Grand Prize Winner of the Smoky Mountain Blues Society’s Custom-built Autographed Guitar Is the Ideal Recipient
Veteran Deejay Johnny Mack Announced as Raffle Winner
The look of surprise and astonishment on Johnny Mack’s face said it all. With his mouth agape, the look of astonishment was clear to all who watched as his name was announced. Then again, what could be more appropriate than the sight of seeing the host of “Johnny Mack’s Friday Night Blues Attack” on WDVX winning the custom built, autographed guitar that the Smoky Mountain Blues Society had raffled off as the grand prize for its fall fundraiser? Here he was, on October 15, onboard the final Blues Cruise of the year, hearing his name called, and finding out he was the lucky winner.
The signature guitar from Rigney Custom Guitars he won is not only one of a kind, but also an amazing keepsake that bears the signatures of an impressive array of iconic Blues artists — Bonnie Raitt, Buddy Guy, Delbert McClinton, Derek Trucks, and Susan Tedeschi, among them. The raffle began on July 1st and ran for 3 1/2 months, attracting dozens of entries along the way. the raffle tickets had cost $20 each, with a maximum of 500 tickets offered for sale.
“I wasn’t really thinking about winning,” Johnny said later. “My real intention was to support the Blues Society, which is why I purchased multiple tickets. It was just a coincidence that the first ticket I bought was the one that won.”
Mack’s devotion to the blues comes naturally. He’s been on the air at WDVX for nearly 20 years. And while it’s only the third radio show he’s ever hosted, he can also claim a role as a founder of the Knoxville Blues Society, which later became known as the Smoky Mountain Blues Society. Over the years, he’s been involved with a dozen blues societies throughout his career. His love of the blues was spawned early on after listening to the British blues bands of the mid to late ‘60s — the Rolling Stones, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Them, The Yardbirds, The Animals and Cream, among them — which led him to discover the American archetypes of the style, musicians like Skip James, Reverend Gary Davis and Lonnie Johnson.
Proceeds from the raffle will benefit Blues in the Schools, one of the fundamental outreach programs provided by the Smoky Mountain Blues Society. The program, which was initiated in 1995, is offered free to schools and other youth-oriented organizations for the sole purpose of exposing young people to Blues music and to educate them about the importance Blues music plays in the overall umbrella of traditional American music. In 2016, the program reached over 1,400 children in East Tennessee, students ranging in age from Elementary School to High School.
That’s also something that Mack can relate to. “When I was in my teens, I was an avid record collector and a huge rock ‘n’ roll fan,” he reflects. “I would always be turning my friends on to new music, and I think I’m still doing that now on the radio. My reward is probably all the rave reviews I’ve received from listeners over the years. It may sound corny, but I really do think it’s important that I do all I can do keep the blues alive.”
Now, after winning this special musical keepsake, he has a very real reminder of why his devotion runs so deep.