As most of you know, and if you are avid readers of mine, I had to take some time off from the website to take care of some personal issues before my full return to it. As the goals began to be met, and life became less chaotic, I started to jump back into the world of music from a reporter’s standpoint. I began researching and studying the different ways that “Underground Music” is slowly becoming accepted and actually sought after by mainstream society ( or as we call them, normies).
The Opry has always been one of the many music outlets across the world I have been paying attention to lately, because it seems they have been paying attention to some amazing Red Dirt bands, Country and other genres. For many years I watched the Opry bow down to the powers that be by pandering to the pop country people, whom don’t attend it or even buy tickets. Now I do agree that the Opry belongs to all genres of Country, and that it definitely should feature music from all different forms of it, but the Opry went through almost a decade of snubbing the more traditional sounding up and comers of independent Country.
They spent many years bending over backwards for bands like Little Big Town and people like Carrie Underwood, in an effort to pander to the types of people that do not actually BUY music or even attend functions like the Opry. It didn’t take a long time for Gaylord to get their answer through slumping sales and crickets chirping from the seats that are generally filled by people like me. See people like me have an insatiably and sedulous desire to learn everything I can about the Legends of the Opry.
Even today, the oldest active member of the Opry, Mr. Jesse McReynolds passed away leaving the void of the amount of Legends that participate the weekly roster slim. As members that appear on a weekly basis, I believe now that Jeannie Seely and Whispering Bill Anderson are the longest tenured members. So, now, we have a really big problem and it looks like they finally swallowed their pride and started to welcome and include the artists and bands that are NOT on big major labels, and are NOT receiving any radio airplay! Additionally, they began reaching out to the Texas crowd, and welcoming a lot of the Red Dirt crowd on the Opry, to make their debut performances, and I just wanted to write about a bunch of scenarios that I have witnessed in the past year or so.
One of the most prominent and up front musicians in the Red Dirt community made his Opry debut on May 16th, 2023. Actually, this man has been a prominent independent artist for quite some time now. There are three reasons why it is important to appear on the Opry , and I firmly believe that he fulfilled all three of them. The only negative thing to say here is shame on them for taking so long to invite him, as he has been around for fifteen years.
The first reason is to show reverence and love for all of the people that paved the way for all of us now. His raw emotion and humble appearance clearly showed his respect for this fine institution, and I am one hundred percent convinced that in the future he would continue to play the Opry. The second reason is to promote new music, so he played one song off his latest album “Baker Hotel”. The final reason is to show your loved ones that your dreams are coming true, and he did just that with an acoustic performance of “My Mother”. I mean, everyone wants to gain the parent’s approval for being in that circle!
Another artist that is often ignored by the mainstream media is another Texas man that is loved by the Red Dirt community by the name of Wade Bowen. After his debut here, I am quite adamant that he will join a new cast of members and guests, as he was joined by one of the Opry’s newest members Jamey Johnson. Now that song was originally performed by another one of the latest guests on the Opry and that is none other than Randy Rogers.
I have been to a bunch of shows featuring Wade Bowen, and I have been an avid fan of his for a long long time. Much like everyone included in this article, he has been active and making music for many years now, and although I don’t believe this was his debut, they need to invite him more often.
Another terrific young lady to burst into the scene here lately is the incredibly talented Sierra Ferrell, who made her Opry debut in 2021. Honestly, I had known about her for some time before her explosion due to seeing her busking in North Carolina once. She has been very popular in the local Nashville scene for years now.
Her album has so many reflections on her musical influences that it’s hard to overlook. It is not difficult to ascertain that she upholds a strong reverence to Country music’s past, and like me, she is a huge student of the genre. One of local music’s most successful success stories, she went from busking on street corners and playing dive bars to the Opry now! I hope that she gets to play there more often!
This weekend one of my favorite road dog juggernauts by the name of Sunny Sweeney is playing her 69th appearance on the Opry. She spends countless hours of time with the Legends of the Opry, like Jeannie Seely and others. Out of all of the guys and gals I have featured on here, it is here that deserves membership the most in my humble opinion.
You know, here is what I think about her and ALL of the gals I featured on here….the Opry NEEDS these ladies to procreate a NEW crop of “Grand ladies of the Opry”. I’m quite adamant on the fact that the Legends like Jeannie Seely would be elated to have a new group of ladies led by Terri Clark and others. The Opry means the world to Sunny Sweeney, and one of the most admirable qualities about her, is that she plays it to play it and not just to promote new albums.
She’s out there on the road hard and heavy, she hosts an entire segment on XM radio for Willie’s Roadhouse, where she plays music for us that she loves. She plays a whopping amount of shows every year, and festivals all over the world. For this, I firmly believe the Opry needs her as much as she needs it.
Two of the next artists I’m going to feature have not only played on the Opry, they were inducted as members. This is the initial reason I am writing this, ALL OF THESE PEOPLE need to be members. I think since these two are paid more attention from mainstream Country, the Opry chose to induct them in order to appeal to younger audiences.
So let’s talk about a young lady ( Who’s music I love the most) named Ashley McBryde. She is without a doubt another independent success story, that paved her own way through the abyss of bro country and pop country bullshit to become a torch carrier for dive bar ladies that are road dogs too!
Her sound and her demeanor are old school sound and features steel guitars and old school tempos, and she has taken that formula straight to the CMA awards and like Chris Stapleton…she cleaned house. As an artist and songwriter both she is amassing a cache of awards and achievements that rivals none.
Much like Miranda Lambert, McBryde brings all her friends along for the ride, like Pillbox Patti and a long list of characters that have songs that are just as fun. There is an endless amount of bands and artists out there that could throw a huge party on the Opry, and proliferate this blessed institution.
She has performed on the Opry since 2017 as a guest, and played 22 times before Terri Clark officially inducted her as a member last December. She brought our Eric Church, whom I don’t feature on here much because I’m not into his music…but I do respect him for past things he has done for music I DO like.
The other person I wanted to touch upon being inducted was none other than Jon Pardi. The local scene was introduced to him around 2011, when he moved to Nashville here. Now, mind you the pop country crowd that also embraced him didn’t hear about him until well after 2014, when his debut album dropped.
He was playing at Stagecoach Fest when the festival director brought Jon Pardi a tablet, which had Alan Jackson on it via video chat where he invited Pardi to become the first person from California to become a member.
He is another of the male artists that I will immediately buy any album he makes anytime. His music is so insanely Country, I’m amazed that the pop country crowd even acknowledges his music in the way that they do. Nonetheless, it is quite nice to have artists like these two involved in their world, so they could have the opportunity to being them into ours to show them our Legends.
Just as Sunny announced her playing July 4th, I also saw that Brennan Leigh has been invited to play a debut on June 24th. I was quite excited to see her get invited to play songs from her new album “Ain’t Done Honky Tonkin Yet”.
She did an amazing album with Asleep At The Wheel of some classic western swing songs that I really enjoyed and it showed me her passion for the authenticity of Western Swing and its importance on the Opry stage.
The last band I wanted to touch upon is 49 Winchester, whom recently played as a guest this past spring. Recently Joshua and I covered an entire string of shows in several days.
I believe that was their second appearance, August of 2022 was their debut. Both times the Opry audience embraced this Virginia based band with open arms, and we all love them for their signature Honky Tonk twang tempo.
Jamey Johnson was another person that was invited to become a member by Whispering Bill Anderson, and I big time believe that he will play the Opry on almost a weekly basis, as he tours less than most.
The reason I am so elated about all of these people being on the Opry, is mostly for proliferation of Country Music on a bigger scale, and you’ll see me in the balcony!