most influential gospel music artists of the period. John Daniel, the leader, was born in Boaz, Alabama in 1903. He came from a musical family and in the 1930s he formed his group, which included his brothers John and Troy, along with friends Carl Rains and E.C. Littlejohn. They signed with the A.J. Showalter Company, which was one of the leading songbook publishing companies. By 1937, they had joined the Vaughan organization and their popularity took off. By the end of the 1930s, they had appeared in 38 states and Canada. In 1936, Wally Fowler joined the group and he would remain until 1943, when he left to form the Oak Ridge Quartet, later known as the Oak Ridge Boys. In 1942, the quartet signed a radio contract with WSM to do a morning program and this eventually led to them becoming members of the Grand Ole Opry. The John Daniel Quartet continued into the 1950s, when their popularity began to be surpassed by the new gospel quartets coming on the scene, which included the Blackwood Brothers and the Statesmen. John Daniel passed away in 1961.

Clarence "Mac" McGarr was considered an excellent mandolin player and fiddler who would become the fiddler for the Opry stage band. He was at one time a part of The Missouri Mountaineers and later did some work with Ernest Tubb. He was a part of the Opry through most of the 1940s and would become the leader of the Opry stage band and fill in for other acts as needed. 

Jack Shook and his Missouri Mountaineers were considered the Opry's most popular band in the late 1930s. They originally came to the Opry in February 1935. Jack Shook was born in 1910 and passed away in September 1987. Very little is known about the Missouri Mountaineers as they group was made up of primarily WSM staff musicians and rarely toured. In later years, after the group ended, Jack Shook continued to work at WSM and would often appear as part of the early morning staff band that worked WSM's TV shows. He also became one of Nashville's first studio session men, playing rhythm guitar for folks such as Hank Williams and Chet Atkins. 

The Smith Sisters largely came and went unnoticed. I could not even find a biography of them other then to confirm that they were actually Opry members in the early 1940s. 

Pete Pyle was born on April 18, 1920 and passed away in March 1995. He came to the Opry as a solo performer in the late 1930s and then in 1941 he became a member of Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys. He served in the Army in World War II and upon returning to the Opry, he first became a member of Pee Wee King's Golden West Cowboys, then forming his own group, the Mississippi Valley Boys. By 1953, he was back with Bill Monroe, eventually becoming the leader of the house band at his Brown County Jamboree in Bean Blossom. 

Little Becky Barfield was never an Opry member, although she did perform with Pee Wee King and his Golden West Cowboys. She was the featured vocalist, following in the footsteps of Eddy Arnold and had just joined Pee Wee's group in 1943, at the age of 15. She passed away in California in 1958 at the young age of 31. 

Tex Summey was not actually a solo Opry member in 1943, joining the cast later as Cousin Jody. 

Finally, there was Carl Story. He never became an Opry member however in 1942 he was the fiddler for Bill Monroe, replacing Howdy Forrester who had been drafted into the Army. Carl stayed with Bill for about a year, until he himself was drafted. Carl had a long and successful career in bluegrass music, and he was called "The Father of Bluegrass Gospel Music." Carl passed away in 1995 at the age of 78.

That covers a few of the names people might have forgotten. 

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!!


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. Byron, thanks for the great history lesson. I've read a lot of the books on Opry history, but a couple of those names were unfamiliar. However, I am a longtime fan of Carl Story. He was on local television a lot when I was growing up in the Asheville, Greenville, Spartanburg tv market, and to this day when I want to hear a great version of "Rank Stranger" or "A Picture From LIfe's Other Side," I pull out one of his albums.

  3. Fred, Bismarck:

    Great post, Byron. I really enjoyed learning about some of the veteran acts on that 1943 show. Danny, I also am a big Carl Story fan, particularly of his Mercury work. (The Starday stuff would have been just as good, if better-recorded. Starday liked to fob off its "studio" work onto radio stations, with usually a cost in fidelity -- not just to Carl but acts like the Stanley Brothers.)

  4. Quite a few of those acts...Clyde and Marie Dillaha, Jack Shook, Paul Howard, Clyde Moody and Whitey Ford...appeared on some of those great "reunion" shows in the 70s and 80s.

  5. Paul Howard employed a mandolin player named Rollin Sullivan who then went to work for Eddy Arnold and was known as Oscar.

    What a great lineup in 1943! And think of Ernest Tubb not being the main headliner. He would have been a new member then, right?

    And it is interesting to consider how the Opry then had a lot of members come and go, and a significant number disappeared without a trace, you might say. Without defending the abomination last week, how often did people say in the mid-1940s that the Opry was going to pot?

  6. speaking of the Hall of Fame who do you think will be the favorite in the modern category for next year? I know Dottie West will most certainly be the favorite for the veterans category but I want to know who do you think will be the favorite for the modern category

    1. what years are in the "modern" period

  7. I did want to mention that Sonny Osborne has a birthday today and is 78. Looks like he is enjoying retirement and doing well. I know when he retired, the Opry took him off the membership list, changing the Osborne Brothers to Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press. On the newest membership list, it is back to the Osborne Brothers, so I guess in the Opry's eyes, Sonny is back to being a member.

  8. Bill Anderson has cancelled for this weekend. Jeannie Seely will be hosting in his place.

  9. Ol' Whisper had said he was having cataracts done. I hope that's all it is.

  10. Agree Michael. I was looking forward to hearing him this weekend. His birthday is Sunday!

    Knightsville, IN


  12. Please feel free to tell me I'm wrong because it very well could be me. Would auto tune have come in handy tonight for some of the performances? I accept some of the older artist being off but those that I due accept were not that way just a few years ago and today they are 70-80 years old. Oh what will these 20-40 somethings sound like if they can even perform at 70 or 80. I just thought I heard some flat and sour notes tonight. There is almost always one performance where someone sounds like they are in pain but tonight seemed to have a few more.

    Comments please!

    It was good to hear Ricky back tonight.

    Knightsville, IN

  13. When the 'Opry starts to use "auto tune" I will be gone to my local tavern to hear below average musicians perform.
    I HATE IT. "Flat and sour" is the price you pay to hear real music. Auto tune is not real music, it is computer generated music. That is why I will never attend a Reba McIntyre concert.
    Just one man's strong opinion, but I have good company in Eddie Stubbs.

  14. Nat: Hope you didn't misunderstand me. I think auto tune is sad and a joke. I just hear so many of these younger artist that are off and think about all these older artist that sound better at 80 than they do at 25. I think that is one of the reasons they scream and bend notes ,if you can call it that, to cover up their bad singing. Jones and Left did it with style!

    Knightsville, IN

  15. My bad!
    I totally misunderstood your post.
    I could not agree more that today's artists (Nashville?) are in major need of any form of help they can get, on stage or on recordings.
    Heard Wanda Jackson live a few weeks back, and she is still spot-in in her singing.
    The sad part is that when you or I buy a CD today, you can pretty well bet it's so heavily computerized that it has very little relation to what actually was put into the digital box.


  16. Nat:

    Wasn't Wanda at the Bluebird? Didn't Make it to that one. Did see Merle and Willie last week.

    That was one of the things they talked about when Eddie had Fred Foster and the engineer on talking about Ray Price last project. They didn't do anything to his voice. What you hear is what he put down. Here he was a very sick and 84 I think. These people today should be so ashamed. On the other hand, why should they, they get big applause and sell so are they the fools of much of the buying public?

    By the way, I thought Merle sounded better in concert even than he did on the Opry last week.

    Knightsville, IN

  17. Has anyone else noticed how off key Marty Roe/Diamond Rio has sounded for quite a while when they're on the Opry? I mean when he goes to hit a high note and on One More Day and Dana & Gene try to harmoniz

  18. Jim, Wanda was at the Bluebird and it was an absolutely amazing performance.
    She held the almost entirely college aged crowd in her hand. Talked a little about Elvis, but did a really neat "walk-through" of her career, and several of the songs were stone country.
    She offered up a great Christian testimony, and the kids were very respectful.
    It was an amazing evening.

    Glad Merle and Willie put on a good show. Wanda was a lot more affordable!

    And, I have no doubt Ray Price could pull it off. I own the album, and it is an amazing performance, especially under the circumstances. Let a current "Nashville" star try that.


  19. After listening to all four Opry shows this week, I am rating the week with a solid A mainly for ALL of the Opry members and a few Hall of Famers who appeared, Mel Tillis, Connie Smith & Vince Gill, who could be on every weekend as far as I am concerned. Always dig when Chris Janson hits the stage; I enjoyed Brad Paisley for joining in on the fun on Friday night's show; and what more can be about Ricky Skaggs doing his country hits on three shows? While I totally enjoy his bluegrass music, I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE his country music more; and in my opinion, he really needs to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Maybe next year. :-)

    Thank you Opry management ... job very well done.


  20. I think with Kenny Rogers Milsap and The Oaks all now in either Ricky Skaggs or Randy Travis will be the favorite for the modern category next year