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SXSW event to honor king of the roadies, offer peek at documentary

You would see him at the Willie Nelson Fourth of July Picnic in Fort Worth, watching from the wings of the north stage. He was nearing 90 years old and exuding cool in a way that’s only possible when you’ve been everywhere, seen everything and met everyone.

The set would end, and you’d hoof it 100 yards to the south stage where the next act was warming up. And there he was again, just as cool. And you knew somebody had hustled him over there in a golf cart. But you wouldn’t be surprised at all if he had just materialized there like some sort of wizard.

That was Ben Dorcy, king of the roadies.

In Austin for South by Southwest? Here are some tips to help you navigate the festival like a pro.

Dorcy died in September at the age of 92 and by now you’d think he’d be just as gone as John Wayne and Johnny Cash (both of whom he worked for). But not quite. 

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RELATED: Remembering Ben Dorcy, 'King of the Roadies' and a Texas legend

Lovey — as he was known by the musicians who treasured him — will be celebrated on Friday, March 16, during a special SXSW event at the historic Scoot Inn.

From 1 to 6 p.m., as part of the Brooklyn Bowl Family Reunion showcase, the Nelson family will present a sneak peek at “Lovey: King of the Roadies.” The documentary has been in the works for more than a decade. (It is said to be near completion and almost ready for the film festival circuit.)

Dorcy “was more than just a guy who helped set up gear,” said longtime friend Willie Nelson in a news release. “He was a friend when you needed one and even when you didn't. Ray Price said he kept him around for spare parts, and Ray needed a lot of those. Ben could find you things you didn't even know you had lost. He was the first roadie ever and one of the best.”

A news release says “Willie Nelson’s daughter Amy Nelson and Brooklyn Bowl Founder Peter Shapiro will narrate musical vignettes from the film featuring the many musicians Dorcy toured with such as Waylon Jennings and Johnny Cash.”

Ben Dorcy was born in 1925, served in the Navy in World War II, worked for Nudie Cohn, John Wayne, Hank Thompson, Ray Price and Frank Sinatra, among many others. Late in life, he befriended and worked alongside younger artists, including Randy Rogers, Cody Canada and Wade Bowen.

The event will also include performances by longtime Dorcy friends including Billy Joe Shaver, Kinky Friedman and Dallas Wayne, as well as The Texas Gentleman and other special guests.

There’s two more important things happening at the Scoot Inn. First, there will be a silent auction of memorabilia and autographed instruments to benefit the Live Like Lovey Foundation.

RELATED: Willie’s Picnic will be back at Circuit of the Americas in July

Second, Dorcy’s roadie descendants will get their own salute with a chance to relax in the Roadie Lounge.

Hosted by Austin’s High Brew Coffee, the lounge is a roadies-only sanctuary offering them a place to recharge. In a news release, David Smith, co-founder and CEO of High Brew Coffee, said “it’s easy to overlook those working tirelessly to produce the concerts and festivals we love.”

“By paying tribute to Ben Dorcy, the man who started it all,” Smith said, “we knew we would be honoring the entire community because he was a man who absolutely gave his all during the 92 years the music industry was blessed to have him.”

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