Benefit hosted by Shenandoah for Billy Ryan's family in Muscle Shoals, Al/April 10/09
Friday morning, April 10, MIke Folsom, Jimmy Yeary, Byron Cumbie, myself, Bart Barlettano, his daughter, Chelsie, son, Dallas and his friend Zachary left at 10 am for Muscle Shoals, Al. with Mickey Riley driving us. Billy Ryan drove down because he would be staying with family in Al after the benefit. My wife, Donna would not be going on this trip because of prior commitments at her place of work. I sure hated it that she would be missing a once in a lifetime show. The weather was horrible with rain, high winds and tornadoes all around us and we found the same storm system once we got to Alabama.
We arrived at Muscle Shoals high school around 1:30 pm that afternoon and met up with Mike McGuire and Jim Seales, who were already there and waiting on us. All we had to do was unload the bus and set up for sound check. After we were done, the opening act, the KGB band soundchecked and pizza was waiting for us in the cafeteria, along with ice tea.
After eating we hung around on the bus and watched the weather situation on the tv and saw that Murfreesboro, Tn had tornado damage from a couple of twisters..our merch man, Byron Cumbie owns a business and lives in Murfreesboro...so he was especially attentive to the weather news. The weather had died down in Muscle Shoals by the time the next round of catered food was served around 5:30 but the winds were still up pretty high. For dinner they had an assortment of sandwiches, including, club, chicken salad, turkey..along with potato salad. For dessert, they had some cookies and brownies. It was all very good and we ate our fill.
For those of you who don't know ... this show was a benefit for our good friend, Billy Ryan who is a singer/songwriter who sometimes travels with us and opens shows for us. His sister's life was taken by her ex-husband a few weeks back..in a very violent way. This benefit was to raise money to help offset the family's expenses as a result of the tragedy. We were all hoping and praying for a great turnout.
The show started at 7:30 pm with the KGB band (which includes Shenandoah's own, Jim Seales and his son , Jake Seales) ..and they played an hour before the 2cnd part of the event started up. At approximately 8:45, a speaker who had been a quarterback at the Univ of Alabama and was an old friend of our drummer..got up and gave the audience a look back through the years at Shenandoah. He took the audience through time and the history of the band...from the early days with Marty Raybon and Stan Thorn..to the addition of myself..from singers, Curtis Wright to Jimmy Yeary and bassist Mike Folsom after the death of original member, Ralph Ezell. It was quite an informative and moving segway to Shenandoah taking the stage. The basic theme of the show would be Shenandoah celebrating 20 years in the business and reuniting with Marty Raybon for the evening.
Before Shenandoah hit the stage, Billy Ryan sang a song about his Daddy and then Shenandoah came out with Jimmy Yeary..our current singer. After Jimmy did a few, Curtis Wright came out and sang "Next To You, Next To Me" and "Rock MY Baby"...both were hits that he wrote . Then Billy Ryan and Jimmy Yeary sang the song they wrote, along with Mike Mcguire, called, "You Never Know". The song was inspired after the untimely passing of our brother, Ralph Ezell.
The next part of the show was the introduction of Shenandoah's original singer, none other than Marty Raybon. Marty sang the rest of the show by himself till we did a Muscle Shoals medley...consisting of "When a Man Loves a Woman", Old Time Rock n' Roll" and "Sweet Home Alabama"...On Sweet Home, everyone, Shenandoah and the KGB band ...got up on the stage and jammed ..and Marty, Curt and Jimmy swapped out verses to sing.. I even noticed Jimmy Johnson , ( legendary swamper and producer) up there with us. After our last song, "Church on Cumberland Road", Marty, Mike and Jim came out by themselves and did "The Road Not Taken" and "I was Young Once Too" acoustically. It was a fitting ending for a great nostalgic trip down memory lane.
The benefit proved to be a wonderful success with a great turnout. I would like to thank everyone that made this night.. one to remember. Thanks to my Mom and Dad and my Aunt for coming out..thanks to Devon Barlettano for driving down from Lebanon, Tn.. thanks to Sherry O. for all of her hard work and great pics..thanks to all of our old friends who came out...thanks to the KGB band..all who gave of their time and talents..thanks to Jim Seales, Donna K and Mike Mcguire for their tireless efforts in putting on this event. Billy Ryan and his family are most appreciative and humbled by the great show of love and support.
I would say, most assuredly..that a unique, country music adventure had been had by all.
See ya...Down the Road...Stan