Thursday, February 23, 2017

Grand Ole Opry 2/24 & 2/25

Who is ready for another weekend of very nice Opry shows? I am, and with the line-ups posted for the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry, it is looking like a very nice weekend for those attending the Opry.

Among the Grand Ole Opry members appearing on both nights are Country Music Hall of Fame members Vince Gill and Bill Anderson, joined by Larry Gatlin (without his brothers), Riders In The Sky, and Mike Snider. Joining that group on Friday Night will be Hall of Fame members Roy Clark and the Oak Ridge Boys, along with Jeannie Seely and Jesse McReynolds. On Saturday night, joining Vince, Bill, Larry, the Riders and Mike will be Hall of Fame member Connie Smith, The Whites, Bobby Osborne and Hal Ketchum. A very nice group of Opry members appearing and it is especially nice to see Roy Clark and Hal Ketchum back on the Opry. When you add it all up, that comes out of 9 Opry members each night.

As to the guest artists this weekend, Friday night the list includes LOCASH and High Valley, while on Saturday night, it will be Lindsay Ell, The Steeldrivers and CeCe Winans, who will be signing her new CD in the Opry Shop after the show.

Friday February 24
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Mike Snider
7:30: Larry Gatlin (host); Riders In The Sky; LOCASH
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jesse McReynolds; High Valley
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Roy Clark; Oak Ridge Boys

Saturday February 25
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Lindsay Ell; The Steeldrivers
7:30: Larry Gatlin (host); The Whites; Mike Snider
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; CeCe Winans; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Hal Ketchum; Connie Smith

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 5 years ago, the weekend of February 24 & 25, 2012:

Friday February 24
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Jim Ed Brown; Lee Brice
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Dailey & Vincent
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host); Riders In The Sky; Diamond Rio
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; The Whites

Saturday February 25
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); The Whites; Josh Thompson
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Jimmy Wayne
8:15: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jan Howard; Will Hoge; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); James Otto; Connie Smith

Now from 10 years ago, the weekend of February 23 & 24, 2007:

Friday February 23
8:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Connie Smith; Jypsi
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Ashley Monroe; Del McCoury Band
9:00: Mike Snider (host); Jan Howard; Jack Greene; Joe Nichols
9:30: Jeannie Seely (host); George Hamilton IV; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Josh Turner

Saturday February 24
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); George Hamilton IV; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:00: Joe Nichols; Jason Michael Carroll; Ashley Monroe; George Jones
8:00: Mike Snider (host); Jack Greene; Del McCoury Band; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jim Ed Brown; Connie Smith

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Ashley Monroe; Jason Michael Carroll
10:00: Mike Snider (host); George Jones; Jason Byrd
10:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jeannie Seely; Connie Smith; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Del McCoury Band; Joe Nichols

Finally, it was Saturday February 24, 2001 that Wilma Lee Cooper made her final performing appearance on the Grand Ole Opry.

Wilma Lee Cooper was officially the first and foremost woman in bluegrass and traditional mountain music. In 1974 the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C., honored her as "First Lady of Bluegrass Music" at an institution-sponsored folk festival. Today many of her songs are preserved in the Smithsonian's Archives of the Performing Arts Division as well as the Library of Congress Archive of American Folk Music and Harvard University's Library of Music. Wilma Lee was a rarity in a practically all-male form of music. Also rare and unique was her powerful, clear and true singing voice, backed by her big D-45 Martin guitar, the fiddle, five string banjo, dobro guitar and bass.

Born Wilma Leigh Leary, she grew up in the wild and beautiful mountains of West Virginia. Her family was a well-known music group the "Leary Family" who performed at bluegrass and folk festivals. About the same time she got her degree in banking from Davis and Elkins College, she met and married another traditional performer Dale T. Cooper and as Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper, the pair created a team that was to make an important place in the history of country music. Two skillful musicians and songwriters as well as singers, they recorded such classics as "Tramp on the Street," "Walking My Lord Up Calvary's Hill," and "The Legend of the Dogwood Tree" for Columbia. They continued their success on the Hickory label with "Come Walk With Me," "Big Midnight Special" and "There's a Big Wheel."

"I sing just like I did back when I was growing up in those West Virginia mountains. I've never changed. I can't change. I couldn't sing any other way," Wilma Lee said. "I would say my style is just the old mountain style of singing. I am traditional country. I'm a country singer with the mountain whang to it." She noted that she sang a lot of story songs, and if listeners don't understand the words to that type of song they miss the story. "So, when I sing, I try to speak my words as plainly as I can, so folks will know what I am singing."

Following Stoney's death on March 22, 1977, Wilma Lee assembled a talented group of young musicians, the Clinch Mountain Clan, and they continued to perform. She was intensely proud of their character and integrity as well as their musicianship and never failed to introduce them on the Opry by name, adding emphatically, "I'm proud of every one of 'em."

Both the Smithsonian and her fans everywhere have proclaimed her one of the great singers of the traditional mountain music. Her songs-sad, happy and plaintive-seem to take listeners back to the rugged slopes, clean mountain air and lush meadows of West Virginia.

As mentioned, February 24, 2001 was the final night that Wilma Lee performed on the Opry. She was scheduled for both shows, however while performing on the first show, she suffered a stroke that ended her singing career. She would make 2 more appearances on the Opry, the first in January 2007 when she was recognized on stage upon her 50th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, and a final appearance in September 2010 when the Grand Ole Opry House reopened after the flood. A year later, on September 13, 2011, Wilma Lee Cooper passed away at the age of 90.

Here is the running order of the Grand Ole Opry, Saturday February 24, 2001, Wilma Lee Cooper's final night:

1st show
6:30: WSM Barn
Porter Wagoner (host): Y'All Come
Connie Smith: I Don't Want to Talk It Over Any More
Bill Carlisle: Stay a Little Longer
The Derailers: You Came to the Right Place/Bright Lights & Country Music
Porter Wagoner & Christie Lynn: Just Someone I Used to Know

7:00: Shoney's/Standard Candy
Bill Anderson (host): Get a Little Dirt on Your Hands
Tammy Cochran: Angels in Waiting
Mel McDaniel: Tennessee Saturday Night/Baby's Got Her Blue Jeans On
Allison Moorer: Angels Flying Too Close to the Ground
Keith Urban: But for the Grace of God
Jeannie Seely: Anytime
Eddy Raven: Sometimes A Lady/Cowboy's Don't Cry
Bill Anderson: A Lot of Things Different/Still

8:00: Martha White
Jimmy Dickens (host): Mountain Dew
Wilma Lee Cooper: 30 Pieces of Silver
Billy Walker: Fallen Leaves
Jack Greene: The Last Letter
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Cherokee Shuffle
Jimmy Dickens: Life Turned Her that Way

8:30: Physicians Mutual
John Conlee (host): I'm Only In It For the Love
Holly Dunn: Daddy's Hands/You Really Had Me Going
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells
John Conlee: The Old School

2nd show
9:30: WSM
Porter Wagoner (host): She Burned the Little Roadside Tavern Down
The Whites: Pins & Needles
The Derailers: Alone With You
Mel McDaniel: Stand Up/Stand On It
Porter Wagoner: Trouble in Amen Corner

10:00: Lincoln Mercury/Document Management & Storage
Jimmy Dickens (host): Take An Old Cold Tater
Del Reeves: Just A Little Lovin'/Dang Me/I Would Like to See You Again
Tammy Cochran: Heartaches by the Number/Angels in Waiting
Jimmy Dickens: I Love Lucy Brown

10:30: Folex/Joggin' In A Jug
Jeannie Seely (host): Hey Good Lookin'
Billy Walker: Peace in the Valley
Keith Urban: But for the Grace of God/Galveston
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Rachel
Jeannie Seely: Make the World Go Away

11:00: Coca-Cola
Bill Anderson (host): I Love You Drops
Holly Dunn: Daddy's Hands
Jimmy C Newman: Diggy Liggy Lo
Eddy Raven: Island/I Got Mexico
Bill Anderson: The Big Railroad Man

11:30: Pigeon Forge
John Conlee (host): Lady Lay Down
Ray Pillow: Days When You Were Still In Love With Me
Allison Moorer: Looking for a Soft Place to Fall/Are You Going to Alabama
John Conlee: Amazing Grace

(Wilma Lee was scheduled for the segment on the 2nd show hosted by Jimmy Dickens. Charlie Walker was scheduled for the last segment on the 2nd show but cancelled)

While they never had a No. 1 record in their careers, certainly an argument can be made that Wilma Lee Cooper, along with Stoney, should have been long ago elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. They were influential and amazing talented. Time will tell if that will happen or not.

As always, I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend!!!!!


  1. Wilma Lee (and Stoney) Cooper was a class act - no ifs, ands or buts! Definitely belong in the HOF!

  2. Feels like the first time in quite a while we had 9 members on a show. Any idea if that feeling is true/when the last time was?

    1. Believe it or not, and I know it seems like a while, but it was actually just this past January 20: John Conlee, Mike Snider, Jeannie Seely, Bobby Osborne, Josh Turner, Riders, Joe Diffie, Lorrie Morgan and Steve Wariner.

  3. I'm going to the Friday night Opry and I feel like I lucked out with 9 members. I was hoping Connie Smith would take the spot they gave Mo Pitney but he's traditonal so that's fine. And four Hall of Famers which used to be every week when we had Acuff, Snow, Monroe, Dickens & Grandpa.

  4. The hall of fame buzz has started. The Saving Country Music page posted their predictions today. While I believe the writer is way off on some predictions (Gram Parsons, Maddox Brothers & Rose, etc), it's worth the read. I included the Coopers in my two cents worth I posted. Such talented and unique artists.

    1. David, I saw the page also and it is apparent that the writer has some personal favorites (don't we all), that he would like to see in. Some of those mentioned will only get into the Hall if they buy a ticket.

      That said, I do think this year's voting is pretty much wide open. In the modern category it could be anyone from Alan Jackson (it could finally be his year), to Ricky Skaggs. In the veterans category, I would think Tanya Tucker, Crystal Gayle, even Hank Williams, Jr. would get serious consideration. Songwriters is truly anyone's guess.

      The voters have pulled surprises in the past (did anyone really think Charlie Daniels would get in last year), so who really knows. I would anticipate the announcement sometime in the next 30 days.

    2. Byron: I've been told the buzz in that songwriters category is for Johnny Russell. Because his songwriting catalog was bigger than his recording career, he qualifies. Look at the catalog. "In a Mansion Stands Love", "Act Naturally", "Ain't You Even Gonna cry", "Got No a Reason Now For Going Home", "You'll Be Back Every Night In My Dreams", and "Making Plans". I have never considered him for this category, and I'd love it if he got it. Let's face it. Nashville loves him.
      If you just watch and look at who is "busier" than normal around town, you can properly guess the finalists. Some like, Ricky Skaggs, Hank Jr. and Alan Jackson are gonna get in eventually, so those are not good examples. But artists such as Tanya Tucker, The Gatlins, Ray Stevens, Cyrstal Gayle, Gene Watson, etc. I think these are the people working with the public relations firms and are properly included on the ballots, in whatever category they fit.

    3. "Let's Fall To Pieces Together" (George Strait) and "Hurt her Once For Me" (Wilburn Brothers) are also part of Johnny Russell's catalog. So that's Jim Reeves, Buck Owens, The Wilburn Brothers, Porter Wagoner & Dolly Parton, Gene Watson, The Statler Brothers and George Strait having major hits with a Russell tune. Not to mention how many acts (including Loretta Lynn and The Beatles) recording "Act Naturally". If the buzz is true, he could have a shot.

    4. David, I have to agree with you on Johnny Russell. I had completely forgotten his songwriting credits which really were more substantial than his performing career. He would be an outstanding and popular choice if he got in.

      For what it is worth, it seems like the Dottie West train has lost a little steam this year. I know they were very disappointed she did not get in, especially last year losing out to Charlie Daniels. I do not know how close her vote total was. On the other hand, maybe the Dottie West group decided this year to keep their efforts below the radar, out of the public view and concentrate on connecting with the voters.

    5. Byron: Until a realization on the CMA's part of needing a posthumous category, I don't think Dottie West will never be inducted. Same for Jerry Reed, The Wilburns, Archie Campbell and possibly even Keith Whitley. The electors are getting younger and younger and they are always going to "x" the living artist.
      If this posthumous category ever came to existence, I envision a small committee with historians such as Robert Ormann, Eddie Stubbs, Marty Stuart, etc, and others recommending names to the CMA. The National Baseball Hall of Fame has a similar committee.

    6. David, I know we are both in agreement that there needs to be a posthumous category. As the performers pass away, they are forgotten by the modern voters and it takes a real effort to get them recognized. I know you named Dottie West, Jerry Reed, The Wilburn Brothers, Archie Campbell and Keith Whitley. There are others to add such as Stringbean, and when you consider some already in the Hall, maybe even George Hamilton IV, Del Reeves or even Billy Walker. Their career hit totals and the body of their work is comparable to others in the Hall.

      I think the only current rotating categories that those who have passed have a real chance are the musician category and songwriting, only because they are both relatively new.

      My last thought is that I still think the Country Music Hall of Fame needs to follow the lead of the other Halls and release the names of the finalists in each category.

    7. A name that I seldom if ever hear anyone mention for the HOF is Goldie Hill. Sure, she did not become a superstar and she pretty much quit the business after she married Carl but in the early and mid fifties she was one of the very few women recording and performing as a independent female star and she did have some chart success. Jean Shepard may have the crown for the most independent female early on. Goldie had her brother, Rose had her brothers and Kitty had Johnny. But weren't those four pretty much the main women that pioneered recording and performing mostly on their own.

      I admit some partiality for I always liked Goldie's singing, thought she was a very nice lady and she proved that to be true the one time we got to meet and talk to her a bit.

      Just wanted to throw her name out there!

      Knightsville, IN

  5. I was listening to the show that night and Wilma Lee suffered her stroke between the time she introduced the song and when she tried to sing the first verse. It was obvious that something was amiss and it was painful to listen to...but she did her best to muscle through that song and left the stage on her own power. That generation of performers was as tough as nails and they were troupers to the core. That's why I had so much admiration for Bill Monroe, Grandpa Jones, Roy Acuff and the rest of them. A lot of today's divas won't even go onstage if they have a hang nail.

  6. "Ain't You Even Gonna cry" is one of the best country songs ever written. Probably sold about ten copies.
    Johnny Russell was a funny man.
    He said one time on the 'Opry "Divorce is a really bad thing. I think it will be easier the next time to just find a woman somewhere I can't get along with and buy her a house!"
    I hope he does get in the hall of fame.
    Great guy, great entertainer, and an awesome song writer.

    1. Why the right artist has not taken "Ain't you Even Gonna Cry" to the top of that charts is mind boggling to me.

  7. Oh, I should also mention that Johnny was not so lucky in love, but certain lucky when he wrote his first song.
    "He had his first song published when he graduated from high school in 1958, In a Mansion Stands My Love, which was recorded by Jim Reeves as the "B" side of his 1960 hit He'll Have to Go" .

  8. I've heard many say & I have to agree that Justin Tubb was a very underrated songwriter. Songs such as Lonesome 77203, Walkin talking cryin barely beaten broken heart, Take a letter Miss Gray among others. Billy Walker is another legend that should of went in a long time ago as well. Del Reeves, & George Hamilton IV

  9. I can probably look this up but it is fun to test the knowledge among the Fayfare gang. Am I right in thinking that Johnny was part of the Wilburns SureFire Publishing? If so, would he be the first of the Wilburn Brothers organization to make it to the HOF? Of course Loretta is there but she went way beyond them in her own career.

    I've never given any thought to Johnny being considered for the HOF. It would sure be nice to see someone like Johnny get in. It would be a nice reminder of how many wonderful and important people graced our beloved music that were never really appreciated by the general public and maybe even their peers.

    Knightsville, IN

    1. Jim, you are right. When he came to Nashville in the early 1960s, he did work for the Wilburn Brothers Publishing company. I think it was in 1963 that he made the move.

    2. Johnny also did booking for the Wilburn's TV show. He told a funny story about calling Grandpa Jones to come on the show on one of the early Country Family Reunion Shows (oldtimeopry)

  10. Friday Night Opry was outstanding. A lot of electric inside the Opry House. The audience showed real love to Roy Clark who was extremely frail and gave him three standing ovations. Mo Pitney is outstanding and we also need to treasure Jesse McReynolds while we still have him. The hands of time are catching up on Bill Anderson (who seemed to walk with a shuffle) -
    And Riders in the Sky. Only complaint was that both Locash and High Valley told the audience to get up on their feet. This is after all the Opry and not an arena and while most of the audience loved it, I doubt we'd ever hear Hank Snow to tell the crowd to get on their feet! Oh and I know we Americans have no attention span but those audience games they do after the commercial on the Dollar General & Humana segments are ridiculous (and the lady who runs them (Juliet and also warms up the crowd is obnoxious!). (Oldtimeopry)

    1. I have to agree, especially the final segment hosted by Vince was outstanding. Much like Roy Acuff used to do, he insisted that Roy sing another song, specifically "Yesterday Once More." and Roy nailed it. You hate to see the older artists as they age and the physical limitations that they endure, however it is still a moment when they are able to come out on the Opry stage, much like Roy Clark last night, and the audience responds as they did.

    2. Last night was on of the better overall shows in a while. Thanks for the report.

      I have not been to the Opry since they started those stupid games but I think I would have to walk out in the hall when the time came. Obnoxious is a good word for it and I'm only hearing it on the radio. Just another step closer to a reality

      I have not seen Bill Anderson since his show in Indiana in October and I did not notice the "shuffle" at that time. He is coming back to Indiana in August and we will be there. He is one of those people that we will be devastated over when his time comes as it will for all of us. He just doesn't seem to age to me. We have talked here about Porter and Little Jim carrying the Opry torch after Mr. Acuff passed and we talk about Vince and Marty in this generation. However, Bill is not as flashy as any of those guys so he is not recognized as much but he has to be near the top of the all time supporters and promoters if the Opry and one of it's greatest scholars and historians so to speak. He knows and loves the Opry, the people and the music and even with the new artist he tries to learn about them and give them support and good introductions. To quote Porter "He's a Jewel".

      Knightsville, IN

    3. After the game finished last night Bill who if I'm correct will be 80 this year said something to the affect: I have to wonder if all
      those people listening on the radio were saying "what the hell was going on."

    4. Bill also went out of his way to call Jesse back out on stage and note he's a 53 year Opry member, been performing for 70 years and will be 88 this year. Very classy move.

    5. I heard that, little out of character for him. BUT I AGREE! I don't know how many times I have ever heard him cuss on the Opry.

      Did you hear him do "Five Little Fingers" I believe it was last week? He got a pretty big applause. He did it a few months back and the crowd was like "boring, glad that's over".

      The type of people in the crowd and the mood has a lot to do with how people go over. But in general, I'm always surprised at how often folks like Bill, Connie, Jesse, Bobby and some others go over so well. Look at Roy Clark last night. Sure, Hee Haw is running on RFD but if the audience is the younger set they are trying to appeal to do you think they are watching and really know much about Roy Clark. Yes, it is obvious he is getting feeble but three standing ovations can't be just sympathy. People respect talent and perseverance regardless of age. I think management is missing out by not having more of the veterans on.

      Knightsville, IN

  11. I have to agree with everybody about Johnny Russell--a great songwriter, a great singer, and a great entertainer. So I say this with no disrespect intended for him, and what I'm going to say are two names: Curly Putman and Dallas Frazier. And Dallas is still among us (and actually wrote one of Russell's best hits, "The Baptism of Jesse Taylor"). But, as usual, you can't go wrong with any of them.

  12. LAST! NIGHT! WAS! AMAZING! I don't even have the words! Vince totally pulled a Mr. Acuff by asking Roy to sing what he wanted, and good ole Roy brought the house and I'm sure the waterworks down! That was just incredible! Roy's health isn't the best, and that well may have been the last time.

  13. Yet another outstanding night tonight! At least the last segment which was all I got home for nearly.
    A question for you Mr. Fay!
    I had a Cousin by the name of Marvin Taylor. In the 1930s and 40s, he was part of a duo called the "Pine Ridge Boys." They began working at WSB in Atlanta, and later moved to the Renfroe Valley Barn Dance just before the barn opened. Marvin was a writer, and the family story, which those who knew him swear by, was that he wrote "You Are My Sunshine." There is no question that the first recording was by he and his partner. He also did some writing with many of the big names of his day. He wrote one that Marty Robins later had a hit with called "Oh How I Miss you." So, my question. Any idea if they were ever on the Opry?

    1. To my knowledge, I don't recall them every being on the Opry. Sounds like they did some good stuff.

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  15. Here's a sample. All of their records have been remastered and are available, but I love this taken straight from the 78!