The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the shows this weekend, and both nights look very good. But before getting into this weekend, I just wanted to comment on last weekend and this past Tuesday Night Opry.
I know there are not a lot of Elizabeth Cook fans out there, but I am one of them. She did another terrific job and I wish she would do the Opry more often. Mike Snider was extremely funny on both nights. I will say that he does seem to be pushing the envelop a bit, but the crowd seems to enjoy it. And Mike did receive his 90th anniversary block from Pete Fisher. Love and Theft are very good. Connie Smith hosted on Saturday night, and much like Vince Gill and Marty Stuart backed her up last weekend, Saturday it was Steve Wariner, and on Tuesday night it was Kenny Vaughan. It makes me wonder who Connie is going to use the guest lead guitarist again this weekend.
On the Tuesday Night Opry, Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers sang, "Young Love" in tribute to Sonny James. If I heard Larry correctly, he had the words on paper. Larry had done this a few times on the Opry and I remember what a wonderful job they did last year with "The 3 Bells" after Jim Ed passed. Also impressive on Tuesday was Lorrie Morgan, Bill Anderson and Chris Janson. Much like Elizabeth, I know Chris does not appeal to everyone. He really wants to be an Opry member and I still think it is just a question of when they will ask. Bill Anderson did "Too Country" and was outstanding and among Lorrie's songs was "Ode to Billie Joe." Lorrie also received her 90th anniversary block from Pete.
What I like about the format for the Tuesday Night Opry is that each artist gets to do 3 songs and in the case of Tuesday night, the selections picked were excellent by each artist. Oh, and no I didn't forget, it was nice to hear Opry member Darius Rucker back on the Opry.
Now as far as this weekend, the Friday Night Opry will feature Opry members Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, Mike Snider, John Conlee, Jeannie Seely, Diamond Rio, Bill Anderson, The Whites, Craig Morgan, Connie Smith and Old Crow Medicine Show. In fact, the only guest artist is Mark Wills, who has performed on the Opry more often then many of the Opry's members.
For the Saturday night Grand Ole Opry, members John Conlee, Mike Snider, Connie Smith and Old Crow Medicine Show will be back, joined by Ricky Skaggs and Riders In The Sky. Interesting that the Opry went with Mike Snider hosting a segment over The Riders, who generally host when they are featured on the show. Guest artists on Saturday include Craig Wayne Boyd, Holly Williams, Mickey Guyton, Ray Stevens and Annie Moses Band.
Friday February 26
7:00: Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers (host); Mark Wills; Mike Snider
7:30: John Conlee (host); Jeannie Seely; Diamond Rio
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); The Whites; Craig Morgan
8:45: Connie Smith (host); Old Crow Medicine Show
Saturday February 27
7:00: John Conlee (host); Craig Wayne Boyd; Holly Williams
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Mickey Guyton; Ray Stevens
8:15: Ricky Skaggs (host); Riders In The Sky; Annie Moses Band; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Connie Smith (host); Old Crow Medicine Show
That comes out to 11 acts each night, with 10 Opry members on Friday night and 6 on Saturday. Both shows look excellent this weekend and it is especially nice to see 10 Opry members on the Friday night show. What stands out to me is no Bobby Osborne or Jesse McReynolds this weekend. Usually you get at least one of the two, if not both.
And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 5 years ago, the weekend of February 25 & 26, 2011:
Friday February 25
7:00: Marty Stuart (host); Connie Smith; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Mark Chesnutt
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Riders In The Sky; Montgomery Gentry
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Neal McCoy; Gretchen Wilson
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Oak Ridge Boys; Alison Krauss & Dan Tyminski
Saturday February 26
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jeannie Seely; Jimmy C Newman; Joey+Rory
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Jean Shepard; Jim Ed Brown; The Doobie Brothers
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); The Whites; Alison Krauss & Dan Tyminski; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Sarah Darling; Keb' Mo'
And from 10 years ago, the weekend of February 24 & 25, 2006:
Friday February 24
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Joe Diffie; Jim Ed Brown; Connie Smith
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Cherryholmes; John Conlee; The Wrights
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; The Whites; Buddy Jewell
9:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jack Greene; Jeannie Seely; Riders In The Sky
Saturday February 25
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; John Conlee
7:00: Hal Ketchum (host); Jamey Johnson; Andy Griggs; Alan Jackson
8:00: Vince Gill (host); Mel McDaniel; The Whites; Jim Ed Brown; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); George Hamilton IV; Connie Smith; Raul Malo
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; John Conlee; Alan Jackson
10:00: Vince Gill (host); Billy Walker; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Andy Griggs
10:30: Hal Ketchum (host); Jack Greene; Connie Smith; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); The Whites; Raul Malo
11:30: George Hamilton IV (host); Mel McDaniel; Jamey Johnson
Finally, from 15 years ago, the weekend of February 23 & 24, 2001. It was during the first show on Saturday night that Opry legend Wilma Lee Cooper suffered a career ending stroke while performing.
Friday February 23
7:30: John Conlee (host); Mike Snider; Bill Carlisle; Kasey Chambers
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Connie Smith; Jimmy C Newman; Diamond Rio
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Stu Phillips; Jack Greene; The Whites
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jeanne Pruett; Del Reeves; Lila McCann
9:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Stonewall Jackson; Jim Ed Brown; Mel McDaniel
Saturday February 24
6:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Connie Smith; Bill Carlisle; The Derailers
7:00: Bill Anderson (host); Tammy Cochran; Mel McDaniel; Alison Moorer; Keith Urban; Jeannie Seely; Eddy Raven
8:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Billy Walker; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: John Conlee (host); Holly Dunn; Jim Ed Brown
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); The Whites; The Derailers; Mel McDaniel
10:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Del Reeves; Tammy Cochran
10:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Billy Walker; Keith Urban; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Holly Dunn; Jimmy C Newman; Eddy Raven
11:30: John Conlee (host); Ray Pillow; Charlie Walker; Allison Moorer
As mentioned, that was the posted line-up for the Opry that night. Now here is the actual running order of the 2 shows:
6:30: WSM Online/Apple Barn
Porter Wagoner (host): Y'All Come
Connie Smith: I Don't Want to Talk It Over Anymore
Bill Carlisle: Stay A Little Longer
The Derailers: You Come to the Right Place/Bright Lights & Country Music
Porter Wagoner & Kristy Lynn: Just Someone I Used to Know
7:00: Shoney's/Standard Candy
Bill Anderson (host): Get A Little Dirt on You Hands
Tammy Cochran: Angels in Waiting
Mel McDaniel: Louisiana Saturday Night/Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On
Allison Moorer: Angels Flying too Close to the Ground
Keith Urban: But for the Grace of God/Galveston
Jeannie Seely: Anytime
Eddy Raven: Sometimes A Lady/Cowboys Don't Cry
Bill Anderson: A Lot of Things Different/Still
8:00: Martha White
Jimmy Dickens (host): Mountain Dew
Wilma Lee Cooper: 30 Pieces of Silver
Billy Walker: Falling Leaves
Jack Greene: The Last Letter
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Cherokee Shuffle
Jimmy Dickens: Life Turned Her That Way
8:30: Physicians Mutual
John Conlee (host): I'm Only In It For the Love
Holly Dunn: Daddy's Hands/You Really Had Me Going
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells
John Conlee: The Old School
9:30: WSM Online
Porter Wagoner (host): She Burned the Little Roadside Tavern Down
The Whites: Pins & Needles
The Derailers: Alone With You
Mel McDaniel: Stand Up/Stand On It
Porter Wagoner: Trouble In Amen Corner
The Wagonmasters: Instrumental
10:00: Lincoln Mercury/Document Management & Storage
Jimmy Dickens (host): Take An Old Cold Tater
Del Reeves: Just A Little Lovin'/Dang Me/I Would Like to See You Again
Tammy Cochran: Heartaches by the Number/Angels in Waiting
Jimmy Dickens: I Love Lucy Brown
10:30: Folex/Joggin' In A Jug
Jeannie Seely (host): Hey Good Lookin'
Billy Walker: Peace in the Valley
Keith Urban: But for the Grace of God/Galveston
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Rachel
Jeannie Seely: Make the World Go Away
Bill Anderson (host): I Love You Drops
Holly Dunn: Daddy's Hands
Jimmy C Newman: Diggy Liggy Lo
Eddy Raven: Never Find That Island Again/I Got Mexico
Bill Anderson: The Big Railroad Man
11:30: Pigeon Forge
John Conlee (host): Lady Lay Down
Ray Pillow: Days When You Were Still In Love With Me
Allison Moorer: Looking For a Soft Place to Fall/Are You Going to Alabama
John Conlee: Amazing Grace
Willma Leigh Leary was born on February 7, 1921 in Valley Head, West Virginia. As she grew up, she was part of her family's gospel group. In 1941, she married fiddler and vocalist Dale. T. "Stoney" Cooper, who was a musician with the Leary Family, after which Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper formed their own bluegrass group, called the Clinch Mountain Clan. For 10 years they were regulars on the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree, before moving to Nashville and joining the Grand Ole Opry in 1957.
They recorded for Hickory Records from the late 1950s into the early 1960s. They had seven hit records, including four top ten hits on the Billboard charts, the most famous being "Big Midnight Special" and "There's A Big Wheel." After Stoney died in 1977, Wilma Lee and the Clinch Mountain Clan carried on and Wilma continued touring and performing as a regular member of the Opry.
Although Wilma Lee Cooper never performed again after this night, she did make a few return visits to the Opry. She was recognized on stage in 2007 upon the occasion of her 50th year as a member of the Grand Ole Opry and she also returned in September 2010 when the Grand Ole Opry House reopened after the flood. That evening she was pushed on stage while sitting in a wheelchair.
Wilma Lee passed away on September 13, 2011 at the age of 90.
I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend!!