July 24, 2016

Ray Stevens Nashville...Number 1 on RFD-TV...

Hello all of you fans of Ray Stevens!! I'm sure by now you've heard the great news that Ray's television program, Ray Stevens' Nashville, is RFD-TV's #1 program. This bit of news came out slowly the latter half of this past week but several on-line sites, including those ran by country music radio stations, have since added it to their news sections. Ray's program debuted on the satellite and cable channel this past November in the 8:30pm Eastern time slot on Saturday night. The series continues to air in this time slot and it airs repeats a couple times during the week. The series is in it's second season of programs. I mention it in that manner because it, like almost all of the other original programs on RFD-TV, have 13-episode production cycles and this is vastly different from the routine production cycles of programs that exist on broadcast television. In broadcast television 26 consecutive first-run episodes ordinarily make up a television season. Those 26 episodes get re-ran in the spring and summer months to total a 52 week calendar year. The programs that air on RFD-TV tend to have 13 first-run episodes per 'season', then there's a re-run period, totaling 26 air-dates. Then 13 additional first-run episodes air, billed as a new season even though it's technically the second half of the existing season, and those episodes then get re-ran. Altogether it adds up to the same 52 week time frame even though the manner in which the episodes make it to the air is vastly different. In broadcast television 26 first-run episodes (plus 26 re-runs) are considered one season but things are a bit different in the world of cable television. I guess by having the episodes airing in this fashion it cuts out the inevitable airing of 26 consecutive re-runs...and so, to eliminate that, the series appears to have a 13 first-run/13 re-run, 13 first-run/13 re-run production cycle.

Sorry to get so technical and confusing but I like to be detailed...

The series, as mentioned, debuted in November of 2015. The actual air-date for the debut is November 7th. Here is a list of episodes that have aired so far...I've listed them in chronological order and listed the guest artist...

1. Steve Wariner (debut episode; November 7, 2015)
2. Don Schlitz
3. Bobby Bare
4. Larry Gatlin
5. Charlie McCoy
6. Bobby Braddock
7. Suzy Bogguss (Christmas episode)
8. Jimmy Fortune
9. Aaron Tippin
10. John Conlee
11. Tanya Tucker and T.G. Sheppard
12. Darryl Worley and Lee Greenwood
13. Suzi Ragsdale and T. Graham Brown
14. Billy Dean
15. James Gregory; the Helen Highwater String Band
16. Bobby Goldsboro
17. Williams and Ree
18. The Bellamy Brothers
19. The Gatlin Brothers
20. Gene Watson
21. Collin Raye
22. Bill Anderson
23. Sylvia
24. Con Hunley
25. Leroy Van Dyke
26. Janie Fricke (this episode is scheduled to air July 30th)

Here's a LINK reporting about Ray's television series hitting #1...becoming the most-watched series among RFD-TV viewers.

July 11, 2016

Something's Coming...it's Ray Stevens...

Yes, "Something's Coming" to a town near you and it's the one and only Ray Stevens. In a little more than a month from today there is to be a concert by Ray Stevens at the Chocktaw Casino in Pocola, Oklahoma. The concert gets underway at 8pm on August 12th. You can either visit the Casino's website by clicking HERE or by calling Ticket Master directly at 1-800-745-3000. Since it's taking place at a Casino there's strict rules about the audience and carry-in items. You have to 18 years of age or older and you can't bring in any kind of recording equipment. Also, given that it's a Casino performance and not a venue for a general audience of all age groups and less strict rules chances are the appearance isn't going to get much hype; but, if you're an adult and are in the area or are a fan of Ray's and decide you want to make the trip to Pocola, Oklahoma then click the link I embedded or call the number for tickets. The concert is just a little more than a month from today.

In the meantime do any of you have the latest CD from Ray Stevens? I purchased my copy almost a month ago. The CD, Just a Closer Walk with Thee/Gospel Favorites had it's release nearly a month ago on June 17th. If you follow his career as closely as I do then you'll be aware that there has not been any sort of publicity or campaign surrounding this CD...yet. It's a follow-up to his 2014 gospel collection. Back then most of the publicity fell on the shoulders of the Gaither company and various southern gospel outlets. Ray also made the rounds of various gospel television programs but so far there hasn't been the same kind of publicity for this particular CD...maybe you get the sense that I'm impatient...but I'm not. I'm merely anxious to see if Ray is going to promote the CD and perform some of these songs and create awareness for the CD's existence or if this is going to be a CD that gets lost in the shuffle of other projects. In my Amazon review of the CD I pointed out some of the songs that I hope get promoted as single releases. One of those is "Something's Coming". I like that melody and the message and it's a catchy song, too. You can purchase the song on Amazon by clicking HERE. I'd also encourage you, once you're at Amazon, visit the CD's main page...or you can visit it by clicking HERE. Also not to be overlooked is his version of "This Ole House"! This is a great gospel CD from the one and only Ray Stevens!

July 10, 2016

Ray Stevens and a Touch of Silver...

Can it be? It's been 25 years since the release of this comedy album from Ray Stevens? Technically the album hit the stores on June 18, 1991 but I've never actually celebrated album or song milestones on the exact dates...I've only concentrated on the year and that makes 2016 the Silver Anniversary of #1 With a Bullet. This particular release, on Curb/Capitol Records, features the standard 10 songs but the thing that makes this particular project a bit different is that none of the songs were written or co-written by Ray Stevens. Oh, it's definitely a Ray Stevens album to be sure. He's still the producer, arranger, and one of the session musicians (playing piano and synthesizer) but the album was pretty much written by Ray's longtime collaborator, Buddy Kalb (all but one song is credited to Buddy either as sole writer or co-writer). The album, overall, presents a pop-culture mixture of novelty songs...a theme not found on many of Ray's previous series of novelty albums. The first three tracks on the album use current trends for humor. The opener, "Power Tools", is a comical story about a Do-It-Yourself amateur enthralled with the concept of power tools to the point where he fails to realize that although a power tool can make a job go by faster the less you know about the specific tool the more dangerous power tools can be. America seemed to have a love affair with the Do-It-Yourself types...and I should point out that this album was released several months before ABC television debuted the sitcom, Home Improvement, starring Tim Allen.

Track 2 on this album, "Teenage Mutant Kung Fu Chickens"...well, the title is a giveaway...it's a spoof of the animated series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which aired in traditional animated form in the late '80s and into the mid '90s. The turtles become a phenomenon launching movies, action figures, cereal, and comic books. In Ray's recording he sings of a chicken farm in Tennessee in which nuclear water leaked into a chicken coop. Once the eggs hatched the farmer discovered that the four chickens had extreme power and amazing self-defense skills. He named them appropriately: Fricassee, Cordon Blu, Cacciatory, and Stew. For track three the subject shifts to a current trend in country music by 1991 and it happened to be the Hat Act phenomena. "You Gotta Have a Hat" explores the fact that a lot of country music's mega-stars and sex symbols all wore Stetson hats. Ray sang about his plan to become a country music sex symbol by putting on a cowboy hat and driving around Nashville in a fancy car. It's a song that exaggerates the Hat Act trend and comically suggests that all you need to be a success in country music is to wear a hat. During concert performances of the song he'd add some visual comedy to the proceedings by pulling out a gigantic foam hat and wearing it during the performance.

"Tabloid News" is a frenetic performance detailing the big news making the headlines in the fictional National Supermarket Checkout Examiner. It's a funny song and one that gives Ray a lot of opportunity to spotlight his vocal talents and mimicry. Also a treat are the sound effects. "The Sheik of R and B" enables Ray to honor his love for classic rhythm and blues stylists and at the same time the title is a pun on the classic movie, The Sheik of Araby.

"Juanita and the Kids" debuted on this album...a lot of latter day fans of Ray Stevens, specifically those that discovered him by way of YouTube, may only be familiar with the music video. The video was first made available in 2000 and uploaded to YouTube in 2011 but the actual song goes back to this 1991 album. YouTube, obviously, has allowed Ray's catalog of recordings to live on in music video form. The song is about the IRS and in their zeal to audit a taxpayer and potentially collect some money fail to realize that this particular taxpayer has some mental issues...but more troubling is the fact that the IRS and other branches of the Federal Government issued his spouse and children social security cards and legal documents as a formality rather than realizing the kind of spouse and children he actually claims. If you hadn't heard the song I'm not going to mention the convoluted scenario any further. It's something you'll just have to hear for yourselves.

Something that was perhaps intentional or extremely coincidental is the fact that the album's final two songs make mention of Pearl Harbor and the Japanese. 1991 happened to be the 50th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.

In "A Little Blue-Haired Lady" Ray sings about the all too common situation of being behind a really slow driver...her maximum speed being 20 miles per hour on an Interstate. Midway through the song there's mention of Roosevelt and the Japanese Ambassador in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor. The Japanese official said that they tried to give warning but...well, you know...

In the closing performance there's the one song that Buddy Kalb didn't have a hand at writing: "Working For the Japanese". In this wonderful song Ray tackles the subject of economics and the trend in U.S. economics at the time. An argument is made that there's too much dependence on foreign products and it's causing America's jobs to be shipped overseas. It's a timeless message but the message often falls on deaf ears because 25 years later the result of foreign product manufacturing has virtually eliminated manual labor in the United States. The song's writer happens to be Ron DeLacy.

#1 With a Bullet got a re-issue on CD in 2005. A lot of on-line retail stores and information sites fail to mention that the CD has an original copyright of 1991 and that it originally was issued on cassette tape. The on-line sites make it appear as if the songs had been recorded in 2005 by not pointing out that the material is actually from 1991. I skipped over a couple of songs on this CD, if you're keeping count, because I didn't want the blog entry to become a more extremely lengthy overview than it already has.