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Siuslaw News | From the Grand Ole Opry to the FEC

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August 2, 2022 — On Wednesday, August 17, country music star Ray Scott will be in Florence for “An Evening with Ray Scott,” a fundraiser for the Siuslaw High School football program.

Central Coast country music fans will be in for a rare treat as Scott will stop in Florence for his first stop in Oregon on a short tour of the western United States.

Although he played Seven Feathers in Canyonville a few years ago and made a few other stops around the state, this will be Scott’s first time performing on the Oregon Coast.

Luckily for Scott, the small towns that make up the coast should make him feel right at home.

“I’m from a little town called Semora in North Carolina,” Scott said. “I doubt Florence is smaller than where I come from because my town has about 900 inhabitants. That number never changes because every time a baby is born, a man leaves town.

Scott’s performance in Florence will take place at the approximately 400-seat Florence Events Center, 715 Quince St.

“I love doing intimate acoustic shows with small crowds as much as large crowds,” he said. “To be honest, we like to get out of the big cities. It’s fun to bring music to people. Being used to small town life myself, I eat it. I love it. It’s my favorite thing.

Scott first burst onto the national country music scene in 2005 with the release of his debut album “My kind of music” on Warner Bros., a major label. The album’s title track was his first to receive regular release and marked the start of what became a prolific career in country music.

Scott went independent after that first release, and his fans benefit from that decision to this day. Instead of the “country pop” that dominates the radio airwaves, Scott did things his own way. Using YouTube, streaming services, satellite radio and social media to share his music with the world, he has managed to amass hundreds of thousands of dedicated listeners to his deep baritone old-school country sound.

Scott’s videos on YouTube have over a million views. Over 100,000 people listen to a Ray Scott song on Spotify every month.

During COVID, Scott and guitarist Joe Cook, in an effort to continue making music and connecting with their audience, started a Facebook Live called “Ray-ve in the Cave”, a weekly live concert. The show eventually earned them a spot on Pollstar’s Top 50 Live Streams for 2020.

Besides his own performances, Scott is a respected songwriter, a profession particularly touted in the world of country music. He wrote songs for greats like Trace Adkins, Randy Travis and Clay Walker.

An article in the August 2021 edition of American songwriter compared Scott to great songwriters Townes Van Sandt and John Prine, which he doesn’t take lightly.

“It’s the ultimate compliment,” Scott said. “Songwriters are the ones that inspired me to do this. From a very young age I was always looking at who the writers were. I think a lot of people don’t know any better and assume that most people write their own songs, but often they don’t. I’m not someone who can just sing other people’s songs, so I’ve always been driven to write.

Well maybe not always. At first, he may have needed a little nudge.

“My grandmother used to bribe me to write her poetry,” Scott recalled. “She could see the ability I had in me, so she paid me $10 to write her a poem. It could have thrown me off.

Scott has many musical influences, most of which were introduced to him by his father.

“I grew up with Willie [Nelson]Waylon [Jennings], Don Williams, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash,” he said. “My old man was a singer, and he really liked those guys, so I heard a lot of their music from him.”

Scott was able to take those influences and create his own sound. Thanks to the many diverse material release options available to musicians today, artists like Scott don’t have to “play the game” to get their album made in Nashville like they once did. Artists who were once considered “outlaws” are now respected in mainstream circles.

“You’ve got the Cody Jinks of the world and a lot of these guys who’ve never really done the ‘Nashville Way,'” Scott said. “I don’t think people are necessarily looking for ‘old’ stuff. They are looking for things that are just more real and more authentic. A lot of independent artists do very well with this. There is definitely a renaissance happening.

While radio may not be on board yet, Scott’s stature in the country music world continues to grow. He has released a total of eight albums and EPs since his first release. Last year he turned 65e appearance at the Grand Ole Opry, an impressive achievement and something that, for Scott, never gets old.

“First of all, it’s kind of a historic rite of passage for a country musician to play there,” Scott said. “Number two, every time you play the Opry, there’s an electricity in the audience that you won’t find anywhere else. Everyone is thrilled to be there.”

The Siuslaw area is lucky there is a huge Ray Scott fan in Florence. Jeff Gray, longtime assistant coach of the Siuslaw Viking college football team, knew that if he could convince Scott and his band to travel to the Oregon Coast, he could bring live country music from first order in Florence all the while, earning money for Siuslaw’s soccer program.

Gray found Scott’s manager’s contact information and figured it couldn’t hurt to ask.

“Jeff is one of thousands of Ray fans,” Scott’s manager Wes Hick said. “The thing about Ray is that he’s really cool with the fans and he literally has fans all over the world. Jeff just contacted me and said he wanted to do this. I know that there are fans who have been thirsty to see his performance live, so I’m glad we were able to make it happen.

Besides looking forward to returning to the West Coast, Scott jumped at the chance to help out Siuslaw’s football program. He said he loved the sport and recognized the importance it had in his own life.

“I’m a big football fan,” Scott said. “I grew up on Tobacco Road in North Carolina, so you know I’m a basketball fan too, but football is important to me. I still love it. I count the days of the season every year It’s just the sense of community that comes with team sports.

Scott also knows what being part of a team can mean to a young person and how it can teach them to work with people of all kinds, in all situations.

“Sport teaches young people to work together,” Scott said. “You see all the racism in the news. One of the best situations I’ve ever been in was on a football team, surrounded by all kinds of different races, different types of people and kids coming together. Everybody’s friends, you know, they’re all trying to do something together. Team sports are often where the rubber hits the road and when a team works together to get something done. It really makes you realize that we are all the same.

All types of people will come together on Wednesday, August 17 for “An Evening with Ray Scott, a fundraiser for the Siuslaw Football Program” at the Florence Events Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Show starts at 7 p.m.

Tickets are $25 with proceeds going to the Siuslaw High football team. Tickets can be purchased at aftontickets.com/eveningwithrayscott or at the FEC box office.

For more information on Ray Scott, visit rayscott.com or his YouTube channel www.youtube.com/channel/UC94YxyYIkAZamAjoUs4gPoA.