September 21, 2014

boo ray, six weeks in a motel, nashville rock, texas country rock, country rock, southern rock, music row, boots and blue jeans
Buy Boo Ray's Six Weeks in a Motel on iTunes
I recently had the fortune of getting a hold of Boo Ray, Nashville's #1 rated Country / Americana / Southern Rock artist according to ReverbNation.  What a great, down-to-earth guy to speak with!

His music from Six Weeks in a Motel reminds me keenly of my trip out to summer NAMM last summer.  Whenever I walked down the main strip in downtown, there was a fair share of country rock blasting from at least one venue on each block, not to mention everyone carrying guitar cases!  Like I mentioned in my recap article, this is akin to seeing tons of surfers carrying their surfboards near the beach in California.

The next time I head out to Nashville, I can imagine getting off the plane, hopping in a cab, heading downtown and finding Boo Ray at The Stage or one of the other popular local spots.  His music is very reminiscent of the local scene, and has a certain "it" element to the musical composition that just works.  It's commercial in a good way, in that it sounds very professional, well-composed, and produced, but without being overly hyper-compressed or unnatural.  Rather, it breathes easily and places you in the front row of the show with a warm and inviting center vocal.

Let's get the playlist running now while we walk through the interview!

1. What came first: playing the guitar, or singing?

I suppose I was singing choruses with the radio before guitar caught my attention. I sang in choir some but didn't really pursue singing. I did write songs a cappella on a tape recorder at about 12, a couple years prior to picking up a guitar.

2. Do you have a favorite venue in the great music city of Nashville?  What about it makes it special?

3rd & Lindsley sounds great, Exit/In is iconic as hell, The Family Wash is an amazing small room, Bobby's Idle Hour on The Row is a perfect old honky tonk... Singing The Opry with Marshall Chapman though, that was a bigger than life experience. Marshall handed Matraca Berg & I a lyric sheet and said "Come in on the choruses, we're on in 5." She was performing "Let's All Help The Cowboy Sing The Blues" by Cowboy Jack Clement as a tribute to his recent passing. That song was a bug cut for Cowboy Jack, to say the least. It was an incredible honor and privilege to sing on that stage, "The Mother Church".  Here's a video we shot at Johnny's Tavern in Nashville:

Boo Ray "Boots and Blue Jeans" Official Video from Boo Ray on Vimeo.

3. What bands or artists most influenced you growing up?  What about now?  Tell us why.

Johnny Paycheck, Jerry Reed, Waylon, Willy, Hank, Hagg, Dwight Yoakum, Allman Bros, that's some regular FM Radio playlist from my childhood. So that stuff, because it was just always playing. But I was into stuff like Gordon Lightfoot, Jackson Brown & Jim Croce too, even R&B albums like Average White Band, Johnny Taylor & The Four Tops because my cousin Buck had a great vinyl collection and let me get in it. On the rock side of his record collection the music that struck me was Thinn Lizzy, The Faces, The Stones. The Who, old Springsteen...

Then there have been a few players along the way that I've gotten to know who've had an impact on me. Steve Ferrone & Jimmie Lee Sloas are big influences. It's been invaluable to spend time with those guys and get a little bit of experience operating at that kind of level.

You know what blew the roof off my musical ignorance near as much as any other one thing was riding around on old sand roads down in South Georgia with Laney Strickland listening to The Cowboy Jack Clement Show w/ Cowboy Jack & Alamo Jones on SiriusXM Outlaw Country. That's when I started connecting the dots between the great Southern Writers and the Texas Songwriters, seeing Country Songwriting as a literate form, and understanding that what I understood as country music: Cash, Hank, Willy, Waylon, Hagg & The Possum were really Texas Country, not Nashville Country. I've been listening to that show since 2002, so you can imagine what a thrill it's been to be on that show and become friends with Alamo.

Working with Sol Philcox on this latest album "Six Weeks In A Motel" has been a blast! He operates at an incredibly high level and is a top quality cat all the way around. The finest player & a stunning produce.

I always like making friends over a co-write. Working with Steve Pasch at SB21 Publishing the last couple years has been great.  And I've got a few longtime running buddies that mean the world to me as friends and players; Laney Strickland, Richie Owens, Jodi James, Patrick Ferguson, Fester Hagood, Bobby Keel, Caroline Aiken, Lemuel Hayes, Danny Silvestri, Aaron Wood, Rich Mahem, all of 'em smoking' players & forever friends. I consider it a blessing that these kind of cats like to make music with me & tolerate my over caffeinated under budgeted ass.

4. What got you into playing music originally?

You know, I think I realized that I had to play guitar when I heard Stevie Ray Vaughn's "Lenny." The guitars on "Down On Main Street," "Still In Love With You," "Wreck Of The Edmond Fitzgerald" all the STP stuff, it had my attention & awakened my desire but that SRV stuff made me pick up guitar & not put it down until I had it figured out enough to play.  

5. Is there a specific riff or part of a song that you really look forward to every time you play a set?

The head & riff on "Boots & Blue Jeans" does it every time. I like the title track "Bad News Travels Fast" & "Four Letters In A Heart" off that 2010 album. "Like A Cigarette" feels great to play & sing & "Six Weeks In A Motel" is a song that'll always hold you up & get the job done. Here's a video of "Bad News Travels Fast" with a one-off band at The Grey Eagle in Asheville NC:

6. Do you have any upcoming shows, events, or other news your fans should be aware of?

I do, Fester Hagood's Tuesday Night Confessional in Athens Georgia, October 13 and some radio appearances on WDVX, WSM 7 SIRIUSXM.


Thanks for the fantastic commentary, Boo Ray!  And please keep us posted on any new music and future developments.

Here are some of Boo Ray's links:
"Bad News Travels Fast" on iTunes


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