Some weekends have better Grand Ole Opry line-ups then others, and this weekend is one of those, as both the Friday Night Opry and Saturday's Grand Ole Opry will each feature an Opry member who makes very infrequent appearances on the show, with Brad Paisley appearing on Friday night and Alison Krauss on Saturday.
Brad has been an Opry member since 2001, while Alison goes back even further, joining the cast in 1993. They both have had Hall of Fame careers and it is just too bad that they haven't both found time to appear on the Opry more often.
Joining Brad on the Friday Night Opry will be Grand Ole Opry members John Conlee, Mike Snider (both of whom are also appearing on Saturday night), Ricky Skaggs, The Whites, Bobby Osborne, Connie Smith, and another long lost Opry member, Marty Stuart.
Along with Alison, John and Mike, Saturday night's line-up also includes members Jeannie Seely, Jesse McReynolds, Riders In The Sky, and another appearance by Old Crow Medicine Show.
Guesting both nights will be comedian Gary Mule Deer, who I have to admit, is a very funny guy. He always brings it on each of his Opry appearances. Joining him on Friday night will be Shenandoah and making their Opry debut, King Calaway. Guesting on Saturday night, in addition to Gary, will be Brandon Lay, Smithfield, and making his Opry debut, Billy Strings.
Friday March 1
7:00; John Conlee (host); Mike Snider; Shenandoah
7:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Gary Mule Deer; The Whites
8:15: Marty Stuart (host); Bobby Osborne & The Rocky Top X-Press; Connie Smith
8:45: Brad Paisley (host); King Calaway
Saturday March 2
7:00: Jeannie Seely (host); Brandon Lay; Mike Snider
7:30: Old Crow Medicine Show (host); Billy Strings; Jesse McReynolds
8:15: John Conlee (host); Smithfield; Gary Mule Deer; Opry Square Dancers
8:45: Riders In The Sky (host); Alison Krauss
As mentioned, there are two acts who will be making their Opry debuts this weekend, King Calaway on the Friday Night Opry and Billy Strings on Saturday's Grand Ole Opry.
A multi-national super-group of harmony-singing, instrument-playing musicians, King Calaway makes country music for the modern world. (at least according to their bio on their website). The group was formed in 2018 and consists of Caleb Miller, Chris Deaton, Simon Dumas, Jordan Harvey, Chad Michael Jervis and Austin Luther. Among the groups influences are the Eagles, Keith Urban and Ed Sheeran. Like the Eagles, each member of King Calaway is also an adept, well-rounded musician.
There is no lead singer of the group, with each member sharing in the vocals. Their current music producer is Robert Deaton, who has won several Emmy Awards for his work on multiple award shows and hundreds of music videos.
The group bills themselves as "country stars for a new generation, singing songs that erase the boundaries between genres and countries." They claim that they aren't looking to repeat the sounds of their youth, and not looking to fit into a crowd, but to stand out.
William Apostol, known professionally as Billy Strings, was born in Lansing, Michigan. It was his stepfather, Terry Barber, who influenced his son, introducing Billy to bluegrass at an early age. He got his nickname, Billy Strings, from his aunt. While still young, his dad introduced him to bluegrass artists such as Doc Watson, Del McCoury, Bill Monroe, John Hartford, Ralph Stanley, Earl Scruggs and Larry Sparks, among others. He was also a rock fan, and enjoyed artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Johnny Winter and Black Sabbath.
In 2016, the International Bluegrass Music Association awarded Billy with the Momentum Award for Instrumentalist of the Year and in 2017 Rolling Stone magazine named him one of the Top Ten New Country Artists to Know. Also in 2017, he was named one of the six new rising stars of bluegrass by Acoustic Guitar and in March 2018, PBS announced that Billy was to be the inaugural performer at the new cave for the renowned series Bluegrass Underground in the caverns of Pelham, Tennessee.
Looking back in Grand Ole Opry history, it was Saturday March 1, 1980 that the Grand Ole Opry was televised on PBS. This was the 3rd of 4 years that the Opry was televised on PBS as part of their annual fundraising.
Here is the running order from that night 39 years ago:
Del Reeves (host): Crazy Arms/My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You
Jean Shepard: Then He Touched Me
Wilburn Brothers: God Bless America Again
David Houston: There's A Star Spangled Banner Waving Somewhere
Del Wood: 12th Street Rag
Del Reeves: Take Me to Your Heart & Let Me Live There
6:30: Mrs Grissoms
Charlie Louvin (host): I Don't Love You Anymore/Think I'll Go Somewhere and Cry Myself to Sleep/See the Big Man Cry
Connie Smith: Satisfied
Hank Locklin: Send Me the Pillow You Dream On
Charlie Louvin: Love Don't Care
Charlie Walker (host): Don't Play Me No Songs About Texas
Skeeter Davis: It Wasn't God Who Made Honky Tonk Angels
Ernie Ashworth: There's No Place I'd Rather Be Tonight
Charlie Walker: Pick Me Up on Your Way Down
Porter Wagoner (host): Tennessee Saturday Night
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Loretta Lynn: Coal Miner's Daughter/We've Come a Long Way Baby
Justin Tubb: What's Wrong With the Way That We're Doing it Now
Jim and Jesse: Freight Train
Porter Wagoner: Everything I've Always Wanted
7:30: Standard Candy
Roy Acuff (host): Down in Union County
Minnie Pearl: Careless Love
Jimmy Dickens: Another Hell of a Night in Dixie
Crook Brothers and Tennessee Travelers: Durang's Hornpipe
Roy Acuff: I'll Fly Away
8:00: Martha White
Grandpa Jones (host): Stop That Ticklin' Me
Wilma Lee Cooper: A Daisy A Day
Ronnie Milsap: Back on My Mind Again/Why Don't You Spend the Night
The Four Guys: Let There Be Peace
Grandpa and Ramona Jones: Fallen Leaves
Hank Snow (host): I Don't Hurt Anymore
Osborne Brothers: Take Me Home, Country Roads
Marion Worth: Someone Is Looking for Someone Like You
Roy Drusky: Welcome Home
Hank Snow and Kelly Foxton: Hasn't It Been Good Together
Fruit Jar Drinkers: (?)
Porter Wagoner (host): Ol' Slewfoot
Jean Shepard: Seven Lonely Days
Ronnie Milsap: I'm A Stand By My Woman Man/What Goes on When the Sun Goes Down/Day Dreams About Night Things
Charlie Louvin and Jim and Jesse: Show Boat Gambler
Bill Carlisle: Too Old to Cut the Mustard
Ray Pillow: Super Lady
Porter Wagoner: Cold Hard Facts of Life/Carroll County Accident/Green, Green Grass of Home
10:00: Little Debbie
Jack Greene (host): Yours for the Taking
Jeannie Seely: Since I Met 'Cha Boy
Vic Willis Trio: Last Cheater's Waltz
Jack Greene and Jeannie Seely: Fox on the Run
10:15: Union 76
Roy Acuff (host): Once More
Minnie Pearl: Jealous Hearted Me
Connie Smith: He was There All the Time
Roy Acuff: Lord, Don't Give Up on Me
Grandpa Jones (host) w/Ramona Jones and Alisa Jones: Who Will Sing for Me
Skeeter Davis: The Old Rugged Cross; The King is Coming
Billy Grammer: When They Ring the Golden Bells/Kentucky
Jan Howard: I Will Survive
George Hamilton IV (host): Forever Young
Loretta Lynn and Sissy Spacek: You Ain't Woman Enough to Take My Man
Crook Brothers and The Tennessee Travelers: Rachel
George Hamilton IV: Close Your Eyes; I'll Be There in the Morning
11:00: Coca Cola
Hank Snow (host): I'm Moving On
Stu Phillips: There's More to Love
Osborne Brothers: Country Boys and Georgia Mules are Fading Fast Away
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Katy Hill
The Four Guys: Fire
Hank Snow and Kelly Foxton: My First Night Alone
Marty Robbins (host): Tonight Carmen
Wilma Lee Cooper: I Couldn't Believe it Was True
Jimmy Dickens: Out Behind the Barn
Marty Robbins: Don't Worry/Cool Water/Muddy Water/Among My Souvenirs/The Great Speckled Bird/Love Me/El Paso City/You Gave a Mountain/Touch Me With Magic/She's Made of Faith/A White Sports Coat/What Are Friends for Anyways/El Paso
For those counting at home, Marty Robbins sang 13 songs and was on for almost 50 minutes. It is safe to say he took some liberties that night.
Besides those scheduled, Archie Campbell, Ernest Tubb and Don Gibson cancelled.
Finally, it was Saturday March 2, 1963 that Grand Ole Opry members Hawkshaw Hawkins and Cowboy Copas performed on the Opry for the final time.
Honky-tonk singer Hawkshaw Hawkins was billed as "eleven and a half yards of personality." As a youth, Harold Franklin Hawkins traded five trapped rabbits for his first guitar, and a short time later, at age fifteen, he entered and won a talent show on radio station WSAZ in Huntington, West Virginia. In addition to the fifteen-dollar prize, Hawkshaw got his first job working at the station. He later moved to WCHS in Charleston, West Virginia, and occasionally teamed as a duo with Clarence "Sherlock" Jack. In 1941, he briefly worked in a traveling show for a Lawrence, Massachusetts radio station and in a Baltimore shipyard before entering the military, where he spent the war years in the Pacific. While in the Philippines, he performed on Manila radio station WJUM.
Upon returning to civilian life, he joined the WWVA Jamboree and remained there until 1954; during this time he also had a CBS radio program. He developed a large following due not only to recordings featuring his rich, smooth, honky-tonk vocals, but also to his showmanship.
Hawkshaw first recorded successes were "Pan American" and "Doghouse Boogie" in 1948. The following year, 1949, he scored with "I Wasted a Nickel." In 1951 he had two Top Ten hits, "I Love You a Thousand Ways" and "I'm Waiting Just for You." His version of "Slow Poke" in 1952 reached both the country and pop charts.
On the strength of his record successes, Hawkshaw joined the Grand Ole Opry in 1955. It was not until four years later, though, that he made another hit, his 1959 "Soldier's Joy" which reached #15 on the Billboard charts. The following year, on November 26, 1960, he married country singer Jean Shepard; the ceremony was conducted on an auditorium stage in Wichita, Kansas. Late in 1962 he recorded a Justin Tubb song, "Lonesome 7-7203" that turned out to be his biggest hit. Unfortunately, he never lived to see it reach #1.
Loyd Estel "Cowboy" Copas possessed a strong tenor voice, distinctive phrasing, and flat-top guitar picking that gave his recordings a unique sound in an era dominated by instantly identifiable performers. One of six children, he began performing at fairs and talent contests with his brother, Marion, when both were teenagers. He was still a teenager when he teamed with local fiddler Lester Vernon Storer, known professionally as Natchee the Indian, and acquired the alliterative stage name Cowboy. His brother later recalled that Cowboy was advised by a college professor to say he was born on a ranch in Oklahoma, a locale deemed more colorful than the family farm in Blue Creek, Ohio. Cowboy Copas never professed to be a cowboy singer, however, and recorded virtually nothing with a western motif. His overall style might be described as occupying a middle ground
between honky-tonk and the crossover approach of smooth vocalists such as Eddy Arnold and George Morgan.
In the early 1940s, he worked at WLW in Cincinnati and became affiliated there with King Records. He made his first record for the label, "Filipino Baby," during his first sessions with the label in 1944. When it was finally released two years later, in the summer of 1946, it became a #4 hit that helped but King on the map and propelled Copas to the Grand Ole Opry. In 1946 he joined Pee Wee King's Golden West Cowboys, with whom he worked briefly as a guitarist and featured vocalist. "Tragic Romance," "Signed, Sealed and Delivered," "Tennessee Waltz," "Kentucky Waltz," "Breeze," "The Strange Little Girl," and "Copy Cat" (a duet with his sixteen-year-old daughter Kathy) were among his hits. His tenor voice seemed best suited to lilting and melodious love songs, resulting in announcer Grant Turner's dubbing him Waltz King of the Grand Ole Opry.
Like many country artists, his career was temporarily muffled by the rock revolution, but he enjoyed a renaissance after signing with Starday in 1959. The album "Unforgettable" was made, with one cut serving to showcase his Martin guitar, which he played with a thumb pick. Consisting of verses found in several lyrical folksongs, "Alabam" was the highlight of the LP and, when released as a single in 1960, became a #1 hit. Thereafter, Cowboy Copas was consistently on the charts and recorded prolifically until his death.
With that, here is the running order from 56 years ago, Saturday March 2, 1963:
George Morgan (host): Little Dutch Girl
Carter Family: 14 Caret Nothing
Jimmy Newman: Bayou Talk
Willis Brothers: Eat a Little More
George Morgan: Untie the Knot
Harold Morrison: Pretty Little Pink
June Carter: Comedy
Jimmy Newman: A Fallen Star
George Morgan: Down Memory Lane
8:00: Martha White
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper (host): Come Walk With Me
Billy Walker: I've Got A New Heartache
Wilburn Brothers: Roll Muddy River
Stringbean: Pretty Little Widow
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: There's A Higher Power
Del Wood: Are You From Dixie
Margie Bowes: Think it Over
Crook Brothers: Black Mountain Rag
Wilburn Brothers: Trouble's Back in Town
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: Philadelphia Lawyer
Hawkshaw Hawkins (host): Darkness on the Face of the Earth
Lonzo and Oscar: There's a Hole in the Bottom of the Sea
Bobby Lord: Out Behind the Barn
Archie Campbell: Comedy
Hawkshaw Hawkins: I Don't Apologize
Glaser Brothers: Lover's Farewell
Curly Fox: Instrumental
Hawkshaw Hawkins: Silver Threads and Golden Needles
9:00: Jefferson Island Salt
Cowboy Copas (host): You Don't Have to Be a Baby to Cry
Bill Monroe: (?)
Roy Drusky: Second Hand Rose
Minnie Pearl: Comedy
Cowboy Copas: Alabam'
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Bill Cheatham
Bill Carlisle: Shutter & Boards
Bill Monroe: (?)
Cowboy Copas: The Man Upstairs
9:30: Pet Milk
Roy Acuff (host): Plastic Heart
Marion Worth: Shake Me; I Rattle
Cousin Jody: Lady Cop
Roy Acuff: The Wreck on the Highway
Brother Oswald: Roll on Buddy, Roll on
Justin Tubb: (?)
Jimmy Riddle: Fox Chase
Roy Acuff: I'll Fly Away
10:00: Gates Rubber
George Morgan (host): Roly Poly
Curly Fox: (?)
Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper: Satisfied
Del Wood: Bill Bailey
George Morgan: Who's Jealous Now
Wilburn Brothers (host): Day After Day
Bill Carlisle: Leave that Liar Alone
Margie Bowes: Within Your Crowd
Harold Morrison: The Cat Came Back
Wilburn Brothers: Not That I Care
Jimmy Newman (host): (?)
Carter Family: (?)
Billy Walker: Thank You for Calling
Jimmy Newman: (?)
Hawkshaw Hawkins (host): Big Old Heartache
Willis Brothers: I Still Do
Stringbean: There'll Be Moonshine in Them Old Kentucky Hills
Crook Brothers: Sally Goodin
Hawkshaw Hawkins: Lonesome 7-7203
11:00: Coca Cola
Roy Acuff (host): Little Pal
Marion Worth: Tennessee Teardrops
Lonzo and Oscar: I'm My Own Grandpa
Roy Acuff and Brother Oswald: Stuck Up Blues
Sam and Kirk McGee: While I'm Away
Justin Tubb: (?)
Brother Oswald: John Hardy
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Nubbin Ridge
Roy Acuff: Shake My Mother's Hand for Me
11:30: SSS Tonic
Cowboy Copas (host): Down in Nashville, Tennessee
Bill Monroe: (?)
Roy Drusky: It Worries Me
Cousin Jody: Mockingbird
Archie Campbell: A Fool's Side of Town
Glaser Brothers: Odds & Ends
Bobby Lord: So Doggone Lonesome
Bill Monroe: (?)
Cowboy Copas: Flat Top
I did want to mention that the hosts for the Ernest Tubb Midnight Jamboree this week will be the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band. If you haven't seen this talented group, who play the music on which the Grand Ole Opry was founded on, you are missing it. They are great and I am sure they will do an awesome job hosting this week.
There you have it for this week. I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this weekend!!