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© 2000 Bob Howe- certain segments from last month have been repeated to retain continuity with the printed version of this column
The Grand Ole Opry was born in 1925 on the fifth floor of an Insurance Company building. Originally the show was known as the WSM Barn Dance, and it became so popular that the studio couldn't accommodate the hordes of fans flocking to see the show performed live. The Opry was moved into a succession of three venues, each larger than the next. Eventually it moved to the Ryman Auditorium in 1943, and finally in 1974 to its current location, the 4,400 seat Grand Ole Opry House. Regarded as the Mecca of Country Music, the Opry now has another home…in cyberspace.
Radio WSM (an abbreviation for the insurance company's motto, 'We Shield Millions') is now sending the world's longest running live radio program, the Grand Ole Opry, out to the World Wide Web. The Webcasts happen on Friday and Saturday nights, Nashville time, so you'll need to work out the time difference for your local area (e.g. early afternoon Saturday and Sunday here in Australia). At the Opry Web site you can find out exactly which of the stars will be appearing, and what time they are scheduled to tread the hallowed boards of the Opry stage. Pam Tillis has recently accepted the Grand Ole Opry's invitation to become its newest member. Pam made her Opry debut at the tender age of eight and has made numerous guest appearances over the years. She will be formally inducted on August 26th.
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Opry, a new set and stage design have been unveiled. Live updates were Webcast as the events unfolded and you can still view the photos and video clips. Our very own Jane Saunders performed on the Opry stage during the last night that the old set was used, and was very moved by the sense of history invoked by the occasion. It was the very next weekend when the Webcasts of the Opry shows began. Tania Kernaghan, Troy Cassar-Daley and Kasey Chambers, were all beamed live from the Opry to the world via the Internet, and those performances can still be heard in the archives. Also available for you, via the CMAA site, is the complete transcript of the Star Chat I mentioned last month. The Australian stars who were visiting Nashville for Fan Fair 2000, took part in a specially organised chat live from America. Talking with fans about their participation in one of America's biggest CM events, were Troy, Jane and Tania. They said they had caught up with Keith Urban who had "put on an absolutely unbelievable performance" in town earlier that week, and Tommy Emmanuel had invited them all to play at his show. They had also seen Wayne Horsburgh, who had just finished performing for thousands of people at the 23-day Great American Music Festival in Branson, and was manning his own 'booth' at Fan Fair in Nashville, as he has done for many years. Wayne had also been involved in a local radio program, and had ensured that the Australian artists were getting plenty of airplay. Go Aussies!
|Aussies Tania, Troy and Kasey at the Grand Ole Opry- now in the WSM Radio Web archives
Look HERE in RealAudio under Archives June 16, 2000. If you haven't got time to hear the whole broadcast, slide your RealPlayer control to about 1hour 29mins into the show and Tania's on after the Coca-Cola ad at 01.29.55 singing 'The Verandah'. For Troy Cassar-Daley and Kasey Chambers, go HERE to Archives June 17, 2000. Troy sings 'Trains' at about 4hours 38mins and Kasey sings 'This Flower' at about 5hours 9mins.
pictured in Sydney
earlier this year
U.S. star Ernie Ashworth joined the Grand Ole Opry cast in 1964, and has been a member ever since. Ernie's biggest hit was 'Talk Back Trembling Lips', although his early success came from writing songs for country stars such as Little Jimmy Dickens, Carl Smith, Johnny Horton, Wilma Lee Cooper and Paul Anka who recorded Ernie's song 'I Wish'. From 1960 to 1970 every record Ernie released made the U.S. national charts. Of these, 12 were Top 10 Hits. In 1999, Ernie's career again took off like a rocket when he recorded his 35th Grand Ole Opry Anniversary CD. One of the songs on the CD, 'She Don't Drink, She Don't Smoke, But She Lies', hit the number 4 spot on the European Country Music Charts. Ernie has also been inducted into The Indie Recording Artist Hall Of Fame, and was voted the most programmed Independent Artist in Europe. Being an active Internet surfer, Ernie dropped by the Cowboys In Cybersp@ce Web site recently, and stopped to say howdy! If you visit the Ernie Ashworth Web site, you'll find out more about his exciting career, plus a chance to hear his music and explore the links to many of his fellow Opry Stars.
The news of Michael Fix being invited to Nashville to perform at the annual Chet Atkins Appreciation Society Convention, inspired me to visit Chet's Web site. Lots of fingerpicking good fun there, including a link back to, where else, the Michael Fix site! For some very cool Webcasts, check out the 'Chet Atkins' Musician Days' at CountryCool.com. Recorded live at the historic Ryman Auditorium, Chet Atkins celebrated the musical heritage of Duane Eddy with special guests John Fogerty, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Bramlett, Marty Stuart, Vince Gill, Peter Frampton, Nanci Griffith and more!
The Australian Songwriters' Association 2000 National Songwriting Contest is now officially open. As well as the usual categories, including Country, they have some new and exciting ones this year. "Song for Reconciliation", "Centenary of Federation", "Coffee House" (songs in folk and acoustic styles), "Spiritual/Sacred", and "Wacky Trax" are just some of them! Print out the entry form from the ASA Website and send in your song. You could be on your way to winning a share of the $15,000 offered in cash and prizes Entries close 31st August.
The first time I saw guitar legend Albert Lee, he was playing with Emmylou Harris and the Hot Band at the U.K. Wembley Country Music Festival in 1977. He had joined the band the previous year, replacing James Burton. Earlier that day at Wembley, Albert had appeared on stage with Don Everly, picking up a storm, and even providing the missing 'Phil' harmonies when Don sang some of the classic Everly Brothers songs. Before joining Emmylou's band, Albert had played a large part in the recording of Don's second solo album 'Sunset Towers', which has now been released on a 2 for 1 CD along with Don's first self-titled album. These two albums, which also feature amongst others Ry Cooder and members of the Flying Burrito Brothers, are very important (as well as enjoyable) in the development of what became known as Country Rock. The 1970 album blends touches of psychedelia left over from the sixties, with the haunting pedal steel of Sneaky Pete Kleinow and a bunch of Don's compositions with some Country classics. The second album brings in Albert Lee and a few of his English mates, some L.A. session greats, and legendary steeler Buddy Emmons. Comprehensive liner notes from the label's Creative Director Glenn A. Baker, provide great background material. You can find out even more about Don (and his brother Phil) at the Everly Net Web site, see how it fits into the Albert Lee story at his Web site, and check out the albums at Raven Records Web site.
Don't forget to listen out for Cowboys in Cybersp@ce each month on the radio waves with Belinda Miller of Murri Country, 4AAA –FM (98.9 in Brisbane).
If you want to share the location of an interesting site you’ve seen or request a topic for discussion in future columns, why not E-mail me. Until next month, happy surfing.
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