Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Grand Ole Opry 11/4 & 11/5

It was 60 years ago this weekend, November 3, 1956, that Stonewall Jackson originally became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. And Saturday night will be special at the Opry as Stonewall is scheduled to appear on the 1st show. Many of us were wondering if the Opry and Stonewall would be able to get together as we all know the feelings that Stonewall has toward the Opry. I am glad that they did.

The story of Stonewall joining the Opry is pretty well known. After finishing a stint in the Navy, Stonewall was a farmer for several years until he saved enough to buy a new pickup truck. Once he got it, he drove to Nashville. "I came into town, stopped at a little motel on the south side of town, and checked in," Stonewall recalls of that day in 1956. As fate would have it, he'd booked a room just across the street from the offices of Nashville's top publishing company at the time, Acuff-Rose. "I said, I believe I'll walk over there and see if anybody in country music will talk to me." Stonewall wound up singing for publisher Wesley Rose. One of the best-connected men in Nashville's music industry, Wesley quickly took him downtown to meet Opry founder George D. Hay and manager W.D. Kilpatrick. Stonewall sang the same three songs for them that he had at Acuff-Rose. "They took me down the hall and signed me to a regular member's contract," Stonewall says. "I've been here ever since." (Well, not quite as Stonewall was fired from the Opry in December 1964 for failing to meet the Opry's requirement as to the number of annual appearances to be made. He later rejoined the Opry in May 1969.) 

The same men then helped Stonewall secure a contract with Columbia Records. Until his recording career took off, he also worked shipping Opry souvenir books from the basement of what was then the National Life Building. Stonewall had his first hit, "Life to Go" in 1958. The follow-up single, "Waterloo," became Stonewall's signature tune. Other hits included "Don't Be Angry," "I Washed My Hands in Muddy Water," "Me & You & A Dog Named Boo," and the 1964 chart-topper "B.J. the D.J."All together Stonewall has placed more than 40 singles on the Billboard country charts, which has included 2 #1 singles (Waterloo and B.J. the D.J.) and a total of 11 Top 10 hits. You can make a case that Stonewall Jackson is one of the greatest honky-tonk singers in the history of country music, and perhaps deserves a place in the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Stonewall will also be celebrating his 84th birthday on November 6, and on Saturday night he will be hosting the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree. These days, Stonewall is basically retired so his appearances this weekend will be special. The last several years have also seen Stonewall's Opry appearances decline. In fact, he last appeared on Opry on Friday November 7, 2014. As with many others, I will be listening on Saturday night to hear Stonewall, and hoping that he receives the recognition that he deserves. 

As to the rest of the Opry this weekend, Grand Ole Opry members scheduled for both nights include Mike Snider, John Conlee, Connie Smith, Jeannie Seely, Riders In The Sky, and Bill Anderson. They will be be joined on Friday night by Jesse McReynolds, while on Saturday night, in addition to Stonewall, The Whites are scheduled for the 1st show, while Bobby Osborne is down for the late show. 

Now let's look at the guest artists for this weekend. First, there always seems to be someone making their Opry debut and this weekend it will be Kelsey Waldon on Friday night and Caitlyn Smith on Saturday. 

Kelsey plays a little bit of everything, from country to bluegrass. She lists her influences as Merle Haggard, Loretta Lynn, Ralph Stanley, Ricky Skaggs and Guy Clark. She has been on tour, playing a number of smaller venues around the country. Her first album "The Goldmine" was released in 2014, and she released new music "I've Got a Way" this past year. Originally from Kentucky, she now lives in Nashville, where she worked her way up through the club scene. 

Caitlyn Smith is a member of the "Next Women of Country Music Class of 2016," sponsored by CMT. Other members of the class include Jamie Lynn Spears (who is appearing on the Friday Night Opry), Kree Harrison, Logan Brill, Lucie Silvas, Maggie Rose, Margo Price, Post Monroe and Runaway Jane, all of whom of previously appeared on the Opry. Not only a fine singer, but Caitlyn is also an accomplished songwriter, with songs recorded by Garth Brooks and Kenny Rogers, among others. She records for Skylark Records and released her first EP in 2014. 

Among other artists scheduled to appear on Friday night, the list includes Jamie Lynn Spears, another on the list of the "Next Women of Country Music Class of 2016,", The Steeldrivers, and Kristian Bush. Saturday, the artists scheduled, in addition to Caitlyn Smith, are Crowder, O'Connor Band with Mark O'Connor, Rhiannon Giddens and Charles Esten. I have noticed that Mark O'Connor seems to be making the Opry a semi-regular stop lately. He does a nice job and it is good to hear him on the Opry. 

Friday November 4
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Mike Snider
7:30: John Conlee (host); Kelsey Waldon; Connie Smith
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Jesse McReynolds; Jamie Lynn Spears
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); The Steeldrivers; Kristian Bush

Saturday November 5
1st show
7:00: Connie Smith (host); Mike Snider; Caitlyn Smith
7:30: Bill Anderson (host); Crowder; Stonewall Jackson
8:00: John Conlee (host); The Whites; O'Connor Band w/Mark O'Connor; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Rhiannon Giddens; Charles Esten

2nd show
9:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Mike Snider; Caitlyn Smith
10:00: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Crowder
10:30: John Conlee (host); O'Connor Band w/Mark O'Connor; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Rhiannon Giddens; Charles Esten

Adding it all up, that comes out to 7 Opry members on Friday Night, 7 for the early Saturday show and 6 for the late show. 

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from five years ago, the weekend of November 4 & 5, 2011:

Friday November 4
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); The Whites; Diamond Rio
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jesse McReynolds; JT Hodges
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jack Greene; Craig Campbell
8:45: Mike Snider (host); Rebecca Lynn Howard; Johnny Lee

Saturday November 5
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Connie Smith; James Wesley
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Sarah Darling
8:15: Jean Shepard (host); Stonewall Jackson; Mark Wills; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Mike Snider (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Exile

Now from ten years ago, the weekend of November 3 & 4, 2006:

Friday November 3
8:00: Mike Snider (host); The Whites; Blue Country
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Ralph Stanley; Katrina Elam
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Bradley Walker; T. Graham Brown
9:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Hank Locklin; The Grascals

Saturday November 4
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; David Ball
7:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Ralph Stanley; Lane Turner
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jack Greene; Josh Turner
8:00: Mike Snider (host); Jan Howard; Collin Raye; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Julie Roberts

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; David Ball
10:00: Mike Snider (host); Ralph Stanley; Josh Gracin
10:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jimmy C Newman; Josh Turner; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Lane Turner; Jack Greene; Collin Raye
11:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Julie Roberts

And from 25 years ago, Saturday November 2, 1991. What stands out about this show is that every performer was a member of the Opry. 

1st show
6:30: Bill Anderson (host); Johnny Russell
6:45: Grandpa Jones (host); Billy Walker; Jim Ed Brown
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Jack Greene; Skeeter Davis; Charlie Louvin
7:30: Bill Monroe (host); Mel McDaniel; Loretta Lynn
8:00: Roy Acuff (host); Connie Smith; Charlie Walker; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jean Shepard; The Whites; Mike Snider

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); David Houston; Ray Pillow; Jeannie Seely; Jim Ed Brown
10:00: Grandpa Jones (host); Jack Greene; Bill Carlisle
10:15: Roy Acuff (host); Loretta Lynn
10:30: Bill Monroe (host); Bill Anderson
10:45: Jimmy C Newman (host); Mel McDaniel; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Jean Shepard; Justin Tubb; Mike Snider; Charlie Louvin
11:30: Charlie Walker (host); Connie Smith; The Whites; Johnny Russell

To conclude, normally the Grand Ole Opry's annual birthday bash takes place in October. But not always and 1961 was one of the years that it did not. The 36th anniversary of the Opry took place on November 4. Here is the line-up from the birthday show, 55 years ago. 

7:30: Pet Milk
Faron Young (host): Back Track
Porter Wagoner: Your Old Love Letters
Roy Drusky: I Went Out of My Way
Bill Carlisle: Have A Drink on Me
Jimmy Newman: Alligator Man
Skeeter Davis: Optimistic
Glaser Brothers: Let Me Down Easy
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away
Faron Young: I Haven't Got the Time

8:00: Martha White
Flatt & Scruggs (host): My Long Journey Home
Billy Grammer: Save Our Tears
Patsy Cline: I Fall to Pieces
Grandpa Jones: (?)
Cowboy Copas: Alabam

Del Wood: Down Yonder
Bill Anderson: Po Folks
Crook Brothers: Liberty
Flatt & Scruggs: Where Will I Shelter My Sheep
Earl Scruggs: Earl's Breakdown

8:30: Faultless Starch
Jim Reeves (host): How Can I Write on Paper, What I Feel in My Heart
Hawkshaw Hawkins: I Walk Up with A Big Old Heartache
Willis Brothers: Everlovin' Dixie Land
Hank Locklin: This Song is Just for You
Jean Shepard: I've Got to Talk to Mary
Stringbean: 20 cent Cotton & 90 cent Meat
Carl Butler: Honky Tonkitis
Jordanaires: Satisfied
Jim Reeves: Melody

9:00: Jefferson Island Salt
Ernest Tubb (host): Girl From Abilene
Wilburn Brothers: The Legend of the Big River Train
Ray Price: (?)
Minnie Pearl: Comedy
Bill Monroe: Linda Lou
Cousin Jody: (?)
Margie Bowes: Lonely Pillow
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
Ernest Tubb: Thru that Door

9:30: Stephens
Marty Robbins (host): Don't Worry
Johnny & Jack: Let My Heart Be Broken
Ferlin Husky: The Waltz You Saved for Me
Lonzo & Oscar: Country Music Time
George Morgan: Everyday of My Life
Kitty Wells: Our Mansion Is A Prison Now
George Hamilton IV: (?)
Marty Robbins: El Paso

10:00: Standard Oil/Sustaining
Porter Wagoner (host): Sugarfoot Rag
Roy Drusky: Anymore
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Carl Butler: For the First Time
Skeeter Davis: I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know
Grandpa Jones: (?)
Del Wood: Creole Fandango
Billy Walker: Faded Lights & Lonesome People
Porter Wagoner: Everything She Touches Gets the Blues

10:30: Jasper Engine and Transmission
Ernest Tubb (host): Don't Just Stand There
Jimmy Newman: Alligator Man
Stringbean: Herding Cattle
Patsy Cline: Crazy
Ernest Tubb: Thoughts of a Fool

10:45: De Con
Faron Young (host): Hello Walls
Jan Howard: (?)
Cowboy Copas: Signed, Sealed, & Delivered
Crook Brothers: Lost Indian
Faron Young: Going Steady

11:00: Coca-Cola
Ray Price (host): (?)
Willis Brothers: Pretty Diamonds
Hank Locklin: Send Me the Pillow You Dream On
Lonzo & Oscar: I Can't Pitch Woo In An Igloo
Billy Grammer: Save Your Tears
Jordanaires: House of Gold
Sam & Kirk McGee: Lonely River
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Walking In My Sleep
Ray Price: (?)

11:30: Black Draught/Sustaining
Ferlin Husky (host): Wings of A Dove
Bill Monroe: On & On
George Morgan: You're the Only Good Thing
Wilburn Brothers: No Legal Right
Cousin Jody: (?)
Loretta Lynn: I Walked Away from the Wreck
Glaser Brothers: Tired of Crying Over You
George Hamilton IV: (?)
Simon Crum: (?)

I guess you can say that is a "real" Opry show!! As I look at the line-up from that night, a couple of observations. First, the only non-members who performed were Jan Howard and Loretta Lynn, both of whom would eventually become Opry members. Second, most every Opry member was on but two of the more notable ones missing were Roy Acuff and Hank Snow. Finally, Marty Robbins appeared only at 8:30, Hank Snow's normal spot and not at all during the 2nd half of the show. It would be a few years later that Marty would establish himself in the 11:30 slot. 

I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend and congratulations once again to Stonewall Jackson on his 60th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. 


  1. Hi Byron - would you be able to help me find out the Grand Ole Opry lineup for 4/9/99? Thank you in advance for any help!!

  2. Yea for Stonewall! This will be "must listening!"

  3. I have to say I am shocked there is not any mainstream representation at the Opry this weekend (current or former) with most everyone in town for the CMA awards tonight. Not only a current star, but even some of the older ones since the CMA awards are taking a significant reflection on their past 50 years with lots of the older artists. This is one of the few weekends the Opry should be flowing with big artists and now relying on multiple newcomers making their debut.

  4. I personally quit watching CMA award shows years ago, and only went to youtube (the next day) to see Little Jimmie Dickens or any other true country act that snuck onto the show somehow. Saved LOTS of time that way.

  5. A change for the Friday Night Opry.

    Revised first segment: Jeannie Seely; Mike Snider; Kelsey Waldon
    Revised second segment: John Conlee; Connie Smith; Jamey Johnson

    2nd half of show still the same.

  6. Glad to see Stonewall Jackson is on the Grand Ole Opry Saturday night. GO GET EM STONEWALL. Stonewall will also be hosting the Midnight Jamboree this Saturday. Bob

  7. So who drops in tonight?
    Garth Brooks, that's who.
    Fans there have to believe they're lucky beyond belief!
    Good for Garth.

  8. And now Trisha Yearwood.
    What a night for a group of lucky 'Opry fans.....

  9. Thanks Byron.
    Tuned in later, and missed Alison.
    Hope this becomes a habit for big time 'Opry stars.

  10. Alison came out and did a duet with Jamey Johnson, "Seven Spanish Angels." Garth and Trisha closed out the show with Garth finishing up with "The Dance." I would say that the show ran about 20 minutes over. Of course, I only listened live to the first half of the Opry last night, then had to go and my thanks to one of my faithful Opry fans for tipping me off that Garth and Trisha were on. At least I was able to hear the last song and then the replay of Garth on Sirius.

  11. Well, it was nice of the Opry to "allow" Stonewall to have is one song and be able to be recognized as one of the few to reach 60 years at the Opry. A little sarcasm in that but I mean it. I'm pretty sure there are some hard feelings there and they could have just as easily not done it. But, as I have said before, we don't know what goes on. Maybe some of the artist pushed the issue.

    It really is too bad he didn't get at least two songs after not being on for two years. For a guy who hardly performs anymore, I think he sounded as good or better than anyone who performed tonight.

    Knightsville, IN

  12. Fred, Bismarck:

    One lousy song? Wow, they went all out. Which song did he do?

    Did the brass come out, and what did they have to say?


    1. I missed it. I'm curious as well. Stonewall Jackson needs to be considered for the Hall of Fame. His recording career was just as solid as Jimmy Dean, Ferlin Husky, Jean Shepard and Connie Smith. He's the last of the honkytonker's not to be inducted.

  13. Bill Anderson handled the whole thing for Stonewall. I was hoping that for once Pete Fisher would put previous differences aside and thank him for his dedication and care for the Opry, but I guess I'll settle for letting stonewall perform.

    Bill Anderson said to Stonewall after his first song "We cant let you leave after doing only 1 song!" I was hoping it meant doing a 2nd song, but unfortunately that wasnt the case. But I was really happy to hear the roaring audience reaction to having Stonewall back on the show.

    With the oprys grudges, this may very well be stonewall jacksons final opry appearance. While he didnt get to do another song, Im glad it was made known how much the fans enjoy his music and being there. I hope Pete Fisher heard the response.

  14. Just to follow up on Kyle's fine description of last night, Bill Anderson handled the introduction of Stonewall. He talked about how Stonewall came to Nashville, how he auditioned for Wesley Rose, then was taken over to the Opry to audition for George D. Hay. He sounded sincere, then he formally introduced Stonewall, mentioning his 60th Opry anniversary and the fact that Sunday was Stonewall's birthday.

    Stonewall sang "Waterloo" and sounded pretty good, much better than the last time he did the Opry. And from pictures I saw of Stonewall on Facebook backstage with the cake, he looked very good. After the song was finished, Bill called him back out and he, along with announcer Mike Terry, presented Stonewall with his 90th Opry anniversary wall block, which every member has been receiving, along with a framed commemorative poster. Stonewall received a very loud and enthusiastic ovation from the audience and thanked Bill, Mike and the audience. He finished by reminding everyone that he was going to be hosting the Midnight Jamboree.

    Not as elaborate as Jean Shepard's 60th Opry anniversary, but then again, Jean was at the Opry pretty much every week and did not sue the Opry. She also did not leave the Opry for a while like Stonewall did in the 60's. But I thought it was fine. And no, I did not expect anyone from the Opry management, including Steve Buchanan, Pete Fisher, or Dan Rogers to do the presentation to Stonewall. And I think everyone was fine with that.

    All in all, I think the Opry handled it just fine.

  15. Stonewall was so faithful for so many years he was there every week ---week after week ---- that should be worth something ---
    Flushing Michigan Dashmann