Orin Friesen

(Deb) So, there’s just no end to the talented people in Kansas. And this is the great thing about our job, we get to brag about all our friends. So, now that we’ve gotten Jim Reynolds, I want to talk about my friend Orin Friesen. And of course he’s a friend to so many folks. He is the manager at the Prairie Rose Chuck Wagon and a musician himself. And he just celebrated 50 years in music and radio. (Frank) Wow. (Deb) So, they had a wonderful celebration for him down at the Prairie Rose and a little bit of roasting going on too. But I’m not gonna spoil it for you, take a look. Chances are, you have heard Orin Friesen. On the radio or on the stage, Orin has spent fifty years playing and promoting other folks music or making music himself. Recently, his friends and fans gathered to pay tribute to his career and offer some good-natured ribbing in the process. The festivities at the Prairie Rose Chuckwagon, where Orin is manager, also benefitted Crosswalk on the Prairie, a faith-based program that helps young men aging out of foster care. The atmosphere could not have been more celebratory as Orin and his wife Bekki greeted guests. Images of Orin and various music legends that he has interviewed flashed on the screen, including Johnny Cash. Then the crowd took their seats to hear from Orin’s colleagues John Speer, Stan Greer, Larry Waggoner, Jim Farrell, Dan Dillon, Scott Piper and Dan Hays. Video greetings came from Riders in the Sky, John McEuen, Red Steagall and many others. Michael Martin Murphey highlighted the evening not by singing but by his tongue-in-cheek praising of his long time friend’s commitment to family values through playing bluegrass and eschewing modern country. He read the lyrics of some particularly violent and maudlin bluegrass standards to illustrate that point. The crowd laughed heartily and often. Throughout the fun and the heartfelt tributes, two comments stood out to me. John McCuen of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band said to Orin, You made me feel relevant. Dan Hays, past president of the International Bluegrass Music Association for whom Orin and Dell Davis have produced awards shows, talked about all the things Orin is not. Speaking of how Orin was always spotlighting others rather than himself, Dan said, He’s totally free of pretense. He is wholly lacking in debit and corruption. He is a man of integrity. I have never seen someone with more friends. He is so sincere, so enthusiastic and so dependable. Despite these shortcomings, he’s survived in the music industry. We agree. And at Around Kansas join Orin’s many fans in wishing him 50 more years!!

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