The Phillip England Center for the Performing Arts Foundation will host “A Tribute to Ray Sealing in the Grand Ole Opry Style” concert on Sunday, March 10, at 3 p.m. in the Phillip England Center for the Performing Arts, 210 Camp Lincoln Road in Camp Verde.
Unlike a typical concert, the Grand Ole Opry Style is to present eight or more artists on each show, giving the audience a sample of each artist’s musical style.
The Tribute to Ray Sealing will include over 20 artists to make this a memorable afternoon.
Ray’s childhood was spent in Nebraska just when that new sound - country music- emerged. When Ray heard the combination of Bluegrass, Texas swing and southern waltz he said it “boosted my desire to play.” And play he did from the age of 15, when he picked up his first guitar.
While serving in the Air Force stationed in Tampa, Florida, in the early 1950’s, Ray got his first taste of show business entertaining local audiences. Later, when playing as a road musician with the Wagonwheel Ramblers, Ray earned the nickname of “ Rambling Ray.” In those days earning upward of $25 a night, he was making a good living doing what he loved best. He rambled his way to Nashville and achieved notable success in a concert sponsored by Roy Acuff - of Grand Ole Opry fame - and had a guest appearance on the Ernest Tubb Record Shop Midnight Jamboree.
Ray has shared the stage with Lester Flatt and Ralph Stanley, Tommy Duncan and Little Jimmie Dickens. He even had a brush with greatness when playing pinball with the legendary Roger Miller. Without regret, Ray states he had many chances for success but was never prepared to take advantage of them at the time. He just kept rambling along playing the type of music he loves best.
Ray was the president of the Greater Arizona Country Western Swing Association Hall of Fame 2005-2007 and was himself inducted into the same Music Hall of Fame in 2013. He was inducted into the Old Time Fiddlers Association Hall of Fame in 2015.
Today Ray continues to make music with his many friends, records his own original tunes and plays open mics where he is always prepared to mentor fellow musicians and teach them old time pickin’ the tunes of “A Time Gone By.” He is well liked and admired by many in the Valley.
The afternoon will highlight over 20 local musicians playing Ray’s favorites. Bill Bassett from the Blazin’ M Ranch in Cottonwood will act as the master of ceremonies. Bill has been an Arizonan since the early 2000s. In 2005 he was asked to join The Blazin’ M Cowboys, and now, more than 12 years later, he is still leading the band through nightly shows featuring Cowboy Music both old and new, playing pedal steel guitar, mandolin, banjo and lead guitar along with Jim and Jeanne Martin, and Tom Jepperson. Jepperson, the Blazin’ M’s Otis, and half of the popular singing and comedy duo Tom and Shondra writes, “Bill is a wonderful musician and is one of the best steel guitar players I’ve ever heard. His song “The Ballad of the Blazin’ M Ranch” has become the theme song for the Ranch.”
Other local favorites include Larry and Leslie LaTour, originally from Bangor, Maine on Pushaw Lake and now from Rimrock. Leslie has been a member of the traditional folk group Generations and the pop/rock band Hudson Street. Larry grew up in New York City during the ‘60’s and ’70’s. Musicians such as Carol King, Gordon Lightfoot, and James Taylor strongly influenced his music. Although their roots are firmly planted in the “60’s and ‘70’s, they are equally at home with Appalachian folk.
Also performing will be Gary Simpkins and Loose Change. With smooth voice and unique guitar style, Simpkins pulls you into his songs and holds you there. The band Loose Change is a solid and dynamic group of performers that have played a number of shows together in the Verde Valley.
They include Cottonwood’s Sonja Whisman, singer and fiddler/violinist extraordinaire, visiting Winnipeg Canadian Kris Baldwin, bassist and singer for this ensemble and a wonderful singer/songwriter in his own right, and Clarkdale’s Matt Fabritz, long-time percussionist for many rock and country bands in the Verde Valley.
Other performers will include Reno and Sheila McCormick who perform authentic, down-to-earth bluegrass, country and western music. Reno delivers strong lead vocals and hot flatpicking on his Martin guitar.
Sheila backs him up with blended harmony singing and some melodic lead vocals of her own, while keeping the beat on the upright bass.
Vocalist/guitarist/prolific songwriter, Marie Jarreau, has an extensive repertoire of folk, jazz, country, and classic familiar standards. Lil and Marty Siltanen from Alberta, Canada perform what they call “CeltiFoCountry” -- folk with a Celtic and country flavor, a little humor and good pickin’ and ably supported by the vocal talents of Kathi Bellucci, a recent import from New York City.
Ron McLain’s repertoire consists of country, rock, blues, folk and love songs from the ‘30s to the present with his versatile voice that can caress a love song or rip through the blues.
Kenn Trout will add his smooth delivery of acoustic American Songbook favorites.
Tony Cook, a talented musician who plays a wide variety of songs, will perform on the fiddle and mandolin.
Recent East Coast transplant to the Village of Oak Creek, Paul Simons will provide percussion support.
Born into family of musicians, Mike McReynolds has been playing guitar since the fifth grade and has played professionally ever since and through the years he has developed his own style and has performed in all of the major singer/songwriter festivals nationally and internationally.
The tribute by these and other musicians will be followed by Ray doing what he does best ... pickin’ and singin’. Over the years, he has shared a stage with the likes of Tommy Duncan, Little Jimmie Dickens, Bill Monroe, Lester Flatt and Ralph Stanley. Today, Ray does what he likes best -- making music with his friends. And that is what sums up this outstanding afternoon -- music with a few of Ray Sealing’s friends.
All tickets are $10 and can be purchased online at pecpaf.com or at the door.
The Phillip England Center for the Performing Arts Foundation is a nonprofit performing arts organization.
Sound mixing for this concert is by Mark Gifford and Mark Rohlin. The Foundation’s mission is to support the Phillip England Center for the Performing Arts in presenting a rich array of culturally diverse arts programming for the Town of Camp Verde and the Verde Valley in order to educate, enlighten, enrich and entertain students, residents and patrons of all ages, while providing leadership and support to advance cultural/performing arts and nourish appreciation for various art forms in the community.
For additional information on the Foundation visit their website at PECPAF.com.