Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Grand Ole Opry 12/22 & 12/23

With the final weekend before Christmas upon us (actually Christmas Eve is on Sunday), the Grand Ole Opry will have one show Friday and Saturday night. With most of the members and other artists having completed their touring for 2017, the line-up is a little different for this weekend. The Friday Night Opry will be broken into just three segments as there are only three Opry members on the schedule. For Saturday night, it looks like they are going with the mid-week format of two artists for each half hour and no segment hosts, and as with Friday night, just three Opry members scheduled. Grand Ole Opry members scheduled for both nights are Jeannie Seely and Mike Snider, while The Whites are set for Friday night and Ray Pillow for Saturday.

Guest artists scheduled for Friday night include T. Graham Brown, Flatt Lonesome, Ashley Campbell, Jason Crabb, Aaron Tippin, Hall of Fame member Charlie McCoy, Linda Davis and Keith & Kristyn Getty. Quite a list!!

For Saturday night, the list is a little shorter with Mandy Barnett, Craig Wayne Boyd, Bobby Bones, David Ball, and staying around from Friday night, Flatt Lonesome.

Friday December 22
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); T. Graham Brown; Flatt Lonesome; Ashley Campbell; Jason Crabb
8:15: Mike Snider (host); Aaron Tippin; Charlie McCoy
8:45: The Whites (host); Linda Davis; Keith & Kristyn Getty

Saturday December 23
7:00: Jeannie Seely; Mike Snider
7:30: Mandy Barnett; Flatt Lonesome
8:15: Craig Wayne Boyd; Ray Pillow; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bobby Bones; David Ball

I have written it before, and I will repeat it again, it just really disappoints me when they mess around with the format on the Saturday show. That is the traditional night for the Opry and even on nights when Christmas or New Years Eve was on a Saturday night, there was no trouble coming up with a full line-up of artists. I don't know if it is because no other Opry members are available or if it was pre-planned this way. As I said, I just hate to see it.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 10 years ago, the weekend of December 22 & 23, 2007:

Friday December 21
8:00: Jean Shepard (host); Connie Smith; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Rissi Palmer
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Elizabeth Cook; Cherryholmes
9:00: George Hamilton IV (host); Ralph Stanley; Raul Malo
9:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jan Howard; Mel McDaniel; The Whites

Saturday December 22
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Mel McDaniel; Cherryholmes
7:00: Hal Ketchum (host); Jack Greene; George Hamilton IV; Ralph Stanley
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Lee Roy Parnell
8:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Charlie Louvin; Raul Malo; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jean Shepard; The Whites

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jeannie Seely; Cherryholmes
10:00: Hal Ketchum (host); Ralph Stanley; Lee Roy Parnell
10:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jack Greene; Raul Malo; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jean Shepard; The Whites

Now from 25 years ago, Saturday December 26, 1992:

1st show
6:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Jeanne Pruett
6:45: Del Reeves (host); Roy Drusky
7:00: Bill Monroe (host); Charlie Louvin; Wilma Lee Cooper; The 4 Guys; The Whites
7:30: Bill Anderson (host); Stonewall Jackson; Stu Phillips; Skeeter Davis; Jim & Jesse
8:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jan Howard; Charlie Walker; Ray Pillow; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Jean Shepard; Bill Carlisle; Osborne Brothers

2nd show
9:30; Porter Wagoner (host); Jeanne Pruett; Roy Drusky; Stonewall Jackson; Brother Oswald; Smoky Mountain Boys
10:00: Bill Monroe (host); Del Reeves; The Whites
10:15: The 4 Guys (host); Charlie Louvin
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Skeeter Davis
10:45: Osborne Brothers (host); Jean Shepard; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Charlie Walker; Justin Tubb; Jim & Jesse
11:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jan Howard; Bill Carlisle; Johnny Russell

It was 50 years ago, Saturday December 23, 1967 that the "Jolly Greene Giant," Jack Greene became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Jack Greene was born in Maryville, Tennessee and learned to play guitar at a young age. He became involved in the music business while still a teenager, working as a disc jockey at radio station WGAP in Maryville. By the age of 18, Jack was a regular on the Tennessee Barn Dance show on WNOX, Knoxville, Tennessee. In the early 1950s, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he formed his own band, The Peach Tree Boys. Jack was the lead vocalist, drummer and guitarist for the group. In 1959, he moved to Nashville and formed a new band, The Tennessee Mountain Boys. A major career break came his way in 1961 when his band was serving as the opening act for Ernest Tubb. Impressed, Ernest asked Greene to become a part of his Texas Troubadours.

For the next several years, Jack was the drummer, guitarist, vocalist and master of ceremonies for Ernest. He soon began serving as the opening act as well as continuing to play in the band. In 1964, he released his first solo record, "The Last Letter," followed by "Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me." Decca Records released both records however they failed to make the charts. Ernest encouraged Jack to leave the Troubadours to pursue a solo career. As Jack explained, "Ernest told me, 'Son, I believe it's time to go.' But he also said 'If you can't make it you can always come back and be a Troubadour.'"

His first Top 40 hit came in early 1966 with "Ever Since My Baby Went Away" peaking at No. 37. Later that year, Decca released what would become his signature song, "There Goes My Everything." The song reached No. 1 and stayed on top of the country charts for 7 weeks, while also becoming a crossover hit; the album stayed No. 1 for an entire year. His success continued into 1967 with another No. 1 "All The Time" and a No. 2 with "What Locks The Door." In 1967, Jack received the Male Vocalist of the Year, Single of the Year, and Album of the year from the Country Music Association. In total, Jack had five No. 1 singles on the Billboard charts, with nine total counting the other charts, including "Statue of a Fool," "You Are My Treasure." and "Until My Dreams Come True."

In 1970, Jack began a duet partnership with Jeannie Seely. Together they had several country hits including "Wish I Didn't Have To Miss You," which reached No. 2 on the charts. This was also Jack's last Top 10 record. Jack and Jeannie continued to tour throughout the 1970s.

Jack recorded all of his hits with Decca Records, which became MCA Records in the early 1970s. His final chart hits were "Satisfaction" and "I Need Somebody Bad." After his chart success declined, he was dropped by MCA Records in 1976. After that he would record for a number of smaller, independent labels. His final studio album was "Precious Memories, Treasured Friends" released in 2010 and featured a number of duets with fellow country artists such as George Jones and Lorrie Morgan. In failing health, and suffering from Alzheimer's disease, Jack retired from performing in 2011 and passed away at the age of 83 on March 14, 2013.

Here is the running order from Saturday December 23, 1967, the night Jack Greene became a member of the Grand Ole Opry:

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Drusky (host); White Lightening Express
Jean Shepard: Happy Tracks
Willis Brothers: I'll Be Home for Christmas
Stu Phillips: Juanita Jones
Stringbean: Gonna Make Myself a Name
Charlie Walker: Don't Squeeze My Sharmon
Jeannie Seely: I'll Love You More
Opry Staff Band: Jingle Bell Rock
Roy Drusky: Weakness In a Man

8:00: Martha White
Porter Wagoner (host): Julie
Dottie West: Paper Mansions
Harold Weakley: Since Never
Osborne Brothers: Making Plans
Del Wood: Down at Papa Joe's
Crook Brothers: Bill Cheatham
George McCormick: Branded Man
Mac  Magaha & Buck Trent: Turkey in the Straw
Porter Wagoner: Green, Green Grass of Home/Dooley

8:30: Stephens
Bobby Lord (host): Hawkeye
George Hamilton IV: Early Morning Rain
Ernie Ashworth: At Ease, Heart
Archie Campbell: The Cockfight
Margie Bowes: There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight
Grandpa Jones: That's All This World Needs
Hal Rugg: Steel Guitar Rag
Bobby Lord: Winter Wonderland

9:00: Luzianne
Ernest Tubb (host): Thanks A Lot
Bill Monroe: Christmas Time's A Comin'
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World
Jack Greene; There Goes My Everything
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Loretta Lynn: What Kind of A Girl
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Devil's Dream
Ernest Tubb: Blue Christmas

9:30 Kellogg's
Hank Snow (host): Reindeer Boogie
Willis Brothers: Give Me 40 Acres
Lonzo & Oscar: Jangle Bells/Frosty the Snowman
The 4 Guys: White Christmas
Del Reeves: A Dime at A Time
Cousin Jody: Mockingbird
Harold Weakley: Paint A Picture of My World
Hank Snow: Christmas Wants

10:00: Schick
Bobby Lord (host): Shadows on the Wall
Jean Shepard: Many Happy Hangovers to You
Stringbean: Run Little Rabbit, Run
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips

10:15: Pure
Porter Wagoner (host): Ol' Slewfoot
Grandpa Jones: Jingle Bells
Del Wood: Down Yonder
Porter Wagoner: Woman Hungry
Mac Magaha & Buck Trent: Katy Hill

10:30: Buckley's
George Hamilton IV (host): Truck Driving Man
Dottie West: Like A Fool
Cousin Jody: Wabash Cannonball
George Hamilton VI: Abilene

10:45: Kent
Ernest Tubb (host): In the Jailhouse Now
Margie Bowes: Enough to Make A Woman Lose Her Mind
Jack Greene: What Locks the Door
Crook Brothers: Sally Goodin

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Down the Trail of Aching Hearts
Skeeter Davis: Dear Heart
Del Reeves: Girl on the Billboard
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Soldiers Joy
Osborne Brothers: My Favorite Memory
Sam McGee: San Antonio Rose
Hank Snow: Christmas Roses
Chubby Wise: Lee Highway Blues

11:30: Lava
Marty Robbins (host): Tonight Carmen
Bill Monroe: Scotland
Bill Carlisle: What Kind of Deal is This
Loretta Lynn: The Third Man
Lonzo & Oscar: A King Size Cola & A Moon Pie
Bobby Sykes: I's So Lonesome I Could Cry
Marty Robbins: Ribbon of Darkness/Begging to You/Singing the Blues/Lovesick Blues/El Paso

There you have it for this week. I hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and that Santa is good to each and everyone of you!!


  1. On the night Jack Greene joined, I counted 32 members, which would be more than half of the members at the time (I THINK there were 54 at the time; I'm not counting the dance groups who weren't listed on the program). Saturday night there are THREE. Now, with all due respect to Sally Williams and the management, that means about 60 members were unavailable, or the management didn't want them. If the former, some of them need to go. If the latter, the management needs to go.

  2. Amen...At the least, there are enough Opry Members (the most loyal and dependable) to host three portions of The Grand Ole Opry on Saturday. Remember Archie Campbell's "I Want to be at The Opry on Christmas Night"? Would it be worth it this year?

  3. Let’s put T Graham Brown and Mandy Barnett into the Opry. They’ve been dedicated to it for years and years, have shown up when other Opry members wouldn’t, and are a credit to the program every time they appear. My candidates along with Tracy Lawrence and Chris Janson for Opry membership. The Opry is better this year and many years before because they’re there.

    1. T. Graham Brown and Mandy Barnett should have been members years ago.

  4. It seems, looking back even over just the last few years, it was always the veterans and legends who you could count on to be at the Opry Christmas weekend.

    Look at all of the veterans who have passed away over the past decade. Those were the ones who lived in Nashville and could be counted on. Among those still alive, Jeannie Seely, Mike Snider, The Whites and Ray Pillow will be there for at least one show this weekend. Stonewall, Stu, and Jan are for all intents and purposes retired. I give a pass to Bobby Osborne, Connie Smith and Riders In The Sky as they have done their share of Opry shows this year. Jesse is still recovering.

    It is not an excuse, but looking back at the line-ups on Christmas, very few of the Opry's bigger names were ever on the schedule (at least over the past 20 years).

  5. Forgot to mention Bill Anderson and John Conlee. They have done their share of shows this year also.

    I remember reading an interview that someone did with Wilma Lee Cooper years ago. She said that Christmas was so much fun at the Opry and for the members because they would bring each other gifts, cards, baked goods and other items. It was one of the few times during the year that they all saw each other as tour schedules did not always overlap. And most of the members would try to be there the week before Christmas. It was considered that special.

  6. Byron,

    Glad you added that last comment. I always figured that most of the members and veterans that were there from the mid 70's to about 2000 or a bit later were like family and that weekend before Christmas was their family get together.

    I've said this many times and some are probably tired of it but, here it is again. Stale or not, those veterans kept the doors open through their loyalty. There is an Opry today because they came in off they gave up some of their Friday or Saturday night to come perform for the fans who drove hours to the Opry. I still think some, not all, but some of the rhetoric about appreciating those gone before is just that rhetoric, not sincere appreciation. Yes, I believe many do really appreciate, but not enough.

    Bless those still living those who have joined his throne for their dedication. Sounds like something out of a Hank Locklin song, maybe "Country Hall of Fame".

    Merry Christmas to all in Fayfare land.


    Knightsville, IN

  7. Thinking about Christmas time and how things used to be at the Opry, here is one of favorite quotes ever. (The words are from Brother Oswald regarding the move from the Ryman to the new Opry House.) “We was all hatin’ to leave. Roy Acuff figured it would be better out at Opryland. He said, “Boys, you’re gonna like it out there,” and they didn’t believe him. He said it would keep growing and be bigger all the time. He said, “Opryland will draw a lot of people to the Opry.” But the Ryman had the best sound of anywhere I’ve ever played in my life. Course it didn’t have no dressin’ room or anything, but that was all right. Saturday nights, I couldn’t wait to get down there and see all the boys. You’d go backstage and you’d talk. Someone would say, “I didn’t make any money last week out on the road,” and someone else would say, “Now I made a little. I’ll let you have some.” They don’t do that now.” (From ‘The Grand Ole Opry, The Making of an American Icon,’ written by Colin Escott) - from Anonymous in Kingman

  8. Too bad Bobby Bones didn't stay home and just let David Ball handle the last segment by himself. What a waste of 15 minutes ---- Dashmann, Flushing , Michigan --- Merry Christmas everyone and thanks again Byron for this wonderful blog ----

  9. Byron and the Fayfare gang are truly a Christmas blessing. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

  10. I agree with Dashman about Bones. And why didn't Ray Pillow get three songs. Nothing against Ray, he is one of our favorites, but he does tend to forget his words, has for a long time, even back in the 90's, so I'm glad he had his cheat sheets last night. I though he sounded great and was so expecting a third song. It even seems that Mike didn't get equal time but he did do some long comedy and he always rolls two songs into one.

    I enjoyed David Ball too.

    Anyone know if they put up a tree anymore since they are at the Ryman? We were wondering that as we watched the Encore show on RFD last night.

    Merry Christmas

    Knightsville, IN

  11. They did have a tree. That was nice. There is nothing like the Ryman at Christmas, but it would be so nice to have more members on the program. Whether they are unwilling to appear as often, or unwelcome to appear -- that is the question. The lineup seems to get shorter every year, and the prices increase. How long the Opry can survive at this rate, I don't know. The Opry should operate like the "family" they claim they are, with the "totally unrehearsed" program they used to boast of. Any member should be welcomed with open arms any time they wanted to show up, and anyone who accepts the invitation to become a member should realize the responsibility that goes with it.