Friday, June 3, 2016

Grand Ole Opry 6/3 & 6/4

One of the things that the Grand Ole Opry does in regards to scheduling, is when they turn over an entire segment of the Friday or Saturday night shows to one artist. It just seems to me that the other acts become, more or less, "warm-up" acts to the "star", who in this case is Martina McBride. I have nothing against Martina, in fact, I have enjoyed her music over the years and I am glad she is making an Opry appearance this weekend. But I just don't like it when they give the last half hour to a single act, especially one who rarely appears. Tuesday or Wednesday night, I have no issue with. But I just think that when they do it to one of the traditional shows, it just doesn't seem right. 

That said, Martina McBride will be the featured attraction this week on the Friday Night Opry. She will be joined by fellow Opry members Connie Smith, Mike Snider, John Conlee, Larry Gatlin and Bobby Osborne, while on Saturday night, Opry members Riders In The Sky, Jeannie Seely, The Whites and Jesse McReynolds are scheduled, where they will be joined by Friday night holdovers Connie Smith and John Conlee. 

Guest artists on Friday night include Smithfield, who will be making a return Opry appearance, Russell Dickerson, and frequent Opry guests Mark Wills and Jimmy Wayne. For Russell, this will be his Grand Ole Opry debut. Saturday night guests are Carly Pierce, Big Daddy Weave, Troy Cassar-Daley and The Isaacs. For Big Daddy Weave, this will be their Opry debut, and they are an outstanding contemporary Christian group. This five man group has received Dove and Billboard nominations, and "Redeemed" was named the Song of the Year at the inaugural K-LOVE Fan Awards this year.  

Friday June 3
7:00: Connie Smith (host); Smithfield; Mike Snider
7:30: John Conlee (host); Russell Dickerson; Mark Wills
8:15: Larry Gatlin (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Jimmy Wayne
8:45: Martina McBride

Saturday June 4
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Carly Pierce; The Whites
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Big Daddy Weave
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Jesse McReynolds; Troy Cassar-Daley
8:45: John Conlee (host); The Isaacs

That comes out to 10 acts each night, with 6 Opry members. 

And now, there is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from five years ago, the weekend of June 3 & 4, 2011:

Friday June 3
7:00: John Conlee (host); Mike Snider; Jean Shepard; Emily West
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jesse McReynolds; Jeff & Sheri Easter
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); The Whites; Aaron Tippin
8:45: Marty Stuart (host); Connie Smith; Jim Ed Brown; Ralph Stanley

Saturday June 4
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Elizabeth Cook
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Billy Yates; Ralph Stanley
8:15: Mike Snider (host); Jack Greene; Jimmy Wayne; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Jeannie Seely (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Rascal Flatts

Traditionally, the Tuesday night following the first weekend in June is the start of the CMA Music Festival, formally Fan Fair. The Tuesday Night Opry is the "unofficial" start of the week of shows and there is usually two shows that night with several of the Opry's most popular members and guests. Here is the line-up from the Tuesday Night Opry, June 7:

1st show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens; Darius Rucker
7:30: Jerrod Niemann; Martina McBride
8:00: Oak Ridge Boys; Lady Antebellum
8:30: Bill Anderson; Carrie Underwood

2nd show
9:30: Martina McBride; Lady Antebellum
10:00: Darius Rucker; Carrie Underwood
10:30: Bill Anderson; Jerrod Niemann; Oak Ridge Boys

And now from ten years ago, the weekend of June 2 & 3, 2006:

Friday June 2
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Connie Smith; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Lorrie Morgan
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Danielle Peck; Jean Shepard
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Duke of Hazzard Cast Featuring Tom Wopat & John Schneider; Andy Griggs
9:30: Riders In The Sky (host); George Hamilton IV; T. Graham Brown

Saturday June 3
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; Jimmy C Newman
7:00: Vince Gill (host); Martina McBride; Travis Tritt; Ronnie Milsap; Michael McDonald
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jean Shepard; Riders In The Sky; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jim Ed Brown; Mel McDaniel; Del McCoury Band

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; Jimmy C Newman; Martina McBride
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); George Hamilton IV; Ronnie Milsap; Travis Tritt
10:30: Vince Gill (host); Jean Shepard; Michael McDonald; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jim Ed Brown; T. Graham Brown
11:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Mel McDaniel; T. Graham Brown

Tuesday June 6
7:00: Porter Wagoner; Craig Morgan
7:30: John Conlee; Diamond Rio
8:00: Bill Anderson; Blake Shelton
8:30: Jimmy Dickens; Carrie Underwood

Finally, from fifteen years ago, the weekend of June 1 & 2, 2001:

Friday June 1
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); The Whites; Bill Carlisle; Nashville Bluegrass Band
8:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); T. Bubba Bechtol; BR5-49
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Charlie Louvin; Elizabeth Cook; Jim Ed Brown
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jim & Jesse: Crystal Gayle
9:30: Diamond Rio (host); George Hamilton IV; Rhonda Vincent

Saturday June 2
1st show
6:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jim & Jesse; Bill Carlisle; Elizabeth Cook
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Stonewall Jackson; Stu Phillips; T. Bubba Bechtol
7:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); The Kinleys; The Whites; Crystal Gayle
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Hal Ketchum; Ricky Skaggs; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Ernie Ashworth; Charlie Walker; T. Graham Brown

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); The Whites; Hal Ketchum
10:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jim & Jesse; Jimmy C Newman; The Kinleys
10:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Stu Phillips; Ricky Skaggs; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); T. Bubba Bechtol; Crystal Gayle
11:30: Charlie Walker (host); Ray Pillow; Elizabeth Cook; T. Graham Brown

Nice to see an Opry show that still featured a lot of the Opry's veterans such as Stonewall Jackson, Stu Phillips, Ernie Ashworth, Charlie Walker and Ray Pillow. 

Finally, it was on Saturday June 4, 1988 that Herman Crook made his final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Herman Crook and the Crook Brothers were one of the original members of the Opry, first appearing on the WSM Barn Dance in 1926. They were the second string band on the WSM Barn Dance, following Dr. Bate's Possum Hunters. While at one time the Opry featured a number of string bands, including the Gully Jumpers and the Fruit Jar Drinkers, the Crook Brothers were the last, playing primarily for the square dancers and the cloggers. When Herman appeared on this final show, it was his first appearance on the Opry in nine-weeks, has he had been in declining heath. He passed away less then a week later, on June 10 at the age of 89. When he passed away, he was the oldest member of the Opry and had appeared for 62 years. 

Here is the running order from 28 years ago, June 4, 1988 as the Opry witnessed the end of an era with the final appearance by Herman Crook. (As a side note, Herman only performed on the first show that night).

1st show
6:30: Bonanza
Jack Greene (host): Walkin' On New Grass
4 Guys: What'll You Do About Me
Jack Greene: You Are My Treasure

6:45: Rudy's
Billy Walker (host): Down to My Last Cigarette
Jeannie Seely: Yours
Billy Walker: Wild Texas Rose

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Dooley
Wilma Lee Cooper: No One Now
Jan Howard: You Don't Know Me
Charlie Louvin: See the Big Man Cry/You're What Love Means to Me
Porter Wagoner: I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name
The Right Combination: Turkey in the Straw

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Hank Locklin: Danny Boy
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Michael Johnson: I Will Whisper Your Name/The Moon Is Still Over Her Shoulders
Dan Kelly: Sally Goodin

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): The Corner of My Life
Del Reeves: The Great Chicago Fire
Jean Shepard: Someone's Gotta Cry
Roy Drusky: Blues in My Heart
Crook Brothers & The Melvin Sloan Dancers: Sally Goodin
Bill Anderson: Golden Guitar

8:30: Music Valley Merchants
Hank Snow (host): Between Fire & Water
Connie Smith: Did We Have to Come This Far to Say Goodbye
Stu Phillips: Think I'll Go Somewhere and Cry Myself to Sleep
Del Wood: Piano Roll Blues
Charlie Walker: Does Ft. Worth Ever Cross Your Mind
Hank Snow: Old Shep

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
4 Guys (host): How Married Are You Mary Ann
Bill Carlisle: Is Zat You Myrtle
Lorrie Morgan: Crazy
Jim Ed Brown: Pop A Top/The 3 Bells
4 Guys: Fox on the Run

10:00: Little Debbie
George Hamilton IV (host): I  Saw the Light/I'll Fly Away
Skeeter Davis: I Ain't Never
George Hamilton IV: A Farmer's Dream Plowed Under

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Night Train to Memphis
Jack Greene: I Need Somebody Bad Tonight

10:30: Pet Milk
Roy Drusky (host): Mississippi
Charlie Louvin: In the Pines
Roy Drusky: The Last Farewell

10:45: B. C. Powder
Del Reeves (host): Tow Dollars in the Juke Box/A Dime at A Time/Looking at the World Through A Windshield
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Crook Brothers & The Melvin Sloan Dancers: Durham's Bull
Del Reeves: She's Still the Only Girl I Can't Forget

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Tangled Mind
Jean Shepard: I'll Sail My Ship Alone
Justin Tubb: Thanks Troubadour Thanks
Hank Locklin: Send Me the Pillow You Dream On
Hank Snow: She Wears My Ring

11:30: Creamette
Charlie Walker (host): Deep Water
Connie Smith: Walk Me to the Door
Stu Phillips: Great El Tigre
Johnny Russell: Kawliga
Charlie Walker: Take Me Back to Tulsa

The following week's show would be dedicated to Herman and Larry McNeely played "Amazing Grace" in memory of Herman. It was also Herman's favorite song. That night, June 11, 1988, would be the final night that the name Crook Brothers would be listed on an Opry program. 

I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend and if you are going to the CMA Fest, have a great and safe time. 


  1. Are the Opry Square Dancers off this weekend because the Opry didn't want them on around CMA Fest?


    1. They updated the schedule and the Square Dancers are back on. Also, T. Graham Brown and Chris Carmack have been added on Saturday night.

  2. Byron, always great info. Still a sad commentary in the comparisons of the shows. This week, 6 mbrs/4 guests each show. In 2011, 11/3 and 10/3. In 2006, 9/4, 15/1, 14/2. In 2001, 11/6, 14/5, 13/5. There should be a better number of members over guests, rather than what they are doing (regardless of the shorter time). And sadly too, the bluegrass performers always get the short-stick - one-and-done, when they are often the most well received acts in the show - the audience loves them. Those are some of the older performers and won't always be there - give them more, let the "guests" earn their extra song !!!

  3. I like Martina but I finally had to turn it off last night she sounded so out of tune. Always thought she was like Faith Hill -- they had great voices for Country Music but they never had any really great country songs. Your can tell how much auto tune and "power ballads" contributed to the ruin of traditional country music. Don't recall Mr Acuff, Mr Snow or Mr Monroe ever having trouble staying in tune even toward the end of their lives (oldtimeopry)

  4. Oldtime Opry:
    Glad you noticed Martina out of tune too. I'm not a big fan of the new stuff so I think I I'm too hard on them. But she sounded way off last night and I think the crowd reacted to it. She a big name of recent time so they felt the need to respond. I agree on Acuff, Snow and Monroe and so many others. Look at how sick Acuff or Dickens was in their last days near or over 90 and how they still sounded. Look at Ray Price! I had a music prof tell me one time in the 80's that people like Ray Price kept their voice because they didn't strain it. I wasn't smart enough at the time to tell him he was showing his lack of knowledge. I'd say in the 50's Price was straining his voice. Let's face it, most of the stars are made today by the behind the scene folks and not on their voice or shear talent. Not all but most.

    And giving her the entire last segment is just like Byron said, degrading to the others like they are the local talent opening the show. I've said for a long time the day was coming that you would have one or two big acts getting 30 minutes or more and the others treated like openers.

    I must say that even in the early 90's I would tell people I was going to the Opry and they would say "who are you going to see"? Even if they were big country fans they had little concept of the Opry and were amazed when I said I didn't know but there would be a couple dozen performers. So, Fisher and crew are getting closer to the mainstream expectations!

    They don't know what they have missed and still are. They could be seeing so much better overall show instead of the talent contest. Oh why must we have "and making their Opry debut" EVERY week.

    Haven't had a rant for a while. Sorry!

    Knightsville, IN

  5. Agree with you Jim (of Knightsville)

  6. Anonymous from Kingman:
    To me, Hank Locklin's voice only got better with age. Amazing!!

  7. Fred, Bismarck:

    The staying power of Hank's voice was indeed amazing. Some voices seem to get better with extended use. A prime example is Ernest Tubb's. How that man got a record deal with the awful pipes he started with is a mystery. (Just listen to those early '40s tracks.) By the late '50s -- when he peaked, in my opinion -- his voice was one of the best, most expressive, instruments around.

    Kitty Wells' voice kept getting stronger and better into the 1970s.

    Other voices go the other way, just seem to wear out (Charlie Louvin, Stoney Cooper). I take a back seat to no one in my enjoyment of Little Jimmie Dickens over the span of his career, but his voice started to slip in the 1960s already. He got by on style and his wonderful choice of material.

    Martina McBride is way too young to have slipped; can it have been some of that funny sound we sometimes get from WSM online?

    1. This comment has been removed by the author.

    2. Fred, it appears that especially male singers started to lose the ability to hold a note at some point, and I've wondered if it's related to voices changing? Which begs the question of whether Bobby Osborne's ever changed!

      I thought of Mr. Acuff, who didn't lose his voice and could hold a note, but went gravelly. That made it a lot easier for Del Reeves to imitate him, though! And if you listen to Hank Snow's early recordings, he was "The Yodeling Ranger," and did a Jimmie Rodgers.

    3. The story of how Ernest Tubb got his contract with Decca Records can be found in Ronnie Pugh's biography of the Texas Troubadour.

  8. Fred, Bismarck:

    Some wow C&W tonight, here at home, from a new CD by an outfit called the South Carolina Broadcasters, "Tell Me Truly." Google it, and take the plunge. It's better than looking for country music at the tired old Grand Ole Opry and from people like Martina McBride.

    Always looking out for my fellow Fayfarers!

    1. Thanks for that. She was really struggling.

  9. Fred, Bismarck:

    Michael -- yes, Bobby Osborne has changed I think, using falsetto in place of his old ringing tenor on the high ones. That's what singers do -- learn tricks to prolong their careers. Kind of like Whitey Ford and his sandpaper (to use an analogy that will speak to you and Byron as old baseball fans).

    1. Oh, it has appeal, all right. Whitey also figured out how to get dirt into the seams. And you're right--singers do learn tricks to keep going.