Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Tony Ramey to perform alongside Johnny Lee

  • Dig It Deep Records has announced that rising country music star Tony Ramey will bring a friend to perform with him at 7:30 p.m. June 7 at the Parsons Municipal Auditorium.

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  • Dig It Deep Records has announced that rising country music star Tony Ramey will bring a friend to perform with him at 7:30 p.m. June 7 at the Parsons Municipal Auditorium.
    Country music legend Johnny Lee will join Ramey for an acoustic performance, which is something rare for him.
    “I’m a little nervous about doing an unplugged acoustic show, but it’s going to be neat,” Lee said in a recent telephone interview.
    Ramey, in a separate phone interview, said that the two became acquainted after Lee recently recorded “Bullets First,” a song that Ramey wrote.
    “Johnny had recorded another of my songs about two years, and we just talked on the phone briefly,” he said. “This time, I decided to pop into one of his shows when he was in Plano, Texas, and we hit it off.”
    On the surface, the two men are very different. Lee, who will turn 67 in July, enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served a tour of duty on the U.S.S. Chicago, a guided missile cruiser, in Vietnam.
    He pursued his musical career after coming home from the military, and in 1968 formed a 10-year working relationship with Mickey Gilley, both on the road and in Gilley’s nightclub in Pasadena, Texas.
    Lee was asked to perform in the movie “Urban Cowboy” starring John Travolta and also recorded several songs used in the soundtrack. One of them, “Lookin’ for Love,” topped the Billboard Country Music Singles Charts for three weeks and became his first gold record. It was followed by No. 1 hits “One in a Million,” “Bet Your Heart on Me” and “You Could’ve Heard a Heart Break.”
    A member of the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame, his recording career was largely on hold for a number of years before he returned to the studio in 2003 and 2006. Now he’s at it again. He’s also writing songs again, something he hadn’t done in years.
    “Tony and I have been writing songs together,” Lee said. “He’s making it fun for me to write songs again. I’m inspired again.”
    Ramey, a West Virginia native, began writing in childhood.
    “When I was a kid I was always trying to write poems and stories,” he said. “That’s why I was drawn to country music, because it’s so much stories. I say that this kind of music chose me, I didn’t choose it.”
    But he first wrote his way through a master’s degree program in English literature at Marshall University and was a college professor for a time. He played in country cover bands in Ohio, Kentucky and West Virginia, opening for Billy Ray Cyrus, Dan Seals, Reba McEntire, George Jones, Glen Campbell and other legendary country music artists.
    Page 2 of 2 - He was encouraged to move to Nashville in 1995 by record producer Buddy Cannon, and moved to Texas in 2011.
    He has four gold records as a songwriter for songs on albums cut by George Strait, Trisha Yearwood, Doug Stone, John Michael Montgomery and many others.
    Ramey is currently touring in support of his own new album, “Throwback.”
    “For lack of a better term, that’s what it’s been called, because the music I write is more like you might have heard three or four decades ago,” he said. “I call it heartland music with heart and soul. There’s a lot of trials and tribulations in being human. A lot of what they play now is not country. You might call it contemporary or pop country.”
    Ramey said he’s not opposed to radio stations different styles of music.
    “But to have new music eclipse completely throwback music, it’s sad,” he said. “Johnny says that country radio has taken country music away from the listeners without giving them a choice. Some researcher a thousand miles away creates a radio play list, and that’s wrong in a lot of ways. The smaller stations need to be allowed to make their own creative choices.”
    All he can do, Ramey said, is continue to write his own music and fight the good fight.
    He’s got a friend in Johnny Lee.
    “Tony is a great guy and we think alike in a lot of ways,” he said. “We’re going to do some good songs, do some new stuff and share some stories in Parsons.”
    The word “retire” is not in his vocabulary.
    “God has blessed me with a talent, and I’ll use it until the day I die,” Lee said.
    Tickets are $20, plus sales tax and handling, and are available at www.parsonsauditorium.com, by calling 620-421-7032, and at the Parsons Municipal Auditorium box office and at the water office of the Parsons Municipal Building.
    “One dollar from every ticket sold will go to the Red Cross for tornado relief,” Lee said. “We’re going to have a good time and help some people out.”

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