Sunday, December 10, 2017

December Opry Highlights

Where did 2017 go? I ask that question because we are now entering December, the final month of the year. In just a matter of weeks, it will be Christmas and the holiday season. As the Grand Ole Opry prepares to close out another year, here are the important dates and events that have taken place regarding the Opry, or Opry members, during the month of December:

December 2, 1989: Herman Crook was born. Herman was one of the Opry's original members, joining the show when it was still called the WSM Barn Dance. Herman's first Opry appearance was on July 24, 1926, and he was with the show until his death in June 1988, just short of 62 years. When he passed away, the Crook Brothers were the last of the originals on the Opry, and they never wavered from the traditional string band sound. As Roy Acuff said, "He loved country music, but he wanted it country. He didn't go for any of this rock n' roll type stuff.

December 14, 1899: DeFord Bailey was born. DeFord was another of the Opry's original members, making his first appearance on June 19, 1926. DeFord was there the night Opry founder George D. Hay changed the name of the show from the WSM Barn Dance to the Grand Ole Opry, and he played the first song on the newly named show. DeFord was with the Opry until he was fired in 1941, in a move that left DeFord very bitter. Despite repeated efforts by Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl and Bill Monroe, among others, DeFord stayed away from the Opry until returning on February 23, 1974, when he appeared for the Opry's first reunion show. DeFord would make several more Opry appearances before passing away in 1982. In 2005 he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

December 11, 1914: James Clell "Tex" Summey was born. Known professionally as Cousin Jody, he first came to the Opry with Roy Acuff in 1937, and he later worked with Pee Wee King and Lonzo & Oscar. He also performed as a solo act, until health issues forced him to retire. He passed away in 1975, and it should be noted that he was the first person to play the dobro and steel guitar on the Opry stage.

December 19, 1920: Jimmy Dickens was born in Bolt, West Virginia. Jimmy first came to the Opry in 1948. While he left the show for a period of time, Jimmy returned to the Opry in 1975 and remained an Opry member until his death in January 2015. It is pretty safe to say that at the time of his death, Jimmy might have been the most beloved member of the Opry.

December 26, 1925: The WSM Barn Dance was formally listed for the first time on the WSM program schedule that was printed in the Nashville Tennessean. The listing read, "Because of this recent revival in the popularity of the old familiar tunes, WSM has arranged to have an hour or two every Saturday night starting Saturday December 26. Uncle Dave Macon, the oldest banjo picker in Dixie, and who comes from Readyville, Tennessee, and Uncle Jimmy Thompson of Martha, Tennessee, will answer any requests for old-time melodies."

December 10, 1927: While there seems to be some confusion as to the exact date, it would appear that his was the date that the WSM Barn Dance became known as the Grand Ole Opry. The Barn Dance came on the air at 8:00. In the hour prior to the start of the Barn Dance program, WSM aired a classical musical show on the NBC radio network called "Music Appreciation Hour." At the conclusion of the Music Hour show that particular night, Barn Dance founder George D. Hay announced, "For the past hour we have been listening to music taken largely from Grand Opera; from now on we will present the Grand Ole Opry." While this is the story that was told by George D. Hay, there seem to be no independent verification of this event. In fact, some historians who have looked back at the WSM program schedules,  believe that the date was actually December 8, 1928, a year later, as the "Music Appreciation Hour" did not begin on WSM until that year. However, to back up the 1927 claim, others have pointed out that on December 11, 1927, the Nashville Tennessean used the word "Grand Ole Opry" in their editions of the paper. Either way, the new name stuck.

December 13, 1930: Grand Ole Opry member Buck White was born, Along with his daughters Sharon and Cheryl, The Whites have been Opry members since 1984. Most weekends will find Buck and his daughters performing on the Opry, and if asked, Buck will also dance with the square dancers.

December 7, 1931: Grand Ole Opry member Bobby Osborne was born in Leslie County, Kentucky. Along with his brother Sonny, Bobby became an Opry member in 1964. At the age of 86, Bobby still appears on the Opry weekly and of course, always does "Rocky Top," sounding as good as ever.

December 7, 1940: After making several guest appearances during the month of November, this is the first date that Minnie Pearl is listed in the Opry program as a regular member of the Opry.

December 30, 1944: Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys made a guest appearance on the Grand Ole Opry, appearing on the Prince Albert portion of the show that was broadcast on the NBC radio network. Minnie Pearl, who was there that night, remembered that a lady in the balcony was so excited that she fell out of the balcony onto the Ryman stage. And after Roy Acuff heard the electrified fiddles that Bob brought, he made the statement that the Opry would be ruined forever. What is interesting, that while Bob brought electrified fiddles with him, both Pee Wee King and Ernest Tubb had been playing electric instruments on the Opry previous to that night. There is another story from that night, regarding the use of drums and Bob being told to keep his drummer behind the curtain. Much like the electric fiddles, Bob's drummer was not the first to drum on the Opry, as Harold "Sticks" McDonald, a member of Pee Wee King's Golden West Cowboys, had brought drums to the Opry several years prior. He supposedly used them for a couple of weeks until George D. Hay told Pee Wee to take the drums home and leave them there. While that may be true, within a few years, many of the Opry's acts included drums.

December 8, 1945: Earl Scruggs made his Grand Ole Opry debut as a member of Bill Monroe's Blue Grass Boys. He was the final member to join what many consider the greatest of Bill's many renditions of the Blue Grass Boys, and what many feel was the greatest bluegrass band ever. That group included Lester Flatt, Chubby Wise and Harold Watts. This group would only stay together until 1948. After leaving Bill's group, Earl would team up with Lester Flatt, before moving on to play a more progressive sound with his sons.

December 12, 1959: While performing on the Opry, Bill Monroe was served with divorce papers from his wife, Carolyn Brown. She charged that Bill was having an affair with his bass player, Bessie Lee Mauldin. The story goes that Carolyn was waiting for Bill outside the Opry that night and when he came out the Ryman's back door, she really laid into him.

December 24, 1960: The final Prince Albert Grand Ole Opry show was broadcast on the NBC network. The decline of radio and the rise of television led to the decision to end the Opry's broadcasts. Hank Snow was the host for that final broadcast, and I am happy to say that I have a recording of that show.

December 3, 1961: "Doctor" Lew Childre passed away. Lew, who was born in 1901, became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1945. He remained with the Opry through most of the 1950's.

December 6, 1964: The Grand Ole Opry fired 12 of its members for failing to meet the required number of yearly appearances on the show. The Nashville Tennessean wrote, "Twelve top country and western stars will not appear on the Grand Ole Opry in 1965, and have been prohibited from using the Opry name in their outside billings, it was learned yesterday. Another entertainer, long-time favorite Minnie Pearl, has been given a leave of absence from the show for the coming year, but will continue to use the Opry billing in her present contracts," a WSM spokesman said. Those who were dismissed from the Opry were George Morgan, Don Gibson, Billy Grammer, Johnny Wright, Kitty Wells, the Jordanaires, Faron Young, Ferlin Husky, Chet Atkins, Justin Tubb, Stonewall Jackson and Ray Price. It was later found that Chet Atkins was not an actual Opry member, which led to some comments concerning if the Opry's management really knew what was going on at the show. At the time, Opry members were required to appear 26 times per year. Many of those fired would later return to the show as members, including George Morgan, Don Gibson, Billy Grammer, Justin Tubb and Stonewall Jackson, while Minnie Pearl would return after her leave of absence. While never rejoining the cast, the remaining ones would appear on the show as guest artists.

December 23, 1967: It was 50 years ago that Jack Greene became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Jack started as a member of Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours before going on to a very successful solo career. Jack would remain an Opry member until his death in 2013.

December 14, 1973: Lorrie Morgan, age 14, made her first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Lorrie was brought on stage by her father, Opry member George Morgan. She sang "Paper Roses." A decade later, Lorrie would become an Opry member.

December 15, 1973: Grand Ole Opry member Skeeter Davis was suspended by the Opry's management for comments she had made the previous Saturday night while performing on the Opry. As Skeeter said, "Hank Williams got kicked off the Opry for drinkin' too much old wine. Me? I got kicked off for singing about the new wine." What actually happened was that Skeeter was on her way to the Ryman Auditorium for an Opry appearance when she witnessed the arrest of what were known as "Jesus Freaks," which was another name for the young people who were protesting not only in Nashville, but around the country. The arrests enraged Skeeter and on the Opry, she expressed her rage by talking about it, singing about it, and weeping about it. When she came off the stage after performing, she faced an angry Opry management. She was told that she was no longer considered an Opry member. Happily for all, and especially for Skeeter, she was invited back to the Opry 18 months later.

December 29, 1973: Opry member Tex Ritter made his final Grand Ole Opry appearance. Tex, who had joined the Opry in 1965, would pass away after suffering a heart attack, the following week.

December 25, 1976: Larry, Steve and Rudy, The Gatlin Brothers, became members of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be their 41st year as Opry members, and according to my records, the only members to join the cast on Christmas day. In addition to their Opry appearances, Larry Gatlin serves as host of the Opry Country Classics show held in the Spring and Fall at the Ryman Auditorium.

December 27, 1978: Grand Ole Opry member Bob Luman passed away at the age of 41. Bob joined the Opry in 1965 and was known for his rockabilly sound that was very popular with many of the Opry's younger fans. While some on the Opry felt Bob's music had too much rock in it, he was a popular member of the cast and enjoyed great support. His last Grand Ole Opry appearance was on Saturday December 2, 1978, while Friday December 15 was his final Friday Night Opry appearance.

December 8, 1982: Marty Robbins passed away in a Nashville hospital at the age of 57. Probably the Opry's most popular member, he was famous for hosting the 11:30 segment when he was in town, and making the last half hour of the Opry his own, often performing well past the traditional midnight sign off time. Just that previous October, Marty had been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

December 20, 1986: Randy Travis became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Randy's 31st year as an Opry member. Randy had a string of hits in the 1980s and 1990s, and helped to bring back a more traditional sound to country music. Sadly, Randy has suffered a serious of health setbacks and will probably never perform on the Opry again. However, he has visited the show several times in the past couple of years, and he always receives a great audience response when introduced on stage. Randy is also a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

December 17, 1993: Herman Harper, the famous and very popular bass singer for the Carol Lee Singers, passed away. Herman had been a member of the Oak Ridge Boys back in the day when they were considered one of the country's top gospel acts.

December 24, 1994: Vic Willis was scheduled to perform on the Grand Ole Opry for the final time. The Willis Brothers, originally known as the Oklahoma Wranglers, came to the Opry in 1946. After leaving in 1949 to tour with Eddy Arnold, they returned in 1957. In addition to Vic, the group included brothers Guy and Skeeter. Skeeter had passed away in 1976, while Guy retired in 1979 due to health issues. Vic continued on, forming the Vic Willis Trio, until he passed away early in 1995 from injuries suffered in an automobile accident.

December 30, 1994: Grand Ole Gospel Time, which followed the Friday Night Opry and hosted by Reverend Jimmie Snow, Hank's son, was broadcast for the final time. The show was taped on Friday night and broadcast on WSM Sunday mornings. Airing for 23 years, the show would feature a number of Grand Ole Opry performers including Connie Smith, Billy Walker and Roy Acuff, and feature such guests as Johnny Cash and Dennis Weaver.

December 19, 1999: Former Grand Ole Opry member Marion Worth passed away at the age of 69. Marion joined the Opry in 1963, and while never a superstar, she was very entertaining and a fan favorite. She left the Opry cast in 1980, when she went into semi-retirement.

December 20, 1999: The legendary Hank Snow passed away at his Rainbow Ranch in Madison, Tennessee after a period of declining health. Hank joined the Opry in January 1950 and was just weeks shy of 50 years of Opry membership. Hank last appeared on the Opry in September 1996, and is considered one of the all-time Opry greats.

December 16, 2000: Brad Paisley was surprised on stage by Jimmy Dickens and Jeannie Seely, in a segment hosted by Bill Anderson. Jimmy & Jeannie were dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus, and the reason for the surprise visit was the delivery of an invitation for Brad to become a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Brad tearfully accepted and the following February he would officially join the cast.

December 30, 2000: Grand Ole Opry member Skeeter Davis made her final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Skeeter, who had been battling various illnesses, would enter a period of declining health that made it difficult for her to continue performing. Skeeter passed away in December 2004. Additionally, after being notified the previous month that he was being terminated, this was the final night that Jerry Strobel was employed as the Opry House manager. Jerry had worked at the Opry for over 30 years.

December 21, 2001: Josh Turner makes his first guest appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. His debut song was "Long Black Train" after which Josh received a standing ovation. Over the next several years, Josh would make dozens and dozens of guest appearances, until finally becoming a member in October 2008.

December 31, 2002: Grand Ole Opry member Jim McReynolds, one half of Jim & Jesse, passed away in Gallatin, Tennessee after a long illness. Jim & Jesse, along with the Virginia Boys, became Opry members in March 1964, and are considered one of the greatest acts in bluegrass music history.

December 30, 2006: The Grand Ole Opry's 2nd Saturday night show concluded at midnight for the final time. The following week, both Saturday Grand Ole Opry shows were cut to 2 hours, with the late show ending at 11:30.

December 13, 2013: Grand Ole Opry member Joe Diffie was honored for 20 years of Opry membership. Joining Joe on the Opry that evening were Opry members Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley.

December 20, 2014: Grand Ole Opry member Jimmy Dickens made his final Grand Ole Opry appearance. On Christmas Day, Jimmy was admitted to a Nashville hospital and would pass away shortly after the first of the year. Jimmy's final song? "Out Behind the Barn."

December 11, 2015: Grand Ole Opry member Mel Tillis made his final Opry appearance on the Friday Night Opry. Mel, who joined the Opry in 2007, entered a period of declining health after the first of the year, that would ultimately lead to his passing in November 2017.

December 30, 2016: During a guest appearance on the Friday Night Opry, Marty Stuart, with help from John Carter Cash, surprised Dailey & Vincent with an invitation to become the Opry's newest members. This was also the 100th guest appearance for Dailey & Vincent. Their actual Opry induction would take place the following March.

December 1, 2017: Grand Ole Opry member Marty Stuart celebrated his 25th anniversary as member of the Opry. Helping Marty celebrate were Connie Smith, Charlie Worsham, Old Crow Medicine Show, Dallas Frazier, Kenny Lovelace, Marty's mother Hilda, and the Grand Ole Opry Square Dancers.

There you have it for the final month of the year. As usual at the Opry, there was a lot of activity during the month.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Grand Ole Opry 12/8 & 12/9

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the shows this weekend at the Ryman Auditorium. After running two shows on Friday night for the past month, the Opry is back down to one show. As far as Saturday night, it is still a two show night.

Grand Ole Opry members scheduled for both nights include John Conlee, Mike Snider, Jeannie Seely and Riders In The Sky. They well be joined on Friday night by Connie Smith, Bobby Osborne and The Whites, while on Saturday it will be Bill Anderson, Steve Wariner and Alison Krauss appearing. It is really nice to see Alison back on the Opry. Her appearances have been infrequent, however when she is on she always receives a great audience reception.

As to Opry guests this weekend, Natalie Stovall, Rory Feek, Amanda Shires and Restless Heart are on the list for Friday, with Jamey Johnson, The Steel Woods, and Kristian Bush currently set for Saturday night. Of those listed, it is nice to see Rory making an Opry appearance.

Friday December 8
7:00: John Conlee (host); Natalie Stovall; Mike Snider
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); The Whites; Rory Feek
Intermission
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Amanda Shires; Restless Heart

Saturday December 9
1st show
7:00: John Conlee (host); Alison Krauss
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Mike Snider
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); The Steel Woods; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Steve Wariner (host); Riders In The Sky; Kristian Bush

2nd show
9:30: John Conlee (host); Alison Krauss
10:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Mike Snider
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); The Steel Woods; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Steve Wariner (host); Riders In The Sky; Kristian Bush

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 10 years ago, the weekend of December 7 & 8, 2007:

Friday December 7
1st show
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Jimmy C Newman; Mark Wills
7:30: John Conlee (host); Jan Howard; Jack Greene; Steep Canyon Rangers
8:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Keith Anderson
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Suzy Bogguss

2nd show
9:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jimmy C Newman
10:00: John Conlee (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Mark Wills
10:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Suzy Bogguss; The Whites
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Mel McDaniel; Steep Canyon Rangers

Saturday December 8
1st show
6:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Mel McDaniel; Jimmy C Newman
7:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); Mindy Smith; Chuck Wicks; Steve Wariner; The Whites
8:00: John Conlee (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jimmy Wayne; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jack Greene; Mark Wills

2nd show
9:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Mel McDaniel; Steve Wariner
10:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Chuck Wicks
10:30: John Conlee (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Mindy Smith; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jimmy Wayne; Mark Wills

Now from 25 years ago, Saturday December 12, 1992:

1st show
6:30: Del Reeves (host); Ray Pillow
6:45: Grandpa Jones (host); Jim Ed Brown; Jeannie Seely
7:00: Bill Monroe (host); The 4 Guys; Charlie Louvin; Emmylou Harris
7:30: Jack Greene (host); Jeanne Pruett; Bill Carlisle; Roy Drusky; Connie Smith
8:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jean Shepard; Osborne Brothers; John Conlee; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); The Whites; Jimmy C Newman; Billy Walker; Jan Howard

2nd show
9:30: Grandpa Jones (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Charlie Walker; Skeeter Davis; Smoky Mountain Boys; Charlie Louvin
10:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Emmylou Harris
10:15: Bill Monroe (host); Del Reeves
10:30: John Conlee (host); The 4 Guys
10:45: Osborne Brothers (host); Jean Shepard; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Jimmy C Newman; Connie Smith; Justin Tubb; Jack Greene
11:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jan Howard; The Whites; Johnny Russell

Finally from 50 years ago, Saturday December 9, 1967:

7:30: Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host); Willis Brothers; Charlie Louvin; Minnie Pearl; Billy Grammer; Margie Bowes
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Dolly Parton; Bill Carlisle; Skeeter Davis; Grandpa Jones; Crook Brothers; Osborne Brothers; Stringbean
8:30: Roy Acuff (host); Bill Monroe; Jean Shepard; Archie Campbell; Lorene Mann; Del Wood; Hank Locklin
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Dottie West; George Hamilton IV; The 4 Guys; Del Reeves; Ernie Ashworth; Fruit Jar Drinkers
9:30: Hank Snow (host); Willis Brothers; Bobby Lord; Norma Jean; Glaser Brothers; Jim Ed Brown
10:00: Roy Acuff (host); Bill Monroe; Del Wood; Billy Grammer
10:15: Charlie Louvin (host); Bill Carlisle; Margie Bowes; Stringbean
10:30: Hank Locklin (host); Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper; Skeeter Davis
10:45: Porter Wagoner (host); Grandpa Jones; Jean Shepard; Crook Brothers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Bill Anderson; Del Reeves; Fruit Jar Drinkers; The 4 Guys; Sam McGee; Dottie West
11:30: Bobby Lord (host); Glaser Brothers; Jim Ed Brown; Norma Jean; George Hamilton IV; Ernie Ashworth

Quite a line-up. Only non-Opry members that night were Dolly Parton and Lorene Mann. And for those wondering, the show actually ended one minute early!! They really moved them through that night.

Looking back in Grand Ole Opry history, it was Saturday December 8, 1973 that Skeeter Davis made her very controversial comments on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry, which resulted in her suspension from the Opry's cast. Skeeter has written about the incident extensively in her book, "Bus Fare to Kentucky."

As to what happened that night, when Skeeter was on her way downtown to the Ryman Auditorium for the Opry that night, she witnessed the arrest of what were known as "Jesus freaks" which in those days were young people protesting on the streets of Nashville. The act enraged Skeeter and she expressed that rage on the Opry that night, talking about it, singing about it and weeping about it. She made headlines and caused a great deal of concern that night when she came off the stage. Reportedly, Nashville police officers, who acted as security guards at the Opry, went to management demanding that Skeeter be fired. The result was that Skeeter was gone from the Opry, returning 18 months later when several Opry members went to management and told them it was time for her to come back. During the time she was gone, Skeeter traveled the world, singing and expressing herself.

Here is the running order from Saturday December 8, 1973, the night of Skeeter's controversial comments:

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Osborne Brothers (host): Midnight Flyer
Ernie Ashworth: My Love for You
Bill Carlisle: Leave that Liar Alone
Osborne Brothers: Fastest Grass Alive

6:45: Rudy's
Del Reeves (host): Six Days on the Road/Truck Driving Man
The 4 Guys: Top of the World
Del Reeves: Lay A Little Lovin' on Me

7:00: Rudy's
Bill Monroe (host): Uncle Pen
Skeeter Davis: I Can't Believe that It's All Over
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells
Jimmy C Newman: Potato Song
Bill Monroe: Christmas Time's A Coming
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up on Your Way Down
Skeeter Davis: I'll Fly Away
Jim Ed Brown: Sometimes Sunshine
Bill Monroe: Bluegrass Breakdown

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jean Shepard: Slipping Away
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: White Dove
Willis Brothers: Truck Stop
Brother Oswald: John Hardy
Crook Brothers: Ida Red
Jean Shepard: Second Fiddle
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: I Shall Not be Moved

8:00: Martha White
Tex Ritter (host): Wayward Wind
Grandpa Jones: Are You From Dixie
Jeanne Pruett: Hold to My Unchanging Love
Charlie Louvin: You're My Wife; She's My Woman
Tex Ritter & Johnny Bond: Get Off of My Horse
Ramona & Mark Jones: Old Joe Clark
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Charlie Louvin & Diane McCall: Did You Ever

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Jim & Jesse: Blue Ridge Mountain Blues
Marion Worth: Delta Dawn
Charlie McCoy: Release Me/Orange Blossom Special
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Sally Goodin
Jim & Jesse: Please Be My Love
Hank Snow: Send Me the Pillow You Dream On

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Del Reeves (host): Wild Blood
Willis Brothers: Truck Stop
Jimmy C Newman: Jambalaya
Bill Carlisle: Worried Man Blues
Del Reeves: Lay A Little Lovin' on Me
Jimmy C Newman: Potato Song
Del Reeves: I'm Walking/Blueberry Hill/Whole Lotta Shakin' Going On

10:00: Fender
Osborne Brothers (host): Rocky Top
The 4 Guys: Let Me BE There
Osborne Brothers: Fastest Grass Alive

10:15: Union 76
Bill Monroe (host): Goodbye Old Pal
Skeeter Davis: Amazing Grace
Jim Ed Brown: Sometimes Sunshine
Bill Monroe: I'm Sitting on Top of the World

10:30 Trailblazer
Roy Acuff (host): Just A Friend
Grandpa Jones: Oh, Suzannah
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: A Mansion in the Sky

10:45: Beech-Nut
Tex Ritter (host): Just Beyond the Moon
Charlie Louvin: Little Reasons/Will You Visit Me on Sundays/What are Those Things
Jim & Jesse: Diesel on My Tail
Crook Brothers: Eighth of January
Stuart Hamlin: It Is No Secret/This Old House

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): In the Misty Moonlight
Jeanne Pruett: Hold to My Unchanging Love
Charlie McCoy: Orange Blossom Special
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Sam McGee: Kentucky Turkey Buzzard
Hank Snow: There's A Fool Such as I

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): Devil Woman
Marion Worth: Shake Me, I Rattle
Ronnie Robbins: Too Much Love Between Us/Mama Tried
Marty Robbins: Don't Worry/Love Me/Letters Have No Arms/They'll Never Take Her Love From Me/Big Boss Man/El Paso/Singing the Blues

There you have it for this week. I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend!!

Monday, December 4, 2017

Opry Observations/Tuesday Opry 12/5

After being in Nashville this past weekend for Marty Stuart's 25th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, I just wanted to pass along a few observations regarding the shows over the weekend, along with a few other weekend activities I took part in while in Nashville.

Regarding the Friday Night Opry with Marty Stuart, I thought both shows were excellent. Marty hosted the final hour of both shows and had Connie Smith, Charlie Worsham, and the Opry Square Dancers, who closed out the shows, as his scheduled guests. Old Crow Medicine Show, who appeared earlier in the night, also came out to sing with Marty, as did musician Kenny Lovelace, best known for his work with Jerry Lee Lewis. Marty's other two guests were his mom Hilda, who did a nice little musical duet with her son, and songwriter Dallas Frazier, who Connie mentioned had written 71 of the songs she had recorded. (Adding a personal note, Dallas should have been one of the first songwriters to have been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame). The one missing item from the night with Marty was the lack of a special presentation by anyone from the Opry. Usually on these anniversaries there is a special tribute and usually a presentation of a framed posted. Hopefully there was a legitimate reason for this and it was nothing personal toward Marty.

As to the rest of the Friday Night Opry, everyone did a very nice job. Bill Anderson did his Po' Folk's Christmas song, along with "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" on both shows; Bobby Osborne, who had fallen and suffered several broken ribs earlier in the week, looked and sounded great; John Conlee was fine and Old Crow Medicine Show did their usual great job. The other artist from Friday was Elizabeth Cook, who is my opinion also did a very fine job. She was been around Nashville for a number of years now and is also a personality on Outlaw Country. The first show looked just about sold out while the 2nd show was probably two-thirds filled.

Now on to Saturday night, and again both shows were very nice. Trace Adkins was a late addition and he performed solo, without his band. Charles Esten from "Nashville" brought a lot of energy to both shows and who knows, he may still be around when the television show ends. Hard to believe but this was the first time I had seen Shenandoah, and they brought back a lot of memories from years past. Mike Snider was funny (of course), Jeannie Seely, Connie Smith and John Conlee were in good form and The Whites were very good. Maggie Rose also guested, but the highlight of the night was seeing Wanda Jackson. I first saw Wanda a few years ago when she hosted the Midnight Jamboree, so I was looking forward to seeing her again. While she looked a little frail (she is 80 now), and sang while sitting on a stool, she still has it and her voice was solid. She treated everyone to a little rockabilly and "Right or Wrong," her big hit that she also wrote.

Wanda also appeared Saturday afternoon at the Country Music Hall of Fame, discussing her book "Every Night is Saturday Night." There was a nice crowd to see her and most really enjoyed the experience of listening to this legend. Afterwards, she signed copies of her book, which I was quick to get. The Hall of Fame did not allow pictures to be taken of each individual greeting Wanda and getting their book signed, which did disappoint me. Also, the Hall of Fame ran out of books, saying that their second shipment did not reach them. There were some people not happy as this was probably their only chance to get an autograph from Wanda and a chance to meet her. The Hall of Fame has to do a better job.

Finally, on Saturday morning I went out to the former home of Hank Snow, the famous "Rainbow Ranch" and does it look nice. Much work has gone in to restoring the house the way it was when Hank lived in it. The work as massive as the house had really fallen into a state of disrepair and the difference from what I had seen on my last visit over a year ago is just awesome. There is still work to be done but the house and property are looking good. (I did post some pictures on my facebook page and will post more, or email if anyone is interested). There is also a facebook page for Hank Snow's Rainbow Ranch. Finally, they now have Hank Snow's former tour bus back in the driveway after getting it back from the Hall of Fame. The bus is amazing as it is still in the condition of when Hank last used it, including the furnishings on the bunks and in Hank's private room. I know they want to restore the bus and allow people to see it and I am sure they will make it happen. A special thanks goes to Terry Tyson who has spent a massive number of volunteer hours on this project, and to Cal, a nephew of Hank Snow, and his wife Sandy for their time on Saturday morning, and for purchasing and saving the house. There is also a website, hanksnowsranch.com with pictures and more information.

Regarding the Tuesday Opry shows this week, the Opry is once again having a late afternoon matinee at the Ryman Auditorium. Overall, a pretty solid line-up for the afternoon show. As to the evening show, it will be another guest appearance by Chris Janson, who is the closing act.

Tuesday Opry Matinee 12/5
3:30: Bill Anderson; Darin & Brooke Aldridge
4:00: The Whites; Mandy Barnett
Intermission
4:45: Exile; Chonda Pierce
5:15: Sundance Head; Connie Smith

Tuesday Night Opry 12/5
7:00: Bill Anderson; Sundance Head
7:30: Kelleigh Bannen; Connie Smith
Intermission
8:15: Tracy Lawrence; Chonda Pierce
8:45: Exile; Chris Janson


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Grand Ole Opry 12/1 & 12/2

On Friday December 1st, the Grand Ole Opry will be recognizing Marty Stuart upon his 25th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Marty became an Opry member on Saturday November 28, 1992, just a week after the passing of Roy Acuff and at the time was a very popular choice to be joining the Opry's cast.

Last week, upon the actual anniversary, I printed a short recap of Marty's career. Just to add a few points, Marty is someone who really appreciates the history of country music and has been working the past several years on opening a museum in his home state of Mississippi. There is a lot to display and I am sure it will be a very nice museum. Personally, I wish it was being built in Nashville as it would be another great attraction in the city. However, I understand Marty wanting to put it in his home town and home state. Sadly, however, as Marty has been working on his museum project, and touring in support of his new CD, his Opry appearances have really declined. It's too bad because he is always appreciated at the Opry and the audience always responds to him very well. I know that entertainers want to tour and make the money when their careers are doing well, but I do wish Marty would find more time to do the Opry. We really need members like Marty to continue to come out and to support the show.

The last hour of each of the Friday night shows is being advertised as Marty Stuart "w/special guests." Connie Smith, as you would expect, and Charlie Worsham are the only acts listed, along with the square dancers, who will be making a special Friday appearance. When Marty Stuart's 25th anniversary was announced, I expected a bit more then what has been listed. Hopefully there are a few special guests, which will really make the night special.

In addition to Marty and Connie, Grand Ole Opry members scheduled for Friday night include Bill Anderson, John Conlee, Bobby Osborne and Old Crow Medicine Show, who have a connection with Marty as it was Marty who invited the group to become Opry members. Connie and John will also be on Saturday's show, along with members Mike Snider, The Whites, and Jeannie Seely.

The very talented Charlie Worsham is the only non-Opry member currently scheduled for Friday night, however on Saturday Maggie Rose, Shenandoah, Charles Esten and the legendary Wanda Jackson are scheduled to appear. Wanda has just written a new autobiography and she is currently selling autographed copies on her website. As to Charles Esten, who has made dozens of Opry appearances over the past several years, it will be interesting how much longer we see him on the Opry considering that next season is the final one for "Nashville."

Friday December 1
1st show
7:00: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: John Conlee (host); Old Crow Medicine Show
8:00: Marty Stuart (host) w/Special Guests; Connie Smith; Charlie Worsham; Opry Square Dancers

2nd show
9:30: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
10:00: John Conlee (host); Old Crow Medicine Show
10:30: Marty Stuart (host) w/Special Guests; Connie Smith; Charlie Worsham; Opry Square Dancers

Saturday December 2
1st show
7:00: John Conlee (host); Maggie Rose; Mike Snider
7:30: Connie Smith (host); The Whites; Wanda Jackson
8:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Shenandoah; Opry Square Dancers; Charles Esten

2nd show
9:30: John Conlee (host); Maggie Rose; Mike Snider
10:00: Connie Smith (host); The Whites; Wanda Jackson
10:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Shenandoah; Opry Square Dancers; Charles Esten

While the quality is good, the line-ups are a little thin this weekend. For the second week in a row, it would appear that the Friday Night Opry is being run similar to the Tuesday night shows. I could be wrong and another guest will be scheduled for each of the first two segments, but for now we have just what is listed.  As to Saturday night, again I don't understand why only 3 segments, with the last hour being pretty thin. There are certainly additional artists scheduled that night who are capable of hosting. Hopefully they will add more.

For those who may not know, I will be in Nashville this weekend and will be attending all 4 shows and will report back on anything I see or hear in the coming week.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 10 years ago, the weekend of November 30 & December 1, 2007:

Friday November 30
1st show
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); John Conlee; The Grascals
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Jack Greene; Little Texas
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jeannie Seely; Ashley Monroe
8:30: Vince Gill (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jean Shepard; Jedd Hughes

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); John Conlee; The Grascals
10:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Mike Snider; Little Texas
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); George Hamilton IV; Ashley Monroe
11:00: Vince Gill (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jean Shepard; Jedd Hughes

Saturday December 1
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Joni Harms
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Jan Howard; Jean Shepard; Mountain Heart
7:30: Diamond Rio (host); Jeannie Seely; Bobby Osborne &  The Rocky Top X-Press
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); George Hamilton IV; Hal Ketchum; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Vince Gill (host); Mel McDaniel; Ashley Monroe

2nd show
9:30; Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Joni Harms
10:00: Diamond Rio (host); Jean Shepard; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Riders In The Sky
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Mel McDaniel; Hal Ketchum; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Vince Gill (host); Ashley Monroe; Mountain Heart

Now from 25 years ago, Saturday December 5, 1992:

1st show
6:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Jim Ed Brown
6:45: Grandpa Jones (host); Skeeter Davis; Ray Pillow
7:00: Jack Greene (host); The 4 Guys; Billy Walker; Connie Smith; Boxcar Willie
7:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Emmylou Harris
8:00: Bill Monroe (host); Jean Shepard; Brother Oswald; Mike Snider; Opry Square Dance Band; Stoney Mountain Cloggers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Jimmy C Newman; Charlie Louvin; Jimmy Dickens

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Connie Smith; Stonewall Jackson; Bill Carlisle; Emmylou Harris
10:00: Grandpa Jones (host); Jack Greene; Jeanne Pruett
10:15: Bill Monroe (host); Jan Howard; Wilma Lee Cooper
10:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites
10:45: Boxcar Willie (host); Jeannie Seely; Opry Square Dance Band; Stoney Mountain Cloggers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); The 4 Guys; Roy Drusky; Jean Shepard; Mike Snider
11:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Charlie Louvin; Jimmy C Newman; Johnny Russell

And from 50 years ago, Saturday December 2, 1967:

7:30: Willis Brothers (host); Ernie Ashworth; Glaser Brothers; Minnie Pearl
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Skeeter Davis; Billy Grammer; Jim & Jesse; Crook Brothers; Del Wood
8:30: Roy Acuff (host); Tex Ritter; Harold Weakley; Archie Campbell
9:00: Charlie Louvin (host); Del Reeves; Osborne Brothers; Fruit Jar Drinkers
9:30: Hank Locklin (host); Willis Brothers; George Morgan; Norma Jean; The 4 Guys
10:00: Billy Grammer (host); Del Wood; Jim & Jesse
10:15: Porter Wagoner (host); Skeeter Davis; Ernie Ashworth
10:30: Del Reeves (host); Glaser Brothers
10:45: Roy Acuff (host); Crook Brothers; Junior Huskey
11:00: Wilburn Brothers (host); Loretta Lynn; Charlie Louvin; Fruit Jar Drinkers; The 4 Guys; Sam McGee
11:30: Marty Robbins (host); Tex Ritter; Hank Locklin; Norma Jean; George Morgan; Don Winters

Looking back in Grand Ole Opry history, it was 39 years ago, Saturday December 2, 1978 that Grand Ole Opry member Bob Luman appeared on the Saturday night show for the final time.

Robert Glynn Luman was born in Blackjack, Texas on April 15, 1937. As he was being raised in Nacogdoches, Texas, his early interest in music was influenced by his father, who was a fiddle, guitar, and harmonica player. He attended high school in Kilgore and while in high school, Bob started his own band. He also played baseball and tried out with the Pittsburgh Pirates, but when he didn't make it in professional baseball, he decided to concentrate on music. In 1956, he won a talent contest promoted by the Future Farmers of America, which earned him an appearance on the Louisiana Hayride.

While on the Hayride, he formed a backup band called the Shadows, which featured James Burton, James Kirkland, and Butch White. In 1957, the band signed with Imperial Records. That same year, the band appeared on the Town Hall Party in Los Angeles and appeared in the movie Carnival Rock, where they backed up David Houston.

The following year, after being dropped by Imperial Records, Bob signed with Capital Records, where he released several singles. After refusing the request from Capital to change his name, he left that label and signed with Warner Bros. Records. In 1960, Bob was inducted into the United States Army, and while still in the Army, Warner released "Let's Think About Living," which reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and No. 9 on the Billboard country music chart. After he left the Army in 1962, Bob moved to Nashville.

In 1968, he signed with Epic Records and had several hits with that label including "Lonely Women Make Good Lovers," and "Still Loving You. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Bob continued to tour, perform in Las Vegas and record and release successful records, including "When You Say Love," and "The Pay Phone." It is hard to believe that with these great records that Bob recorded, he never had a No. 1 record on the charts.  He also became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in September 1965. Bob is a member of the Rockabilly Hall of Fame and the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame.

Bob Luman passed away from pneumonia on December 27, 1978 at the age of 41.

While Saturday December 2, 1978 was Bob's last appearance on the Saturday Grand Ole Opry, his last appearance for any Opry show was the Friday Night Opry on December 15 of that year.

Here is the running order from Saturday December 2, 1978, Bob Luman's last appearance on the Grand Ole Opry:

1st show
6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Charlie Walker (host): Pick Me Up on Your Way Down
David Houston: Best Friends make the Worst Enemies
Charlie Walker: Lucille

6:45: Rudy's
Bill Monroe (host): A Used to Be
Stu Phillips: There Must be Another Way to Say Goodbye
Vic Willis & Curtis Young: Cimarron
Bill Monroe: The Old Cross Road is Waiting

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Ol Slewfoot
Wilma Lee Cooper: Big Midnight Special
Billy Grammer: Gotta Travel On
Wilburn Brothers: Mama's Shoe Box
Charlie Louvin: Hey, Daddy
Porter Wagoner: I'm Gonna Feed You Now/Big Wind

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball/Tennessee Special No. 9/ Sunshine Special
Jan Howard: I'll Remember the Good
Roy Drusky: Second Hand Rose
Del Wood: Piano Roll Blues
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Gray Eagle
Herman Crook: Amazing Grace
Roy Acuff: Cabin in Gloryland

8:00: Martha White
Grandpa Jones (host): Are You From Dixie
Justin Tubb: What's Wrong with the Way That We're Doing it Now
Bob Luman: Let Me Make the Bright Lights Shine for You/The Pay Phone
Jim & Jesse: Ashes of Love
Bill Carlisle: Business Man
Grandpa & Ramona Jones: Mt. Laurel

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): I've Been Everywhere
The 4 Guys: Turn Your Radio On
Ray Pillow: Texas
Stonewall Jackson: My Favorite Sin
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cacklin Hen
Hank Snow: Ramblin Rose

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Bill Monroe (host): My Sweet Blue Eyed Darling
Charlie Walker: T for Texas
David Houston: Best Friends Make the Worst Enemies
Wilma Lee Cooper: Poor Ellen Smith
Vic Willis & Curtis Young: Shenendoah
Stu Phillips: Come Sundown
Bill Monroe: Cryin' Holy Unto the Lord

10:00: Fender
Porter Wagoner (host): Tennessee Saturday Night
Wilburn Brothers: What A Way to Go
Charlie Louvin: When I Was Your Man
Porter Wagoner: Ol Slewfoot

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Ball Knob, Arkansas
Billy Grammer: Faded Love
Jan Howard: It's A Heartache
Brother Oswald: Mountain Dew
Roy Acuff: Jesus Will Outshine Them All

10:30: Trailblazer
Grandpa Jones (host): Old Dan Tucker
Roy Drusky: Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy
Justin Tubb: What's Wrong with the Way that We're Doing it Now
Grandpa Jones: Falling Leaves

10:45: Beech-Nut
Bob Luman (host): Good Hearted Woman
Del Wood: Keep on the Firing Line
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: (?)
Bob Luman: A Satisfied Mind

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Rumba-Boogie
Ray Pillow: Dreams of A Dreamer/Another Day; Another Dollar
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
Jim & Jesse: The Voice of My Darling
Kirk McGee: Chittling Cooking Time in Cheatham County
Hank Snow: Hobo Bill's Last Ride

11:30: Acme
Stonewall Jackson (host): A Wound Time Can't Erase
The 4 Guys: Let Your Love Show/Catfish John
Bill Carlisle: Little Liza Jane/I Was on My Way to the Show
Stonewall Jackson: My Favorite Sin/Waterloo

There you have it for this week. I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend and congratulations once again to Marty Stuart upon his 25th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.






Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Tuesday Night Opry & Opry Matinee 11/28

As the Grand Ole Opry has done in previous years, there will be a Grand Ole Opry matinee show on Tuesday November 28, the Tuesday following Thanksgiving. Generally there is a lot of activity downtown that justifies the Opry having this special matinee show.

3:30: Jeannie Seely; Chuck Mead & His Grassy Knoll Boys
4:00: John Conlee; Collin Raye
Intermission
4:45: A Thousand Horses; Gene Watson
5:15: Carly Pearce; Jerry Douglas

Following the matinee show, there will be the traditional Tuesday Night Opry, with the featured attraction being Grand Ole Opry member Martina McBride. While the official line-up has yet to be posted, here is what I was verbally told:

7:00: Gene Watson; A Thousand Horses
7:30: Carly Pearce; Kip Moore
Intermission
8:15: Jerry Douglas; Michael Ray
8:45: Martina McBride

It is possible that the running order of the 2nd show might change.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Grand Ole Opry 11/24 & 25

Update: here are the lineups for this weekend:

Friday November 24
First show:
7:00: Jeannie Seely; Sierra Hull
7:30: Mike Snider; Ashley Campbell
8:00: NewSong with Francesca Battiselli; William Michael Morgan
8:30: Charlie McCoy; Restless Heart

The 2nd show starts at 9:30 and is the same as the first show. Really sad to see just two Opry members on a Friday night show.

Saturday November 25
First show:
7:00:  Jeannie Seely (host); Jim Lauderdale; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top Express
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Emily Ann Roberts; Bobby Bare
8:00: The Whites (host); John Oates; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Connie Smith (host); Sarah Darling; Annie Moses Band

2nd show, same running order as the first.

I would like to start out this week by wishing everyone a very blessed and grateful Thanksgiving. My wish is that each of you have family or friends to spend some time with this holiday and enjoy all that the day has to offer. As for me, I will be with our daughters and grandchildren in North Carolina, having a turkey dinner and plenty of pumpkin pie.

Usually on a holiday week, the Grand Ole Opry posts the line-up by Tuesday, however as of this evening nothing official has bee listed. Since I will be traveling tomorrow and unsure when I will be able to post, I can at least offer a preview of this weekend.

Grand Ole Opry members currently scheduled for Friday night include Jeannie Seely and Mike Snider, with guest artists Ashley Campbell, Hall of Famer Charlie McCoy, Sierra Hull, Restless Heart and William Michael Morgan.

Looking at Saturday night, Opry members listed are the same two from Friday night: Mike Snider and Jeannie Seely. Guest artists include Country Music Hall of Fame and former Opry member Bobby Bare, Jim Lauderdale, Emily Ann Roberts, John Oates, and the Annie Moses Band. Needless to say, both nights need filled out. I know a lot of artists are not in town or performing over the holiday weekend, so hopefully the Opry comes up with some quality names.

So as we await more details, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 10 years ago, the weekend of November 23 & 24, 2007:

Friday November 23
7:00: John Conlee (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jeff Bates
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Mel McDaniel; The Infamous Stringdusters
8:00: George Hamilton IV (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Buddy Jewell
8:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Elizabeth Cook; The Whites

Saturday November 24
1st show
6:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Elizabeth Cook
7:00: George Hamilton IV (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Jeff Bates
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jan Howard; Bar D Wranglers; Mandy Barnett
8:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Stu Phillips; Rebecca Lynn Howard; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites

2nd show
9:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jimmy C Newman; Elizabeth Cook
10:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Charlie Louvin; Bar D Wranglers; Jeff Bates
10:30: George Hamilton IV (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Rebecca Lynn Howard; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Mandy Barnett

It was 25 years ago, Saturday November 28, 1992 that Marty Stuart became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Over the years, Marty Stuart's love of country music has found multiple avenues for expression. In addition to writing and recording such hits as "Hillbilly Rock," "Tempted," and "The Whiskey Ain't Workin," the latter a Grammy-winning duet with pal Travis Tritt, Marty has become one of country music's noted historians. Sparkle & Twang: Marty's Stuart's American Musical Odyssey, his traveling exhibit of music memorabilia and photography, has been displayed at the Tennessee State Museum and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In 2008, Marty launched "The Marty Stuart Show" on cable's RFD Network. Each program featured Marty's band, The Fabulous Superlatives, as well as his wife Connie Smith, plus fellow Grand Ole Opry members and other guests. Sadly, the new episodes are no longer being taped and it would appear that the show will not be returning.

Marty's passion for country music began when he taught himself to play mandolin as a child. By the time he was 13, he had been recruited to join the legendary Lester Flatt's band. Marty has performed with some of country music's most notable musicians, including fiddler Vassar Clements and guitarist Doc Watson. He also spent several years in Johnny Cash's band before pursuing a solo career.

In 1990, he hit the Top 10 for the first time with the title track of his album "Hillbilly Rock." In 1991, he released "Tempted," and the title track became a Top 5 single. In the early 90s, he also teamed with Travis for such hits as "The Whiskey Ain't Workin" and "This One's Gonna Hurt You." Following that string of hits, Marty turned his attention to many of the other styles of music he truly loves from traditional country to gospel and several others in between. In 2010, he issued "Ghost Train," which was recorded in RCA's famed Studio B, where Marty played on his first session with Flatt when he was 13.

Though he's seen many changes in the country music industry over the years, Marty says the Opry has remained constant. "The thing that has absolutely not changed is the Grand Ole Opry," he says. "The Mother Church of Country Music has remained, and it all revolves around it."

Marty has had a busy year and sadly has not made many Opry appearances. He spent the early part of the year preparing for the release of his new album, "Way Out West," which was released in March, and since then he has been pretty much on the road, which he will continue to be doing through the end of the year. Marty is scheduled to be on the Friday Night Opry, December 1st, where he will be recognized upon his 25th anniversary as an Opry member.

Here is the running order from Saturday November 28, 1992, the night Marty Stuart became the Opry's newest member:

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
Boxcar Willie (host): There's Nothing Like A Good Old Country Song
Mike Snider: (?)
Boxcar Willie: The Great Speckled Bird

6:45: Country Music Hall of Fame
Grandpa Jones (host): Nashville on My Mind
Jim Ed Brown: The Doll Maker
Bill Carlisle: Elvira
Grandpa Jones: My Little Old Home Down in New Orleans

7:00: Shoney's
Del Reeves (host): Two Dollars in the Juke Box/A Dime at A Time/Looking at the World Through a Windshield
Charlie Louvin: The Family Who Prays
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
The Whites: Pins & Needles
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World

7:30: Standard Candy
Jimmy Dickens (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jeannie Seely: As Long As I Live/My Tear's Don't Show
Ray Pillow: I Wonder Where You Are Tonight
Marty Stuart: Tempted/The Long Black Veil
Jimmy Dickens: I Saw the Light

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): Wild Weekend
Connie Smith: How Great Thou Art
Brother Oswald: I'll Be All Smiles Tonight
Jimmy C Newman: La Cajun Band
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Liberty
Bill Anderson: I Love You Drops

8:30: Kraft
Hank Snow (host): Forever & 1; Forever & 2
Jean Shepard: Let's All Go Down to the River/I Saw the Light/Will the Circle Be Unbroken/I'll Fly Away/Somebody Touched Me
Roy Drusky: Too Old to Die Young
The 4 Guys: I'm Bound for Higher Ground
Stonewall Jackson: Ol' Chunk of Coal
Hank Snow: I've Cried A Mile

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Jimmy Dickens (host): Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed
Wilma Lee Cooper: He Will Set Your Fields on Fire
Jan Howard: Lord, I Hope this Day is Good
Marty Stuart: This One's Gonna Hurt You For A Long, Long Time/I'll Take the Blame/Hillbilly Rock
Jimmy Dickens: My Eyes are Jealous

10:00: Little Debbie
Grandpa Jones (host): What'll I Do with the Baby-O
Del Reeves: Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me
Grandpa Jones: Gone Home

10:15: Tennessee Pride/Sunbeam
Boxcar Willie (host): There's Nothing Like A Good Old Country Song
Billy Walker: Peace in the Valley
Boxcar Willie: Wabash Cannonball

10:30: Randy Travis Enterprises
Bill Anderson (host): Southern Fried
The Whites: San Antonio Rose
Bill Anderson: City Lights

10:45: B. C. Powder
The 4 Guys (host): How Married Are You Mary Ann
Charlie Louvin & Monroe Fields: I Love You Best of All
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dances: Snowflake Reel
The 4 Guys: Farther Along

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): There's A Fool Such As I
Jean Shepard: Bouquet of Roses
Charlie Walker: A Way to Free Myself
Justin Tubb: Waltz Across Texas
Mike Snider: Soldier's Joy/Angeline the Baker/Old Molly Hare
Hank Snow: These Things Shall Pass

11:30: Creamette
Jimmy C Newman (host): Cajun's Dream
Connie Smith: The Deepening Snow
Roy Drusky: As Long As I Live
Johnny Russell: A Mansion Stands My Love/He'll Have to Go
Jimmy C Newman: Colinda

During the show that night, there were many references to Roy Acuff, who had passed away on November 23. This was the first Saturday night show since Roy's death and several of the performers did Roy Acuff songs.

Finally, going back 50 years to Saturday November 25, 1967:

7:30: Wilburn Brothers (host); Jean Shepard; Willis Brothers; Ernie Ashworth; Stringbean
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Bill Carlisle; Ray Pillow; Dolly Parton; Grandpa Jones; Crook Brothers
8:30: Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host); Del Reeves; Margie Bowes; Harold Weakley; Joe Edwards
9:00: Charlie Louvin (host); Lonzo & Oscar; Jerry Green; The 4 Guys; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Jimmy Capps
9:30: George Morgan (host); Willis Brothers; Bob Luman; Marion Worth; Stu Phillips; Cousin Jody
10:00: Del Reeves (host); Jean Shepard; Stringbean
10:15: Bill Carlisle (host); Margie Bowes; Ernie Ashworth
10:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Grandpa Jones; Ray Pillow; Buck Trent
10:45: Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host); Bob Luman; Crook Brothers
11:00: Charlie Louvin (host); George Morgan; Fruit Jar Drinkers; The 4 Guys; Sam McGee
11:30: Billy Grammer (host); Lonzo & Oscar; Stu Phillips; Marion Worth; Cousin Jody

There you have it for this week. I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend and once again, I wish everyone a safe, peaceful and enjoyable Thanksgiving Day!!!

Monday, November 20, 2017

Tuesday Night Opry

Here is the line-up for this week's Tuesday Night Opry, November 21:

7:00: Riders In The Sky; Terri Clark
7:30: Del McCoury Band; Chris Janson
Intermission
8:15: Jimmy Wayne; Striking Matches
8:45: T. Graham Brown; Chris Young

Nice to see the Opry's newest member making an appearance. Hopefully many more to follow. And Jimmy Wayne will be signing in the lobby of the Ryman as part of the show on Tuesday night.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Mel Tillis

Sad news out of Nashville this morning as Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame member Mel Tillis has passed away at the age of 85 after a long illness.

From The Tennessean:

Country Music Hall of Famer, Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame inductee and Grand Ole Opry member Mel Tillis died early Sunday morning at the Munroe Regional Medical Center in Ocala, Florida, according to his publicist Don Murry Grubbs.
Tillis had been ill for some time. In January 2016 he underwent surgery after a serious bout of diverticulitis. He battled sepsis and spent the better part of a month in the intensive care unit. According to Grubbs, he never fully recovered. The suspected cause of death is respiratory failure.
Daughter and country singer-songwriter Pam Tillis' Facebook page posted that her father's death was sudden and unexpected, and asked fans to post their memories on Mel Tillis' official Facebook page
The singer, songwriter, comedian and businessman, whose genuine warmth and down-home humor drew countless fans, was 85 years old. In his six-decade career, he recorded over 60 albums, notched three dozen Top 10 singles and wrote over 1,000 songs, several of which are now regarded as classics.
"Mel Tillis was a guy who had it all: He could write, he could sing and he could entertain an audience," said Grand Ole Opry announcer and WSM DJ Eddie Stubbs. "There’s a big difference between a concert and a show. Mel Tillis always put on a show....You always felt good about being around him."
Lonnie Melvin Tillis was born to Lonnie Lee and Burma Tillis on Aug. 8, 1932, near Tampa, Fla. His speech impediment developed after a childhood bout of malaria; Tillis was mocked for his stammer when he was young, but would later use it to comedic effect on stage and screen. "After a lot of years and more hurting than I like to remember, I can talk about it lightly — which eases things a bit," he wrote in "Stutterin' Boy," the autobiography he released in 1984. "It's a way of showing people that it hasn't licked me, so it doesn't have to lick others." 
A child of the Great Depression, Tillis knew hard work from an early age. By the age of 10 he was shelling peas in a cannery with his mother and siblings, "but there was something more than peas in that warehouse," he wrote in "Stutterin' Boy."
"It was music — hillbilly music. ... I'd hardly heard any music like that before ... Bill Monroe, Eddy Arnold, and the Carter Family. What a wonderful discovery!"
In high school, Tillis taught himself to play a guitar his older brother Richard bought, and soon he was getting invited to play at parties and events around his town. After a stint at the University of Florida, Tillis enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. He was stationed in Okinawa and served as a baker; he also sang on Armed Forces Radio with a band called The Westerners.
Upon leaving the Air Force in 1955, he returned to Florida and found work as a fireman on the Atlantic Coast Line railroad. When he wasn't working, he used his railroad pass to come to Nashville and visit publishers in town to pitch his songs (they'd tell him to go back home and work on his music).

He moved to Nashville in 1957 to pursue a music career full time. That year, “I’m Tired,” a song he wrote and country star Webb Pierce recorded, went to No. 3 on the charts. Pierce found success with several other Tillis-penned songs, including “Holiday for Love,” “Honky Tonk Song,” “Tupelo County Jail,” “I Ain’t Never” and “No Love Have I.”
During the 1960s, Tillis became one of Nashville's go-to writers. Songs like "Ruby (Don't Take Your Love to Town)," "Mental Revenge" and "Detroit City," among others, became country classics, and have been recorded by dozens of artists in the past half-century. Brenda Lee took "Emotions," written by Tillis and Ramsey Kearney, to No. 7 on the pop charts in 1961.
Tillis earned his first charting country single in 1958 when he recorded “The Violet and a Rose” for Columbia. Fourteen years later, "I Ain't Never" became his first No. 1. 
As a recording artist, Tillis was most successful in the 1970s, with two dozen Top 10 hits. Five of those were chart-toppers, including "Coca Cola Cowboy," which was featured in the Clint Eastwood film "Every Which Way But Loose." The Country Music Association named Tillis Entertainer of the Year in 1976. That year he also was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
In addition to his music career, Tillis appeared regularly on television shows such as “Hee Haw” and “Hollywood Squares,” was in multiple films, including “Smokey and the Bandit 2” and “Cannonball Run,” and appeared in commercials for the fast-food chain Whataburger, which further enhanced his visibility.
When Tillis' chart success began to wane, he began focusing more attention on his business ventures. He owned radio stations and acquired several publishing companies with thousands of songs in their catalogs. He also opened his own theater in Branson, Mo., performing several thousand shows there before selling the property.
In 1984, Ricky Skaggs took one of his songs, “Honey (Open That Door),” to the top of the charts.
In the 1990s, Tillis, Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare and Jerry Reed formed the supergroup Old Dogs; the band released a self-titled album of songs penned by Shel Silverstein.
It's hard to say who was prouder in 2007 when his daughter, singer Pam Tillis, inducted her father into the Grand Ole Opry. Later that year, Mel Tillis was working in his Ashland City garden when he got a phone call telling him he was going to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. He was so stunned he dropped the eggplant he was holding.
"I'm just so thankful, for everything," he kept repeating the day of the Hall of Fame medallion ceremony. Four years later, Tillis was named a National Medal of Arts recipient for his contributions to country music; he received his award in February 2012 during a ceremony at the White House.
"Mel Tillis spent a lifetime giving us joy and laughter and music, which is why his death brings such sadness," said Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum CEO Kyle Young in a statement. "Had he never stepped on a stage, he would still have been one of the funniest and most genuine people on the planet. But his whimsy and warmth were only a part of his appeal. He wrote some of country music's most compelling and consequential songs, he fronted a remarkable band, and he sang with power and emotion. He also shone as an inspiration, revealing what others called an impediment as a vehicle for humor and hope." 
If Tillis wasn't onstage (and he often was: during the peak of his career, he played up to 300 dates a year), chances are he could be found fishing, gardening or painting — he'd often donate the proceeds from the sales of his art to charity. He toured with his band The Statesiders, who were named after his 1966 single "Stateside," and regularly appeared on the Opry into his 80s. "It so happened that I found what I was good for," Tillis, discussing his music career, told The Tennessean in 1965. "I'm lucky. A lot of people go through life and never find out." 
Tillis is survived by his longtime partner Kathy DeMonaco, his children, Pam, Carrie April, Cindy, Mel Jr. (nicknamed "Sonny"), Connie and Hannah; brother Richard; sister Linda Crosby; and six grandchildren and one great-grandson. 
Funeral arrangements are unavailable at this time. Memorials will be held in Florida and Nashville.

No. 1 singles
1972: “I Ain’t Never”
1976: “Good Woman Blues,” "Heart Healer"
1978: “I Believe in You”
1979: “Coca Cola Cowboy"
1980: “Southern Rains”

Awards and honors
1976: received CMA Entertainer of the Year Award, inducted into Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame
2007: inducted into Grand Ole Opry and Country Music Hall of Fame
2010: received Academy of Country Music Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award
2012: received National Medal of Arts





Thursday, November 16, 2017

Grand Ole Opry 11/17 & 11/18

Sometimes the Opry is a little slow in getting the line-ups finalized and posted and this was one of those weeks. It took until early Thursday evening for the shows to be finalized and after everything was said and done, all four shows have pretty good variety and talent. Each of the shows feature several veterans and Hall of Fame members, bluegrass, comedy and rising young stars. Something for just about everyone.

Grand Ole Opry members scheduled for both nights, and hosting segments include Bill Anderson, Mike Snider, Connie Smith and Jeannie Seely. (it should be noted that Bill is hosting on both shows on Friday night but only on the first show Saturday). The only other Opry member scheduled this weekend is Bobby Osborne on Saturday night. I have stated my opinion before, but it is pretty sad that out of 64 Opry members, only four could be rounded up for a Saturday night show. I guess we should be pretty thankful that there are guest artists who are more than willing to appear on the Opry when asked.

As to those guest artist, there are a couple of interesting names on the Friday Night Opry, one of which is Larry Stephenson. Larry is a great bluegrass artist. I saw him on the Opry a few years back, along with hosting the Midnight Jamboree, and he did a great job. Very talented and he always has a good group working with him. Another act of interest are The Secret Sisters. If you have not seen or heard Laura and Lydia Rogers before, you are in for a treat. Very little instrumentation and great harmony. Each of their songs tell a story and they receive regular airplay on the SiriusXM Outlaw channel. William Michael Morgan is another of the young talents with a real country voice and he has reached the top of the country charts. Tucker Beathard, John Moreland, Mark Wills and comedian Dick Hardwick round out the line-up. Actually there is one more and I was saving her for last and that is Sylvia. Sylvia has several Top 10 records to her credit and after seeing her on the Opry Country Classics show in October, she still looks and sounds great. She has made several Opry appearances this past year and it is nice to see her making another.

Dick Hardwick will also be on Saturday's Grand Ole Opry, where he will be joined by Holly Williams, Brook Eden, Aaron Tippin, Devin Dawson and LOCASH. As stated before, some good variety and some nice young talent on the Opry Saturday night.

Friday November 17
1st show
7:00: Bill Anderson (host); Larry Stephenson Band; The Secret Sisters
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Tucker Beathard; Sylvia
8:00: Connie Smith (host); Dick Hardwick; William Michael Morgan
8:30: Jeannie Seely (host); John Moreland; Mark Wills

2nd show
9:30: Bill Anderson (host); Larry Stephenson Band; The Secret Sisters
10:00: Mike Snider (host); Tucker Beathard; Sylvia
10:30: Connie Smith (host); Dick Hardwick; William Michael Morgan
11:00: Jeannie Seely (host); John Moreland; Mark Wills

Saturday November 18
1st show
7:00: Bill Anderson (host); Holly Williams; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Brooke Eden; Aaron Tippin
8:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Dick Hardwick; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Connie Smith (host); Devin Dawson; LOCASH

2nd show
9:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Holly Williams; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
10:00: Mike Snider (host); Brooke Eden; Aaron Tippin
10:30: Connie Smith (host); Dick Hardwick; Opry Square Dancers; Devin Dawson; LOCASH

I did want to mention a couple of items from the Opry's health files this week. First, as was reported on various news outlets this week, Carrie Underwood fell at her home and broke her wrist. She is recovering well, but she was scheduled to be on the Opry Saturday December 9th. Because of her injury, she has cancelled those appearances. We have talked before about Carrie always making her 10 Opry appearances each year and those two shows that Saturday night would have put her at 10. So, though no fault of her own, Mrs. Fisher will come in at 8 shows this year. Still not a bad number for this superstar.

Secondly, Opry member Jesse McReynolds had a bit of a setback in his recovery and was hospitalized earlier this week. Apparently nothing serious (although at age 88 every hospital stay could be considered serious), and he was due to be sent home today. Based on pictures I saw of Jesse and his doctor, he looked in pretty good shape.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 10 years ago, the weekend of November 16 & 17, 2007:

Friday November 16
8:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Keith Anderson
8:30: Ray Pillow (host); Chris Young
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Ashley Monroe; Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver
9:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Restless Heart

Saturday November 17
1st show
6:30: Mike Snider (host); Jimmy C Newman; Daryle Singletary
7:00: Van Zant; Eric Church; Nanci Griffith; Loretta Lynn
8:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jan Howard; IIIrd Tyme Out; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jamey Johnson

2nd show
9:30: Mike Snider (host); Daryle Singletary; Loretta Lynn
10:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Nanci Griffith
10:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); IIIrd Tyme Out; Eric Church; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jamey Johnson; Van Zant

Now from 25 years ago, Saturday November 21, 1992:

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
Porter Wagoner (host): On A Highway Headed South
Jim Ed Brown: I Don't Want to Have to Marry You
Porter Wagoner: Green, Green Grass of Home

6:45: Hall of Fame
Grandpa Jones (host): Old Blue
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World
Riders In The Sky: How Does He Yodel
Grandpa Jones: Come & Dine

7:00: Shoney's
John Conlee (host): I'm Only Only In it for the Love
Roy Drusky: Second Hand Rose
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Jeannie Seely: Don't Touch Me
Ray Pillow: Please Don't Leave Me Anymore/Too Many Memories
John Conlee: Friday Night Blues

7:30: Standard Candy
Billy Walker (host): Coffee Brown Eyes
David Houston: Secret Love
Jean Shepard: I'm Just an Old Bridge That You Keep Burning
Stacy Dean Campbell: Singing the Blues/Poor Man's Rose
Billy Walker: Let Me Faith Begin to Move

8:00: Martha White
Jimmy C Newman (host): Colinda
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
Brother Oswald: Hawaiian March
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Opry Square Dance Band/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Forked Deer
Jimmy C Newman: Cajun's Dream/Happy Cajun

8:30: Kraft
Hank Snow (host): The Wreck of the Old 97/One More Ride
The 4 Guys: Cottonfields/Mariah
Charlie Louvin & Monroe Fields: Must You Throw Dirt in My Face
Mike Snider: Foggy Mountain Breakdown/Eating Chicken Necks & Wings
The Whites: Keep on the Sunny Side
Hank Snow: My First Night Alone

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Ol' Slewfoot
Skeeter Davis: I Ain't Never
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Roy Drusky: Somewhere My Love
Jeannie Seely: Go Down Swinging
Porter Wagoner: An Old Log Cabin for Sale/Dooley

10:00: Little Debbie
Grandpa Jones (host): Kitty Klide
Riders In The Sky: Boots & Saddle
Grandpa Jones: It's Raining Here this Morning

10:15: Tennessee Pride/Sunbeam
John Conlee (host): The Backside of 30
Stacy Dean Campbell: Poor Man's Rose
John Conlee: Rose Colored Glasses

10:30: Randy Travis Enterprises
Osborne Brothers (host): A Pain in the Heart & Blues on My Mind
Jean Shepard: I Don't See How I Can Make It With You Gone
Terry Eldridge: You Own Set of Rules
David Crowe: Sally Goodin

10:45: B.C. Poweder
The 4 Guys (host): Operator, Get Me Jesus on the Phone
Mike Snider: Soldier's Joy/Angeline the Baker
Opry Square Dance Band/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Blackberry Blossom
The 4 Guys: Head on Over to the Twist & Shout

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): That Heart Belongs to Me
The Whites: Doing it By the Book
Charlie Walker: Who Will Buy the Wine
Justin Tubb: Thanks Troubadour, Thanks
Jim Ed Brown: The Old Lamplighter
Hank Snow: Brand on My Heart

11:30: Creamette
Jimmy C Newman (host): Big Mamou
Charlie Louvin & Monroe Fields: My Baby's Gone
Jeanne Pruett: Temporarily Yours
Johnny Russell: Me & Bobby McGee
Jimmy C Newman: Jambalaya

One name from the night that some might not remember, and who was featured on the TNN televised segment was Stacy Dean Campbell. Stacy was born on July 27, 1967 in Carlsbad, New Mexico. His father was a gospel singer, touring with several quartets and who, along with other members of "The Singing Campbell Family" is an inductee in the Texas Gospel Music Hall of Fame.

Raised by his mother in Oklahoma and New Mexico, Stacy began his music career singing in clubs around the Oklahoma University campus and then moved to Nashville. In 1991 he signed a contract to became a staff songwriter for Tree Music, and released his first album as a solo artist on Columbia Records in 1992. Three singles from his debut album reached the Billboard Country Singles chart.

In 1995, he released a follow-up album on Columbia, the in 1999 he moved to the Warner Brothers label and shifted his focus to making an album that featured more of his songwriting. The result was "Ashes of Old Love" which reached No. 3 on the Americana Music Chart. In 2000, he and Dean Miller co-wrote Trace Adkins' single "I'm Gonna Love You Anyway."

In 2001, he left the music business and returned to New Mexico where he began work on a writing project and in 2004, his first novel "Cottonwood" was published. Included with the book was a CD which featured 12 original tracks inspired by the novel and written by Campbell. In recent years, he has expanded his career and moved behind the scenes, working as a director-writer in music videos and short films. He is the creator of the Americana Travel series, "Bronco Roads," a syndicated travel series that showcases life in the American West, and in which he serves as the host.

Finally, a look back 50 years to Saturday November 18, 1967:

7:30: Roy Drusky (host); Norma Jean; Stu Phillips; Minnie Pearl; Cousin Jody
8:00: Roy Acuff (host); Osborne Brothers; Margie Bowes; Stringbean; Crook Brothers
8:30: Billy Walker (host); Tex Ritter; Loretta Lynn; Archie Campbell; Del Wood
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Skeeter Davis; Del Reeves; Grandpa Jones; Jan Howard; Fruit Jar Drinkers
9:30: Hank Locklin (host); Marion Worth; Bob Luman; Lonzo & Oscar; Kenny Price
10:00: Roy Acuff (host); Norma Jean; Stringbean
10:15: Billy Walker (host); Margie Bowes; Del Wood; Stu Phillips
10:30: Tex Ritter (host); Loretta Lynn; Cousin Jody
10:45: Del Reeves (host); Osborne Brothers; Crook Brothers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Skeeter Davis; Grandpa Jones; Sam & Kirk McGee
11:30: Hank Locklin (host); Marion Worth; Bob Luman; Lonzo & Oscar; Kenny Price

There you have it for this week. I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend!!




Thursday, November 9, 2017

Grand Ole Opry 11/10 & 11/11

So, who all watched the Country Music Association Awards last night? I have to admit that I caught only part of the show, but from what I saw, it was definitely better show than the past few years. Among the highlights for me: a very nice tribute to Troy Gentry by Rascal Flatts, joined by Eddie Montgomery; Glen Campbell being honored, and winning an award with Willie Nelson (vocal event of the year), and of course Carrie Underwood. Several tributes were done to those we have lost this past year and each was very well done. I know everyone will not agree, which is ok, but I did think it was an improvement.

Now, as far as the Grand Ole Opry this week, the schedule has been posted for the shows this weekend, the second week of its winter run at the Ryman Auditorium. As with last week, and through the middle of December, there are two shows each night.

Grand Ole Opry members scheduled for both shows on Friday night include Jeannie Seely, The Whites, Mike Snider, Riders In The Sky and Country Music Hall of Fame member Vince Gill. Jeannie and Mike, along with Vince on the 2nd show, will also be appearing on Saturday's Grand Ole Opry, joined by Connie Smith, Bill Anderson and Bobby Osborne.

Gary Mule Deer will be guesting on all four shows, joined on Friday night by The Voice's Gwen Sebastian, Hall of Fame member Charlie McCoy, Tracy Lawrence, and making his Opry debut, Lucas Hoge. Saturday night, in addition to Gary, will feature Steve Moakler, William Michael Morgan, Exile, and someone with a true country voice, David Ball.

Friday November 10
1st show
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Gwen Sebastian; The Whites
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Tracy Lawrence
8:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Lucas Hoge; Charlie McCoy
8:30: Vince Gill (host); Gary Mule Deer

2nd show
9:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Gwen Sebastian; The Whites
10:00: Mike Snider (host); Tracy Lawrence
10:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Lucas Hoge; Charlie McCoy
11:00: Vince Gill (host); Gary Mule Deer

Saturday November 11
1st show
7:00: Connie Smith (host); Steve Moakler; Mike Snider
7:30: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Gary Mule Deer
8:00: Jeannie Seely (host); David Ball; Opry Square Dancers; William Michael Morgan; Exile

2nd show
9:30: Connie Smith (host); Steve Moakler; Mike Snider
10:00: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Gary Mule Deer
10:30: Jeannie Seely (host); David Ball; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Vince Gill (host); William Michael Morgan; Exile

As mentioned, Lucas Hoge will be making his Opry debut on the Friday Night Opry. In the course of his career, Lucas has been involved with rock, country and Christian music. He was also the host and star of Animal Planet's TV show, "Last Chance Highway," of which he also wrote and performed the show's theme song. Among his awards was the 2006 Country Album of the Year at the Los Angeles Music Awards, the same year that he was award the Christian Contemporary Singer/Songwriter of the Year. In 2011 he was nominated as the ICM's New Artist of the Year.

Lucas released his first CD, "In My Dreams," in 2002. His second album, "Dirt" followed in 2006. In July of this year he released "Dirty South," which debuted at No. 12 on Billboard's Top Country Albums Chart, and reached as high as No. 5. He currently records for Rebel Engine Entertainment.

In addition to tours in the United States, he has traveled to London and the Middle East to perform for American troops, and visited bases in dozens of countries as part of the Armed Forces Entertainment Wrangler National Patriot Tour. He is also the national spokesperson for Guardian Angels for a Soldiers Pet. Rolling Stone magazine has named Lucas one of the Top 10 artists you need to know for 2017. Overall he seems like a fine young man who has been making a name for himself over the past decade and I am sure he will be well received on the Opry this Friday night.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 10 years ago, the weekend of November 9 & 10, 2007:

Friday November 9
8:00: John Conlee (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Josh Gracin
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Mel McDaniel; Rhonda Vincent
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jimmy C Newman; Chuck Wicks
9:30: Steve Wariner (host); Jean Shepard; Jack Greene; Del McCoury Band

Saturday November 10
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Mel McDaniel
7:00: Lorrie Morgan (host); Lonestar; Josh Gracin; Raul Malo
8:00: Hal Ketchum (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; John Conlee; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jean Shepard

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Mel McDaniel; Josh Gracin
10:00: Lorrie Morgan (host); Jan Howard; Jack Greene; Raul Malo
10:30: Hal Ketchum (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Lonestar; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jean Shepard; John Conlee

Now from 25 years ago, Saturday November 14, 1992:

1st show
6:30: The 4 Guys (host); The Whites
6:45: Grandpa Jones (host); Jim Ed Brown; Jean Shepard
7:00: Jack Greene (host); Jeanne Pruett; Bill Carlisle; McCarters
7:30: John Conlee (host); David Houston; Mike Snider; Jerry Reed
8:00: Bill Monroe (host); Skeeter Davis; Brother Oswald; Roy Drusky; Charlie Louvin; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Jeannie Seely; Billy Walker; Jimmy C Newman; Charlie Walker

2nd show
9:30: Jack Greene (host); John Conlee; Wilma Lee Cooper; The Whites; Jerry Reed
10:00: The 4 Guys (host); McCarters
10:15: Grandpa Jones (host); Stonewall Jackson
10:30: Bill Monroe (host); Mike Snider
10:45: Billy Walker (host); Bill Carlisle; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host): Jean Shepard; Justin Tubb; Jimmy C Newman; Charlie Louvin
11:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Skeeter Davis; Roy Drusky; Johnny Russell

Finally from 50 years ago, Saturday November 11, 1967:

7:30: Willis Brothers (host); Billy Grammer; Del Reeves; Ernie Ashworth; Del Wood
8:00: Bobby Lord (host); George Hamilton IV; Jim & Jesse; Crook Brothers; Harold Weakley
8:30: Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host); Stringbean; Archie Campbell; The 4 Guys; Margie Singleton; Leon Ashley
9:00: Roy Acuff (host); Bill Carlisle; George Morgan; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Norma Jean; Larry McNeely; Charlie Collins
9:30: Hank Snow (host); Willis Brothers; Bill Monroe; Dottie West; Billy Grammer; Bob Luman
10:00: George Hamilton IV (host); Stringbean; Ernie Ashworth
10:15: Jim & Jesse (host); Harold Weakley
10:30: Archie Campbell (host); Bill Carlisle
10:45: Roy Acuff (host); Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper; Crook Brothers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Bobby Lord; Dottie West; The 4 Guys; Sam & Kirk McGee
11:30: Bill Monroe (host); George Morgan; Bob Luman; Norma Jean; Jerry Green

Looking back into Grand Ole Opry history, it was on Saturday November 10, 1962 that the Grand Ole Opry celebrated its 37 birthday. Here is the running order from that night:

6:30: J. L. Perry
Willis Brothers (host): Big Daddy
Sonny James: Young Love
Carl Butler: Honky Tonkitis
Cousin Jody: Television Set
Merle Kilgore: Something Going On
Skeeter Willis: Sally Goodin
Melba Montgomery: Happy You; Lonely Me
Billy Deaton: (?)
Willis Brothers: Everlovin' Dixieland

7:00: Delited
Ray Price (host): Pride
Bill Carlisle: It Takes all Kinds
Billy Walker: Charlie's Shoes
Curly Fox: The Old Gray Mule
Ferlin Husky: It Was You
Stringbean: Barnyard Banjo Picking
Texas Ruby: California Blues
Ray Price: Walking Slow

7:30: Pet Milk
Jim Reeves (host): I'm Gonna Change Everything
Glaser Brothers: I'm Losing Again
Hawkshaw Hawkins: Silver Threads & Golden Needles
Jimmy Dean: (?)
Jim Reeves: Pride Goes for A Fall
Jean Shepard: One Less Heartache
George Hamilton IV: If You Don't Know Me
Blue Boys: Wheels
Jim Reeves: Stand at Your Window

8:00: Martha White
Flatt & Scruggs (host): Ballad of Jed Clampett
Cowboy Copas: Alabam
Jimmy Newman: Bayou Talk
Del Wood: China Town
Flatt & Scruggs: Coal Loading Johnny
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World
Justin Tubb: (?)
Crook Brothers: Lafayette
Flatt & Scruggs: Shucking the Corn

8:30: Bass Homes
Porter Wagoner (host): (?)
Hank Locklin: Send Me the Pillow You Dream On
Roy Drusky: Second Hand Rose
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Jordanaires: (?)
Patsy Cline: She's Got You
Leroy Van Dyke: Auctioneer
Porter Wagoner: (?)

9:00: Jefferson Island Salt
Ernest Tubb (host): I'm Looking High & Low for My Baby
Wilburn Brothers: Trouble's Back in Town
Bill Monroe: Uncle Pen
Carter Family: The Sun's Gonna Shine In My Back Door Someday
Ernest Tubb: Rainbow at Midnight
Cousin Jody: Don't Make Love in A Buggy 'Cause Horses Carry Tales
Margie Bowes: I Really Don't Want to Know
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
Ernest Tubb: (?)

9:30: Stephens
Faron Young (host): Back Track
George Morgan: Macht Nichts
Carl Butler: Don't Let Me Cross Over
Louvin Brothers: Must You Throw Dirt in My Face
Bill Anderson: Mama Sang A Song
Loretta Lynn: Success
George Jones: (?)
Faron Young: Going Steady

10:00: Gates Rubber
Jim Reeves (host): Billy Bayou
Willis Brothers: Goodnight Cincinnati; Good Morning Tennessee
Skeeter Davis: Something Precious
Jim Reeves: Adios Amigo
Blue Boys: Red River Rock

10:15: Corn Products
Ray Price (host): Crazy Arms
Stringbean: Pretty Polly
Bill Carlisle: Hand Me Down My Walking Cane
Del Wood: Shiek of Araby
Ray Price: You Done Me Wrong

10:30: Harvey's
Marty Robbins (host): (?)
Flatt & Scruggs: The Ballad of Jed Clampett
Billy Walker: Willie the Weeper
Marty Robbins: (?)

10:45: De Con
Ferlin Husky (host): Wings of A Dove
Hank Locklin: Please Help Me I'm Falling
Glaser Brothers: Let Me Down Easy
Crook Brothers: Soldiers Joy
Simon Crum: (?)

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hawkshaw Hawkins (host): Darkness on the Face of the Earth
Porter Wagoner: (?)
Louvin Brothers: (?)
Patsy Cline: Heartaches
Jordanaires: (?)
Jean Shepard: Two Shadows; 2 Voices; 2 Faces
George Hamilton IV: China Doll
Sam & Kirk McGee: Columbus Stockade Blues
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cacklin' Hen
Hawkshaw Hawkins: Twenty Miles from Shore

11:30: SSS Tonic
George Morgan (host): Candy Kisses
Bill Monroe: Blue Moon of Kentucky
Jimmy Newman: I May Fall Again
Wilburn Brothers: Oh, Monah
Roy Drusky: It Worries Me
Margie Bowes: Judge Not
Cowboy Copas: Alabam'
Bill Anderson: Po' Folks
George Morgan: Almost

A pretty impressive show!!!

I hate to finish it up on a sad note, but it was 44 years ago this weekend, Saturday November 10, 1973 that Stringbean performed on the Grand Ole Opry for the final time.

David Akeman was born on June 17, 1915 in Annville, Jackson County, Kentucky. Taught by his father, he got his first real banjo at the age of 12 and began playing at local dances. He gained quite a reputation, but had difficulty making a living as a musician. He joined the Civilian Conservation Corps, building bridges and planting trees. Eventually, he entered a talent contest judged by singer-guitarist Asa Martin. He won the contest and joined Martin's band.

Originally a musician, he began to work on his comedy skills, eventually appearing on WLAP-AM in Lexington, Kentucky. Though the late 1930s, he was a part of several different groups. He also played semi-professional baseball, which led to a meeting with Bill Monroe, who fielded his own team. From 1943-1945, Stringbean played banjo in Monroe's band (when he left he was replaced by Earl Scruggs).

According to David, Stringbeans was a common vegetable around his house growing up, and one of his favorites, so he picked the moniker as his stage name. (Another version of the story is that when he was performing with Asa Martin, Ash forgot his name and called him "String Beans" because of his tall, thin build). Among the performers that Stringbean played with was Grandpa Jones, who would become his neighbor and one of his closest friends.

The Grand Ole Opry lists Stringbean's induction date as 1942. Other sources give the date as 1945. Not that it matters, as once Stringbean became a part of the Opry, he became a popular and loyal member. In 1969, he was selected for the cast of Hee Haw, where a new generation of fans discovered his talents for the first time.

Stringbean, along with Uncle Dave Macon, Grandpa Jones and Ralph Stanley, is considered one of the greatest old-time style banjo pickers of all time.

Here is the running order from Saturday November 10, 1973, Stringbean's final night:

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Willis Brothers (host): Little Red Wagon
Johnny Carver: Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree
Willis Brothers: God Walks These Hills with Me

6:45: Rudy's
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Forget; Forgive Us #1
Bill Carlisle: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Josie Brown: Precious Memories, Follow Me
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: When My Time Comes to Go

7:00: Rudy's
Tex Ritter (host): Have I Told You Lately That I Love You
Stringbean: Hillbilly Fever
Karen Wheeler: The First Time for Us
Tex Ritter: Green Grow the Lilacs
Stringbean: Y'All Come
Karen Wheeler: Listen, Spot
Tex Ritter: Fall Away

7:30: Standard Candy
Bobby Bare (host): Ride Me Down Easy
Jimmy Martin: Just Plain Yellow
Melba Montgomery: Crawdad Song
Crook Brothers: Chicken Reel
Bobby Bare: The Streets of Baltimore
Jimmy Martin: Tennessee
Melba Montgomery: Wrap Your Love Around Me
Bobby Bare: Detroit City

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Night Train to Memphis
Grandpa Jones: Mountain Dew
Jimmy Driftwood: Run, Johnny Run/Tennessee Stud
Roy Acuff: Wabash Cannonball
Grandpa & Ramona Jones: Orange Blossom Special
Brother Oswald: Roll On, Buddy

8:30: Stephens
Billy Grammer (host): Gotta Travel On
Marion Worth: Paper Roses
Billy Grammer, Jr.: Orange Blossom Special
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Soldiers Joy
Billy Grammer: I'm Letting You Go
Marion Worth: Me & Bobby McGee
Billy Grammer: Just A Closer Walk with Thee

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Willis Brothers (host): Give Me 40 Acres
Johnny Carver: Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree
Jimmy Martin: Honey, You Don't Know My Mind
Josie Brown: Precious Memories Follow Me
Skeeter Davis: Maiden's Prayer
Johnny Carver: Tonight Someone's Falling in Love
Jimmy Martin: Who'll Sing for Me When I Am Gone

10:00: Fender
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Little Darling Pal of Mine
Bill Carlisle: Have a Drink on Me/No Help Wanted
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Coming Down from God

10:15: Union 76
Tex Ritter (host): There's A New Moon Over My Shoulder
Stringbean: Gonna Make Myself a Name/Hot Corn; Cold Corn
Tex Ritter: Willie, the Wondering Gypsy & Me

10:30: Trailblazer
Roy Acuff (host): Ball Knob, Arkansas
Grandpa & Ramona Jones: Bright Morning Stars are Rising
Jimmy Driftwood: The Mixed Up Family

10:45: Beech-Nut
Bobby Bare (host): Four Strong Winds
Karen Wheeler: The First Time for Us
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Bobby Bare: Detroit City

11:00: Coca-Cola
Billy Grammer (host): Bonaparte's Retreat
Melba Montgomery: Don't Keep Me Lonely Too Long
Billy Grammer, Jr.: Orange Blossom Special
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge
Billy Grammer: Somewhere My Love
Melba Montgomery: Let's All Go Down to the River
Sam McGee; Worry, Worry Blues
Billy Grammer: What A Friend

11:30: Elm Hill
Marty Robbins (host): I Walk Alone
Marion Worth: Paper Roses/Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed
Ronnie Robbins: Too Much Love Between Us/Mama Tried
Marty Robbins: Love Me/Big Boss Man/Crawling on My Knees/Don't Worry/El Paso

Stringbean and Estelle were killed after they returned home from the Opry that night. Their killers were waiting for them in their home with the intention of robbing them, as the rumor was that Stringbean, who grew up in the depression, did not believe in banks and kept a large amount of money hidden in their house. A confrontation took place after Stringbean returned home and he was shot. When Estelle tried to run, she was chased down and killed herself.

After the death of Stringbean, many of the Opry stars were in a panic. Roy Acuff was especially concerned and it would eventually lead to him living in a house at Opryland, although that was a few years in the future. Grandpa Jones, who discovered Stringbean's body, left Nashville and moved to Arkansas, where he and Ramona operated and performed in a dinner theater. In a sense, the innocence of Nashville was broken that night.

One last thought regarding Stringbean: There are many, myself included, who think that if Stringbean had lived and continued to make a name for himself on the Opry and Hee Haw, he would have eventually been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Stringbean was such a great musician and comedian and it is too bad that so many people have forgotten that aspect of his life and career.

There you have it for this week. I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend!!!