James D. McCallister

author of the Edgewater Chronicles

Cool DIXIANA Research Tidbit

So as part of my research for DIXIANA, a novel that’s steeped in both a literal and allegorical history of American ‘hillbilly’ music, I wanted to know about the time as a nine year-old that I attended the Grand Ole Opry. We’d gone to Nashville to have Thanksgiving with the Texas branch of the family, and as part of our holiday vacation attended the Saturday night early show at the ‘new’ Opry house (it’d moved from the Ryman only six months before).

The modern Opry House, which in November 1974 would have been brand spanking new.

The modern Opry House, which in November 1974 would have been brand spanking new.

With only hazy memories at hand and no documentation, curiosity about which stars I got to see that night got the better of me, and last month I wrote to the Opry archivist and asked if he’d pull the lineup for that weekend.

When he replied, it blew my mind. Check out some of the legendary names I got to see that night.

Saturday November 30, 1974
1st show
6:30: Mrs Grissoms (radio sponsor)
Osborne Brothers (host): Midnight Fever
Ernie Ashworth: Talk Back Trembling Lips
Osborne Brothers: Summertime Is Past & Gone/Cumberland Gap

osborne-bros-decca-promo-photo

6:45: Rudy’s
Bill Monroe (host): It’s Mighty Dark For Me to Travel
4 Guys: Down By the Lazy River
Del Wood: Alabama Jubilee
Bill Monroe: I Hear A Sweet Voice Calling

Bill Monroe, right, the father of bluegrass music, is shown with one of his disciples, Lester Flatt, backstage at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tenn., in a March 1974 photo. DON FOSTER — ASSOCIATED PRESS

Bill Monroe, right, the father of bluegrass music, is shown with one of his disciples, Lester Flatt, backstage at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville, Tenn., in a March 1974 photo.
DON FOSTER — ASSOCIATED PRESS

7:00: Rudy’s
Roy Acuff (host): Back In The Country
Wilms Lee & Stoney Cooper: I Couldn’t Care Less
Charlie Walker: My Shoes Keep Walking Back to You
Lonzo & Oscar: From Your Shoulders to Mine
Roy Acuff: The Great Speckled Bird
Wilma Lee & Stoney Cooper: Doin’ My Time
Charlie Walker: Odds & Ends
Roy Acuff: I Saw the Light

Roy Acuff onstage at the Opry (undated)

Roy Acuff onstage at the Opry (undated)

7:30: Standard Candy
Ernest Tubb (host): Tomorrow Never Comes
Jan Howard: Evil on Your Mind
Bill Carlisle: Elvira
Crook Brothers/Stoney Mountain Cloggers: Black Mountain Rag
Ernest Tubb: Blue Christmas
Jan Howard: You Don’t Know Me
Bill Carlisle: Shanghai Rooster
Ernest Tubb: Walking the Floor Over You

Ernest Tubb

Ernest Tubb

8:00: Martha White
Lester Flatt (host): Lost All My Money
Grandpa Jones: Are You From Dixie
Willis Brothers: Hillbilly Heaven
Marion Worth: Back Home Again
Tim Smith: Bill Cheatham
Grandpa Jones: Raining on the Mountain Now, My Love
Willis Brothers: Women’s Liberation
Lester Flatt: Foggy Mountain Breakdown

Grandpa Jones, who began playing the character in his late 20s.

Grandpa Jones, who began playing the character in his late 20s.

8:30: Stephens
Hank Snow (host): Tangled Mind
Justin Tubb: Sunshine Lady
Stu Phillips: Let Me Love You All Over Again
Fruit Jar Drinkers: Soldier’s Joy
Hank Snow: You’re Easy to Love
Justin Tubb: Loving Arms
Stu PhillipsL If You Love Me, Let Me Know
Hank Snow: The Next Voice You Hear

Hank Snow Promo Headshot

Hank Snow Promo Headshot

Wish I could remember it better than I do. I recall finding the program dull and uninteresting, at one point going outside with my dad to walk around and kill time till it ended. Who knew? I do kinda remember Hank Snow at the end, mainly because he had on some really sparkly jacket, or maybe a Nudie-style suit.

At the time, none of this stuff interested me. I was into pop music of the day, things I heard on the radio, and I don’t mean the stations my grandparents liked. The next year I’d also get to see Conway Twitty and Loretta Lynn at the Carolina Coliseum, another show I didn’t much like, but remember a little better than the Opry visit. Soon I’d start listening to more rock and roll, get interested in movies and movie scores, start playing in the school band, and would never much think about my early country music experiences, not until this year, when those hazy memories found their way into an enormous literary novel trying to come into existence. Funny how that stuff sometimes works out.

Many thanks to Grand Ole Opry archivist and historian Byron Fay, who publishes a blog about Opry goings on both current and past.

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About dmac

James D. McCallister is a South Carolina author of novels, short stories, and creative nonfiction. His latest novel Let the Glory Pass Away releases in January 2017.

2 Replies

  1. Nancy Brock

    Thanks! Good to know about this resource.

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