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.
Country music fans on the central coast are in for a rare treat as Scott will be stopping in Florence for his first Oregon stop on a short tour of the western United States.
Though he played Seven Feathers in Canyonville a few years back and has made a few other stops around the state, this will be Scott’s first time ever performing on the Oregon coast.
Lucky 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 any smaller than where I come from, because see my town has a population of about 900 people. That number never changes because every time a baby is born, a man leaves town.”
Scott’s Florence performance will be at the approximately 400-seat Florence Events Center, 715 Quince St.
“I enjoy doing intimate, acoustic shows with small crowds as much as I do the big crowds,” he said. “We love to get outside of the big cities, to be honest. It’s fun to take the music to the people. Being accustomed to small town life myself, I eat it up. I love it. It’s my favorite thing.”
Scott first appeared on 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 title track of the album was his first to get regular air play and was the beginning of what has become 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 “pop country” that dominates the radio waves, Scott has done things his way. By using YouTube, streaming services, satellite radio and social media to share his music with the world, he has successfully accumulated hundreds of thousands of devoted listeners to his deep baritone old-school country sound.
Scott’s videos on YouTube have over a million views. More than 100,000 people listen to a Ray Scott song on Spotify each month.
During COVID, Scott and guitarist Joe Cook, in an attempt to keep making music and connecting with their audience, started a Facebook Live called “Ray-ve in the Cave,” a weekly livestream concert. The show eventually earned them a spot on Pollstar’s Top 50 Livestreams for Year End 2020.
Besides his own performances, Scott is a respected songwriter, a craft especially vaunted in the world of country music. He has written songs for greats like Trace Adkins, Randy Travis and Clay Walker.
An article in the August 2021 edition of American Songwriter compared Scott to songwriting greats Townes Van Sandt and John Prine, which he does not take lightly.
“It’s the ultimate compliment,” said Scott. “Songwriters are the ones who inspired me to do this. From a young age, I was always looking at who the writers were. I think a lot of people don’t know any better and assume most people write their own songs, but they often don’t. I’m not one who could just sing other people’s songs, so I’ve always been driven to write.”
Well maybe not always. In the beginning, he may have needed a little nudge.
“My grandmother used to bribe me to write her poetry,” recalled Scott. “She could see the ability I had inside me, so she’d pay me 10 bucks to write her a poem. That might have got me started.”
Scott has many musical influences, most of which his father introduced him to.
“I grew up on Willie [Nelson], Waylon [Jennings], Don Williams, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash,” he said. “My old man was a singer, and he was very much into those guys, so I heard a lot of their music from him.”
Scott has been able to take those influences and create his own sound. Thanks to the many diverse options for release of material that musicians have today, artists like Scott don’t have to “play the game” to get their album made in Nashville like they once did. Artists that were once considered “outlaws” are now getting respect in mainstream circles.
“You’ve got the Cody Jinks of the world and a lot of those type guys that have never really done it the ‘Nashville Way,’” Scott said. “I don’t think people are necessarily looking for ‘old sounding’ stuff. They’re looking for stuff that’s just more real and more authentic. A lot of independent artists are doing really well because of that. There’s definitely a renaissance happening.”
Even if radio may not be on board yet, Scott’s stature in the country music world continues to grow. He’s released a total of eight albums and EPs since his first release. Last year he made his 65th appearance at the Grand Ole Opry, an impressive accomplishment and something that for Scott never gets old.
“First off, its kind of a historic, rite of passage type thing for a country musician to play there,” said Scott. “Number two, every time you play the Opry there’s an electricity there in the audience you won’t find anywhere else. Everyone is excited to be there.”
The Siuslaw region is lucky there is a big Ray Scott fan in Florence. Jeff Gray, longtime assistant coach for the Siuslaw Viking varsity football team, knew if he could convince Scott and his band to travel all the way to the Oregon coast, he could bring some top-notch live country music to Florence while, at the same time, making some money for Siuslaw football program.
Gray found contact information for Scott’s manager and figured it couldn’t hurt to ask.
“Jeff is one of Ray’s thousands of fans,” said Wes Hick, Scott’s manager. “The thing about Ray is that he’s very fan friendly and he’s got fans literally all across the world. Jeff just reached out to me and said he wanted to do this. I know there are fans out there that have been thirsty to see his live performance, so I’m glad we could make it happen.”
Besides looking forward to returning to the West Coast, Scott jumped at the chance to help the Siuslaw football program. He said he loves sports and recognizes the importance they paid in his own life.
“I’m a huge football fan,” said Scott. “I grew up on Tobacco Road in North Carolina, so you know I’m a basketball fan too, but football is big to me. I still love it. I count down the days to the season each year. It’s just the sense of community that comes with team sports.”
Scott also knows what being on a team can mean to a young person and how it can teach them to work with people of all sorts, in all situations.
“Sports teach young people to work together,” said Scott. “You see all the racism in the news. One of the best situations I've ever been in was on a football team just being surrounded by all kinds of different races, different kinds of people and kids coming together. Everybody's friends, you know, they're all in there 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 we’re all the same.”
All types of people will come together on Wednesday, Aug.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.