Aug 27, 2015

JBTRR with Ben Dorcy III, "King of the Roadies"


Ben H. Dorcy III known by many as “Lovey”, is credited by Willie Nelson as being the first roadie, and as the “world’s oldest living roadie” by everyone else.

Ben was born on May 19, 1925 in Dallas and grew up in San Antonio where he attended Jefferson High School. He joined the Ice Capades in 1940, touring the United States and Europe for three years. In 1943 he enlisted in the US Navy, completing his service in 1946 and then it was back to the entertainment business.

Dorcy worked for John Wayne as a gardener and chauffeur and played a Tennessee volunteer in Wayne’s “The Alamo”, adding film to his resume. Always drawn to the music business, he found his way to Nashville in 1950 where he hooked up with country swing legend, Hank Thompson. He was with Ray Price when he met Willie Nelson in 1961.

I was able to sit down with Lovey and talk to this living legend and get a glimpse into what had made him the icon in the music industry that he has become.

What have you been working on lately?
Just got back from Las Vegas, Willie (Nelson) had some shows there. We were at some various clubs there.

What have you liked most on being a “Roadie”?
It’s been a good run, I started in 1950, a friend of mine took me to a Hank Thompson show. I got to meet Hank and got to know him. He hired me to help out, and worked with him for several years. I decided to move to California and came to know John Wayne while he was filming “The Alamo”, I was in that movie with him. With John I did different things, spent time as his chauffeur and just doing what needed to be done.  After while I moved back to Nashville working with Farron Young, and met Willie. It’s been good work, I’ve seen a lot, and met some good people.

Who has been the most influential on your life?
John Wayne taught me a lot, and he was a good friend and person. I’ve worked a lot of years with Willie, in that time we’ve had a lot of good talks.

What do you like to do in your spare time?  
I like to rest up at the house, and I read a lot. From time to time I like to go to lunch with friends of mine. Sometime’s I go and hang out at John T. Floores.

What has been your secret for success in your career?
Take care of yourself on the road, rest when you can. It's rough, but not for me, because I’ve done it for so long. I went to Dallas at a show, and this young kid, probably 18 or 19 asked me how I did it. I told him work hard and do it. Climb the ladder, get to the top, none of this in between crap. Just see that the guys have what they need. Take care of them and they’ll take care of you.

What has been a highlight for you in your career?
I’ve worked hard all of my life, I never thought I’d be a roadie. I started packing some gear and setting up some shows, and I liked it. I love the road and the people I work for. Being inducted into the Roadie Hall of Fame was nice, and the Hall of Fame in Banderra. They gave me a Living Legend award.

If you were president, what would be the first thing you would do?
I’d probably legalize smoke, you get in trouble for carrying it. It depends on how much you have. Eventually if they’d legalize it, and tax it, it could help the roads and schools. Me and Willie have talked about it and we have a plan.

Being around music for so long, what do you listen to?
Mostly the guys I work with, Randy (Rogers), Wade(Bowen), Cody(Canada) Kevin Fowler. The stuff they play I like.

“The  way you can tell if a musician is any good, is if he’s worked with Ben Dorcy.”
         Kinky Friedman

Aug 19, 2015

JBTRR with Jimmy LaFave

RDBC is going to start featuring some articles and interviews from our friend and partner in crime, Dan Murphy-AKA the Tee Shirt Evangelist, who is now down in Austin. Dan has been in and around the Texas/Oklahoma music scene as a merch guy/road warrior and booking agent for a while now and recently he came to us with an idea for a featured column to be hosted here. He plans on sitting down and get in a quick chat with anybody that will give him 10 minutes. He swung for the fences out of the gate and had a quick Q&A with one of our favorites and an icon to many, Mr. Jimmy LaFave at a show in Austin.

From Dan:

If you’ve ever read any of the history on “The Farm,” a legendary farmhouse located outside of Stillwater, Oklahoma. It was a mix between party house and part okie musician commune. The name Jimmy LaFave is often mentioned, considered to be one of the inspirations for what is now known as “Red Dirt music.” I saw that he was coming back into town, and made arrangements to sit down and talk before his show at Strange Brew in Austin.

LaFave was born in Willis Point, Texas but was raised in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He moved to Austin in 1986 but still keeps a huge Oklahoma connection with his work on the board with the Woody Guthrie festival.

Who inspired you to start writing and singing?

“When I was younger I played the drums and my mother later bought me a guitar that I played. I decided to sing and from life experiences I just started writing songs. Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie were some big inspirations to me.”

What music have you been listening to lately?

“People give me music all the time. Mainly a guy by the name of Lance Canales out of California that I helped with his album. Also a lady by the name of Dayna Kurtz, she doesn’t sing red dirt or anything like that, I just like her music style.”

Which state do you find more musically stimulating, Texas or Oklahoma?

“Both states have their strong points, but I would say Oklahoma. There has always been a good vibe there. There are so many Okie musicians that have come out of Oklahoma and done well over the years. Then there’s the time I spent in Stillwater."

What is your definition of “Red Dirt?”

"Steve Ripley had a band in Stillwater called Moses and on the inside cover of the album, it described the music as having 'a hue of funk, shade of sound, a basic spirit drawing on the color of the earth.' It was a blend of blues, bluegrass, folk and rock and roll. As me and Bob toured in Europe, and I got asked to describe my music, I told them to just call it “Red Dirt.”

 What are some of your best memories of “the Farm?” 

“I would have to say the time I spent with Bob Childers. We had a lot of good times song writing and singing. At the time, I was working construction with Mark Childers, Bob’s brother. He told me one day “My brother is moving back to Oklahoma, you should meet him, he plays the guitar like you,” so we met and soon became great friends. We had a lot of good times up there. One that stands out is the Annual Croquet tournament. The winner received this gawdy jacket, kinda of a Master’s jacket type. It was a lot of laughs and a lot of good music."

You leave a chat like that feeling pretty darn lucky having a chance to talk with a guy that many people consider one of the founding father of an entire music genre.