Thursday, May 10, 2018

Grand Ole Opry 5/11 & 5/12

The big news this week at the Grand Ole Opry is Carrie Underwood, who on Friday night will be celebrating her 10th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Carrie Underwood was nervous the night she made her Grand Ole Opry debut. Most singers are, but the naturally shy young woman from Oklahoma had won American Idol just two weeks before, the first country singer to finish first on the top-rated TV show, and she wasn't sure how she'd be accepted at the venerated institution. She needn't have worried. "It's kind of magical," she gushed on the side of the Opry stage just after finishing her two-song set. "I don't feel like I deserve this at all." But Carrie absolutely deserved the thunderous applause that night, and that sense of magic has stayed with her throughout her career, one of the most impressive in country music history.

Since that night in June 2005, Carrie has placed more than 20 singles at the top of the country charts, including "Jesus, Take the Wheel," "Before He Cheats," "Cowboy Casanova," the appropriately titled "All-American Girl," "Good Girl," and "See You Again." She has sold millions of albums worldwide. Her debut album, "Some Hearts," is the best-selling album from any American Idol contestant. It spent 27 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard magazine's Top Country Albums chart across a three-year period, and Billboard ranked it as the Top Country Album of the last decade.

Carrie has become one of the most honored young singers in country music today, with a trophy tally that includes over 95 major awards including Grammys and awards from both the Academy of Country Music and the Country Music Association. She has also co-hosted the CMA Awards with follow Opry star Bard Paisley. Of particular significance is the award she was presented on the night of her Opry induction in 2008. "The induction award they gave me says, 'Hey, you're part of the family,'" Carrie says. "It means a lot to me because it's the heart of country music, the church, the sacred place, the super-elite club that says you love this music."

It was on Saturday March 15, 2008 that Opry member Randy Travis surprised Carrie Underwood, while she was performing as a guest on the Opry, inviting Carrie to become the Opry's newest member. Her formal induction took place on Saturday May 10, 2008 with Opry member Garth Brooks surprising Carrie, and doing the formal induction. While I know there are some who do not appreciate Carrie's brand of country music, (and don't put me on that list as I am a Carrie fan), everyone should appreciate her commitment and dedication to the Opry. Among her contemporaries at the Opry, Carrie has set the standard and has always fulfilled her commitment of 10 appearances each year.

Joining Carrie Underwood for both shows on the Friday Night Opry this week will be Grand Ole Opry members Bill Anderson, Riders In The Sky, Ricky Skaggs, The Whites and Old Crow Medicine Show, while Mike Snider is scheduled for just the first show and Jesse McReynolds is set for the late show.

Bill Anderson, Mike Snider, Ricky Skaggs, and The Whites are also scheduled for Saturday night, where they will be joined by members Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, Jeannie Seely and Bobby Osborne.

There are only two guest artists on Friday night, Dom Flemons and Ashley Campbell, who will be signing and meeting fans in the Opry Shop. Saturday night, 11 year old Mason Ramsey will be returning, once again appearing on a segment hosted by Ricky Skaggs. Mason was very impressive during his first Opry appearance and he, along with the Opry, received a lot of positive publicity from his appearance. Joining Mason will be Hall of Fame member Charlie McCoy, The Nelons, a very popular gospel group, and making his Grand Ole Opry debut, Jordan Davis.

Friday May 11
1st show
7:00: Bill Anderson (host); Riders In The Sky; Mike Snider
7:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Ashley Campbell
8:00: Old Crow Medicine Show (host); Dom Flemons
8:30: Carrie Underwood

2nd show
9:30: Bill Anderson (host); Riders In The Sky; Jesse McReynolds
10:00: Carrie Underwood
10:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Ashley Campbell
11:00: Old Crow Medicine Show (host); Dom Flemons

Saturday May 12
7:00: Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers (host); Mike Snider
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jordan Davis; Charlie McCoy
8:15: Bill Anderson (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; The Nelons; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); The Whites; Mason Ramsey

While Carrie Underwood will be celebrating her 10th anniversary as an Opry member on Friday night, Jordan Davis will be making his Opry debut on Saturday.

Jordan Davis, who is the brother of country singer Jacob Davis, is from Shreveport, Louisiana. In 2012, after graduating from Louisiana State University, he moved to Nashville. In 2016, Jordan signed a recording and songwriting contract with Universal Music Group Nashville. His debut single, "Singles You Up" was released in mid-2017, while his debut album "Home State" was released this past March. His second single, "Take It from Me" was released this past week.


Here is the Opry line-up from 10 years ago, Saturday May 10, 2008, the night Carrie Underwood became a member of the Grand Ole Opry:

1st show
6:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Del McCoury Band
7:00: Carrie Underwood; Dierks Bentley; Aaron Tippin; Garth Brooks
8:00: Marty Stuart (host); Connie Smith; Mel Tillis; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jean Shepard; Vince Gill

2nd show
9:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jeannie Seely; Jim Ed Brown; Dierks Bentley
10:00: Marty Stuart (host); George Hamilton IV; Connie Smith; Aaron Tippin
10:30: Vince Gill (host); Del McCoury Band; Carrie Underwood; Opry Square Dancers
11:00: Bill Anderson (host); Jean Shepard; Mel Tillis

Two outstanding Opry shows that Saturday night!!

And from 25 years ago, Saturday May 15, 1993:

1st show
6:30: The 4 Guys (host); Ray Pillow
6:45: Bill Monroe (host); Jim Ed Brown
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jan Howard; Charlie Walker; Jean Shepard; Hank Locklin
7:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jeanne Pruett; George Hamilton IV: Stu Phillips; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); The Whites; Brother Oswald; Mike Snider
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Jack Greene; Roy Drusky; Skeeter Davis; Jimmy C Newman

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Hank Locklin; Wilma Lee Cooper; Rhonda Vincent; Sally Mountain Show
10:00: Bill Monroe (host); Stonewall Jackson
10:15: Jimmy Dickens (host); The 4 Guys
10:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jean Shepard
10:45: Jim Ed Brown (host); Bill Carlisle; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Roy Drusky; The Whites; Justin Tubb; George Hamilton IV
11:30: Jack Greene (host); Skeeter Davis; Jimmy C Newman; Mike Snider

Looking back at the Opry, it was Saturday May 13, 2006 that Billy Walker performed on the Grand Ole Opry for the final time.

William Marvin Walker was born in Ralls, Texas on January 14, 1929. Billy attended high school in Whiteface, Texas and won a local talent contest which led to a local radio appearance. Billy began his professional career in 1947 at the age of 18 and by 1949 he was performing on the Big D Jamboree in Dallas. It was that same year, thanks to the help of Hank Thompson who worked with Billy in Waco, that he signed with Capital Records. While performing his manager had Billy wear a Lone Ranger style black mask and billed him as The Traveling Texan, the Masked Singer of Country Songs.

In 1951, Billy signed with Columbia Records and then joined the Louisiana Hayride. In 1954 he had his first hit, "Thank You for Calling." By the mid-1950's, Billy had become a member of the Ozark Jubilee, where he became friends with Red Foley. He moved to Nashville in 1959, and by January 1960 he was a member of the Grand Ole Opry. He was one of the first artists to record a Willie Nelson song, and although his 1961 version of "Funny How Time Slips Away" only reached No. 23 on Billboard's country singles chart, it helped establish his national reputation. In 1962, he had his only No. 1 record, "Charlie's Shoes." Other Top 10 hits included "Willie the Weeper," "Circumstances," "Cross the Brazos at Waco," "Matamoros," "A Million and One," "Bear with Me a Little Longer," "Ramona," "Thinking 'Bout You Babe," "She Goes Walking Through My Mind," "I'm Gonna Keep On Keep On Lovin' You," "Sing Me a Love Song to Baby," "Word Games," and my personal favorite, "When A Man Loves A Woman (The Way That I Love You."

Billy performed at the Kansas City charity concert in March 1963 that included Patsy Cline, Hawkshaw Hawkins, Cowboy Copas, and others. After the show, Billy received an urgent phone call to return to Nashville and Hawkshaw Hawkins gave up his seat on a commercial flight, giving his ticket to Billy. Hawkshaw ended up on the flight with Patsy, Cowboy Copas and Randy Hughes that crash.

Billy left Columbia in 1965, later recording for Monument Records, MGM, RCA, and his own Tall Texan label. In the late 1960s, he hosted his own syndicated television program "Billy Walker's Country Carnival" that recently aired on RFD-TV.

After his hit making days ended, Billy continued touring and appearing on the Grand Ole Opry. On May 21, 2006, he died in a car accident when the van he was driving back to Nashville after a show in Foley, Alabama veered off Interstate 65 and overturned. In addition to Billy, his wife Bettie, and musicians Charles Lilly, Jr., and Daniel Patton also died in the crash.

Here is the running order from Saturday May 13, 2006, the final night that Billy Walker performed on the Grand Ole Opry.

1st show
6:30: Cracker Barrel
Jimmy Dickens (host): May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose
Connie Smith: Cincinnati, Ohio
Jimmy C Newman: Diggy-Liggy Lo
Keni Thomas: Not Me/Shreveport to L.A.
Jimmy Dickens: I'm Just Blue Enough to Do Most Anything

7:00: Tootsie's
Jeannie Seely (host): It Wasn't God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels
The Whites: Blue Letters
Jesse McReynolds: I Don't Believe You've Met My Baby
Pinmonkey: Barbed Wire and Roses/That Train Don't Run By Here No More

7:30: Martha White
Riders In The Sky (host): Ghost Herd in the Sky
Jan Howard: Smoky Mountain Jubilee
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells
The Wreckers: Leave the Roses When You Go/My, oh, My
Riders In The Sky: Whoop De Doo/Happy Trails to You

Jean Shepard (host): Silver Threads and Golden Needles
Billy Walker: T for Texas
Buddy Jewell: Help Pour out the Rain/If She Were Any Other Woman
Opry Square Dance Band/ Opry Square Dancers: Snow Flake Reel
Jean Shepard: If I Could Hear My Mother Pray Again

8:30: Tennessee Pride
Bill Anderson (host): If You Can Live With It
Eddy Raven: Who Do You Know in California/I've Got Mexico
Ricky Skaggs: First Corinthians 118/Sally Jo
Bill Anderson: The Corner of My Life

2nd show
9:30: Cracker Barrel
Jimmy Dickens (host): Take an Old Cold Tater
Connie Smith: Did We Have to Come This Far
Jimmy C Newman: Big Mammou
Keni Thomas: Not Me/From Shreveport to L.A.
Jimmy Dickens: Shopping for Dresses

Jean Shepard (host): Head over Heels in Love with You
The Whites: Swing Down Chariott
Eddy Raven: We Rob Trains/Joe Sure Knows How to Live
Pinmonkey: Barbed Wire and Roses/That Train Don't Run By Here No More
Jean Shepard: Second Fiddle

10:30: Johnnie Walker Tours
Jeannie Seely (host): Anytime
Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press: West Virginia, My Home
The Wreckers: Leave the Roses When You Go/My, Oh, My
Opry Square Dance Band/Opry Square Dancers: Here & There

11:00: Gaylord
Bill Anderson (host): Don't She Look Good
Jack Greene: Highway to the Sky/This One Belongs to Me
Ricky Skaggs: Mothers Only Sleeping/Uncle Pen
Bill Anderson: Mama Sang A Song

11:30: Night At The Opry
Riders In The Sky (host): Woody's Roundup
Charlie Louvin: Mama's Angels
Billy Walker: You Gave Me A Mountain
Buddy Jewell: Help Pour Out the Rain/If She Were Any Other Woman
Riders In The Sky: Mother, The Queen of My Heart/Happy Trails to You

Billy Walker had an amazing career. When you add up the number of hit records and television appearances he had, you can make the case that Billy deserves consideration to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame. Sadly, it will probably never happen.

Once again, congratulations to Carrie Underwood as she celebrates her 10th year as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, and I am sure everyone will enjoy the Opry this weekend. Three very nice shows.


  1. I am haunted by the thought that if the management hadn't limited the appearances of senior members, Billy Walker might not have been on the road that night. Of course, nobody appears to know exactly what happened.

    Carrie Underwood has been a good and loyal member, meeting her obligations. That's more than I can say for Dolly Parton, Reba McEntire, Brad Paisley, Darius Rucker, Keith Urban, Blake Shelton, Garth Brooks, Trisha Yearwood ... actually, a lot of members. I hope that changes soon.

  2. To echo your comments about Carrie, the Opry is at its best when it has a good variety of acts. You don't have to and shouldn't necessarily like Carrie. Personally, I am not a fan of most of her music, although I do recognize she has one of if not the best pure voice in country music today. But I do respect her for honoring her commitment to the Opry and helping to spread the Opry to younger and more current country fans. Having her appear alongside acts from traditional country, comedy, bluegrass, western, and even gospel is one of the things that makes the Opry special.

  3. Carrie is not appearing "alongside" any of the traditional acts - she has an entire segment just for her. She has been treated special pretty much from the beginning of her career. At least her fans who wouldn't be there otherwise will get some of their money's worth, most won't stay after her segment.

  4. Carrie's one of the very few real current stars who has shown a consistent commitment to the Opry (and I'm not talking about how which old acts "should" be a draw, but who is an actual draw on their own in 2018). I'm not enthralled with some of her recent music, but I give credit where it is due, and I'm looking forward to seeing her next month when I visit the Opry. I don't want to see the contrived Wal-Mart meme boy on the Opry. I want to see top country talent, not adults dressing up and marketing a kid to pander to old people who think it's cute. It's disgusting for the corporate machine to leverage a young human being's "cuteness" for their profit. You know when kid "stars" grow up and aren't "cute" anymore how it so often turns out.

  5. Why the hell Larry Gatlin and his Brothers sings three times in a row "Houston" "Broken Lady" and "All the Gold" at the Opry Country Classics show?? They have many good songs, but almost in every show sings the same stuff....boring autopilot!!

  6. Enjoy Carrie Underwood. Like her músic and support of the Show. Unlike other artists, who should be stripped for not showing as they have no health issues for excuses, she meets the requirements.
    Only knock against Carrie, dont like her hockey choice, as I am a Penguins fan

    1. @Nittannee - well, seeing that she IS married to a Nashville Predator, I fully understand her choice in teams (as I'm sure you do as well.) lol :-)


  7. If I'm remembering correct, Billy Walker was trying to get home on Sunday to participate in a Charlie Walker golf tournament he had promised to participate in. I also believe I heard it said that Billy liked to do all the driving and they believe he fell asleep. And I recall Billy Johnson, his front man for some years, tell Eddie Stubbs they called him "Left Lane Walker" because he liked to ride the left lane on the interstate because he felt it was smoother. I understand their grandson who was the only survivor still struggles with their loss.

    That was a sad day for us. We did not really know them but we had communicated with them some over the past half dozen years or so and my brother had interviewed Bettie once on his radio show about the Golden Voice Awards. And, he was on the air when word came of the accident and I just happened to be with him. It was tough!

    Thanks for remembering them.

    Knightsville, IN

  8. Just a little information here to pass along.

    I have looked into visiting Mr. Acuff's home and the Les Leverette photos exhibited there. Be aware that it is only available on certain days and appears that you must take the Opry backstage tour to be able to visit the house. Yet, they charge $27 for backstage and a seperate $8 for the house. And, when I called, they could only tell me what was available through May. Further, you have to make reservation two weeks in advance yet they can only tell me three weeks out right now.

    Just saying if you are thinking of visiting Mr. Acuff's place look into it before you get there. Not sure it will fit my travel plans. Oh, and the photo exhibit runs through October.

    Anyone finds further info please post it.


    Knightsville, IN

  9. Here listening to the first show, and want to commend Don Flemons on an awesome tribute to Mr. Deford Bailey!!!!! That was so cool!!!!!! I am sure 90% of the people in teh audience didnt know who the hell Deford Bailey was, but I know many of us here do. That is teh respect that I am talking about when I say supporting the show. Respect the history and people who paved the way

    1. @Nittannee - I fully agree with you - Don Flemons was so, so good. Marty Stuart introduced The Carolina Chocolate Drops on his show some years back. I think, but am not sure, if they have disbanded, though I do know that Rhiannon Giddons has appeared on the Opry a few times by herself and now Dom Flemons.


  10. Two very nice Opry shows on Friday night. Randy Travis made a surprise appearance on the Opry, but was it really a surprise? Randy has been visiting more, and although he is not up to performing, it is always nice when Randy is introduced on stage, as he was on Friday.

    Fully agree with the comments regarding Don Flemons. A very good talent who has appeared on the Opry before. When you consider the talent of Rhiannon Giddons, who I have seen on the Opry before, you begin to appreciate what a talented group The Carolina Chocolate Drops were. A quick check found their website not updated in the past year so my assumption is that the group is currently not together.

    There have been a few comments regarding Carrie and Rascal Flatts and the type of music played and drawing fans to the Opry. I know each of us has a different taste in music. Personally, I prefer the classic country that is performed by the legends and veterans of the Opry, but I have come to appreciate the talent and style of many of the newcomers, especially Carrie Underwood. She is talented and she does support the Opry. Hopefully the fans who came to see Rascal Flatts last Tuesday night and Carrie on Friday night appreciated and enjoyed what they saw with the rest of the performers, especially those fans attending the Opry for the first time.

    In the past several months, two of my friends attended their first Opry shows. One was the night Josh Turner appeared in March and she actually thought she was going to see a Josh Turner concert. She did not know the Opry was a radio show, or understood the concept of the Opry until I explained it to her. She went and when she returned, all she could talk about was how great the entire show was and what fun she had. John Conlee was on that night, with Mike Snider, Shenandoah and Ricky Skaggs, among others. She had never heard of Mike before, but she really enjoyed him. Another friend went several weeks ago, the night Vince Gill cancelled. That was the artists she wanted to see, along with Charles Esten. She knew basically none of the other artists, but she also came back talking about what a great show the Opry was and how much she enjoyed it. Both will be going back again.

    So while Rascal Flatts, Carrie Underwood, Charles Esten and Vince Gill might be the reasons may of the new fans are going to the Opry, especially the younger ones, I am finding that they are enjoying the entire experience and show. Much as many of us did when we first went to the Opry.

  11. Byron,
    FANTASTIC comments.
    I'm really glad your friends enjoyed the 'Opry.
    It is still quite a show, and while my recent efforts to explain why I have learned to put up with some of the acts (that aren't my personal favorites) weren't so great, your comments were great and were presented in a far more positive manner.

  12. Thank you all for those comments. Let's face facts: we're not going to love everyone on there, or at least everything that everyone does. There have been Opry members I could do without over the years, and they did all right without me!

    The key thing is whether they are presenting a good show. What Byron said about some people expecting something different ... I think the problem was greater when the Opry was on GAC, and they televised the one hour that was designed to look nothing like the rest of the Opry.

  13. Michael: Agree about GAC and even the last days of the Opry on TNN. It was false advertising in my opinion. Those who liked the new folks would surly be disappointed when they went and found out all those new folks most only appeared when they could get the TV exposure. For the folks that liked Connie Smith, Jean Shepard, Charlie Louvin, Billy Walker and others, they were led to believe they no longer performed or were not on the Opry anymore and those folks might have quit going. A few like Jim Ed or Whisper still got a little exposure due to their vast TV experience.

    Appreciate what Byron had to say. I can appreciate the benefits that Carrie and others bring to the Opry even if their music is not my taste. That is my own problem or preference. As I have mentioned before, the last time Ray Price appeared on the Opry in 2013, hope my memory is correct, Carrie was there and they had two show. Ray Price got to appear twice and do at least four songs instead of two thanks to the new star selling two shows. I am grateful for that.

    Interesting what gets us all commenting here. I appreciate all of you. It really helps keep me engaged in what is going on at the Opry, even the things I can't get into.

    Knightsville, IN



    Michael, you have hit the proverbial nail on the head. My family is not as crazy about traditional country music as I am, but they always enjoy the 'Opry, because it remains a GOOD SHOW. That's what will keep the 'Opry selling out for a long time, I hope.