Bill Bassett, the man with a rich voice and pedal steel guitar is a Verde Valley fixture. MC and band leader for the Blazin' M Cowboys and a member of the Retros since 2004, his career passed through Nashville from his roots in the Northwest. In 1999, Bill was inducted into the Swing Hall of Fame.
But it was in August that Bill's wife, Crystal, suffered a debilitating seizure during a Retros show at the 10/12 Lounge. She is slowly recovering, but needs oxygen and a way to pay those sky high medical bills. Sunday, Friends of Bill will gather and jam in at the Old Corral in Cornville to raise funds for Crystal's medical expenses. Five acts will donate their time to keep the music flowing into the evening.
The acts include Bo Wilson, The Retros, the Strait Shooters, The Switchbacks and the Neon Raiders with special guest Jimmy Mack.
Be at the Old Corral at noon. The music, games and prize-winning events start at 1. Come and mingle, put away a few brews and enjoy the afternoon of great music, win a raffle, 50/50, auction or horseshoe tournament.
Bill got his start in Seattle. That's where he picked up the pedal steel guitar became popular. He later relocated to Nashville,
"It was a dream, but it raises the bar as far as experience and skill level," he says. "You have to bring your "A game.'"
Bill worked at Opryland, playing backup for leading country musicians and toured the Midwest and West. He spent time in the service in Turkey before returning to the Northwest. But Bill and Crystal moved to the Verde when his oldest daughter suggested they follow her to Arizona.
That's when he met Grateful Fred, Jimmy DuFresne and Roger Curry, and his Verde career was underway.
Bill Bassett is now only one of two Verde Valley pedal steel musicians and has become the lead for the Blazin' M Stage show since Chuck Mabery retired. He continues to team up with the Retros shows, as well.
But recently Crystal's pancreatitis and related issues have been a problem and she now needs oxygen regularly. The benefit at the Old Corral will help get them back on their feet. Musicians' families always struggle without health insurance.
Set aside Sunday afternoon to enjoy the fun, friendship, games and live auction.
If you have items to donate for the auction, or call Brandi at (928) 899-5357 for pick up Clarkdale and Cottonwood and Randy at (928) 300-4279 for pick up in Camp Verde and Sedona.
A benefit account has also been established a Sun Bank at Walmart in the name of Crystal Bassett.What: Benefit for Crystal Bassett
Where: Old Corral Bar. Cornville Rd, Cornville
When: Starts at noon Sunday, music at 1 p.m.