Daily Light Managing Editor
A legacy from the 1960s and ’70s lives on today, thanks to a group of Waxahachie High School alumni-musicians.
Even with the passing of several of their classmates and former band members, the organizers of WaxaJam have continued their old/new tradition of bringing together musicians and the public for a daylong musical event.
This year’s event, the fifth annual WaxaJam, is being held Saturday, Oct. 6, at the Texas Theater in downtown Waxahachie in special memory of Waxahachie alumni and former band members/classmates Bill Estes, Ronnie Dawson, Larry Vasseur and Mike O’Daniel - and all proceeds will go to the Mike O’Daniel Scholarship Fund.
WHS alumni Sam Taylor (’70), a lead organizer of WaxaJam, writes about the event’s history:
“During much of the ’60s, Waxahachie was home to the Saturday night dance featuring a myriad of local WHS rock and roll bands imitating their radio heroes. The class of ’63 spawned the High-Lifes, with the late Raymond Michael O’Daniel (vocalist and guitarist who went on to play with the Levee Singers, Light Crust Doughboys and others), Johnny Todd (rhythm guitar), Scott Taylor (organ), Terry Naylor (bass) and the late Larry Vasseur (drums), which quickly became in Waxahachie, almost as famous as the Beatles!
“The late local rock and roll hero and musical icon Ronnie Dawson, class of ’58, had already blazed a trail with his Ronnie Dee and the D Men winning the talent contest at the Big D Jamboree 10 weeks in a row. Ronnie went on to play drums on recording sessions for Paul and Paul’s ‘Hey Paula,’ signing with Dick Clark’s Swan label,” Taylor writes. “But the most famous Waxahachie musical native son of them all was Bill Ham, class of ’56, discovered and signed to ABC’s Dot records, through the influence of the label’s most famous artist, Pat Boone. Ham would become the creative and business mastermind behind such artists as ZZ Top and Clint Black.”
WaxaJam saw its genesis five years ago after former ’60s era Waxahachie musician, Bill Estes (’70) lost his life due to brain cancer.
As his friends gathered at his funeral, they talked about how he had said the only reason he would ever return to Waxahachie would be to have a jam session with his friends.
Taking his suggestion to heart, his friends played - and pledged they wouldn’t let more time go before they held a jam session again in his memory - which was WaxaJam 1.
Since WaxaJam 1, others have passed, including Ronnie Dawson, Larry Vasseur and Mike O’Daniel, but organizers have continued their efforts to keep the music - and the memories - alive.
Now in its fifth year, WaxaJam includes yet another full lineup of music and jam sessions, with this year’s schedule as follows:
2 p.m. - Open Jam with Sam Taylor (’70)
3 p.m. - Sam Taylor and Friends
4 p.m. - Johnny Lectra Band featuring John Phillips (’74) and Friends
5 p.m. - Gene Lord (’70) and Friends
6 p.m. - Scott Taylor (’63) and Friends
7 p.m. - Phil “Steak” Freeman (’68) debut CD release show and Friends
8 p.m. - Gary French (’69) and Friends, the PiT PoPs
9:30 p.m. - Steve “Catfish” Cagle (’68) and Friends
11:15 p.m. - Last Jam
A raffle will be held between each jam session. (A raffle ticket is provided with each $15 general admission ticket).
A variety of prizes have been donated - from restaurant coupons to Dallas Cowboy tickets to autographed recording industry memorabilia - and additional donations are welcomed.
The public is invited to attend and enjoy the music and fellowship.
For more information, contact Taylor at (214) 727-2378 or email@example.com.