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!!!


  1. Wait wait wait! WHY NO LENNON?
    I'd like to say for the record, that the stella sisters absolutely need to be made opry members! Tracy does as well!

  2. Who do you guys see going into the Hall of Fame in the Modern and Veterans categories this year?

  3. Sad to see the bad news, but especially George McCormick, who was a big part of Porter Wagoner's show with Don Warden, Buck Trent, and Mack Magaha.

    Byron, didn't George also work with Bill Carlisle or am I confusing him with someone else?

    1. Mike, George Riddle worked with Bill Carlisle. Not sure if George McCormick ever worked with Bill or not. It would not be a surprise if he did as many of the musicians did play with a variety of artists.

  4. Jeannie Seely has cancelled out both nights this weekend. The Whites will be hosting her segment on Friday night. Hopefully her husband Gene is doing ok. I know it has been a difficult time for her these past several weeks.

    1. Jeannie Seely also cancelled out on the Country Music Cruise.
      Gossip on the ship was that her husband is not doing well.
      Hope the gossip is wrong......

    2. Byron, I had too many Georges in the air! Thanks.

  5. Who do you guys see going into the Hall of Fame this year?

  6. I know that the Country Music Hall of Fame voting has pretty much been completed (if they follow the usual timetable). In addition to the 2 annual categories, musician is the rotating one for this year. If the pattern holds, the musician will be someone Nashville based, possibly someone from the "A" team. Personally, I would like to see them get out of that box and look at folks such as Don Rich or Brother Oswald, both of whom would seem overdue.

    As to the other 2 categories, I think it is safe to say that the usual names are being floated about: Brooks & Dunn, The Judds, Ricky Skaggs, Ray Stevens, Dottie West, Tanya Tucker, Hank Williams, Jr., maybe add Crystal Gayle to the mix. You never know who the voters could be thinking of in any given year or the public relations efforts put behind any individual candidate.

    I will say that last night I watched Eddie Rabbit on the Opry Encore on RFD-TV. He has been gone for several decades now, but what an amazing singer. I checked the charts and he had a significant number of No. 1 hits, yet you seldom hear his name mentioned anymore. Sad.