Orange production helping bring interview with fiddling star David Varnado and George Foreman to public

Published 9:29 am Monday, October 30, 2023

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PORT ARTHUR — An award winning local fiddle player and a heavyweight boxing champion have more in common than one would think.

Port Arthur native and Nederland resident David Varnado became friends with boxing legend George Foreman several years ago. Foreman was such a fan he and entertainment producer David Stallings presented Varnado with a career achievement award.

But there’s more to “Fiddlin’ Dave’s” story.

The story will be told in a video interview with Foreman firing the questions to his friend Varnado. The public can see the live premier from 5 to 7 p.m. Thursday at the Museum of the Gulf Coast.

Admission and a reception are free.

The road to the interview

The interview was actually in the works way back, so to speak, before the pandemic hit. Varnado has the support of many in the industry and was looking to sit down with Dan Rather at Access TV.

Then COVID shut everything down, including the interview, but Varnado was ready to tell his story and looked for others who might want to sit down with him.

Varnado’s musical journey spans decades and includes collaborations with big time musicians such as Loretta Lynn, Sammy Kershaw, Johnny Paycheck, Jo-El Sonier, George Jones, Neil McCoy and Chris Ledoux.

Award winning fiddle player David Varnado is the topic of an interview by his friend George Foreman. (Mary Meaux/The Leader)

He’s won many awards, including the 2017 American Fiddler Association’s Legend Award, the Johnny Gimble Fiddler of the Year from the Country Music Awards, and in 2020 David was placed on the Star Music Walk of Fame in front of City Hall in Vidor.

At some point the idea of a George Foreman interview popped up and the rest is history.

Varnado, along with Tom Neal, executive director of the Museum of the Gulf Coast, traveled to Houston, where Foreman is a minister at the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Varnado recalls being a bit nervous as Foreman sat quietly, not interacting prior to the filming of the interview. There he was with Foreman and Travis Myers of Orange and Bronco Media waiting.

But when it was time film, Foreman snapped into a completely different mode and the video was made.

The video

Varnado said Foreman asked him about everything from his beginnings as a 5-year-old kid learning to play the fiddle in Port Arthur, to his parents Randy and Priscilla and his childhood.

Then his professional career comes into play and questions such as where was the first time he realized he had hit it big.

Tom Neal said the video will be a part of the Museum experience.

“I think it’s going to be also something that people want to research and fall back on things,” Neal said, adding sometimes they receive calls and visitors from people doing research or working on books.

The Thursday event is dedicated to the military, Veterans and the crews of the Space Shuttle Challenger and Columbia.

The NASA part of the dedication hints to Varnado’s time earlier this year in Mission Control speaking to and performing for astronauts.

The Museum of the Gulf Coast is located at 700 Procter St. in Port Arthur.