Ron Bailey knew that throwing eggs at Black people was wrong. He was a white high school kid in 1960s Lawton when his friends invited him along for the ride.
Bailey was a self-described Army brat more worldly than his pals, and the very idea of that kind of assault against fellow human beings blew his mind. He declined, amazed that his classmates would actually perpetrate that kind of outrage.
Based for decades now as a working musician in Seattle, Washington, it’s among Bailey’s strangest memories of the small Southwest Oklahoma city. He has other recollections from those days that helped shape the artist he is today.
Bailey and his friends Terry “Buffalo” Ware, Michael McCarty and Dennis Meehan, aka Clovis Roblaine, will perform a reunion of old friends concert Oct. 10 at The Depot, 200 S. Jones Ave. It also will be a CD release event for Bailey’s first-ever recorded album of songs.
“A few years after the egging incident, I was throwing a paper route in Lawton and part of it was across the tracks in the Black part of town,” Bailey said. “It was the first time I realized what the Black side of town meant. I only went in the early morning before most people were even up. But whenever I ran into someone they were always nice.”
Bailey had a musical awakening on the other side of the tracks.
“There was a little café and bar where I’d stop and get hot chocolate,” he said. “They had a killer jukebox that played great music. I’d sit there listening to that music and it was an influence on me even to this day.”
Bailey went on the study art education at the University of Oklahoma. While in Norman, Bailey cut his teeth performing in pop rock bands The Roots of Evol and Rose and the Dirt Boys. He’s a vocalist, guitarist and songwriter.
Most of Bailey’s multi-faceted career has been in the Seattle area. He’s been a busker, played in bar bands, created a musical theatre troupe, married circus acrobat Cathy Sutherland and is a co-founder of The Moisture Festival, which specializes in comedy and variety acts.
“Right now I play around Seattle with a very good group of musicians,” Bailey said. “Still playing in bars and writing songs. Moisture Festival would have been in its 17th year before the pandemic. I’m artistic director and we have aerial artists and jugglers, doing it for a month in the spring.
“I bang a few nails to make some money, but thinking of giving that up to concentrate more on music. The love of my life is songwriting, performing and making people dance.”
Bailey got to know Terry Ware through his bandmate Dennis Meehan (Clovis Roblaine) when they were with Ray Wylie Hubbard and The Cowboy Twinkies. He’s also friends with stellar Norman songwriter John Hadley.
“I found out that Buffalo is one of the main performers and organizers of the Woody Guthrie Festival in Okemah,” Bailey said. “Buffalo is just such a versatile player and can play in any genre, just appreciating it when it’s good. We played some songs together a few years ago. Buffalo is one of those guys that any song he’s playing on becomes twice as good, because he just knows what to do with that guitar.”
With Bailey’s extensive entertainment resume — he’s written over 100 songs — it’s unusual he’s never released an album before now. He’s an Americana artist who recalls Ry Cooder or Taj Mahal.
It’s probable that just the right one of his many collaborators encouraged him into the recording studio.
“I’ll come up with a song and play it for my fellow musicians,” Bailey said. “Usually if it’s at the point where I like it and ready to play it for somebody else, and you get players like Buffalo or Clovis who add to those songs, they come to life in a way that’s very exciting.
“I’m a minimalist guitar player who plays to write songs. With my band I play rhythm guitar and I’m OK with that. The guys I play with up here in Seattle are also in three or four other bands. Add that kind of musicianship to a song I wrote, and it’s a wonderful feeling.”
That’s what Bailey is aiming to achieve with his master musician pals in concert at 7 p.m. Oct. 10 at The Depot.
Tickets are available at normandepot.org.