Friday evening was a big surprise for Ray Cotton. In the Legends Lounge at the Texas Longhorn Club nearly 100 of Cotton’s family and friends waited for him to enter so they could surprise him for a birthday party.

After decades in ranching, rodeo and the entertainment business, Cotton is a hard man to surprise, but the surprise was complete on this occasion.

Cotton was pleased with the turnout of his friends, some from years ago and some from more recent times. Most had a story or two to tell and all had good things to say about the man who has been their friend.

Dorothy Cotton, his wife, and daughters Tina and Sandra were proud to have surprised him. They had, along with the staff at the Longhorn, worked for nearly a month to put the party together, all without letting him know.

Cotton’s family and the staff at the Longhorn Club served the party attendees in first-class style. A large barbecue buffet with all the trimmings was set out. On the buffet table was a large cake with boots, horses, and “Happy 78th Birthday Ray” in blue letters.

Cotton visited with everyone at the party and had nice things to say to them, as he thanked them for coming.

The party ended and the guests were invited to stay for the concert in the large Texas Longhorn Club.

Opening the show was Aimee Breaux and Southwind. Breaux opened the show with a high-energy rendition of “Poor Me” and the show got better as it went on. Everyone in the band is an accomplished musician and or vocalist. Amiee Breaux and Southwind should be around for a long time and move up the ladder. They are the best band to come out of this area in a long, long time.

The headliners, Molly Hatchett, flew into Houston from Jacksonville, Florida, to do this one show. Only a club with the resources of the Longhorn will draw a group with this reputation.

Molly Hatchett has been touring since the late 1970’s but has not lost any of its ability to entertain a crowd with great Southern Rock. The near capacity crowd was energetic and showed it by rocking along with the band and shouting a lot of “hell yeahs” to each song. The loud volume of the band only seemed to energize the crowd more as the night went on. It was another great night of entertainment at the Longhorn.

The party and concert were evidence that nothing at the Longhorn Entertainment Complex is ever done less than first-class. Cotton has planned and carried out several projects that have resulted in having the best entertainment facility between Houston and New Orleans. The next stage at the complex is the construction of the covered rodeo arena. Cotton has a great love of rodeo and is building what will be the finest rodeo arena in the region. Included in the project will also be a motel and an RV park.

May 16 is the finals of the Ring of Fire Bull Riding Series. In addition to the bull riding action there will be a “Bounty Bull”. This is an unridden bull that the series winner will have the opportunity to ride. David Self of David Self Ford in Orange and Winnie has put up the $1,000 bounty if the cowboy can ride the bull. It promises to be a night of great action.