After being in Nashville this past weekend for Marty Stuart's 25th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, I just wanted to pass along a few observations regarding the shows over the weekend, along with a few other weekend activities I took part in while in Nashville.
Regarding the Friday Night Opry with Marty Stuart, I thought both shows were excellent. Marty hosted the final hour of both shows and had Connie Smith, Charlie Worsham, and the Opry Square Dancers, who closed out the shows, as his scheduled guests. Old Crow Medicine Show, who appeared earlier in the night, also came out to sing with Marty, as did musician Kenny Lovelace, best known for his work with Jerry Lee Lewis. Marty's other two guests were his mom Hilda, who did a nice little musical duet with her son, and songwriter Dallas Frazier, who Connie mentioned had written 71 of the songs she had recorded. (Adding a personal note, Dallas should have been one of the first songwriters to have been elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame). The one missing item from the night with Marty was the lack of a special presentation by anyone from the Opry. Usually on these anniversaries there is a special tribute and usually a presentation of a framed posted. Hopefully there was a legitimate reason for this and it was nothing personal toward Marty.
As to the rest of the Friday Night Opry, everyone did a very nice job. Bill Anderson did his Po' Folk's Christmas song, along with "Santa Claus is Coming to Town" on both shows; Bobby Osborne, who had fallen and suffered several broken ribs earlier in the week, looked and sounded great; John Conlee was fine and Old Crow Medicine Show did their usual great job. The other artist from Friday was Elizabeth Cook, who is my opinion also did a very fine job. She was been around Nashville for a number of years now and is also a personality on Outlaw Country. The first show looked just about sold out while the 2nd show was probably two-thirds filled.
Now on to Saturday night, and again both shows were very nice. Trace Adkins was a late addition and he performed solo, without his band. Charles Esten from "Nashville" brought a lot of energy to both shows and who knows, he may still be around when the television show ends. Hard to believe but this was the first time I had seen Shenandoah, and they brought back a lot of memories from years past. Mike Snider was funny (of course), Jeannie Seely, Connie Smith and John Conlee were in good form and The Whites were very good. Maggie Rose also guested, but the highlight of the night was seeing Wanda Jackson. I first saw Wanda a few years ago when she hosted the Midnight Jamboree, so I was looking forward to seeing her again. While she looked a little frail (she is 80 now), and sang while sitting on a stool, she still has it and her voice was solid. She treated everyone to a little rockabilly and "Right or Wrong," her big hit that she also wrote.
Wanda also appeared Saturday afternoon at the Country Music Hall of Fame, discussing her book "Every Night is Saturday Night." There was a nice crowd to see her and most really enjoyed the experience of listening to this legend. Afterwards, she signed copies of her book, which I was quick to get. The Hall of Fame did not allow pictures to be taken of each individual greeting Wanda and getting their book signed, which did disappoint me. Also, the Hall of Fame ran out of books, saying that their second shipment did not reach them. There were some people not happy as this was probably their only chance to get an autograph from Wanda and a chance to meet her. The Hall of Fame has to do a better job.
Finally, on Saturday morning I went out to the former home of Hank Snow, the famous "Rainbow Ranch" and does it look nice. Much work has gone in to restoring the house the way it was when Hank lived in it. The work as massive as the house had really fallen into a state of disrepair and the difference from what I had seen on my last visit over a year ago is just awesome. There is still work to be done but the house and property are looking good. (I did post some pictures on my facebook page and will post more, or email if anyone is interested). There is also a facebook page for Hank Snow's Rainbow Ranch. Finally, they now have Hank Snow's former tour bus back in the driveway after getting it back from the Hall of Fame. The bus is amazing as it is still in the condition of when Hank last used it, including the furnishings on the bunks and in Hank's private room. I know they want to restore the bus and allow people to see it and I am sure they will make it happen. A special thanks goes to Terry Tyson who has spent a massive number of volunteer hours on this project, and to Cal, a nephew of Hank Snow, and his wife Sandy for their time on Saturday morning, and for purchasing and saving the house. There is also a website, hanksnowsranch.com with pictures and more information.
Regarding the Tuesday Opry shows this week, the Opry is once again having a late afternoon matinee at the Ryman Auditorium. Overall, a pretty solid line-up for the afternoon show. As to the evening show, it will be another guest appearance by Chris Janson, who is the closing act.
Tuesday Opry Matinee 12/5
3:30: Bill Anderson; Darin & Brooke Aldridge
4:00: The Whites; Mandy Barnett
4:45: Exile; Chonda Pierce
5:15: Sundance Head; Connie Smith
Tuesday Night Opry 12/5
7:00: Bill Anderson; Sundance Head
7:30: Kelleigh Bannen; Connie Smith
8:15: Tracy Lawrence; Chonda Pierce
8:45: Exile; Chris Janson