Before getting into the mid-week Opry shows, just a few general observations from the weekend, starting with the Wednesday Night Opry with Eric Church.
Eric was pretty emotional, as I am sure it came out over the radio. During the entire time he was on stage, the audience was standing. Except for a few knuckleheads yelling out song titles, the crowd was very respective and quite during Eric's comments. He stuck to emotional ballads, each of which had a meaning. It was something to witness. The show started that night with Bill Cody making a brief statement, then Jeannie Seely and the Opry Singers opening with "Amazing Grace" followed by a short version of "Will The Circle Be Unbroken." After that, the show picked up until Eric's segment. Each of the performers, which included Restless Heart, Charles Esten, Clare Bowen, Trace Adkins, Scotty McCreery and Ashley McBryde, were very good. I was particularly impressed with Ashley. She has a definite future in the business. As would be expected, the show was sold out.
After being on, then off the schedule, Larry Gatlin was the host for the Opry Country Classics on Thursday night. I would estimate the Ryman about 2/3 full and the line-up was very solid. The Whites opened, followed by Maggie Rose, Rhonda Vincent, Sylvia and finishing with Janie Fricke, in addition to Larry, Steve and Rudy. Again, a fine show with a lot of fine performances. Rhonda did "Satin Sheets" and "One A Day." while Sylvia and Janie stuck to their hits. Very nice show.
The weekend shows featured the Opry Birthday celebration. From what I could tell, both Friday shows, and the early Saturday show were sold-out, with the late Saturday show just a few hundred shy of being sold out. Friday was a very good night with everyone doing a great job. For those who listened, Vince Gill mentioned that he had an ear infection that was bothering him, and in looking at him you could tell he was a little bit off. But his singing was great, as usual. I think most have noted that Friday had a better line-up, and I will tell you that Pam Tillis, Diamond Rio, Ricky Skaggs and the Oak Ridge Boys all mentioned that they were leaving for performances on the road Saturday night. Speaking of Saturday, the line-up was a little soft and short on Opry members. Vince carried the last segment on both shows alone and handled the cake duties. I know many want to blame the Opry's management for the line-up during the birthday weekend, but it is tough when so many artists are out on the road to get them back in Nashville. I know of Opry veterans, Bill Anderson, Jeannie Seely, John Conlee, Marty Stuart, Riders In The Sky and Bobby Osborne were all booked out. And of course, Jesse McReynolds continues his recovery. Overall a great weekend and I will continue to fill in the details. Also, if you want to see all the pictures, please feel free to check my Facebook page.
A final weekend comment about Tracy Lawrence. He did a fine job on each show and at the birthday concert on Saturday afternoon. (I will mention that the crowd for the afternoon concert was as small as I have ever seen at one of those). Some mentioned that they thought Tracy would get an Opry invite this weekend, but obviously with Chris Young waiting in the wings for his induction next week, that was not going to happen. I still believe that Tracy will make a fine Opry member some day. We will see. Either that, or he will join the list that includes Mark Wills, Rhonda Vincent, Exile, Restless Heart, and others, which are those who would make great Opry members but are contented to be invited on as guests.
Now for the Tuesday Night Opry. Two shows with Opry member Keith Urban leading the way, with a guest appearance by Brooks & Dunn. Chris Janson is also set to appear, along with Dailey & Vincent, Bill Anderson and John Conlee.
Tuesday October 10
7:00: John Conlee; Maddie & Tae; Collin Raye
7:30: Bill Anderson; Dailey & Vincent; Jason Crabb
8:00: Chris Janson; Brooks & Dunn; Keith Urban
9:30: John Conlee; Brooks & Dunn; Maddie & Tae
10:00: Collin Raye; Bill Anderson; Jason Crabb
10:30: Dailey & Vincent; Chris Janson; Keith Urban
As for Opry Country Classics on Thursday night:
Host: Bill Cody
Spotlight Artist: Ricky Skaggs
Also Appearing: Charlie McCoy; Chuck Mead; William Michael Morgan; Jo Smith