Sunday, July 16, 2017

Tuesday Night Opry 7/18 & Wednesday Night Opry 7/19

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the three mid-week shows. Yes, three shows this week as the Tuesday Night Opry will have two performances, thanks to a stellar line-up. Besides Opry members Darius Rucker, Martina McBride, Dierks Bentley, Diamond Rio and Bill Anderson on the line-up, it is also very nice to see Vince Gill once again at the Opry. Vince, who usually is one of the Opry's more reliable members, has not been on the Opry since February. Now that he appears to be finished with The Eagles reunion for the rest of the year, perhaps we will see more of Vince on upcoming shows.

Tuesday July 18
1st show
7:00: Diamond Rio; Tracy Lawrence; Bill Anderson; Darius Rucker
8:00: Martina McBride; Vince Gill; Dierks Bentley

2nd show
9:30: Diamond Rio; Martina McBride; Tracy Lawrence
10:30: Bill Anderson; Darius Rucker; Vince Gill

As to Wednesday night, just one show and the line-up is not as impressive. The featured attraction will be Opry members the Oak Ridge Boys, joined by Del McCoury and Riders In The Sky. Also scheduled is Levi Hummon, who will be making his Opry debut.

Wednesday July 19
7:00: Jeannie Seely; A Thousand Horses
7:30: Levi Hummon; Del McCoury Band
Intermission
8:15: Riders In The Sky; Brooke Eden
8:45: Oak Ridge Boys

When the Grand Ole Opry began, it was a single Saturday night show. Then it added the Friday Night Frolics, which was a studio show and considered second class compared to the Saturday night show. By the end of the 1960's, the Opry was running the Friday Night show at the Ryman, and had added a second Saturday night show. Next came the opening of Opryland in the mid-1970's. During the months that Opryland was open, a second Friday night show was added, along with matinee shows pretty much every day of the week. The matinee shows featured a combination of Opry members, such as Roy Acuff, Minnie Pearl, The 4 Guys and Jack Greene among a host of others, with Hank Snow added to the mix later in the 1980's. Rounding out those line-ups were park performers. Then came the closing of Opryland, and with it, the matinee shows ended. To compensate for that, a Tuesday Night Opry was added, along with a Thursday night classics show. With all these changes and added shows, there was one constant, and that was the fact that the Saturday night Grand Ole Opry was the "big" show, the one that was most important to the members. But it would appear that times have changed.

Back in the day, when member appearances were counted, the only shows that mattered were the Friday and Saturday night shows. The members could appear on as many matinee performances that they wanted, but they were not considered "real" Opry shows. Now, in today's world, any Opry appearance counts, no matter what day or night of the week it is, and with that change, it would appear that the weekend Opry shows have suffered. You need to look no further than the line-ups for the shows this past weekend and compare them to the line-up for Tuesday night. Or almost any recent Tuesday night for that matter. As the Opry has added more week night shows, which have included not only Tuesday night, but also Wednesday, Thursday and now an upcoming Sunday night, many of the Opry's biggest names have forsaken the weekend shows in favor of appearing during the week.

I am not going to name any names, but there are a few of the Opry's members who have made the majority of their appearances on the mid-week shows, ignoring for the most part the weekend. Now, I do appreciate that these members are appearing on the Opry, and I know many have concert appearances on the weekends and other obligations, but by ignoring the weekend shows, it seems to me that the Friday and Saturday shows have become watered down and have less significance than they once did.

While I personally believe that the Opry shows have improved since Pete Fisher left and Sally Williams has taken over, I would like to see Saturday's Grand Ole Opry become the "big" show once again, the one that is important to the members, the ones that the fans want to be at. Mid-week shows are nice, and I am glad they are being supported, but let's remember the roots of the Opry and get a few more of the Opry's bigger names to not only appear mid-week, but also on the weekends.

Thoughts?




22 comments:

  1. A TOTAL of six or seven performers on each of the three shows?
    This is getting ridiculous when one considers the cost of tickets.

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  2. First. It doesn't matter if it's Sunday morning at 5 am just before church! That kind of line up on Tuesday will always ALWAYS SELL OUT! You take that kind of star power whenever you can get it!
    I think there are a few things to remember here.
    When the Opry began, there were no "stars" in country music other than folks like the Carters. Now, there are people whose names and hits are just bigger than others. That means that the demands are much greater on their time. Saturday was the big go to town day in the deep south for generations, and the opry was part of that culture.
    I don't know if you can or should ask people with that much on their plates to HAVE TO do Saturday nights.
    Plus again, they lose money. Most of those folks could fill a very large theater or arena and make 10 times what they will at the opry. In all the changing times, perhaps we should be very thankful that that level of star power is still willing to come! The opry is not the major force in making or breaking it once was. I'm thankful it's still here, and that it holds the respect it does. Let people give what they can, but understand that the business is totally different now.

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  3. I'm with Byron AND E.Z. on this. There are two sides. But here's how I would put it: how many times on Saturday night are Opry members available and not performing? It happens more often than it used to. This isn't the old days where ET lived in the back of the bus pretty much and rolled into Nashville almost every Saturday night to do the show. I don't begrudge--to name a name--Marty Stuart wanting to spend Saturday night going to a movie. But it would appear that his wife is spending her Saturday night at the Opry, so why not Marty, at least more often than he does?

    Ms. Williams has improved the programming. Here's hoping she can remind some of her members that if they think being an Opry member is such an honor--and so they claim--the least they could do is show up more than once a year.

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  4. The programming has been much better. There we no tears on my part when Fisher left. It is true that the business has changed, but part of teh reason the Opry is in the stat eit is in is due the individual that just left. Sorry but Fisher ran it in to the ground. He did not hit the bullseye with some Opry Member choices.
    In my honest opinion, if there are memebers out there on a Saturday who are not playing, and as I have heard have not been asked to come out, then lets step up and get them over to the Opry House.
    For those Opry members that cannot get there, or its an issue to just show up in general, they should be stripped of their membership. Artists such as Mandy Barnett, Chris Janson, The Grascals, Restless Heart, Exile, Gene Watson, or T. Graham Brown would be great replacements. In addition, I would not mind seeing a resurrection of some humor with the addition of someone like Johnny Counterfeit. He is always a hit when asked to come out.
    Humor was an integral part of the Opry. Rod Bradsfield, Jerry Clower, Minnie Pearl, etc. My question is, why not? Why cant we have members like the aforementioned that would be there on a Saturday, and you could build a show off of them.
    Secondly, like those Opry members that have departed, and are no longer listed as members. Sorry, but if you are retired, it goes for you. I like Jeannie Pruitt, Barbara Mandrell, and Garth, yet you have cobwebs and havent sang a song on stage at the Opry in some time. Either come out and support, or the membership is gone and thank you for your contributions.
    Next, I would like to see more acts that are representative of all the genres of country music added. I do not want to hear just bro country, country pop, commercial country, etc.
    I would like to see more appalachian, cajun, cowboy, bluegrass acts added to the roster. There are fans out there that do not fewel represented totally. I am one of them as I do not feel represented due to the lack of Appalachian and Cajun music.
    Finally, if 10 is the number required then it should be enforced and counted. if not met, then lets have a 1964 purge. Once the message is clear they can come back, or be guests, etc. However, the ticket prices are increasing and the shows are watered down. People and fans want to see members on Saturday nites, not Nashville cast and teh majority of guest stars.
    As for me I will keep listening to the legends I cherish over here in Spain. Once they are gone, I dont know what I will do.

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  5. Byron,
    By the way, I forgot about this and I had been wanting to share this here with everyone. In Central Spain, we have a huge Country Music Festival each first week of July. It is called Huercasa Country Music Festival. It is sponsored by a corn company, who puts their profits back into the community by hosting this huge festival each year. Last year I didnt get the chance to go, but this year I did and this was the line up:

    Dale Watson and Ray Benson
    Shooter Jennings
    Will Hoge
    The Cactus Blossoms
    Red Beard
    Aaron Watson
    J.P. Harris
    Young Forest

    Was a great show over 2 days, and each year they try to bring in good shows. For example in previous years they have had:

    Laura Cantrell
    Emmylou Harris
    Rodney Crowell
    Ryan Bingham
    The Mavericks

    In all, not bad for this transplanted American to get a dose of some live country music when not listening to the Opry.

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    1. You are getting some better country music in Spain then I am getting in Northeast Ohio. I hope they all put on a good show and you enjoyed. And as always, thanks for the comments that you make.

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  6. Live music in general has declined thanks in part to the short attention spans of us all now connected online 24/7. As a former musician, it got to the point that the venues simply weren't interested in original music and those that did showcase original music just didn't have an audience. I think without the additional shows through the week, the Opry would have a hard time staying afloat. That said, I would like to see a better Opry on Saturday nights -- one that would make it worthwhile to make a trip to Nashville. I've long advocated for a return to the old-fashioned 8 pm to Midnight Opry. And clean it up to take away so much wasted time talking between acts. Go back and listen to some of the Opry shows in the 60s and even through the 80s when a portion would have four guests and the host -- they got out, they sang their song, they didn't take five minutes to talk or four guitar breaks, and none of this 'Hows everybody doing' crap. And I do think there's too much emphasis on the live audience and not the radio audience. Maybe if the Opry ran a little later, more people could tune in (I still miss laying in bed listening to the 11-12pm portions) and more effort could be made for some of the bigger names to rotate in later in the night after they've flown home on their jets (remember when Alan Jackson did that?) One other suggestion since I'm playing armchair quarterback, I've often wondered why the Opry didn't come up with a specific portion each week where you'd always get a big name host. Think about it, a modern day Prince Albert show, find us a Coca Cola to sponsor it -- if they coordinated with Vince Gill, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson, Dolly Parton, Reba, etc. to host three or four times a year, put on a legend like Bobby Bare, an Americana artist like Jason Isbell or John Prince or a bluegrass act and an up and comer like Mo Pitney you'd always be guaranteed to see something special. I don't mind some of the no-name artists on the show, but what I want to know when I go to the Opry is I'm going to see a mix of veterans, legends and superstars that make it worth my $100 instead of three or four people I know (most usually the same five to six legends every week) and five or six I've never heard of. (oldtimeopry)

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  7. I could write a long one here but I think I can put it in a nutshell. It's hard to draw from history and tradition when you were not there, never studied it or care to learn about it. As long as the money flows who cares what night it is or which artist is on. To heck with tradition!

    I will tune into the week night shows once in while but I just can't listen to them with the dedication of the Friday and Saturday show. I don't want to diminish their importance to me even if they are not as good.

    Jim
    Knightsville, IN

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  8. WHAT! A! SHOW! AND! WE'VE GOT ONE MORE!!!!!!
    Again, I don't care if it's Friday or Saturday or Monday morning at 6 am! You take that line up whenever they can come!
    To whom ever it was that was complaining about there only being like 6 performers? With those 6, or even just 4 of them, that would have been a perfect Opry! The amount of standing ovations speaks volumes! My boss is there, and was just blown away the entire time!
    Now back to the problem. You unfortunately can't have that weekly. Artists have crazy schedules, and yes, when they get to Nashville, where most of them either live or have a house, they should have time to be HOME! However, you can and should spread out the talent. Like have say 1 or 2 of those kind of people on every show or at least every week or 2. Make Tracy a member along with Chris and Chris and Wills! Again though, you couldn't get all those guys on a Saturday, so the mid week shows will probably from now on be the time we see the biggest names all on one show, and that can't be helped.

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  9. I heard parts of the show and agree that if we can get six big name artists like this all the time, life is good.
    I'm just afraid that this type of lineup will be used as en excuse to continue having fewer and fewer artists.

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  10. Yes, I did listen last night to the entire first show and most of the second, and it was a great night at the Opry. Great performances and the audience responded.

    I do agree that Tracy Lawrence would make a very nice Opry member and he is at that stage in his career where he would probably support the show as a member. If I remember correctly, he was quoted in an article a few years ago that someday he would enjoy being a part of the Opry. Perhaps the time is now.

    I know that the weeknight shows are formatted differently than the weekend shows, with the artists getting 15-20 minutes and the ability to do 3 or 4 songs in succession, but I still think that the weekend shows should be the focus and more of the Opry's members need to be supporting those shows.

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  11. In response to Michael's comment above:
    Because of our close friendship, I am certainly biased when it comes to Marty Stuart, but please remember that his loyalty to true country music is well known. He donates when he can... time, money, artifacts, influence, and shows. Between his new album, music production for others, speaking engagements, fundraising for his new museum, and so much more, he juggles much more than I ever could. Marty averages 2-3 shows a week while touring, and at one point this year, he did 13 shows in 17 days. (all in different cities). He's already been to Europe once this year, and is going back for another tour soon.
    Connie does not tour nearly as many dates as Marty, and she finds it easier to perform at the Opry...she likes that it's a no-hassle date.
    Marty has been a loyal Opry supporter when not promoting a new album, and I think you'll see more of him later this year when his tour schedule slows down. Please remember that supporting the Opry can be done in a lot of ways, not just performing...a lot goes on behind the scenes. I wish more entertainers could be as supportive to the Opry as Marty.

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    1. Anon, I defer to your knowledge of Marty. All I am doing is counting the number of appearances, and they have, in his case, dropped dramatically. At first I was concerned that something was wrong--and I hope that concern was misplaced.

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  12. One more thought and I'm done.
    With that kind of line up, you don't need, nor should you confine them to 2 songs and out! Any one of those could have sang for an hour and that crowd would've wanted more.
    If the Saturday nights need to still be 2 and done, you don't need that kind of star power because nobody wants to see those folks do 2 songs and leave!
    Vince closed the final show with no band, just his guitar for about 20 minutes, and he could have gone for an hour!
    I think we need to reconsider what makes an amazing opry show.
    That was probably (even said by multiple people from the stage) the best line up that they've had in many MANY years! If that can be on a Saturday for the actual opry, give them 4 or 5 songs each if needed. You'd have a completely pleased audience, and nobody would be angry!

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  13. E.Z - to do what you suggest, the time for the Friday and Saturday shows would have to go back to the "old" schedules, with 2-1/2 hours for each segment. I am so tired of the "one and done" for the Opry Members and the newcomers/wannabes/or whatever you want to call them getting 2 songs. Our last trip was Oct 2015 and I doubt if we will ever go back - too much $$$$ for what you get. Don't get me wrong, we love Nashville and were there many many years. Love this forum from Byron.

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  14. HORRIBLE NEWS:
    WSM is going to soon formally introduce some sort of sports talk show.
    Beginning of the end for WSM.

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  15. http://www.tennessean.com/story/sports/2017/07/19/sports-radio-george-plaster/494004001/

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  16. So if you read the story, I don't think there's a need to panic yet for several reasons.
    #1. Let's remember that if you know its history, wsm for most of it's time on air has always done sports! Only since 1983 has it been an all country station, and even then they broadcast certain football games and what not.
    #2. The program director was very clear. "This is not a format flip."
    #3. I think if they tried it today, it would be far worse than in 2001. For one reason. Social media!
    All those people so many of you guys give grief to for not showing up often at the opry would I think, give them hell! In 2001 the response was insane, and there was no form of mass outreach. Paisely, Vince, Blake etc, those guys I think would make this into such a huge deal and have so many more millions of people interested that they wouldn't dare!
    Plus other radio companies like I Heart expressed interest back then in buying the station and keeping its format.
    All that to say, this isn't the end of the world. And, this guy was in fact on wsm over 40 years ago. So they really are only bringing back a former host.

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  17. Great Comments E.Z.
    HOPEFULLY, this will be just a small change to the overall format. I worry because up until now, WSM has prided itself in being all country, all the time, featuring all live disk jockeys (no voice tracking).
    It wouldn't be the end of the world to me if this guy is on afternoons, because afternoons have degenerated into a play list, and I am beginning to think afternoons are voice-tracked.
    But live guests and banter from Bill/Charlie, Eddie, Marcia, Devon Oday in late afternoon, and Americana music (Root 65) with my Boilermaker buddy Eric Marcum) all bring me great joy.
    Example: Devon Oday is right now talking to Margie Singleton about her Bear family release, and will soon be talking to Peter Cooper. How cool is that?
    Compare that with sports talk shows, which are by and large a playground for those with nothing better to do than second-guess and criticize coaches, GMs, and athletes. Live sports are fine with me.
    Let's hope this is NOT a trend for WSM.

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    1. The same thing happened about 14 years ago. A petition went around. Information leaked out and Kyle Cantrell and Matthew Gillan were replaced. Bob

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  18. Forgot Eddie Stubbs!
    Go to bed with Eddie Stubbs, wake up with Bill and Charlie!

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