December 10, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville: Season Two DVD...

Hello there...I don't often publish/post multiple blog entries in one 24 hour time period but this is the third one I'm creating in less than 6 hours time. Earlier I posted a couple of recap blogs: Felix Cavaliere's guest appearance on Ray's television show and then I posted my recap of the episode guest starring Don McLean. This third blog entry is more or less an advertisement for Ray's brand new DVD release. You can purchase your copy of the Season Two DVD by clicking HERE.

Earlier this year Ray released Season One of his television show onto DVD. Based on production information each 'season' of his show consists of 13 episodes rather than the standard 26 per season. If you go by Ray's production method the local PBS affiliates are airing episodes taped during his 4th production season. He's been working on a 5th season and those episodes, I assume, are to start airing in the summer of 2018 but that's just my guess. He'll soon move production to his CabaRay venue once it has it's grand opening. On the Season Two DVD you'll get the episodes that I often remark had never aired on the local PBS affiliate in my region. Even though I can see these episodes on his video streaming site I'm going to wait until the DVD arrives in the mail and watch them on DVD. I love the fact that Ray's releasing episodes of the show onto DVD because it gives the show a permanent place to be available. PBS affiliates come and go...and at some point Ray's video streaming site may remove episodes of the show to clear space for other never knows what can come of things in cyberspace. However, having a physical item such as a disc containing episodes of his show, you're at least not at the mercy of computer crashes or memory lapses, etc. that could wipe out things you've downloaded.

In other words I prefer having DVD copies of his show for the simple fact that I'm a fan of his and it's the collector in me that calls out to have a DVD of episodes I could easily watch on his video streaming site. I'd like to think a lot of other fans of his prefer to have a DVD in their possession in addition to being a member of his video streaming site. You can become a member on a monthly basis and if you choose this option you'll obviously receive an inquiry to renew your subscription each month; or, you can do as I did and subscribe for a full year and not have to think about renewing for a 12 month time period. Read more about his video streaming site by clicking HERE.

I like the photo on the DVD...interesting that they decided to go with a more somber Ray looks completely focused at playing the piano. On Season One's DVD cover it shown Ray with a familiar smile behind the piano. Some of the guest stars on the Season Two DVD are: Sylvia, The Gatlin Brothers, Williams and Ree, Bill Anderson, T. Graham Brown, and Ray's daughter, Suzi Ragsdale. Once the DVD arrives I'll clear some time to watch it and then write a product review over on Ray's website and then paste it in a future blog entry.

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Don McLean

The second blog entry of the night focuses on the December 2nd episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. This episode didn't air here locally last Saturday because of a PBS pledge drive but I just finished watching it on Ray's video streaming site. The episode guest starred Don McLean.

Ray opened the show singing "I've Got You Under My Skin". He made mention of it being on the CD titled Ray Stevens Sings Sinatra...Say What?!?. The way he said the album's name is exactly how I say it if I ever find myself making mention of it. He's performed other songs from that under-rated album on the television show (most recently, "Witchcraft") but this is the first time I'd ever heard him mention the album's name.

Don is introduced and he talks about his upbringing and how he was perhaps an oddity among his peers in that he loved listening to music that had been recorded prior to the invention of what was called rock and roll (Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, etc.) but he also liked listening to a lot of music styles. He mentioned that he loved to sing songs that had a kind of old fashioned feeling (lyrically) but with a contemporary sound. He spoke of his earliest years in the recording business and how he once did some recording sessions in Berkeley, California. His songwriting success was brought up by Ray and this led to a mention of "And I Love You So", a huge hit that Don wrote in which dozens of artists recorded. The biggest hit belongs to Perry Como who took the song to the Top-40 on the pop chart in 1973 (decades after having burst onto the music scene in the early '40s!). Como hit number one with it on the Easy-Listening chart and in the United Kingdom the song hit the Top-10 and spent almost a full year on the charts (35 weeks!).

He spoke about being in California during the time of the riots and that eventually he moved to Nashville. He compared the sessions being done out West to those being done in Nashville and he applauded the professionalism and talent on Music Row and he particularly loved the efficiency of the process. He mentioned that the sessions he did out in California could be aggravating due to, as he put it, producers being fixated on having every single instrument sounding exactly perfect or fretting over something not sounding as expected. Don said that the sessions in Nashville were completely different and that it didn't take nearly an entire day to complete just one recording. Ray makes mention of the musicians accompanying Don...the piano player and the drummer. Particular emphasis was made on the drummer for it happened to be Jerry Kroon...and if you're a long time fan of Ray's and have looked over the album musician credits with any regularity then you'll recognize that name on dozens of Ray's albums. Ray states that Jerry Kroon used to be a member of the band (which draws applause from the current line-up in Ray's band). Don sings "Lucky Guy" and mentions it's from a new album, Botanical Gardens. The footage for this episode was recorded in the latter half of 2016.

After the performance Ray asks about "American Pie" and the history of the song. Don mentions it's a blend of all kinds of things and it isn't completely tied to just one thing. The phrase heard in the song, 'the day the music died', has long since been adopted as slang to describe the 1959 plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and The Big Bopper even though the song deals with pop-culture, in general, from one point in time to another. Ray remarked that he wrote and recorded a song that has one of the longest titles but said that "American Pie" probably holds a record for being the longest (as far as running time is concerned) number one pop hit in history. It spent four weeks at number one in 1972. The song is 8 minutes and 33 seconds and on the album it's in it's complete form. As a single, though, it was split in two parts and so you'd have "American Pie, Part One" on the A-Side and "American Pie, Part Two" picking up where part one ended on the B-Side. He performed it a bit slower in places but overall it was a great performance and given the sheer length of the song it took up a lot of airtime, too.

Ray closed the show performing "Pretty Woman"...a song that goes back to Roy Orbison...but Ray does it in a Bluegrass style. Ray debuted his version of the song several years ago during a guest appearance at the Grand Ole Opry but, to date, a recorded version has not become available. He performed it around the time his Bluegrass themed version of "Unchained Melody" hit YouTube. Those two songs, in particular, are suppose to be part of some larger project that's yet to be commercially released.

Don't forget that this is the episode that aired on December 2nd...the following episode, guest starring Felix Cavaliere, aired last night and I've already posted a recap of that episode. My next episode to provide a recap to is going to arrive next Saturday night.

December 9, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Felix Cavaliere

Hello once again!! Things are back to normal as far as the television schedule is concerned on KET2 and so the latest episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville aired tonight. The special guest happened to be Felix Cavaliere. Ray opened the show singing the rock classic, "Memphis". Admittedly not being a student of classic rock music...I know general things but nothing detailed...I was unaware of Felix Cavaliere until recently. When I seen his name listed as a special guest on the episode that aired tonight (seeing the episode list several months ago) I did a search and found out some things about him. He was a member of the rock group, The Young Rascals, later to be known as The Rascals. Ray, during his introduction of Felix, jokingly made mention of Felix having been a member of The Little Rascals along side Spanky, Alfalfa, Buckwheat...but guitarist Jerry Kimbrough interrupted Ray's wild enthusiasm to explain that it wasn't The Little Rascals but The Young Rascals that Felix was a member of.

Felix speaks of his early career and Ray brings up the Peppermint Lounge...for it was a place in New York in which another group, Joey Dee and the Starliters, became the house band...a group in which Felix would become an eventual member prior to the forming of The Young Rascals. The Starliters biggest recording was "Peppermint Twist". Ray mentions that he tried and tried to get into the Peppermint Lounge but couldn't...the lines wrapped around the building filled with people waiting to get in and see the performances. It's noted that The Young Rascals were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (it occurred in 1997).

Felix performs "Good Lovin'" (a 1966 number one hit for The Young Rascals). Afterward Ray makes mention that Felix had aspirations of being in the medical profession but took a slight detour into the world of rock music. Felix speaks of the downfall of the Peppermint Lounge and how much the area has changed. Then Ray asked about the Hammond B-3 organ and they speak about the tones and sound quality of music. Like two kids in a candy store Ray and Felix spend roughly half a minute discussing the intricacies of a B-3 organ and the sound it projects. It's fun to see the excitement the two display during their conversation.

Next up is a performance from Felix of "Groovin'", a four week number one hit for The Young Rascals in 1967. Following this performance he gives a history of "A Beautiful Morning" and how it was a hit during the Summer of Love as it's often referred to by music historians. Although not mentioned it's worth mentioning that during my research of the rock group, The Young Rascals, I found out that while they had a lot of success in America they had even larger success in Canada...several of their singles that peaked in the Top-10 in America hit number one in Canada. To close out such a classic rock music oriented episode Ray performs "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu".

I was initially wanting to post a recap of the Don McLean episode (last week's episode that didn't air here locally) but it wasn't posted on Ray's streaming video site earlier today but before I started writing this blog recap of the Felix Cavaliere episode I visited Ray's video site and seen that Don McLean's episode had been added for viewing. What I plan on doing is posting the Felix blog recap first and then watch the Don McLean episode and then post a recap of that. I should have my recap of the Don McLean episode posted no later than midnight tonight.

The next episode guest stars Suzy Bogguss and it'll air December 16th on KET2 at 8pm. This will be followed by Deborah Allen (December 23) and what's being billed as the New Year's Eve episode (airing here December 30th) will feature Ray and the show's band (no special guests).