Monday, October 7, 2019

Mid-Week Shows & Opry Observations

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.


  1. Your point about Lorrie doesn't come off the wrong way to me. When Lorrie had her vocal cord issue in 2001, I think she got about a month's worth of rest before recording her live album. I've always thought that she rushed her recovery and hasn't sounded the same since. Some days are going to be better sounding than others. Would I still go see her? Yes.


    1. Lorrie has figured out how to entertain and connect with her audience, which are skills today's younger artists should learn.

  2. Byron; It was great to be in Nashville last weekend. Sorry we weren't able to connect. Completely agree with your assessment of the festivities. I would add that Fillmore was NOT what I think about as an Opry artist. Maybe a talented kid--but should be on a Hip Hop stage. Not country. We too were disappointed that Kathy did the same songs four times. Although she did them remarkably well. We had the pleasure of meeting her at the Bill Cody breakfast show Friday morning. She is delightful. We are hoping for an Opry invitation for her last weekend, but it wasn't to be. Hopefully soon...

    I can't help but think the the Dolly Week festivities took away from the Birthday weekend a bit. Would have liked to see 1-2 "big stars" each night. My hope is that with Dan now in charge, they will provide members with birthday weekend schedules well in advance in order to get the superstar lineup one would expect for the birthday celebration.

    Overall, it was great to be in Nashville and enjoy fabulous shows at the Opry!

    1. Outside of Dolly herself, Dolly Week isn't much better than the Birthday weekend. The Birthday weekend rolls around every year, and every year they have a lackluster lineup. The last year I can recall them actually having a "superstar" lineup was 2010 with Dolly, Taylor Swift, Trace Adkins, Roy Clark, etc.

  3. I felt sorry for Suzy Bogguss. She had a tough night. But even at that she still sounded great. Bob

    1. I saw that she did an Opry throw-down show during the day at the Habitat site with President Carter.

  4. I listened to WSM up here in Michigan as I do most every night for the last 55 years, but 3 hours of Dolly, even though I like her, is too much for me. I turned WSM off , as I rarely do an hour ago ---- UNCLE !!!!!!! Dashmann, Flushing, Michigan

  5. Furthermore, if the Opry and WSM want to give someone a weekend, why Dolly who used the Opry as a stepping stone and hasn't had much use for the Opry since ??? Why not Bill Anderson or Jeannie Seeley or even guitarist Jimmie Capps who has played on so many hits you could fill a week's programming with them ????? Or even the late Hank Snow who rarely performed the same song more than once a year and never 4 times on a 4 show weekend --- end of rant --- Dashmann , Flushing, Michigan

  6. Last rant for tonight ---- artists who perform the same songs on both shows on a 2 show evening do a disservice to radio listeners and those fans who care enough about the Opry to attend both shows that night. Opry management should encourage the performers to do different songs on each show to show respect for both audiences --- Dashmann, Flushing, Michigan

    1. I agree with you Dashmann. That includes the Gatlins who have recorded plenty of songs that they don't have to sing the same songs all the time. Bob