I just went online and was looking into the Dave Snaker Ray website; when your article in the StarTribune sprang up. I had just bought a new modem and was exploring the internet once again. I was shocked to find out that Dave Snaker Ray had died. I was thinking about emailing him, as I had done times before within the last 5 years.
You see, he was one of my heroes, (so to speak) back in my younger days. He was a major influence on my own playing style. And of course, I was blown away when after the first time I emailed him through his website.... he emailed me back.... I am also glad that I got to pay him the money that I owed him. He used to send me his CD's on credit. Later, I would send him the money. Turns out that I still owed him for one.
Story goes. I had mentioned to him that if he were ever down playing in the Atlanta area to look me up. He said in one of his emails that he had been down here years before; playing at the Blind Pig. I emailed him back and said that it was probably Blind Willies. We were just emailing each other once and awhile when one day he emailed me and mentioned that he was doing a tour with Spider John Koerner and that they would be playing in Atlanta soon at Blind Willies........... When he got to town he called me. This was the guy that as a young buck, wise cracking teenager, I used to worship, along with some of the other singer/songwriters of that decade we now call the " 60's." This is back when the music had deep roots and was heartfelt. Not like the pop pabulum that is being force on us today. Needless to say, when I heard his voice on my answering machine, I freaked. We arranged to meet the night before he was to play.
The next night I finally got to meet Dave Snaker Ray face to face. He was alone; no large entourage of fans, no bodyguards, and none of the trappings that generally are associated with so called fame. I knew that I was meeting a legend. Apart from all of that; something else I noticed. Here was a kind and gentle soul with a heart as big as the great North Woods from which he came. I feel very fortunate to have met such a person as Dave Ray.
When we went inside Blind Willies he started introducing me to the people that he was meeting that evening; the club owner and a few others that were tipped off at his arrival. We eventually took a table in the back since I came to find out that he was not real comfortable with the music being so loud....... We were sitting there listening to the band that was playing that night, when he leaned over and said to me..... " I hope that they don't play Sweet Home Chicago." I laughed. He smirked and grinned. I was sitting there with Dave Snaker Ray, in a blues club, in Atlanta, Georgia. Need I say more. It was like being in a movie; in a dream. We had planned to try and get together for something to eat before he would play the next night. He called me the next day and said that John Koerner had just flown into town and that he was beat and wanted to sleep before the gig. So, we had to skip dinner and he said that he would meet me at the club...... I arrived a little early and was standing out front of Blind Willies, when up walks Dave Snaker Ray and another legend; Spider John Koerner. Dave immediately introduced me to this other dude who just happened to be another one of my younger day blues heroes.
That night I saw one of the finest ever acoustic blues shows that I had ever seen. Here were these two guys from Minneapolis of all places; two guys who had traveled many miles together as lifelong friends; trading off tunes, swapping licks, and loving every minute of it. This was an evening that I would not soon forget.
When the evening was over, I was able to get all of my old LP's autographed and a few CD's that I had brought with me. And, I was finally able to pay back the money that I owed Dave. He had told me previously in one of his emails not to worry about the money. That life was short.
They packed up their equipment and were headed for some gigs in Florida. Before they headed down the road that night; I thanked them both for their music and wished them a safe journey. I consider it a privilege to have met both of these men. These guys are a part of a period in time when the music you were listening to (if you were a young folkhead) had to be the real deal. And these legends, Dave Snaker Ray and Spider John Koerner were just that...... The Real Deal.
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