Durham native and Nashville songwriter Don Schlitz, whose song “the Gambler” was made legendary by country star Kenny Rogers in 1978, will perform in Sanford on Friday night.

Tickets to the performance – which includes dinner – are limited to 50 and cost $50 apiece. The show is at the Venue at 121, an event space below Cafe 121 at 121 Chatham St.

Schlitz is one of those songwriters – like in the case of Rogers and “the Gambler” – you’re more familiar with because other artists had hits recording¬†his work. That list of artists includes Garth Brooks, Alabama, Randy Travis, Ronnie Milsap, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Tanya Tucker, Reba McEntire, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Dolly Parton, the Judds, and more.

As such, Schlitz is well known and highly respected within the industry. According to Wikipedia, he’s been a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame since the early 1990s, and was just announced as an inductee to the Country Music Hall of Fame this month.

Annette Schlitz, who operates CleoRose Catering out of the Venue at 121, is Don Schlitz’s sister in law. She said Schlitz was planning to be in North Carolina on other business and the idea to host an intimate performance in the space at the Venue at 121 came together out of that.

“We would watch (Don) in Nashville, and we thought we could do something like that here, like at the Bluebird in Nashville,” said Annette Schlitz. “We’re eventually hoping to bring in other performers and do things like this a lot more often.”

To reserve tickets, contact Annette Schlitz at (919) 721-8414. Doors open at 6 p.m., dinner will be served at 6:30 and the music begins at 8.

Youtube videos abound of Schlitz playing his own material. Here are a few: