Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Grand Ole Opry 4/29 & 4/30

It is always a special night at the Grand Ole Opry when someone is celebrating a milestone and this Saturday night will be a special one for Ray Pillow as he will be celebrating 50 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Ray is on the schedule for Saturday and I am sure Pete Fisher will present Ray with the customary gold watch that is usually given. 

As to the rest of the Opry line-up for this weekend, both nights will feature Opry member, and Hall of Famer, Vince Gill. He will be joined both nights by John Conlee, Mike Snider, Jeannie Seely and Riders In The Sky, while on Friday night The Whites, Jesse McReynolds and Bill Anderson are set, and on Saturday, in addition to Ray Pillow, Bobby Osborne and Connie Smith are scheduled. 

As far as guest artists this weekend, Mark Wills is scheduled for both nights. Joining him on Friday will be Carly Pearce, The Grascals and Radney Foster. Saturday it will be Love and Theft, Rhonda Vincent and Tara Thompson. Tara is a name that many fans might not recognize. She is appearing in support of her debut CD, "Someone to Take Your Place." She has been on the "Next Women of Country" tour and she is a third cousin to Loretta Lynn. 

Friday April 29
7:00: John Conlee (host); Mike Snider
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); The Whites; Jesse McReynolds; Mark Wills
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jeannie Seely; Carly Pearce
8:45: Vince Gill (host); The Grascals; Radney Foster

Saturday April 30
7:00: John Conlee (host); Love and Theft; Mike Snider
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Rhonda Vincent; Ray Pillow
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Mark Wills; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Tara Thompson; Connie Smith

That comes out to 12 acts each night, with one slot to fill on Friday. And, there are 8 Opry members for each show. 

Not to forget, but Saturday will be the first new Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree of the year, hosted by Rhonda Vincent. The show will tape at 10 for a midnight broadcast. All I can say is that I wish the show the best of luck and we will see how it goes. 

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from five years ago, the weekend of April 29 & 30, 2011:

Friday April 29
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Jeannie Seely; Emily West
7:30: Jean Shepard (host); Jimmy C Newman; John Michael Montgomery
8:15: Marty Stuart (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Connie Smith
8:45: Mike Snider (host); Jack Greene; Montgomery Gentry

Saturday April 30
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Connie Smith; Troy Olsen
7:30: Ray Pillow (host); Jack Greene; Mandy Barnett
8:15: Mike Snider (host); Jan Howard; Carter's Chord; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Jean Shepard (host); Jesse McReynolds; Restless Heart

Now from ten years ago, the weekend of April 28 & 29, 2006: 

Friday April 28
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); The Whites; Jean Shepard; Del McCoury Band
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; John Conlee; Ray Scott
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Mel McDaniel; Gene Watson
9:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Lou Reid & Carolina; Terri Clark

Saturday April 29 
1st show
6:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Jennifer Hanson
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Del McCoury Band
7:30: Jean Shepard (host); Jack Greene; Rockie Lynne
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jan Howard; Gene Watson; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Craig Morgan

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Jennifer Hanson
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Rockie Lynne
10:30: Jean Shepard (host); Stu Phillips; Del McCoury Band; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jack Greene; Gene Watson
11:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Craig Morgan

Finally, from fifteen years ago, the weekend of April 27 & 28, 2001:

Friday April 27
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Connie Smith; Bill Carlisle; Darryl Worley
8:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); The Whites; Jimmy C Newman; Susan Ashton
8:30: Jean Shepard (host); Jim & Jesse; Billy Walker; Mel McDaniel
9:00: Mike Snider (host); Elizabeth Cook; Joe Diffie
9:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Osborne Brothers; Brad Paisley

Saturday April 28
1st show
6:30: Billy Walker (host); Connie Smith; Bill Carlisle; Eddy Raven
7:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Stonewall Jackson; Jim & Jesse; Susan Ashton
7:30: Jean Shepard (host); Larry Stephenson Band; Stu Phillips; Brad Paisley
8:00: Mike Snider (host); Irene Kelley; Mel McDaniel; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: The Whites (host); Charlie Louvin; Riders In The Sky; Joe Diffie

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); The Whites; Joe Diffie
10:00: Jean Shepard (host); Stu Phillips; Connie Smith; Eddy Raven
10:30: Mike Snider (host); Susan Ashton; Billy Walker; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Brad Paisley (host); Larry Stephenson Band; Mel McDaniel
11:30: Charlie Walker (host); Riders In The Sky; Ray Pillow; Irene Kelley

As mentioned, on Saturday night, Ray Pillow will be celebrating 50 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. While never a superstar, Ray has had a solid career in country music, both as a singer and as a record company executive. I have a couple of write-ups regarding Ray, the first one coming from the 1966 edition of the Grand Ole Opry Picture History Book, the year he joined the Opry: 

To some, coming in second place might mean discouragement. But to a couple of young men, a second place finish has merely spurred them on to greater things. One of these was a fellow named Johnny Tillitson, who finished in the runner-up spot in the Pet Milk Grand Ole Opry Contest, and went on to become one of the biggest names in music. The other was Ray Pillow, also a second-placer, who worked harder to become number one. He attained that goal in 1966 when he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry, and also was named the Most Promising Male Vocalist in both the Billboard and Cashbox polls. 

Ray Pillow has all the attributes of success, including a degree in business from Lynchburg College in his home-town of Lynchburg, Virginia. Couple this with his great natural singing talent, his good looks, and his pleasing manner, and one can spot the obvious. 

After Ray made his second-place splash in 1962, he returned home to Virginia, still determined to be a successful artist. He met Joe Taylor, who was instrumental in getting him a contract with Capital Records, and putting him under contract to Martha White Mills, a long-time sponsor of the Opry. His first two releases both made it high in the charts, and he's been there ever since. On two of his best sellers, he has had good company. They were duets with Jean Shepard. 

In one respect, Ray is virtually unique as an artist. He is an outstanding bookkeeper (many stars have to hire them), and keeps books for himself and others on the road. Ray, of course, spends many hours on the road, and hurries home to his wife, Jo Anne, and their three children: Dale, Selena and Darryl. With them, and with millions of fans, he will never be in second place. 

That was written in 1966. Fast forward to 2015 and the Grand Ole Opry's 90th Anniversary Family Album:

Ray Pillow recalls it was his Uncle Roger who introduced him to music and was responsible for his first public performances. "I sort of got talked into substituting for a sick member of my uncle's band one night," Ray recalls. "When I walked out on stage to the microphone, I knew that was what I wanted to do for a lifetime! Music!" Thirty-five years after joining the Opry, Ray got to introduce his 87-year-old uncle to the Opry stage. "I told the people that my uncle was the person that believed in me and wanted me to come to Nashville. I handed his a guitar and said Uncle Roger, you and I are going to sing." He brought the house down and got a standing ovation. 

Ray came to Nashville in 1961 as a regional winner in the Pet Milk Talent Contest. He came in second in the national finals, and his performance landed him a guest spot on the Opry. That stoked his desire even more for a country music career. He soon released his first two singles, "Take Your Hands Off My Heart" and "Thank You Ma'am." In 1965 Capital Records released his first album "Presenting Ray Pillow" and by late 1966 he was a star. That was the year he teamed with Opry star Jean Shepard on a pair of hits, the Top 10 "I'll Take the Dog" and "Mr. Do-It-Yourself." Between those two singles, he became an official Opry member. 

In addition to his own performing career, Ray has helped shape the professional paths of others including Lee Greenwood. His publishing company published many of Lee's hits including the 1985 Country Music Association Song of the Year, "God Bless the USA." Ray is well known on Music Row as a publisher who can match the right artist with the right song and recording company. 

In 1994 that state of Virginia added him to its Country Music Hall of Fame. 

Here is the running order of the Grand Ole Opry from Saturday April 30, 1966, the night Ray Pillow became an Opry member: 

7:30: Luzianne
Billy Walker (host): How Do You Ask Someone to Love You
George Hamilton IV: Big Steel Railroad
The Homesteaders: Flower on the Wall
Cousin Jody: Steel Guitar Rag
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away
Curly Fox: Won't You Come Home Bill Bailey
George Hamilton IV: Write Me A Picture
The Homesteaders: Going Down the Mountain
Billy Walker: Charlie's Shoes

8:00: Martha White
Flatt & Scruggs (host): Nine Pound Hammer
Bobby Bare: Four Strong Winds
Grandpa Jones: (?)
Del Wood: Piano Roll Blues
Flatt & Scruggs: I Know What It Means to Be Lonesome
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Bobby Bare: Detroit City
Grandpa Jones: Old Rattler
Flatt & Scruggs: Foggy Mountain Breakdown

8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host): Tennessee Central No 9
Wilburn Brothers: Its Another World
Marion Worth: One Has My Name, The Other My Heart
Archie Campbell: (?)
Roy Acuff: Wreck on the Highway
Wilburn Brothers: Troubles Back in Town
Brother Oswald: Roll on Buddy, Roll On

9:00: Pet Milk
Ernest Tubb (host): Jealous Loving Heart
Glaser Brothers: A Girl Like You
Ray Pillow: Common Colds & Broken Hearts
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hickory Leaf
Ernest Tubb: Waltz Across Texas
Margie Bowes: That Completely Destroyed My Plans
Glaser Brothers: Teardrops Til Dawn
Ray Pillow: Even the Bad Times Are Good
Leon Rhodes: Leon's Guitar Boogie

9:30: Kellogg's
Willis Brothers (host): Give Me 40 Acres
Carter Family: It Ain't Me Babe
Waylon Jennings: Time to Bum Again
June Carter: Tall Loverman
Willis Brothers: Love Thy Neighbor
Harold Weakley: To Mommy, In Care of God
Carter Family: Wildwood Flower
Skeeter Davis: A Maiden's Prayer

10:00: Schick
Billy Walker (host): Cross the Brazos At Waco
Curly Fox: The Old Gray Mule
Cousin Jody: Wabash Blues
Billy Walker: Cattle Call

10:15: Pure
Wilburn Brothers (host): I'm Gonna Tie One on Tonight
Del Wood: Night Train to Memphis
Wilburn Brothers: Someone Before Me
Don Helms: The World is Waiting for the Sunrise

10:30: Harvey's
Bobby Bare (host): A Man of Constant Sorrow
Grandpa Jones: I Don't Love Nobody
Bobby Bare: 500 Miles
Grandpa Jones: Eight More Miles to Louisville/It Ain't Be Babe/Blowing in the Wind/Worried Man Blues

10:45: Newport
Ernest Tubb (host): Till My Getup Has Got Up and Gone
Jack Greene: Born to Lose
Crook Brothers: Ida Red
Ernest Tubb: Half A Mind

11:00: Coca-Cola
Roy Acuff (host): The Great Speckled Bird
Glaser Brothers: Same Old Memories
Margie Bowes: Big City
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bill Cheatham
Sam McGee: Wheels
Ray Pillow: Thank You, Ma'am
Onie Wheeler: Too Hot to Handle

11:30: Lava
Willis Brothers (host): Gonna Swing Til My Rope Breaks
George Hamilton IV: Abilene
Waylon Jennings: Anita, You're Dreaming
Archie Campbell: The Men in My Little Girls's Life
Willis Brothers: A 6 Ft 2 by 4
Marion Worth: Cryin' Time
George Hamilton IV: Truck Driving Man
Willis Brothers: God Walks These Hills With Me

Congratulations once again to Ray Pillow for 50 years of Opry membership. 

And I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend!!!



    1. Jim, I noticed that also. Her bus looks outstanding but no Martha White mention.

    2. From Anonymous in Kingman: Just did a quick check on Rhonda's FB page. It appears that her contract with Martha White ended on 1/1/16. Kinda sad.

  2. Fred, Bismarck:

    I wonder if Martha White will be picking up somebody else, or if this is the end of their long association with bluegrass music.

  3. Holly Dunn's cancer is Stage 3 :( Ovarian cancer is very serious at that late stage and prayers are certainly needed. From Diane Diekman's blog:

    Holly Dunn requests our support: “I so look forward to and enjoy your newsletters. I have some unfortunate news to report, and I do so only because I believe in the power of prayer and hope to stir up more prayer warriors on my behalf. I was recently diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer. I am currently recovering from surgery and the doctors feel they removed all they could find. I will have to undergo 6 months of chemo treatments just in case they missed something. I start the treatments in about a month or so. I would appreciate any prayers and positive thoughts that my music family can send my way! I am truly learning what that old phrase means…’Life happens when you’re busy making other plans.’ I praise God for His grace and mercy, and look forward to having this chapter of my life behind me like a bad speed bump in the highway. Thank you, Diane, for keeping us all connected.”
    Diane: Our prayers are with you, Holly. Readers, Holly’s mailing address is P.O. Box 70, Placitas, NM 87043.

    Mel Tillis is also not progressing as well as hoped. Pam posted this on her facebook page: "It bears repeating how much your prayers mean to our family. While his recovery is taking a little longer than we'd like, his spirits are high, his sense of humor is very much intact, and he has been surrounded by family since this all started. We'll keep you posted if there is any change, but right now we're just trying to fatten him up and get him strong!!! Thank you all so much for your thoughts and prayers~"

  4. A great night with Ray Pillow on the Opry celebrating 50 years as an Opry member. Ray did two songs and sounded great. He received his Opry 90th anniversary membership block, which I cannot believe he had not gotten until tonight, and received the railroad time piece that is traditionally given to those who reach 50 years on the Opry. Pete Fisher did the presentation and had some very kind words to say about Ray and his career.

    1. Wasn't that over a year ago? Bob Bien

  5. Fred, Bismarck:

    Did anybody stay up to see if the Midnite Jamboree made it back onto the air, with Rhonda Vincent? I'm afraid midnight is past this old man's bedtime anymore. Thanks.

  6. I did not stay up to listen to the Midnight Jamboree but I did attempt to watch the live stream at 10:00. The start of it was kind of fuzzy but at least on my computer, it did get better. Rhonda did a wonderful job.

  7. I happened to wake up after midnight, and heard Rhonda on the Jamboree.
    Rhonda and the show sounded very good indeed.

  8. Fred, Bismarck:

    Thank you, Byron and Nat. I was waiting to see if the Jamboree actually made it back before renewing my membership in the Midnite Jamboree Association, Glenn Douglas Tubb's group. I was concerned I might be looking at a failed effort when I found the association had let its Web site lapse.