Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Grand Ole Opry 2/19 & 2/20

I promised to post a few notes regarding last weekend when I was in Nashville and attended both the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry. But life got in the way and I wasn't able to get to it as quickly as I would have liked. So before getting into the Opry shows for this weekend, allow me to take a few moments and review last weekend. 

There were two major highlights for me over the weekend. On Friday night I had the opportunity to meet Ronnie Milsap. After the Opry, he was in the lobby meeting a few of the fans who had purchased his new CD. I would estimate that there were about 100 of us and he spent a few minutes with each person and posed for a picture which I posted on my Facebook page. I was very impressed as he took the time to ask where I was from, mentioned a few kind words about Ohio, and thanked me for coming to the Opry and supporting him over the years. It was an honor to meet him. Ronnie was also honored during the show as last week marked 40 years for Ronnie as a member of the Opry. He received a frame print of the show from Eddie Stubbs. Ronnie, who looked and sounded good, received a very nice ovation from those attending. 

The second highlight of the weekend was Vince Gill. As many of you are aware, Rick Wright, who was Connie Smith's lead guitar player for the last 17 years, died in a car accident the prior Sunday night. Connie, who has missed the last couple of weeks at the Opry due to illness, was scheduled for both Friday and Saturday this past weekend. On Friday evening, Connie hosted the second segment and when the curtain went up, there was Vince Gill, who was not scheduled, on stage with her, playing the lead guitar and singing back-up on "The Key's in the Mailbox." After the song, Connie acknowledged Rick and thanked Vince for helping her get through the first night without him. Vince said a few words regarding his friendship with Rick. At the end of the segment, Connie sang "Amazing Grace" in honor of Rick. It was a very emotional segment. Then on Saturday night, Vince hosted the last segment and closed out with "Go Rest High On That Mountain," dedicated to Rick. What was impressive was Vince allowed each Opry Staff Band member to play a verse, drawing out the song, and there were some tears on stage as they played. After the song ended, which received a nice ovation from the audience, Vince immediately left the stage. A very emotional experience. 

As far as the rest of the weekend, Opry members Jeannie Seely, Mike Snider and Bill Anderson appeared both nights. All did a very nice job and if any of you caught Mike Snider's portion on Saturday night, he was the funniest I have heard him in a long time. He was pushing the envelope a little bit, but the audience really loved it. Jeannie looked and sounded good both nights, as did Bill. Of course, being Valentine's weekend, Bill came out with a couple of love songs. Friday night included Bobby Osborne, who did his usual great job on Rocky Top, and The Whites, who did two numbers. Watching Buck play the piano, it is hard to believe that at the age of 85 he is one of the Opry's oldest members. As far guests artists on Friday night, I was very impressed with William Michael Morgan, who sang Johnny Paycheck's "A-11" and really nailed the song. He has a true country voice, reminding me in some ways of Josh Turner and Mo Pitney. I hope he gets his big break someday, but his voice might be too country. Jerry Douglas and The Earls of Leicester were also on Friday evening. If you are unfamiliar with this group, they specialize in music from Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, thus their name. They look and dress the part. After doing their two songs on Friday, Bill had them come back and asked them to play the Martha White theme song, which was Lester and Earl's longtime sponsor, and Opry sponsor. Of course they played it, and I did wonder how much Opry management appreciated the theme song of a former sponsor being played. I don't know the answer, but what I do know is that the Earls were back on Saturday night and did not play the theme. Also appearing on Friday was A Thousand Horses, who I was just not impressed with. I have heard them on the Opry before, and they do have a following, however my first impression upon seeing them was not positive. Finally, there was Jonathan Jackson from "Nashville." This was my first time seeing him in person on the Opry and I was very, very impressed with his two ballad numbers. A great voice that had a lot of emotion. I know he is an actor playing the part of a country music singer, but he does it well. 

As far as Saturday night, in addition to those already mentioned, Opry members Terri Clark and Jesse McReynolds were on, as was a return appearance by Connie Smith, who on Saturday had her husband Marty Stuart playing lead guitar and singing harmony. Much like Vince the night before, Marty stayed in the background and gave the spotlight to Connie. They were on the segment hosted by Terri Clark, who mentioned that it was Connie and Marty who inducted her as a member of the Opry. Terri looked and sounded great, and does a very nice job hosting. Jesse McReynolds and The Virginia Boys did a very nice job and Jesse is looking pretty good. Among the guest artists Saturday was TG Sheppard. TG, who has had a series of hit records, really did a nice job. He came down into the audience and shook a few hands with the fans. Maggie Rose was also on and she did ok, while Clare Bowen from "Nashville" was also fine. The final guest artists were The Railers, another of the young groups trying to make it in Nashville. As with A Thousand Horses from Friday night, they just didn't make it with me. I do wish them luck as this trio is talented, just not my style. 

As far as attendance, I would say that the Opry House was about 2/3 full on Friday night, while Saturday was close to a sell-out. If you listened, you might have heard a few of the artists on Saturday mention the traffic and trouble getting to the Opry House. Well, they were right. The National Wildlife Turkey Federation was having their annual convention and there were close to 50,000 people attending Saturday at the Opryland Hotel. I know it took me almost 45 minutes just to get across Music Valley Drive to the Opry parking lot. Several of the back-up artists did come in late, and I did hear Terri Clark mention that they got in with just five minutes to spare. I believe her, it was that bad. 

All in all, the Opry shows were much better than I had anticipated, based on the announced line-up. It was a good weekend and I can't wait to get back to Nashville, which I hope will be soon. 

Now as far as this weekend at the Opry, the line-ups are posted. Appearing both nights will be Opry members Jeannie Seely, Mike Snider and Bill Anderson, with Bobby Osborne, Diamond Rio and Josh Turner joining them on Friday night, with Connie Smith, Jesse McReynolds and Steve Wariner appearing on Saturday. Guest artists on Friday include Aaron Tippin, Dean Brody, Flatt Lonesome, Lauren Alaina and Exile, who will be appearing also on Saturday night. Joining Exile on Saturday will be Elizabeth Cook, Love and Theft, Chris Lane and The Quebe Sisters.

The newcomer on the list, and making his Opry debut, is Chris Lane. Chris is from North Carolina and first hit the charts in 2012 with his group the Chris Lane Band. In 2014, he released his debut solo album, which reached the lower half of the country charts. He has also done some touring with Florida Georgia Line. 

Here are the line-ups for this weekend:

Friday February 19
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Mike Snider
7:30: Diamond Rio (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Aaron Tippin
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Dean Brody; Exile
8:45: Josh Turner (host); Flatt Lonesome; Lauren Alaina

Saturday February 20
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Elizabeth Cook; Mike Snider
7:30: Connie Smith (host); Jesse McReynolds; Love and Theft
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Chris Lane; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Steve Wariner (host); The Quebe Sisters; Exile

Currently that comes out to 11 artists for each night, with one slot to fill on Friday. As far as Opry members, there are 6 for each night. 

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 5 years ago, the weekend of February 18 & 19, 2011:

Friday February 18
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Jimmy C Newman; Sunny Sweeney
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Ray Pillow; Terri Clark
8:15: Steve Wariner (host); Riders In The Sky; Connie Smith
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; John Conlee; Craig Morgan

Saturday February 19
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Sunny Sweeney
7:30: Steve Wariner (host); Jack Greene; Connie Smith
8:15: Mike Snider (host); Andy Griggs; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: John Conlee (host); Terri Clark; Craig Morgan

From 10 years ago, the weekend of February 17 & 18, 2006: 

Friday February 17
8:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); John Conlee; Tracy Byrd
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jeannie Seely; Riders In The Sky; The Whites
9:00: Emmylou Harris (host); Gillian Welch & David Rawlings; Elvis Costello
9:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Dierks Bentley

Saturday February 18
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jeannie Seely; Mel McDaniel; The Whites
7:00: Emmylou Harris (host); Gillian Welch & David Rawlings; Elvis Costello
8:00: John Conlee (host); Riders In The Sky; Mark Wills; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Vince Gill

2nd show
9:30: John Conlee (host); Mel McDaniel; The Whites
10:00: Vince Gill (host); Charlie Louvin; Billy Walker; Jim Ed Brown
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; Jim Lauderdale; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Emmylou Harris (host); Gillian Welch & David Rawlings; Elvis Costello
11:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Mark Wills

Finally, from 15 years ago, the weekend of 16 & 17, 2001. Of significance on Saturday night, Brad Paisley was inducted as a new member of the Grand Ole Opry. 

Friday February 16
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Connie Smith; Bill Carlisle; BR5-49
8:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Gillian Welch & David Rawlings; Del Reeves; Mountain Heart
8:30: Mike Snider (host); Hank Locklin; Elizabeth Cook; Mel McDaniel
9:00: John Conlee (host); Larry Stephenson Band; Michael Martin Murphey
9:30: The Whites (host); Jack Greene; Trisha Yearwood

Saturday February 17
1st show
6:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Connie Smith; Bill Carlisle; Doc Edwards
7:00: Steve Wariner (host); BR5-49; Mel McDaniel; The Whites; Elizabeth Cook; Trisha Yearwood; Brad Paisley
8:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Ernie Ashworth; Del Reeves; Billy Walker; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: John Conlee (host); Lee Ann Womack; Vince Gill

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Lee Ann Womack; Vince Gill
10:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Billy Walker; BR5-49
10:30: John Conlee (host); Mel McDaniel; Elizabeth Cook; Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Steve Wariner (host); Trisha Yearwood; Brad Paisley
11:30: Charlie Walker (host); Chet Biggers; Don Edwards

That was the posted line-up for the show. Here is the actual running order of the Grand Ole Opry, Saturday February 17, 2001, the night Brad Paisley was inducted as an Opry member:

1st show
6:30: WSM Online/Apple Barn
Porter Wagoner (host): Fireball Mail/Night Train to Memphis
Connie Smith: Satisfied
Bill Carlisle: Gone Home
Don Edwards: Saddle Tramp/I'm Kin to the Wind
Porter Wagoner: Brewster's Farm

7:00: Shoney's/Standard Candy
Steve Wariner (host): Burning the Road House Down
BR5-49: The Price of Love
Mel McDaniel: Louisiana Saturday Night
The Whites: Keep on the Sunny Side
Elizabeth Cook: I'm Not Lisa
Trisha Yearwood: The Perfect Love/How Do I Live
Steve Wariner: I Just Do
Brad Paisley: Two People Fell In Love/Me Neither

8:00: Martha White
Jeannie Seely (host): Anytime
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips
Del Reeves: Bells of Southern Bell
Billy Walker: A Million and One
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Bill Cheatham
Jeannie Seely: Don't Touch Me

8:30: Physicians Mutual
John Conlee (host): She Can't Say that Anymore
Lee Ann Womack: I Hope You Dance/Somebody's Knocking
Vince Gill: Love Wants A Second Chance/If You Ever Have Forever in Mind
John Conlee: Rose Colored Glasses

2nd show
9:30: WSM Online
Porter Wagoner (host): Howdy Neighbor Howdy
Lee Ann Womack: Never Again, Again/Ashes by Now
Vince Gill: Love Wants A Second Chance/When I Call Your Name
Porter Wagoner: Misery Loves Company

10:00: Lincoln Mercury/Document Management & Storage
Jeannie Seely (host): You Don't Need Me, But You Will
Billy Walker: Faded Lights and Lonesome People/You Gave Me A Mountain
BR5-49: Georgia On A Fast Train
John Shepard: If You've Got the Time, I've Got the Beer/Ghost From the Opry
Jeannie Seely: Leaving & Saying Goodbye

10:30: Folex/Joggin' In A Jug
John Conlee (host): Domestic Life
Mel McDaniel: Louisiana Saturday Night/Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On
Elizabeth Cook: Blue Moon of Kentucky
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Tennessee Wagoner
John Conlee: The Backside of Thirty/Rose Colored Glasses

11:00: Coca-Cola
Steve Wariner (host): Burning the Road House Down
Trisha Yearwood: Living on the Wrong Side of Memphis/Down on My Knees/She's In Love with the Boy
Brad Paisley: The Streets of Bakersfield/Two People Fell in Love/
Steve Wariner & Brad Paisley: Nothing But the Taillights

11:30: Pigeon Forge
Charlie Walker (host): Cherokee Maiden
Connie Smith: Ain't Had No Lovin'/You've Got Me Right Where You Want Me
Don Edwards: The Master's Call/The Ghost Train
Charlie Walker: Smoke; Smoke; Smoke

Of historical importance, it was 28 years ago this weekend, Saturday February 20, 1988 that Roy Acuff was honored for 50 years of Opry membership. TNN devoted an entire hour long segment to Roy, that was hosted by Minnie Pearl. Also of significance, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton reunited and performed on the Opry together for first time since the duet broke up 14 years before. Also performing were Pee Wee King, who was a part of the Opry when Roy originally joined, and Ferlin Husky, who sang a duet with Jean Shepard. Truly a special night at the Opry. 

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Grandpa Jones (host): Little Pink
4 Guys: Tennessee
Lorrie Morgan: Silver Wings & Golden Rings
Ramona Jones: Orange Blossom Special

6:45: Rudy's
Charlie Walker (host): Does Ft. Worth Ever Cross Your Mind
Jean Shepard & Ferlin Husky: A Dear John Letter
Charlie Walker: Don't Squeeze My Sharmon

7:00: Shoney's/Standard Candy
Minnie Pearl (host)
Roy Acuff: Wabash Cannonball
Chet Atkins: The House of the Rising Son
Pee Wee King: Tennessee Waltz
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Black Mountain Rag
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird
Oswald: Columbus Stockade Blues
Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner's Daughter
Loretta Lynn & Minnie Pearl: Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
Roy Acuff: I Saw the Light

8:00: Martha White
Porter Wagoner (host): 'Ol Slewfoot
The Whites: If It Ain't Love
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells
Porter Wagoner: A Satisfied Mind
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton: The Last Thing on My Mind/Fight & Scratch/Holding on to Nothing/Just Someone I Used to Know/Daddy Was An Old Time Preacher Man/Rocky Top

8:30: Music Valley Merchants
Hank Snow (host): Address Unknown
Connie Smith: Walk Me to the Door
Osborne Brothers: Kentucky
Dottie West: Don't Go to Strangers
Hank Snow: I'm Glad I Got to See You Once Again

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Y' All Come
Skeeter Davis: My Last Date With You/Silver Threads & Golden Needles/The End of the World
Roy Drusky: Too Old to Die Young
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away
Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton: The Last Thing on My Mind/Fight & Scratch/Holding On to Nothing/Just Someone I Used to Know/Daddy Was An Old Time Preacher Man

10:00: Little Debbie
Grandpa Jones (host): Going Down the Country
Stonewall Jackson: Closer to the Vine
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Alisa Jones: Liberty

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Meeting in the Air
Loretta Lynn: They Don't Make 'em Like My Daddy Anymore/Coal Miner's Daughter
Roy Acuff: I'll Fly Away

10:30: Pet Milk
Bill Anderson (host): Southern Fried
Jean Shepard & Ferlin Husky: A Dear John Letter
Hank Locklin: Danny Boy
Bill Anderson & Roy Acuff: I Wonder If God Likes Country Music

10:45: Heil-Quaker
Jim Ed Brown (host): Southern Loving
Charlie Louvin: In the Cross
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Rachel
Jim Ed Brown: Four Walls

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Bummin' Around
Wilma Lee Cooper: Philadelphia Lawyer
Justin Tubb: Waltz Across Texas
Riders In The Sky: How the Yodel was Born
Bill Carlisle: Worried Man Blues
George Hamilton IV: Forever Young
Hank Snow: The Prisoner's Song

11:30: B.C. Powder
Jack Greene (host): To Make A long Story Longer; She's Gone
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
Dottie West: Here Comes My Baby
The Whites: Alabama Jubilee
Johnny Russell: A Legend In My Time
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything/Statue of A Fool

Enjoy the Opry this weekend!!!


  1. Thanks so much Byron for your thorough review of last weekend's show.
    Got a lot of the same vibes listening to the show Friday night on WSMonline.

  2. A couple of updates for this weekend. For the Friday Night Opry, Jackie Lee has been added into the first segment. On Saturday night, Jesse McReynolds has been moved down to the third segment while Chris Carmack has been added into Jesse's original spot.

  3. I read on Facebook that Mel Tillis is still in ICU but making some progress. Has anyone heard any additional information on his condition or issues? Great entertainer who I hope is able to fully recover. Despite being in his 80s he still sounds great and has a great stage presence.

  4. I have heard no additional information at this time but I know last week at the Opry they were still asking for prayers for Mel.

    As to the Friday Night Opry, Mike Snider was presented with his 90th anniversary block by Pete Fisher. In my recap of last week's Opry show and the Ronnie Milsap poster presentation, from what I could see, Pete was not at the Opry last week, which was why Eddie did the poster presentation.

  5. Anyone have an update on Jan Howard?

  6. I heard to news on Jan last week when I was in town. I have seen pictures of her on Facebook at a few events. I do know she had the issue with her back that put her out for a while. Not sure why she has not been back on the Opry. While not related to Jan, Jean Shepard was out at the taping of Larry's Country Dinner, the show that is broadcast on RFD-TV. She was there for the filming of a number of episodes and based on the pictures that I saw, she looked pretty good. I don't believe she was there performing.

  7. For those interested, Steve Wariner backed up Connie Smith on lead guitar tonight at the Opry.

  8. Thanks so much for the update on Jan and Jean. Any word on Stonewall (aside from not being on the Opry?)