Thursday, December 28, 2017

Grand Ole Opry 12/29 & 12/30

This is it. The final weekend of 2017 and the Opry closes it out with a much improved line-up then what we saw last weekend. The Opry continues at the Ryman Auditorium through January with one show each night.

Grand Ole Opry members scheduled for both nights include Riders In The Sky, Mike Snider and Connie Smith. They will be joined on Friday night by Jeannie Seely, Ricky Skaggs and The Whites, while on Saturday night, Bobby Osborne and Old Crow Medicine Show will take the stage.

Guesting this weekend on both nights will be Gary Mule Deer. Joining the comedian on Friday night will be Jim Lauderdale, Elizabeth Cook, The Steeldrivers, Craig Campbell and guitarist Doyle Dykes. Taking the stage with Gary on Saturday night will be Jimmy Wayne, Levi Hummon and Margo Price.

Friday December 29
7:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Jeannie Seely; Jim Lauderdale
7:30: Connie Smith (host); Elizabeth Cook; The SteelDrivers
8:15: Mike Snider (host); Craig Campbell; Doyle Dykes
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); Gary Mule Deer; The Whites

Saturday December 30
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Jimmy Wayne; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Levi Hummon; Margo Price
8:00: Connie Smith (host); Gary Mule Deer; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Old Crow Medicine Show

No intermission on Saturday night as Old Crow Medicine Show has a show at the Ryman later that evening.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from 10 years ago, the weekend of December 28 & 29, 2007:

Friday December 28
8:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jimmy C Newman; Connie Smith; Bradley Walker
8:30: George Hamilton IV (host); T. Bubba Bechtol; Danielle Peck
9:00: Jean Shepard (host); Mel McDaniel; The Grascals
9:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Stu Phillips; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Restless Heart

Saturday December 29
1st show
6:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Mel McDaniel; Dailey & Vincent
7:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Connie Smith; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Chris Young
7:30: George Hamilton IV (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; T. Bubba Bechtol
8:00: Jean Shepard (host); Jan Howard; Restless Heart; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jett Williams; The Grascals

2nd show
9:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jimmy C Newman; Connie Smith; Dailey & Vincent
10:00: George Hamilton IV (host); Jett Williams; Chris Young
10:30: Jean Shepard (host); Ray Pillow; Restless Heart; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Riders In The Sky (host); T. Bubba Bechtol; The Grascals

Now from 50 years ago, Saturday December 30, 1967:

7:30: Bobby Lord (host); Osborne Brothers; Margie Bowes; Willis Brothers; Del Wood
8:00: Flatt & Scruggs (host); Norma Jean; Wilburn Brothers; Stringbean; Crook Brothers
8:30: Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host); Charlie Walker; Archie Campbell; Ernie Ashworth; Lorene Mann
9:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Marion Worth; Bill Carlisle; George Morgan; The 4 Guys Fruit Jar Drinkers; Tennessee Travelers
9:30: Hank Snow (host); Willis Brothers; Bill Monroe; Bobby Lord; Stu Phillips
10:00: Wilburn Brothers (host); Stringbean; Ernie Ashworth
10:15: George Morgan (host); Del Wood; Margie Bowes
10:30: Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host); Norma Jean
10:45: Bill Carlisle (host); Stu Phillips; Crook Brothers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Bill Monroe; Mel Tillis; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Jim Ed Brown; Sam McGee
11:30: Marty Robbins (host); Marion Worth; Charlie Walker; The 4 Guys; Don Winters

Finally, it was Saturday December 30, 2000 that Grand Ole Opry member Skeeter Davis appeared on the Opry for the final time

Mary Frances Penick as born in Dry Ridge, Kentucky on December 30, 1931. Her grandfather nicknamed her "Skeeter" because he thought she had a lot of energy for a young child. While in high school, Skeeter met Billy Jack Davis, becoming friends and singing together. They formed a duet known as the Davis Sisters and started singing on WJR's Barnyard Frolics. After doing some demo recordings for Fortune Records, the duet was signed by RCA Victor in 1951. Their most successful single was "I Forgot More Than You'll Ever Know" which in 1953 spend eight weeks at No. 1 on the country charts and made the Top 20 on the pop charts. While the song was moving up the charts, the Davis sisters were involved in a serious car accident that killed Betty Jack and left Skeeter with severe injuries. After the accident, Skeeter joined up with Billy Jack's sister Georgia, continuing as the Davis Sisters, until Skeeter decided to leave the music business to get married.

In 1958, Skeeter decided to return to the music business as a solo act. She toured with Ernest Tubb and went back to RCA, working with producer Chet Atkins. After several early releases, Skeeter had a Top 5 hit in 1959 with "Set Him Free" for which she was nominated for a Grammy Award. She was the first female country singer to be nominated for that award. She also became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Beginning in 1960, Skeeter had a series of Top 10 records, including "My Late Date." In 1963, Skeeter had her biggest career hit, "The End of the World." The record sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold record. Her chart success continued, as did the Grammy Award nominations and her records remained on the charts throughout the 1960s. Skeeter's last major country hit was "I Can't Believe That It's All Over," which peaked at No. 12 in 1973.

Skeeter's Grand Ole Opry membership was suspended in 1973 when she dedicated a gospel song to a group of young church protesters. As a result, she lost several bookings, her record sales declined and as a result, she spent much time overseas touring foreign countries. She rejoined the Opry 18 months later, where she appeared on a regular basis, wearing her colorful dresses and bringing joy to the show.

In 1993, Skeeter wrote her autobiography, "Bus Fare to Kentucky" which is an excellent and well written book. Skeeter did not shy away from discussing the Opry incident or her short marriage to Ralph Emery. For the final years of her life, Skeeter battled breast cancer, which eventually spread to her entire body, resulting in her death on September 19, 2004.

Here is the running order from 17 years ago, Saturday December 30, 2000, the final night for Skeeter Davis at the Grand Ole Opry (it was also Skeeter's 69th birthday):

1st show
6:30: WSM
John Conlee (host): Common Man
Jeannie Seely: He's All I Need
Bill Carlisle: White Lightening
Jett Williams: Move It on Over
Osborne Brothers: Old Friend of Mine
John Conlee: Rose Colored Glasses

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Country Music Has Gone to Town
Jean Shepard: Tennessee Waltz
Coley McCabe: Cloud 9
Jim & Jesse: I'm Changing the Words to My Love Song
The Whites: Blue Letters
Porter Wagoner & Christi Lynn: If Teardrops Were Pennies
Porter Wagoner: She Burned the Little Roadside Tavern Down

7:30: Standard Candy
Riders In The Sky (host): I'm An Old Cow Hand from the Rio Grande
Connie Smith: Once A Day
The Isaacs: Stand Still
Dan Seals: I'd Really Love to See You Tonight/Bop
Riders In The Sky: The Desert Song/Happy Trails to You

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): Southern Fried
Grand Ole Opry Cast: Happy Birthday Skeeter
Skeeter Davis: I Can Call Jesus Anytime
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away
Rhonda Vincent: Lonesome Wind Blues
Opry Square Dance Band: Rachel
Bill Anderson: Too Country

8:30: Physicians Mutual
Jimmy Dickens (host): Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed
Holly Dunn: You Really Had Me Going
Mike Snider: John Henry
Steve Holy: Don't Make Me Beg
Jack Greene: Statue of a Fool
Jimmy Dickens: I Love Lucy Brown

2nd show
9:30: WSM
Porter Wagoner (host): My Long Journey Home
Connie Smith: Where Is My Castle
Osborne Brothers: Mom & Dad Waltz/Rocky Top
John Conlee: The Carpenter/Before My Time/Baby, You're Something
Porter Wagoner: The Last Thing on My Mind/Milwaukee, Here I Come

10:00: Lincoln-Mercury/Ryman
Jimmy Dickens (host): Out Behind the Barn
Holly Dunn: We've Got the Love/
Jim & Jesse: I Miss You All the Time
Dan Seals: God Might Be A Cowboy/Everything That Glitters Is Not Gold
Jimmy Dickens: Shopping for Dresses

10:30: Folex/Joggin' In A Jug
Jean Shepard (host): Head Over Heals In Love
The Isaacs: I Have a Father Who Can/I'm Ready to Go
Riders In The Sky: Woody's Round Up
Opry Square Dance Band: Sugar in the Goard
Jean Shepard & Leona Williams: Let's All Go Down to the River/I Saw the Light/Will the Circle Be Unbroken/I'll Fly Away/Somebody Touched Me

11:00: Coca-Cola
Bill Anderson (host): Walk Out Backwards
Billy Walker: Come A Little Bit Closer
Mike Snider: The Fur Coat
Jim Ed Brown: Bar Room Pals and Good Time Gals/The 3 Bells
Bill Anderson: A Lot of Things Different

11:30: Ryman
George Hamilton IV (host): Break My Mind
Rhonda Vincent & Randy Barnes: I'll Take the Blame/Get in Line Brother
Steve Holy: Just A Kiss/The Hunger
George Hamilton V: Welcome My Broken Heart
George Hamilton IV: Has Anybody Here Seen Hank

As far as the 2nd show that night, Jan Howard, Charlie Walker and Del Reeves all canceled out, as did Skeeter Davis for the 2nd show.

There you have it for this week. I hope everyone has a very safe and Happy New Year's and I will be seeing all of you in 2018.


  1. I just heard on our local classic country and bluegrass music station (WKFI-Wilmington,Ohio) that the last living member of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs' band The Foggy Mountain Boys passed away yesterday morning. I am speaking of Curly Seckler who just turned 98 on Christmas Day.

    The host on the radio station did not pass along any funeral plans.


  2. Interesting New Year's Eve Show at Branson, attended by myself, my wife and brother and sister in law.
    Bill Anderson put it together, with Moore and Moore, Jeanie Seely, TG Shepherd, Janie Fricke, Moe Bandy, then a change of bands from Moe's band to Bill's band (no steel guitar player unfortunately) to help Bill finish the evening.
    The show lasted over four hours, and was absolutely fabulous for traditional Country Music lovers like me.
    The best news for me was that Gus Arrendale, president of Springer Mountain Farms was there along with
    Gina Keltner, Senior Talent Manager of the Grand Ole Opry.
    Can't be a bad thing when those two choose to attend an out of town VERY traditional country music concert on New Year's Eve, can it???

    1. Thanks for the report Nat. Sounded like a great show, especially lasting over four hours. You don't see shows like that anymore.

      Interesting that Gina made the trip out to Branson.

  3. I'm pretty sure Gina came with Gus Arrendale.
    The performers all made a big deal out of the fact that they were both there at the Concert.
    Apparently Gus spends lots of money to support traditional country music.
    Larry's Country Diner (at least some of the shows) are held at the Starlite Theater in Branson.

  4. Nat,

    Thanks for the report on that show. More bang for your buck than a two hour Opry show! Nice that the Opry Talent Manager was there to see that real Country can still draw a crowd although probably not the demographic they are after.

    Knightsville, IN

  5. Jim,

    Biggest song of the night might have been Seely's geriatric tribute :)