Guitar Signed by Blackberry Smoke to be Auctioned at Valley Haven School

Published 11:30 am Wednesday, April 19, 2023

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VALLEY — An Epiphone guitar signed by Charlie Starr and all members of the popular American rock band Blackberry Smoke has been donated as an item to be auctioned off in this year’s Valley Haven Auction, to be held this Friday evening at Valley Haven School.

Charlie Starr (a.k.a. Charlie Gray) is a 1991 graduate of Valley High School. He’s now the lead singer, songwriter and guitarist for Blackberry Smoke, which was formed in Atlanta in 2000. Other members of the group include Richard Turner, Britt Turner, Paul Jackson and Brandon Still. Tour members include Benji Shanks and Preston Holcomb.

Charlie’s mom, Tanila Price, brought the guitar to the school on Tuesday. Her husband, Jacques Price, toted it into the school in a big carrying case.

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They are proud, but not surprised, by Charlie’s success in music.

“He has always been very talented,” says his mom. “I can remember him playing the guitar at a Little Miss Chatt Pageant when he was only seven years old.”

Charlie comes from an artistic family. His dad, Owen Gray, is a very good guitarist and has played at very many bluegrass venues. Many people in the local area remember him for playing at Bobby’s Day on the River. His mom displays artworks at events sponsored by the Valley Arts Council.

“Charlie’s 23-year-old son Christian has played with him at Ryman Auditorium in Nashville,” Mrs. Price said. “He has a younger son who’s going to be a musician, too.”

One of Blackberry Smoke’s better-known songs is entitled “One Horse Town,” and is about his growing-up years in the Huguley community.

Price said that her grandsons are a lot like Charlie.

“They tend to be quiet and reserved, but they really come alive when they are on stage,” she said.

Blackberry Smoke has recently returned from Europe after performing at sold-out venues all across the continent. On Tuesday night of this week, they were playing in Austin, Texas.

The band has a favorite charity, children’s cancer research. They recently donated $60,000 to this cause.

A recent contestant on American Idol sang one of Charlie’s songs, “Waitin’ for the Thunder.”

Mom said it was pretty good but not nearly as good as Charlie sings it.

Executive Director Craig Brown and the Valley Haven staff are looking forward to Friday’s auction. The Blackberry Smoke guitar is no doubt the top-line item that will be going up for bids, but there are a lot of other interesting items as well. A barber’s chair will be an ideal item for a man cave. It has some age on it, but it’s really, really comfortable.

For anyone who is into the Golden era of NASCAR, there’s a huge Fathead poster of the famed Richard Petty’s No. 43 car. There’s a host of gift certificates donated by local business such as Kenny Knox Tire and West Point Tire. Berry (formerly Letica) has donated a whole bunch of buckets, and Harris Carpets has donated some laminate flooring. There are plenty of additional items as well.

“We will be having the auction at the workshop area at Valley Haven,” Brown said. “Everyone’s welcome to come and bid or just to watch.”

The auction will be getting under way at 5:30 p.m. EDT on Friday. The doors will open at five o’clock so everyone can see everything that will be up for bids.