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With ‘Guidance,’ Dodson family plans whiskey, wine adventure

The family of Larry Dodson, author and former lead singer for The Bar-Kays, has embarked on a venture that affixes the Dodson brand to Guidance Whiskey.

Larry Dodson Sr. welcomes a familiar face. (Photo: Warren Roseborough)

The path forward was rolled out informally during a VIP whiskey tasting and holiday celebration at Dodson’s home on the evening of Dec 19.

“This is a complete blessing for my family and I,” said Dodson. “I’ve been in the music industry for over 40 years, so all of this is very new to us, but it’s the best decision we’ve ever made.”

The starting point for what already has been quite an adventure was Tennessee State University alum Jason Ridgel’s passionate desire to create his own version of sake, the Japanese alcoholic beverage.

Jason Ridgel, creator of Guidance Whiskey (Photo: Warren Roseborough)

“I wanted to create something different, because you really don’t hear about a lot of black sake connoisseurs,” Ridgel said. “Unfortunately, it did not taste good at all, so I decided to move forward with something else.”

After much research, Ridgel made the leap to whiskey.

“Once I figured out I wanted to try the whiskey side of things, I found a distillery that was doing great things in Ohio,” he said. “We really sat down and discussed what I was looking for, then we tried a few samples and the rest is history.”

Friends sampled the whiskey product, giving it a thumbs-up. Ridgel then turned to Wells Entertainment Marketing Guru Mandel Wells.

“When Jason came to me at first about Guidance, I instantly shut it down,” Wells said. “He was persistent, so I sat down and had wine and whiskey samples. I was impressed. But as a proposition, if I decided to go with the wine I had to accept the whiskey as well. So we’re here.”

Marketing guru Mandel Wells holds up a bottle of Dragonfire. (Photo: Warren Roseborough)

Ridgel’s wine is branded as Dragonfire, a subtle yet sweet wine with sparkles that actually create an illuminating shine through the bottle. The packaging blew away family and friends.

“It looks too pretty to drink,” said Felicia Douglass, a Dodson family friend.

Wells suggested taking Ridgel’s wine and whiskey to the Dodson family.

“I already knew of Larry Jr. from our TSU days,” said Ridgel. “So when the idea (came up) about having his father endorse the brand, I was honored. …Who would think somebody as legendary as Larry Dodson would be so forthcoming about Guidance. I couldn’t be any happier.”

Angel handled the Guidance Whiskey requests. (Photo: Warren Roseborough)

During last week’s holiday celebration, music – of course – set the tone. Glasses were filled, smiles beamed and praise flowed.

“I’m just so thankful to share this moment with my entire family,” said Dodson Jr. “This is our first family business where our entire family is involved. From my mom and wife and my sister, this is truly a huge moment for all of us.”

Pictured (l-r): Mandel Wells, Jason Ridgel, Larry Dodson Jr., Larry Dodson Sr. and Marie Dodson. (Photo: Warren Roseborough)

Marie Dodson, wife of the senior Dodson, surveyed the room and then said, “We’re just thankful to have our close friends and family here as we go forth on a new journey. I’ll be stepping in when needed but I’ll always be their full-time support no matter what.”

And, that wasn’t all.

“We have big plans for 2019,” said Dodson Sr. “So hang tight, I’ll tell you all (at) the beginning of the New Year. It’s going to be huge.”

“Guidance Whiskey will be available in stores the first week of January,” said Ridgel, with Al Green’s “Love and Happiness” as the backdrop.

“I’m excited that everybody is so excited. The best is yet to come.”

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