Wednesday, February 27, 2013


My two worst days in music.
 
By "Uncle" Ray Varner

In 1978 Bill Rhoades, Jim Wallace, and I tried to start up the Oregon Blues Society. After a couple of tries at grass roots beginnings, that sputtered out, I decided to throw a public party to get the momentum moving in our direction.

I produced a concert featuring Robert Lockwood and Johnny Shines. Bill Rhoades’ Party Kings also performed, for no pay I should add. I lost around four hundred bucks, but it was a success in my estimation because fifteen people signed up as members of our fledgling society. That was not a bad day in music.

The OBS was largely dedicated to producing concerts during it’s life. In 1980 when Professor Longhair died, we put together a benefit for Fess’ widow. The bill included Albert Collins and the Robert Cray Band. Our promotion included radio and print ads, even a performance by D. K. Stewart on “Good Morning America” playing “Tipitina”. The cover was four bucks, as I recall. We lost hundreds. No good deed goes unpunished. I was crushed. At the time, I didn’t have a pile of money, but I did manage to send a check to Alice Byrd for a hundred bucks. That was my worst day in music.

The OBS mostly lost money on our shows, but one that we did make money on was my second worst day in music.

We hosted Clifton Chenier and his Red Hot Lousiana Band for two nights at a Eugene club called The Place. We paid Clif $3000.00 plus rooms. We had good houses both nights. I was high as a Georgia Pine, until I stood up at the end of the second night to announce that the (non-profit) OBS had cleared $35.00 for the performances. I was greeted by boos and shouts of “rip-off”. This was my second worst day in music.


Mike Lynch and Uncle Ray Varner, somewhere in Portland, OR, 2012.  Photo by Lauri Miller.

1 comment:

Michael Lynch said...

No good deed goes unpunished indeed!