For Our Friend, Darren Ray...
As you may (or may not) know, I "retired" from both Oreo Blue and The Uncrowned Kings last month to focus on family and such. But last night, I was driving up to play a gig with The Uncrowned Kings and to pick up Darren Ray as usual. When I got to his house, he was just standing in the garage and didn't come to the car (like usual). I got out and walked up to him. He said, "I just can't." I hadn't seen him in about a month and he looked like he had lost 60 pounds, but moreso had lost the will to fight to get to the gig. His cancer treatments have gone from just chemo treatments to now including radiation for the last couple months. I am afraid for him. As you do know, this is all that Darren Ray does...play music. Now he just "can't". He talked about the sickness like no big deal, but when he knew he couldn't perform (and provide income), he cried right in front of me. He didn't want to let anyone down...
Darren Ray has been a Fayetteville area music icon as much as anyone over the past 30 years+. With his time in Great Southern Railroad, Arkansas, Big Bad Bubba, The Darren Ray Band, Big Uns, and most recently, The Uncrowned Kings, he has been touted as one of the best male vocalists in the region. Both a NAMA and OMA Hall of Famer... But most importantly, he is a great and kind human who has given to all that will listen. He has a huge heart and has been there countless times for others. I would like to see us give for him in his time of need.
Everyone loves Darren Ray and he could use his friends right now.
Our initial goal is $10,000 but I hope we can exceed that number. As we all know, a musician's life is a difficult one and although Darren Ray is a professional and responsibile version, it can be difficult to go any length without income. If he is compelled to file for federal disability, it could take 6 months to even see a dime.
There is a benefit concert and possible auction scheduled Sunday, February 11th in the afternoon to early evening at George's Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, AR, USA. We hope to have met our goal by then, but that night will also be a chance to help and give Darren our love.
Thank you all in advance for any generosity you can spare.
To all friends of Darren Ray, I would like to personally thank each and every one of you for such a tremendous outpouring of love and support. Last night's Benefit Concert at George's Majestic Lounge was as amazing as it could have even possibly been despite the weather. Having already doubled our initial $10,000 goal here in the GoFundMe before the concert even started, the goal was more than TRIPLED by the time the concert was complete last night. A few donations and auction payments are trickling in, but as of last count, we managed to provide over $33,000.00 to Darren Ray's income replacement cause. I will never again underestimate the power of the community here...
For those of you that could not attend last night, Darren Ray himself showed up just before the first band started at 3:00pmCST and he stayed...glued to the action until well after the 10:00pmCST final note. Fearing he would be exhausted from the hundreds of well-wishers, hand shakes, hugs, kisses, and words, Darren Ray soaked it all in with gratitude. Pretty sure he will be sleeping well today (after a 9:00amCST doctor visit).
A final chance for me to reach out to a few of those that really stepped up to assist in organizing and providing for this effort (some will be missed, so apologies):
Arlie Stiles...not sure what else to say about that dude. He always dials in the bands as well as any in the industry at any level, but maybe it was because my heart was so big last night that every single band was sounded better than they ever had.
Dawn Cate-Bonner was amazing coordinating the auction with a fab assist from her man, John Reed and son, Brennan.
Joe Giles for his MC and auctioneering expertise.
Brian and Day Crowne for offering the facility and staff.
Bob and Sarah Yazzetti for providing the fantastic pies and pasta. Assist from the Crowne boys helping in the kitchen.
Vince Turner, Carl Thomas, and James Miller for offering backline gear for the stage was a huge help.
Martin Herlacher for offering the posters (I think there were 5 and all were full with notes and signatures) and his photography/video services.
Peter Read for putting Darren Ray on the cover of Nightflying, publishing the article and spreading the word.
Everyone that donated auction items.
Every member of the bands, Rackensak, Leah & The Mojo Doctors, Brave Soul, 90lb Wrench, nighTTrain, Oreo Blue, The Nace Brothers, Honeyjack, Travis Kidd, and Earl & Them for donating their time and sounding AMAZING from the first to the last note.
I have 6 camera angles and stems from the sound board that could produce a killer 7 hour long video of this event if I can muster up the time. Pending that, keep your eyes peeled on Facebook for so many great photos and videos from sharing friends...
Under any other circumstance...this would have been one of the coolest parties with the best band lineup and atmosphere of love and camaraderie we have all seen in a long while. So, here is my proposal...when Darren Ray re-gains his health and is back to being the region's most powerful male vocalist, let's have a party again to celebrate him and all of you.
Thank you so much again. You folks are awesome.
Let's not let up on our efforts. The GoFundMe is still open until at least after the benefit. And speaking of the benefit, below is the lineup which will be stupendous... Let's pack the place for our friend!
With a little help from his friends: a benefit for Darren Ray
George's Majestic Lounge, Fayetteville, AR USA
Doors @ 2:00pmCST
Official Concert Schedule
1:00pmCST setup/soundcheck backline
3:45-4:15pm Leah & the Mojo Doctors
4:30-5:00pm Brave Soul
5:15-5:45pm 90LB Wrench
6:00-6:30pm Nighttrain Rocks
6:45-7:15pm Oreo Blue
7:15-7:30pm Joe Giles Auctioneer Pt 1
7:30-8:00pm The Nace Brothers
8:00-8:15pm Joe Giles Auctioneer Pt 2
8:45-9:15pm Travis Kidd-and Friends
9:15-10:00pm Earl and Them
...and special guests all along the way!
Professional Sound by Arlie Stiles.
Don't forget to let us know you are going to attend the Benefit Concert on Feb 11th by RSVP on the George's Majestic event page on Facebook: www.facebook.com/events/802176669984451
I will reiterate: Keep it coming folks... You didn't know Darren Ray was our best-kept secret? He is bringing us ALL together. We are here to help him, but he is in-turn, helping all of us be nearer to each other. Cancer is a quiet, sneaky little bastard and it can affect any of us at any time. Not one of us is unfamiliar with its reaches. While this event isn't trying to fund a cure for Cancer subjectively, we can heal one man with the power of love. I believe it... and when we all believe it, then we all get healing in return. So, let's do that.
I want to personally thank all of you reading this post for keeping up the great work for Darren Ray. I will let you know that the struggle is real and while money is not always the answer, it is helping tremendously in this case. As you might have read in my letter to Nightflying, the life of a full-time musician is a difficult one without the option of a corporate salary or instant disability benefits. The report on his condition again is that he is getting plenty of rest but is still having a little trouble getting his appetite back.
Just yesterday, Darren was asking if I thought he should play an upcoming gig. Really, Darren Ray? TJ Scarlett and I had to talk him down and let him know that it will be taken care of and the gigs will be there when he gets his strength and stamina back. But REST is the best medicine for him right now.
You folks have literally delivered a miracle through this campaign and every dime has been received with an enormous amount of gratitude by Darren Ray. I actually cannot wait to see what an amazing day it will be at the benefit concert on Feb 11th at Georges Majestic. It's going to be a staggering show of love...