Ray Johnston Now a Baller With a Guitar

Being a baller was his ultimate dream, but sometimes what you want isn't always what you get.

That's the case for former Dallas Mavericks player turned Texas musician Ray Johnston. His current album is called No Bad Days, and that's also his life's anthem.

"Thinking about the theme of the album No Bad Days, to me is the strongest song I've ever been a part of writing and I think it summed up my last ten years as far as getting a shitty diagnosis -- sorry, crappy diagnosis -- and doing my best to turn a lot of frowns upside down," says Johnston. "It was really dark for a while, man. Having leukemia five times in 12 years, there's a lot of pissed-off moments, but my parents wouldn't let me sulk."

When it comes to talking about his illness or his B-ball days in Dallas, Johnston will do it, but he doesn't stay on point long. He's now more into talking about his future, his tunes and the goals for his music.

Johnston will perform 7:30 p.m. Saturday during the annual ZiegenBock Music Festival at Sam Houston Race Park. Other acts include Josh Turner, Roger Creager, Josh Grider, Bart Crow, Roger Creager, Rosehill, Casey Donahew and many more.

Johnston, who graduated from the University of Alabama with a degree in marketing, always wanted to play professional basketball. His dream started off without a hitch, got off to a pretty good start when he became a walk-on player in college.

He didn't make the NBA right off, and that was fine, says the positive thinker. It wasn't his time. When his NBA dream didn't pan out, Johnston moved from Alabama to Dallas to become a 24-year-old loan officer, his Plan B.

When the timing was right, Johnston got his shot with the Mavs. The dream was cut short, however, after his diagnosis.

Story continues on the next page.

Being a dude not to get down and gritty with self-pity, Johnston began picking up his guitar and expressing his thoughts and emotions and started honing his songwriting skills to boot. He chummed up with guys like Texas country-rocker Kevin Fowler (also on Saturday's bill), who began giving pointers to the young budding singer.

The advice Fowler imparted to him is that you're only as good as your songs. He took it to heart and began putting his back and his heart into his music, working to create something unique and something authentic. He walked away with No Bad Days, which was produced by Erik Herbst.

As for his upcoming Ziegfest performance, Johnston said to expect a good time, and he wants to use his time in Houston to build some lifelong fans.

"Ziegenbock Fest is a great festival and the RJB's second year to play it," he says. "Live Nation books this festival and we have had good shows at House of Blues and other Live Nation events, so I want to grow that relationship.

"Most importantly, it's an opportunity to gain a bunch of new fans in the Houston area," he adds. "Many folks who aren't familiar with RJB will be at the fest to see acts like Fowler, Creager, Josh Turner [and] Casey Donahew, so I look forward to earning some new fans."

Ray Johnston performs at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, October 18 on ZiegFest's Budweiser Stage. See this link for the full lineup.


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