April 22, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Mark Chesnutt

Happy early Sunday morning...well, it's early Sunday morning as I type this blog entry. I just finished watching Mark Chesnutt's episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. This particular episode began with Ray performing "The Streak", his massive hit from 1974. On the heels of the performance came Ray's introduction of Mark Chesnutt.

Ray starts things off by mentioning that Mark recorded a song from a writer that also happened to write one of his own hits, Paul Craft. In Ray's case it was "It's Me Again, Margaret" whereas in Mark's case it was "Brother Jukebox". Mark describes it being brought to his attention by the record company but he didn't want to record it because it had already been recorded by Keith Whitley (one of Mark's music heroes). However, Keith's recording wasn't issued as a single, and eventually Mark decided that since Keith didn't technically have a hit with it then that's when he decided to do it. Mark's recording was the second single released during his career and it hit number one.

During the conversation Mark mentions that he always wanted to do a song with a line asking a woman if she happened to be naked (referring to "It's Me Again, Margaret"). Ray suggests that he'd be happy to go into the studio and record Mark performing the song. Mark plays along and points out that Ray would have "to do the pervert part" (referring to Willard McBaine's giggle) which has Ray, Mark, and the audience howling with laughter. Ray composes himself and states that he may laugh like a pervert but Mark sings like a pervert...which causes more laughter...and Mark comes back with "well, I am a pervert...". It was a nice give and take banter that you normally do not see take place during the interview/talking segment of the program. Mark (lead vocals) and Ray (piano/harmony vocals) perform "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair".

Ray asks how Mark got acquainted with George Jones. Mark says that he first met George back in 1983. He says that he was part of a local band opening up for a concert George was going to do. Any other host/emcee would probably have been crass enough to ask if George shown up for it, given the era in George's career being spoken of, but Ray side-stepped that kind of a question. Afterward things get a bit too serious...some may say candid...but it began when Mark spoke of his father's dreams of becoming a country music artist. He said his father wrote a lot of good songs but things didn't work out due to family commitments. Ray says there's a fine line trying to balance family and life on the road and being part of the music business in general.

Mark tells of the day he decided to quit school and become a country music singer. He says his father didn't really try to stop him from quitting given the age factor of Mark being legally able to quit school if he wanted but he says the problems arose when he told his father that he wanted to try and become a country music singer in Nashville rather than Texas. The family lived in Texas and his father said that Mark could become very successful as a singer in Texas without the trappings of having to record in Nashville. Mark mentioned that he spent at least 10 years as a singer at honky-tonks and clubs in Texas before getting a recording contract with a major label. He said the first label he signed to was a small Independent label called D Records.

Mark calls Ray a music hero and says that although they've never met for any lengthy period of time he's the reason he decided to return to Nashville. He pointed out that he doesn't return to Nashville to do interviews but he couldn't turn down an appearance on a television show Ray hosts.

Mark performs a song titled "Hot" which is from his 2016 release, Tradition Lives. He follows this with one of his hits, "It's a Little Too Late". Ray closes the show doing a performance of "You Don't Know Me" at the piano. This weekend on local PBS stations an episode titled Special Moments is airing. This will be uploaded onto Ray's video website next weekend. The Special Moments episode is to feature clips of performers who've previously appeared on the program singing songs that weren't part of the original airing of their episode. It's an out-take presentation which will feature Ray at the CabaRay Showroom delivering wraparound segments.

April 20, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Season Six...

Hello one and all!! I found out the guest line-up for the new season of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. It will have 13 half hour episodes and the first two episodes have already aired on local PBS stations as most of you may already be aware of.

The local PBS station in my area (KET2) will begin airing Season Six episodes in late May. They're airing the last several episodes of Season Five at the moment. I'll be watching the current season on Ray's video website, raystevens.tv, but I continue to DVR the episodes as they air on KET2, also. Here is the Season Six guest line-up:

1. Jamie O'Neal
2. Mark Chesnutt
3. Special Moments**
4. Hall of Fame (clips featuring guests that are members of the Country Music Hall of Fame; Ray will provide wraparound segments from the CabaRay Showroom)
5. Moe Bandy
6. Linda Davis
7. CeCe Winans
8. Micky Dolenz
9. Tribute Show (Ray sings the songs of Jerry Reed, Glen Campbell, Mel Tillis, and Merle Haggard)
10. Ronnie McDowell
11. Shoji Tabuchi
12. John Schneider
13. Lee Roy Parnell

On episode three, first airing on local PBS syndication this weekend, Ray presents performances from Rex Allen, Jr., Lari White, and Don McLean. It's kind of like a clip-filled out take episode in which footage that didn't originally air is finally making it to the airwaves. It's worth noting that a lot of footage is taped and some of it airs and some of it doesn't. Rex guest starred on episode one of Season Four; Lari White was the guest on episode two of Season Four; and Don McLean guest starred on episode nine of Season Four. Lari has since passed away from cancer (earlier this year at the age of 52).

On the Hall of Fame episode Ray presents clips from past episodes of CabaRay Nashville featuring guests that are members of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Ray will appear on the stage of the CabaRay, likely seated at his piano and likely minus an audience, introducing each clip with probably some history of the song or perhaps his friendships with some of the Hall of Fame guests. Even though this clip-filled episode will feature Ray at the CabaRay introducing Hall of Fame members from previous episodes I don't think it's going to be counted as the first episode at the CabaRay Showroom because of the special nature of that particular episode. To my way of thinking Moe Bandy will hold the distinction of appearing on the first episode to air originating from the CabaRay Showroom while Mark Chesnutt will hold the distinction of being the final guest to appear at the original recording studio...meanwhile...

A third special episode is titled Tribute Show. I can't wait to hear Ray perform the songs of Jerry Reed and others!! Mark Chesnutt's episode (which aired last weekend on some local PBS affiliates) will be uploaded onto Ray's video site this weekend. Once I see it I'll provide a recap.  

Did you hear Ray's guest appearance on the Grand Ole Opry this past Tuesday (April 17th)? He performed three songs: "Nashville", "Ahab the Arab", and "Please Help Me I'm Falling". In between the songs he spoke about their origin and he also spoke of his CabaRay Showroom and his PBS television series. WSM radio's website has the Tuesday Night Opry available in their audio archives. You can listen to the show by clicking HERE. Ray appears midway through the first half hour. The Whites perform during the first 13 minutes and then Ray Stevens takes the stage not long afterward. Pay close attention to one of his jokes...he mentions he got a request from someone who happens to be 111 years old.

April 16, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Jamie O'Neal

Hello to all the fans of Ray Stevens!! Well, I learned earlier this morning when I visited raystevens.tv that there have been some changes in the CabaRay Nashville presentation. For several weeks I've been mentioning that Season Six will mark the debut of episodes taped at the CabaRay Showroom but I found out that a couple of episodes taped during the Season Five sessions at Ray's Music Row location will kick off Season Six.

On the weekend of April 7th the episode guest starring Jamie O'Neal aired on local PBS stations and it was uploaded onto Ray's video site yesterday. That is when I discovered that her episode kicks off Season Six. I should have known because each season has 13 episodes...which meant Tony Orlando's episode was the final episode of Season Five if you're keeping track.

I've updated the episode list I previously posted in a couple of other blog entries to reflect the start of Season Six. I know that Mark Chesnutt's episode aired on local PBS stations this weekend (April 14th) and it'll be uploaded onto Ray's video site next weekend. This will be episode two of Season Six...and then the episodes taped at the CabaRay Showroom should start to air. As of this writing I have no chronological guest list for Season Six. Once a guest list is made available I'll edit this blog entry and fill in the rest of the season's line-up.

Season One: (January - March 2017)
1. Steve Wariner
2. Larry Gatlin
3. Bobby Bare
4. Don Schlitz
5. Charlie McCoy
6. Bobby Braddock
7. Jimmy Fortune
8. Aaron Tippin
9. John Conlee and Jeff Bates
10. Tanya Tucker and T.G. Sheppard
11. Gene Watson
12. James Gregory
13. Billy Dean

Season Two: (April - June 2017)
1. Bobby Goldsboro
2. T. Graham Brown and Suzi Ragsdale
3. Williams and Ree
4. Leroy Van Dyke
5. Bellamy Brothers
6. The Gatlin Brothers
7. Collin Raye
8. Darryl Worley and Lee Greenwood
9. Bill Anderson
10. Sylvia
11. Con Hunley
12. Jimmy Wayne
13. Reed Robertson

Season Three: (July - September 2017)
1. Harold Bradley and Mandy Barnett
2. Shenandoah
3. Michael W. Smith
4. B.J. Thomas
5. Rhonda Vincent
6. Restless Heart
7. John Michael Montgomery
8. Baillie and the Boys
9. Tommy Roe
10. Mark Wills
11. Duane Eddy
12. Angaleena Presley
13. Riders in the Sky

Season Four: (October - December 2017)
1. Rex Allen, Jr.
2. Lari White
3. Charley Pride
4. Janie Fricke (originally aired on RFD)
5. Gary Mule Deer
6. Gary Morris
7. John Berry
8. Jeannie Seely
9. Don McClean
10. Felix Cavaliere
11. Suzy Bogguss (originally aired on RFD)
12. Deborah Allen
13. New Year's Eve Cast Show

Season Five: (January - April 2018)
1. Ray Hildebrand
2. Steve Wariner (edited airing of the series debut episode)
3. Paul Overstreet
4. Daily and Vincent
5. Jenny Gill
6. Tracy Lawrence
7. Sam Moore
8. Wilson Fairchild
9. Deana Carter
10. Gary Puckett
11. John Rich
12. John Rich, Part Two
13. Tony Orlando

Season Six: (April - June 2018)
1. Jamie O'Neal
2. Mark Chesnutt (current episode as of this writing; I'll add the rest of the season's guests once they become available).

And so now...here's my recap of Jamie O'Neal's episode...

Ray opens the show performing his version of "Open the Door, Richard". He had recorded this for The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music but never mentioned this during his brief introduction/backstory about the song. Upon the conclusion of the song Ray mentions his early years in Nashville as a member of the A and R department of Mercury Records. He mentions that the guest on this week's episode also began her career at Mercury Records and by pure coincidence also worked in Mercury's A and R department. The initials stand for Artists and Repertoire...which basically means the person in charge of listening to songs, writing songs, or finding songs that he or she feels best fits a recording artist among a whole host of other functions.

Jamie mentions how much she loves classic/traditional country music and she name drops several legends such as Dolly Parton, Larry Gatlin, and Hank Williams. She mentions her birthplace being Sydney, Australia but at the age of five her family moved to the United States which Ray acknowledged is the reason she doesn't have an Australian accent. Ray brings up Hank Williams being universally recognized as a traditional country music icon and says he'll be performing one of Hank's songs later in the show but suggests that he and Jamie perform a duet rendition of Hank's "Hey, Good Lookin'".

After the duet performance Jamie tells of how she and her family used to do the county fair circuit opening for the headlining acts. Ray asks about her studio, which she said is nicknamed The Grotto, at the suggestion of her husband. She goes into detail about how much she loves the studio life but says that one of her dislikes is the audio mixing...saying she doesn't know how to do it. Ray asks about her record label, Momentum Label Group, of which she speaks about it's formation. He asks her to sing once again and she performs a song she said is brand new and hasn't been released called "Just Whiskey". Afterward she performs her signature hit, "There is No Arizona", a number one country hit for her in 2001.

Ray closes the show singing "Your Cheatin' Heart", the Hank Williams song he hinted at earlier in the show. As previously mentioned Mark Chesnutt was the special guest on this weekend's episode of CabaRay Nashville and once I see it next weekend on Ray's video site I'll write a recap of it. Episode three should take place at the CabaRay Showroom. Some of the guests on Season Six will be Moe Bandy, Mickey Dolenz, Lee Roy Parnell, and CeCe Winans...but as of this writing I don't know when their episodes are going to air.