Thursday, May 28, 2009

An "Opry Moment" on Tuesday

Over the years of my listening to the Grand Ole Opry show on WSM, more than once I've heard a WSM deejay or someone else comment that such-and-such an incident on the stage of the world's oldest live radio show was "an Opry Moment". In other words, it went above and beyond the standard fare of cast members or guests coming on stage and singing for the audience in the auditorium and those listening on WSM. Some performer would say or do something very memorable or something remarkable would happen.

I've actually experienced such an "Opry Moment" at least once. I was listening to the show one Saturday evening during the 1990s -- in fact, prior to the death Opryland Park -- when Dolly Parton made one of her very rare appearances on the show, and Vince Gill joined her in singing one of her greatest hits, "I'll Always Love You" (wonder what Amy tho't about THAT).

That's a prime example -- a paragon if you will -- of an "Opry Moment".

Tuesday I heard another "Opry Moment". Riders in the Sky opened the Tuesday Nite Opry, and Bill Anderson and Steve Wariner shared a later half hour. Much as I esteem all these fellas, none of them were a part of the "Moment". A guest duo, Montgomery Gentry, concluded the line-up on this Tuesday show. They're a newer country music act than the three earlier performers, and they lean more to the country-rock flavor than I really like. Nevertheless, I do enjoy them a lot. It was a pleasure to hear them sing three or so songs.

Just as they're about to commence one (the third if I remember correctly) everyone listening hears someone hollering, "Wait up!" more than once. Then one of the duo welcomes Charlie Daniels to the stage. (Listening, I consider that he's coming from behind the curtains side-stage, but later I see an on-line video of the "Moment" Daniels is striding forward thru the audience.) After mutual greetings (the video also showed mutual hugs), the veteran Opry member tells the young duo of Eddie Montgomery (brother of country star John Michael Montgomery, who has dimples to die for) and Troy Gentry, that he's followed their careers from the beginning and appreciates all their hard work. And therefore it gives him great pleasure to announce that, “if you agree to it, on June 23rd you’re gonna be made members of the Grand Ole Opry!"

Wow! I'm star-struck by just hearing all this on the radio, and am not at all surprised to hear at once the sounds of thunderous applause from the audience present in the Grand Ole Opry House! A sort of awkward silence is broken when Daniels asks them to say something, and Troy allows how "I'm speechless" and Eddie has to be offered Daniels' hanky to wipe his teary eyes.

Once the duo compose themselves, they launch into their current hit, "One in Every Crowd" but can't resist a couple of celebratory ad-libs hollered in mid-song. "You got us!" "The Grand Ole Opry, baby!"

As announcer Eddie Stubbs wrapped up the Tuesday Nite Opry, I know that I've just witnessed another of those wonderful "Opry Moments". Is it any wonder that this show keeps going and going, the longest-running show on the airwaves?

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