Thursday, March 1, 2018

Grand Ole Opry 3/2 & 3/3

Before getting into the Grand Ole Opry line-ups for this weekend, I was in Nashville last weekend and attended both the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry. Overall, I thought both shows were very solid. Among the highlights on both nights were Mike Snider, Connie Smith and Crystal Gayle. All three did a great job. I always enjoy Mike and the boys, as they play that good old traditional Opry instrumentation. Connie did her usual good job and it was nice that she brought out a classic, "Pick Me Up On Your Way Down" that you don't hear much on the Opry anymore. Crystal Gayle, one of the Opry's newest members, just adds a lot to the show.

Other highlights from Friday night included the family bluegrass group Flatt Lonesome. That was my first time seeing them and they were outstanding. They have already won several awards and I can see them winning a few more as their career progresses. Dan Tyminski and his group were very good, as was Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press, Mo Pitney, and was pleasantly surprised by Mickey Guyton. Jeannie Seely did a nice job opening the show. The only act that I did not personally enjoy was Ryan Kinder. He has talent, just didn't care for him.

I thought Saturday night was the better of the two nights. Besides those I already mentioned, I wanted to point out a couple of acts. While others don't, and I get it, I really enjoy Elizabeth Cook. It is not every night you hear Tom Petty songs on the Opry, but Elizabeth has done several for some time now, and I just enjoy them. As I said, she is not for everyone, and the same can be said for Charles Esten. Yes, I know he is an actor playing the role of a country music singer. But he can sing, and he is good. I hope he continues doing the Opry even after the "Nashville" show ends. Bill Anderson looked and sounded good, and at 81 he is still bringing it. He closed with "This Old Army Hat" to prolonged applause. Shenandoah sounded better than they did last time I saw them. Steve Wariner did a fine job hosting the last segment and I was very surprised by Troy Cassar-Daley from Australia. If I heard it right, he has had 31 No.1 records in his home country. He sounded good and he and Steve did well on the Merle Haggard duet. Natalie Stovall was the other artist from Saturday night and she is young and talented.

Friday night I would estimate about 3500 in attendance and Saturday was just about sold-out. And there was a new Opry sponsor, Kentucky Kernel Flour. No, it is not Martha White, and no, I had never heard of this product before, but then again I don't shop grocery stores in the south. There were chuckles in the audience during the commercial. Springer Mountain Farms also sponsors a segment now on Saturday night.

The renovation of the Grand Ole Opry House is underway. The ticket office area is closed and blocked off, including Roy Acuff's old house. The ticket office is in the old Opry Museum, and it was funny walking in as the interior entrance is the same as it was when it was the museum. The same lighted signs are hanging up on the walls, restrooms still in the same place. They would not let you past the lobby, where the ticket agents are, but being inside brought back some old memories. The building looked in perfect shape. Too bad it is no longer in use.

Now to the line-ups for this weekend. Grand Ole Opry members set for both nights include Mike Snider, The Whites and Jeannie Seely. They are scheduled to be joined on Friday night by Ricky Skaggs and Jesse McReynolds will give it a go again. He will also be celebrating his 54th year as a member of the Opry. Jesse has been out since September and was scheduled to return a few weeks ago, but wasn't quite ready. On Saturday night, joining Mike, Jeannie and The Whites, will be Bobby Osborne.

Guest artists on Friday night include Jim Lauderdale, Levi Hummon, Brooke Eden, Lee Roy Parnell, Mary Gauthier, Devin Dawson and Darryl Worley. That is a lot of names and you get that when only five Opry members are on the schedule.

That is actually one more than what is scheduled for Saturday night, as joining the four members will be Drew Baldridge, Sam Palladio (from Nashville), Maggie Rose, Lucy Silvas, Dukes of Hazzard star John Schneider, and Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweets.

Friday March 2
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Jim Lauderdale; Levi Hummon
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Brooke Eden; Lee Roy Parnell
8:15: The Whites (host); Jesse McReynolds; Mary Gauthier
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); Devin Dawson; Darryl Worley

Saturday March 3
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Drew Baldridge
7:30: The Whites (host); Sam Palladio; Maggie Rose
8:15: Jeannie Seely (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Lucy Silvas; Opry Square Dancers; Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats; John Schneider

(I would say there are a few names that some of those attending the Opry this weekend probably will not recognize).

Nathaniel Rateliff comes out of Denver, Colorado and he is described as folk, Americana, and vintage rhythm & blues. His group, the Night Sweats, is described as a soulful R&B combo. His first single was released in 2011. Since then he has released six more singles, none of which has made the charts in the U.S. He also has released several albums, both with his group and as a solo artist. He does have a regional following in the Denver area and will be embarking on a national tour this year. He has been around for a while and at age 39, not a youngster anymore. But I give him credit for continuing with his love of music.

From the first weekend in March 10 years ago, Saturday March 1, 2008:

1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); John Conlee; Joe Diffie
7:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); Terri Clark; James Otto; Elizabeth Cook
8:00: Marty Stuart (host); Jimmy C Newman; The Whites; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Mike Snider; Jim Ed Brown; Del McCoury Band

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Mike Snider; James Otto
10:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); Jeannie Seely; The Whites; Terri Clark
10:30: Marty Stuart (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Elizabeth Cook; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jim Ed Brown; Del McCoury Band

25 years ago, Saturday March 6, 1993:

1st show
6:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Wilma Lee Cooper
6:45: Bill Monroe (host); Roy Drusky; Skeeter Davis
7:00: Ricky Skaggs (host); George Hamilton IV; Jimmy C Newman; Jeanne Pruett; Billy Walker
7:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Jean Shepard; Charlie Walker; Jan Howard; Loretta Lynn
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); The 4 Guys; Riders In The Sky; Mel McDaniel; Opry Square Dance Band
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Mike Snider; The Whites; Osborne Brothers; Grandpa Jones

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Jeannie Seely; Bill Carlisle; Charlie Louvin; Loretta Lynn
10:00: Jack Greene (host); Jeanne Pruett
10:15: Grandpa Jones (host); Ray Pillow
10:30: Bill Monroe (host); Brother Oswald; Jimmy C Newman
10:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); Justin Tubb; Opry Square Dance Band
11:00: Hank Snow (host); The Whites; Mike Snider; Osborne Brothers; Mel McDaniel
11:30: Bill Anderson (host); The 4 Guys; Riders In The Sky; Johnny Russell

Among other events of note from the 1st weekend in March, it was Saturday March 2, 1963 that Grand Ole Opry Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins made their final Opry appearances. Here is the Opry running order from that night:

7:30: Kellogg's
George Morgan (host): Little Dutch Girl
Carter Family: 14 Caret Nothing
Jimmy Newman: Bayou Talk
Willis Brothers: Eat A Little More
George Morgan: Untie the Knot
June Carter: Comedy
Jimmy Newman: A Fallen Star
George Morgan: Down Memory Lane

8:00: Martha White
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper (host): Come Walk with Me
Billy Walker: I've Got A New Heartache
Wilburn Brothers: Roll Muddy River
Stringbean: Pretty Little Widow
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: There's A Higher Power
Del Wood: Are You from Dixie
Margie Bowes: Think it Over
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Wilburn Brothers: Trouble's Back in Town
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Philadelphia Lawyer

8:30: Stephens
Hawkshaw Hawkins (host): Darkness on the Face of the Earth
Lonzo & Oscar: There's A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea
Bobby Lord: Out Behind the Barn
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Hawkshaw Hawkins: I Don't Apologize
Glaser Brothers: Lover's Farewell
Curly Fox: Instrumental
Hawkshaw Hawkins: Silver Threads and Golden Needles

9:00: Jefferson Island Salt
Cowboy Copas (host): You Don't Have to Be A Baby to Cry
Bill Monroe: (?)
Roy Drusky: Second Hand Rose
Minnie Pearl: Comedy
Cowboy Copas: Alabam'
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bill Cheatham
Bill Carlisle: Shutter & Boards
Bill Monroe: (?)
Cowboy Copas: The Man Upstairs

9:30: Pet Milk
Roy Acuff (host): Plastic Heart
Jordanaires: (?)
Marion Worth: Shake Me; I Rattle
Cousin Jody: Lady Cop
Roy Acuff: The Wreck on the Highway
Oswald: Roll On, Buddy, Roll On
Justin Tubb: (?)
Jimmy Riddle: Fox Chase
Roy Acuff: I'll Fly Away

10:00: Gates Rubber
George Morgan (host): Roly Poly
Curly Fox: Instrumental
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Satisfied
Del Wood: Bill Bailey
George Morgan: Who's Jealous Now

10:15: Luzianne
Wilburn Brothers (host): Day After Day
Bill Carlisle: Leave That Liar Alone
Margie Bowes: Within' Your Crowd
Harold Morrison: The Cat came Back
Wilburn Brothers: Not That I Care

10:30: Harvey's
Jimmy Newman (host): (?)
Carter Family: (?)
Billy Walker: Thank You for Calling
Jimmy Newman: (?)

10:45: Ford
Hawkshaw Hawkins (host): Big Old Heartache
Willis Brothers: I Still Do
Stringbean: There'll Be Moonshine In Them Old Kentucky Hills
Crook Brothers: Sally Goodin
Hawkshaw Hawkins: Lonesome 7-7203

11:00: Coca-Cola
Roy Acuff (host): Little Pal
Jordanaires: (?)
Marion Worth: Tennessee Teardrops
Lonzo & Oscar: I'm My Own Grandpa
Roy Acuff & Oswald: Stuck Up Blues
Sam & Kirk McGee: While I'm Away
Justin Tubb: (?)
Oswald: John Hardy
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbin' Ridge
Roy Acuff: Shake My Mother's Hand for Me

11:30: SSS Tonic
Cowboy Copas (host): Down in Nashville Tennessee
Bill Monroe: (?)
Roy Drusky: It Worries Me
Cousin Jody: Mockingbird
Archie Campbell: A Fool's Side of Town
Glaser Brothers: Odds & Ends
Bobby Lord: So Doggone Lonesome
Bill Monroe (host): (?)
Cowboy Copas: Flat Top

Lloyd Estel Copas began performing professionally in the 1930s, appearing on several radio stations in the Cincinnati, Ohio area. In 1940 he moved to Knoxville, Tennessee, where he performed on WNOX-AM with his band, the Gold Star Rangers. A big break for him came in 1943 when Pee Wee King picked Copas to replace Eddy Arnold as the featured vocalist with his Golden West Cowboys, which included performances on the Grand Ole Opry. His first solo single, "Filipino Baby" was released by King Records in 1946 and reached No. 4 on the Billboard Country chart. From the late 1940s, into the early 1950s, he had several other hits including "Signed, Sealed and Delivered," "The Tennessee Waltz," " Tennessee Moon," "I'm Waltzing with Tears in My Eyes," "Candy Kisses," "Hangman's Boogie," and "The Strange Little Girl." His 1952 single, "'Tis Sweet to Be Remembered" reached No. 8 on the Billboard chart. It would be his final charted single that decade.

Copas continued to make regular appearances on the Opry, along with guesting on the Ozark Jubilee. In 1960 he reached the top of the charts with "Alabam'" which would prove to be the biggest hit of his career. That record stayed at No. 1 for three months. Other hits followed including "Flat Top" and a remake of "Signed, Sealed and Delivered."

Harold Franklin Hawkins first appeared on local West Virginia radio in the 1930s, specifically WSAZ-AM in Huntington and WCHS-AM in Charleston. By 1941 he was traveling across the United States as part of a musical revue. Hawkins entered the Army in 1943 and was stationed in France and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. After he was discharged, he became a regular on the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree, while at the same time recording for King Records in Cincinnati. He stayed with King Records until 1953 and had hits with "Pan American" and Dog House Boggie."

In 1954, Hawkshaw left the Wheeling Jamboree and began performing on the Ozark Jubilee, where he met future wife Jean Shepard. After limited success recording with Columbia and RCA Records, he moved to Nashville and joined the Grand Ole Opry. He also resigned with King Records. In 1962, he had the biggest hit of his career with "Lonesome 7-7203." The song first appeared on the Billboard country chart on March 2, 1963, three days before he died. It would later spend four weeks at No. 1.

Both Cowboy Copas and Hawkshaw Hawkins, along with Patsy Cline and Randy Hughes, would die in a plane crash on March 5, 1963, while returning to Nashville after performing in a benefit concert in Kansas City for the family of disc jockey "Cactus' Jack Call. The crash took place near Camden, Tennessee, 90 miles from Nashville.

The first weekend in March also saw The Whites: Buck, Sharon and Cheryl, becoming members of the Grand Ole Opry on March 3, 1984. March 7, 2003 saw the final Opry appearance of long-time member Bill Carlisle. A few days after that appearance, Bill suffered a stroke and would pass away shortly after.

Finally, let's not forget Saturday March 4, 1978 when an entire Grand Ole Opry show was televised for the first time on Public Broadcasting as part of their annual fundraiser. It was such a success that the Opry would do it for the following three years. For the first time, fans across the country could see the Opry as it took place live (although minus the commercials).

Let's take one more look at that first PBS show:

1st show
6:00: Vietti
Del Reeves (host): Two Dollars in the Jukebox/A Dime at A Time
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
George Hamilton IV: Cornbread, Beans & Sweet Potato Pie
Lonzo & Oscar: When the Fields in the Valleys Turn Green
Billy Grammer: Birth of the Blues
Willis Brothers: Boots & Saddles
Del Reeves: Folsom Prison Blues/Margariteville

6:30: Mrs. Grissoms
Jimmy C Newman (host): Diggy Liggy Lo
Jean Shepard: The Things That Might Have Been/It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels/You Win Again/A Dear John Letter
Del Wood: Alabama Jubilee/Down Yonder
Bessyl Duhon: Opryland Special

6:45: Rudy's
Archie Campbell (host): Make Friends
Skeeter Davis: I'll Fly Away
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
Archie Campbell: A.C. in N.Y. Last July

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Big Wind's A Comin'
Connie Smith: How Great Thou Art
Don Williams: Some Broken Hearts Never Mend/I've Got A Winner In You
Wilburn Brothers: Because He Lives
Don Gibson: Oh, Lonesome Me
Porter Wagoner: Cold Hard Facts of Life/Carroll County Accident/Green, Green Grass of Home/'Ol Slewfoot

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Sunshine Special
Minnie Pearl: Careless Love
The 4 Guys: Cottonfields/Mariah
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Lafayette
Roy Acuff: How Beautiful Heaven Must Be

8:00: Martha White
Bill Monroe (host): My Sweet Blue Eyed Darling
Stu Phillips: She Thinks I Still Care
Jan Howard: Will the Circle Be Unbroken
Charlie Louvin: Warm, Warm Woman
Justin Tubb: What's Wrong with the Way that We're Doing it Now
Wilma Lee Cooper: Poor Ellen Smith
Bill Monroe: Cryin' Holy Unto the Lord

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Ronnie Milsap: Stand By My Woman's Man/What Goes on When the Sun Goes Down/Day Dreams About Night Things/A Legend in My Time
Bill Carlisle: Leave that Liar Alone
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbin' Ridge
Hank Snow: I've Done at Least One Thing That Was Good in My Life

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Porter Wagoner (host): Dooley
Jean Shepard: If You've Got the Money, I've Got the Time
George Hamilton IV: Only the Best
Archie Campbell: The Interview
Osborne Brothers: Midnight Flyer
Willis Brothers: Bob
Porter Wagoner: Tennessee Saturday Night/On A Highway Headed South

10:00: Fender
Bill Monroe (host): Mary Jane, Won't You Be Mine
Ronnie Milsap: What A Difference You've Made in My Life/Let My Love Be Your Pillow
Kenny Baker: The Lucky Lady

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Meeting in the Air
Don Williams: Amanda/You're My Best Friend
Billy Grammer: Georgiana Moon
Howdy Forrester: Cotton-Eyed Joe

10:30: Trailblazer
Jimmy C Newman (host): Colinda
Skeeter Davis: He Will be There
Del Wood: Just Because
Jimmy C Newman: Big Bayou

10:45: Beech-Nut
Wilburn Brothers (host): Country Kind of Feelings
Stu Phillips: I'd Rather Be Sorry
Jan Howard: Better Off Alone
Crook Brothers/Tennessee Travelers: Gray Eagle

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Tangled Mind
Justin Tubb: You'd Never Be Happy with Me
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cacklin' Hen
Wilma Lee Cooper: Bury Me Beneath the Willow
Kirk McGee: The Waltz You Saved for Me/Freight Train
Hank Snow: Once More, You're Mine Again

11:30: Elm Hill
Charlie Louvin (host): Let's Put Our World Back Together/A Toast to Mama/Love Has to Die All By Itself/I Ain't Gonna Work Tomorrow
Jeanne Pruett: Break My Mind/A Poor Man's Woman
Bill Carlisle: Amazing Grace
The 4 Guys: When Will I Be Loved
Charlie Louvin: Woman, Warm Woman

There you have it for this week. Welcome to March with Spring right around the corner. As always, I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend!!!


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

  2. David Ball added for Saturday night.

    As to the Hall of Fame, I am sure the usual candidates are out there. At this point, it is probably anyone's guess.

  3. Nice to hear Jesse McReynolds back last night on the Friday Night Opry. His 54th year as an Opry member was mentioned in the introduction by Cheryl White and he received a very nice ovation. He even got to do two songs.

    Jesse sounded great...Brooke Eden not so great.

  4. It was great to hear Jesse back last night. Felt like he picked up where he left off in September. Lets hope can continue to perform.

    I enjoyed John Schneider's second song and his touching comments after including his memories of Johnny Cash.

    Byron: Thanks for the great report on you trip to the Opry.

    Now for the dark side: I feel I should thank the Opry and the management of the past 15 years or so. I have had my head stuck in the sand just listening to Hillbilly music all my 52 years. I'm finally getting some culture thanks to the Opry and surely becoming a better citizen thanks to the diversity the Opry now presents. The Night Sweats were not particularly bad but they sound like what I think mid 70's light rock sounded like. Never listened to it in my youth but now I am exposed and should feel the better for it. Each week the Opry keeps broadening my cultural experience. I'm trying to appreciate this great opportunity I am being provided.

    If I want to stick my head back in the sand I guess I'll have to go somewhere like Brady, Texas.

    Sorry if my thoughts offend anyone. I just wish I could still tune into the Opry and find it 70% Country, even today's Country, and 30% other, instead of the other way around many nights. That is probably a bit extreme a proportion but some nights it feels that way. Oh well, as Bare's most recent song says, "Things Change". On the other hand, per Dotty West, "I Was Born A Country Girl(Boy) And I'll Die A Country Girl(Boy).

    Knigthsville, IN

    1. Jim, I know what you mean, and what bothers me about the Opry now is that they are trying to be "different" ALL THE TIME, on almost every segment, as opposed to having someone very different on, say, every other week or so. I am hoping that Ms. Williams realizes this and instead makes a push for the young big names to up their game. Every now and then, for pleasure, I go to Brad Paisley's Facebook page and say, you said at Little Jimmy's funeral that you all would take it from here. So, when are you going to take it to the Opry?

  5. I was at Little Jimmie Dicken's funeral and heard with my own ears Brad Paisley make that statement.
    I had high hopes....

    Off during spring break to see a Tuesday night 'Opry and Thursday night Country Classics. Hope I get country music singers!

  6. Good lick Nat. Be safe in your travels.

    Knihgtsville, IN

  7. Well I can't type....good LUCK Nat!