Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Grand Ole Opry 9/1 & 9/2

As I am sure everyone knows by now, Vince Gill extended an invitation to Chris Young on the Tuesday Night Opry to become the Opry's newest member. The actual induction will take place on Tuesday October 17 (Personally, I believe all Opry inductions should take place during the traditional Saturday night show). As to Chris Young, he first appeared on the Opry 11 years ago and has made well over 70 guest appearances. He is young, talented and continues to build his career in country music. Personally, I believe that the Opry's management (Steve Buchanan & Sally Williams) have made a great choice and the hope is that Chris will be a great Opry member.

That makes 3 new members in 2017 (so far). Crystal Gayle, Dailey & Vincent and now Chris Young. Look at the variety with these picks. Crystal is a veteran female artist, who I believe will one day be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame; Dailey & Vincent are one of the top acts in bluegrass; Chris is a contemporary young male artist. I think this speaks well for the Opry as they have added some variety to the cast. (Now if we can get them to add a comedian and perhaps a cajun member, we will be in really good shape!) Before Crystal's invitation, there had been a drought of several years; now we have 3 in one year. It would appear that with the new management, the Opry is picking up the pace as to new members. And that is a good thing.

Now for this week, Grand Ole Opry has posted the line-ups for the two shows this weekend, the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry. One show each night, and especially in the case of the Friday Night Opry, looking very good.

Friday will feature a number of Opry members led by Marty Stuart. In the case of Marty, who will be celebrating his 25th anniversary as an Opry member later this year, this will be just his 2nd Opry appearance of 2017 (hard to believe but Darius Rucker, Blake Shelton and Keith Urban have each make more appearances). I know Marty has been very busy recording his new album and touring in support of the project, but he sure is missed at the Opry. He is definitely one that we need to see more of.

Joining Marty on Friday night will be Opry members John Conlee, Mike Snider, Riders In The Sky, Jesse McReynolds, Bill Anderson, Diamond Rio, and Connie Smith. John, Connie and Mike will also be appearing on Saturday night, joined by Jeannie Seely and Bobby Osborne.

Back in the days of Opryland, there was the annual Grand Master Fiddle contest, usually hosted by Porter Wagoner, with the winner getting an appearance on the Opry. While Opryland has closed, and Porter is no longer with us, the contest continues and on Saturday night, this year's Grand Master Fiddle Champion will be featured. Joining that individual on Saturday night will be guest artists Daryle Singletary, Emily West, Striking Matches, Charlie Worsham, Seth Ennis, and hopefully recovered from their recent illness, The Secret Sisters. As to guest artists on Friday night, the list includes William Michael Morgan, The Quebe Sisters, Mary Gauthier, and Lee Roy Parnell, who will be signing in the Opry Shop after the show.

Friday September 1
7:00: John Conlee (host); Mike Snider; William Michael Morgan
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jesse McReynolds; The Quebe Sisters
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Lee Roy Parnell; Diamond Rio
8:45: Marty Stuart (host); Mary Gauthier; Connie Smith

Saturday September 2
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Daryle Singletary; Emily West
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Grand Master Fiddle Champion; The Secret Sisters
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Seth Ennis; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: John Conlee (host); Striking Matches; Charlie Worsham

That comes out to 12 artists on each show, with 8 Opry members on Friday and 5 on Saturday.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 10 years ago, the weekend of August 31 & September 1, 2007:

Friday August 31
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Connie Smith; Chris Young
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Crystal Shawanda; The Whites
9:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Charlie Walker; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Carolina Rain
9:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; Jamie O'Neal

Saturday September 1
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Ashley Monroe
7:00: Mike Snider (host); The Whites; Suzy Bogguss
7:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); Elizabeth Cook; Eddy Raven
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Ray Pillow; Jimmy Wayne; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Alecia Nugent; The Isaacs

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Mike Snider; Suzy Bogguss
10:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Ashley Monroe; The Whites; Legacy Five
10:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); Elizabeth Cook; Eddy Raven; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Alecia Nugent; Jimmy Wayne

So who was Crystal Shawanda, who was on the Friday Night Opry?

Crystal is Ojibwe from Wikwemikong Unceded Indian Reserve located on Manitoulin Island on Lake Huron in Ontario, Canada. She was born in 1983. Crystal signed with RCA Nashville in 2007, and released her first single, "You Can Let Go" in Canada in January 2008. It reached the Top 10 in Canada and in February 2008 it was released in the United States. Her first album, "Dawn of a New Day" was released in Canada in June 2008 and in the United States in August of that year. The album entered the Canadian Country Albums chart at #2, and the Billboard Top Country Albums chart at #16, and became the highest charted album by a full-blooded Canadian First Nations country artist in the SoundScan era. That same year, she was featured on the six-part CMT series "Crystal: Living the Dream." In the late 2000's she toured with a number of country music artists across Canada and the United States including Brad Paisley and Dierks Bentley. By 2010 she was recording for her own label, New Sun Records. While her last album was released in 2014, she remains active in the music business.

Now from 25 years ago, the weekend of September 4 & 5, 1992:

Friday September 4
1st show
6:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Del Reeves; Roy Drusky; Jimmy C Newman; Jean Shepard
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Skeeter Davis; The Whites; Stonewall Jackson; Jan Howard
7:30: Roy Acuff (host); Connie Smith; The 4 Guys
8:00: Grandpa Jones (host); Jack Greene; Jeanne Pruett; Mike Snider
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Ray Pillow; Jeannie Seely; Carlisles

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Connie Smith; The Whites; Charlie Walker; Justin Tubb
10:00: Roy Acuff (host); Jean Shepard; David Houston; Mike Snider
10:30: Grandpa Jones (host); The 4 Guys; Skeeter Davis
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Jeannie Seely; Jim Ed Brown; Carlisles; Del Reeves
11:30: Jack Greene (host); Ray Pillow; Jeanne Pruett; Johnny Russell
12:05: Reverend Jimmie Snow

Saturday September 5
1st show
6:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Jeanne Pruett
6:45: Billy Walker (host); Jeannie Seely
7:00: Del Reeves (host); Vic Willis Trio; David Houston; Mike Snider
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Charlie Louvin; Jean Shepard; Roy Drusky; Stu Phillips
8:00: Roy Acuff (host); Jan Howard; Charlie Walker; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); The 4 Guys; Carlisles; Teddy Wilburn; Wilma Lee Cooper

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Stonewall Jackson; Jeannie Seely; Vic Willis Trio
10:00: Grandpa Jones (host); Del Reeves
10:15: Roy Acuff (host); Roy Drusky
10:30: Billy Walker (host); Charlie Louvin
10:45: The 4 Guys (host); Jean Shepard; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); David Houston; Carlisles; Justin Tubb; Jim Ed Brown
11:30: Charlie Walker (host); Jan Howard; Teddy Wilburn; Johnny Russell

A couple of notes from that weekend: Roy Acuff was in a period of declining health and would pass away in November. As was often the case during those final months, Roy spent most of the week in the hospital and was released on Thursday with doctors saying that Roy would soon be back on the Opry. Well he was, the following night. Also, Justin Tubb cancelled out.

Here is the running order from that Saturday night, September 5, 1992:

1st show
6:30: GHS Strings
Porter Wagoner (host): On A Highway Headed South
Jeanne Pruett: Back to Back
Porter Wagoner: Your Old Love Letters

6:45: Country Music Hall of Fame
Billy Walker (host): Word Games
Jeannie Seely: When He Leaves You
Billy Walker: A Million & One

7:00: Shoney's
Del Reeves (host): Two Dollars in the Jukebox/A Dime At A Time/Looking at the World Through A Windshield
Vic Willis Trio: Colorado
David Houston: Loser's Cathedral
Mike Snider: Soldier's Joy/Old Molly Hare/Angeline the Baker
Del Reeves: The Bells of Southern Bell

7:30: Standard Candy
Jim Ed Brown (host): Pop A Top
Charlie Louvin: I Love You Best of All
Jean Shepard: I Don't See How I Can Make It With You Gone
Roy Drusky: Home Sick
Stu Phillips: Blue Canadian Rockies
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jan Howard: Gold Watch & Chain/Where No One Stands Alone/Heartaches by the Numbers
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down/Smoke, Smoke, Smoke
Opry Square Dance Band/The Melvin Sloan Dancers: Rachel

8:30: Kraft
Hank Snow (host): Gonna Find Me a Bluebird
The 4 Guys: New Looks From an Old Lover
Bill Carlisle: Little Liza Jane
Teddy Wilburn: Someone Before Me
Wilma Lee Cooper: I'm Going Home on the Morning Train
Hank Snow: She Wears My Ring

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General Stores
Porter Wagoner (host): What Ain't to Be Just Might Happen
Stonewall Jackson: Angry Words
Jeannie Seely: What Do I Do With Me
Vic Willis Trio: Last Cheater's Waltz
Mike Snider: (?)
Porter Wagoner: Wake Up Jacob

10:00: Little Debbie
Grandpa Jones (host): Little Pink
Del Reeves: The Race is On
Grandpa Jones: Dear Old Sunny South by the Sea

10:15: Sunbeam/Tennessee Pride
Roy Acuff (host): My Home in San Antone
Roy Drusky: Somewhere My Love/One Day at a Time

10:30: Pet Milk
Billy Walker (host): Down to My Last Cigarette
Charlie Louvin: My Baby's Gone
Billy Walker: You Gave Me a Mountain

10:45: B.C. Powder
The 4 Guys (host): Louisiana Night
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
Opry Square Dance Band/The Melvin Sloan Dancers: Lafayette
The 4 Guys: Come From the Heart

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Bummin' Around
David Houston: I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen
Bill Carlisle: Knothole
Jim Ed Brown: The Old Lamplighter/The Family Bible
Hank Snow: It Kinda Reminds Me of Me

11:30: Creamette
Charlie Walker (host): Cherokee Maiden
Jan Howard: You Belong to Me
Teddy Wilburn: Making Plans
Johnny Russell: Why Me Lord
Charlie Walker: Take Me Back to Tulsa

To finish it up for this week, let's go back 56 years to Saturday September 2, 1961:

7:30: Pet Milk
Cowboy Copas (host): Filipino Baby
Bill Carlisle: Have A Drink on Me
Roy Drusky: I Went Out of My Way
Connie Hall: I'm As Lonely as Anyone Can Be
Cowboy Copas: Alabam
Tommy Jackson: Orange Blossom Special
James O'Gwynn: House of Blue Lovers
Bill Carlisle: Leave That Liar Alone
Roy Drusky: I've Got Some
Cowboy Copas: Dreaming

8:00: Martha White
Flatt & Scruggs (host): I Ain't Gonna Work Tomorrow
Jimmy Newman: Big Mamou
Carl Butler: Honky Tonkitas
Stringbean: Barnyard Banjo Picking
Flatt & Scruggs: Go Home
Jimmy Newman: Finally
June Carter: Comedy
Crook Brothers: Old Joe Clark
Carl Butler: For the First Time
Flatt & Scruggs: Ground Speed

8:30: Faultless Starch
Porter Wagoner (host): (?)
Bill Anderson: Po Folks
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Margie Bowes: Yours Is A World I Can't Live In
Porter Wagoner (?)
Dick Flood: (?)
Old Hickory Quartet: Waiting for the Robert E Lee
Bill Anderson: The Tips of My Fingers
Porter Wagoner: (?)

9:00: Jefferson Island Salt
Marty Robbins (host): Jimmy Martinez
Louvin Brothers: (?)
Wes Holly: (?)
Del Wood: Raggin' the Keys
Marty Robbins: It's Your World
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Take Me Back to Tulsa
Bobby Sykes: I Saw the Light Go Out
Louvin Brothers: (?)
Marty Robbins: Don't Worry

9:30: Stephens
Billy Grammer (host): Rainbow 'Round My Shoulder
Glaser Brothers: Words Come Easy
Billy Walker: (?)
Rusty Adams: (?)
Billy Grammer: (?)
Norma Jean: (?)
Marty Martel: (?)
Glaser Brothers: Satisfied
Billy Grammer: (?)

10:00: Standard Oil
Cowboy Copas (host): Sunny Tennessee
Bill Carlisle: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Roy Drusky: Three Hearts in A Tangle
Cowboy Copas: Signed, Sealed & Delivered

10:15: Rock City
Flatt & Scruggs (host): Homestead on the Farm
Jimmy Newman: A Fallen Star
Margie Bowes: Day After Day
Flatt & Scruggs: Where Will I Shelter My Sheep
Earl Scruggs: Flint Hill Special

10:30: Jim Walter Homes
Porter Wagoner (host): (?)
Connie Hall: Fools Like Me
Stringbean: Pretty Polly
Porter Wagoner: (?)

10:45: DeCon
Louvin Brothers (host): (?)
Norma Jean: (?)
Crook Brothers: Chicken Reel
Louvin Brothers: (?)

11:00: Coca-Cola
Billy Grammer (host): (?)
Glaser Brothers: I Wish I Had Never Seen Sunshine
Bill Anderson: Columbus Stockade Blues
Sam & Kirk McGee: It's Raining Tear Drops
Billy Grammer: (?)
Archie Campbell: Sergeant York
Old Hickory Singers: Are You From Dixie
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Soldiers Joy
Glaser Brothers: Sweet Lies
Billy Grammer: (?)

11:30: National Life
Marty Robbins (host): El Paso
Carl Butler: Honky Tonkitis
Del Wood: Down Yonder
Billy Walker: (?)
Marty Robbins: Like All the Other Times
Dick Flood: (?)
Bobby Sykes: Only the Hangman
Carl Butler: (?)
Marty Robbins: Singing the Blues

A couple of names from that night, the first being James O'Gwynn. Known as "The Smilin' Irishman of Country Music," James was born in January 1928 in Winchester, Mississippi. He learned how to play the guitar as a child and his idols were Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams. After dropping out of school to help his father at work, he joined the U.S. Marines, serving for four years. It was during this time that he decided to become a country music singer. He was active between 1958 and 1962, recording for the D and Mercury labels. He joined the Louisiana Hayride and then with the help of Jim Reeves, he made an appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. He then moved to Nashville in 1961 and over the next several years, made appearances on the Opry. While he continued to record and release singles, he had limited chart success, with his top single, "My Name is Mud" reaching No. 7 on the Hot Country Songs charts. During the 1960s, he recorded for a number of independent labels with no success and by the end of the decade had moved to Arkansas, going into semi-retirement. He passed away in 2011 at the age of 82.

Connie Hall was another name from that night. She was born in 1929 in Walden, Kentucky and had some success in the late 1950s and 1960s. She was also a songwriter. Early in her career she worked in the Cincinnati, Ohio and Covington, Kentucky markets. In 1954 Jimmie Skinner hired her to sing on his radio show based in Newport, Kentucky, appearing on his radio, then eventually his television shows for several years. In 1957 she signed a recording contract with Mercury Records, and had a Top 10 duet with Jimmie Skinner, "We've Got Things In Common." Over the next several years, after signing with Decca Records, she had a number of singles on the country charts, with several reaching the Top 25. She also made appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. Louisiana Hayride and the Midwestern Hayride. In 1964 she left Decca Records, moving over to Musicor Records, where she remained until 1967. In 1970, she left Nashville, moving to Louisville, Kentucky.

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


  1. Byron, great stuff as always. I was struck by the Old Hickory Quarter in that 1961 lineup. Hadn't they been members earlier, or am I off on that?

    As for Mr. Acuff, the old warhorse wasn't going down without a fight. Bill Anderson's story of their final appearance together still leaves me with tears in my eyes.

  2. Michael: I agree with you about Bill and Roy. I have that last performance on tape.

    I have been writing sort of a memoir or maybe someday a book about our experience listening to the Opry and meeting the stars. Here is what I have written about that performance.

    On Saturday October 17 Bill Anderson was again on Roy's first show. I did not know it but earlier in the day Roy had been taken to the hospital and the doctors wanted him to stay overnight. Even though he was scheduled, folks at the Opry were not expecting him to perform. a determined Roy Acuff opened with the "Cannonball", and when he was done he kind of chuckled and said "I didn't think I was going to make it". Connie Smith was his first guest, and he stood at center stage and held onto her for support. You could feel it over the airwaves that Roy was not doing well. When Bill came out to perform, they talked about the first World Series game(Atlanta and Toronto, Atlanta won) and Bill ask Roy if he would sing with him. I love Bill Anderson, but I remember being shocked and a bit upset that Bill would ask Roy to do "their" song while Roy was in that condition.

    Bill's Po Folks Band started into "I Wonder If God Likes Country Music" and I thought sure I could feel the emotion in the Opry House coming over WSM. They did the song and Roy really struggled to do his part, but they made it. They got a long standing ovation and Bill could hardly speak. Roy kept saying to the audience "thank you, all right, thank you, I'm gonna' have him do another one". Bill said in a broken voice "I don't think they want to hear me". "But thank you for sharing that with me, that's a very special song, and I thank you more than you know". "Truly the King of Country Music ladies and gentlemen". I knew then that Bill could see what I couldn't over the radio, that this was probably their last time, and it was!

    As we all know, the following Friday would Mr. Acuff's last night at the Opry.

    Knightsville, IN

  3. I'll ask this here again since I think Byron had moved onto another post by the time I ask.

    Did anyone hear the Midnite Jamboree last Saturday? I was listening but kept falling in and out of sleep. I heard Claude Gray do "Another Cup Of Coffee" and "Family Bible". Did he do anything before that and what did he have to say.


    Knightsville, IN

    1. Jim, that was well written and very accurate. I was there that night and what stuck me immediately was how frail Roy looked when the curtain opened, and how weak he sounded. I was shocked. I had not been at the Opry since Spring and in just those few short months Roy had really declined. As I am sure you heard through the radio, his voice was somewhat soft and he really didn't stand up straight. If I remember, he never really moved once he was on stage, held on to the microphone stand, and as you wrote, held on to Connie when she was singing. I clearly remember saying to my daughter, who was there that night, that this would be the final time that we would see Roy on the Opry.

      As it turned out, he did the 2nd show, in a segment where Hank Locklin was his guest, and then did the following Friday Night Opry, sitting in a director's chair. He didn't make the Saturday night show the next night, and that was it for Roy on the Opry. He literally died on that stage.

    2. I'll echo Byron's sentiments: Jim, that was terrific.

      I know I've shared this before. Bill Anderson said in his first book that he was to be on the segment and Hal Durham told him Mr. Acuff probably wouldn't make it in. Bill was getting ready to go out to host at 8 when there was a commotion, and here he came, with two of his band members almost carrying him to center stage, and from there ....

  4. Spoke to Marty Stuart about his 2017 Opry appearances not long ago, and he told me he was looking forward to doing some of the Ryman shows later this year.

  5. Michael: Thanks for reminding me where I had read or heard that info about Bill being ready to go on stage and Roy showed up. I knew I had it documented somewhere and I'm sure that first book is it.


    1. It is in Bill's book "I Hope You're Living as High on the Hog as the Pig You turned Out to Be". His first book was "Wisperin' Bill", which is one of the best books I've read.
      I remember Mr. Acuff said on his last Friday Show that he had sprung his back and that was why he was sitting.
      He said"come back and maybe I'll be better. Oswald told me later that they nearly carried him out that night and he couldn't hardly stand, but he tried to cover it up and joke about it. They don't make 'me like those men anymore.

  6. Ok, this is fun so I'll do some more from my writing.

    As sick as he was, Roy did the second show that night opening with "Once More". Roy would close the second show simply by saying "Thank you people for being a wonderful audience, we want you to come back and see us again sometime, maybe I'll feel more like singing a song, thank you and good night to you all".

    He went in the hospital the next day, Sunday the 18th where he stayed until Wednesday the 21st. Friday night October 23 he was back on the Opry stage. He was so weak he performed setting down this night. He told the audience "I'm not a dead man but I'm not alive by a whole lot". On the first show he did the "Wabash Cannonball" and Chrlie Walker closed the show for him. You could tell by the way Roy talked and the way announcer Kyle Cantrell and his guests acted that Roy was not doing well. He opened the second show with "Night Train to Memphis". Charlie Collins and Larry McNeely closed the show. "Night Train to Memphis" would be the last song Roy would ever perform on the Opry.

    Byron, let me know if I have any errors'

  7. Also, worth mentioning, Mr. Acuff was taken to the hospital after performing the last half hour of the Opry Matinee from
    4:30 -5:00 that afternoon & was back for 8:00. He joked about how bad he scared Dr. Perry Harris.

  8. I read once, and It's also worth mentioning, after that last Opry performance at some point, Roy's family or employees took him to the nursing home so he could visit with Minnie Pearl. As the visit was over and Roy was being lead out he stopped, turned and looked at her in her bed and said "I'll see you in Heaven, Minnie". Then he turned back and left, and that did turn out to be their last meeting. I don't think he was expecting Minnie to leave us, but I think he knew he was.

  9. David,

    You have a good memory!

    Robert K Oermann. staff writer at the time for the Tennessean, wrote in of his articles the week of Roy's passing, the following:

    Before he went in the hospital last month, Roy Acuff said a final farewell to his dearest friend.

    For the past year the Opry superstar has been a regular visitor to the bedside of Minnie Pearl, who suffered a stroke in June 1991.

    "They brought Roy Acuff out here a few weeks ago," recalled Minnie's husband Henry Cannon yesterday. "He was so fragile when he set by her bed".

    "He told Minnie, "The next time I see you will be in heaven. 'She said, Oh Roy.'

    "I told her [yesterday] that we'd lost Roy. And she cried and said she was devastated. Then she cried again."

    She was crying for herself more than Roy, because she was going to miss him so. Roy Acuff was her dearest friend in the world. There's never been anything like the love they had between them."

    Knightsville, IN