5 Americana Artists the Grand Ole Opry Should Induct

Old Crow Medicine Show

Following the ongoing trend of Music City tapping Americana music for source material and injecting some vibrant blood to an all but stagnant (but lucrative) genre, the old-time string band, Old Crow Medicine Show was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry by Opry member Marty Stuart during their concert at the Ohio Theatre in Cleveland, OH.

They will formally be inducted into the Opry at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville on Tues., Sept. 17.

In recent years Music Row has been looking to Americana music for new ideas, market trends and extending demographic appeal.

Sure the Opry has lost cred for ignoring great performers and casting out key members of the country music community (Hank Sr. anyone?) but it is an institution that provides a stage for broad exposure and, rightly or not, credibility.

There’s is no magic formula the Opry uses to choose who is asked to join. It’s a mix of sound, commitment, (gasp) popularity and what the Opry calls “relationships.” Relationships like backing Darius Rucker on the Orey stage for Bob Dylan’s “Wagon Wheel.”

Here are 5 Americana artists that, like Old Crow Medicine Show, would fit comfortably on the Opry stage.

The Dixie Chicks – Yeah I know, but the Chicks were always an Americana band to me. I know they and the country music industry had disagreements, but there’s no denying their positive (and lucrative) impact on the genre.

in 1986 Dwight Yoakam rescued country music from the Urban Cowboy blight and reminded people why it was fun, heartfelt and brave in the first place. Rarely has there been a better meeting of traditional and mainstream success then Yoakam? And he’s still going strong, though his new album, 3 Pears, isn’t up for CMA awards it’s up for Americana Music Awards.

Does any contemporary performer embody the sound, style and spirit of all that is great in country music more than Elizabeth Cook? The answer is no way. She’s a fan favorite and has been asked by the Opry to perform on their stage over 100 (!) times. It’s time to make it official.

For 11 albums over a 20-year career Robbie Fulks has been playing smart trad-leaning country music. Sure he hd some choice words for music row (made plain in his song “Fuck This Town.”) But Fulks disdain for the industry and love for the musical heritage is exactly what the Opry needs to gain cred.

As a member of The Byrds Gram Parsons played the Opry stage on March 1968. The band was asked to play play two Merle Haggard songs (“Sing Me Back Home” and “Life In Prison.”) The first song song won over the skeptical crowd (LONGHAIRS!) And Parsons (who was a big Merle Haggard fan) substituted “Life In Prison” for his own “Hickory Wind,” from The Byrds then current album “Sweethearts of the Rodeo,” in honor of his Grandmother, a huge Opry fan. As expected the management were pissed but the crowd and some of that night’s performers, loved it.

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9 thoughts on “5 Americana Artists the Grand Ole Opry Should Induct

  1. 17 August, 2013 at 2:50 pm

    Awesome videos….re Wagon Wheel ref above – Dylan wrote the chorus to Wagon Wheel and OCMS wrote the verse…or maybe it was the other way around…
    Also, Dwight – underrated guitar player. Listen to Acoustic.net, a bunch of solo Dwight songs, his playing is awesome.

  2. Jack Williams
    18 August, 2013 at 7:51 am

    I saw an interview Elizabeth Cook did with Rainn Wilson (the guy from The Office) where she said that she has palyed the Opry over 400 times. When Rainn Wilson asked how did that happen, she said something like “I was in town a lot when people cancelled.”

  3. Arlene
    19 August, 2013 at 8:36 am

    I like your suggestions; here are some others-

    1. Gillian Welch & David Rawlings
    2. Buddy Miller
    3. Sam Bush
    4. Jim Lauderdale
    5. The SteelDrivers

  4. Baron Lane
    19 August, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    Great list! Thanks.

  5. 20 August, 2013 at 11:11 am

    No quarrel from me on any of these! I did see that Marty recently asked someone you ought to check out if you don’t already know him: Chance McCoy, a very fine young fiddle player and singer from WVA. Plays old time string band music and bluegrass. Sounds like he’s been playing for 50 years and he’s under 30, I think.
    http://www.wildhogintheredbrush.com/

  6. 21 August, 2013 at 7:00 pm

    Fantastic list.

    I would add Old Crow Medicine Show as well.

  7. Baron Lane
    21 August, 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Uh, they are in.

  8. 21 August, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    Oops. Didn’t realize they had already been inducted. ;-) Bad on me for skipping your writing and going straight to the videos.

  9. Baron Lane
    24 August, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Ha, that’ll learn ya. I completely understand just wanting to get to the music.

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