A Blues Jam Memorial for Musician Donnie Ray Simonds

(l-r) Steve Keene, David Ghastly, Randy Durham and Donnie Simonds.

Athens blues legend Donald “Donnie Ray” Simonds died on Dec. 2, 2022, but his life and legacy will be celebrated with a memorial concert and gathering this Saturday, Jan. 28 at Athentic Brewing Co. from 6–10 p.m. Simonds was known for his band The Healers, but he also played with a multitude of musicians over the course of his musical career. The memorial will feature performances by Terraplane Blue in addition to special guests who have played with Simonds over the years.

The Healers founding members Simonds and John Straw crossed paths in 1984 as Simonds was returning from a decade in Los Angeles, where he was a regular on the scene, and Straw was coming off the road with The T. Graham Brown Band. The two musicians built a local following around Athens, joined by various talented musicians over the years. Throughout the ’90s, The Healers had long stints as the house band at The Roadhouse and The High Hat Blues Club. After a short hiatus in the early 2000s, the band reformed in 2008 and continued spreading the blues.

All are invited and welcome to join in the memorial gathering. Athentic Brewing Co. not only serves as the host location but as a tribute to Simonds’ other work. Simonds and his construction team completed the woodwork at the brewery, including the stage and signature feature wall. Simonds’ craftmanship can be admired all around the event.