Before getting to the mid-week line-ups, just a couple of observations from my week in Nashville and attending all of the Opry shows during the week, including the 94th Birthday Bash weekend. All of the shows were very, very good. The shows had a good flow to them and a great variety of artists.
There were a number of artists that I was very impressed with. Riders In The Sky were excellent on each of the six shows they were on, as was Bill Anderson. Po' Ramblin' Boys made their Opry debut on Tuesday night and did a nice job. They are a bluegrass group out of East Tennessee and impressed. I have always enjoyed David Ball. Dailey & Vincent were on Wednesday and Friday and they bring a lot of energy to the show. Mo Pitney and John Berry were also excellent.
My wife has been after me for a couple of years to see The Bacon Brothers, Michael and Kevin. On Wednesday night I finally saw them for the first time and thought they did a nice job. I would buy a ticket to see one of their shows.
As to the weekend, I thought everyone was good. It has been noted before, but Kathy Mattea would make an outstanding Opry member. I wouldn't be surprised if it happened one day, sooner rather than later. If I had one complaint it would be that she sang the same three songs on all four shows. I would have loved to have heard "Eighteen Wheels & A Dozen Roses" but it did not happen. It was nice to see John Conlee back on the Opry after being on the road for the past month or so. He posted that he has no other plans for the rest of the year other than the Opry. Also back was Mike Snider, who had been missing for a month. With his group, The Possum Touchers, they played those good old mountain tunes. And he added a little comedy also.
As to who was not there, Jesse McReynolds cancelled on Saturday night. He said he was still a little weak but hoped to be back this coming weekend. Opry members The Gatlin Brothers, Jeannie Seely, Connie Smith, Eddie Montgomery, The Whites, Bobby Osborne and Trace Adkins all were excellent.
The only guest artists to appear on the weekend shows, besides Kathy Mattea, were Gene Watson and Clare Dunn. Gene did his usual great job while this was the first time I had seen Clare and I can see that she has a good future in country music. She formally worked in the Opry gift shop.
Not taking away anything from these artists, but I was less impressed with Lindsey Ell, Matt Stell and Zach Williams. I know Zach is big in the gospel music field, and he worked hard, but just didn't feel it from his songs.
The Opry House on Tuesday night was about 2/3 filled, while on Wednesday it was a little less than that. Opry Country Classics, which was an excellent show, was sold out. Friday's first show was about 2/3 filled while the 2nd show had pretty low attendance, around 1500. Saturday had almost a full house for both shows.
I did not mention Opry Country Classics, saving that for a special mention. That show was outstanding. Wade Hayes is a very good country singer. Louise Mandrell still has it at the age of 65 and was promoting a new album of classic hits. T.G. Sheppard has great audience interaction. Finally, there was Lorrie Morgan. I hope this doesn't come off the wrong way, but in the last couple of times I have seen Lorrie on the Opry, she has looked a little rough, and sounded off. That was not the case on Thursday night. She looked and sounded the best I have seen in years. Her voice was powerful as was her stage presence. She looked great, wearing her hair in a straight style. Glad to have seen her.
Among other items, I did visit the Dolly Parton dress exhibit. At $12 it was a deal. It is located back in Studio A and I am sure everyone has read about the exhibit. It was interesting to see the dresses on display, along with pictures or videos of her actually wearing the dress on the occasion she wore it. There was also a video of Dolly, as she talked about the various dresses and the Opry.
Against my principles, I did park in the pay lot. It is behind the Roy Acuff and Opry House, a very short walk. $8 each night if you buy the ticket in advance. Easy in and out but not very many people parking in the lot. When I left the 2nd show on Friday night, my car was one of three.
To those I saw and talked to this past weekend, I enjoyed the visit. It is always fun to connect with fellow Grand Ole Opry fans. Hopefully you are all back next year.
Finally, I am very excited with Dan Rogers in charge of the Opry. I think you are going to see some nice things taking place as he moves forward. I am anxious and can't wait. I believe that the Opry is in very good hands as it moves toward it's 100th birthday.
Now, here are the line-ups for the mid-week shows:
Tuesday October 8
7:00: John Conlee; Stephanie Quayle
7:30: Jeannie Seely; The Isaacs
8:15: Ashley Campbell; Suzy Bogguss
8:45: Dustin Lynch
Wednesday October 9
7:00: Riders In The Sky; Smithfield
7:30: The Whites; Stephanie Urbina Jones
8:15: Del McCoury Band; Don Schlitz
8:45: Sam Williams; Sara Evans
Opry Country Classics Thursday October 10
Host: Larry Gatlin
Also Appearing: The Gatlin Brothers, Emily West, Sierra Hull, Hannah Dasher, Shawn Camp & Lauren Mascitti
The Thursday show is supposed to be part of the Dolly Parton 50th anniversary weekend.