January 23, 2020

Blues musician plays concert for Standish-Sterling Central


STANDISH— Students, faculty, and families gathered at the SSC auditorium on Nov. 26 for a concert by blues musician, Larry McCray. McCray was joined onstage by his band and former SSC student Rhett Yocom.

Yocom was a student when McCray visited SSC back in 2005. McCray had brought along three guitars to giveaway, and Yocom, then a freshman, was one of the recipients. He credits McCray for getting him into blues music. “I had never heard it before,” Yocom said, “Larry came in and blew me away.”

Yocom joined the blues band when he was a sophomore and remembers performing Johnny Cash at his first solo performance at an MSU convention for 2500 people. His last time performing at SSC was for his senior send off in 2008.

Now, he started the Rhett Yocom Blues Band and plays shows in Michigan and has his music playing on blues radio stations.

Yocom is not the only student McCray has invited on stage to play with him. When he found out that current junior, Jacob Wiedyk, was a jazz enthusiast, he got him on stage and played a few songs with him. SSC elementary counselor Tony Ott also joined McCray onstage and played a couple songs on drums.

The SSC band and choir also had the opportunity to play a couple of songs with McCray and his band. McCray and his band played along with the SSC band and the choir sang back-up for him.

Principal Mark Williams met McCray at one of his gigs back in the early 2000s, where he first invited him to play at SSC. Williams enjoys giving students the opportunity to listen to a professional musician, when they may otherwise never be able to do.

McCray has visited five different schools before but has returned to SSC three times now to play for the students. This is the first time he will play with the students. The SSC band and choir had the opportunity to join McCray onstage to play a couple songs each. The band played “Crazy Train” by Ozzy Osbourne, and “Don’t Stop Believing” by Journey, while McCray and his band played along. The choir sang backup to a couple of McCray’s songs.

McCray learned to love music through his sister, Clara, who passed down her guitar to him. He grew up with inspirations like B.B. King, Freddy King, and Albert King. As rock started entering the music world, it was his goal to find a way to bring blues back to the forefront.

McCray loves to share blues with the kids. “It’s from the heart, it’s not something you can teach,” McCray said. He looks forward to exposing the kids to different cultures, as well as introducing them to a new kind of music.

McCray has found a way of communication through music that can reach any age. The students, faculty, and parents had a great time watching him play, with students chanting his name as he came out and singing along with him.

“Music is a great common ground,” said McCray.


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