Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Grand Ole Opry July 18

So, what did everyone think of last weeks show? Surprised that there was very little comment.

Moving ahead, last week Bill Anderson gave an interview to Rolling Stone. I thought I would share the question he was asked concerning the current Grand Ole Opry shows, and his response:

Question: Since the pandemic began, the reaction from the Grand Ole Opry has been so inspiring. As a longtime Opry member it must be really gratifying for you, even if you can’t all be there together with an audience.

Bill's response: It’s been very inspiring. I feel like the Opry’s in awfully good hands right now with [vice president and executive producer] Dan Rogers and [director of talent scheduling and logistics] Gina Keltner. They’ve done a brilliant job. I did the very first one of the shows with no audience on March 14th, and they were still kind of feeling their way along with it. My band was actually out there with me, and Connie Smith and Jeannie Seely were hosting segments, too. Although I told Seely, “You know, it’s not unusual for me to play to empty seats. I’ve been doing it for 50 years.” [Laughs] But, the Opry figured out a wonderful way to keep that remarkable string alive, 4,931 shows, I think it is. Another thing that’s been so good about it, well, it’s bad and it’s good — nobody’s on the road. So, a lot of the artists that are not available to do the Opry very often — Garth, Brad Paisley, Vince, Keith Urban — they’re in town and wanting to pick so they can go out and do the Opry and get that out of their system and still keep the Opry going.

Looking ahead to this week, one of those artists who I am sure Bill was referring to will be making her first Grand Ole Opry appearance since 2017. Yes, Reba McEntire will be performing on Saturday night, along with Opry member Vince Gill. Reba's last appearance was in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of her Opry debut in 1977. I think we are all in agreement that we enjoy Reba and wish she was at the Opry more often.

One more comment from Bill's interview. After naming a couple of the artists who are not available to do the Opry often, he finished the sentence with, "they're in town and wanting to pick so they can go out and do the Opry and get that out of their system and still keep the Opry going."

I sincerely hope that he meant getting picking out of their system and not the Opry out of their system!! I am sure he did!!

And now 25 years ago, Saturday July 15, 1995:

1st show
6:30: Grandpa Jones (host); Skeeter Davis
6:45: Jeannie Seely (host); Stu Phillips
7:00: Jack Greene (host); Wilma Lee Cooper; Hank Locklin; Mike Snider; Jeanne Pruett
7:30: Jimmy C Newman (host); Bill Carlisle; Charlie Walker; Del Reeves
8:00: Porter Wagoner (host); Billy Walker; Connie Smith; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Jan Howard; Roy Drusky; Ricky Skaggs

2nd show
9:30: Porter Wagoner (host); Brother Oswald; Del Reeves; Mac Yasuda
10:00: Billy Walker (host); Wilma Lee Cooper
10:15: Grandpa Jones (host); Ray Pillow
10:30: Jeanne Pruett (host); Shotgun Red
10:45: Jeannie Seely (host); Hank Locklin; Opry Square Dance Band; The Melvin Sloan Dancers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Charlie Walker; Roy Drusky; Jan Howard
11:30: Ricky Skaggs (host); Mike Snider; Whitstein Brothers

One might not be familiar with Mac Yasuda, who was on the 2nd show that night. Mac played country music at an early age and fell in love with the style.  He organized a band in Japan dedicated to country music.  As his audiences grew, Mac was being asked more and more about where they too could get the type of guitars he was playing.  He soon began dealing in musical instruments and was a leader in collecting vintage guitar instruments, especially guitars made by Gibson.  He later grew his own collection to include banjos as well as costumes worn on stage by such icons as Hank Snow and Porter Wagoner.

50 years ago, Saturday July 18, 1970:

1st show
6:30: Roy Drusky (host); Jack Barlow; Norro Wilson
6:45: Del Reeves (host); Lonzo and Oscar; Penny DeHaven
7:00: Osborne Brothers (host); Ray Pillow; Del Wood; Wilma Burgess
7:30: Roy Acuff (host); Willis Brothers; Stu Phillips; Crook Brothers; Johnny Carver
8:00: Lester Flatt (host); Jimmy C Newman; Joe and Rose Lee Maphis; Merle Travis
8:30: Bill Anderson (host); Stringbean; Charlie Walker; Fruit Jar Drinkers

2nd show
9:30: Del Reeves (host); Willis Brothers; Lonzo and Oscar; Penny DeHaven
10:00: Stu Phillips (host); Wilma Burgess; Norro Wilson
10:15: Ray Pillow (host); Stringbean; Jack Barlow
10:30: Lester Flatt (host); Billy Troy
10:45: Roy Acuff (host); Del Wood; Crook Brothers
11:00: Jimmy C Newman (host); Charlie Walker; Johnny Carver; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Sam McGee
11:30: Bill Anderson (host); Merle Travis; Louie Roberts

56 years ago, Saturday July 18, 1964, Connie Smith made her debut on the Grand Ole Opry.

Here is the running order from that night:

7:30: Luzianne
Bill Anderson (host): Po' Folks
The Browns: Wayward Wind
Gordon Terry: Wild Honey
Del Wood: Mocking Bird
Bill Anderson: Five Little Fingers
Connie Smith: I Can Stand It
Jimmy Gately: (?)
The Browns: Then I'll Stop Loving You
Bill Anderson: Still

8:00: Martha White
Jimmy Newman (host): Alligator Man
Jean Shepard: Two Little Boys
Carl Butler: I'm Hanging Up the Phone
Crazy Elmer: Comedy
Crook Brothers: Mississippi Sawyer
Jimmy Newman: Summer Skies and Silver Sands
Jean Shepard: Second Fiddle
Carl Butler: Don't Let Me Cross Over
Jimmy Newman: A Fallen Star

8:30: Stephens
Leroy Van Dyke (host): Your Money
Marion Worth: You Took Him Off My Hands
Sonny James: Ask Marie
Bill Carlisle: Shanghai Rooster
Leroy Van Dyke: Auctioneer
Stan Hitchcock: Looking Through a Teardrop
Marion Worth: Crazy Arms
Sonny James: The Minute Your Gone
Leroy Van Dyke: Walk on By

9:00: Pet Milk
Roy Acuff (host): Sunshine Special
Billy Grammer: Detroit City
George Hamilton IV: Abilene
Brother Oswald: Roll On, Buddy, Roll On
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird
June Stearns: (?)
Bill Grammer: Beautiful Isle of Somewhere
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Mississippi Sawyer
George Hamilton IV (?)

9:30: Kellogg's
Hank Snow (host): Ninety Miles an Hour (Down a Dead End Street)
Carter Family: Wildwood Flower
Roy Drusky: Pick of the Week
Willis Brothers: Gonna Buy Me a Jukebox
June Carter: Comedy
Roy Drusky: Yesterday
Hank Snow: Caribbean

10:00: Schick
Jimmy Newman (host): Bayou Talk
The Browns: Yesterday's Gone
Jean Shepard: Hillbilly Fever
Jimmy Newman: The Mover

10:15: SSS Tonic
Sonny James (host): Jenny Lou
Marion Worth: The Hands You're Holding Now
Bill Carlisle: No Help Wanted
Sonny James: Ask Marie

10:30: Harvey's
Leroy Van Dyke (host): All the Boys are Talking
Del Wood: Pony Boy
George Hamilton IV: Three Steps to the Phone
Leroy Van Dyke: Dim Dark Corner

10:45: Newport
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Crook Brothers: New Five Cents
Carl Butler: (?)
Roy Acuff: Lights in the Valley
Howdy and Jimmy: Jesse Polka

11:00: Coca Cola
Hank Snow (host): I'm Movin' On
The Browns: The 3 Bells
Billy Grammer: (?)
June Carter: (?)
Hank Snow: (?)
Fruit Jar Drinkers: (?)
Carter Family: Foggy Mountain Top
Billy Grammer: (?)
Hank Snow: Jimmy Rodgers Melody

11:30: Lava
Roy Drusky (host): Peel Me a Nanner
Willis Brothers: Private Lee
George Hamilton IV: (?)
Crazy Elmer: (?)
Roy Drusky: Another
Connie Smith: (?)
Willis Brothers: Big Daddy
George Hamilton IV: (?)
Roy Drusky: (?)

Only 5 artists who appeared that night are still living: Bill Anderson, Connie Smith, Leroy Van Dyke, June Stearns and Stan Hitchcock.

One final note before finishing this week. I want to offer a personal apology to my readers as I am sure a few of you have seen some of the spam comments that have been appearing under the comment section. I have been checking and working each day to weed those out and to report the offenders. Let's just say most of those are coming from a foreign address. Again, my apologies for anyone offended.

There you have it for this week. Thanks for reading and commenting and I hope everyone enjoys the Opry this Saturday night. It shapes up as one of the better shows.


  1. At least we got to hear a couple songs from the Gatlins other than same 3 songs they do EVERT time they are on the Opry ----- the rest of the show has already been forgotten ---- soon, " Nobody's gonna fill those shoes " - Dashmann, Flushing , Michigan ---

  2. Dashmann, you certainly wrote my thoughts !! This Saturday may be "one" of the better shows but there have already been some great ones as has been shared in previous posts. I am sure Bill Anderson is also wanting to be back out on the road, he loves performing and loves his fans, hoping that will be soon. (from Anonymous in PA)

    1. Ol' Whisper is eager, he says, and he's still writing.

      And Byron, it's a problem all over the internet. No need to apologize to us Fayfarers.

  3. Why can't someone, anyone ????? adopt and preserve Buck Trent's electrified banjo ??? What a great sound !!! and it looks like it is going to be gone forever when Buck is gone --- Dashmann - Flushing, Michigan

  4. Dashmann,
    I have NEVER understood why Buck was, and still is, apparently the only man on the planet capable of playing an electric banjo.
    Is it really that hard?

    1. Nat and Dashmann,

      Nice to hear your good words about Buck. I like Porter Wagoner but he was at his very best when Buck was in the band and on the records and Don was on steel and Mac on fiddle. No offense to Dolly, she is great and helped Porter as much as he helped her in my opinion. But for singing and great recordings, I'll go with Norma Jean. That said, Buck's sound was so much a part of her recordings, we immediately think of Let's Go All the Way but he was all over her earlier RCA recordings. We got to meet Buck once back in 2011 I think it was and he was a nice guy to visit with. I was very happy that Dolly had him on the Opry when celebrated her 50th.

      Knightsville, IN

    2. I agree Jim, that was really neat to hear Buck play banjo with Dolly again.
      I appreciated that Don Warden was Dolly's manager until he died, wasn't he?
      That kind of loyalty is rare in today's world.

    3. Nat,

      As far as I know that is correct about Don and Dolly. I recall that she issued a statement about Don when he passed. I wonder if his wife Ann is still living? I remember listening to Eddie interview him a long time ago when Eddie would get six hours with someone. Don worked with the Wilburn's and Red Sovine at the Hayride. He started with Porter at the Ozark Jubilee and from what I can tell he first recorded with him on Satisfied Mind at KWTO in Springfield in the fall of '54. The only other person on that session was Speed Haworth rounding out the trio. That was enough wasn't it? They also did Porter's first recording of East Drink and be Merry that day.

      Nice to think and talk about these things. Thanks!

      Knightsville, IN

  5. I really enjoyed the Gatlin Brothers. Larry doesn't need an audience, he carries one in his heart. It's hard to pay tribute to Charlie Daniels because his style was so uniquely him, but I thought the show did as well as it could.

    The format was interesting with the Gatlins playing the first and last segments with Jimmie and Margot making up the middle.

  6. The shows have been great, HOWEVER as a fan of bluegrass I am feeling neglected!!!!! Only Michael Cleveland and FlameKeeper on the first one, and then Skaggs with Dailey and Vincent. Can we have some bluegrass please???? Seriously, its getting ridiculous!!!!

  7. I am with you Nittannee73, need another dose of bluegrass music. For this Saturday, I expect (hope) the format may be individually Vince and Reba and then they join for the last segment. (from Anonymous in PA)

  8. I just saw the lineup for next week..... HORRENDOUS!!!! They cant get one Opry Member to come out? Cant get at least a bluegrass act? Chrissy Metz and Cece Winans... They are not even country artists. May I suggest Pam Tillis, Rhonda Vincent, The Whites, Diamond Rio, Alan Jackson, Dierks Bentley or any other Opry member who has not been featured yet on this program?
    If we are going with non country acts how about Josh Groban? Richard Marx? Melissa Manchester? An actress who sings? Bring back Lynda Carter. Country artists who are not Opry members? I would love to see Sylvia Hutton, Bryan White, Kathy Mattea, Neal McCoy, Scotty McCreery. You may have forgotten all of these artists? No one is touring so many of these could be available.

    1. Agree. I also wonder why we haven't seen Carrie Underwood or Rhonda Vincent play a show yet? Or like you said Alan Jackson-he did some drive in shows.

    2. Hopefully an Opry member will be added as I know it has been the goal to have at least one Opry member per show (there has only been one night that no Opry member has been present).

      With the COVID-19 virus, I know there are probably some artists who are not comfortable leaving their homes, or safe spots, to do shows, so at this point I don't want to judge. What is interesting is that Rhonda Vincent did a bluegrass show last Saturday night close to her home. Perhaps she doesn't wish to travel to Nashville.

      And bringing up Nashville, let's remember that the city is still classified as a "hot spot" and perhaps that adds in to the mix.

  9. Byron this is your page but you are being too kind and accommodating to the Opry. Is it the Circle TV/Bobby Bones effect that is making some of this "transition" during an opportunistic time with the Covid creating havoc in the music industry? For the die-hard country music, Grand Ole Opry, lovers some of these decisions are just beyond our understanding. Many of us have expressed our concerns about the changes happening at the Opry and it looks like those may be coming to fruition.

    1. I can't disagree with what you wrote. I think Bobby Bones, as Executive Producer of Opry Live on Circle, has some influence as to the acts on the show. And I would think that Circle, views this as a great opportunity to bring new viewers and advertisers to the network.(Let's face it, F-Troup and Beverly Hillbillies are not bring in new viewers).

      Like others, I am curious as to what the Opry will look like when it emerges from this current crisis and resumes some type of normal show.

      If I am too kind it is probably because I have a little insight as to what is going on behind the scenes at the Opry and I don't take any offense to what you wrote. I am just thankful you are reading and commenting. Thanks.

  10. Let's remember that the Opry, branded and run the way I want to see it and some of you as well, is the old grey mare of a big corporation. The Opry might have been selling well and making good money before all this hit but it was getting harder and harder to recognize it as the Opry. Slow creeping changes advanced most under the Fisher team make it harder to recognize just how much has changed in the past 5-10 years. Maybe he had great vision in his crystal ball! And maybe that is why we still have an Opry to listen to and bemoan the changes!

    Following my own advice, I will leave the politics out of it but look at what is going on in corporate America right now. The Opry and Gaylord are in a tough spot putting forth a public image to fit these times. I don't like it and am honestly having a real hard time with it but I think that is where they are. I've said I will go back at least one more time when Bill Anderson celebrates 60 years if they can even do that come July 2021. Even for such an event I am beginning to think I won't make it. Just my opinion.

    I too am afraid of what the Opry will look like when the crowd returns regardless of where the hearts of those in charge are. And I am very sad when I think of some of the veterans living out there last performing days that may never perform on the Opry again.

    As Fred in Bismark used to say, I've got all my records and tapes! So I can turn off the radio and live in the past anytime. How did that Ray Price song go? It's not healthy they say, to relive yesterday, but for me it's a way to survive. I must cling to what is gone, if I'm to go on. I can't face the future I've tried. Perhaps for the rest, looking back isn't best. But for me, it's a way to survive.

    Kinghtsville, IN

    1. I loved that Ray Price song in 1964 or 5 when he released it, and I still love it ----- I'm a great sentimentalist and it kinda mirrors my life --- still after 55 or so years ---- THAT is what REAL country music is and does ---- Dashmann, Flushing, Mich

  11. All I can say is thank goodness for the following: The old Gannaway shows on RFD-TV, plus all the numerous clips from those shows on YouTube.
    And all those glorious video clips from the Pet Milk Grand Ole Opry, The Porter Wagoner Show, etc.
    These programs feature REAL COUNTRY MUSIC!!!!
    - Frank Apperson

  12. I wanted to pass along the news that Hal Smathers passed away yesterday. Hal was a dancer with the Stoney Mountain Cloggers, which were headed up by his parents Ben and Margaret. Ben Smathers passed away in 1991 and his mother Margaret passed away earlier this year.

  13. For me, a country music convert 45-years ago, I love the
    old-country/old-Opry, enjoy the mid-country period (late 80's, early 90's), loved the groups (Statlers, Oaks, Alabama etc), bluegrass, western swing, you get the idea - but I just can't tolerate the so-called "new" - has nothing to offer. I presume that is why Branson was having such a pull from Nashville. There just isn't anything for me in Nashville anymore so we have been going to as many live shows by our favorites (Bill, Rhonda, Moe, Gene, Mandy, etc) lately even traveling a lot of miles and staying overnight. Once things let up that will be our mode again - more festivals as well. I just hope they will still get out there for us - even for beloved Bill Anderson I can't see going to the Opry for his 60th - I will congratulate him somewhere in person. I would rather remember the Opry as it was (our last trip was the 90th Anniversary and was a disappointment) than go back to the way it is now. Besides I get more bang for my buck at a full concert than a song or two at the Opry.

  14. I thought Vince and Reba were GREAT last night.
    I'm trying hard to not "let the old man in." :)

  15. I agree Nat. And, I am asking myself if I have been too hard on Reba for showing up so little as a member. It still bothers me but as things go these days maybe I should find other things and people to fuss about. A lot of people whose music I liked over the years walked away from the Opry for their careers. I would say that at least they gave up their membership but did they really have a choice. Webb Pierce and hank Thompson come to mind real quick. Back then there were those strict attendance requirements and you really didn't have a choice. You couldn't say you were a member and never come around!

    Knightsvill, IN

  16. What drew me to the Opry back in 1958 were the acts like Curly Fox, Fruit Jar Drinkers, Sam / Kirk McGee , Stringbean, Del Wood, etc. mixed in with the big stars of the time ---- Foley, Reeves, Young, Ashworth, Anderson, Smith, Wells, Shepard, Tubb and so many others. The shows were so long they took up your entire Friday and Saturday nights and always had that down home feeling. Maybe " Down Home " will never play again --- and the WSM signal less rarely faded out in Michigan back in those days as opposed to 2020 ---- the old Opry is never coming back ---and that is sad -------- Dashmann, Flushing, Michigan

    1. I agree, and I hope I've conveyed that here over the years. But here's something else to think about. About the time you started listening, the Opry had just merged the Gully Jumpers and Possum Hunters into the Crook Brothers and Fruit Jar Drinkers. They also had just lost a bunch--Pierce, Smith, Dickens, Morgan--some of whom would come back. It's always changing.

      But I'm a Warner Bros. cartoon fan and one of the directors, Bob McKimson (creator of Taz, among others), had a line about how the cartoons became too subtle: He said, "Sometimes you make progress in the wrong direction."