As we enter into March, the big news this weekend is the return of the Friday Night Opry. Hopefully the Friday night shows are here to stay and that they will be well supported by the public.
Looking at what is lined up for this weekend, Grand Ole Opry members listed for the Friday Night Opry include regulars Jeannie Seely and Riders In The Sky. Also listed on the schedule is the Opry's newest member Rhonda Vincent. Nice to see that Rhonda is already taking her membership seriously.
Guest artists on Friday night include Hall of Fame member Don Schlitz, along with Waylon Payne, and making his Opry debut, Willie Jones.
Jeannie Seely and Riders In The Sky are back for Saturday's Grand Ole Opry, where they will be joined by member Chris Young. Guesting on Saturday will be very frequent Opry guest Elizabeth Cook, along with Jameson Rodgers, Whitney Duncan, Tenille Towns and comedian Henry Cho.
Friday March 5
7:00: Jeannie Seely; Waylon Payne; Riders In The Sky; Willie Jones
8:00: Don Schlitz; Rhonda Vincent
Saturday March 6
7:00: Opry Square Dancers; Jeannie Seely; Whitney Duncan; Riders In The Sky; Henry Cho
8:00: Chris Young; Elizabeth Cook; Jameson Rodgers; Tenille Townes
While it is nice to see the Friday Night Opry back, sadly it is just a 90 minute show
As mentioned, Willie Jones will be making his Opry debut on Friday night.
Willie Jones is a Shreveport, LA native who is a The Penthouse recording artist and Warner Chappell songwriter. He seamlessly blends hip-hop and country music, paving the way for a genre-expanding sound that’s truly signature to Jones himself. Armed with more than 1 million followers across social platforms, he recently debuted his own Apple Music show called “The Cross Roads Radio.” Willie is slated for Stagecoach 2021 and C2C London, Berlin, Amsterdam and Glasgow (health regulations pending). Jones just released his debut album ‘Right Now’ (The Penthouse / EMPIRE), amassing a cumulative stream count of 27.5M to date on Spotify, featuring the poignant patriotic single “American Dream.” The video clip of this anthem was jointly premiered on CMT and BET, a first for the networks. The rising artist has been covered by NPR All Things Considered, Forbes, Rolling Stone, E! News, PEOPLE, MTV and more.
Now from 50 years ago, Saturday March 6, 1971:
6:30: Tex Ritter (host); Bobby Lord; Lonzo and Oscar
6:45: Bill Monroe (host); Willis Brothers; Stu Phillips; Ray Pillow
7:00: Roy Acuff (host); Roy Drusky; Skeeter Davis; Stringbean; Jim and Jesse
7:30: Ernest Tubb (host); Billy Grammer; Charlie Louvin and Diane McCall; Crook Brothers; Ernie Ashworth; Tommy Cash
8:00: Lester Flatt (host); Jean Shepard; Jimmy C Newman; Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper; Hank Locklin; Charlie Walker
8:30: Hank Snow (host); Jim Ed Brown; Bob Luman; Fruit Jar Drinkers; George Hamilton; The 4 Guys
9:30: Bill Monroe (host); Willis Brothers; George Hamilton IV; Bobby Lord; Stringbean; Lonzo and Oscar
10:00: Tex Ritter (host); Stu Phillips
10:15: Roy Acuff (host); Jim and Jesse; Ray Pillow
10:30: Lester Flatt (host); Jean Shepard; Charlie Louvin; Ernie Ashworth
10:45: Wilma Lee and Stoney Cooper (host); Hank Locklin; Crook Brothers
11:00: Hank Snow (host); Billy Grammer; Charlie Walker; Fruit Jar Drinkers; Jimmy C Newman; Tommy Cash; Sam McGee
11:30: Marty Robbins (host); Jim Ed Brown; The 4 Guys; Bob Luman
Looking back to March 5, 1983 which was the final night at the Opry for WSM radio personality and Grand Ole Opry announcer Chuck Morgan.
Chuck Morgan recently posted this on his Facebook page and I hope he will not mind me sharing this:
Saturday March 5, 1983 was my last night on The Grand Ole Opry. Only a few times did I ever get called out to center stage and into the “circle”. And the times that I got called out to the “circle”, it was always by the King of Country Music, Roy Acuff. I was always very proud to announce Mr. Acuff’s portions of The Grand Ole Opry, usually sponsored by Martha White Flour. And I loved reading that commercial copy on the Opry, and saying “Goodness gracious its good.”
What a tough decision it was to leave WSM, The Grand Ole Opry, Music Country Network, The Nashville Network and Nashville.
Larry Schmittou, owner of the Nashville Sounds, called me in December of 1982 and told me that he taking a job with the Texas Rangers Baseball Club in Arlington, Texas and he said, I know it’s a shot in the dark, but how would you like to work in the big leagues? I turned Larry down. I had a lot of things going on, The Nashville Network was just starting up. The Music Country Network was going strong in its first year. It was the first ever satellite delivered radio show, my competition at the time was Larry King. Larry talked politics, we talked country music and to the stars that came by night after night. Announcing at The Grand Ole Opry, I loved the Opry and what it meant to country music and Nashville.
In December of 1982, I lost one of my good friends In Nashville and The Grand Ole Opry, Marty Robbins I have hundreds of hours of me and Marty on the radio at WSM. Sometimes, he would come by to visit with me on the radio a couple of times a week. Sometimes he would call in from the road. He was a great friend. His passing had a big impact on me. After that, I think I lost something on the air, something just didn’t feel right. And that feeling continued after the first of the year. I think Marty’s passing played a role in my decision to leave WSM and the Music Country Network.
I thought more about being in big league baseball, I thought about what I would be doing when I was 50, would I still be playing records on the network or WSM? I was Larry’s first PA guy with the Sounds, if I go to Texas, I will have to do more than just be a PA guy, he said something about selling program ads and promotions, whoa, I never had sold anything before. More I thought about it, maybe I should go to Texas. I didn’t know much about the Rangers other than Buddy Bell, Jim Sundberg and Charlie Hough. And that the ballpark in Texas had a big Texas shaped scoreboard. I had seen some Rangers games on USA Network’s Thursday Night Baseball.
After thinking about it, I called Larry in late February and told him I was coming to join him in Texas.
After announcing Roy Acuff on the Martha White Flour portion of The Grand Ole Opry, 30 days later, almost to the day, I was announcing Buddy Bell playing 3rd base for the Texas Rangers.
Here is the running order from 36 years ago, Saturday March 5, 1983:
George Hamilton (host): I Love Music
Jeannie Seely: Roarin' & Runnin'
George Hamilton IV: 'Til I Can Gain Control Again
Billy Walker (host): One Away From One Too Many Heartaches
Jim and Jesse: Freight Train
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips
Billy Walker: Looking Through the Eyes of Love
Bill Monroe (host): Love, Come Home
Skeeter Davis: Rock-A-Bye Boogie
Jimmy Dickens: John Henry
Charlie Walker: Don't Squeeze My Sharmon
Boxcar Willie: Fireball Mail/Train of Love/Hand Me Down My Walking Cane/Wreck of the Old 97/I'm Movin' On/Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms/Night Train to Memphis/New River Train/Gotta Travel On/The Lord Made a Hobo Out of Me
Bill Monroe (host): The Old Crossroads Is Waiting
7:30: Standard Candy
Bill Anderson (host): Wild Weekend
Teddy Wilburn: Lovesick Blues
Lonzo and Oscar: Mountain Music
Roy Drusky: Always
Crook Brothers and The Melvin Sloan Dancers: Sally Goodin
Bill Anderson: Thank You, Darling
8:00: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Wabash Cannonball
Stonewall Jackson: Don't Be Angry
Wilma Lee Cooper: He Taught Them How
Jimmy C Newman: La Cajun Band
Connie Smith: The Keys in the Mailbox/When God Dips His Love in My Heart
Hank Snow (host): Tangled Mind
The 4 Guys: I Don't Want Your Love Forever
Jan Howard: Lord, I Hope this Day is Good
Charlie Louvin and Diane Berry: Running Wild
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Saturday Night Hop
Hank Snow: Among My Souvenirs
Bill Anderson (host): Southern Fried
The 4 Guys: Ruby Red
Skeeter Davis: I Ain't Never
George Hamilton IV: 'Til I Can Gain Control Again
Ray Pillow: Your One Memory That I Would Like to Make Again
Bill Anderson: Thank You Darling
10:00: Little Debbie
Bill Monroe (host): Molly & Tenbrooks/Blue Moon of Kentucky
Billy Walker: One Away From One Too Many Heartaches
Vic Willis Trio: Faded Love
Bill Monroe: Right On
Roy Drusky (host): What About You
Bill Carlisle: I'm Movin'
Boxcar Willie: Fireball Mail/Train of Love/Hand Me Down My Walking Cane/Wreck of the Old 97/I'm Movin' On/Wabash Cannonball/Night Train to Memphis/New River Train/Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms/The Lord Made a Hobo Out of Me
Roy Drusky: One Day at a Time
10:30: Martha White
Roy Acuff (host): Old Time Sunshine Song
Stu Phillips: The Great El Tigre
Jimmy Dickens: Geraldine
Roy Acuff: Glorybound Train
Stonewall Jackson (host): Me & You & A Dog Named Boo
Connie Smith: I've Got My Baby on My Mind
Crook Brothers and The Melvin Sloan Dancers
Stonewall Jackson: Angry Words
11:00: Coca Cola
Hank Snow (host): Snowbird
Wilma Lee Cooper: He Taught Me How
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Dusty Miller
Justin Tubb: As Long As There's a Sunday
Kirk McGee: Milk'em In the Evening Blues
Hank Snow: Bluebird Island
Jimmy C Newman (host): (?)
Jan Howard: Gold Watch & Chain/Where No One Stands Alone
Charlie Louvin: I Ain't Gonna Work Tomorrow
Charlie Louvin, Buck Evans and Diane Berry: Red, Red Wine
Cajun Country: Little Cajun Queen
When I listen to my old Opry tapes and hear Chuck Morgan announcing a segment, I realize just how good he was. He was so smooth reading those commercials, and as he wrote, he was usually announcing Roy Acuff's segment on the 2nd show.
For those wondering, Chuck is still alive and working with the Texas Rangers, doing the announcing in their home ballpark. He is on Facebook and posts regularly and I do believe that he reads this blog on occasion.
There you have it for this week. As always, thanks for reading and commenting and I hope everyone enjoys the Grand Ole Opry this weekend.