Hello one and all...the fans of Ray Stevens and those that stop by here to perhaps learn some things about him that you perhaps aren't going to find elsewhere.
There's over 100 photo's in this particular Facebook album. The pictures are a combination of Ray Stevens signing autographs and performing at the Durango sponsored event at the CMA Music Fest this past Saturday. You can see the pictures HERE.
Now then...for those that missed the music performance Saturday afternoon here's a brief re-cap. He performed five songs during his set. The first performance, "Nashville", coincides now with the book/memoir of the same name that's due to have it's 'official release date' later this month. The song itself goes back to the early '70s. Ray, in several interviews through the years, mentioned that he originally wrote "Nashville" due to his being homesick during an international tour in Europe.
As an additional note: a great music video of that song came along recently...a visual tour of Music City. Some of the lyrics in recent performances of the song have been changed from the original due to the topicality found in the original lyrics. In the original Ray mentions Johnny Cash, Boots Randolph, and Mayor Briley. The verse containing those lyrics/references have long since been replaced by references to the Ryman, the Tennessee Titans, and the Opry. The reference to Chet Atkins is still in place and in the music video it has Ray appearing next to Chet's statue.
The second performance of Ray's segment was "It's Me Again, Margaret". It delighted the audience...Ray remarked that during his autograph sessions that he had met hundreds of women either named Margaret or had mothers, cousins, or aunts named Margaret. After the performance Ray started talking about squirrels. All he had to do was say the word 'squirrel' and the audience erupted in cheers. Yes, as you can guess, he performed "Mississippi Squirrel Revival".
After the performance of this song Ray mentioned that August 19th is to be the release date of his gospel project. I looked on the calendar and the 19th of August is on a Tuesday...most new music projects see a Tuesday release. He never said if the CD is going to be available exclusively at his web-store on that date or if it'll be available everywhere on that date. The pattern lately is for him to release something through his website and then several months later have it available on Amazon, Itunes, and other music stores.
After mentioning the CD's upcoming release he performed "If Jesus Is a Stranger".
You may remember that song from a blog I posted several months ago. Ray appeared on one of the last episodes of Mike Huckabee's radio program and I (big surprise!) posted a blog about it. I searched the archives and found that it took place on December 4, 2013. Ray spoke of this future gospel CD then and Mike played the recording of "If Jesus Is a Stranger". At the time Ray had mentioned that the CD's release would happen in January 2014. Something must have come up in the post-production phase or perhaps the January 2014 release originally mentioned on Huckabee's radio program was later considered a bad time of the year to release a project and get the kind of attention it deserves. From what I understand (based on some of Ray's interviews) this upcoming gospel CD is going to be a multiple CD release...meaning it'll include much more than the standard 10-12 songs. So, look for the CD to be available this August. Ray mentioned that there would be 2 volumes to the collection.
Ray closed out his half hour segment with "Everything Is Beautiful". Prior to his performance he asked the sound guy if the audio could be turned up. Listening to his performance over the internet I assumed that the music track's low volume was simply a glitch in the connection...but once Ray asked the sound guy to 'turn up the volume' I could hear the music louder than before. Ray remarked that the people in the audience might be able to hear the music but he couldn't hear it.
All in all it happened to be a good performance. If you're familiar at all with Ray Stevens in a concert setting and you listened to the performance this past Saturday you'll immediately notice that the short time slot did have some impact on his performance. He didn't have the time to elaborate, exaggerate, and or ad-lib as much as he does in a usual performance. I felt like he was just getting warmed up right as his portion was coming to a close. "It's Me Again, Margaret", for example, was funny as usual but it didn't have the timing of the performances he gives in a usual concert setting. It's hard to explain without getting overly analytical. It's Ray Stevens, though...time restricted or given all the time he needs...you're going to be entertained in some fashion and that's the bottom line.