Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Grand Ole Opry 11/20 & 11/21-Jean Shepard's 60th Anniversary

Before getting into the Grand Ole Opry's weekend line-ups, there are a couple of pieces of news that I wanted to pass along:

First, word came this morning that Ramona Jones, the widow of Grandpa Jones, had passed away at the age of 91. She was from Van Buren, Indiana before eventually moving to Cincinnati, Ohio, where she met Grandpa and began working with him professionally. They married in 1946. They continued to perform together as Ramona was an excellent fiddler who loved the old time country music. Personally, I always thought one of the best routines that Grandpa and Ramona did was when the did the Bells routine, using cowbells strapped to their feet and hands. I remember their version of Jingle Bells. Our prayers and thoughts go to her family. 

The second bit of news is that word was received late this afternoon that Bonnie Brown, former Grand Ole Opry member and one of the newest members into the Country Music Hall of Fame, has been hospitalized for the past week with a collapsed lung. The treatment as not gone well and the family, and others, have asked for prayers. 

Now to some positive news: 

It will be a big weekend at the Grand Ole Opry as the legendary Jean Shepard will be celebrating 60 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Jean is scheduled for the first show on Saturday night and she is listed as Bill Anderson's only guest. Hopefully they treat her right and really honor her as the first female to reach 60 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. And that is 60 consecutive years!!!

Joining Jean on Saturday night, in addition to Bill Anderson, will be Grand Ole Opry members Vince Gill, Mel Tillis, Marty Stuart, Connie Smith, Jesse McReynolds and Jeannie Seely. Hopefully they all take part in the celebration. Also scheduled are guest artists Andrew Petersen, Charles Esten, and Glen Campbell's daughter Ashley Campbell. Ashley has been continuing the legacy of her father Glen and who knows, she may do a Glen Campbell song or two on the Opry Saturday night. 

The Friday Night Opry is looking a little thin. The segment hosts will be Opry members Jeannie Seely, Mike Snider, Connie Smith and Mel Tillis, while the only other Opry member scheduled is Bobby Osborne. There are two very nice guest artists scheduled in Gene Watson and Lee Greenwood. And the younger fans should be thrilled to see Jackie Lee and Lindsay Ell. And that is it currently for Friday night. I would think we will see at least a couple of more scheduled. 

Friday November 20
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jackie Lee
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Lindsay Ell; Gene Watson
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
8:45: Mel Tillis (host); Lee Greenwood

Saturday November 21
1st show
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jesse McReynolds; Andrew Petersen
7:30: Marty Stuart (host); Connie Smith; Mel Tillis
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jean Shepard; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Vince Gill (host); Ashley Campbell; Charles Esten

2nd show
9:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jesse McReynolds; Andrew Petersen
10:00: Marty Stuart (host); Connie Smith; Mel Tillis
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Ashley Campbell; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Vince Gill (host); Charles Esten

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from five years ago this weekend, November 19 & 20, 2010:

Friday November 19
7:00: John Conlee (host); Mike Snider; Jean Shepard; Rebecca Lynn Howard
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jack Greene; Daryle Singletary
8:15: Charley Pride (host); Stonewall Jackson; George Hamilton IV; Ralph Stanley
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Craig Morgan

Saturday November 20
1st show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Radney Foster
7:30: Charley Pride (host); Jean Shepard; Mike Snider
8:00: Marty Stuart (host); w/Paul Shaffer; Connie Smith; Ralph Stanley; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: John Conlee (host); The Whites; Charlie Daniels Band

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Radney Foster
10:00: Charley Pride (host); The Whites; Mike Snider
10:30: Marty Stuart (host); w/Paul Shaffer; Connie Smith; Ralph Stanley; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: John Conlee (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Charlie Daniels Band

Now from ten years ago, the weekend of November 18 & 19, 2005:

Friday November 18
1st show
6:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); The Whites; Del McCoury Band
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Connie Smith; Miranda Lambert
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Mel McDaniel; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
8:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Osborne Brothers; John Corbett
8:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Jan Howard; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Darryl Worley

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Mike Snider; Connie Smith
10:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); The Whites; Del McCoury Band
10:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); w/Helen Cornelius; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver/Miranda Lambert
11:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Osborne Brothers; Darryl Worley
11:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; John Corbett

Saturday November 19
1st show
6:30: Mike Snider (host); Mel McDaniel; Connie Smith
7:00: Carrie Underwood; John Corbett; Miranda Lambert; Rascal Flatts
8:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); w/Helen Cornelius; Elizabeth Cook; Del McCoury Band; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Billy Walker; The Whites; Vince Gill

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Connie Smith; Miranda Lambert
10:00: Mike Snider (host); Mel McDaniel; Rascal Flatts
10:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Billy Walker; John Corbett; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Vince Gill (host); The Whites; Carrie Underwood
11:30: Jim Ed Brown w/Helen Cornelius; Elizabeth Cook; Del McCoury Band

As previously stated, Saturday night is Jean Shepard's 60th anniversary as an Opry member. Much as she was the first female Opry member to reach 50 years as an Opry member, she will be the first to reach 60. And that is 60 consecutive years!! 

I thought it would be interesting to look back at previous editions of the Grand Ole Opry's Picture History Books and see how the biographies they printed about Jean have changed a bit over the years. The first one is from Volume 1, which was published in 1957:

"Pretty Jean Shepard traveled across the nation to join the Grand Ole Opry. She was singing on Hank Thompson's show in California when she decided to try for a berth on the Opry, the goal of all country music stars. Born in Paul's Valley, Oklahoma, Jean moved with her family to Visalia, Calif., in 1943, where she attended high school and sang with the school's glee club. Encouraged by her family to try singing as a profession, the petite Opry-star-to-be promptly signed with the Melody Ranch Girls. It was while with this group that Thompson heard her sing and arranged a contract with Capital Records. Jean's 'Dear John Letter' and 'Forgive Me John' in 1953 earned Cash Box magazine's 'Most Promising Star' rating and her spot on the Opry. Jean is versatility personified. She plays the drums, string bass and guitar in addition to her vocalizing-and her neat appearance adds prettiness and charm to stage shows. Miss Shepard is an expert horsewoman, and one of Jean's latest hobbies is teaching her Minah Bird to talk."

That was in 1957.Now here is how it was written in the Picture History book in 2000 on the occasion of the Grand Ole Opry's 75th anniversary:

"Jean Shepard was the first country female vocalist in the post-war era to sell a million records. She was the first to overdub her voice on record and the first to make a color television commercial. She was also the first singing female Opry member to celebrate 40 years with the Opry cast. And she'll be the last to sing anything but that upon which she's built her enduring career-pure country-emphasis on both words."

"Jean was born in Oklahoma but grew up in Visalia, California, one of 10 children who were all musically inclined. When she was 14 she formed an all-girl western swing band called The Melody Ranch Girls. Soon they were playing dances and local radio shows. One night The Melody Ranch Girls played a show with country legend Hank Thompson. He was so impressed with Jean that he introduced her to record executives and set up a recording deal with Capital Records. She cut her first record when she was only 15. Jean soon moved to Springfield, Missouri, to join Red Foley and the stars on the Ozark Jubilee. Next she enjoyed monster success with Ferlin Husky on the 'Dear John Letter' and its sequel 'Forgive Me John.' Both records sold more than a million copies and she and Ferlin played to crowds throughout the U.S. Jean then took her distinct country stylings to the Grand Ole Opry, earning Opry membership on November 21, 1955. She has recorded more than 25 albums-including the 1956 'Songs of a Love Affair' on which she wrote all 12 songs-and hit the charts with releases such as 'Satisfied Mind,' 'Another Lonely Night.' 'Then He Touched Me,' 'Seven Lonely Days,' 'Slipping Away,' 'At the Time,' 'I'll Do Anything' and 'Tips of my Fingers.'"

"Jean married Opry great Hawkshaw Hawkins and had a son Don Robin, named for their good friends Don Gibson and Marty Robbins. In March 1963 she was eight months pregnant with their second child when Hawkshaw died in the tragic plane crash that also took the lives of Opry stars Cowboy Copas and Patsy Cline and Patsy's manager and pilot Randy Hughes. When Jean's son was born a month later, she named him Harold Franklin Hawkins II for his father. Jean today is happily married to Benny Birchfield, a musician, singer and member of Nashville's music community. Together with their versatile band 'The Second Fiddles' they tour extensively throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe entertaining audiences with pure country-emphasis on both words."

As you can see, the 2000 write-up was much more extensive then what was written in 1957. Now to finish it out, here is what the biography from the current 90th anniversary Grand Ole Opry Family Album: 

"In 2005, Jean Shepard became the first female singer to reach the 50-year milestone as a Grand Ole Opry member. But Jean's a performer whose career has been marked by a whole series of firsts. Her early hit 'A Dear John Letter,' sung with Ferlin Husky, was the first post-World War II country record by a woman to sell a million copies. Jean's most lasting breakthroughs can't be measured in numbers. When she began recording for Ken Nelson at Capital Records in 1952, there was really no precedent in country music for a young woman recording and touring on her own rather than as a member of a family team, couple, or as a band's 'girl singer.' The teenager who dared to sing 'Twice the Lovin' in Half the Time' as her first single would go on to have hard-country hits though the '50s with 'Don't Fall in Love With a Married Man' and 'The Root of All Evil (Is a Man).' In 1956, she took-for the first time on a country hit-the daring part not of a wronged wife but of 'The Other Woman.' These forceful hits set the stage for Loretta Lynn, Reba, and other assertive country women that followed. Jean's own high-charting hits continued right on through the classic 'Slippin' Away.'"

"Born in Oklahoma, Jean grew up in Visalia, California-one of 10 children in a musically inclined family that listened to the Opry on the radio but had to save pennies to buy a Jimmie Rodgers record once a year. Hank Thompson spotted her when she was just 14, singing and playing bass in an all-girl band she'd formed, called the Melody Ranch Girls. Hank quickly brought her to the attention of Capital Records. She was an early star, along with Porter Wagoner, of Red Foley's Ozark Jubilee broadcasts out of Springfield, Missouri, and she actually preceded Porter at the Opry. Over the years, Jean has been a vocal proponent of undiluted, hard honky tonk sounds onstage and on the air. We can all hear what she has in mind directly-every time she sings."

There you have it. 3 different biographies, each from a different era and point of her career.

Jean became a Grand Ole Opry member on November 21, 1955, which was actually on a Monday. That would have been the day that she accepted the Opry's invitation. Her first appearance as an Opry member would be the following Saturday night, November 26. Here is the Grand Ole Opry line-up from November 26, 1955-Jean Shepard's first appearance as a member of the Grand Ole Opry: 

7:30: Federal Fertilizer Co.
Marty Robbins (host): Maybelline
Fiddle Tune: Old Joe Clark
Minnie Pearl: Comedy
Don and Rita: Lonely Heart
Fiddle Tune: Grey Eagle

7:45: American Ace
George Morgan (host): Ever So Often
Goldie Hill: Ain't Gonna Wash My Face
Eddie Hill: Smack Dab In The Middle
George Morgan: Jesus, Saviour Pilot Me
Fiddle Tune: Devil's Dream

8:00: Martha White
Flatt and Scruggs: Theme Song
Jim Reeves (host): Looking For A Sucker
Hawkshaw Hawkins: Standing at the End of the World
Flatt and Scruggs: Flint Hill Special
Jean Shepard: Satisfied Mind
Moon Mullican: Mean Mama
Possum Hunters: Bile Them Cabbage Down
Jim Reeves: I've Lived A Lot in my Lifetime
Maybelle Carter: Wildwood Flower
Flatt and Scruggs: Bubbling In My Soul
Hawkshaw Hawkins: Car-Hoppin' Mama
Fiddle Tune: Blackeyed Susan

8:30: Prince Albert
Ferlin Huskey (host): I'll Baby Sit With You
Rod Brasfield: Comedy
Louvin Brothers: I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby
Fiddle Tune: Soldier's Joy
Ferlin Huskey: Sayeth The Lord
Del Wood: Smoky Mountain Polka
Minnie Pearl: Comedy
Louvin Brothers: I'm The Middle of Nowhere
Chet Atkins: Avalon
Ferlin Huskey: Walking and Humming
Fiddle Tune: Katy Hill

9:00: Royal Crown Cola
Hank Snow (host): Music Making Mama
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Tennessee Wagoner
Lonzo and Oscar: The Cow Jumped the Moon
Bill Monroe: I Used To Be
Carlisles: Knot-Hole
Marty Robbins: Pretty Mama
Hank Snow: I Can See The Love In Your Heart
Lonzo and Oscar: Snow Deer
Carlisles: Little Liza Jane
Fiddle Tune: Back Up and Push

9:30: Jefferson Island Salt
Jordanaires: Theme Song
Ray Price (host): I Don't Want You On My Conscience
Slim Whitman: Tell Me
Anita Carter: Mask On My Heart
Cousin Jody: Dear John
Crook Brothers: Girl I Left Behind
Louvin Brothers; Just Rehearsing 
Grandpa Jones: Night Train to Memphis
Chet Atkins: Five Foot Two
Jordanaires: Shaking Bridges
Ray Price: Sweet Little Miss Blue Eyes

10:00: Wall-Rite
George Morgan (host): Almost
Bill Monroe: Close By
Moon Mullican: Cherokee Boogie
George Morgan: The Best Mistake I Ever Made
Fiddle Tune: Buffalo Gal

10:15: Dr. Le Gear
Marty Robbins (host): That's Alright
Carlisles: I Was On My Way to The Show
Goldie Hill: Why Don't You Leave Me Alone
Marty Robbins: Don't Let Me Hang Around
Fiddle Tune: Devil's Dream

10:30: Hester Battery
Jim Reeves (host): Looking For A Sucker
R.D. Heardon: To Be Announced
Jean Shepard: Beautiful Lies
Jim Reeves: I'm Hurting Inside
Fiddle Tune: Mississippi Sawyer

10:45: D Con
Hank Snow (host): Just Keep on Moving
Jimmy Snow: Go Back You Fool
Gully Jumpers: Bully of the Town
Hank Snow: Within This Broken Heart
Fiddle Tune: Bill Cheatham

11:00: W. E. Stephens
Lonzo and Oscar: Theme Song
Ferlin Huskey (host): I Feel Better All Over
Hawkshaw Hawkins: The Love You Steal
Rod Brasfield: Comedy
Lonzo and Oscar: Who Put That Brick Wall In My Way
Slim Whitman: Indian Love Call
Grandpa Jones: Call Old Rattler
Maybelle Carter: Gold Watch and Chain
Crook Brothers: Arkansas Traveler
Ferlin Huskey: Cuz You're So Sweet
Fiddle Tune: Old Joe Clark

11:30: Delited
Ray Price (host): Sweet Little Miss Blue Eyes
Louvin Brothers: When I Stop Dreaming
Eddie Hill: Someday You'll Call My Name
Sam and Kirk: While I'm Away
Cousin Jody: Oh, Wonderful World
Ray Price: Release Me
Dot and Smokey: Contact
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Walking In My Sleep
Louvin Brothers: Just Rehearsing
Ray Price: I'll Be There
Fiddle Tune: Sleepy Lou

Congratulations once again to Jean Shepard for 60 years of membership on the Grand Ole Opry. Enjoy the show this weekend!!


  1. I'm glad she's being honored. And a trivial note: she's on the same segment as the square dancers, and Earl White, who played fiddle for them for so long, had been in Jean's and Hawk's band at one time. Since the square dancers are the former Melvin Sloan Dancers, who took over from his brother Ralph, that's the only act I can think of that has been on the Opry longer than Jean, and obviously not in the same way that she has been.

  2. Fred, Bismarck:

    Michael, nobody can uncover these obscure points and make these old connections like you. As a gold mine you are right up there with Byron.

  3. Fred, believe me, Byron is the real miner. But thanks.

  4. Jimmy Wayne has been added to the 3rd segment on Friday night and Steve Wariner has been added to the final segment. That fills out the line-up and makes for a much better show.

  5. A 4 and a half hour show sure made it worthwhile to make a long distance trip to the Opry in 1955 and as recently as the 1980s , didn't it ???

    Dashmann, Flushing, Michigan

  6. Fred, Bismarck:

    Dash, the one show we ever made -- all the way from Wyoming, in May 1969 -- was missing E.T., Hank Snow and Marty. But about everyone else we loved was on the bill, and Johnny Cash and George and Tammy just "dropped by." (Altho the show was so fast-paced, lively, fun-loving and various, it almost wouldn't have mattered who was playing.)

    At the end of that night we were simply wrung out, exhausted, and I was days in getting my voice back.

    Besides the personalities and the music, a lot has changed about not just the Opry but the whole business, hasn't it? 1969 might as well have happened on another planet.

  7. I wonder if you remember earlier this year when the Opry had a special monday night show this year with Brad Paisley, Blake Shelton, and Darius Rucker, which was going to be for a movie?

    Well, I saw on the Opry newsletter an update about that Opry movie. It's called "American Saturday Night: Live From The Grand Ole Opry." It will be released December 4th in most theatres. It's probably got the dumbest title for this movie, considering it was done on a monday, and you never will see any of these performers on a saturday Opry anymore.

    Here is the trailer for the movie:

    Hearing the Band Perry's statement that they'd like to be members makes me wonder if the Opry will do what they similarly did for Reba and announce they've going to be Opry members in this special film.

  8. Eddie Stubbs had one of his "anointed" evenings with Jean Shepard Wednesday night of this week.
    It was special, as most of Eddie's in-studio events turn out to be.
    Jean sounded good and was sharp mentally. She noted that her husband doesn't think she can sing any more, but that she may go ahead and sing anyway, even though it has been almost a year since she sang on the 'Opry.
    She said she wants to be remembered as being "an honest person" and a "good country music singer."
    Well, Jean, you are indeed both of the above.

  9. Kyle, no new members were added during the filming of the movie. So it would appear that The Band Perry will have to wait.

  10. Jean Shepard sounds wonderful tonight on the Opry. Bill Anderson gave Jean a very emotional and heartfelt introduction and the audience is really giving her a great ovation. She sang "Tennessee Waltz" and she didn't sound too bad, actually her voice is better than she sounded on Eddie's show on Wednesday night. Bill and Jean are also singing "A Dear John Letter" which was Jean's first huge hit, a million seller.

  11. In fact, the entire Opry up to this point is great. Jeannie Seely, Jesse McReynolds, Andrew Petersen, Marty Stuart, Connie Smith, and now Bill and Jean. It is a sold out show and the audience is really into it....lots of noise and applause.

  12. Steve Buchanan did the presentation to Jean tonight, a gold locket, and she also received her membership award that they are giving to the Opry members on the occasion of the Opry's 90th anniversary.

  13. I believe Eddie Stubbs would say "are there any questions"? My question to all of you is, are there any dry eyes out there? I am so glad Bill was there to handle that portion. There isn't a better person to have done it.

    Knightsville, IN

  14. I was in the audience and yes it was very emotional inside the Ryman. They closed the curtain during the commercial and she was sitting in a large chair at center stage when it opened. Bill was down on one knee talking to her and singing with her and had his arm around her throughout. I could see from the balcony many of the members gathered in the wings watching. They closed the curtain after Buchanan made the presentation to help her leave the stage. And yes, I thought she sounded pretty good, just a little weak. I think we just saw a part of the Opry history close. And yes, the show was excellent I thought. I could leave or take Charles Esten but he wasn't bad and both Vince & Marty had the audience (which I thought was pretty quiet with their overall responses) completely silent during their closing songs (Oldtimeopry)

  15. Those of us listening on XM did not hear the presentation to Jean - they cut that portion. So glad that she was able to be there for her 60th Opry Anniversary and as Jean herself recently said she expect to retire, so sadly, that was probably her last appearance at the Opry.

  16. I can't remember anyone else ever attempting "El Paso " after Marty Robbins passed in 1982, until Marty Stuart did it tonight, and what a fabulous job he and his band did on it.
    All I could do is sit and say " Wow " afterward.

    Dashmann - Flushing , Michigan

    1. Dashman .... I saw Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives at the City Winery in Chicago back in July.

      The concert was just so, so great and then Marty told the audience that he had been called by the Country Music Hall of Fame and they asked if he and his and would sing/play "El Paso" to honor Grady Martin. He accepted the invitation and he asked if he and his Superlatives could try it out on us. WHO was going to say no?

      None of us had any idea what we were about to experience in hearing how they sang that song. What we heard totally blew us away - the vocals by Marty, Harry & Chris were unbelievable and that "burned in my mind forever" guitar playing that Kenny Vaughan played to such perfection, if one closed their eyes, they would have sworn they were listening to Grady Martin on the original recording sung by Marty Robbins. The vocals were very strong and powerful - with Marty, Harry and Chris standing around one mic & then Kenny to Marty's left at a microphone.

      No matter what Marty touches, he puts his stamp on it and it turns to gold. The rendition they sang on Saturday they re-did a bit - Marty played his mandolin on Saturday, he did not play his mandolin back in July.

      Right now I'm listening to Eddie Stubbs' Intimate Evening with Eddie Stubbs and Marty is his guest for the ten years Eddie has had this show coming live from the Country Music Hall of Fame. But in honor of Eddie's birthday, Marty said that since Christmas is right around the corner, the best gift Eddie could give him (they have now been friends for 39 years - yes, 39) was for Eddie to give Marty his radio show for one night, tonight. And now it's the Intimate Evening with Marty Stuart show and Marty is interviewing Eddie. It is just great and funny.

      They discussed Marty's show returning - still no return date. He said he needed a break after 156 episodes of his show, he has a new band member, Chris Scruggs, whose momma is Gail Davies, was on the Midnight Jamboree this past Saturday. Marty has a new management company, he and Connie moved, and Marty's dad passed away earlier this year - he just needed a break.

      He has shows rolling around in his, did not say he was or was not returning to RFD-TV but did speak about Patrick Gottsch - though I have seen a commercial on RFD-TV in the last two weeks that says the Mollie B and Marty Stuart shows returning in 2016. Marty said he LOVES doing his show, and he loves doing tv. So it's just a matter of time that we see him again.

      I am sure this 2-hr interview will be archived on the WSM website at some point soon, if anyone is interested. Oh and Connie Smith has been the hostess, bringing them drinks and flowers as Marty said Eddie never provides drinks to his guests. lol ... just so funny. I just hope someone is taking pictures, THIS is hilarious. They are celebrating Marty's momma's birthday as well as Eddie's with the Mariachi Olympico. Again, when Marty does something (as the party part was planned in advance by Marty) it's first class all the way. The Tennessee Mafia Jug band and Chris Scruggs are there as well as the Chuck Wagon Gang. Marty got Eddie to play his fiddle a couple of tunes - Eddie is a great musician in his own right. Oh here I go again, play by play. I've been known to do that on Facebook when listening to the Grand Ole Opry. What a great two hours of radio tonight everyone.


  17. XM's treatment of the Opry is pretty sad. They cut so much out do to time and I suspect a lack of knowledge by those doing the editing. The Opry is a live show but sometimes you would not know it the way they edit the show. You often only hear the music and very little of the conversations. And believe it or not, they are just as bad to new acts as old sometimes. I guess if you do not have internet or it is not coming in on AM XM is better than nothing.

    Thanks for the in person report Oldtime Opry. I had a feeling she did not walk on stage in front of the crowd.

    I am trying to think if who has done El Paso on the Opry since 1982. I know that Johnny Counterfit has done it. It was a cut in one of Hank Snow's later LP's and since he was trying to sing his catalog towards the end he may have done it. I may have to look into that. Byron would probably know. Also, I would be quite sure that Ronnie would have done it for he has appeared many times since Marty passed. And it is possible Jim Glasser and Billy Walker may have done it. That said, Marty and the boys did a great job with it tonight.

    Jesse McReynolds did a great job tonight too.

    Overall, this was a good weekend at the Opry by today's standards. I thought about going and wish I had now.

    Knightsville, IN

  18. I know I have been pretty critical of the Opry's management lately, but this week I applaud them. What a great night Saturday was. All of the performers did an excellent job, no complaints. I know we have been doing a lot of mention regarding Jean Shepard, but that half hour before, with Marty Stuart, Connie Smith and Mel Tillis was really, really good. Mel featuring his band on Orange Blossom Special and the story of taking Pam to church were priceless. And let's not forget another strong performance by Vince Gill following Bill and Jean's segment.

    Thinking about it overnight, I am pretty sure that will be the final time we hear Jean perform on the Opry. She is pretty frail and makes no secret of retiring. Interesting that she mentioned that she had taken a "leave" from the Opry and that this was her first time back in a while, in fact, since last December. Glad that she did 2 songs, "Tennessee Waltz" and "The Dear John Letter" with Bill Anderson, who handled his part flawlessly. Steve Buchanan did a very nice job on the presentation, which was pretty short and simple. She, and a few others, that very few artists have made it to 60 years on the Opry and that Jean was the first female. My only thought with that statement is that it would have been nice to mention who Jean was joining in the 60 year club, which would have been just Herman Crook. And I will say Jean was very respectful during the presentation. (for those who remember Jean's 50th, you will know what that comment means). All in all, a great night for the Opry and for Jean Shepard.

    Now for Sirius and XM radio. My message would be pretty simple: if you are not going to rebroadcast the Opry the right way, don't bother. I get the editing out of the commercials, since they advertisers are not paying for the extra airtime, but other than that, let's get the entire Opry in. I remember when Jimmy Dickens was still alive and Sirius and XM would cut out many of his jokes. And that was a big part of Jimmy's act.

    Just one other mention about commercials and sponsors. Since the Johnny Cash Museum became a sponsor several years back of the opening Saturday night segment, they have only sponsored that segment while the Opry is at the Opry House. When the Opry has moved to the Ryman for the winter months, the Tennessee Wildlife Authority has taken over the sponsor ship of that segment. It is the same thing this year and makes me wonder if whether the Museum doesn't want to sponsor the Opry when it is downtown or if the Wildlife Authority doesn't want to sponsor the Opry at the Opry House? Since the Cash Museum is downtown, I would think they would want to keep that sponsorship.

    And like Jim, I really thought of driving down and I should have done it, even if it meant standing in the balcony.

  19. Byron, it just goes to show that they can put together a good show when they put some effort into it... I do wish they had let Jesse do two songs on the first show, Andrew Petersen was more pop/folk and since both his songs sounded alike, one would have been plenty. And I started thinking, I wonder how long it's been since there have been five Hall of Famers on an Opry Show (Smith, Tillis, Shepard, Anderson & Gill)... When I first stared going in the late 80s it was almost like there were so many regular Hall of Famers there was maybe only a couple of other spots open for hosting (back when we had 15 minute portions)... Think of it Acuff, Snow, Monroe, Dickens, Jones on most weekends and sometimes Pearl. Second observation that I think says a lot about "country" music today: I like to hang around in the alley when the Opry is at the Ryman. Over the years, I've met so many wonderful Opry stars back there who were more than glad to stop and visit, sign an autograph and/or take a photo. I noticed this time there were very few people coming and going from the Ryman in the alley. Not only has management reduced the number of acts, they've cut so many bands and musicians, there's just not that excitement anymore. Anyway, back to my original point about today's "country" music... Jay Demarcus from Rascal Flatts came on to play with Charles Esten from the Nashville TV show. I was back in the alley after the first show and they pulled up to the back door and were picked up at the backdoor with a body guard. They really think they're something while multi-Grammy winner Vince Gill walked out the back door alone, with his guitar on his back, walked down the alley, signed autographs and took pictures with anyone who asked. Maybe if today's "stars" were more interested in making music and supporting their fans instead of playing "stars" we'd have better country music. (oldtimeopry)

  20. Fred, Bismarck:

    Who Demarcus? Charles Who? They wouldn't need a body guard to be safe from me.

  21. Does anybody know the nature of Jean's illness?

  22. A couple of observations.

    First, think about what we are complimenting here. I know that they are mostly older acts but do you realize how void the show was of guests, first timers, and star search types. See how much better the show can be with out all of them.

    Second, oldtimeopry speaks of people playing stars, isn't that what Charles Esten really is, an actor playing a star. We know why but I still must ask WHY is he on the Opry?

    I hope some photo's show up somewhere. Oldtimeopry, did you take any?

    Knightsville, IN

  23. Jim: I took a couple of photos and a short video of her singing but they didn't come out well from the balcony. The Opry has a good photo of her and Bill Anderson on its Facebook page and I've seen some other people who were backstage at the reception they had for her post some more candid photos. (oldtimeopry)

  24. Yes, the picture of Jean on Opry FB is good; she looks extremely frail. However, she did sound good Saturday night; if that was her last visit, it turned out to be a good one.

  25. Oldtimeopry: Thanks for the info. I checked out the Opry facebook and Bill Anderson's page and found a few shots.

    Anyone know why Pete Fisher was not there doing the presentation?

    Knightsville, IN

  26. This is pathetic.
    It is now Wednesday, November 25th (granted, it's just a few minutes past midnight).
    I have tickets for Friday Night's 'Opry, and the 'Opry does not consider it important to announce the full cast and schedule.
    Wow. Really sad.

  27. They finally have the weekend shows up. Not terrible on Friday night but I just can't get used to the barely double digit number of acts. It may have been boring to some but I miss the days of two dozens acts or more per show. Nice to see Tracy Lawrence on Saturday.

    Have good time and a safe trip Nat.

    Knightsville, IN