Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Grand Ole Opry 12/30 & 12/31

Sometimes how the management of the Grand Ole Opry sets up the shows is a mystery to me and this week is one of those weekends. For the Friday Night Opry, the first 3 segments are set up as you would typically expect, with a host and several acts. Then the final segment goes with just Dailey & Vincent. Looking at Saturday night, the show is broken into 3 segments, with the second segment scheduled for an hour. That is followed by a final 30 minute segment with no host. Both nights have members available who could have hosted as on Friday night, Connie Smith or Mike Snider could have handled the final segment, while on Saturday a 3rd segment could have been hosted by Ray Pillow, with Old Crow Medicine Show handling the final 30 minutes.

Regardless of what I think, the schedules are set for this weekend. The Friday Night Opry will feature Opry members Jeannie Seely, Mike Snider, Riders In The Sky, Marty Stuart, Bobby Osborne and Connie Smith, while on Saturday night Ray Pillow and Old Crow Medicine Show will join Mike Snider and Riders In The Sky. For those keeping score at home, that comes out to 6 members on Friday and 4 on Saturday.

Guest artists on Friday, in addition to the previously mentioned Dailey & Vincent include Carly Pearce, Ray Scott and T Graham Brown. Overall, not a bad line-up. Saturday night has Elizabeth Cook, Jimmy Wayne, The Secret Sisters, Flatt Lonesome, Dan Layus and Dom Flemons scheduled. Again, not too bad for New Year's Eve.

Now the reason that Dailey & Vincent are getting the special treatment on Friday night is that it will mark the duo's 100th appearance on the Opry stage, where they made their initial debut on December 29, 2007. On their Facebook page, Dailey & Vincent offered up some very kind words to their fans and to the Opry's management. Think about it for a minute. Over the past 9 years they have appeared on the Opry 100 times, many more times than the majority of Opry members.  Don't you think it is about time that Dailey & Vincent are asked to become members of the Opry? I think so and it would be well received and well deserved.

Friday December 30
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Carly Pearce; Mike Snider
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Ray Scott; T Graham Brown
8:15: Marty Stuart (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Connie Smith
8:45: Dailey & Vincent

Saturday December 31
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Elizabeth Cook; Jimmy Wayne
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Ray Pillow; The Secret Sisters; Flatt Lonesome; Dan Layus; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Dom Flemons; Old Crow Medicine Show

While he has appeared on the Grand Ole Opry previously as a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, this will be his first solo Opry appearance. He is known as the "American Songster." With Rhiannon Giddens and Justin Robinson, he founded the Carolina Chocolate Drops and was a part of the group until leaving to focus on his solo career. He is a Grammy Award winning artist and has released several solo albums. In addition to appearing on the Opry, he will also be opening for Old Crow Medicine Show's New Year's Eve show at the Ryman, beginning after the conclusion of the Opry show.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 5 years ago, the weekend of December 30 & 31, 2011:

Friday December 30
7:00: John Conlee (host); Jeannie Seely; Craig Morgan
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Mandy Barnett
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Russell Moore & III Tyme Out; Jimmy Wayne
8:45: Mike Snider (host); Jean Shepard; Restless Heart

Saturday December 31
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jett Williams
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Jan Howard; George Hamilton IV; Mandy Barnett
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Jesse McReynolds; Jimmy Wayne; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: John Conlee (host); Jim Ed Brown; Dailey & Vincent

Now from 10 years ago, the weekend of December 29 & 30, 2006:

Friday December 29
8:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jeannie Seely; Trent Willmon
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Rebecca Lynn Howard; Johnny Reid
9:00: Mike Snider (host); Jimmy C Newman; Taylor Swift
9:30: Jean Shepard (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Restless Heart

Saturday December 30
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Rebecca Lynn Howard
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Jack Greene; Jett Williams; Hal Ketchum; Jean Shepard; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
8:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jan Howard; Chris Young; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jeff Bates

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Rebecca Lynn Howard
10:00: Mike Snider (host); Jack Greene; Jett Williams
10:30: Hal Ketchum (host); Charlie Louvin; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jean Shepard; Chris Young
11:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jeff Bates

Finally, from 25 years ago, Saturday December 28, 1991. You will notice that every act appearing that night was a member of the Opry.

1st show
6:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Jeanne Pruett
6:45: Grandpa Jones (host); Ray Pillow; 4 Guys
7:00: Del Reeves (host); Jim Ed Brown; Jan Howard; Jimmy C Newman; Jim & Jesse
7:30: Roy Acuff (host); Skeeter Davis; Charlie Walker; Mike Snider;
8:00: Bill Monroe (host); Roy Drusky; Jean Shepard; The Whites; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Osborne Brothers; Charlie Louvin; Jimmy Dickens; Connie Smith

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Billy Walker; David Houston; 4 Guys; Jimmy C Newman
10:00: Bill Monroe (host); Jeannie Seely; Stonewall Jackson
10:15: Roy Acuff (host); Jim & Jesse; Bill Carlisle
10:30: Grandpa Jones (host); Del Reeves; Hank Locklin
10:45: Jim Ed Brown (host); The Whites; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Osborne Brothers; Justin Tubb; Jean Shepard; Mike Snider
11:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; Charlie Louvin; Roy Drusky; Johnny Russell

To finish it up for this week, it was on Saturday December 30, 2000, that Grand Ole Opry member Skeeter Davis made her final appearing performing on the Opry.

It was a far cry, and quite a few miles, from Dry Ridge, Kentucky, to the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, but Skeeter Davis successfully spanned the distance when she joined the Opry cast on August 4, 1959. And it didn't stop there. For more than 40 years, Skeeter circled the globe, performing everywhere from New York City's Carnegie Hall and London's Royal Albert Hall to concert halls and theaters around the world. She sung in every major city in every state (except Alaska) as well as in England, Germany, Japan, Holland, Sweden, Norway, Ireland, Denmark, Finland, New Zealand, the Virgin Islands, Singapore, Malaysia, Korea and Jamaica where she was extremely popular. She performed in small clubs and large theaters, at fairs and rodeos, at music festivals and on radio and television. She has done shows with everyone from Eddy Arnold and Ernest Tubb to Connie Francis, Bobby Vinton, the Beach Boys, the Righteous Brothers, the Rolling Stones, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight & The Pips, the Grateful Dead and Elvis Presley.

Throughout her successful musical career, she remained faithful to the Opry which she listened to growing up in Kentucky. The first born of seven children of William and Sarah Penick, little Mary Frances was nicknamed Skeeter by her grandfather because she was always "skeeting here and there" like a water bug. The name stuck.

She had entertained her brothers and sisters at an early age but didn't take singing seriously until she met Betty Jack Davis in high school in Covington, Kentucky. They started performing together, billing themselves as the Davis Sisters. Winning a talent contest got them a spot on a local television station. This led to other radio and television appearances and ultimately a recording contract with RCA Victor in 1952. The following year their first single, "I Forgot More (Than You'll Ever Know)" went to No. 1, sold a million copies and became a gold standard. Then tragedy struck on August 2, 1953. As they were returning home after performing on the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree, their car was hit head-on by another car whose driver had fallen asleep. Betty Jack was killed and Skeeter was injured seriously, both physically and emotionally.

As she would do many times in her life, Skeeter overcame that tragedy. She recorded and toured briefly with Betty Jack's sister Georgia before pursuing a solo career in 1958. With Chet Atkins as her producer, Skeeter found success in the form of Top 10 hits gold records, numerous awards and honors for her singing and songwriting including Most Promising Female Vocalist. She also received five Grammy nominations, including one for her first Top 10 hit "Set Him Free" in 1959. More success came in 1963 when "The End of the World" became the very first No. 1 country/pop crossover and a Top 10 hit worldwide. Other big hits followed with "Gonna Get Along Without You Now," "Bus Fare To Kentucky" and "One Tin Soldier."

"Bus Fare To Kentucky" also is the title of Skeeter's 1993 autobiography. The book is a testimony to Skeeter's strong faith in God. In it, she recounts the joys and sorrows in her life, such as her bout with cancer in 1988. For all who knew her, Skeeter was a shining example of the power of courage and religious faith. Skeeter continued to perform on the Grand Ole Opry until health issues forced her to end her performing career. Skeeter passed away in Nashville on September 19, 2004 after a long struggle with cancer.

Here is the running order of the Grand Ole Opry from Saturday December 30, 2000, the final night that Skeeter performed on the Opry (when she appeared on the 8:00 segment, the cast sang Happy Birthday to her, as it was Skeeter's 69th birthday).

1st show
6:30: WSM
John Conlee (host): Common Man
Jeannie Seely: He's All I Need
Bill Carlisle: White Lightening
Jett Williams: Move it On Over
Osborne Brothers: Old Friend of Mine
John Conlee: Rose Colored Glasses

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Country Music Has Gone to Town
Jean Shepard: Tennessee Waltz
Coley McCabe: Cloud 9
Jim & Jesse: I'm Changing the Words to My Love Song
The Whites: Blue Letters
Porter Wagoner & Christie Lynn: If Teardrops Were Pennies
Porter Wagoner: She Burned the Little Roadside Tavern Down

7:30: Standard Candy
Riders In The Sky (host): I'm An Old Cow Hand from the Rio Grande
Connie Smith: Once A Day
The Isaacs: Stand Still
Dan Seals: I'd Really Love to See You Tonight/Bop
Riders In The Sky: The Desert Song/Happy Trails to You

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): Southern Fried
Grand Ole Opry Cast: Happy Birthday Skeeter
Skeeter Davis: I Can Call Jesus Anytime
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away
Rhonda Vincent: Lonesome Wind Blues
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Rachel
Bill Anderson: Too Country

8:30: Physicians Mutual
Jimmy Dickens (host): Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed
Holly Dunn: You Really Had Me Going
Mike Snider: John Henry
Steve Holy: Don't Make Me Beg
Jack Greene: Statue of a Fool
Jimmy Dickens: I Love Lucy Brown

2nd show
9:30: WSM
Porter Wagoner (host): My Long Journey Home
Connie Smith: Where is My Castle
Osborne Brothers: Mom & Dad Waltz/Rocky Top
John Conlee: The Carpenter/Before My Time/Baby, You're Something
Porter Wagoner & Christie Lynn: The Last Thing on My Mind/Milwaukee, Here I Come

10:00: Lincoln Mercury/Ryman Auditorium
Jimmy Dickens (host): Out Behind the Barn
Holly Dunn: We've Got the Love
Jim & Jesse: I'm Gonna Love You One More Time
Dan Seals: God Must Be A Cowboy/Everything That Glitters Is Not Gold
Jimmy Dickens: Shopping for Dresses

10:30: Folex/Joggin' In A Jug
Jean Shepard (host): Head Over Heels in Love
The Isaacs: I Have A Father Who Can/I'm Ready to Go
Riders In The Sky: Woody's Round-Up
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Sugar in the Goard
Jean Shepard & Leona Williams: Let's All Go Down to the River/I Saw the Light/Will the Circle Be Unbroken/I'll Fly Away/Somebody Touched Me

11:00: Coca-Cola
Bill Anderson (host): Walk Out Backwards
Billy Walker: Come A Little Bit Closer
Mike Snider: The Fur Coat
Jim Ed Brown: Barroom Pals & Good Time Gals/The 3 Bells
Bill Anderson: A Lot of Things Different

11:30: Ryman Auditorium
George Hamilton IV (host): Break My Mind
Rhonda Vincent & Randy Barnes: I'll Take the Blame/Get in Line, Brother
Steve Holy: Just A Kiss/The Hunger
George Hamilton IV; Welcome to My Broken Heart/Has Anybody Here Seen Hank

The shows this weekend mark the final 2 Opry shows of 2016. Beginning next week I will begin my 2016 recap.

I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend and a very Happy New Year to everyone!!!!


  1. Fred, Bismarck:

    I agree wholeheartedly with Byron's appreciation of Dailey and Vincent. That these willing pure hearts of country music aren't already members is a monument to Pete Fisher's perverse management of the Opry.

    Skeeter Davis? A "star" created by a few arrangements by Chet Atkins who, in my opinion, doesn't deserve to be mentioned in the same breath. Personally, I'd like to see a few of these people called out before -- like Connie Smith and Jean Shepard -- they get good-old-girl election to the Hall of Fame.

    Can anybody name a song by Skeeter Davis they serious expect to hear on an oldies show 20 years from now? Or hear now, for that matter?

    Along with appreciating each other, we will continue to disagree occasionally on the music.

  2. "End of the World" was a huge hit that went pop and introduced a lot of folks to Country Music. If we don't hear it, it says more about the folks playing old time country music than it does about Skeeter.
    And, Skeeter was faithful to the 'Opry to the end.
    Count me as a fan.
    I think it's past time to put Daily and Vincent on the "Opry,' as well as Chris Jansen, who has been on the 'Opry about 160 times.

  3. I agree about Dailey and Vincent being asked to be members of the Opry. Getting them to commit to support the Opry should not be difficult since they are already appearing fairly often. I have yet to understand the rationale behind who is asked to become a member of the Opry.
    One more thing, does anyone have an opinion why some of the Opry members are seldom on the Opry (besides not being asked or being in ill health).
    For Christmas, one of my sisters gave me a Opry History-Picture Book from the early 70's (before the Opry moved to its current home). While I have been reading from this book, I have realized afresh how much the Opry has changed in the past forty years.

  4. I'm all for Dailey and Vincent being members for many reasons. Lets remember when we are counting appearances that Darin's sister has appeared to close to twice that many times and has been doing it longer and she still is not a member. She deserves it just as much. They would all be great for maintaining the more traditional side of the Opry which becoming a smaller percentage of the weekly show.

    Knightsville, IN

  5. My notes for the December 30, 2000 show indicate there had been snow in Nashville late in the week. I show that on the second show Skeeter had been scheduled. I also show that the last two segments changed a bit from what must have been the original schedule. Rhonda Vincent moved from the 11:00 portion to the 11:30 portion replacing Charlie Walker and Del Reeves.

    Can anyone recall why many of the acts were talking about Jerry Stobel and brought him out on stage. Was he retiring? I didn't think it had been that long ago.

    Skeeter Davis was certainly different in character and I didn't always like the less country things she would do. She did do some hard country things in the early 60's. Remember the 1960 LP "I'll Sing You a Song and Harmonize Too"? I will say that chart success is not the only indication of a good performer/singer or song. And, I agree with Fred that she certainly had some important people support and promote her career. I will also say that the couple of time I met Skeeter she was very nice but as I stated earlier, she was certainly different.

    Knightsville, IN

  6. Fred, Bismarck:

    I will admit my opinion of Skeeter is strongly influenced by all the wee-hour interviews in which she was indulged by Ralph Emery on OPRY STAR SPOTLIGHT 50, 55, years ago.

    Doubtless they were already romancing, or trembling on the verge of it. As a rule, Ralph wasted the listener's time on few people unworthy of it. Skeeter was a total ninny, an airhead before we even had that word; neurotic and a compulsive talker.

    Nat is right that "End of the World" was a big crossover hit. But it wasn't particularly country, and there weren't very many more like it.

    Sometimes (not often) I sympathize with Pete Fisher wanting to scrape barnacles like that off the keel of the Opry.

    1. Kind of harsh, Fred. What other "barnacles" would you want Fisher to get rid of? I think he's done a pretty good job "scraping barnacles" with his alienation of many of the older acts since he took over in 1999. And, I'm sure many of these are folks that you would think are "truly country". I can't think of anyone added to the Opry's roster pre-2000 that I would want Fisher to get rid of. I would be curious as to who you want gone and why?

    2. "Barnacle?"
      All I know, is that whenever I went to the 'Opry and Skeeter appeared, the crowed loved her.
      Sure she was a ditz, but she loved what she was doing and the crowd loved her back.
      She brought life and energy to a show that at times is very lacking in that area.
      She cared about entertaining, which I think a great number of current 'Opry members should look into.
      I'm a lover of real country music, but I'm also a lover of folks who try to entertain their audience.
      I was and remain a Skeeter Davis fan.
      Oh, it's about darn time Pete Fisher added a real country music act to the 'Opry Roster.
      Good for him!

    3. Fred, Bismarck:

      Agreed, Chris and Nat; I was a little over the top. And I'll agree that Skeeter was at least a real presence on the stage, unlike so many of today's cardboard cutouts.

      No intention here to call anybody else out, either. Happy New Year to Chris, Nat and all good Fayfarers!

    4. I have a question.
      How come everybody is so darned nice to each other, pretty much all the time, on this forum?
      I submit it's because we have a common love of real country music and a genuine desire for the 'Opry management to feel the same way!

    5. Fred, Bismarck:

      You nailed it, Nat. We are, when all is said and done, pulling for the same thing, the Opry in recognizable form. We'll need a little help from Gaylord!

  7. Jim: Saturday December 30, 2000 was Jerry Strobel's final night with the Grand Ole Opry.

    Here is an abbreviated version of the story as written by Beverly Keel in the "Nashville Scene, dated November 30, 2000:

    The late country music legend Minnie Pearl once said that if one Grand Ole Opry member gets hurt, all of the Opry family bleeds. If that's true, then there was quite a bloodletting at the Opry last week. After 30 dedicated years of service, and just before Thanksgiving, Opry House manager Jerry Strobel, 60, was among Gaylord employees unceremoniously laid off. He was told his successful tenure will end at the end of the year.

    Although Music Row is becoming accustomed to layoffs dictated by corporate belt-tightening and mergers, the news of Strobel being caught in Gaylord's cost-cutting measures was shocking to many of his loyalists. After all, he is as important to the Grand Ole Opry as the performers on the stage. "He has just always been there," says country music journalist and historian Robert Oermann. "He was everything at the Opry-publicist, Opry House manager, a shoulder to cry on for the acts. Everything he did, he did with a tremendous amount of kindness. He was and is a gentlemen in the truest sense of the world."

    The likes of Porter Wagoner and Bill Anderson have been the onstage faces of the Opry, but it was Strobel wo was the Opry's public face in the community. For three decades, the father of six spent every Friday and Saturday night on the job. But it wasn't just his job; it was his life. He's represented that intangible good will of Gaylord whose value cannot be measured on a spreadsheet.

    Strobel became the promotions manager for WSM Radio and the Opry in 1970. Since then, he as worked with the local and national media and handled the details involved with various celebrities performing at the Opry. He also oversaw the operations of the Opry House itself. Strobel says that, before he was informed of his termination, he had not yet decided when he would retire. Gaylord officials offered to describe the termination as a retirement and even throw him a going-away party, but he declined. "It's been a good run and a lot of fun," Strobel says. "And I wish only the best for the Grand Ole Opry. This show business phenomenon is a national treasure that should be preserved, embraced, and strengthened so future generations can experience its incredible energy, electricity, and magic."

    That would explain why many Opry acts that night mentioned Jerry. I have it in my notes that Jean Shepard introduced him onstage toward the end of her 10:45 segment that she hosted.

  8. Byron,

    Thanks for sharing this article. Time passes quicker than I realize as I get older. I knew Jerry had been gone for a while but it sure didn't seem like 15+ years.

    Thanks for posting these lineups. It encourages conversation and we always learn from or bring back memories that are enjoyable.

    Knightsville, IN