Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Grand Ole Opry 2/2 & 2/3---Updated

Guess I spoke too soon. Jesse has cancelled his Opry appearance on Saturday night, replaced by Exile. Wishing Jesse well. On a side note, that puts the Saturday night show down to just three members.

If all goes well, the Grand Ole Opry will welcome back the legendary Jesse McReynolds on Saturday night for his first Opry appearances since September. Jesse was hospitalized and underwent emergency surgery for a ruptured aneurysm on September 20 and the recovery process has taken this long. Thankfully, Jesse came through the surgery and rehabilitation and is ready to go. I know many of us will be listening on Saturday, especially for Jesse's segment. (Hopefully no setback between now and then).

I am sure emotions will run high on Friday night also as Eddie Montgomery will be making his first Opry appearance since the death of his longtime partner and collaborator Troy Gentry. Troy passed away last September in that horrible helicopter crash and since then Eddie has been formulating his plans going forward and he made the decision to continue forward as Montgomery Gentry featuring Eddie Montgomery. In addition to the Opry appearance, a tour is set for this year.

As to the rest of the Opry members this weekend, Mike Snider, Ricky Skaggs and The Whites will be hosting segments both nights, with Craig Morgan hosting on Friday night. Steve Wariner was originally scheduled to host a segment on Saturday night, however he is ill with the flu and cancelled out. Besides Eddie Montgomery on Friday night, Opry member Bobby Osborne is also scheduled. Saturday night will feature just the five Opry members already mentioned.

When looking at the guest artists scheduled for this weekend, the name Jeanne Robertson caught my eye. While not a comedian, she is a humorist and storyteller. I have seen her on the Opry previously and I thought she did a nice job. Lately, I have noticed that the Opry seems to be making a concerted effort to add comedy to the show. Over the past year, and especially the last several months, we have seen Henry Cho and Dick Hardwick making numerous appearances, and last week Chonda Pierce was on both nights. There has been the occasional appearance by Ray Stevens, T. Bubba Bechtol, Gary Mule Deer, and of course the comedy from Mike Snider. The Opry has a history of presenting comedy and the list of past members include Minnie Pearl, Rod Brasfield, Archie Campbell, Duke of Paducah, Jerry Clower and while musicians, Lonzo & Oscar, Cousin Jody, Stringbean and Grandpa Jones would throw in some jokes now and then. It is nice to see the Opry continue with that tradition.

As to other guests appearing this weekend, the wonderful Kathy Mattea is appearing both nights, while Michael Tyler, Brook Eden and Exile are on Friday's schedule. Saturday night's guests include The Swon Brothers, Linda Davis, Brandy Clark, Delta Rae and Trent Harmon.

Friday February 2
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Michael Tyler; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Brooke Eden; Kathy Mattea
8:15: The Whites (host); Exile; Jeanne Robertson
8:45: Craig Morgan (host); Montgomery Gentry/featuring Eddie Montgomery

Saturday February 3
7:00: Mike Snider (host); The Swon Brothers; Linda Davis
7:30: The Whites(host); Brandy Clark; Delta Rae
8:15: Ricky Skaggs (host); Exile; Opry Square Dancers; Trent Harmon; Kathy Mattea

I still hate it when an artist is forced to cancel and the Opry can't come up with a member who can host a segment.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from the first weekend in February 10 years ago, the weekend of February 1 & 2, 2008:

Friday February 1
8:00: Jim Ed Brown (host) w/Helen Cornelius; The Whites; Danielle Peck
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; Josh Gracin
9:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Jimmy Wayne
9:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jack Greene; Buddy Jewell

Saturday February 2
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; James Otto
7:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Connie Smith; The Time Jumpers
7:30: George Hamilton IV (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jack Greene; Rebecca Lynn Howard
8:00: Jim Ed Brown (host) w/Helen Cornelius; Stu Phillips; Old Crow Medicine Show; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Riders In The Sky (host); John McEuen w/sons Jonathan & Nathan; Lee Greenwood

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; The Time Jumpers
10:00: George Hamilton IV (host); Connie Smith; James Otto
10:30: Jim Ed Brown (host) w/Helen Cornelius; Rebecca Lynn Howard; Old Crow Medicine Show; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Riders In The Sky (host); John McEuen w/sons Jonathan & Nathan; Lee Greenwood

From 25 years ago, Saturday February 6, 1993:

1st show
6:30: Del Reeves (host); The Whites
6:45: Bill Monroe (host); Bill Carlisle
7:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jeanne Pruett; John Conlee
7:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); The 4 Guys; Charlie Walker; Justin Tubb; Jan Howard
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Mel McDaniel; Connie Smith; Jimmy Dickens; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Jean Shepard; Jim & Jesse; Ray Pillow; Mike Snider

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); The Whites; Brother Oswald & Charlie Collins; Stonewall Jackson; Billy Walker
10:00: John Conlee (host); Jimmy C Newman
10:15: Ricky Skaggs (host); Skeeter Davis
10:30: Bill Monroe (host); Mike Snider
10:45: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jeannie Seely; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Del Reeves; Connie Smith; Charlie Louvin; Mel McDaniel
11:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jean Shepard; Jim & Jesse; Johnny Russell

Looking back at past Grand Ole Opry shows the first weekend in February, it was 42 years ago, Friday February 6, 1976 that Ronnie Milsap became a member of the Grand Ole Opry, while it was 5 years later, February 7, 1981 that John Conlee joined the cast. February 6, 1960 was an important date in the life of George Hamilton IV as that was the night he became a member of the Opry family.

With a catchy, danceable country pop sound, Ronnie Milsap dominated radio during the '70s and '80s and pushed the genre beyond its rural roots and into mainstream entertainment. Born blind in a poor region of North Carolina, Ronnie lived with his grandmother until he was six years old. He attended Morehead State School for the Blind in Raleigh, where he was given strict Classical training. But late at night he listened to his favorite country, gospel, and R&B broadcasts. The music reminded him of home.

Ronnie studied pre-law at Young Harris Junior College near Atlanta, eventually earning a scholarship to Emory. Instead of continuing with law, he threw himself into music, forming his own band. During the mid-'60s, he landed session work, notably on Elvis Presley's "Kentucky Rain" and "Don't Cry Daddy." In 1973 Ronnie moved from Memphis to Nashville. Before one could say "overnight success," he was signed by RCA and released the two-sided hit, "All Together Now (Let's Fall Apart)" and "I Hate You." He followed with "That Girl Who Waits on Tables" and "Pure Love." A year later, he had three No. 1 songs. The flood of his hits made for quite the country music catalog: "Daydreams About Night Things," "(I'm A) Stand by My Woman Man," Smoky Mountain Rain," "Lost in the Fifties Tonight (In the Still of the Night)," "How Do I Turn You On," and "Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me" all stormed the charts.

Along with multiple gold and platinum albums, Ronnie has earned six Grammys and shelves of other awards, including CMAs and ACMs. In 2014, he was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

Ronnie was formally inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry by Roy Acuff during the Friday Night Opry on February 6, 1976. The line-up from that night included:

7:30: Billy Walker (host); Skeeter Davis; The 4 Guys; Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper
8:00: Jack Greene (host); Jeannie Seely; Stonewall Jackson
8:30: Roy Acuff (host); Jeanne Pruett; Ronnie Milsap
9:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Charlie Louvin; Bill Carlisle; Ernie Ashworth
9:30: Roy Drusky (host); Connie Smith; Billy Grammer; Del Wood
10:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Barbara Mandrell; Willis Brothers; Justin Tubb
10:30: Osborne Brothers (host); Hank Locklin; Marion Worth; Stu Phillips

The following night, Saturday February 7, 1976, Ronnie performed on Saturday's Grand Ole Opry for the first time as an Opry member. Here is the running order from the two shows that night:

1st show
6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Billy Grammer (host): Gotta Travel On
Del Wood: Keep on the Firing Line/The World Each Day
Billy Grammer: That's Life/God Will Take Care of You

6:45: Rudy's
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Curly-Headed Baby
Skeeter Davis: Love Will Keep Us Together
Willis Brothers: Truck Stop
Wilma Lee Cooper: The Tramp on the Street

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): On A Highway Headed South
Barbara Mandrell: Standing Room Only
Roy Drusky: Sunrise
Ernie Ashworth: Wichita Woman
Barbara Mandrell: Steel Guitar Rag
Roy Drusky: One Day at A Time
Porter Wagoner: Cold Hard Facts of Life/The Carroll County Accident/Green, Green Grass of Home/Indian Creek

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Don Gibson: Sweet Dreams
Marion Worth: You Win Again
Justin Tubb: Looking Back to See
Roy Acuff: Blue Eyes Cryin' in the Rain
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Gray Eagle
Don Gibson: Oh, Lonesome Me

8:00: Martha White
Osborne Brothers (host): Smokey Mountain Smoke
Grandpa Jones: Ball Headed End of the Broom
Connie Smith: 'Til I Kissed You
Charlie Louvin & Pam Dickinson: Don't It Seem to Rain A Lot in Our Lives
Hank Locklin: Send Me the Pillow You Dream On
Stu Phillips: A Castle; A Cabin
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): I Don't Hurt Anymore
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Ronnie Milsap: Day Dreams
Bill Carlisle: I'm Moving
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bill Cheatham
Brush Arbour: White Line
Hank Snow: The Next Voice You Hear

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Roy Drusky (host): Alone With You
Willis Brothers: Bob
Don Gibson: I Can't Stop Loving You
Skeeter Davis: One Tin Soldier
Justin Tubb: As Long As There's A Sunday
Don Gibson: Blue, Blue Day
Roy Drusky: Bouquet of Roses

10:00: Fender
Porter Wagoner (host): Tennessee Sunshine
Barbara Mandrell: Satisfied
Del Wood: The Entertainer
Porter Wagoner: The Last One to Touch Me

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Traveling the Highway Home
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Heartbreak Street
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird/I Saw the Light

10:30: Trailblazer
Grandpa Jones (host): Nashville on My Mind
Osborne Brothers: Smokey Mountain Smoke
Billy Grammer: That's Life
Grandpa Jones: Make Me A Pallet Down on the Floor

10:45: Beech-Nut
Hank Locklin (host): The Sweetest Mistake I Ever Made
Connie Smith: "Til I Kissed You
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Cotton-Eyed Joe
Hank Locklin: Send Me the Pillow You Dream On

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Tangled Mind
Stu Phillips: Only You Can Hush the Wind
Marion Worth: Delta Dawn
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hickory Leaf
Ernie Ashworth: Wichita Woman
Kirk McGee: My Darling Rose Malone
Hank Snow: Mary Ann Regrets

11:30: Elm Hill
Charlie Louvin (host): I Just Want Out
Jeanne Pruett: Break my Mind/Satin Sheets
Ronnie Milsap: Lovesick Blues/Just in Case/Day Dreams
Bill Carlisle: Little Liza Jane
Charlie Louvin & Pam Dickinson: If I Could Only Win Your Love

Again, congratulations to Ronnie Milsap upon his 42nd anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. And as always, I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend!!


  1. I can't believe that it's almost that time of the year again when the Country Music Hall of Fame will announce it's inductees for 2018 all of that aside who do you see going into the Hall of Fame this year?

    also I want to ask this question,

    Which acts do you guys see being inducted into the Hall of Fame in the next five years (2018 2019 2020 2021 and 2022)?

  2. Ronnie Milsap may be known best for his more pop or middle-of-the-road sound, but when he sings a hard country song it has been sung.

    1. "That girl who waits on tables, used to wait for me at home"

  3. Best wishes to Jesse. I can't say I know much about him, but he played the only time I've been to the Opry in person and found it enjoyable.

    It would be nice if they are able to round up another member to host the final segment. I don't mind the hour long segments on the weeknight shows, and even the Friday nights in a pinch, but it is a tough pill to see on the Grand Ole Opry shows. On the other hand, when two members cancel in the week leading up I'm sure it does put them in a bind.

  4. Been listening to the Opry on WSM since around 1960 and never thought about it being anything special to host a segment before I started reading this blog . I'm still not sure what special skills or reputation you need to do it successfully. I believe I could host a segment if I ever was asked ----- Flushing Dashmann

  5. Dashmann, I know what you mean. But some HAVE been better than others.

  6. From a practical sense, their job is to get the audience fired up for each act in the show and properly introduce the acts (including throwing it to the announcer for commercials). Related to that is to welcome the guests in the same way a host welcomes guests to his/her house for a house party. It is mostly in that vein that I am disappointed when they cannot find a member to host because it is akin to going to a house party and being greeted by someone who doesn't even live there. Flushing is correct that the task is pretty easy, although ironically I am watching an Opry Encore that aired a week or two ago where Jack Green introduced Hal Ketchem as the singer of the hit "Hometown Saturday Night" instead of "Small Town Saturday Night". When you have such a diverse group of country, bluegrass, gospel, and comedy artists young and new, it makes sense the a host may not always know much about an artist appearing on their portion of the show, but that's where the host needs to do their homework and I know many do including with things like note cards.

  7. Some hosts certainly are better than others, but, Joe, some of the mistakes are part of the charm, as in when Mr. Acuff introduced a certain storyteller as Tom P. Hay, and Grandpa Jones occasionally asked a performer who he or she was because he forgot their name. Porter Wagoner and Jim Ed Brown tended to be better than a lot of others because of their TV experience, as is the case now with Bill Anderson.

    By the way, I did a little searching. Ol' Whisper and Lorrie Morgan were doing cruises last night. Vince Gill was available, though he should get a pass for being a good citizen. Marty Stuart wasn't on tour, and he no longer gets a pass. I suspect Bobby Osborne wouldn't have minded working two straight nights, and Ray Pillow might have been around. Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss didn't appear to be going anywhere, but they only show up at the Opry to be honored for anniversaries or promote a new album.

  8. When I go back and look at the older Opry line-ups, it seemed just about everyone (as long as they were male) got the opportunity to host segments. Yes you had Roy Acuff, Hank Snow, Ernest Tubb and the others who were locked into their slots, but even Bill Carlisle, Osborne Brothers, The 4 Guys, Stu Phillips, Charlie Louvin, etc., all hosted at one time or another. Then it seemed to change over the past several decades into a tighter list of those who would host a segment, with a definite pecking order. As the legends have retired or passed away, members such as The Whites and Connie Smith, to name a few, have moved into hosting spots and do a pretty nice job.

    No it doesn't take much to host, although a number of those who do host have trouble reading the information off the notecards they now give the members when introducing guests (making sure they get all the information right), but even with that there are still a number of hosts who mispronounce names or botch the name of a song (you think they would get clarification before the introduction).

    But then again, with only 3 members scheduled for Saturday night, the options become very limited. I don't know if they did reach out to other members to host a segment or if they just said, what the heck (which I think they did), regardless, it is what it is.

    It all goes back to the fact that with 60+ Opry members, they need to get more than 3 or 4 on a show.