Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Grand Ole Opry 2/1 & 2/2

Welcome to February, and in the case of the Grand Ole Opry, welcome back to the Grand Ole Opry House after the winter run at the Ryman Auditorium. While the Ryman is nice and historic (and I still enjoy going down there for a show), the comforts of the Opry House are missed. And I am sure all of the artists are glad to be back.

As I post this on Wednesday evening, I see that Grand Ole Opry member Jesse McReynolds is on the schedule for Saturday night. Jesse has not been on the Opry for months as he has worked to regain his strength after his recent illness, and some wondered if he would ever be back. After all, this Grand Ole Opry legend who will be celebrating his 55th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry on March 2, will be celebrating his 90th birthday in July. I know many of us are looking forward to hearing Jesse on Saturday night, and hopefully he makes it back.

As far as his fellow Grand Ole Opry members, scheduled for both nights are John Conlee, Mike Snider, Connie Smith and Riders In The Sky. In fact, those four artists will be hosting segments both nights, and in that order. Joining that quartet on Friday night will be Bobby Osborne, while on Saturday night, in addition to Jesse, the Whites are scheduled.

Guesting on Friday night will be former "Nashville" star Charles Esten, along with the Steep Canyon Rangers (minus Steve Martin), comedian Henry Cho, Tyler Rich, Kalie Shorr, Dukes of Hazzard star John Schneider and Charlie Worsham, who is also on the schedule for Saturday night. Joining Charlie on the Saturday guest list is Rachel Wammack, Gone West featuring Colbie Caillat, Jerrod Niemann, and the legendary Lee Greenwood.

Friday February 1
7:00: John Conlee (host); Kalie Shorr; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Tyler Rich; John Schneider
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Charlie Worsham; Henry Cho
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Steep Canyon Rangers; Charles Esten

Saturday February 2
7:00: John Conlee (host); Rachel Wammack; Jesse McReynolds
7:30: Mike Snider (host); The Whites; Charlie Worsham
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Gone West featuring Colbie Caillat; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Jerrod Niemann; Lee Greenwood

That come out to 12 artists on Friday night, 11 on Saturday, with 5 Opry members on Friday and 6 on Saturday.

Hosting the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree at the Texas Troubadour Theater this week will be Sylvia.

And now, from the first weekend in March 10 years ago, the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from the weekend of February 6 & 7, 2009:

Friday February 6
8:00: Lorrie Morgan (host); Jim Ed Brown; Jeannie Seely; The Whites
8:30: Pam Tillis (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jack Greene; Riders In The Sky
9:00: Mike Snider (host); Connie Smith; Oak Ridge Boys
9:30: John Conlee (host); Jean Shepard; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Montgomery Gentry

Saturday February 7
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Connie Smith; The Lost Trailers
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jim Ed Brown; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Aaron Tippin
8:00: Pam Tillis (host); Jean Shepard; Mark Wills; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Jan Howard; The Whites; Heidi Newfield

Now from 25 years ago, Saturday February 5, 1994:

1st show
6:30: Grandpa Jones (host); Jean Shepard; Stonewall Jackson
6:45: Bill Anderson (host); Skeeter Davis
7:00: Jack Greene (host); Jeanne Pruett; Brother Oswald; Charlie Walker; The Whites
7:30: Lorrie Morgan (host); Oak Ridge Boys; Baillie & The Boys; Jim Ed Brown
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Billy Grammer; Jan Howard; Mel McDaniel; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Jimmy C Newman; Ricky Skaggs; John Conlee; Mike Snider

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Lorrie Morgan; Bill Carlisle; Jan Howard
10:00: Grandpa Jones (host); Riders In The Sky; Banjomania
10:15: Bill Anderson (host); Jack Greene
10:30: John Conlee (host); The Four Guys; Osborne Brothers
10:45: Ricky Skaggs (host); Mike Snider; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Oak Ridge Boys; Jeanne Pruett; Mel McDaniel
11:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Connie Smith; Baillie & The Boys; Johnny Russell

And from 50 years ago, Saturday February 1, 1969:

7:30: Hank Locklin (host); Jim Ed Brown; Jim and Jesse; Ray Pillow
8:00: Flatt and Scruggs (host); Dottie West; Justin Tubb; Stringbean; Crook Brothers; Archie Campbell
8:30: Roy Acuff (host); Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper; Grandpa Jones; Bill Carlisle
9:00: Bill Monroe (host); Billy Grammer; Stu Phillips; Cousin Jody; Fruit Jar Drinkers
9:30: Hank Snow (host); Willis Brothers; Billy Walker; Margie Bowes
10:00: Jim Ed Brown (host); Jim and Jesse; Ray Pillow; Archie Campbell
10:15: Flatt and Scruggs (host); Hank Locklin; Justin Tubb
10:30: Roy Acuff (host); Bill Monroe; Bill Carlisle
10:45: Billy Grammer (host); Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper; Stringbean; Crook Brothers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Grandpa Jones; Willis Brothers; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Sam McGee
11:30: Billy Walker (host); Stu Phillips; Margie Bowes; Cousin Jody

To finish it up for this week, I thought I would go back to Saturday February 2, 1980. Nothing particularly special happened that night, but I thought it would be nice to go back 39 years ago and see what went on at the Opry on that particular Saturday night.

1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
David Houston (host): Lord, Don't Give Up on Me
Justin Tubb: Take a Letter Miss Gray
David Houston: My Elusive Dreams

6:45: Rudy's
Charlie Walker (host): Don't Play Me No Sad Songs About Texas
Billy Grammer: Rose of Old Pawnee
Del Wood: 12th St. Rag
Charlie Walker: San Antonio Rose

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): 'Ol Slewfoot
Wilma Lee Cooper: As Long as I Live
Lonzo and Oscar: Up This Hill and Down
Vic Willis: American Trilogy
Ernie Ashworth: There's No Place I'd Rather Be Tonight
Porter Wagoner: Cold Hard Facts of Life/Carroll County Accident/Green, Green Grass of Home

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Jean Shepard: I Think I'll Go Somewhere and Cry Myself to Sleep/Slippin' Away
Jim and Jesse: Let Me Whisper
Crook Brothers and The Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Grey Eagle
Roy Acuff: Carry Me Back to the Mountains/I Saw the Light

8:00: Martha White
Billy Walker (host): When A Man Loves A Woman
Connie Smith: When I Need Jesus, He's There/Sing, Sing, Sing
Ray Pillow: Hungry Man's Dreams
Stu Phillips: Oh, Canada
Billy Walker: You Turn My Love Light On

8:30: Acme
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets/Back to Back
The Four Guys: Mama Rocked Us to Sleep with Country Music
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Cacklin Hen
Hank Snow and Kelly Foxton: Hasn't It Been Good Together

2nd show
9:30: Kellogg's
Porter Wagoner (host): Tennessee Saturday Night
Lonzo and Oscar: Family Bible
David Houston: Lord, Don't Give Up on Me
Del Wood: Ballin' the Jack
Porter Wagoner: Satisfied Mind/I Thought I Heard You Calling Me Name/Your Old Love Letters/'Ol Slewfoot/Everything I've Always Wanted

10:00: Little Debbie
Billy Grammer (host): My Little Snow Deer/Silver Bells/Rainbow
Wilma Lee and Carol Lee Cooper: A Daisy A Day
Ernie Ashworth: Each Moment Spent with You
Billy Grammer: Columbus Stockade Blues

10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Meeting in the Air
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up on Your Way Down
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird
Howdy Forrester and Jimmy Riddle: Jesse Polka
Roy Acuff: I'll Fly Away

10:30: Trailblazer
Billy Walker (host): Don't Stop in My World
Jean Shepard: Slippin' Away
Vic Willis: You Feel Good All Over
Billy Walker: You Turn My Love Light On

10:45: Beech-Nut
Ray Pillow (host): Super Lady
Jim and Jesse: Paradise
Crook Brothers and The Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Lafayette
Ray Pillow: Another Day; Another Dollar

11:00: Coca Cola
Hank Snow (host): My Nova Scotia Home
Connie Smith: When God Dips His Love in My Heart
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge
Justin Tubb: Travelin' Singing Man
Kirk McGee: Blue Knight
Hank Snow and Kelly Foxton: After the Love is Gone

11:30: Tennessee Pride
The Four Guys (host): Let Your Love Flow
Jeanne Pruett: Break My Mind/Back to Back
Stu Phillips: Great El Tigre/Crystal Chandeliers
The Four Guys: Daytime Friends/Fire

There you have it for this weekend. I hope everyone is ready for the Super Bowl this weekend and hopefully your favorite team wins. Regardless, I hope it is a good game and as always, I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend. Stay warm!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Grand Ole Opry 1/25 & 1/26

Starting off this week with congratulations to Grand Ole Opry member Carrie Underwood and her husband Mike Fisher on the birth of their son, Jacob Bryan. Reports are that mom and baby are doing fine.

As to the Grand Ole Opry this weekend, a couple of real nice shows with a good group of Opry members appearing, highlighted by Vince Gill, who will be appearing both nights. Joining Vince on Friday and Saturday will be Mike Snider, John Conlee, Riders In The Sky, and Dailey & Vincent. They will be joined on Friday night by Jeannie Seely, Joe Diffie, The Whites, Crystal Gayle, and Hall of Fame member Ricky Skaggs. Saturday night, it will be Bobby Osborne and Connie Smith joining the two night group. It is really nice to see Connie back on the schedule after missing a couple of weeks to illness.

Guesting this week will be Michael Ray and the fabulous Dom Flemons on Friday night, while Abby Anderson, Frankie Ballard, The Steel Woods, Eric Paslay and Drew & Ellie Holcomb are set for Saturday night.

January 25
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Michael Ray; Mike Snider
7:30: John Conlee (host); Dailey & Vincent; Joe Diffie
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); The Whites; Ricky Skaggs
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Dom Flemons; Crystal Gayle

Saturday January 26
7:00: John Conlee (host); Abby Anderson; Mike Snider
7:30: Dailey & Vincent (host); Frankie Ballard; The Steel Woods
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Eric Paslay; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Vince Gill (host); Connie Smith; Drew & Ellie Holcomb

Really nice line-ups with 10 Opry members on Friday night and 7 on Saturday. Friday night is particularly strong and it is nice to see Vince back on the Opry. Last year was a pretty slim year for him so hopefully this weekend is a sign of things to come.

Looking back in the history of the Grand Ole Opry, it was 27 years ago, Saturday January 25, 1992 that Emmylou Harris became a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

God didn't make honky tonk angels, but if he had, he would have broken the mold with Emmylou Harris. With her crystal-clear soprano, lissome beauty, impeccable instincts, and uncompromising integrity, Emmylou redefined the image and role of women in country music. Few if any artists have so successfully erased the boundaries between country, folk, and rock and roll.

Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Emmylou spent her youth in North Carolina and Virginia. As the daughter of a career Marine, her upbringing was not particularly musical. But during the '60s she fell in love with folk music, especially Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, and began performing while studying drama at the University of North Carolina. She moved to Greenwich Village in 1967 to join the burgeoning folk revival, sharing stages with Jerry Jeff Walker and David Bromberg, and released her first record in 1969. On the Coast club circuit, she met Gram Parsons, and both her career and life changed forever. Gram, formally of the Byrds and the Flying Burrito Brothers, became her mentor and singing partner, drawing her into the '70s country rock movement and strengthening her ties to traditional country music. Emmylou toured and recorded with gram until his death in 1973. 

In 1975 she recorded her first major album, Pieces of the Sky, introducing her Hot Band, which, over the years, included such world-class players as James Burton, Albert Lee, Rodney Crowell and Ricky Skaggs. Emmylou has enjoyed seven No. 1 hits and 27 Top 10 songs including "If I Could Only Win Your Love," "Together Again," "Sweet Dreams," "Making Believe," To Daddy" and "Heartbreak Hill." 

The 2008 Country Music Hall of Fame inductee has 10 gold albums and 12 Grammy Awards, including one for her 1987 Trio album with Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton as well as one for her work on the soundtrack to the motion picture O Brother, Where Art Thou? 

Here is the running order from 27 years ago, Saturday January 25, 1992, the night Emmylou Harris became a member of the Grand Ole Opry: 

1st show
6:30: Opry Tours
Boxcar Willie (host): Fireball Mail/Train of Love/Hand Me Down My Walking Cane/Wreck of the Old 97/I'm Moving On/Gotta Travel On/Night Train to Memphis
Jeanne Pruett: Temporarily Yours
Boxcar Willie: Cowboys & Horses; Hobos & Trains

6:45: Country Music Hall of Fame
Grandpa Jones (host): Apple Jack
The Four Guys: Tennessee
Skeeter Davis: The End of the World

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): You Gotta Have a License
John Conlee: I Don't Remember Loving You
Osborne Brothers: Nearer My God to Thee
Lorrie Morgan: Except for Monday/Autumn's Not that Cold
Porter Wagoner: Wake Up, Jacob

7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Vince Gill: Take Your Memory With You When You Go/When I Call Your Name/Drifting Too Far From the Shore
Emmylou Harris: Walls of Time/Blue Kentucky Girl

8:00: Martha White
Bill Monroe (host): Nine Pound Hammer
Jimmy Dickens: John Henry
The Whites: Doing it By the Book
Del Reeves: There She Goes
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Bill Cheatham
Bill Monroe and Tom Ewing: Body and Soul

8:30: Opryland
Bill Anderson (host): Don't She Look Good
Jim Ed Brown: The 3 Bells
Jimmy C Newman: (?)
Riders In The Sky: Blue Shadows on the Trail
Jean Shepard: Let's All Go Down to the River/I Saw the Light/Will the Circle Be Unbroken/I'll Fly Away/Somebody Touched Me
Bill Anderson: Still

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Dooley
Billy Walker: Funny How Time Slips Away
John Conlee: Friday Night Blues
Emmylou Harris: Guitar Town
Emmylou Harris and Vince Gill: If You Needed Me
Porter Wagoner: Misery Loves Company
Wagonmasters: Instrumental 

10:00: Little Debbie
Grandpa Jones (host): Ol' Rattler
Charlie Louvin: The Precious Jewel
Wilma Lee Cooper: I Dreamed About Mama Last Night
Grandpa and Mark Jones: Arkansas Traveler

10:15: Tennessee Pride/Sunbeam
Roy Acuff (host): Once More
Ray Pillow: Please Don't Leave Me Anymore
George Hamilton IV: I'm Using My Bible for a Road Map/Cabin in Gloryland
Dan Kelly: Sally Goodin

10:30: Pet Milk
Bill Monroe (host): True Life Blues
Roy Drusky: Too Old to Die Young
Boxcar Willie: Hobo Heaven
Bill Monroe: I'm Working on a Building

10:45: B.C. Powder
Jimmy Dickens (host): Take an Old Cold Tater
Vince Gill and Patty Loveless: When I Call Your Name
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Lafayette
Jimmy Dickens: Life Turned Her that Way

11:00: Coca-Cola
Bill Anderson (host): You Can Have Her
Osborne Brothers: Low and Lonely
Jeannie Seely: Go Down Swinging
Stonewall Jackson: Side Steppin' the Blues
Jean Shepard: Slippin' Away
Bill Carlisle: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Bill Anderson: Golden Guitar

11:30: Creamette
Charlie Walker (host): Does Ft. Worth Ever Cross Your Mind
Riders In The Sky: How Does He Yodel
The Whites: Swing Down, Chariot
Johnny Russell: No One Will Ever Know
Charlie Walker: Take Me Back to Tulsa

I saw Emmylou on the Opry during my December trip and she sounds as amazing as ever. As a fan of Emmylou, I do wish she would visit the Opry more often. She seems to enjoy it and those attending have always been treated to a great performance. Additionally, if you are in Nashville or planning to visit, there is a great exhibit on Emmylou at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Known for there past exhibits featuring Loretta Lynn, Kitty Wells, Marty Robbins and Johnny Cash, among others, this might be their best one yet. 

Again, congratulations to Emmylou Harris upon her 27th year as an Opry member.

And finally, looking back at 50 years ago, Saturday January 25, 1969:

7:30: Standard Candy
Jim Ed Brown (host): Pop A Top
Skeeter Davis: Going Down the Road Feeling Bad
Justin Tubb: As Long As There's a Sunday
Jim and Jesse: When the Snow Is On the Roses
Jim Ed Brown: The Longest Beer of the Night
Stringbean: Ruby
Del Wood: Ballin' the Jack
Skeeter Davis: The Closest Thing to Love
Jim Ed Brown: Jack & Jill

8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Bob Luman: Sing the Blues to Daddy
Ray Pillow: Bubbles In My Beer
Crook Brothers: Instrumental
Roy Acuff: You Win Again
Bob Luman: Ain't Got Time to Be Unhappy
Ray Pillow: Take Me As I Am (Or Let Me Go)
Larry McNeely and Charlie Collins: Lime Rock

8:30: Stephens
Billy Grammer (host): Gotta Travel On
Dottie West: Reno
Leroy Van Dyke: Green, Green Grass of Home
Lonzo and Oscar: Crawdad Song
Billy Grammer: Peace in the Valley
Dottie West: Here Comes My Baby
Cousin Jody: Mockingbird
Leroy Van Dyke: Walk on By/Auctioneer

9:00: Luzianne
Bill Monroe (host): Train 45
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Bill Carlisle The Great Snowman
Margie Bowes: You Oughta Hear Me Cry/I Saw the Light
Archie Campbell and Lorene Mann: Warm and Tender Love
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Fire on the Mountain
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted

9:30: Kellogg's
Hank Snow (host): The Name of the Game was Love
Willis Brothers: Private Lee
Grandpa Jones: Little Old Log Cabin by the Stream
Stu Phillips: That's A Chance I'll Have to Take
Hank Snow: With This Ring I Thee Wed
Marion Worth: You Good Girl's Gonna Go Bad
Willis Brothers: Cool Water
Grandpa Jones: Raining on the Mountain, Now, My Love
Hank Snow: My Blue Eyed Jane

10:00: Fender
Jim Ed Brown (host): Big Daddy
Skeeter Davis: The Closest Thing to Love
Del Wood: Down Yonder
Jim Ed Brown: Bottle; Bottle/He'll Have to Go/Four Walls

10:15: Pure
Roy Acuff (host): Little Pal
Justin Tubb: Ballad of 40 Dollars
Jim and Jesse: Truck Driving Man
Leroy Van Dyke: Auctioneer
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird

10:30: Buckley's
Bill Monroe (host): The Gold Rush
Bob Luman: Guitar Man
Stringbean: Ol' Man, Can You Play a Banjo
Ray Pillow: I Don't Know Why I Keep Loving You

10:45: Kent
Billy Grammer (host): Detroit City
Dottie West: Today, I Started Loving You Again
Crook Brothers: Liberty
Billy Grammer: God Will Take Care of You

11:00: Coca Cola
Hank Snow (host): The Wreck of the Old #9
Willis Brothers: Chattanooga Shoe Shine Boy
Margie Bowes: Saint to a Sinner
Lonzo and Oscar: Love Took My Heart and Smashed That Sucker Flat
Hank Snow: A Legend in My Time
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hickory Leaf
Sam McGee: Rambling Rose
Willis Brothers: A 6 Ft 2 By 4
Hank Snow: Tammy

11:30: Lava
Archie Campbell (host) w/Lorene Mann: The Dark End of the Street
Grandpa Jones: Are You From Dixie
Marion Worth: Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed
Stu Phillips: Little Old Wine Drinker Me
Archie Campbell and Lorene Mann: Warm and Tender Love
Grandpa Jones: T for Texas
Marion Worth: Yours, Love
Stu Phillips: Juanita Jones

Finally, I have already been receiving a few questions and emails about the Country Music Hall of Fame. The announcement usually takes place in late spring (March or April). I know the voting is taking place. We always discuss our favorites and I am sure we will be doing that in the coming weeks and months.

There you have it for this week. As we get to the end of January, I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend!!

Monday, January 21, 2019

Maxine Brown

Sad news from Little Rock and Nashville tonight as Maxine Brown, the last living member of The Browns, has passed away.

Maxine Brown Russell, the vivacious entertainer, mother, grandmother, aunt, sister, and friend passed today at Bowman Hospice in Little Rock, Arkansas from complications of heart and kidney disease at the age of 87. Her family was at her side.

Born April 27, 1931 in Campti, Louisiana, Russell was predeceased by her parents, Floyd and Birdie Brown, sisters Bonnie Ring and Norma Sullivan, brothers Jim Ed Brown and Raymond Brown, and her son, Tommy H. Russell, Jr. She is survived by two children,  Jimmy Russell (Mary) and Alicia Short (Curtis), six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

As one-third of the popular Country trio The Browns, Maxine enjoyed a lengthy career that spanned the 1950s and '60s. The group released multiple "million-sellers," including "The Three Bells," "The Old Lamplighter," "Scarlet Ribbons," and "Send Me The Pillow You Dream on." As a songwriter, her first taste of success came with The Browns release of "Looking Back To See."

Maxine was the "cut up" of the globally-renowned trio, and always the life of the party during the group's tours, including jaunts in the U.K. and Japan. The Browns joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1963 and appeared on hit television shows of the day, including: The Ed Sullivan Show, The Arthur Murray Show, The Perry Como Show, American Bandstand with Deck Clark, and The Jerry Lewis Show.

In 2012, she was awarded the Ella Dicky Literary Award for her 2005 autobiography, Looking Back To See. The Browns where proud members of The Arkansas Entertainers Walkway of Stars, The Missouri Walkway of Stars, and recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Arkansas Country  Music Hall of Fame. In 2015, The Brown were inducted into the prestigious Country Music Hall of Fame.

Funeral services are planned and will be announced soon.

On a personal note, while I can't say that Maxine and myself were friends, I did get to meet Maxine several times, including the night at the Opry when Jim Ed Brown was honored upon his 50th year as an Opry member, which was the last time I saw her. Over the years, we had traded Facebook messages and she never failed to wish me a Happy Birthday each year. She was funny, witty, and most of all, a great singer and entertainer.

Prayers and thoughts are with her family tonight.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Grand Ole Opry 1/18 & 1/19

Before getting to the Grand Ole Opry line-ups for this weekend, a couple of sad notes to pass along to everyone.

Juanita Jackson, the wife of Grand Ole Opry member Stonewall Jackson passed away on Tuesday. Juanita, who was also Stonewall's business manager, had been in declining health for a long period of time.

Bill Anderson's long time companion Vicki Gorney Salas passed away early Wednesday morning after a battle with cancer. Bill and Vicki were a couple for many years and Bill has written and spoken of Vicki often, especially as she has battled cancer.

Condolences to both Stonewall and Bill, along with their families and loved ones.

On a happier note, Loretta Lynn made a surprise appearance at the Grand Ole Opry on Monday, where it was announced that Loretta will be honored with a special all-star concert April 1st in Nashville, in honor of Loretta's 87th birthday.

Garth Brooks participated in the announcement, and along with Garth, those scheduled to perform at the birthday concert include Trisha Yearwood, George Strait, Keith Urban, Miranda Lambert, Pistol Annies, Jack White, Alan Jackson, Little Big Town, Martina McBride, Brandy Clark, Darius Rucker, Margo Price, and Kacey Musgraves, with more to come.

Loretta, who will not perform at the show, is recovering from a stroke in 2017 and a broken hip in 2018. While looking a little frail, overall she looked good and answered some questions from the press. She was also presented with an early 87th birthday cake, decorated in purple, her favorite color.

Now for this week's Grand Ole Opry, which is continuing its run at the Ryman Auditorium through the end of January. While the line-ups look solid, sadly there are only four Opry members each night, with the Saturday show having only three segments.

Grand Ole Opry members scheduled for both nights include Jeannie Seely, John Conlee and The Whites. Mike Snider will join that group on Friday night with Bobby Osborne scheduled on Saturday.

Guesting this weekend will be Chonda Pierce and Levon, who are scheduled for both nights. They will be joined on Friday night by Darryl Worley, Sarah Darling, The Grascals, Jackie Lee and The Bellamy Brothers. Saturday night's featured guest will be Sara Evans. Always a treat to have Sara on the Opry. In addition to Chonda and Levon, Ashley McBryde is scheduled, along with T. Graham Brown, and making her Grand Ole Opry debut, Neyla Pekarek.

Friday January 18
7:00: John Conlee (host); Sarah Darling; The Grascals
7:30: Mike Snider (host); Darryl Worley; Levon
8:15: The Whites (host); Jackie Lee; Chonda Pierce
8:45: Jeannie Seely (host); The Bellamy Brothers

Saturday January 19
7:00: The Whites (host); T. Graham Brown; Levon
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Neyla Pekarek
8:15: John Conlee (host); Chonda Pierce; Opry Square Dancers; Ashley McBryde; Sara Evans

As mentioned, Neyla Pekarek will be making her Grand Ole Opry debut on Saturday night. Neyla is from Denver, Colorado and plays the cello and piano, along with being a vocalist. From 2010 to 2018 she was a member of the folk rock band The Lumineers.

Neyla began playing the cello at the age of nine. Growing up, she enjoyed listening to Etta James, Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding. Her parents introduced her to American folk music, exposing her to artists such as Bob Dylan, Carole King, and Emmylou Harris. After attending the University of Northern Colorado, where she majored in vocal performance and musical theater, and graduating with a degree in music education, she responded to a Craigslist ad posted by Wesley Schultz and Jeremiah Fraites, looking for a cellist to join their band, The Lumineers. She was picked and was a part of the group for eight years, leaving in October 2018. While with the group, she not only played the cello, put she was also a vocalist and did some songwriting.

As the only female in the group, she struggled with the inequity in the music business, saying that women "have to talk twice as loud and perform twice as hard, and you have to wear heels. I see myself working really hard to make everything equal between all of us. The boys are learning a lot about it and they've been really supportive, but there've been some growing pains." She also said that if she were ever to join another band, she would definitely not be the only girl in it.

Neyla has been working on a solo project called Rattlesnake since leaving The Lumineers, which will be released in the next week. Her Grand Ole Opry debut will be in support of her new album.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from ten years ago, the weekend of January 16 & 17, 2009:

Friday January 16
8:00: John Conlee (host); Connie Smith; The SteelDrivers
8:30: Mike Snider (host); Jim Ed Brown; Billy Dean
9:00: Bill Anderson (host); Stu Phillips; The Whites; Jamie O'Neal
9:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jimmy C Newman; Exile

Saturday January 17
7:00: Mike Snider (host); Jim Ed Brown; Jimmy C Newman; Ashton Shepherd
7:30: Bill Anderson (host); The Whites; Point Of Grace
8:00: Mel Tillis (host); Mel McDaniel; John Conlee; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Marty Stuart (host); George Hamilton IV; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Connie Smith

Now from 25 years ago, Saturday January 22, 1994, which was also the night that Hal Ketchum became a member of the Grand Ole Opry:

1st show
6:30: GHS String
Jimmy Dickens (host): Out Behind the Barn
Skeeter Davis: Lovesick Blues
Jimmy Dickens: Another Bridge to Burn

6:45: Country Music Hall of Fame
Grandpa Jones (host): Little Pink
Jean Shepard and Ferlin Husky: A Dear John Letter
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Grandpa Jones: It's Raining Here this Morning

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Howdy Neighbor, Howdy
Bill Carlisle: Leave that Liar Alone
Jeanne Pruett: Satin Sheets
Alison Krauss: I'm Blue, I'm Lonesome
Brother Oswald: Eunita
Porter Wagoner: Sugarfoot Rag

7:30: Standard Candy
Marty Stuart (host): Burn Me Down
Hal Ketchum and Ferlin Husky: Wings of a Dove
Jan Howard: Rock Me Back to Little Rock
Vince Gill: When I Call Your Name
Hal Ketchum: Small Town Saturday Night
Marty Stuart: Kiss Me; I'm Gone

8:00: Martha White
Bill Anderson (host): Family Reunion
Jeannie Seely: Don't Touch Me
Roy Drusky: Don't It Make You Wanna Go Home
The Whites: Move it On Over
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Durang's Hornpipe
Bill Anderson: Still

8:30: Kraft
Hank Snow (host): Address Unknown
Connie Smith: Did We Have to Come This Far to Say Goodbye
Jimmy C Newman: Allons 'A Lafayette
Mike Snider: Lonesome Road Blues/Fur Coat (Putting on the Dog)
Hank Snow: A Message From the Tradewinds

2nd show
9:30: Dollar General
Porter Wagoner (host): Y'All Come
Hal Ketchum: We Might Just Fall in Love/Small Town Saturday Night
Jean Shepard: Farewell Party
Jack Greene: There Goes My Everything/He Is My Everything
The Whites: Swing Down Chariot
Porter Wagoner: Green, Green Grass of Home

10:00: Little Debbie
Grandpa Jones (host): What'll I Do With the Baby O
Jeanne Pruett: Temporarily Yours
Grandpa Jones: Gone Home

10:15: Sunbeam/Tennessee Pride
Jimmy Dickens (host): Take An Old Cold Tater
Vince Gill: Trying to Get Over You/A Pocket Full of Gold
Jimmy Dickens and Vince Gill: May the Bird of Paradise Fly Up Your Nose

10:30: Opry Tours
Bill Anderson (host): Did She Mention My Name
John Conlee: Common Man
Alison Krauss: Dark Skies
Bill Anderson: Golden Guitar

10:45: Opry Book
Marty Stuart (host): That's Country
Charlie Walker: Smoke, Smoke, Smoke
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dances: Rachel
Marty Stuart: Kiss Me; I'm Gone

11:00: Coca-Cola
Hank Snow (host): Geisha Girl
Mark Collie and Marty Stuart: When the Son Goes Down, I Go Crazy
Jeannie Seely: Go Down Swinging
Billy Walker: You Gave Me a Mountain
Mike Snider: Little Maggie/Dueling Banjos
Hank Snow: The Third Man

11:30: General Jackson
The Four Guys (host): If It's from the Country, It's Coming from the Heart
Connie Smith: I Never Once Stopped Loving You
Jimmy C Newman: Jambalaya
Johnny Russell: Got No Reason Now for Going Home
The Four Guys: I Know, I Know

Finally, how about the line-up from 50 years ago, Saturday January 18, 1969:

7:30: Standard Candy
Glaser Brothers (host): Where Has All the Love Gone
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Stu Phillips: Juanita Jones
Jean Shepard: I Thought of You/It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels/A Dear John Letter
Glaser Brothers: Stand Beside Me
Lonzo and Oscar: Love Took My Heart and Smashed That Sucker Flat
Archie Campbell and Lorene Mann: Warm and Tender Love
Stu Phillips: Bring Love Back to Our World

8:00: Martha White
Jim Ed Brown (host): Happy Tracks
Skeeter Davis: The Closest Thing to Love
Jim and Jesse: When the Snow is on the Roses
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Jim Ed Brown: The Longest Beer of the Night
Cousin Jody: Cousin Jody
Skeeter Davis: Going Down the Road Feeling Bad
Jim and Jesse: Diesel on My Tail

8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Charlie Walker: Honky-Tonk Season
Norma Jean: One Man Band
Leroy Van Dyke: Oklahoma Hills
Roy Acuff: Pan American
Charlie Walker: Don't Squeeze My Sharmon
Norma Jean: Heaven, Help the Working Girl
Leroy Van Dyke: Walk on By/Auctioneer

9:00: Luzianne
Bill Monroe (host): Virginia Darling
Billy Grammer: Detroit City
Margie Bowes: All the World is Lonely Now
Justin Tubb: I'm Going Back to Louisiana
Bill Monroe: On and On
Del Wood: Bill Bailey
Billy Grammer: The Real Thing
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbing Ridge

9:30: Kellogg's
Billy Walker (host): I Taught Her Everything She Knows
Willis Brothers: Bob
Dottie West: Reno
Ernie Ashworth: Reno
Billy Walker: From the Bottle to the Bottom
Stringbean: Little Pink
Willis Brothers: Moonlight Drive In a Diesel
Dottie West: Today I Started Loving You Again

10:00: Fender
Glaser Brothers (host): Gone on the Other Hand
Stu Phillips: Little Old Wine Drinker Me
Lonzo and Oscar: Uncle Pen
Justin Tubb: As Long As Their's a Sunday
Jim Glaser: Please Take Me Back

10:15: Pure
Jim Ed Brown (host): Love of the Common People
Skeeter Davis: The Closest Thing to Love
Archie Campbell and Lorene Mann: The Dark Side of the Street
Cousin Jody: Mockingbird
Jim Ed Brown: Pop A Top

10:30: Buckley's
Roy Acuff (host): Sunshine Special
Dottie West and Jim Ed Brown: Love is No Excuse
Del Wood: Tiger Rag
Jim and Jesse: It's A Long, Long Way (to the Top of the World)
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird

10:45: Kent
Bill Monroe (host): Sittin' On Top of the World
Stringbean: Battle of New Orleans
Crook Brothers: Cotton Eyed Joe
Victor Jordan: Bluegrass Breakdown

11:00: Coca Cola
Billy Grammer (host): Columbus Stockade Blues
Willis Brothers: I Still Do
Leroy Van Dyke: A Simple Thing as Love
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Alabama Gal
Billy Grammer: I'm Letting You Go
Willis Brothers: A Cowboy Has to Sing
Leroy Van Dyke: Auctioneer
Sam and Kirk McGee: Nine Pound Hammer

11:30: Lava
Billy Walker (host): Charlie's Shoes/Heartaches by the Numbers/Slowly
Margie Bowes: Get Your Lie the Way You Want It
Charlie Walker: Honky Tonk Season
Ernie Ashworth: A New Heart
Margie Bowes: Once A Day
Charlie Walker: Precious Memories
Ernie Ashworth: Mind Your Own Business

And for those who are interested, Roni Stoneman will be the host of the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree.

Watch out for the snow this weekend and for those who are stuck inside, it gives you a perfectly good excuse to listen to the Opry this weekend. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 13, 2019

2018 Year in Review

2018 is officially in the books and with another new year upon us, it is time once again for my annual "Year in Review" of the Grand Ole Opry.

As Sally Williams continues to take hold as the general manager of the Grand Ole Opry, replacing Pete Fisher in 2017, we saw two new members join the cast of the Grand Ole Opry, one former member rejoin, and an invitation was given to another. Chris Janson and Dustin Lynch were the new members, while Bobby Bare rejoined the cast, and Mark Wills received an invitation to become the Opry's newest member in 2019. 

That makes six new members who have joined the cast in the past two years. So how have these newest members done in terms of appearing on the Opry? Very well I would say, In 2018, Dailey & Vincent made 33 appearances, while Chris Janson appeared 23 times, Crystal Gayle 12, Dustin Lynch 11, Bobby Bare 10 and Chris Young has 6. (for those who joined in 2018, this does include the guest appearances prior to their inductions). 

In addition to the new members, there were other highlights during 2018. The Grand Ole Opry celebrated its 93rd birthday with a weekend of shows and activities. As far as Opry milestones, Jeanne Pruett celebrated 45 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, Patty Loveless and Ricky Van Shelton celebrated 30 years, Charley Pride, Alison Krauss and Joe Diffie 25 years, Diamond Rio 20 years, Trace Adkins and Del McCoury 15 years, while Carrie Underwood, Craig Morgan and Charlie Daniels celebrated 10 years as members. 

While we celebrate the Opry's newest members and milestones, we also remember Roy Clark who passed away this past year. While Roy did not appear very often on the Opry, when he did, his appearances were memorable. And he was a great promoter and friend of country music. He will be missed. We also want to mention Loretta Lynn, who suffered some health issues in 2018 that kept her away from the Opry stage. Many are hoping that Loretta will continue her recovery and be back on stage soon. And let's not forget Jesse McReynolds, who was also sidelined for a good part of the year. Hopefully, Jesse will be back in 2019. 

Adding up the numbers, there were 223 Opry shows in 2018, which was up slightly from the previous year. The breakdown:

Friday Night Opry: 62 (+2)
Saturday Grand Ole Opry: 68 (-1)
Tuesday Night Opry: 53 (+2)
Wednesday Night Opry: 12 (-1)
Thursday Opry Country Classics: 23 (+4)
Sunday Night Opry: 1 (E)
Saturday Matinee: 1 (E)
Tuesday Matinee: 2 (E)

And then there was the single Monday night show that honored Ray Charles. 

Looking at the schedule for 2019, it looks like there will be even more Opry shows as the Wednesday night shows, which traditionally have had a limited run, will extend through much of October in the coming year. As long as there are stars to appear and people to buy tickets, I don't see the Opry cutting back on any of their performances. 

When looking at the Opry's members, and who appeared most often, it is once again the veterans and legends who are carrying the heavy load and supporting the Opry week after week. As in past years, Mike Snider, Jeannie Seely, Connie Smith, The Whites, Riders In The Sky and Bill Anderson lead in number of appearances. In fact, 9 of the top 10 in appearances are the same as the year before with only Jesse McReynolds, who had some serious health issues in 2018, dropping off the list. 

1) Mike Snider: 111
2) Jeannie Seely: 108
3) Connie Smith: 83
4) The Whites: 81
5) Riders In The Sky: 75
6) Bill Anderson: 72
7) John Conlee: 57
8) Bobby Osborne: 54
9) Ricky Skaggs: 46
10) Gatlin Brothers (Larry Gatlin): 43

It should be noted that the majority of Larry's appearances occurred on the Opry Country Classics show, as during most of the weeks he is the host. 

Under Pete Fisher, the standard for yearly appearances was set at 10, while lately the number seems to be 6. Let's go with 10 as our benchmark, and here are those that reached that magic number: 

Dailey & Vincent: 33
Chris Janson: 23
Craig Morgan: 17
Del McCoury: 16
Trace Adkins: 15
Terri Clark: 14
Crystal Gayle: 12
Jesse McReynolds, Old Crow Medicine Show, Steve Wariner, Dustin Lynch: 11
Lorrie Morgan, Oak Ridge Boys, Charley Pride, Bobby Bare, Carrie Underwood: 10

That adds up to 26 of the Opry's 65 current members who made the list.

As to the rest of the Opry's members, who made 2018 appearances:

Charlie Daniels: 9
Vince Gill: 8
Diamond Rio, Little Big Town, Rascal Flatts, Darius Rucker, Chris Young: 6
Emmylou Harris, Ronnie Milsap, Josh Turner: 5
Garth Brooks, Montgomery Gentry, Marty Stuart: 4
Joe Diffie, Pam Tillis: 3
Alison Krauss, Patty Loveless, Martina McBride, Blake Shelton: 2
Dierks Bentley, Brad Paisley, Travis Tritt: 1

I will say that the one disappointment on the list is Vince Gill. Vince has always been a strong supporter of the Opry, but 2018 found him busy in other areas, both touring as a solo act, and as part of The Eagles, which will continue into  2019.

As far as Garth's appearances, only one was a performance based appearance. The others were special and related to induction new Opry members.

And then there are those active performers who did not appear at all in 2018: Clint Black, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Dolly Parton, Keith Urban and Trisha Yearwood. Hal Ketchum also did not appear in 2018, although he is limited in his touring, while Loretta Lynn did not appear due to her health concerns.

While retired, Jeanne Pruett did make a couple of appearances this past year, on her 45th anniversary as an Opry member and to promote her autobiography. Jan Howard and Randy Travis also appeared, although neither performed.

A trio of veterans, Ray Pillow, Stonewall Jackson and Stu Phillips also did not appear in 2018, leading to speculation that they have basically retired from performing.

As to those who are retired, besides those mentioned already, that list includes Tom T Hall, Barbara Mandrell and Ricky Van Shelton.

As to non-members, a total of 290 (give or take one) found their way to the Opry stage this past year, which was up from 282 the year before. Those who were at 10 or more:

1) Mark Willis: 28 (top spot for the 2nd year in a row)
2) Charles Esten: 21
3) William Michael Morgan: 16
4) Carly Pearce: 15
5) Mandy Barnett, Jim Lauderdale, Charlie Worsham, Gary Mule Deer, Don Schlitz: 13
6) Henry Cho: 12
7) Chonda Pierce, Maggie Rose, Dick Hardwick, Michael Ray, Charlie McCoy: 11
8) Steven Curtis Chapman, Tegan Marie, Exile, Delta Rae: 10

Wills, Esten, Morgan, Barnett, Pearce, Exile, Cho, Rose and Worsham were repeats from the previous year.

2018 also saw a number of first time performers on the Opry stage. Some did an amazing job while others were forgettable. Those first timers include Rita Wilson, Nicolle Galyon, Heather Land, Molly Tuttle, Abby Anderson, Karen Mills, Stephanie Urbina Jones, Gone West, Birdtalker, Sam Lewis, Jimmie Allen, Jordan Davis, Mike Farris, Travis Denning, and of course, Mason Ramsey. I know there were others but those are the ones that come to mind. Each of those who made their Opry debut saw their dreams fulfilled and many were overcome with emotion when they first stepped on the Opry stage. Many came back again, while a couple were one and done. And while not newcomers, it was nice to see some of the veteran artists who have been gone from the Opry for years, to come back. Folks like Sawyer Brown and Doug Kershaw to name a couple.

Here is an interesting stat: Grand Ole Opry members gave 1051 performances on the Opry in 2018, while guest artists gave 979, almost an even split. It would appear when looking at the numbers, there continues to be less of an emphasis on Opry members, and more reliance on non-members when filling out the weekly line-ups. And to take it one-step further, when looking at the top 10 as to Opry members who appeared, the heavy load is still being carried by the veteran members of the Opry, while many of the "superstar" members, such as Brad Paisley, Reba, Dolly Parton and the others, rarely appear, if ever, on the Opry.

2018 also saw changes at the Grand Ole Opry House as a very nice renovation took place, which included a much needed expansion of the Opry Shop, along with an improved ticket office. The Opry also added its own parking lot, separate from the Mall parking, which was a pain at times. There is a charge for the new lot ($10), however, it does offer a shorter walk to the Opry House. 2018 also saw the Opry make use of the Roy Acuff house for an excellent exhibit of Les Leverett photograhy, along with more historical exhibits backstage at the Opry House. While those were the positive changes, we also saw the failure of Opry City Stage in New York. Ryman Hospitality put a lot of effort and money behind it, but in the end it just wasn't a good fit for New York.

So, what does 2019 hold in store for the Opry? Well to start with, Dolly Parton will be celebrating her 50th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. While her actual anniversary date is in January, the celebration will take place in October, the week following the Opry's 94th birthday weekend.

In addition to Dolly, there are several other Grand Ole Opry members who will reach milestones in 2019, including Bobby and Sonny Osborne and Jesse McReynolds, each of whom will celebrate their 55th anniversary as Opry members. The Whites and Lorrie Morgan will celebrate their 35th anniversary, while it will be year 25 for Hal Ketchum, 20 for Trisha Yearwood, 15 for Terri Clark, and 10 for Eddie Montgomery, of Montgomery Gentry.

While the Opry will be celebrating those anniversaries, I also expect more members to be added. In the last two years, six new members have been added, with Mark Wills having already been inducted as a member in 2019. Who will be the future members of the Opry? Your guest is as good as mine, but we know Jamey Johnson wants to be a member. In fact, he has stated that he is just waiting for the Opry to make it official. I think Rhonda Vincent would make a good Opry member, along with Charlie McCoy. Let's face it: there are probably at least a dozen acts who make regular appearances on the Opry and who would love to be a member. Time will tell as we go through the year.

As I conclude, and I mention this every year, my thanks again to all who read and follow the blog, especially those who take the time to comment, or email questions and other personal thoughts and opinions to me. I always enjoy hearing from everyone. Special thanks go to those who I have met not only this past year, but in other years, while attending Opry shows. I have made many special friends and it is always nice to put a face with a name. To those who I have never meet, either due to distance or timing, don't dispair. It could still happen someday. My thanks to all. And special thanks to those who work or are associated with the Grand Ole Opry and the Grand Ole Opry House. Every time I head down to Nashville and the Opry, I have always felt welcomed and appreciated. Even though we sometimes disagree, I still think the Grand Ole Opry is the greatest show in the world, a real piece of Americana.

Finally, thanks and appreciation go to Sally Williams and the entire team who run the Opry. I know it can't be an easy job booking this show but I also realize that all of you are doing your best to put a good one on each week. You are so dependent on Opry members and the non-members you reach out to, to fill out the line-up each week. I know some weeks are better than others, but I will never question the commitment behind the scenes. We all thank you. 

(As a disclaimer, the recorded number of appearances is based on the tracking that I do of each Opry show. If there is an error, such as a missed appearances, my apologies. Additionally, the thoughts and opinions written are those of myself and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Grand Ole Opry or its management)

Thursday, January 10, 2019

Grand Ole Opry 1/11 & 1/12

The big news at the Grand Ole Opry this weekend will be the formal induction of Mark Wills as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. While Mark is scheduled for  both shows this weekend, the induction is scheduled to take place during the Friday Night Opry.

Daryl Mark Williams was born in Cleveland, Tennessee on August 8, 1973. His family later moved to Blue Ridge, Georgia, where in his teenage years he played in garage bands, taking inspiration from rock groups. During his young adulthood, he began to take an interest in country music and he entered a local talent contest at the age of 17. After doing some local performing, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia and did work as a demo singer. His career as a demo singer continued after moving to Nashville. While in Nashville, he was discovered by record producers Carson Chamberlain and Keith Stegall, and in 1996 he signed a recording contract with Mercury Records Nashville.

While with Mercury Records, Mark released five studio albums, Mark Wills, Wish You Were Here, Permanently, Loving Every Minute, and And the Crowd Goes Wild. He also released a greatest hits album. During his time with Mercury, Mark had sixteen singles on the Billboard country charts, all of which made the top 40. He left Mercury in 2003 and signed with Equity Music Group and charted three more singles.

Among his singles were "19 Somethin'" and "Wish You Were Here," both of which reached No.1 on the Hot Singles Songs chart. Six more of his singles reached the Top 10: "Jacob's Ladder," "Places I've Never Been," "I Do (Cherish You," "Don't Laugh at Me," "She's in Love, and "Back at One."

While never a superstar in country music, Mark has had a nice career and while no longer on a permanent label, he has continued to record and tour. And over the past several decades, he has made hundreds of guest appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. Thanks to all of those appearances, and his continued dedication to guest on the Opry when needed, last month the Opry awarded Mark's perseverance with a invitation to become a Grand Ole Opry member.

Mark Willis is scheduled for both the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry. Joining Mark both nights will be Grand Ole Opry members Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers, Jeannie Seely, Mike Snider and Riders In The Sky. In addition to that group, the Friday Night Opry will feature members Connie Smith, Crystal Gayle, The Whites and Craig Morgan, while Chris Janson and Bobby Osborne are scheduled for Saturday night.

Friday night guest artists include Brook Eden and Carlton Anderson, who will be making his Opry debut, while on Saturday night Maisy Stella, Flatt Lonesome, Don Schlitz and LOCASH are on the guest list.

I haven't heard who might be officially welcoming Mark to the Opry cast. There are lots of choices and some of the Opry's bigger names will be in Nashville this weekend for the Willie Nelson tribute show taking place Saturday night at the Bridgestone Arena. Garth and Reba have handled the past several, so who knows? I am sure whoever it is, Mark will be surprised.

Friday January 11
7:00: Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers (host); Brooke Eden; Mike Snider
7:30: Connie Smith (host); Carlton Anderson; Crystal Gayle
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); The Whites; Craig Morgan
8:45: Jeannie Seely (host); Mark Wills

Saturday January 12
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Mike Snider; Maisy Stella
7:30: Larry Gatlin & The Gatlin Brothers (host); Flatt Lonesome; Don Schlitz
8:15: Riders In The Sky (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Mark Wills; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Chris Janson (host); LOCASH

As mentioned, Carlton Anderson will be making his Grand Ole Opry debut on Friday night. Carlton is from Cypress, Texas. Moving to Nashville, he attended Belmont University and spent time playing in the clubs on Lower Broadway. He considers Willie Nelson and George Strait as his main musical influences. In 2014 he released a self titled EP with the songs "Airplane" and "Forever." In 2018 he signed with Sony Nashville and in May released his debut single "Drop Everything." According to reports, he is currently with Arista Records.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from the second weekend in January ten years ago, the weekend of January 9 & 10, 2009:

Friday January 9
8:00: Riders In The Sky (host); Jeannie Seely; Mike Snider; Melissa Lawson
8:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jan Howard; Jimmy C Newman; Randy Houser
9:00: John Conlee (host); Connie Smith; The Grascals
9:30: Vince Gill (host); George Hamilton IV; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Loretta Lynn

Saturday January 10
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Connie Smith; The Wrights
7:30: Jeannie Seely (host); Jack Greene; Del McCoury Band
8:00: Mike Snider (host); Jimmy C Newman; Blake Shelton; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: John Conlee (host); Stonewall Jackson; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Loretta Lynn

Now from 25 years ago, Saturday January 15, 1994:

1st show
6:30: Grandpa Jones (host); Skeeter Davis; Jean Shepard
6:45: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jack Greene
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Jim Ed Brown; Jim and Jesse; Jeanne Pruett; The Whites
7:30: Vince Gill (host); Charley Pride; Lorrie Morgan
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); The Four Guys; Hank Lockin; Mike Snider; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Bill Carlisle; Charlie Louvin; Jeannie Seely

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Roy Drusky; The Four Guys; Charlie Walker
10:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); Lorrie Morgan
10:15: Bill Anderson (host); The Whites; Jan Howard
10:30: Grandpa Jones (host); Hank Locklin; Charlie Louvin; Bob Bates
10:45: John Conlee (host); Charley Pride; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jeannie Seely; Vince Gill; Dawn Sears
11:30: Jim Ed Brown (host); Connie Smith; Riders In The Sky; Mike Snider

Finally, it was on Saturday January 13, 2001 that future Grand Ole Opry members Old Crow Medicine Show made their debut on the Opry.

1st show
6:30: WSM
Jim Ed Brown (host): Looking back to See
Connie Smith: I'll Come Running to You
Jan Howard: Oh, Lonesome Me
The Whites: Texas To a T/Doing it By the Book
Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius: Lyin' In Love with You/I Don't Want to Have to Marry You

7:00: Shoney's
Porter Wagoner (host): Brewster's Farm
Holly Dunn: You Really Had Me Going
Jim and Jesse: I Love Nobody But You
Clay Davidson: Unconditional/Sometimes
BR-549: I Told You No 1,000 Times

7:30: Standard Candy
Billy Walker (host): Sing Me a Love Song to Baby
Andy Griggs: Baby, You Made Me that Way/Ain't Done Nothing Wrong
Vince Gill: Give Me One More Last Chance/If You Ever Have Forever in Mind

8:00: Martha White
Marty Stuart (host): Streamed Line Lover
Elizabeth Cook: Success
Wilma Lee Cooper: Shake Me Mother's Hand for Me/A Beautiful Life
Old Crow Medicine Show: Tear it Down
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Cherokee Shuffle
Rich Bennett: Journey Home
Marty Stuart: Martha White Theme

8:30: Physicians Mutual
Jimmy Dickens (host): Take an Old Cold Tater
Jean Shepard: Tennessee Waltz
Mike Snider: Instrumental Melody
Jack Greene: Statue of a Fool
Jimmy Dickens: Life Turned Her That Way

2nd show
9:30: WSM
Porter Wagoner (host): Tell Her Lies and Feed Her Candy
Jim Ed Brown and Helen Cornelius: I Don't Want to Have to Marry You
Jean Shepard: A Phone Call Away
The Whites: Making Believe
Vince Gill: Look at Us/If You Have Forever in Mind

10:00: Lincoln Mercury/
Jimmy Dickens (host): Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed
Holly Dunn: Blue Rose of Texas
Wilma Lee Cooper: Big Midnight Special
Clay Davidson: Unconditional/Sometimes
Jimmy Dickens: We Could

10:30: Folex/Joggin' In a Jug
Marty Stuart (host): Mister Engineer
Steve Earle: My Old Friend the Blues
Elizabeth Cook: Success
Charlie Louvin: When I Stop Dreaming
Old Crow Medicine Show: Raise a Ruckus Tonight/Roll Along Mule
Opry Square Dance Band/Melvin Sloan Dancers: Black Mountain Rag
Steve Earle: Hillbilly Highway

11:00: Coca Cola
Jeannie Seely (host): Healing Hands of Time
Jimmy C Newman: Colinda
BR-549: Story Book Endings/Cherokee Boogie
Jeannie Seely: Make the World Go Away

11:30: Opry at The Ryman
Mike Snider (host): Going Across the Ocean
Charlie Walker: Who'll Buy the Wine
Ray Pillow: Too Many Memories
Andy Griggs: Where's the Train/Riding With You
Mike Snider: Instrumental Melody

Old Crow Medicine Show was doing a show in Cleveland, Ohio on August 16, 2013, when Marty Stuart surprised the group with an invitation to become members of the Grand Ole Opry. Of course, the group accepted and on September 17, 2013 the group became official members of the Opry's cast. It was one of the best moves the Opry had made in years, as the group has brought energy and spirit to the show with each of their appearances, along with a dose of mountain music. While currently on hiatus, I know many are looking forward to Old Crow Medicine Show returning to the Opry soon.

There you have it for this week. I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend. Both shows look very good. For those interested, Ron Williams will be hosting the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree. on Saturday evening.

Congratulations again to Mark Wills on becoming the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Sunday, January 6, 2019

January Opry Highlights

Happy New Year to Grand Ole Opry fans everywhere!!! I hope everyone had a safe holiday and are looking forward to a great 2019. Starting off the new year right, here are the important and historical events that have taken place during the history of the Opry, or regarding members of the Opry, during the month of January:

January 23, 1937: The Lakeland Sisters, Mary and Ann, made their Grand Ole Opry debut. They would only remain with the Opry for about 18 months, making their final appearance on June 4, 1938.

January 14, 1939: The Dixieliners made their final appearance on the Grand Ole Opry. Consisting of early WSM Barn Dance starts Arthur Smith, along with Sam & Kirk McGee, they made their debut in 1932.

January 16, 1943: Ernest Tubb made his debut on the Grand Ole Opry. Ernest was so well received that he was offered membership and officially would join the Opry the following month. Over time, Ernest would become one of the legendary members of the Opry.

January 7, 1950: The legendary Hank Snow, the Singing Ranger, made his first appearance on the Grand Ole Opry and was also made an Opry member that night. Yes, they did things a little differently in those days. Originally from Canada, Hank came to the Opry via Dallas, Texas, thanks to the help and recommendation of Ernest Tubb. That night, Ernest introduced Hank by saying, "From up Canada way, here's the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry, the Singing Ranger, Hank Snow." Hank sang "Brand On My Heart," which had been a big hit for him up in Canada, and a regional hit in the Dallas area. Hank felt that his Opry debut did not go over very well and that he received little audience response. In fact, he told his wife Min that he was not going back. However, she convinced Hank that he owed it to Ernest to return. He went back, and when things did not improve in the coming months, the Opry was considering letting him go. However, "I'm Moving On" was released and the rest is history. Hank remained an Opry member for the next 49 years, until his death in December 1999.

January 7, 1950: On the same night that Hank Snow joined the Opry, Tennessee Ernie Ford made his Grand Ole Opry debut. Unlike Hank, Tennessee Ernie was already an established star and appeared on the Prince Albert portion of the show. While he never became a member, Ernie had an open invitation to appear on the Opry anytime he was in Nashville and he would often take the Opry up on their offer. In later years, he would appear on the Martha White segment, as he was friends with the ownership of the company.

January 1, 1953: Hank Williams was found dead in the backseat of his car in West Virginia. He was being driving to a New Year's Day appearance in Canton, Ohio. Also booked on the show that night were Jimmy Dickens and June Webb, among others. Jimmy ended up not making the trip due to the weather, while the other artists scheduled to appear went ahead and did the show as a tribute to Hank.

January 16, 1953: Opry member Bill Monroe was seriously injured in a head-on car accident on Highway 31 in White House, Tennessee. Bill suffered 19 broken bones in the accident.

January 19, 1953: Marty Robbins made his Grand Ole Opry debut. Marty would join the cast shortly afterwards.

January 22, 1953: The Ozark Jubilee premiered on the ABC television network. The show was hosted by former Opry member Red Foley, who left Nashville and moved to Springfield, Missouri to host the show.

January 29, 1954: Theron Hale passed away. Theron was one of the early members of the Grand Ole Opry, becoming a regular in 1926. He stayed as an Opry regular into the 1930s, after which he would make occasional appearances with Sam McGee. While he was at the Opry, he would be introduced as "Theron Hale and Daughters," which were Elizabeth and Mamie Ruth.

January 22, 1955: Porter Wagoner made his first appearance as a guest on the Opry. He would return and in February 1957, Porter would become an Opry member.

January 12, 1957: Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper became members of the Grand Ole Opry. The Coopers, along with daughter Carol Lee, came to the Opry from the WWVA Wheeling Jamboree, where they were very popular. Stoney would remain with the Opry until his death in 1977. Wilma Lee would continue with the Opry as a solo act, and later celebrated 50 years of Opry membership.

January 1, 1960: Although there is some debate as to the exact date, it would appear this is when Billy Walker became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Billy would remain an Opry member until his death in a car accident in 2006. Billy was a very loyal member of the Opry and later in his career, he would often speak up over the reduction of his Opry appearances.

January 9, 1960: Patsy Cline became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. While her time at the Opry was very short, Patsy was very influential to a number of female artists, including Loretta Lynn and Dottie West. In a pretty famous story as to how she became an Opry member, after one of her Opry guest performances, she approached Opry manager Ott Devine and asked if she might one day become a member. Ott responded by saying, "Patsy, if that's all you want, you are on the Opry."

January 9, 1965: Norma Jean became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Much as Dolly Parton would do a few years later, Norma Jean joined the cast as she was performing as part of Porter Wagoner's show. She stayed with the Opry until 1967, when she left Porter and Nashville.

January 7, 1967: Charley Pride became the first black solo singer to perform on the Opry. He was introduced that night by Ernest Tubb. Charley sang "The Snakes Crawl At Night," and "I Can't Help It If I'm Still In Love With You." Shortly afterwards, he was asked to become an Opry member, but declined due to his heavy touring schedule. Over the years, he would be asked several more times, until finally in 1993 he accepted the invitation to join. He was the 2nd black artist to become an Opry member, following DeFord Bailey. (Just to clarify, DeFord Bailey was a noted harmonica player and not a solo singer).

January 4, 1969: Dolly Parton became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Dolly's 50th year as an Opry member. Back in the early days when she was with Porter Wagoner, Dolly was a frequent visitor at the Opry. However, as her career expanded, she became like many others as someone who hardly ever appeared on the show. She even commented once that if she was in charge of the Opry, she would fire herself. It was Carl and Pearl Butler, former Opry members, who took a liking to Dolly and helped to bring her to Nashville when she was just 12 years old. While it was a long time ago, Dolly remembered her first night guesting on the Opry: "They used to have this Friday Night Frolics and I went up there one night with the intention of being on it. I kept telling everyone I'll sing just one song. Most of the Opry artists had two spots on the show and I walked up to Jimmy C Newman, who was going to sing his second song next and I told him I wanted to be on. I didn't know why he did it, but Jimmy gave me his spot and I sang a George Jones song." While Dolly didn't know why Jimmy C did it that night, I think she came to realize that was the type of person Jimmy C Newman was.

January 11, 1969: George Jones rejoined the cast of the Grand Ole Opry. Over the course of his career, George would join and leave the Opry several different times.

January 1, 1971: Tom T. Hall became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will make it 48 years for Tom T at the Opry. After joining the Opry in 1971, he left in March 1975, and then rejoined in 1980. Tom T Hall is now retired and no longer makes personal appearances.

January 13, 1973: Ernest Tubb celebrated his 30th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

January 20, 1973: For the first and only time, Jerry Lee Lewis performed on the Opry. He had always wanted to perform on the show, however the Opry management was afraid to invite him, fearing what he would do onstage. For this appearance, management asked Jerry Lee not to do any rock and roll. He agreed then broke the promise. Appearing on the 11:30 segment hosted by Charlie Walker, he was on stage for almost 40 minutes. In a nice gesture, he invited Del Wood to appear with him onstage, saying later that on a previous backstage visit, Del was the only Opry member that was nice to him.

January 27, 1973: Marty Robbins celebrated his 20th anniversary as a member of the Opry.

January 2, 1974: Grand Ole Opry member Tex Ritter passed away after suffering a heart attack. Tex joined the Opry in 1965 and enjoyed being in Nashville and as a part of the Opry. Tex was also involved in the early days of the Country Music Association and he was just the 5th person to be elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

January 28, 1976: Skeeter Willis, part of the Willis Brothers, passed away at the age of 58. The Willis Brothers first came to the Opry in 1946 and were well known for their western style of music.

January 22, 1977: Grand Ole Opry member Stoney Cooper appeared on the Opry for the final time. Along with is wife Wilma Lee, Stoney had joined the Opry in 1957. Stoney suffered from heart problems and would pass away in March.

January 27, 1979: Sissy Spacek, who played the part of Loretta Lynn in the movie "Coal Miner's Daughter" joined Loretta for an appearance on the Opry.

January 20, 1984: Future Grand Ole Opry member Mike Snider made his Opry debut. He was a member of the cast of Hee Haw and was well known for his banjo playing and comedy.

January 11, 1986: Mel McDaniel became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Mel would remain an Opry member until his death in 2011.

January 14, 1986: During the Opry's televised 60th anniversary special, Reba McEntire was introduced as the newest member of the Grand Ole Opry. While this is the date the show was televised, the taping actually took place the previous November, thus the November taping date is considered Reba's actual Opry induction date. This will be Reba's 33rd year as an Opry member.

January 14, 1989: Hubert Gregory of the Fruit Jar Drinkers passed away. Hubert's career at the Opry, as with the Fruit Jar Drinkers, dates back to the early days of the Opry. Like many others of that era, Hubert performed with many different groups, including with Sam & Kirk McGee.

January 20, 1990: Hank Snow celebrated his 40th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. The televised segment on TNN included a reunion of the Glaser Brothers, who were very friendly with Hank. The reunion did not last as the Glaser Brothers never performed together again.

January 10, 1991: Clint Black became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. For Clint, this will be his 28th year as an Opry member.

January 25, 1992: Introduced by Roy Acuff, Emmylou Harris became the Opry's newest member. This will be Emmylou's 27th anniversary as a member of the Opry. Emmylou has not appeared on the Opry in several years, however she is currently on the schedule for the final weekend in January.

January 22, 1994: Hal Ketchum became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be Hal's 25th year as an Opry member. Once a pretty regular performer on the show, Hal is now based in Texas and very rarely gets back to Nashville and the Opry.

January 21, 1995: Brother Oswald, longtime member of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys, became an official member of the Grand Ole Opry. At the age of 83, I believe he was the oldest person to join the cast. Oswald came to the Opry in the 1930s with Roy and helped to define the Acuff sound. Thanks to the efforts of Porter Wagoner and Marty Stuart, among others, he became a member. I was there the night of his induction and it was quite a surprise as I don't seem to remember it being announced much ahead of time. Oswald passed away in 2002.

January 3, 1998: Longtime Grand Ole Opry member Grandpa Jones made his final appearance on the Opry. After hosting his segment on the 2nd show, Grandpa suffered the first of what would be series of strokes. He was taken directly to the hospital from the Opry House. His condition would continue to decline and he passed away the following month.

January 24, 1998: Grand Ole Opry member Justin Tubb passed away from a sudden illness. He was the son of Opry legend Ernest Tubb and had joined the Opry cast in 1955. At the time of joining, he was the Opry's youngest member. Not only was Justin an excellent singer, but he was also a fine songwriter.

January 9, 1999: Grand Ole Opry member Boxcar Willie made his final appearance on the show. In declining health, Boxcar had first appeared on the Opry in 1981.

January 15, 1999: The Grand Ole Opry returned to the Ryman Auditorium for the first time since moving to the new Grand Ole Opry House in 1974. There were three shows that weekend and all were sold out. During the 1st show on Saturday night, Ricky Skaggs invited Trisha Yearwood to become the Opry's newest member. The weekend shows, which I attended, was such a success that the Opry has returned to the Ryman each winter.

January 23, 1999: Grand Ole Opry member Brother Oswald made his final Saturday night Grand Ole Opry appearance. His final Opry show would be a month later on the Friday Night Opry. Due to declining health, Oswald was forced to retire from performing.

January 15, 2000: Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Patty Loveless handled the official induction. He had been asked just the prior evening if he would like to join. After he said yes, the Opry wasted no time and inducted Ralph the following night. Ralph Stanley was an Opry member until his death last year.

January 4, 2003: Hank Williams Jr and Hank Williams III performed together on the Opry in a show that marked the 50th anniversary of the death of Hank Williams. Also appearing in the tribute that night were Jimmy Dickens, Vince Gill and The Whites

January 6, 2006: The Friday Night Opry was reduced by 30 minutes making it a 2 hour show.

January 11, 2007: Grand Ole Opry member Stonewall Jackson filed an age discrimination lawsuit against Gaylord Entertainment and the management of the Grand Ole Opry. Stonewall made several claims, and specifically named Pete Fisher. As the lawsuit played out, Stonewall refused to perform on the Opry, even though he had been asked. Eventually the lawsuit was settled out of court, with Stonewall privately saying that Gaylord made a settlement. Stonewall did see his Opry appearances increase over the short term, however in recent years, Stonewall has pretty much disappeared from the Opry stage.

January 19, 2008: Charlie Daniels became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. This will be his 11th year as an Opry member. He said at the time of his induction that becoming an Opry member was always a dream of his. Marty Stuart and Connie Smith formally inducted Charlie into the Opry. In 2015, Charlie became a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame.

January 26, 2011: After a long illness, longtime Grand Ole Opry member Charlie Louvin passed away. Along with his brother Ira, Charlie joined the Opry in 1955. After Ira's death, Charlie continued as a solo artist.

January 7, 2012: Charlie Collins performed for the final time on the Grand Ole Opry. While never an Opry member, Charlie spent considerable time at the Opry, first coming to the show as a member of Roy Acuff's Smoky Mountain Boys, and then after Roy's death, performing with Brother Oswald and with the Opry Square Dancers.

January 21, 2012: Emmylou Harris celebrated 20 years as a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Vince Gill, Rodney Crowell and Buddy Miller helped Emmylou celebrate that night.

January 2, 2015: Longtime Grand Ole Opry legend Jimmy Dickens passed away in Nashville. Jimmy had been hospitalized after becoming suddenly ill on Christmas Day. Jimmy first joined the Opry in 1948 and at the time of his death, was the Opry's last link to the pre-Hank Williams of the Opry. Much loved, Jimmy was noted for his comedy songs, but let's not forget that he was also a great ballad singer.

January 9, 2017: Grand Ole Opry Vice President and General Manger Pete Fisher announced that he was resigning his position to move to California and head up the Academy of Country Music. Pete came to the Opry in June 1999 and had been in charge of the Opry for over 17 years. His final Opry show was on January 20.

January 21, 2017: Crystal Gayle became a member of the Grand Ole Opry. Crystal has been asked several months previously by Carrie Underwood to join the cast. On the night of her induction, her sister and fellow Opry member Loretta Lynn handed the official induction.

There you have it for this month. Enjoy!!

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Grand Ole Opry 1/4 & 1/5

The Grand Ole Opry has posted the schedule for the two shows this weekend and the first person I noticed on the schedule was Jamey Johnson. Nice to see his name listed as the last time he was on the Opry he made some on-stage comments regarding the fact that he felt he should have been the next member of the Opry. Nice to see that the Opry didn't take offense to his comments and that Jamey is still answering their calls.

Jamey is scheduled to appear on Saturday nights show, where he will be joined by Dillon Carmichael, Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley, Carly Pierce and Gary Mule Deer, who is also scheduled for Friday night. On Friday he will be joined by Brett Kissel, The Swon Brothers, Jim Lauderdale, Bailey Bryan, The SteelDrivers, and the youngster Mason Ramsey.

Grand Ole Opry members scheduled for both shows this weekend include Jeannie Seely, Mike Snider, Connie Smith and Riders In The Sky. That quartet will be joined by The Whites on Friday night, while Bobby Osborne and Bill Anderson are scheduled for Saturday night.

Friday January 4
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Brett Kissel; The Whites
7:30: Mike Snider (host); The Swon Brothers; Jim Lauderdale
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Bailey Bryan; Gary Mule Deer
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Mason Ramsey; The SteelDrivers

Saturday January 5
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Dillon Carmichael; Mike Snider
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Rob Ickes & Trey Hensley; Carly Pierce
8:15: Connie Smith (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Gary Mule Deer; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Bill Anderson (host); Jamey Johnson

Jeannie Seely will be busy this weekend as in addition to hosting segments on both nights, she is also listed as the host of this weeks Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree.

And now, here is the posted Grand Ole Opry line-up from ten years ago, the weekend of January 2 & 3, 2009. This was also the weekend that the Opry went to one show on most Saturday nights:

Friday January 2
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Jimmy C Newman; Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Jimmy Wayne
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Jan Howard; The Whites; Del McCoury Band
8:00: Mike Snider (host); Jim Ed Brown; Restless Heart
8:30: Vince Gill (host); Riders In The Sky; Jack Greene; Dailey & Vincent

Saturday January 3
7:00: Jimmy Dickens (host); The Whites; Jesse McReynolds & The Virginia Boys; Jimmy Wayne
7:30: Riders In The Sky (host); Jimmy C Newman; Jeannie Seely; Del McCoury Band
8:00: Mike Snider (host); Jim Ed Brown; Restless Heart; Opry Square Dancers
8:30: Vince Gill (host); John Conlee; Connie Smith; Dailey & Vincent

From the first Saturday in January 25 years ago, Saturday January 8, 1994:

1st show
6:30:Grandpa Jones (host); Skeeter Davis; Jimmy C Newman
6:45: Bill Monroe (host); Jim Ed Brown
7:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Bill Carlisle; The Four Guys; Jack Greene; Connie Smith
7:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Brother Oswald; Jeanne Pruett; Billy Walker; Mel McDaniel
8:00: Bill Anderson (host); Mike Snider; George Hamilton IV; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: John Conlee (host); The Whites; Jim and Jesse; Jean Shepard

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Ronna Reeves; Jim Ed Brown; Charlie Walker; Jean Shepard
10:00: Bill Monroe (host); Stonewall Jackson
10:15: Grandpa Jones (host); Jimmy C Newman; Ray Pillow
10:30: Jimmy Dickens (host); Bobby Osborne
10:45: John Conlee (host); Mike Snider; Opry Square Dance Band; Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Jack Greene (host); Mel McDaniel; Jeannie Seely; The Whites
11:30: Bill Anderson (host); The Four Guys; Jeanne Pruett; Johnny Russell

Hank Snow cancelled that weekend and Sonny Osborne was ill, thus only Bobby Osborne appeared.

50 year ago, Saturday January 4, 1969, is an interesting date in the history of the Grand Ole Opry as it is the date that the Opry has listed as the date that Dolly Parton became a member of the Grand Ole Opry, thus this will be her 50th anniversary as an Opry member. The only problem with that is the fact that Dolly Parton was not on the Opry this particular evening. However, she was on the Opry the following Saturday, January 11th, and would be introduced as the Opry's newest member that night.

"It was always my dream to be on the Opry," Dolly Parton says. As an early starter, she didn't have to wait long. "I actually got to sing on the Grand Ole Opry when I was about 10 year sold. I became a member in the late '60s. They call it the Mother Church because the old Ryman was a church, but it's sacred to me, wherever it goes, the church of my heart. For me, the Opry is like the song 'New York, New York,' if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere." And Dolly has made it everywhere. As a worldwide icon, famous for acting as well as music, she is arguably country music's greatest global ambassador. If she has sometimes unabashedly embraced show-biz glitz, somehow that never canceled out the backwoods authenticity that still characterizes her after five decades of stardom. "I've always thought that a certain bit of what magic I may have had in the minds of people was based on the fact that I look completely artificial," Dolly says. "But I am completely real as a human being. I'm a country girl, grew up poor with nothing, always wanting to have things and be things. Even though my look may be phony, my heart ain't."

Dolly grew up in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains, near where her Dollywood theme park now attracts millions of tourists. She came to fame singing with Porter Wagoner in a partnership that lasted from 1967-74. At the same time, as a solo artist she was recording autobiographical classics including "Coat of Many Colors," as well as bold anthems of female pride, love, and empowerment including "Just Because I'm a Woman," "Jolene," and one of the most successful songs in music history, "I Will Always Love You." Later chart successes such as "Islands in the Stream" and "9 to 5" (for which Dolly was nominated for an Academy Award) hit both pop and country radio as the icon became one of the most recognized entertainers of all time. Dolly's lasting impact on the country genre was recognized with her 1999 election to the Country Music Hall of Fame.

So now, here is the running order from 50 year ago, Saturday January 4, 1969, the night that the Opry considers as Dolly Parton's Opry induction date (a show that Dolly did not appear on):

7:30: Standard Candy
Bill Anderson (host): I Get the Fever
Bill Monroe (host): Blue Moon of Kentucky
Jean Shepard: I Thought of You/It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels/A Dear John Letter
Del Reeves: Good Time Charlie's
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Ray Pillow: I Wish I Could Fall in Love Today
Bill Anderson: Happy State of Mind

8:00: Martha White
Flatt and Scruggs (host): Nine Pound Hammer
Mel Tillis: I'm Tired
Stringbean: Run, Little Rabbit, Run
Stu Phillips: Bring Love Back into Our World
Ernie Ashworth: My Love for You
Crook Brothers: Old Joe Clark
Flatt and Scruggs: Ballad of Jed Clampett
Mel Tillis: Life Turned Her That Way
Flatt and Scruggs: Folsom Prison Blues

8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Osborne Brothers: Memories
Glaser Brothers: Through the Eyes of Love
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: There's a Big Wheel
Margie Bowes: Once A Day
Howdy Forrester: Dusty Miller
The Four Guys: Turn Around, Look at Me
Jeannie Seely: Welcome Home to Nothing

9:00: Luzianne
Ernest Tubb (host): I'm Looking High and Low for My Baby
Jack Greene: Your Love Takes Good Care of Me
Loretta Lynn: Your Squaw is on the Warpath
Bob Luman: Guitar Man
Grandpa Jones: Old Blue
Chill Wills: Everybody Loves Somebody
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hollow Poplar
Ernest Tubb: Another Story; Another Time; Another Place

9:30: Kellogg's
Tex Ritter (host): Texas
Willis Brothers: Give Me 40 Acres
George Hamilton IV: Take My Hand for A While
Jim and Jesse: When the Snow is on the Roses
Del Wood: Down at Papa Joe's
Lonzo and Oscar: A King Size Cola and A Moon Pie
Cousin Jody: Steel Guitar Rag
Tex Ritter: I Dreamed of a Hillbilly Heaven

10:00: Fender
Flatt and Scruggs (host): Homestead on the Farm
Del Reeves: Highway 40
Jean Shepard: If Teardrops were Silver
Archie Campbell: The Cockfight
Bill Carlisle: Me Name is Jones
Ray Pillow: Wonderful Day

10:15: Pure
Roy Acuff (host): Night Train to Memphis
Bill Monroe: John Henry
Glaser Brothers: Gone on the Other Hand
Ernie Ashworth: A New Heart
Stu Phillips: Little Old Wine Drinker Me
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird

10:30: Buckley's
Bill Anderson (host): Bright Lights and Country Music
Willis Brothers: Bob
Mel Tillis: Who's Julie
Osborne Brothers: Making Plans
Stringbean: Ruby
Bill Anderson: I Love You Drops

10:45: Kent
Ernest Tubb (host) w/Loretta Lynn: Sweet Thang
Jack Greene: Until Me Dreams Come True
Cousin Jody: Mockingbird
Crook Brothers: Bill Cheatham
Loretta Lynn: You Ain't Woman Enough

11:00: Coca Cola
Tex Ritter (host): Boll Weevil
George Hamilton IV: Early Morning Rain
Bob Luman: Memphis
Margie Bowes: Saint to A Sinner
Grandpa Jones: I'll Just Keep Living Alone
Jeannie Seely: Don't Touch Me
Fruit Jar Drinkers: (?)
Sam and Kirk McGee: Steel Guitar Rag

11:30: Lava
Marty Robbins (host): Devil Woman
Roy Drusky: White Lightening Express
Jim and Jesse: Gonna Have a Big Job
Del Wood: Beer Barrel Polka
Lonzo and Oscar: Days of Wine and Roses
Marty Robbins: Tonight Carmen/Begging to You/Don't Worry/El Paso

Now let's jump to the following Saturday night, January 11, 1967, when Dolly Parton made her first Grand Ole Opry appearance as an Opry member:

7:30: Standard Candy
Tex Ritter (host): Take Him Fishing
Billy Grammer: Mabel
George Morgan: Little Green Apples
Osborne Brothers: Kentucky
Margie Bowes: I Still Miss Someone
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips
The Four Guys: Turn Around, Look at Me
Tex Ritter: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Miami

8:00: Martha White
Flatt and Scruggs (host) w/Paul Warren: Black Eyed Susie
George Jones and Brenda Carter: Milwaukee, Here I Come
Wilburn Brothers: We Need Lot More Happiness
Loretta Lynn: Fist City
Crook Brothers: Mississippi Sawyer
Cousin Jody: On Top of Old Smokey
George Jones: I'll Be Over (When the Grass Grows Over Me)
Flatt and Scruggs: I'll Be Your Baby Tonight

8:30: Stephens
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Bill Monroe: Virginia Darling
Dottie West: Reno
Bob Luman: Guitar Man
Archie Campbell and Lorene Mann: Warm and Tender Love
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: Poor Ellen Smith
Roy Acuff: You Win Again

9:00: Luzianne
Porter Wagoner (host): The Carroll County Accident
Mel Tillis: I Wish I Felt This Way at Home
Jim and Jesse: When the Snow Is on the Roses
Dolly Parton: In the Good Old Days (When Times Were Bad)
Justin Tubb: I'm Going Back to Louisiana
Stringbean: Gonna Make Myself a Name
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Hickory Leaf
Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton: Jeannie's Afraid of the Dark

9:30: Kellogg's
Hank Snow (host): Golden Rocket
Glaser Brothers: One of These Days
Bobby Lord: Yesterday's Letters
Willis Brothers: Big Daddy
Marion Worth: Sleeping at the Foot of the Bed
Lonzo and Oscar: There's A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea
Stu Phillips: Little Old Wine Drinker Me
Hank Snow: Let Me Go Lover

10:00: Fender
Tex Ritter (host): A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Miami
Wilburn Brothers: Hurt Her Once for Me
George Morgan: Wichita Lineman
Osborne Brothers: Rocky Top
Margie Bowes: All the World is Lonely Now
Ernie Ashworth: Sad Faces

10:15: Pure
Flatt and Scruggs (host): Folsom Prison Blues
George Jones and Brenda Carter: Milwaukee, Here I Come
Loretta Lynn: Woman of the World
Billy Grammer: Gotta Travel On
Cousin Jody: Mockingbird

10:30: Buckley's
Porter Wagoner (host): Howdy, Neighbor, Howdy
Mel Tillis: Who's Julie

10:45: Kent
Roy Acuff (host): Low and Lonely
Bill Monroe: The Gold Rush
Dolly Parton: Just Because I'm A Woman
Joe Greene: Katy Hill
Bob Luman: Memphis
Dottie West: Here Comes My Baby
Archie Campbell and Lorene Mann: The Dark End of the Street
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: The Birds are Back
Crook Brothers: Arkansas Traveler
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird

11:00: Coca Cola
Hank Snow (host): I've Been Everywhere
Marion Worth: Faded Love
Stringbean: Banjo Convention
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Fire on the Mountain
Hank Snow: Old Doc Brown
Sam McGee: Wheels
Chubby Wise: Lee Highway Blues

11:30: Lava
Glaser Brothers (host): Release Me/Then I Turned and Walked Slowly Away/Many Tears Ago/You Win Again/There'll Be No Teardrops Tonight
Jim and Jesse: Yonder Comes the Freight Train
Stu Phillips: Love Took My Heart And Smashed That Sucker Flat
Glaser Brothers: The Last Thing on My Mind

This was one of those nights that the Opry started off well but went off the tracks during the second half. The Porter Wagoner segment and the Roy Acuff segment kind of tied together, with Roy's 15 minutes actually lasting a half hour. As a result, Hank Snow's 11:00 segment did not start until after 11:30, and the Opry itself ran almost 25 minutes behind by the time it was over.

Also that night, George Jones rejoined the Opry. George originally joined the cast in August 1956. He left after a while, then rejoined on this particular night (January 11). He left again after this brief return, and rejoined again in 1973. George might hold the record for most times joining, leaving and rejoining the Opry.

I will add one more thought regarding Dolly Parton. While I congratulate her upon her 50th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry, it would mean much more if she had supported the show over those 50 years. I know she is an icon, but it would have been nice if she had found the time to appear more often on the show then just those occasional appearances she has made.

Dolly will be appearing on Saturday October 12, 2019 on both shows to celebrate her 50th anniversary as a member of the Grand Ole Opry.

Wanted to add one more note: Old Crow Medicine Show posted that the group is going on hiatus and will not be booking any more shows in the foreseeable future. In looking at their website, there is nothing listed as to coming events. In the jam band world in which Old Crow Medicine Show exists, hiatus usually means trouble within the group. Hopefully nothing permanent and we will see the group back performing soon and on the Opry. 

And with that, I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend and welcome again to 2019.