July 17, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Shenandoah...

Hello all...its a steamy Monday morning here...and I'm about ready to recap the previous episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville from this past Saturday night. One of the things the more eagle eyed viewers may have caught is the new wave of thumbnail images that crawl along the screen during the opening. Those images highlight episodes that were recorded during taping sessions in late 2016 and earlier this year. Saturday night's episode guest starred the famed country music band, Shenandoah. Their episode was taped back in February of this year and this past weekend marked it's first air-date. The episode began with Ray performing "Ned Nostril"...how wonderful it was to see him stroll out and perform such a beloved song...perhaps, admittedly, obscure to most...but to us long time fans and lovers of his music "Ned Nostril" is a genuine classic. During the band solo's they pulled out napkins and acted as if they were sneezing and sniffing.

Now, for those that have never heard the song before, it's about a guy with a nose as long or as longer as Pinocchio...and he had a very rough childhood...but as an adult he became a crooner of Hawaiian songs (using his nose as an instrument). Ned enlisted the help of some buddies who had a bad habit of sniffing ragweed and so his ragweed buddies would sneeze and sniffle their way through musical breaks as Ned hummed along using his nose.

The complete title of the song is "Ned Nostril and His South Seas Paradise Puts Your Blues on Ice Cheap at Twice the Price Band, Ikky-Ikky Ukky-Ukky". The original hook of the song happened to be Ray's vocal impression of Johnny Cash. In the performance Saturday night he delivered the song in a Cash style, in keeping with the song's original recording, but some of the original arrangement had been changed. On the recording (from 1984) it has an intro similar to "Folsom Prison Blues" but on the PBS performance it wasn't as prominent.

Something that I briefly mentioned in a couple of my previous blog entries is that these PBS exclusive episodes are much more looser and come off more relaxed (sounds redundant, yes?). In Saturday night's episode the audience was spoken to by Ray and they had much more interaction with the activity taking place on the set than in the previous episodes that originally aired on RFD before the series moved to PBS this past January.

Ray brought out Shenandoah and explained that each member of the band was considered special guests. They spoke of their chosen instruments and their history in the music business. The lead singer, Marty Raybon, mentioned the band's 30 year anniversary...Ray remarked that he'd been in the business a long time, too...approaching 60 years...and a small back and fourth about 30 and 60 commenced. There was more audience reaction/interaction during the Shenandoah segment, too. The band performed "Two Dozen Roses", "I Wanna Be Loved Like That", and "Church on Cumberland Road". Every so often during the instrumental breaks in those songs Marty could be heard hollering "yeah!!!".

In addition to the music and exchanges with Shenandoah there happened to be an instrumental spotlight on Ray's steel guitarist, Tommy White. Ray opened this segment speaking about a 1959 steel guitar instrumental which, ironically, became a massive pop hit (one of the most ironic instances in music history...an instrument almost exclusive to country music riding the top of the pop charts). The recording, "Sleep Walk", hit #1 in September of 1959...originally performed by a duo known as Santo and Johnny. I thought I had never heard this recording before but once Tommy White began to play it I immediately remember hearing that melody on a television commercial at some point in my life. Along the same lines came an out of left field performance from Ray...the legendary pop hit "Only You".

Ray sang this song as several members of the studio audience danced in the background. It was a thrilling moment in the show...seeing Ray get into the song and physically mimic any number of crooners of that era...now, adding to that thrill, was the mention of a future CD featuring that song and others. I have no idea if this CD he mentioned is going to be released this calendar year or not but he called the CD, Slow Dance. He has mentioned this CD in the past...in addition to a Bluegrass project titled Melancholy Fescue...but there's never been any sort of concrete information released concerning the future of either project and when or if they'll be released. I'm sure both projects, at some point, are going to get released to the public but it's just a matter of when. His television series and the upcoming grand opening of his CabaRay venue are without a doubt the top priority in his career at the moment...CD releases are on the back burner. His most recent project is the DVD of the first 13 episodes of his television series (during it's run on RFD).

This week's episode is gospel themed and it guest stars Michael W. Smith. It'll air here this coming Saturday (July 22nd).

July 9, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Summer Schedule...

Hello one and all...in my first fan-created blog post of July I have some updated information to pass along concerning the Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville television show on PBS. In a previous blog post from last month I posted the upcoming schedule of episodes set to air on one of the local PBS stations in my area. There are a couple of changes, however, as episodes originally posted have been removed and replaced. Beginning this weekend (officially this past Friday; July 7th) all of the local PBS affiliates that air Ray's show aired the same episode.

Over the course of the last several months (dating back to early January of this year) local PBS affiliates picked episodes that previously aired on RFD and aired those. The PBS station in my area began airing the show in late March and of those RFD episodes available to air, WCVN/KET2 broadcast 15 of them (the 15th being a gospel themed episode guest starring T. Graham Brown and it also guest starred Ray's daughter, Suzi Ragsdale). Last night's episode guest starred Harold Bradley and Mandy Barnett.

On that particular episode it carried an early '60s feel...but yet this isn't surprising considering the guests that night. Ray opened the show singing "Sgt. Preston of the Yukon" which eventually led to an explanation of the song's origins and history and how, coupled with it's brisk sales success and the fact that it happened to be a comedy song, inspired him to focus on comedy for awhile and perhaps that would enable him to breakthrough and become a successful recording artist. He had to pull the single off the market after threats of a lawsuit from the copyright owners of the Sgt. Preston character but the sales attention he had gotten led him to issue another comedy song...and this one contains one of the longest song titles in existence: "Jeremiah Peabody's Polyunsaturated Quick Dissolving Fast Acting Pleasant Tasting Green and Purple Pills". That song rocketed up the Hot 100 and into the Top-40 in the blink of an eye in 1961.

Harold Bradley, a legendary guitar player/session musician and brother of the late Owen Bradley (himself a legendary music figure), talks of his background and history in the music industry. Owen happened to be a producer at Decca (later renamed MCA) and eventually opened what was to be known as The Bradley Barn (a recording studio inside a converted barn). Prior to this, however, both Owen and Harold worked in what was referred to as The Quonset Hut. The facility happened to be located at a house on 16th Avenue and 1954 is the year it opened for business...attaching a Quonset Hut to the house later on...which originally was intended as a film/TV studio but over time it became part of the recording studio. Owen and Harold sold the studio to Columbia in 1962 and, as mentioned, The Bradley Barn came into existence a couple of years later. Ray and Harold discuss their identical first and middle names: Harold Ray Ragsdale (the birth name of our Ray Stevens!) and Harold Ray Bradley. They speak of Patsy Cline and this eventually brings out Mandy Barnett. She sings "Crazy" and "I'm Confessin'" as Harold plays the electric guitar. Given the length of time spent with Harold and Mandy there wasn't much time for some of the familiar segments. There was a Video Jukebox segment featuring the limited animation music video, "Barbecue", and a closing song from Ray...a performance of his early '60s hit "Harry the Hairy Ape".

This begins the official third season of Ray's television show. The updated schedule of episodes can be found below. The air-dates listed below fall on Friday but that doesn't mean Friday is the official day of the week the show airs. Some local PBS affiliates air the show on Friday evening while a bulk of the PBS affiliates air the show on Saturday or Sunday evenings. As mentioned the first episode has already aired here...some PBS affiliates are airing that episode today...some PBS affiliates aired the episode on Friday.

July 7 – Harold Bradley and Mandy Barnett
July 14 – Shenandoah
July 21 – Michael W. Smith
July 28 – B.J. Thomas
Aug 4 – Rhonda Vincent
Aug 11 – Restless Heart
Aug 18 – John Michael Montgomery
Aug 25 – Baillie & the Boys
Sept 1 – Tommy Roe
Sept 8 – Mark Wills
Sept 15 – Duane Eddy
The last three episodes on the above list weren't originally scheduled to air when I provided what turned out to be a tentative list of future episodes in a previous blog. The last three episodes are going to air here on September 2, 9, and 16. Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville Schedule.

June 26, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...episode 14...

Hello all...I watched the 14th episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville to air on WCVN/KET2 this past Saturday night. It was another fun episode and it kind of broke with some of the established formula of the previous episodes. 

Ray came out and performed "Never Too Late", a song from his 2009 CD, One for the Road. The song's lyrics carry an inspirational feel while the music is in the easy-listening/Tin Pan Alley/Great American Songbook vein. Somehow, though, I think the choice to perform that kind of song as a show opener had a lot to do with that episode's special guest, Bobby Goldsboro. I say that because Bobby's biggest commercial successes came with easy-listening and sometimes sing-a-long pop songs and to fit the overall music mood he opened the show with "Never Too Late".

Ray introduced Bobby and the two of them discussed their early years in the music industry. One thing that you'll notice right off the bat is how peppy and energetic Bobby happens to be...and fast talking. He made mention of Ray's session work and the harmony vocals provided in "Little Things" (a single that United Artists released on Bobby late in 1964). Ray makes mention that Bobby's artistic talents go beyond music by spotlighting some of the paintings Bobby created...and some are soon to be on display at the CabaRay Nashville venue once it opens later this fall. Bobby performs "Little Things" and then performs what became his signature hit, "Honey".

It's a highly emotional song and the camera panned over the audience upon the song's conclusion and, yes, there were some teary eyed members of the audience. It's a sad song in case you've never heard it...and I'm consistently amazed that there are quite a few people out there that routinely vote this particular song as "one of the worst ever written". I don't know if that overly dramatic reaction stems from a listener feeling uneasy or vulnerable when listening to the song or if a listener simply hates sad songs...whatever the reason it's a song that doesn't get the kind of respect it should get.

This is a promo for the episode. If you're a regular visitor to Ray's YouTube channel or any of his social media sites then you should be well aware that he's uploaded a lot of promo videos for his television program. Given the fact that the program is locally syndicated on PBS stations across the country all of the video uploads are meant to air on the PBS stations that air the show. If the PBS affiliate in your area carries Ray's program and Bobby happens to be the guest that week, for example, then this is the official promo that may air on your local PBS channel...

Due to the show airing on PBS there aren't any commercials and so it cuts to one segment after the other. After the emotional "Honey" concludes Ray walks out from behind the piano and thanks Bobby for being on the show. The very next segment is the lighthearted Video Jukebox installment and an airing of "The Moonlight Special" animated music video. Talk about going from one extreme emotion to the other in the blink of an eye. The recurring segment featuring Don Cusic appears next and he provides some history on the upcoming performance Ray is about to do...a song from The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music. The song? "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose It's Flavor on the Bedpost Overnight?". Ray is in fine uptempo form as he tackles this song...originally a hit for Lonnie Donegan in the United Kingdom (1959) and in the United States (1961). After the performance of this song he closes the show in his usual way...by selecting someone to dance with as an instrumental of "Everything Is Beautiful" plays in the background. The one chosen this time around seemed terrified/nervous.

Here's a little mystery concerning the episode: In the description for this episode on the KET2 web page it states that Ray would be singing "The Skies Just Ain't Friendly Anymore" and no mention is made of "Never Too Late". This could have been a typo on their part (highly unlikely) so perhaps the original promo for this episode indicated that Ray would be performing that song but "Never Too Late" was chosen instead for the final cut...indicating that the original press release for the episode was never changed/corrected. That's just my theory. This is one of the episodes that had previously aired on RFD television (in May of last year to be specific). It's not a big deal, though, but it's something that caught my eye nevertheless.

In a previous blog entry I listed the upcoming episodes of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville scheduled for WCVN/KET2. They've added a couple more since that blog entry but mysteriously removed a couple they previously had posted...ones that I had shared in that blog entry.

Originally listed to air September 2nd was Con Hunley but now they have an episode listed guest starring Tommy Roe; for September 9th it was listed that Jimmy Wayne would be the special guest but now it's an episode guest starring Mark Wills. The September 16th episode, as originally scheduled, would be Ray's patriotic show guest starring Lee Greenwood and Darryl Worley but now KET2 has the September 16th air-date guest starring Duane Eddy instead.

In addition to those three episodes replacing what had originally been scheduled there were 2 episodes added to fill the entire month of September...

Angaleena Presley: September 23

Riders in the Sky: September 30

There's no explanation as to the reason the first 3 episodes in September that had originally appeared on the KET2 schedule have been replaced by other episodes but there must be a reason...I'm sure none of us will ever know the reason and I'm sure they never expected someone (myself) to have noticed the change of episodes anyway...let's hope the originally scheduled episodes make it onto DVD if they never make it to the PBS airwaves. There are to be 52 first-run episodes exclusive to PBS stations in addition to the first 26 episodes that aired on RFD. Half of those 52 first-run episodes have already been assembled and are scheduled to start airing soon.

Next week's episode on KET2 (July 1st) guest stars T. Graham Brown and Ray's daughter, Suzi Ragsdale. This is one of the RFD episodes (originally aired January 30, 2016). After the airing of that episode KET2 begins airing (starting July 8th) the first-run PBS episodes. Harold Bradley and Mandy Barnett are the guests on the July 8th episode.