Monday, February 26, 2018

Tuesday Night Opry 2/27 & Opry Country Classics 3/1

Here is the posted line-up for this week's Tuesday Night Opry:

7:00: Jeannie Seely; Dailey & Vincent
7:30: Tegan Marie; Easton Corbin
8:15: Bill Anderson; Henry Cho
8:45: The Isaacs; Alison Krauss

Nice to see Alison back on the Opry.

Opry Country Classics is back starting this Thursday night. The theme for the first show will be songs of Johnny and June Carter Cash, in honor of what would have been their 50th anniversary

Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers
Ana Cristina Cash
Chuck Mead
John Carter Cash
Mandy Barnett
The Whites

For those who might ask, Ana Cristina is the wife of John Carter.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Grand Ole Opry 2/23 & 2/24

Before getting to the Grand Ole Opry and the shows this weekend, it was announced on the Tuesday Night Opry that Chris Janson will be officially inducted as an Opry member on Tuesday March 20. No other details were revealed, although I am sure they have lined up a special guest to do the actual induction. As of today, there is still only one show listed for that night. Personally, I just hate to see anyone not inducted as a member on any other night than Saturday. Saturday is the traditional night for the Grand Ole Opry, and it would have been nice to see the Saturday show still considered the "big" one, where the important events, such as inducting new members, takes place. It could be logistical as to why Tuesday night, as I know Chris is busy touring and perhaps that was the only night something could be lined up. Regardless, congratulations to Chris and I know it will be a big night for him.

While the "official" Grand Ole Opry line-up is not posted as of this posting (Thursday night). I have learned that the line-up is complete with Grand Ole Opry member Crystal Gayle scheduled for both nights. Joining her on Friday and Saturday will be members Jeannie Seely, Mike Snider and Connie Smith. Members scheduled for Friday night only are The Whites, Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press and Craig Morgan, while Bill Anderson and Steve Wariner are scheduled for Saturday night.

As to guest appearances, the Friday night Opry will feature Ryan Kinder, Mickey Guyton, Flatt Lonesome, Mo Pitney and it would appear, Dan Tyminski. Saturday night it looks like Natalie Stovall, Elizabeth Cook Charles Esten, Shenandoah and Troy Cassar-Daley are scheduled.

Friday February 23
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Ryan Kinder; Mike Snider
7:30: Connie Smith (host); Mickey Guyton; Flatt Lonesome
8:15: The Whites (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Mo Pitney
8:45: Craig Morgan (host); Dan Tyminski; Crystal Gayle

Saturday February 24
7:00: Connie Smith (host); Natalie Stovall; Mike Snider
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Elizabeth Cook; Charles Esten
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Shenandoah; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Steve Wariner (host); Troy Cassar-Daley; Crystal Gayle

There you have it for this week's line-up. I will be in Nashville for both the Friday and Saturday Opry shows. If there are any updates to the line-up, or if I received some wrong information regarding the shows, I will post an update. Hopefully I will have the access.

Looking back to the 4th weekend of February 10 years ago, the weekend of February 22  & 23:

Friday February 22
8:00: The Whites (host); Jim Lauderdale; Ashley Monroe
8:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); Jack Greene; Emerson Drive
9:00: George Hamilton IV (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Kathy Mattea
9:30: Jim Ed Brown (host) w/Helen Cornelius; T. Graham Brown; Joe Nichols

Saturday February 23
1st show
6:30: Jim Ed Brown (host) w/Helen Cornelius; Jack Greene; Dan Tyminski Band
7:00: Jo Dee Messina; Keith Anderson; Tracy Byrd; Randy Owen
8:00: The Whites (host); Jan Howard; The Time Jumpers; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: George Hamilton IV (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Restless Heart

2nd show
9:30: Jim Ed Brown (host) w/Helen Cornelius; Dan Tyminski Band; Keith Anderson
10:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Randy Owen; Jo Dee Messina
10:30: The Whites (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Tracy Byrd; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: George Hamilton IV (host); The Time Jumpers; Restless Heart

25 years ago, Saturday February 27, 1993:

1st show
6:30: Bill Anderson (host); Skeeter Davis
6:45: Jack Greene (host); Roy Drusky; Jan Howard
7:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); Bill Carlisle; Charlie Walker; Jean Shepard; Jimmy C Newman
7:30: Billy Walker (host); Kathy Mattea; Oak Ridge Boys
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); The Whites; The 4 Guys; Mike Snider; Opry Square Dance Band; Stoney Mountain Cloggers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Jimmy Dickens; Grandpa Jones; Bill Monroe

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Ray Pillow; Jeanne Pruett; Oak Ridge Boys
10:00: Bill Anderson (host); Kathy Mattea
10:15: Grandpa Jones (host); Jeannie Seely
10:30: Bill Monroe (host); Brother Oswald; Charlie Louvin
10:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); Stonewall Jackson; Opry Square Dance Band; Stoney Mountain Cloggers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); The Whites; Mike Snider; Jimmy C Newman; Justin Tubb
11:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; The 4 Guys; Johnny Russell

I would have to go back and double check the records, but I do believe that the reason all of the Hall of Fame members were on the last portion of the 1st show was because of a function that took place at the Opryland Hotel involving those artists.

It was on Saturday February 28, 1987 that Grand Ole Opry member Archie Campbell made his final appearance on the Opry.

An artist can fall into one or more of many categories. Archie Campbell was an artist who fit several. Born in Bulls Gap, in East Tennessee, Archie was an entertainer who excelled in both music and comedy. He was also a songwriter who wrote much of his material. Finally, he was a painter of note, a man capable of capturing on canvas anything from serious landscapes to humorous caricatures. In fact, Archie painted the beautiful 6 X 10 foot mural that to this day hangs in the artists' lounge backstage at the Grand Ole Opry House.

Perhaps Archie's earthy humor and love of mankind came from his childhood days in Bulls Gap. There, he, his brother and two sisters enjoyed a hilarious and happy rearing. He later studied art at Mars Hill College in Mars Hill, North Carolina, but found the entertainment field was more lucrative than art. He moved to near-by Knoxville and began concentrating on it.

After serving in the Navy, Archie returned to Knoxville, where he had a radio show on WNOX, featuring guests like Chet Atkins and Carl Smith. Moving to Nashville in 1958, he became a member of the Grand Ole Opry, signed an RCA recording contract and then spent the subsequent years wallowing in radio, TV, movie, personal appearances, hit records and script writing success. Archie was known as a comic and writer on "Hee Haw." Archie also had a number of hit records including "Rindercella," Beeping Sleauty," "Pee Little Thrigs," "Trouble in the Amen Corner," and "Rojo." Archie had the rare ability to combine comedy with music, and he could handle the guitar, ukulele, and bass with self-taught proficiency. In 1969 he was honored by the Country Music Association as Comedian of the Year. Besides appearing on "Hee Haw", Archie also hosted "Yesteryear In Nashville" which was on TNN.

Archie was also an accomplished golfer and built one of the first lighted golf courses in the United States. As a painter, he also owned an art gallery and served on the school board in Knoxville, Tennessee. He also operated and performed for a number of years at his theater in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Once the theater went into operation, Archie would spend the summers in Gatlinburg, thus the majority of his Opry appearances would take place during the winter months. Archie Campbell passed away on August 29, 1987 after suffering a heart attack. He is buried near Powell, Tennessee and his childhood home on Main Street in Bulls Gap has been preserved as a memorial.

Here you go, from Saturday February 28, 1987 the final night that Archie Campbell performed on the Grand Ole Opry:

1st show
6:30: Bonanza
Stonewall Jackson (host): Muddy Water
The 4 Guys: Love, Love, Love
Stonewall Jackson: Why I'm Walkin'/Waterloo

6:45: Rudy's
Archie Campbell (host): Make Friends
Skeeter Davis: My Last Date With You/Silver Threads & Golden Needles/The End of the World

7:00: Shoney's
Hank Snow (host): Right or Wrong
Charlie Walker: Roly, Poly
Boxcar Willie: Fireball Mail/Train of Love/Hand Me My Walking Cane/Wreck of the Old 97/Orange Blossom Special/Wabash Cannonball/Night Train to Memphis
Dottie West: Your Cheatin' Heart/Are You Happy Baby
Hank Snow: The Next Voice You Hear

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jim Ed Brown: Scarlet Ribbons/The 3 Bells
Connie Smith: Walk Me to the Door
George Hamilton IV: Break My Mind
Crook Brothers/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Greenback Dollar
Roy Acuff: I'll Fly Away

8:00: Martha White
Porter Wagoner (host): Company's Comin'
Osborne Brothers: Beneath Still Waters
Jack Greene: Our Time
Jeanne Pruett: Temporarily Yours
The Whites: I Wonder Who's Holding My Baby Tonight
Porter Wagoner: Milwaukee, Here I Come

8:30: Music Valley Drive
Grandpa Jones (host): My Happy Little Home in Arkansas
Billy Walker: She Goes Walking Thru My Mind/Sing Me A Love Song to Baby
Jean Shepard: Slippin' Away
Roy Drusky: Always
Del Reeves: While I Play Those Honky-Tonk Songs; She Sings Amazing Grace
Grandpa Jones: Time

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Ol' Slewfoot
Lorrie Morgan: Lone Star State of Mind
The 4 Guys: Bop
Dottie West: It's High Time/Faded Love
Porter Wagoner: I Thought I Heard You Calling My Name

10:00: Little Debbie
Archie Campbell (host): Make Friends
Jeannie Seely: Don't Touch Me

10:15: Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Meeting in the Air
Boxcar Willie: Fireball Mail/Train of Love/Hand Me My Walking Cane/Wreck of the Old 97/I'm Moving On/Wabash Cannonball/Night Train to Memphis/Life's Railway to Heaven

10:30: Pet Milk
Grandpa Jones (host): Apple Jack
Jean Shepard: Are You Teasing Me
Charlie Louvin: Please Help Me
Grandpa Jones: Here Comes the Champion

10:45: Heil Quaker
Jim Ed Brown (host): Everyday People
Roy Drusky: I'll Hold You In My Heart
Crook Brothers/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Sally Goodin
Jim Ed Brown: Send Me the Pillow You Dream On

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): White Silver Sands
Connie Smith: Walkin' After Midnight
Osborne Brothers: Kentucky
The Whites: Makin' Believe/Pins & Needles
Hank Snow: Am I That Easy to Forget

11:30: Quincy's
Del Reeves (host): The Race is On
Jeanne Pruett: Temporarily Yours/Satin Sheets
Del Reeves: Don't You Ever Get Tired of Hurting Me
Jack Greene; Midnight Tennessee Woman/There Goes My Everything/Statue of A Fool

In case anyone was wondering why Hank Snow was hosting at 7:00, he was hosting the televised portion on TNN that night. Originally the 7:00 segment was televised, later moved to 7:30.

One last thought on Archie Campbell: the more I listen to old Opry shows featuring Archie, and watching the reruns of Hee Haw, the more I am convinced that Archie deserves a spot in the Country Music Hall of Fame. While the odds are against him, someday it might happen. He as a comic genius who could also sing a heartfelt song when asked. It is too bad that he passed away at too soon.

Looking at other Opry events from the last weekend in February, DeFord Bailey returned to the Opry for the 1st of what became an annual reunion show, often called Old-Timer's Night. DeFord was one of the Opry's originals until he was fired by George D. Hay in 1941. He had been asked numerous times to return, always turning down the invitations. Finally, thanks to Bill Monroe, Roy Acuff, and Minnie Pearl, among others, DeFord returned, as he would several more times before he passed away.

Also, it was on February 24, 2001 that Wilma Lee Cooper suffered a stroke while performing on the first show that night, which would end her performing career. Wilma Lee, who came to the Opry in 1957 with her husband Stoney and daughter Carol Lee, would only make two more appearances on the Opry stage following her stroke: in 2007 in honor of her 50th anniversary as an Opry member and in 2010 at the reopening of the Opry House.

Last but not least, it was 26 years ago, Saturday February 29, 1992 that Travis Tritt became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. After an absence of 10 years, Travis returned to the Opry last year to be recognized upon his 25th anniversary as a member of the Opry. It was nice to see him back, and he needs to come back more often.

There you have it for this week. I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend and as always, I will report back on my observations when I return next week.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Grand Ole Opry 2/16 & 2/17

I wanted to start out this week by offering my prayers, thoughts and condolences to the family of Daryle Singletary, who passed away this past Monday morning. While never an Opry member, Daryle made numerous appearances on the Opry over the years and always stuck with the great traditional sound that he began with. And while his hit making days ended years ago, he remained a very popular concert draw and always had work out on the road in various clubs and on the fair circuit.

Daryle was born in Cairo, Georgia. At an early age he began singing gospel music with his cousins and brother. Later in high school, he took vocal classes and in 1990 he moved to Nashville to pursue his dream of singing country music. Once in Nashville, he found work singing at open-mic nights at various venues. He eventually found work as a demo singer. One of the demos that he sang was "Old Old Pair of Shoes" which Randy Travis eventually recorded. Randy recommended Daryle to his management team, who helped him sign a recording contract with Giant Records.

He recorded for Giant Records between 1995 and 1998, where he released three studio albums. During that period, he was on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart with five singles in the Top 40, with "I Let Her Lie" and "Amen Kind of Love,' both reaching No. 2 and "Too Much Fun" making it up to No. 4. In 2000, he moved to Audium Entertainment, releasing two albums, before moving over to Shanachie Records. In addition, he did a duet album recently with Rhonda Vincent.

Daryle had that true country sound that they don't play on the radio anymore, but as mentioned, he had no trouble finding work out on the road where many fans were looking for the traditional sound. Daryle passed away way too soon but his legacy will carry on.

As to the Grand Ole Opry this weekend, there is one show on Friday and Saturday night. Opry members set for both nights include Jeannie Seely, Mike Snider and John Conlee. (It is nice to see Jeannie back on the schedule as she has reported that her husband Gene is doing a little better. Hopefully that improvement will continue). Joining those three on Friday night will be members Diamond Rio, Connie Smith and Bobby Osborne. Saturday night, it will be the first appearance of the year for Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, in addition to Ricky Skaggs and The Whites.

Guest artists for the weekend shows include Mark Willis, who is set for both nights. Joining Mark on Friday night will be Steven Curtis Chapman, Sarah Darling, The SteelDrivers, Jim Lauderdale and LOCASH. Saturday night's guests, in addition to Mark, will be William Michael Morgan, Shelly Fairchild and Charlie Worsham.

Friday February 16
7:00: Diamond Rio (host); Mike Snider; Steven Curtis Chapman
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Sarah Darling; The SteelDrivers
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Mark Wills
8:45: John Conlee (host); Jim Lauderdale; LOCASH

Saturday February 17
7:00: John Conlee (host); William Michael Morgan; Mike Snider
7:30: Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers (host); Shelly Fairchild; Charlie Worsham
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host); Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Mark Wills

The schedule has also been posted for Tuesday night:

Tuesday February 20
7:00: Terri Clark; John Conlee
7:30: Carly Pearce; Easton Corbin
8:15: Chris Janson; Kelsea Ballerini; Trace Adkins

And no, it will not be Chris Janson's Opry induction. I did a quick scan on the upcoming schedule and I still see no official date listed. I know it was mentioned that it would be later in the spring. My guess is that they are waiting for a confirmation or two from a particular Opry member who Chris would like to formally induct him. Until then, we get another "guest" appearance from Chris. And for those who wondered if this has happened in the past, where a new member is asked and they continue to make appearances prior to their formal induction, yes it has happened. Jeanne Pruett comes in mind in 1973 as she wanted Dolly Parton to induct her and it took a little time for Dolly to be at the Opry as her and Porter were touring pretty heavily at the time. And I sure there have been others, but she is the first to pop into my mind.

Now from the 3rd weekend in February 10 years ago, the weekend of February 15 & 16, 2008:

Friday February 15
8:00: Marty Stuart (host); Connie Smith; Del McCoury Band
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Elizabeth Cook
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Charlie Louvin; Cherryholmes
9:30: Hal Ketchum (host); Jim Ed Brown; Josh Turner

Saturday February 16
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Rebecca Lynn Howard
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Mel McDaniel; Jim Lauderdale
7:30: Hal Ketchum (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jack Greene
8:00: Marty Stuart (host); Connie Smith; Del McCoury Band; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; Darryl Worley

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jimmy C Newman; Rebecca Lynn Howard
10:00: Hal Ketchum (host); Mel McDaniel; Jim Lauderdale
10:30: Marty Stuart (host); Connie Smith; Del McCoury Band; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jack Greene; Darryl Worley

From 25 years ago, Saturday February 20, 1993:

1st show
6:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard
6:45: Grandpa Jones (host); Skeeter Davis; Wilma Lee Cooper
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Roy Drusky; Charlie Walker; The 4 Guys; Charlie Louvin
7:30: Johnny Russell (host); Jeannie Seely; Darryl & Don Ellis; Garth Brooks
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Brother Oswald; Connie Smith; The Whites; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Jimmy C Newman; Del Reeves; Mike Snider

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Stonewall Jackson; Jeanne Pruett; Garth Brooks
10:00: Grandpa Jones (host); Jim Ed Brown
10:15: Billy Walker (host); Bill Carlisle
10:30: Del Reeves (host); Ray Pillow
10:45: The 4 Guys (host); Darryl & Don Ellis; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Charlie Louvin; Justin Tubb; Connie Smith
11:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); The Whites; Johnny Russell

For those who might not remember, Darryl & Don Ellis were from Beaver, Pennsylvania. The duo were brothers, whose real names were Darryl Ellis Gatlin and Don Ellis Gatlin. Their highest charting single, "No Sir," peaked at No. 58 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart in 1992. Don Ellis would later write songs on Blake Shelton's first two albums and later formed a second band called Savannah Jack. The Ellis Brothers released two albums, the last one in 1993 that did not make the country charts. In addition to the albums, the brothers released five singles, with only the first three reaching the lower end of the singles charts. By 1994, they were pretty much finished.

Looking back it was Saturday February 21, 1981 that Boxcar Willie became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Being reared on Country Music, freight trains, and hobos could have a definite effect on a young boy. And for one young Texan, those early years would someday be the kind of things that legends are made of. Born in the small town of Sterrett, Texas, Boxcar Willie could rattle off country lyrics before he could even talk in complete sentences. As a two-year-old, Boxcar would run to the door as freight trains traveled less than a stone's throw from his home. It was at this young age that Boxcar began imitating the train whistle as he heard it. He was also delighted by the performances of Jimmie Rodgers, Roy Acuff, Hank Williams and Ernest Tubb as they picked and sang on the family Victrola. His daddy, a railroad man, would fiddle for the family at day's end, passing along pure Country Music rich in Tennessee ancestry. With a railroad man as the head of the household and a trainyard for a backyard, Boxcar learned a great deal about train hobos. These men taught him a lot with their tall tales and vagabond lifestyles. They would sing, dance, repair things and even fix fancy vittles like rabbit stew.

During his early years Boxcar held many jobs from being a disc jockey to a flight engineer, while playing his music part time. In 1976, Boxcar Willie adopted the now-famous hobo attire into his act. It was at this time that Box and his wife "Miz Box" along with the encouragement of their three children, decided that he should devote all of his time to Country Music. In no time at all a love relationship developed between Box and his ever-growing audiences. Between the tattered cap, weather-worn guitar case and hand-me-down clothes, folks everywhere took a liking to Boxcar's pure country voice and pure gold heart. Not only did things take off in the United States, but his popularity spread like wildfire in England and Scotland.

It is no surprise that the awards started to mount in all three countries. Both "Boxcar Willie" and "Daddy was a Railroad Man" debuted in 1976. What were to follow were more albums: "Boxcar Willie Sings Hank Williams and Jimmy Rodgers," "Take Me Home," and the popular TV advertised "King of the Road, " in 1981 which sold over 3 million copies. Other albums soon followed. Boxcar Willie had 15 Gold albums and four Platinum albums to his credit. During 1978 he collected the International Entertainer of the Year in Great Britain. In 1978 and 1979 he received the Album of the Year in England. In 1981 Boxcar Willie was honored by the Music City News Awards as the Most Promising New Male Artist and that same year became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

In 1985, Boxcar moved to Branson, Missouri and purchased a theater on Highway 76. In addition to the Boxcar Willie Theater, he opened a museum and eventually had two motels, both bearing his name. Boxcar was one of the first big stars to open a show in Branson, paying the way for other nationally-known artists to follow. He performed at his theater, and the Opry, until he died. In 1996, Boxcar was diagnosed with leukemia and would pass away in Branson on April 12, 1999 at the age of 67.

Here is the line-up from Saturday February 21, 1981, the night Boxcar Willie became a member of the Grand Ole Opry:

1st show
6:30: Jack Greene (host); Wilma Lee Cooper
6:45: Stonewall Jackson (host); Jim and Jesse; Connie Smith
7:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Billy Grammer; Tammy Wynette; Ernie Ashworth
7:30: Roy Acuff (host); Jean Shepard; Roy Drusky; Boxcar Willie; The Crook Brothers; The Tennessee Travelers
8:00: Grandpa Jones (host); The Wilburn Brothers; Jeanne Pruett; George Jones; David Houston
8:30: Hank Snow (host); The Four Guys; Jimmy C Newman; Jan Howard; Kelly Foxton; The Fruit Jar Drinkers

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Jack Greene; The Four Guys; Connie Smith; Vic Willis Trio
10:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Carlisles; Stu Phillips
10:15: Roy Acuff (host); Boxcar Willie
10:30: Grandpa Jones (host); Jean Shepard; George Jones
10:45: Roy Drusky (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; The Crook Brothers; The Tennessee Travelers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Jeanne Pruett; Billy Grammer; Kelly Foxton; Kirk McGee; The Fruit Jar Drinkers
11:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); Jan Howard; David Houston; The Wilburn Brothers

Other Grand Ole Opry highlights from the 3rd weekend in February include Brad Paisley becoming a member of the Opry on Saturday February 17, 2001, while WSM and Opry announcer Charlie Douglas announced his final Opry show on February 18, 1995. On February 20, 1988 Roy Acuff was honored upon his 50th anniversary as a member of the Opry, and on the same night Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton reunited for the first time since 1974. Finally, it was Saturday February 22, 1969 that Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs performed on the Grand Ole Opry for the final time as a duo.

The Foggy Mountain Boys, founded by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs originally formed in 1948 when Lester and Earl left Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Boys. Along with Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs are considered one of the landmark acts in the history of bluegrass music. In 1955, helped along by their sponsorship by Martha White, Flatt & Scruggs became members of the Grand Ole Opry. Creative differences led to the breakup of the duo in 1969, with Scruggs favoring a more progressive sound while Flatt was a traditionalist who preferred the traditional bluegrass sound. Both remained members of the Opry, with Lester forming the Nashville Grass, while Earl formed the Earl Scruggs review which featured his sons. While Earl left the Opry several years later, Lester remained a member of the Grand Ole Opry until his death in 1979. In 1985, Flatt & Scruggs were elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

From Saturday February 22, 1969, here is the running order from the final night that Flatt & Scruggs appeared on the Grand Ole Opry (note: they were scheduled for both shows but cancelled on the late show):

7:30: Standard Candy
Bill Anderson (host): Wild Weekend
Osborne Brothers: A World of Forgotten People
Jimmy Gately: Heavenly Sunshine
Lonzo & Oscar: Columbus Stockade Blues
Bill Anderson: It's My Life
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
Jimmy Gately: Dirt Under Her Feet
Lonzo & Oscar: A King Size Cola & A Moon Pie
Bill Anderson: I Love You Drops

8:00: Martha White
Flatt & Scruggs (host): Shady Grove
Skeeter Davis: The Closest Thing to Love
Glaser Brothers: Gentle on My Mind
Cousin Jody: On Top of Old Smokey
Cousin Jake: Almost Persuaded #44
Skeeter Davis: Am I That Easy to Forget
Crook Brothers: Cotton-Eyed Joe

8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Billy Grammer: The Hour of Separation
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Del Wood: Down at Papa Joe's
Roy Acuff: Waltz of the Wind
Billy Grammer: Mabel
Smoky Mountain Boys: Lee Highway Blues

9:00: Luzianne
Ernest Tubb (host): You Don't Have to Be A Baby to Cry
George Morgan: Like A Bird
Margie Bowes: All the World is Lonely Now
Ernie Ashworth: Where Do You Go
Ernest Tubb: Saturday Satan; Sunday Saint
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
George Morgan: Wichita Lineman
Billy Parker: That's A Big World Out There

9:30: Kellogg's
Jim Ed Brown (host): Pop A Top
Willis Brothers: Rambling Boy
Marion Worth: A Legend in My Time
Charlie Walker: Honky-Tonk Season
Jim Ed Brown: Man & Wife Time
Willis Brothers: I'm Easy to Please
Marion Worth: You Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad
Charlie Walker: Don't Squeeze My Sharmon
Jim Ed Brown: Honky-Tonk Man

10:00: Fender
Glaser Brothers (host): Please Take Me Back
Lonzo & Oscar: Out of Hand
Del Wood: Beer, Barrel Polka
Glaser Brothers: Gone on the Other Hand

10:15: Pure
Willis Brothers (host): Give Me 40 Acres
Ernie Ashworth: Oh, Lonesome Me
Cousin Jody: Mockingbird
Willis Brothers: I Still Do

10:30: Buckley's
Archie Campbell (host): The Cockfight
Skeeter Davis: Going Down the Road Feeling Bad
Osborne Brothers: My Favorite Memory
Archie Campbell: Look Up; Look Down that Lonesome Road

10:45: Kent
Ernest Tubb (host): Letters Have No Arms
Billy Grammer: I'm Letting You Go
Crook Brothers: Texas Quick Step
Ernest Tubb: Waltz Across Texas

11:00: Coca-Cola
Roy Acuff (host): Night Train to Memphis
Willis Brothers: Bob/Give Me 40 Acres
Margie Bowes: Understand Your Gal/Big City
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cacklin Hen
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird
Margie Bowes: Take Me As I Am
Sam McGee: Under the Double Eagle

11:30: Lava
George Morgan (host): Like A Bird
Jim Ed Brown: Man & Wife Time
Jim Ed Brown & George Morgan: Now is the Hour
Marion Worth: Almost Persuaded
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up On Your Way Down
George Morgan: Molly Darling
Jim Ed Brown: The Longest Beer of the Night
Marion Worth: Faded Love
Charlie Walker: Honky-Tonk Season

There you have it for this week. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend and enjoys the Opry this week.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Steve Buchanan Announces Retirement

Opry Entertainment Group President Steve Buchanan announced on Thursday that he is stepping down in June to take some time for himself and pursue personal projects. "I haven't really wanted to invest a lot of effort or brainpower into figuring out the next move," Buchanan said. "I have film and television ideas and projects, and I'm interested in seeing where they can go and if they can go and when they can go. I really just want to be open to considering new things."

Steve Buchanan has been with the parent company of the Grand Ole Opry and Ryman Auditorium for 33 years. When he joined the staff at the Grand Ole Opry in 1985, he was the organization's first marketing manager. At the time, he said he had not budget, but was driven to find ways to revitalizing the historic radio show. At the time, popular opinion was that the Opry's relevance to country music fans had faded and many artists and members had lost interest in participating. Buchanan's first step was to entice the public back through the doors and then bridge the gap between the Grand Ole Opry and Music Row. With limited resources to work with, the solution he took was through basic public relations and promotional plans.

One the Opry was on the rebound, Buchanan shifted priorities to the revitalization of the Ryman Auditorium. He said that he had been enamored with country music's Mother Church, but the building had spent years in disrepair. Buchanan created a plan that he hoped would be a catalyst for the space's restoration. His plan worked and he oversaw the Ryman's initial renovation.

"The Opry and the Ryman have been central passions in my life for over 33 years to be exact," Buchanan said. "I look at it as my attachment will never diminish, but there are other things I want to do and accomplish. I have a mix of loss, fear and excitement. But, it feels like the time to make that leap."

Steve Buchanan is also the executive producer of the television show "Nashville" which is ending its run also. The show, originally starring Connie Britton and Charles Esten, was a boon for both Opry Entertainment and the city of Nashville.

I know that Steve along with Pete Fisher, who he hired to be the Opry's general manager in June 1999, brought a lot of changes to the Opry, some of which were controversial. However, during his tenure he added new members, many of whom do show up to support the show, brought the Opry into the modern era through the use of social media and web streaming the show, and significant improvements to the Opry House itself. The entire Opry experience is much different today than it was 33 years ago and it has brought new fans to the show. Many forget that back in the 1980's and 1990's, many considered the Opry a living museum of country music, with the same same group of members performing the same songs week after week. As the older members passed away, and some of the star power disappeared, attendance suffered. The show became old and tired. I can remember shows that I attended during that period that had less than 1,000 attending, especially during the winter months.

As I said, there were some decisions that created controversy, especially to us older Opry fans. Less veterans and legends scheduled, significantly higher ticket prices, shorter shows and less artists per show, however the show did flourish and grow. And I do believe that Steve had a vision and passion for the Opry and for that, we should all offer him our thanks.

I wish Steve Buchanan good luck in his retirement and success in his future products.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Grand Ole Opry 2/9 & 2/10

Before getting into the Grand Ole Opry line-ups for this week, there is some news and notes that I wanted to pass along:

Jesse McReynolds was originally scheduled for last week's Grand Ole Opry before cancelling. Jesse wrote on his Facebook page this week that he wasn't quite ready and was overly optimistic that he could be back at the Opry. His recovery is going well and he should be back soon.

Bill Anderson was asked in his monthly newsletter about Jan Howard and he wrote that Jan's heath had not improved to the extent that she could sing or perform. He wrote that she has never fully recovered from a fall at her home several years ago but that she does get out and socializes with her many friends. I know many have asked about Jan in the past.

Speaking of Bill, he, along with fellow Grand Ole Opry member Alan Jackson, have been elected to the Songwriter's Hall of Fame. This is a huge honor for Bill and quite honestly, it should have happened years ago. He has written a bunch of monster hits, both for himself and for others.

Now some sad news to pass along:

» Chronicle:
Musician George McCormick died yesterday (2/5) at age 84. McCormick moved to Nashville at 14 to play music and work at WLAC. In his 47 years at the Opry, he played guitar and bass, and sang with artists including Jim Reeves, Porter Wagoner, Dolly Parton and Grandpa Jones. He retired from the Opry in 1998. Visitation is Thursday (2/8) from 5-8pm and Friday (2/9) 11am-1pm at the Baxter chapel of Hooper-Huddleston & Horner Funeral Home (203 S Holly St, Monterey, TN 38574). Funeral services will follow the Friday visitation, with interment in Crest Lawn Cemetery (800 W. Jackson Street, Cookeville, TN 38501).

Also passing away was musician Stu Basore. While some may not recognize the name, Stu was an award-winning steel guitarist who played with Tex Ritter, Kitty Wells, Johnny Wright, George Hamilton IV; and Connie Smith, among many others. He also appeared on the Porter Wagoner Show, WSM's Waking Crew and the Grand Ole Opry. It is Stu's steel guitar that you hear on Dolly Parton's "Jolene" and "I Will Always Love You."

Finally, I wanted to mention Paul Eckhart. Many of you know Paul from seeing him when attending the Opry. In 2014, he was recognized by the Opry for not missing a weekend performance of the Opry in 42 years. Quoting Pete Fisher, "We're going to take time out in the show and kind of let the world know that we think the world of this man and just give him one big public thank you." Paul started going to the Opry on Friday nights (when the show ran longer than the Saturday night shows) and then later switched to Saturday night. He said that his all-time favorite show was the Opry's 75th anniversary, which I would agree with him. Back in 2014, when the Opry recognized him at the age of 83, he had decided to "retire" from attending every week due to his health. However, he could still be spotted at the Opry on special occasions, in the seat that the Opry had reserved for him. I met Paul several times, introduced to him by a mutual friend, and I always enjoyed saying hi and talking to him when attending the Opry. He knew many of the Opry's members, especially Hank Snow. Paul passed away last week and he will be missed by many at the Opry.

Now, let's get to this week's shows, which feature full line-ups.

Grand Ole Opry members scheduled for both nights include Jeannie Seely, Ricky Skaggs, Mike Snider, Bill Anderson, and Riders In The Sky. Joining that group on Friday night will be Bobby Osborne and The Whites, while Connie Smith is scheduled for Saturday.

Guesting this week on both nights will be Tracy Lawrence and comedian Dick Hardwick. They will be joined on Friday night by Exile, High Valley, Dave Barnes and Devin Dawson. Saturday night Maisy Stella, The Steel Woods, Zach Williams and Charles Esten will be appearing.

Friday February 9

7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Mike Snider;  Exile
7:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; The Whites; High Valley
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Dick Hardwick; Dave Barnes
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Devin Dawson; Tracy Lawrence

Saturday February 10
7:00: Connie Smith (host); Mike Snider; Maisy Stella
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); The Steel Woods; Tracy Lawrence
8:15: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jeannie Seely; Zach Williams; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Dick Hardwick; Charles Esten

The Opry also brings back the Tuesday Night Opry this week. Here is the line-up for this week's show, February 13:

7:00: Bill Anderson (host); Lorrie Morgan
7:30: Jillian Jacqueline; Dustin Lynch
8:15: Wade Hayes; Del McCoury Band
8:45: Trace Adkins

For Jillian Jacqueline, Tuesday night will be her Opry debut.

Jillian Jacqueline was born in Chester Spring, Pennsylvania. She moved to New York in her early teens. She began singing at an early age, performing in local coffee shops at the age of seven and at age eight, recorded an album. She then was a part of the Christmas from the Heart Yuletide revue that stared Kenny Rogers and ran for three months on Broadway. She was part of Kenny Rogers touring show for several years after ending the Broadway run. After touring with "Little Women Band," a group that she formed, she left the music business for a short while to pursue her education. In 2010, after completing her studies, she moved to Nashville and began working with songwriter and producer Richard Marx. In 2014 her single "Overdue" which featured Vince Gill on harmony vocals became a major online success with over a million streaming plays. Her Jillian Jacqueline LP was released in 2016. Her follow up single "Reasons" was released in Spring 2017.

Now here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from the 2nd week in February 10 years ago, the weekend of February 8 & 9, 2008:

Friday February 8
8:00: Marty Stuart (host); The Whites; Tennessee Mafia Jug Band
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Jennifer Hanson
9:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jack Greene; Chuck Wicks
9:30: John Conlee (host); Jason Michael Carroll; Gene Watson

Saturday February 9
1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Mandy Barnett
7:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Jack Greene; Jake Owen
7:30: Ray Pillow (host); Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; Joe Diffie
8:00: John Conlee (host); Jeff Bates; The Grascals; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Mark Chesnutt

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Mandy Barnett
10:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Jake Owen; The Grascals
10:30: John Conlee (host); Jeff Bates; Joe Diffie; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver; Mark Chesnutt

From 25 years ago, Saturday February 13, 1993:

1st show
6:30: Boxcar Willie (host); Billy Walker
6:45: Grandpa Jones (host); Jean Shepard; Jim Ed Brown
7:00: Bill Monroe (host); Ray Pillow; Skeeter Davis; The 4 Guys; Mel McDaniel
7:30: Jack Greene (host); Riders In The Sky; George Hamilton IV; Holly Dunn
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jimmy C Newman; Smoky Mountain Boys; Connie Smith; Opry Square Dance Band; Stoney Mountain Cloggers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); The Whites; Roy Drusky; Jeanne Pruett; Mike Snider

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Jack Greene; Charlie Walker; Stonewall Jackson; Jan Howard
10:00: Grandpa Jones (host); Holly Dunn
10:15: Bill Monroe (host); Jim Ed Brown
10:30: Boxcar Willie (host); Jeannie Seely
10:45: The 4 Guys (host); Bill Carlisle; Opry Square Dance Band; Stoney Mountain Cloggers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); The Whites; Justin Tubb; Riders In The Sky
11:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); Roy Drusky; Connie Smith; Johnny Russell

Looking back at the 2nd week of February at the Opry, it was February 8, 1975 that Jimmy Dickens rejoined the Grand Ole Opry cast. Jimmy had been gone from the Opry for 18 years, after originally becoming a member in 1948.

On February 11, 1967 The 4 Guys made their debut on the Opry. As the story has been told many, many times, they were brought back out for several encores. Even though the group never had a hit record, they had such a stage presence that they were asked to become members of the Opry, which they did in April 1967. While various members would come and go, the quartet remained Opry members until being fired in April 2000.

And it was February 11, 1972 that Grand Ole Gospel Time, hosted by Reverend Jimmy Snow made its debut immediately following the Friday Night Opry. The show, which was taped and aired on WSM Sunday mornings, would continue for 23 years, featuring a number of Opry members and guests, including Johnny & June Cash, Hank Snow, Dennis Weaver and even Roy Acuff.

The 4 Guys formed in the late 1950s with an original lineup comprising bass singer Sam Wellington, baritone Brent Burkett, Berl Lyons (all from Steubenville) and Richard Garratt of McKeesport, Pennsylvania. Later they landed a vocal back-up spot on WWVA's Wheeling Jamboree. On New Year's Day 1967, The 4 Guys arrived in Nashville. "We were very lucky that first year. Songwriter Bill Brock took an interest and asked Ott Devine, the the Opry's manager, to listen to us and we became the first modern group to join the Opry without a hit record," said group co-founder Sam Wellington. The group joined the Opry cast on April 22, 1967. Through the years the group's line-up changed. Ex-gospel singer Gary Buck, a tenor, came aboard when Lyons left. After Buck and Garratt departed, baritone John Frost and tenor Laddie Cain joined.

Although The 4 Guys recorded at various times for the Mercury, RCA, Collage, and JNB labels, the group logged only three records at the lower end of the charts."We never made any money to speak of from record sales. We just didn't get the promotion," noted Wellington. The group also owned and operated the Harmony House dinner theater in Nashville between 1975 and 1984.

In June 1999, co-founder Sam Wellington made the decision to leave the group. He was the final original member and while the group continued, their Grand Ole Opry appearances diminished. Less than a month later, their Opry membership was terminated. Sam Wellington wrote in his book that when he left, he should have retired the group from the Opry, thus avoiding the termination.

On a personal note, I thought that they always did a great job on the Opry. Sam was a very good host and the group had a lot of energy and very good harmony, even with the various members.

Looking back here is the running order from Saturday February 11, 1967, the night The 4 Guys made their Grand Ole Opry debut:

7:30: Luzianne
Jim Ed Brown (host) w/Maxine Brown: I Heard the Bluebird Sing
Bob Luman: Hardly Anymore
Dottie West: What's Come Over My Baby
Justin Tubb: But Wait; There's More
Pete Drake: I'm Just A Guitar (Everybody Picks On Me)
Jim Ed Brown: You Can Have Her
Bob Luman: Come On & Sing
Jim Ed & Maxine Brown: Looking Back to See

8:00: Martha White
Wilburn Brothers (host): Hurt Her Once for Me
Hank Locklin: Send Me the Pillow You Dream On
Ray Pillow: I Like That Sorta Thing
Del Wood: Down Yonder
Wilburn Brothers: Just to Be Where You Are
Crook Brothers: Old Hen Cackle
Billy "Crash" Craddock: There Oughta Be A Law
Hank Locklin: Hasta Luego
Wilburn Brothers: All We Have for You, Mom

8:30: Stephens
Billy Walker (host): Things
Bill Carlisle: What Kinda Deal is This
Bobby Bare: Shame on Me
Archie Campbell: The Cockfight
Billy Walker: Anything Your Heart Desires
Curly Fox: The Old Gray Mule
Bill Carlisle: The Great Snoman
Billy Walker: Cross the Brazos at Waco

9:00: Pet Milk
Charlie Louvin (host): I Don't Love You Anymore
Ernie Ashworth: At Ease, Heart
Margie Bowes: There Goes My Everything
Bluegrass Country Kin: Black Mountain Rag
Charlie Louvin: I Don't Want It
Fruit Jar Drinkers: (?)
Harold Weakley: Almost Persuaded
Ernie Ashworth: Pass Me Not
Charlie Louvin: Off & ON

9:30: Kellogg's
Hank Snow (host): Golden Rocket
Cousin Jody: I Miss Him So
Jimmy Dickens: A Country Music Lover
Carter Family: Bye; Bye
Hank Snow: A Legend in My Time
The 4 Guys: Shenandoah
Carter Family: Once Around the Briar Patch
Hank Snow: Hula Love

10:00: Schick
Jim Ed Brown (host) w/Maxine Brown: Where Does the Good Times Go
Dottie West: It's My Way to Survive
Jim Ed Brown: You Can Have Her
Dottie West: All the World is Lonely Now

10:15: Pure
Bob Luman (host): Let's Think About Living
Wilburn Brothers: I'm Gonna Tie One on Tonight
Hank Locklin: Hasta Luego
Bob Luman: Hardly Anymore

10:30: Buckley
Bobby Bare (host): I Saw the Light
Del Wood: Cajun Stripper
Ray Pillow: Two Minus One Leaves Blue
Bobby Bare: Streets of Baltimore

10:45: Kent
Bill Carlisle (host): Shanghai Rooster
Justin Tubb: But Wait; There's More
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Bill Carlisle: Doctor R.D.

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Billy Walker: Bare With Me A Little Longer
Margie Bowes: Enough to Make A Woman Lose Her Mind
Fruit Jar Drinkers: (?)
Hank Snow: Confused with the Blues
Sam McGee: Under the Double Eagle
Jimmy Dickens: You Destroyed Me
Billy Walker: A Million and One
Hank Snow: Man Behind the Gun

11:30: Lava
Marty Robbins (host): Running Gun
Charlie Louvin: See the Big Man Cry
Ernie Ashworth: Sad Face
Curly Fox: Won't 'Cha Come Home Bill Bailey
Don Winters: Annie Lou
Cousin Jody: Run, Please, Run
Bluegrass Country Kin: Ol' Slewfoot
Marty Robbins: Devil Woman/The Shoe Goes on the Other Foot Tonight/Begging to You/El Paso

There you have it for this week and what a week it was. Really nice to see Chris Janson finally get the invitation to become an Opry member. In many ways, you can compare him with Josh Turner. Josh had the hit "Long Black Train" and made numerous Opry appearances before finally being asked: and Josh always had the dream of being an Opry member. Same with Chris. He finally broke it big and then had to wait for the Opry to let him into the club. Great to see and I am sure it will be a big night when he is inducted.

Enjoy the Opry!!!

Monday, February 5, 2018

Chris Janson-Newest Member of the Grand Ole Opry

While performing a concert tonight at the Ryman Auditorium, Chris Janson was surprised by Grand Ole Opry member Keith Urban who invited Chris to become the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry!!!

This is something that many people have speculated, including myself, would happen at some point and tonight it finally happened. Chris has professed his love of the Opry many, many times and expressed his wish to become an Opry member. For Chris, tonight his dream came true.

More details to come.....

February Opry Highlights

Welcome to February, or as we say here in Ohio, the dead of winter!! But on the positive side, pitchers and catchers report to spring training on February 14 which means spring is right around the corner, so we have that to look forward to. Now, as usual, here are the important or historical events that have taken place at the Grand Ole Opry, or in regards to members of the Opry, during the month of February:

February 9, 1914: Grand Ole Opry legend Ernest Tubb was born in Crisp, Texas. Ernest came to the Opry in the early 1940s and immediately became of the Opry's most important and influential members. He was known fro helping new artists and that list includes Hank Snow, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Jack Greene and Cal Smith, among many others. In 1947 he opened the first Ernest Tubb Record Shop and shortly after started the Midnight Jamboree. Ernest was one of the first members to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame and he was a proud supporter of country music and those who came from the state of Texas. Ernest remained an Opry member until his death in 1984, after a period of declining health.

February 18, 1914: Early Grand Ole Opry member Frank Kuczynski was born. Perhaps that name does not ring a bell but his stage name does: Pee Wee King. Pee Wee, along with his Golden West Cowboys, became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1937 and was one of the first professional entertainers to join the cast. Many people forget that Pee Wee came before Roy Acuff. He left the Opry after World War II and moved to Louisville, Kentucky to work in television and eventually his show was broadcast in Chicago, Cincinnati and Cleveland, in addition to Louisville. He always said he would have stayed in Nashville and at the Opry if WSM had branched into television, which they would do later. While leaving the Opry as a member, Pee Wee was a frequent guest. Elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1974, Pee Wee passed away in 2000 at the age of 86.

February 1, 1917: Mary Jane Dezurik was born in Royalton, Minnesota. Along with her sister Carolyn, these former Opry members were known as the Cackle Sisters. They came to the Opry in the 1940s, staying for only a short period of time, eventually moving to Cincinnati. Mary Jane passed away in 1981.

February 25, 1927: Ralph Stanley was born in the Clinch Mountains of Virginia. This bluegrass legend joined the Grand Ole Opry in January 2000. Ralph passed away in 2016. Some believe that Ralph should receive consideration in regards to the Country Music Hall of Fame, of which I would not disagree.

February 1, 1928: Harry Stone joined WSM radio as a staff announcer. Harry would eventually become the general manager of WSM and become responsible for the Opry. While in that position, he would often clash with Opry founder George D. Hay over the direction of the show. While Judge Hay wanted to keep the rural flavor of the show, Harry saw the value of the show to the National Life & Insurance Company, the owners of WSM, and felt that the show should move into a more professional direction. It was during Harry's time that the Opry moved away from local, amateur talent and began bringing in professional and paid entertainers. Harry remained with WSM until 1950, when he left to pursue new opportunities.

February 17, 1931: Uncle Jimmy Thompson, the first artist to perform on what is now called the Grand Ole Opry passed away. Uncle Jimmy was a part of the Barn Dance until 1927.

February 25, 1932: Faron Young was born in Shreveport, Louisiana. In 1951 Faron joined the Louisiana Hayride, where he stayed until 1954. He then moved to Nashville, becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Faron remained an Opry member until he was fired in December 1964 for failing to meet the required number of annual appearances. While he never rejoined the show, Faron would come back and make occasional guest appearances.

February 2, 1935: The Missouri Mountaineers made their first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Alcyone Bate described the Mountaineers, who were founded by Jack Shook, as a "sort of Sons of Pioneers group." They stayed with the Opry until 1939.

February 5, 1938: Roy Acuff and his Crazy Tennesseans made their second appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. His first appearance had taken place several months earlier and was not considered a success. This time around, Roy performed "The Great Speckled Bird" and WSM was overwhelmed with an avalanche of mail. As a result, Roy was asked to become an Opry regular, or member, and it became official on February 19. Along with Pee Wee King, Ernest Tubb, Bill Monroe and Eddy Arnold, Roy would help lead the shift of the Opry's focus to professional singers rather than the instrumental groups that had been the main focus of the show. The week after he joined, Harry Stone suggested to Roy that the name of his group be changed and since Roy was from the Knoxville area, he went with Smoky Mountain Boys. Except for a brief year in the 1940s, Roy would remain with the Opry until his death in November 1992.

February 18, 1939: The Andrew Brothers became members of the Grand Ole Opry. They were brought to the Opry specifically to replace the Delmore Brothers, who had left the show. While I have never heard The Andrew Brothers, I have heard that they were fine harmony singers.

February 13, 1943: Ernest Tubb became an official member of the Grand Ole Opry.

February 21, 1948: Jimmy Dickens made his first guest appearance on the Opry. He performed "John Henry" and "I Dreamed of An Old Love Affair." Several months later, Jimmy would become a member of the Opry.

February 2, 1949: Future Grand Ole Opry member Hank Snow met current Opry member Ernest Tubb for the first time. The meeting led to the efforts by Ernest to get Hank on the Opry, which finally took place in January 1950.

February 26, 1949: Rose Maddox and her brothers made their debut on the Grand Ole Opry. Rose and the group would later become Opry members, however their stay at the Opry was very short. There are several different versions as to why they left.

February 18, 1950: One of the Opry's early competitors, the WSB Barn Dance, based in Atlanta, Georgia, took place for the final time. The show, which started on November 16, 1940, was a very popular regional show.

February 23, 1952: Del Wood made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry. She came to the Opry after "Down Yonder" her famous instrumental single, sold over a million copies the previous year. When Del accepted the invitation to perform on the Opry, she turned down a two week engagement to play with Bob Crosby and his orchestra. Del became an Opry member the following year and would remain an Opry member until her death in October 1989.

February 7, 1953: Marty Robbins made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry. He performed two numbers, "Ain't You Ashamed" and "Good Night Cincinnati, Good Mornin' Tennessee." Marty's debut was a success and he would shortly after become an Opry member.

February 26, 1955: The Louvin Brothers, Charlie and Ira, became members of the Grand Ole Opry. Some consider them the greatest brother duo in the history of country music. Ira passed away on June 20, 1965 from injuries in an automobile accident that also took the life of his wife and another couple. Charlie would remain a member of the Opry, and have a successful solo career, until his death in January 2011. (As a note, some publications list February 10 as the date the Louvin Brothers joined the Opry).

February 19, 1957: Webb Pierce resigned as a member of the Opry. Webb's time at the Opry was fairly short as he quickly realized the amount of money he was losing by having to be in Nashville every Saturday night.

February 23, 1957: Porter Wagoner became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. It is safe to say that Porter was one of the Opry's most popular and colorful members and in his later years, was considered the face of the Opry. Porter had made his first guest appearance in 1956 and would later say, "The first night I appeared on the Opry, I came off the stage and went back to the dressing room area, and I met Roy Acuff in the hallway there. And he came up to me and he said, 'Porter, I was awful glad that you're becoming a part of the Grand Ole Opry. We need more of your kind of people here,'" The night of his first appearance, he was introduced by Carl Smith, who would later became close friends with Porter. Porter remained an Opry member until his death in October 2007, shortly after celebrating 50 years as an Opry member.

February 27, 1959: Billy Grammer joined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. Famous for "Gotta Travel On" Billy was also a fine guitar player and maker. Billy was a member for 52 years, passing away in August 2011.

February 6, 1960: George Hamilton IV became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. George, who passed away in September 2014, was an Opry member for 54 years. From my own personal experience, George was one of the nicest guys in country music and it was always a joy and pleasure to sit and talk to him.

February 23, 1963: Patsy Cline made her final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Less than two weeks later, she would die in a plane crash that also took the lives of Opry members Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins, along with Randy Hughes.

February 11, 1967: The Four Guys made their first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. As the story has been told many times, they were brought back for several encores. Even the the group never had a hit record, they were such a success with their stage presence that they were asked to become Opry members, were they remained until fired in April 2000.

February 22, 1969: Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs made their final appearance together on the Opry. The duo had joined the Opry in 1955, however creative differences caused the two to go their separate ways. While they broke up several months later, each remained as individual members of the Opry.

February 6, 1971: The Grand Ole Opry began performing two Saturday night Opry shows on a regular basis. Prior to that date, the Saturday show ran 7:30 to midnight, although on special occasions the Opry would break it up into two shows, depending on artist and audience demand.

February 11, 1972: Grand Ole Gospel Time, hosted by the Reverend Jimmie Snow, made its debut after the Friday Night Opry. The show would continue for the next 23 years and feature many of the Opry's members, along with other guests including Johnny and June Carter Cash and Dennis Weaver. While the hour long show took place after the Friday Night Opry, it was not aired on WSM until Sunday morning.

February 23, 1974: Former Grand Ole Opry member DeFord Bailey returned to the show for the first time since he was fired by Opry founder George D. Hay in 1941. DeFord appeared at the personal invitation of Roy Acuff and Minnie Pearl, who for years had been trying to convince DeFord to return to the Opry. Before passing away, DeFord would make several more appearances, most often on the Opry's annual reunion shows.

February 8, 1975: After an absence of 18 years, Jimmy Dickens rejoined the cast as a member of the Opry. He was introduced that night by Hank Snow, who noted how much Jimmy had been missed at the Opry and how good it was to have him back. As you might expect, Jimmy sang "Family Reunion." Unlike the first time he joined in 1948, this time Jimmy stayed, until passing away in January 2015.

February 6, 1976: Ronnie Milsap became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Ronnie's 42rd year as an Opry member.

February 7, 1981: John Conlee became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be John's 37th year as an Opry member. As an Opry member, John has been very popular and well received. After he first appeared on the Opry, he was quoted as saying, "I made sure to stand on the circle from the stage of the old Ryman. That circle has been so important to me because so many big stars had stood on that wooden flooring."

February 21, 1981: Just two weeks after John Conlee joined the cast, Boxcar Willie became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Boxcar became a country music star late in life, thanks to his hobo character and his late night television commercials promoting his train album. Boxcar had first appeared on the Opry in June 1980 after being discovered in England by Wesley Rose, who brought Boxcar to the attention of Roy Acuff. Lecil Travis Martin passed away in April 1999.

February 20, 1988: The Grand Ole Opry honored Roy Acuff for 50 years of Opry membership. TNN devoted an entire hour long segment to Roy that featured Loretta Lynn and Minnie Pearl. On an additional note, on the same night that Roy Acuff celebrated his 50th Opry anniversary, Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton reunited at the Opry for the first time in 14 years.

February 24, 1991: Webb Pierce passed away in Nashville. Webb came to Nashville in 1952 from the Louisiana Hayride and quickly made his first Grand Ole Opry appearance on the Prince Albert portion of the show. When he joined the cast in 1953 he was considered the replacement for Hank Williams. In the 1950s, Webb was one of the biggest acts in country music and because of his heavy touring, he only stayed at the Opry for a couple of years. Webb was also a very successful business man and was involved with one of the first publishing companies in Nashville. In 2001, a decade after his death, Webb was finally elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

February 29, 1992: Travis Tritt became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 26th year as an Opry member. Last year, Travis made his first Opry appearance in 10 years to be recognized upon his 25th year as a member of the Opry. Sadly, he has not been back since.

February 18, 1995: WSM and Grand Ole Opry announcer Charlie Douglas announced the Grand Ole Opry for the final time. Charlie retired from WSM after coming to the station in 1984.

February 21, 1998: The Grand Ole Opry honored long-time member Grandpa Jones, who passed away earlier in the week from complications of a stroke suffered after an Opry performance. At the show that night, Bill Carlisle, Vince Gill, Ramona Jones and Grandpa's children led the cast in singing "Fallen Leaves," one of the great songs that Grandpa wrote.

February 17, 2001: Brad Paisley became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Brad's 17th year as an Opry member. On the night that Brad joined the cast, he wore the bright yellow jacket that Buck Owens wore on the cover of the 1966 "Live at Carnegie Hall" album.

February 24, 2001: While performing on the first show that evening, Grand Ole Opry member Wilma Lee Cooper suffered a stroke which would end her performing career. Wilma Lee did return to the Opry several times after the stroke, once to be honored for 50 years as a member of the Opry, and then when the Grand Ole Opry House reopened after the flood in September 2010.

 February 16, 2002: Marty Stuart, Travis Tritt and Hank Williams, Jr. performed together on the Opry in tribute to Waylon Jennings, who had recently passed away. Porter Wagoner was the host of the segment and the four performers  spent an hour on stage singing various Waylon songs and telling Waylon stories.

February 18, 2003: Grand Ole Opry member Johnny Paycheck passed away following a long illness. Johnny joined the Opry in November 1997, at the urging of Johnny Russell. However, within a few years, declining health forced Johnny into retirement. At the time of his death. Johnny was in such poor financial shape that George Jones paid for a cemetery plot in which Johnny was buried.

February 4, 2005: Bluegrass group The Grascals made their debut on the Grand Ole Opry. While never becoming Opry members, they group continues to make guest appearances.

February 26, 2005: Opry member Charlie Louvin was honored for 50 years of Opry membership. He appeared on both Opry shows that night in addition to hosting the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree.

February 16, 2008: Former Grand Ole Opry member Bobby Lord passed away in Florida at the age of 74. Bobby was a popular Opry member who joined the cast in the mid 1960s, leaving in the mid-1970s. At the time, he left Nashville and moved to Florida and got involved in real estate.

February 27, 2009: Opry member Billy Grammer was honored for 50 years of Opry membership. On the same night that Billy was recognized, Jimmy Dickens returned to the Opry after an absence of six weeks following brain surgery.

February 26, 2015: The Grand Ole Opry House was added to the National Register of Historic Places.

February 28, 2017: Travis Tritt returned to the Opry stage for the first time since 2007, upon the occasion of his 25th year as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

There you have it for the month of February.