May 7, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Episode Seven...

Hello one and all...it may seem as if this is becoming a recurring segment of my fan-created blog but it's more or less something that just seems to happen...that is, a re-cap of the previous night's episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. Airing last night, episode seven, and the main guest happened to be tenor singer Jimmy Fortune.

The episode opened with Ray performing "Hang Up and Drive"...a comical gem of a song criticizing the habit of driving a car and talking on a cell-phone at the same time. This preoccupation habit is more commonly referred to today as texting and driving but it didn't have such a nick-name back when Ray recorded the song, originally, in 2000. Actually, to be specific, texting and driving refers to typing on your cell-phone as you drive your vehicle and this song happens to be about talking on your cell-phone as you drive your vehicle...regardless, though, either habit is unwise while operating a vehicle. The live performance lacks the abundance of car crash sound effects heard on the recording. He created a limited animation music video for the song back in the early 2000s. It originally appeared on the VHS release, Cartoon Video Collection, but the audio recording debuted on the 2000 Clyde Records release, Ear Candy; a CD which, in 2002, was partially re-released as Osama Yo' Mama- The Album on Curb Records. You can see the official music video of "Hang Up and Drive" by clicking HERE. All the music videos on that VHS release feature live-action Ray Stevens singing against animated backgrounds. All of them have since been uploaded onto YouTube. This one hit YouTube on June 12, 2013 and it's been seen by over 40,000 people.

Jimmy Fortune is brought out following an introduction by Ray concerning The Statler Brothers in the early 1980s upon the retirement of Lew Dewitt. He tells the audience/viewers that Jimmy became an invaluable member of the group due not only to the tenor support but through his songwriting. Jimmy penned several of the group's monster hits during the mid 1980s...including the song he performed solo on last night's episode, "Elizabeth". He penned "Elizabeth", "My Only Love", "Too Much on My Heart", "More Than a Name on a Wall", "Forever", and others. Jimmy speaks fondly of his years with The Statler Brothers prior to the group's retirement in 2002 and offers brief history on the group's origins...beginning in gospel music and transferring to country music...and Ray inserts commentary about Statler being the name of a tissue brand.

Later in the show Ray presents a treat for viewers...a segment that had been taped previously featuring Bobby Bare, Don Schlitz, and Charlie McCoy. After Ray asks each of them to describe their arrival in the music industry they join Ray in a performance of the Rhythm and Blues hit, "My Babe". The trio are in the same outfits that each of them appeared in during their solo appearances on Ray's program (Bobby episode 4, Don episode 5, and Charlie episode 6) and so I think the segment had originally been taped during the production of episode 4 and saved for broadcasting on episode 7...at least that's my theory. In the performance clip Charlie McCoy sings (!) in addition to playing a harmonica solo.

In the Video Jukebox the spotlight turned to his iconic music video, "Help Me Make It Through the Night" (1990). The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music "professor", Don Cusic, presented information concerning "Gitarzan"...and this lead to Ray's performance of his 1969 classic. A rousing performance to close the episode for sure!

Next Saturday night episode 8 will feature Aaron Tippin as special guest. If the PBS affiliate in your area airs the program tune it in. You can find out by clicking Ray's TV SERIES link. There's a state by state breakdown so if you find your state on the list click it and see which PBS affiliate in your area is carrying Ray's program. Once you do that check your local listings for specific day and time it airs. Syndicated television series have various air-times and air-dates throughout the country. In most major PBS markets that carry his program they offer it at 8pm on Saturday nights.

You, as fans, will have to look up your PBS channel's website from the list provided at Ray's web page. One the touring front Ray is to appear at The Grand Ole Opry on May 27th. Usually, but not always, but usually most guest appearances from Ray signal some sort of upcoming project is on the horizon and he's been known to debut unreleased songs during Opry appearances...but even after saying that don't read too much into his guest appearance until after it happens later this month. Since he hasn't released any music since last Christmas (the CD and music video of "Mary and Joseph and the Baby and Me") it's only natural for this fan to assume he'll spotlight some upcoming release but then again he may just walk out on the Opry stage and regal the audience with classics like "The Streak", "It's Me Again, Margaret", "Misty", "Everything is Beautiful", etc. Later this summer on July 22 he'll be appearing in Renfro Valley, Kentucky at their entertainment center. So far those are the only concert dates that appear on his site. I'm sure other appearances may appear on the schedule this summer but don't forget his CabaRay Nashville venue is set to open in the fall of this year...so the bulk of his performances are going to be taking place there...and factor in any taping sessions for his television series, too! He continues to keep himself busy doesn't he??

April 30, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...episode Six...

Hello one and all...on this early Sunday morning I find myself having just finished viewing episode six of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. I DVR the series and watch it later. Here's a LINK that takes you to Ray's website. It lists the first 6 episodes and if you click the next page link over there it'll open up to page 2 and you can read about the next 6 episodes (the first 12 are spotlighted). The thing about the local syndication market is you can't necessarily follow a cohesive air-date schedule. Due to the series debuting on some PBS stations in January with other PBS stations adding it as time has gone by it created the scenario of some viewers seeing different episodes in any given week.

Those of us viewing the series on PBS affiliates that added CabaRay Nashville after the month of January are always going to be playing catch-up to the stations that have aired it since it became available for PBS syndication in early January 2017. That is the reason Ray can't necessarily promote any particular episode on social media during any given week because the PBS markets that are airing the program are on different air-date schedules.

CabaRay Nashville PBS addition: The program is going to start airing in Martin, Tennessee on PBS affiliate WLIT beginning July 7th according to his website. This means that it'll start with episode 1 on July 7th for those viewers...but in my area episode six aired last night...

On episode six the special guests happened to be legendary songwriter Bobby Braddock and Sheri Copeland Smith. Ray opened the program singing "There Must Be a Pill For This" from his Here We Go Again! CD. He introduces Bobby Braddock...and the songwriter is asked to name some of the songs he's written/co-written over the years. Ray calls on Sheri Copeland Smith to exit the background singers line-up and perform the soprano harmony during the upcoming performance. Ray makes note of the fact that prior to her joining his group she was part of the George Jones group for 6 or 7 years. On a personal note I remember when she appeared as one of George's back-up singers, too. She and her husband, Barry, used to open George's concerts during their time with him.

Bobby performs "He Stopped Loving Her Today", a song he co-wrote with Curly Putnam, which of course became a monumental hit for George Jones and an iconic country music classic. In the original recording George did in 1980 the soprano effect happened to be performed by Millie Kirkham. Sheri did a great job. The music video of "The Dooright Family" airs next. The Video Jukebox segment acts as a kind of intermission between the first and second half of the 30 minute program.

Kicking off the second half of the program Sheri joined Ray in a duet of "Golden Ring"...a classic duet by George Jones and Tammy Wynette which, not coincidentally, Bobby Braddock co-wrote. Don Cusic appears in a segment featuring information about Dick Feller that he's reading from Ray's box set, The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music. The segment sets up Ray's performance of "Makin' the Best of a Bad Situation", a song that Feller wrote. Ray had previously recorded the song on his 1986 album, Surely You Joust. Upon the conclusion of the performance he tells a joke about Setters and Pointers. It's more or less a running gag that he closes the show with either a corny joke or perhaps an obscure bit of trivia that has a humorous double meaning.

April 29, 2017

Nice Tee Shirts of Ray Stevens available...

Hello once more to the fans of Ray Stevens! I'd been on vacation from work this past week but vacation's soon going to be over tomorrow sad to say. I received an e-mail this morning as a lot of others should have received if you're on his mailing list. I highlighted in bold print the most important of information. It's information about this season's CMA Music Fest.

Ray is to have a booth set up again in the Music City Center during this year's Fan Fair X festivities. According to the information he's to appear on June 8, June 10, and June 11 and sign autographs, sell items, and I assume have his photo taken with fans. There's a standard time slot given: 1:30pm - 2:30pm Central time

Based upon things I've read in the past, most meet and greet/photo/autograph events are timed so that everybody in line is able to get their item signed or their photo taken...cutting off any small-talk a fan may have with their favorite artist...ensuring that everybody gets through the line within the allotted time frame.

Some fans bristle at the notion of a time table in place (a common practice for a number of years...some years it's more strictly enforced than others) but the organizers of the event perhaps want to avoid the potential for a seemingly never-ending parade of professional autograph seekers...those that aren't necessarily fans of an artist clogging up a line...and cutting off legitimate fans' chances of meeting their favorites. The autograph seekers then, more often than not, put the autographed item on sell (eBay usually).

I assume the booth is going to be operated by members of his staff prior to and after his autograph session each day. I can't imagine the booth only being open for 1 hour each day...but I've never been to the CMA Music Fest (formerly known as Fan Fair) and so I don't know if the booth's of artists are only open if the artist is there in person or not. I had always thought that the booth's are operated by members of the artist's staff or representatives of the record company and that booth's are open during business hours for fans to walk by, browse any merchandise available, etc. but the artist being represented at that booth may only be there in person for an hour or 2 per day. It's safe to say that the in-person appearance by an artist is the busiest a booth is going to be each day.

The other big news item in the e-mail are the arrival of a couple of items at Ray's official website store. A couple of T-shirts are available...and yes I already made a purchase!! I ordered the black T-shirt featuring a recent photo of Ray on the front and an advertisement for the CabaRay Nashville on the back. A second T-shirt is red in color and features the photo of Ray from Comedy Video Classics and "Don't Look Ethel" underneath the photo. That T-shirt may be purchased by more of a general audience but I selected the other one. The introductory price for each shirt regardless of it's size is $20. Sizes range from Small to XXL. You can see the T-shirts for yourselves and decide which one you want...you may choose to purchase both...and you can see those T-shirts by clicking HERE. Once you open the page you'll see the items on display.

Tonight episode six of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville airs at 8pm. On this episode Hall of Fame songwriter Bobby Braddock and musician/harmony singer Sheri Copeland Smith are the guest stars. I have my DVR set to record the program...last week the special guests happened to be Charlie McCoy and Lori Stegner. Ray performed "I'm My Own Grandpaw" on last week's episode...he performed it as a ballad instead of the uptempo manner in which he recorded it in 1987. The arrangement of the performance was similar to the arrangement used on the 1987 recording, too, only slightly modified by the use of some different instruments not heard in the original.

He and Lori sang their duet, "Temptation", from his Encyclopedia project a couple of years ago. The song is officially spelled "Tim-Tay-Shun" because they perform it in an exaggerated southern dialect.