Wildhorse Saloon with Sammy Hagar

The reason I had the opportunity to perform a gig like this was because of a wonderful woman named Sandy Draper who came to see me at Scoreboard Bar and Grill last summer on Music Valley Drive. She said to me, “I want you to play this event.” I remember when she would call me to talk to me about it, and it all seemed so surreal. I cannot thank her enough for the wonderful opportunity she gave me.

It was a corporate event at the Wildhorse Saloon, a critically acclaimed concert site in the heart of Nashville TN. My percussionist (Dave Varney) and I opened up for Sammy Hagar, a popular heavy metal/rock vocalist for acts such as Montrose, Van Halen, and Chickenfoot. For those of you that don’t know, I’m a huge classic rock fan, so needless to say, I was thankful to even play on the same stage as him- in the dressing room I couldn’t help but giggle like a little fan girl, hoping to get his autograph.

My favorite part about this performance was the demographic. This corporate event was for a group of 1,000 men in the construction industry. I wondered if my music could be good for that type of demographic since I’ve always only ever played for mixed audiences in the past. I decided if I just took out my obviously girly songs (my ABBA and my Destiny’s Child) I should be fine, and sure enough, I was. The gentlemen were jamming to the Hall and Oates, Tom Petty, and Zeppelin we laid out before them, and it was thanks to Dave for adding a lot of extra groove to my songs, making me feel more comfortable on stage.

I spent the last part of the event watching one of the best concerts I have ever seen: Sammy Hagar (singer for Van Halen for a long time), Michael Anthony (bass player for Van Halen), and Jason Bonham (son of drummer for Led Zeppelin), all on the same stage together, and I was nearly five feet away from it. I realized in that moment this is the closest I would ever get to seeing my favorite drummer, John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) live in concert, for his son Jason was the one living his legacy that night. I thought to myself, “I didn’t pay to see this band; I opened up for this band. And that’s truly amazing.”

The performance in itself is the pinnacle of my success. It shows me how far I’ve come in my music, my stage presence, and my ability to adapt to my (sometimes testosterone infused) surroundings. It was one of the best days of my life, and I thank everyone who is reading this right now so I can share my memories with you all.

-Ray

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