October 21, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Charley Pride

It's me once more...and the recent episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville ended about half an hour ago from this writing. Ray opened the show seated at the piano and he performed "Be Your Own Best Friend". This is a song that I'd never seen him perform on television but I know that he re-recorded the song for inclusion on his Thank You CD in 2004...but for historical purposes the song originally hit in 1978 and made the Country Top-40. It's the title track of one of his albums that year (the other album being There Is Something On Your Mind). He kept the same arrangement and it was just like the recording note for note.

He brings out Charley Pride and the two of them discuss Texas. Charley mentions that he's lived in Texas since 1969. Ray mentioned that he asked about Texas because there's a follow-up to it involving the Texas Rangers. Charley speaks of his involvement with the baseball team and he brings up his life long love of baseball. He relates a story about Gene Autry and the California Angels and says that during his years in the Minor League he met Gene at a restaurant and tried to persuade Gene into bringing him onto the Major League roster of the Angels. Charley, with his familiar smile, told the audience that Gene looked at him and said that he just owns the team but doesn't make any operational decisions as far as the line-up/roster is concerned and so music became his life's profession from then on.

Upon the conclusion of the baseball talk from both (Ray himself once inspired to be a baseball player, too, but never took it as far as Charley did), Charley performs "Kiss An Angel Good Morning".

After the performance Ray makes mention of the fact that after Elvis the act on RCA that's sold the most records happened to be Charley. Ken Nelson, of Capitol, was mentioned when Charley brought up Ray's birth name. Ray tells about Ken suggesting a name change from Ray Ragsdale to Ray Stevens. Charley then performs one of my favorites, "Roll On Mississippi" and then "Is Anybody Goin' To San Antone?".

After the performances Charley and Ray have some parting words...and Charley makes an exit for backstage. This is a rarity...the guests usually exit during a break in the recording and it's not captured on tape. That is why there's always an edit from the time Ray thanks the guest for being on the show and the performance of the closing song. In another instance of breaking formula an instrumental is offered by The A-Team (the group of musicians that accompany Ray and the guests). Two of the members, Jerry Kimbrough and Jim Ferguson, perform an instrumental that Ray calls "Work Song". The members of the band usually perform on Ray's albums, too. Ray closes the show singing "Family Funeral Fight", a song from his Box Set project in 2005. It was one of the new songs recorded for the Box Set. This is probably the first time he's performed it on a television program.

Yesterday evening I checked the local PBS site and they added more episodes of Ray's show. In a couple of previous blog entries I mentioned that the site had episodes listed through November 18th. To my surprise, though, the local PBS station will not be airing episodes on November 25th or December 2nd. The reason is because of their Winter Pledge Drive and they'll be airing special programming. Those episodes will still air on other PBS stations on those weekends but not on the PBS channel in this area. The guests for those episodes are Jeannie Seely (November 25) and Don McLean (December 2). I'll be envious of others that will be able to see those episodes...particularly the December 2nd episode...Don is to perform his version of "Crying" and to miss out on hearing the stories that Don might tell is going to be tough. The local PBS station will resume airing the show the following Saturday (December 9th) and the guest will be Felix Cavaliere.

But returning to the present day rather than jumping ahead a month, coming up next weekend is the episode guest starring Janie Fricke...billed as the Halloween Show...it'll air October 28th. If I'm not mistaken this is one of the episodes from the RFD years. This will mark the first time an RFD episode has aired since the series changed to PBS exclusives in July. Episodes originally airing on RFD used to air on PBS stations during his early months on their airwaves before the brand new episodes began to air in the late summer.

Some Vintage/New Ray Stevens Items...

Hello all...it's an early Saturday morning here as I type up this latest blog entry. This time around I'm blogging about a couple of vintage but new to me items from Ray Stevens. First off is a CD that Ray released 10 years ago that I never owned a copy of until now!! In 2007 he released a CD titled Hurricane. The CD features 12 songs...five of which are re-recordings of previous songs. At the time of the release I purchased the 7 original recordings, as Mp3's, but lately I began thinking of the physical copy of the CD...plus the fact that the Mp3's that I had previously purchased were lost on a computer I no longer operate...and so I purchased a CD copy of Hurricane about a week ago during one of Ray's web-store discount sales and it arrived in the mail yesterday.

The first six songs on the CD had never appeared on any previous Ray Stevens album and the same goes for track eleven. Tracks seven through ten and track twelve are the re-recordings. In order: "Hurricane", "Sucking Sound", "The Cure", "Bubba the Wine Connoisseur", "Hey Bubba Watch This!", and "Rub It In". Dedicated fans of Ray Stevens may take a moment and ponder over "Rub It In". Ray has long been linked to this song but until this 2007 CD was released he had never recorded it. In the early '70s Ray produced a version of the song recorded by it's writer, Layng Martine, Jr., and released it on Barnaby Records. Ray also published the song...which proved very beneficial...because the publisher of a song tags along with any artist that records the song. The version by it's writer didn't became a big hit but later on Billy "Crash" Craddock recorded the song and it became a monster hit. If you have the single or if you come across an image of it on-line you'll see Ray's publishing company credited as Ahab Music Company on the upper left hand side of the label sleeve. In the '80s and '90s the song's title was parodied in a long series of television commercials for Glade...their jingle was called 'Plug it In, Plug it In!". The seventh never before available song on the CD is "Down Home Beach". The re-recordings include: "Smokey Mountain Rattlesnake Retreat", "The Camping Trip", "Makin' The Best of a Bad Situation", "Stuck on You", and "Hugo the Human Cannonball". Four of those re-recordings were turned into limited animation music videos. For those that have seen those videos the recordings you hear originated on this Hurricane CD.

The second vintage item is truly a gem of obscurity and in very limited quantities. Long time readers of this fan created blog are aware of how I have complained over the years about the lack of cassette tape on eBay of studio albums Ray recorded during the hey day of cassette tape. I have a blue cassette tape of Boogity Boogity (the oldest cassette of Ray that I own; from 1974). Next in line is a 1980 cassette of Shriner's Convention. Then everything from 1984 to 2002 I have in cassette format, too...but that was until a couple of days ago...

Into my possession came a cassette copy of Don't Laugh Now, a 1982 Ray Stevens album. As you might know I already have all of Ray's studio albums in vinyl format starting with 1963's This is Ray Stevens and stopping with 1989's Beside Myself...but the cassette tape collection prior to 1984 is really small and I act like a kid in a candy store anytime I obtain something rare. I'm forever on the look out for cassette versions of 1981's One More Last Chance and 1983's Me. I know cassette tape was manufactured throughout the 1970s but I just never, hardly ever, come across anything on cassette from Ray during that time frame. Cassette versions of Losin' Streak, Nashville, and even Just For the Record have come up for sale on eBay but the prices are outrageous. Don't Laugh Now was just the right price! This is the album that contains the single releases "Written Down In My Heart" and "Where the Sun Don't Shine". The album opens up with "Such a Night"...a song that only recently became something of a staple in Ray's set lists during concerts. The album also includes "Country Boy, Country Club Girl" and one of my all-time favorites, "Oh, Leo Lady". I made the images small...you can always click them and a larger image should appear. If a larger image doesn't appear then the small image will just have to do.

As a reminder...tonight's episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville will guest star Charley Pride. I'll give my commentary about the episode in my next blog entry. I should have it up either late tonight or in the early morning. Here's the promo for the episode...


October 15, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Lari White

It's me once more...and Saturday night's episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville was another wonderful site to see. Ray opened the show singing "Unforgettable". Oh yes...it's the same song that became internationally famous for Nat King Cole and decades later, through the use of technology, as a duet with his daughter, Natalie Cole. That early '90s creation won 3 Grammy Awards. Based on research Nat King Cole issued the song as a single twice (the 1951 original and a re-recording in 1961). As I was watching Ray perform the song I was wondering if this will be another song from the Slow Dance project he made mention of awhile back. I had brought up that project back in a different blog entry when he performed "Can't Take My Eyes off You" on a previous episode.

This episode differed from most in that after the opening number he announced that he was walking to his red piano. He walked over, sat down, and introduced the episode's guest, Lari White. As one that hadn't really followed her career much I only knew what a casual music listener might know: the names of some of her songs. One that stands out is "Stepping Stone" but on tonight's episode she performed the song that was her biggest single release, "That's My Baby". Prior to her performing the song she spoke of her appearance in a movie called Cast Away. She said that her involvement in that movie was all based upon an encounter with a FedEx driver. She relates the various things she did and for those familiar with the movie she explains that there were two endings for the film but only one was given the go ahead for the final print.

Ray brings up that Lari is from Florida and she speaks of her upbringing a little bit. She and Sabrina (one of Ray's harmony singers) is also from Florida and for several seconds Lari and Sabrina trade commentary about Florida. Lari speaks of her producing career and even though it wasn't brought up in the show one of her projects was a Platinum selling CD by Toby Keith. She makes mention of her first impressions of her would-be husband, Chuck Cannon. This conversation about her husband leads into her performance of "That's My Baby". During the segue-way from conversation to performance Ray escorts her from the side of the piano to the red carpet down front. I had never seen him do that before with any other female guest.

After the performance Lari speaks of her current CD project and states that it's a 2-CD release. One features updated recordings of her hit songs and the other CD is of new songs. The project is titled Old Friends and New Loves. She name drops Cole Porter, for example, in the lead-up to her second performance on the show. Lari takes her seat at Ray's red piano and speaks of the crooner style of pop music...referring to it by the nickname of The Great American Songbook. She then launches into a slow ballad with light piano inflections titled "Champagne". She made a music video of the song and it's on YouTube. On the show she described the outfit that she pictured in her mind during the writing of the song. This episode was recorded earlier this year during one of the taping sessions. The CD was released in March of this year but you can only purchase it from select on-line music sites. It isn't available on Amazon, for example, but if you Google her name and the CD's title you'll find the various ways to purchase your copy.

After her performance of "Champagne" Ray walked out and complimented her and the song and thanked her for being on the show. In the next segment he closes the show with "Dropkick Me Jesus" and you can find his recording of the song on The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music and on his gospel project, Just a Closer Walk With Thee.

On next week's episode the special guest will be Charley Pride. At the moment the local PBS station that airs Ray's show has the upcoming schedule listed through November 18th. I am hoping the website will add more shows to the page because that means more episodes are going to air. Anyway...the guests for the next five episodes are: Charley Pride (October 21); Janie Fricke (October 28); Gary Mule Deer (November 4); Gary Morris (November 11- billed as The Veteran's Day episode); and John Berry (November 18). The website has no more episodes listed but, as mentioned, hopefully the website adds more additional episodes.

There's still a lot of episodes already taped that have yet to air (including a couple of Christmas themed episodes). It'll be nerve racking as late November gets closer and closer...as I frequently visit the local PBS website...to see if additional episodes have been added (or not). At least it'll be airing for the next five Saturday nights...that much I'm sure of.

October 7, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Rex Allen, Jr.

Hello once again...on tonight's episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville the special guest happened to be Rex Allen, Jr. and in a previous blog entry I speculated that it may be Western-dominated and it was to some degree. I had mentioned this because last week's episode guest starred The Riders in the Sky. Ray opened the show singing "Shanty in Ol' Shanty Town". This is a song whose title I had known of for years and years but did you know that until tonight I had never actually heard the song before??

Ray brings out Rex Allen, Jr. and a performance of "Lonely Street" is delivered. Afterward he and Ray discuss the current events in Rex's career...including Itunes and the library of songs available on-line. Ray asks about Arizona's state song to which Rex mentions that it's considered an alternate state song and not the one considered the official state song. The song is titled "I Love You, Arizona" and Rex wrote it in the early '80s. Rex mentions the craft of songwriting in which most, if not all, of the creativity starts in the heart and goes up into the brain, and then it comes out on paper. I made mention of it during a previous blog entry about Rex's upcoming retirement from touring. The final shows took place today in Willcox, Arizona during the Rex Allen Days event. The sold out concerts took place at 2pm and 6pm...and by pure coincidence or deliberate scheduling...Rex's episode of CabaRay Nashville is airing on local PBS stations this weekend. Some stations got the episode yesterday evening but tonight it aired in my area. It'll air tomorrow on other local PBS stations. On Rex's Facebook page it mentions that tonight's episode will air a month from now in Nashville (on November 4th). The actual taping of the episode took place during a taping session this past spring (either in March or April of this year).

Ray asks about Rex's father and this brings a flood of conversation about Rex Allen, Sr. and the things he accomplished in his career. Rex, Jr. makes mention that anybody that knows of the animated film, the original Charlotte's Web, will have been introduced to the vocals of Rex Allen, Sr. given that he was the film's narrator. There is also mention of the many Disney projects that Rex narrated...with The Incredible Journey being singled out. Rex, Jr. mentions some obscurities/trivia and relates that most people would assume that his father's biggest song was "Don't Go Near the Indians" but Rex, Jr. states that his father's biggest hit was "Crying in the Chapel". Ray mentioned that during his years at Mercury Records he was more or less assigned to look for a 'hit song' for Rex Allen (among other recording artists on the label). Ray said he found "Don't Go Near the Indians". On the subject of which happened to be the biggest hit for Rex, Sr. I looked up the chart histories for each and Rex, Jr. is correct...as far as chart placement on the Hot 100 pop chart is concerned.

Each single hit number four country for Rex, Sr. but on the pop chart "Don't Go Near the Indians" peaked in the Top-20 whereas "Crying in the Chapel" peaked in the Top-10. Rex, Jr. performs "Crying in the Chapel". This is followed by an instrument/vocal duet...Ray plays piano while Rex, Jr. sings "Happy Trails".

In another first, for me, Ray closes the show singing "My Dad"...the first time I have ever seen him perform the song on television. The performance of the song was wonderful as you could imagine. Next week's episode will guest star Lari White. The KET2 schedule cuts off at November 18th and it lists John Berry as the special guest on that episode. I am hoping that their site gets updated soon and more episodes of Ray's series are added to their schedule.

October 2, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay update...

Hello one and all...it's early Monday morning but I decided to embed a video clip that Ray posted onto his YouTube channel this past Thursday. Oh yes, I could've embedded the video clip in my Saturday night blog entry when I wrote my commentary/review of the latest episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville but I decided to embed a video clip promoting that particular episode instead. The particular video clip I'm referring to now hit the internet on a Thursday and it was a clip from Ray alerting us that his performance venue, CabaRay, looks like it'll not have it's grand opening until sometime in November or even December. If you've followed the time line then the announcement shouldn't come as a surprise. Although ground was broke in the spring of 2016...I'm sure you recall the video clip and photo's of Ray and several people, including an Ape, with shovels in hand at the site on River Road...actual construction of the venue didn't begin until months later as Ray awaited the approval of the building permit.

You can read about the building permit approval by clicking this LINK. The article was published back on August 24, 2016 (last year) and, as mentioned, construction didn't begin until sometime in September/October of last year...and so it's actually still on schedule...but, yes, had the building permit approval not taken so long (consuming the months of April through most of August 2016) it's highly likely that the venue would've had it's grand opening several months ago...but there's no use in dwelling on the what if's and instead I plan on continuing to look forward for the grand opening of the much-anticipated music venue. I started this blog entry referring to a recent video clip from Ray relating the progress of the CabaRay. I'll be embedding that video clip a little further down the page. I did create a couple of what I think are great screen caps from the video clip, though. I'll probably post them during some future blog entry. The venue is located on River Road in what's locally referred to as West Nashville. To see a photo of the venue you'd think that it was completed and ready for business so there must be some sort of internal construction left to be completed. Just this past Saturday (September 30th) there were five new photo's posted on the CabaRay Facebook page. In addition to Ray having a main Facebook page he also has a secondary Facebook page devoted to the CabaRay. Here's a LINK to the Facebook CabaRay home page. At the moment the post with the 5 new photo's of the venue is at the top given it's the most recent post (of course!).

Don't forget that this week's episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville will feature Rex Allen, Jr. as the special guest. In addition to his lengthy career as a singer/entertainer he co-starred on the highly popular and beloved Statler Brothers Show on The Nashville Network throughout the 1990s. He later hosted a spin-off series, Yesteryear, based upon a regular segment on the Statler Brothers series in which Rex was featured prominently along side Janie Fricke and the Statler Brothers themselves.

Here's the video clip of Ray speaking about the CabaRay...

September 30, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Riders in the Sky

Hello to all the fans of Ray Stevens...several minutes ago the latest episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville came to a close. At the time of this blog creation it's 8:36pm.

Tonight's episode certainly lived up to my expectations as the guests happened to be The Riders in the Sky. Ray opened the show performing "The Ballad of Cactus Pete and Lefty". During the performance there was a different sound effect heard for Lefty (the sidewinder). The recording, from 1987, used a maraca whenever Lefty "reacts" to Cactus Pete's comments. In the performance tonight the sound was a buzzer-type effect...that's the best I can describe it. If you have Ray's tribute to Frank Sinatra CD you'll hear this sound effect during his performance of "Witchcraft". I assume it's something created with a synthesizer. Anyway...

Following the performance of the show's opener Ray brought out The Riders in the Sky! Here's the video promo for tonight's episode...



If you're familiar at all with this group then you should already be aware of their individual talents. The group has won two Grammy awards and they became members of the Grand Ole Opry in 1982. They have a strong fan base of children and adults. The group's lead vocalist goes by the name of Ranger Doug. He is also the group's yodeler. The second in command, as I refer to it, goes by the name of Too Slim. The group has comical inflections, overall, and I'd say Too Slim is the group's natural comic given that during interviews and during their concerts he's the one that delivers the jokes and one-liners. He's the one with the handlebar mustache. Woody Paul is the tall member of the group and sings lead vocals on some of their songs but primarily he's recognized as the group's fiddle player. The accordion player goes by the name of Joey the Cow Polka King and he had been with the group since 1988, as their accordion player, but it wasn't until a few years later that he began to receive equal billing as the fourth member of the group.

Ray asks the group how they formed and in typical fashion he gets a joking response from the group. They speak of their radio program, Riders Radio Theater, which aired for 6 seasons (1988-1995) on NPR...it's last couple of seasons originating in studios located in Cincinnati, Ohio. They didn't bring up their TNN series, Tumbleweed Theater, which aired 5 years (1983-1988) but Ray does mention a later program that the Riders hosted on TNN and a previous performance of "The Ballad of Cactus Pete and Lefty" during the episode Ray guest starred on. Too Slim recalls the use of a snake puppet to which nobody remembers whatever come of it leaving Ray to assume it got washed away in a flood. They speak of their involvement in the movie Toy Story, 2. The Riders and Ray perform "Cool Water"...later on Ray does his Gabby Hayes impression. One of the group's visual highlights is when Too Slim slaps his own face in rhythm...and he does the theme to Bonanza. Woody Paul gets into the act and starts to slap his own face...and for awhile both he and Too Slim are having a battle going on as they compete against the other. This leads to Too Slim encouraging the audience and the band to start face slapping. You can see some of this in the video clip. The Riders then perform "Gay Ranchero".

Ray closes the show performing his rendition of "Running Bear". Something you'll notice is there wasn't any Comedy Theater segments and I'd say a lot of this had to with the fact that the episode itself was nearly devoted to comedy and so there wasn't any use for comic relief insertions in between the serious performances from the guest artist. Instead of the short comedic skits or music videos being inserted what we see are close-ups of the show's title card and the skyline of Nashville appear on screen.

The Western theme is carried over into the next episode, sort of, as next week's guest is Rex Allen, Jr. but based on the brief description on KET's website it doesn't look to be another Western dominated episode. If you follow the career of Rex Allen, Jr. then you should already know that he's retiring next month. I don't follow his career that closely and so it was news to me. In a bit of incredible irony or clever strategy Rex Allen, Jr. is set to retire after performing at the annual Rex Allen Days event and the final day of that 4-day event is on a Sunday...October 8th...the day after his episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville airs in my area on October 7th. I'll give my commentary/review of that episode next weekend.

September 23, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Angaleena Presley

Hello once more!! On tonight's episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville the special guest happened to be Angaleena Presley.

Ray opened the show with a performance of "Ahab the Arab" and it was delivered with just the right amount of silliness that you'd probably expect. He performed the entire song...including the often over looked final verse of The Sultan catching Ahab and Fatima's tryst twist by surprise. If you hadn't seen a recent performance of the song, either in concert or from a television program, it may take you by surprise that Ray's added some lines to the song. Instead of saying the phrase "whoah, babies" at the conclusion of the fictional Arabic chant Ray has often substituted that phrase with a reference toward the tenor of Slim Whitman. During the encounter Ahab has with Fatima most recordings have Ray saying "crazy, baby!" in falsetto voice...in one recording Ray (as Fatima) scolds Ahab and says "get out of here, you idiot!". In more recent performances Ray (as Fatima) giggles uncontrollably. This can be seen in the 1995 music video and I assume this is why Ray stopped reciting lines as Fatima and now simply giggles.

After the opening performance a clip from We Ain't Dead Yet airs. This time it's a clip of Ray as the Wolfman Jack-inspired disc jockey, Rooster, attempting to sell 500 baby chickens to some person he randomly called on the phone. The 'radio station' is actually Rooster's room at The Encore...he's lost his mind and thinks he's hosting a radio show. The name of the station is WILD.

Prior to actually seeing this episode I was under the impression that the guest, Angaleena Presley, appeared as Margaret during a performance of "It's Me Again, Margaret" and more or less reacted to Ray's antics. I was surprised to learn that she actually performs the song, as Margaret, while Ray recites the Willard McBain lines. The performance by the two comes off like a live music video. Ray is seen a few feet away using a rotary phone prop which is hanging on a wall. During his call's to Margaret he appears full screen while Margaret (Angaleena) is shown in a small thumbnail screen shot in the upper left. There's a sign above the stage, but part of the performance, which reads S.T.O.P., which stands for Stop Telephone Obscenity Please. I took it to be a jab at political correctness because there's a lot of critics that say the song glorifies prank callers...so what better way to mock thin skinned critics than by having the performance take place near a PSA regarding obscene phone calls.

I did some research on the special guest and learned that she happened to be born on September 1, 1976...that makes her the same as me...and learned about The Pistol Annies.

I had heard of this group, actually, but having no real knowledge about them I didn't know much; which includes not knowing the names of the group members. It's a trio of singers...some critics have described them as outlaws...but I looked them up and discovered that they've been in existence as a trio for a number of years but they record solo, too.

After the performance of "It's Me Again, Margaret" another clip from We Ain't Dead Yet appears. In this clip Rooster once again calls somebody and informs the guy on the other end to expect delivery of 500 baby chickens. Darrell Waltrip can be seen listening on the other side of the door and he's informed that Rooster thinks he's on the radio but in reality he isn't. Ray introduces Angaleena and she discusses her career and remarks that she loves "The Pirate Song". Ray tells her that the music video happened to be shot in the very studio they're seated in and she tells him that she likes the squirrel song as well. She mentions that "It's Me Again, Margaret" happened to be a relative's favorite and loved being able to perform it as a tribute to her late relative. Angaleena peaks of being a descendant of the McCoy's...and Ray wonders whatever became of the Hatfields. She reacts with mock anger over hearing that last name. She performs "American Middle Class" which happened to be the name of her 2014 solo album. She has a current album out...released earlier this year...titled Wrangled. That particular release is also available in vinyl.

Ray closes the show with a performance of "Bon Temps Roulette". This is a song that Ray recorded back in 2000 and it's appeared on a couple of CD's. It's the first time I've seen him perform the song, though. It's a bouncy sing-a-long detailing the exploits of a woman on a riverboat while her past is revealed as the song progresses. There were no YouTube video clips promoting this episode or the one from last week guest starring Duane Eddy.

Next week's episode (September 30) guest stars The Riders in the Sky. It should be hilarious.

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Duane Eddy

Hello out there to all the fans of Ray Stevens! In this blog entry I'll be spotlighting the September 16th episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. The episode, as you can see, aired last weekend but I'd been busy with off-line activity. The guest that night happened to be legendary guitarist, Duane Eddy. Ray opened the show with a highly energetic performance of "Searchin'", a song that should be familiar to most of Ray's fans. The song had originally been a hit recording by one of Ray's favorite groups, The Coasters. Ray recorded a version of the song for his 9-CD box set, Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music (released in 2012).

In the installment of the Comedy Theater we're treated to a clip from Ray's sitcom, We Ain't Dead Yet. The clip features Phil Everly playing the role of William Maurice (a pun on talent agency William Morris). Afterward Ray introduces Duane Eddy and they speak of his upbringing. Duane mentions that be was born in Upstate New York but later the family moved out west to Arizona. The reason given by Duane is that his father got tired of shoveling snow. Duane speaks of his record producer, Lee Hazlewood.

Duane talks of his innovative 'twangy' style of guitar playing and speaks of the mechanism he added to the guitar strings to create that effect. He and Ray perform a duet version of "Forty Miles of Bad Road"...and the performance is something to behold. It was as if the two of them were competing with one another: Duane on the twangy lead guitar and Ray playing piano. The image off to the left is a single release showing Duane as a co-writer. In smaller print the record producers are credited as Sill-Hazlewood, a reference to Lester Sill and Lee Hazlewood. Since I wasn't too familiar with the production credits of Duane Eddy recordings I had to look them up and that's how I learned of Lester Sill being one of the producers along with Lee Hazlewood. Upon the conclusion of "Forty Miles of Bad Road" Duane performs another one of his instrumental classics. This time around it's his signature instrumental, "Rebel Rouser". It, too, is performed as a duet. Ray's longtime saxophone session musician, Denis Solee, does his rendition of the instrumental while Duane performs it on the guitar. This performance also carries a kind of competitive presentation, too, with each legendary musician matching note for note on their very different instruments.

This episode seemed to be a bit shorter than the others but maybe it's because the guest happened to be an instrumentalist...or maybe because the episode was peppered with various instrumental performances it just seemed like it had a shorter running time? Whichever the reason this particular episode seemed to fly by...and he closed the show with a performance of "Three Legged Man". He had performed that song in a more recent episode but in that performance he did some vocal effects during the performance. This time around he had his sound effects played over the speaker system. The next episode of the series, which aired tonight (September 23rd), guest starred Angaleena Presley. I'll be doing a re-cap of that episode in a couple minutes so be on the look out for 2 blog entries from me tonight...maybe a third one by early Sunday morning...

September 13, 2017

Ray Stevens: Everything is Beautiful Exhibit...

Well, hello once more!! Two fan created blog entries in the same day...and back to back!! Well, the reason for this one is due to the breaking news concerning an upcoming honor taking place later this month. As soon as I published my previous blog entry about last week's episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville I visited a social media site...and was hit with the news that the Country Music Hall of Fame is going to have an Everything Is Beautiful exhibit...it'll be unveiled on September 22nd. You can see details about this exhibit...honoring Ray's 60th year in the music industry...by clicking this LINK. That's a photo of me and my vinyl album of Everything is Beautiful. The album, issued in 1970, was later released on CD and paired with his other 1970 album, Unreal!. The back of that 2-album-on-1-CD is seen in the second photo...


Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Mark Wills

Hello all...it's me blogging on a Wednesday morning of all things!! I happened to be doing a quick on-line overview of sites that I frequent and I came across a YouTube clip promoting the Mark Wills episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. It aired here this past Saturday but I realize that the episode could air at a later date should the series start airing on even more PBS stations in the coming weeks/months. As always spoilers abound in my reviews and so if you hadn't seen this episode yet you may want to read some of my other blog entries in the archive section off on the right hand side of the screen.

Ray opened the show singing "Too Drunk To Fish". Now, for those that don't know, this is one of Ray's popular on-line music videos. Ray recorded the song for his Hum It album (1997) and the music video arrived shortly after. He had performed the song several other times on television programs. One of the performances took place on the George Jones Show. After the performance a clip from Ray's 1995 Get Serious! movie is spotlighted. It's the scene in which the security guard (a gorilla) is seated in Ray's dune buggy...eventually culminating with the showering of counterfeit money. After Coy notices that the money has Ray's face instead of George Washington it cuts back to the audience and Ray's introduction of Mark Wills.

Mark discusses his experience as the voice of Huckleberry Finn in an animated movie about Tom Sawyer which leads Ray to make mention of the song he co-wrote and recorded for the Tom Sawyer soundtrack...that song being "Injurin' Joe". Mark voiced Huckleberry Finn in that animated movie. Rhett Akins voiced Tom Sawyer. Mark had no idea that Ray contributed to the project all those years ago. The project was released back in 2000.

In one of the thrilling moments of the episode Mark performs "Mississippi Squirrel Revival" with Ray on the piano and singing harmony vocals during the chorus. Mark seemed to genuinely get a kick out of performing it...and to my ears he even sounded like Ray Stevens while singing it!



After this bit of whimsical entertainment it was time to get serious as Mark performed one of his hit songs, "19 Somethin' ". That particular single spent 6 weeks at number one in 2003 and ended up being the number 3 song of the entire year. In a second installment of the Video Spotlight it focuses on "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens", a duet between Ray and Connie Freeman (the actress portraying Charlene MacKenzie in the Get Serious! movie in 1995). In the final song of the episode Ray treats everybody to his version of "Can't Take My Eyes Off You"...and no, he didn't hit any falsetto/high notes in an attempt to emulate Frankie Valli...but it's a great performance from Ray nevertheless. You'll get just a brief taste of the song when you watch the video clip above. I'm sure it's going to be on some future CD...I hope!!

The special guest this coming Saturday is Duane Eddy!

September 11, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Tommy Roe

Hello once again...oh yes I know that I hadn't posted a blog entry in a couple of weeks but a lot of it had to do with off-line events taking place that took me away from the computer and of course other demands prevented me from posting as well. As most of the frequent readers/visitors of this blog should know by now I rarely post episode summaries halfheartedly which is what you would've gotten if I attempted to simply rush an episode summary to the internet...but I prefer to be as detailed as possible.

Now, to be specific, in this particular blog entry it's a summary of the September 2nd episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville which guest starred Tommy Roe. The episode was officially billed as the bubblegum pop show because of it's guest star. A promo for the episode appeared on YouTube several days ago...but yet the episode by that time had already aired...but I'm posting the promo here nevertheless because you never know...at some point the episode is bound to air on PBS stations that pick the show up at some later date...and so this serves as a promo for that episode...



Ray opened the episode singing "Chantilly Lace" in his own style...utilizing a familiar physical presence seen during performances of his immortal classic, "It's Me Again, Margaret". Ray recorded his version of "Chantilly Lace" several years ago and it's part of his 9-CD collection, The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music. Following the opening performance there's a short clip from his 1995 Get Serious! movie...the clip features George Lindsey as a Shriner introducing Ray to some other members of the shrine and they're presenting Ray with a dune buggy...referred to in the movie as The Mone Mobile.

After this sketch airs Ray introduces Tommy Roe but not before Ray makes mention of their past in Atlanta and the music scene at the time. Bubblegum is the order of the day as Ray grabs a large plastic bin of bubblegum for everybody on the set. Ray and Tommy grab their piece while one of the harmony singers, Sabrina, hands out bubblegum to the band and ultimately the audience. Tommy speaks about his entrance into the industry and "Sheila"...and Ray brings up Tommy's record producer at the time, Felton Jarvis. Ray mentions that he and Felton were once brothers-in-law (Ray and Felton married a couple of sisters). Ray and Tommy speak about Felton's idolization of Elvis, too. Tommy mentions that the first album released on him, also called Sheila, featured musical arrangement by none other than Ray Stevens. I've searched all over the internet but all the images I've come across the music arranger isn't credited. During my image search I came across various single releases of the song and the LP releases in both the America and International market. I was wanting to find an arranger credit for Ray Stevens on a Tommy Roe project as a visual for the blog entry but I couldn't find one. If I ever come across one I'll edit the image into this blog entry at a later date...but back to the summary...

After Ray and Tommy speak about their early musical endeavors, which also included a photo being displayed of Tommy and Ray in the recording studio in the early '60s, Tommy sings his 1969 number one hit, "Dizzy". Throughout the performance the camera pans over to the band and the harmony singers...several of them blowing bubbles as they play their instruments. After the high energy performance of "Dizzy" there's an edit...and these edits/fade outs are commonplace on Ray's television program and if you have an eagle eye you should be able to spot them. Some are more obvious than others. The edits represent where a commercial would be if the series were running on commercial television but because it airs on PBS stations there aren't any commercial insertions. Anyway...after the fade out/fade in...Ray introduces Tommy one more time. Tommy performs "Memphis Me".

Upon the conclusion of the performance Ray walks back into the scene and removes his jacket. Tommy had been performing "Memphis Me" in a white shirt...and so Ray took off his own jacket to reveal a white button up shirt, too. That scene was highlighted in the video promo embedded above. In a bit of coincidence or intent this Tommy Roe episode airing the weekend of September 1st...airing here in my area on September 2...but the coincidence or irony tied to this episode comes from the fact that "Sheila" had hit number one on September 1, 1962...even though it was Tommy's other number one, "Dizzy", that got the spotlight via performance on Ray's show Saturday night. Given that "Dizzy" was performed rather than "Sheila" leads me to assume that Tommy's episode airing the weekend of September 1st was merely coincidence.

In a second installment of the Comedy Theater segment we're treated to the music video of "Dudley Dorite of the Highway Patrol" (from the 1995 Get Serious! movie). Ray follows this with a performance of "Maybellene"...a 1955 classic made famous by Chuck Berry. This is another song that Ray recorded for his 9-CD project, The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music. As mentioned in previous blog entries concerning the 9-CD project Ray slipped in his performances of a lot of early rock and roll classics that lend themselves to being associated with novelty songs and in this case it's simply due to the song's uptempo, comical story of a man in a V8 Ford chasing the driver of a Cadillac. The girlfriend of the Ford driver is cheating on him and she's cruising all over town in a Cadillac with her new boyfriend.

Ray closes the show with one of his one-liner jokes...and the melody of "Everything is Beautiful" strikes up...meaning it's slow dance time. On this particular occasion after Ray picks somebody from the audience to dance with a 'gorilla' appears from out of nowhere as the credits are rolling. The gorilla cuts in and begins dancing with the woman that Ray had picked from the audience. A funny, unexpected twist to the familiar closing dance scene. The CabaRay venue is suppose to have it's grand opening next month and I have a feeling this is the main reason a lot of the on-line content has been a bit sparse...there wasn't a video promo of the episode that aired this past Saturday night (guest starring Mark Wills)...and so it's my guess that all of Ray's concentration is being placed on the eventual grand opening of the CabaRay.

I'll have a review/summary of the Mark Wills episode at some point...but as a reminder the guest star on the episode that airs this coming Saturday the 16th is Duane Eddy...and I can't wait to hear the stories/memories that come out of this appearance. I wonder if Ray brings up Wayne Twang? If you don't know who I'm referring to then you haven't heard Ray's "The Rock and Roll Show" novelty song.

August 27, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Baillie and the Boys...

Hello once more...an early Sunday morning here and time to re-cap the most recent episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. On this particular episode Ray opened the show performing "Little Egypt". For those that don't know this is a song that Ray recorded for his 1969 album, Gitarzan, but it had previously been a hit by The Coasters in 1961. In the 1969 recording from Ray he channels his Coasters inspirations and at various times slips in his vocal impressions of Coasters member, Billy Guy, a member that sang lead on most of the group's well known recordings...most notably, "Searchin"...but back to the television show...Ray performed a more informal, stripped down arrangement of "Little Egypt" but it still managed to carry a lively flair during his remarks to the audience as the background singers repeated the Ying-Yang phrase. The thing that the performance lacked was the very loud James Brown-like howls and hollers that you'll hear in the 1969 recording and the 'sock it to me' phrase clearly borrowed from the Laugh-In television series.

Ray tells everybody that the guests are Baillie and the Boys and to stay tuned. A recurring segment, Comedy Theater, airs a clip of Ray coming out on stage at his Branson, Missouri theater in the early '90s riding Clyde the Camel. It's, of course, a puppet in which Ray operates in a most unusual fashion. He steps inside a pair of "camel legs" while two "human legs" are sewn on either side of the camel. The head of the camel and it's "reigns" are in front and camel's hump and a set of puppet legs are in back. As he makes his way from behind the curtain and onto the stage he's running but it gives the appearance he's a passenger on a runaway camel. Ray then brings out Baillie and the Boys and they speak of their career and interact with Ray when the conversation turns to making music. Kathy Baillie and her husband, Michael, make up the duo and she mentioned that they're actually referred to now as Baillie and the Boy because it went from a trio to a duo.

Michael speaks of demo recordings and this causes both Ray and Kathy to remark about demo recordings...and Michael mentions that most demo recordings sound more real than an actual recording but demo's lack the bells and whistles of a studio recording. The duo perform "Wish I Had a Heart of Stone"...their biggest hit. Every so often I hear that song on a local Classic Country radio station to this day. As far as their commercial recordings go they recorded for RCA for five years (1987-1991) but had been a road/touring act for several years prior to and after that. The second song the duo sang happened to be a new one, "The House My Daddy Built". Along for the performances was special unannounced guest, Molly Cherryholmes, who sang the harmony and played the fiddle. Molly happened to be part of a Bluegrass family group, Cherryholmes, which research shows had been a top Bluegrass attraction for 12 years (1999-2011). I had heard of the group due to Bluegrass being a big part of the playlist on the local Classic Country radio station I listen to but I knew nothing about them. When Molly Cherryholmes was introduced a light bulb went off and I thought to myself "Cherryholmes? I had heard of that last name before...but where??" so I had to Google it and sure enough it reminded me that there once was a group called Cherryholmes.

Ray closes the show performing another classic made famous by the Coasters. After opening the show with "Little Egypt" he closes the show singing "Poison Ivy". This performance is more faithful to the recording and for visual humor Ray adds some body twitching and itching as he warns the people to be careful getting too close to the poisonous ivy. Coming up on next week's episode (airing here September 2nd) is one of Ray's long time music acquaintances, Tommy Roe.

In my previous blog entry I provided some updates on the episodes that'll be airing on KET2 through November 18th. I checked KET2's episode guide of CabaRay Nashville episodes and there's a slight error. They have September 23rd and September 30th listed with Angaleena Presley as the special guest. However, once you click the September 30th episode to read the details, you'll see that the special guests are actually The Riders in the Sky. The episode guest starring Angaleena Presley is going to air on September 23rd. I had wondered where the episode of The Riders in the Sky had vanished to because I know they recorded an episode for this season but it had never appeared on KET2's list. In fact, now that I think about it, the schedule had previously shown Duane Eddy as the guest on September 16th and then it would jump to September 30th...so there was a missing episode from the list and now it's been added but with some confusion.

The next series of episodes...the air dates represent the first showing which are always on a Friday...it airs here on Saturday...

Sept 1 – Tommy Roe
Sept 8 – Mark Wills
Sept 15 – Duane Eddy
Sept 22 -- Angaleena Presley
Sept 30 -- The Riders in the Sky
 
Those 5 episodes are followed by the 7 that I posted in my previous blog entry for the month of October and first half of November. If you're keeping numerical track The Riders in the Sky mark the 13th episode of the first PBS season. The November 17th episode guest starring John Berry is episode 20. This means there are 6 more episodes from this first season on PBS yet to air (there were 26 produced altogether). Several of those episodes are holiday themed...2 Christmas episodes and a New Year's Eve episode (26). There are no "repeats" and so more episodes are planned to start airing the weekend of January 5, 2018. In total there are suppose to be 52 first-run episodes that'll eventually air on PBS. As mentioned the New Year's Eve-themed telecast is episode 26 (it should air here on December 30th) and then the next round of 26 first run episodes should then begin airing come the first weekend of January 2018. I think those episodes are going to be taped at his CabaRay venue, edited, and then they'll hit the airwaves but don't quote me on that. I know from the things I've read on his social media sites that the goal is to start taping the show in the facility but I don't know if all 26 episodes set to air in the first half of 2018 are going to originate from there or not. His most recent taping session took place at the usual facility and those episodes haven't aired yet...so it will probably be that the first half of 2018's episodes will be in the familiar studio setting and the second half of the 2018 season the episodes will originate from the CabaRay. It's difficult to know for certain...but once it becomes more clear and an announcement is made I'll of course blog about it.

August 23, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Episode Update...

Hello all!! I decided to take a look at the local PBS station's website...the one that carries Ray's television show...and I received a wonderful surprise. For several blog entries I'd made mention that the episode list provided on KET2's website stopped on September 30th...and I was curious as to whether more episodes of the show would air. Well, a few minutes ago, I checked their website and learned that they added more episodes! They added 7 more episodes to their broadcast list!! So, as of this writing, the October and November air-dates on KET2, the local PBS affiliate in my area, are as follows:

October 7th: Rex Allen, Jr.

October 14th: Lari White

October 21st: Charley Pride

October 28th: Janie Fricke (billed as the Halloween episode)

November 4th: Gary Mule Deer

November 11th: Gary Morris (Patriotic episode)

November 18th: John Berry

Now, of course, there are even more episodes available for PBS stations to fill out the rest of November and December and it looks like those episodes are going to air on KET2 also because I can't see the station up and ending their broadcast of the show with a number of PBS exclusive episodes yet to air...but I'll wait and see if more episodes get added to their episode guide before getting even more excited than I already am!

August 19, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...John Michael Montgomery...

Hello all...as I begin this entry of the fan-created blog it's 4 minutes until 9pm and the latest episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville ran it's closing credits about half an hour ago. On this episode the special guest happened to be John Michael Montgomery. Ray opened the show performing a song from his 1984 album, He Thinks He's Ray Stevens. A couple of episodes ago he performed "Ned Nostril"...the first time I'd ever seen him perform it on television; in fact it may have been the only time he's performed it on television as far as I know. This time around he opened the show singing "I'm Kissing You Goodbye"...a song that has a peculiar history.

As mentioned it's from a 1984 album...his debut album for MCA (a label he was with from 1984-1989 and again from 1996-1998). This song was actually the album's lead-off single...some of the vinyl albums that are sold on-line at places like eBay feature publicity stickers on the album's shrink wrap advertising this song as one of the spotlight recordings. MCA began promoting it as a  single but there wasn't much favorable response and very quickly the hype for the single ended...but whatever initial disappointment there might have been surrounding the future of the album was changed, however, once the squirrel got loose and demand for that song forced the label into releasing "The Mississippi Squirrel Revival" as a single...and once that happened late in 1984 it caused the album to do an about face and eventually climb into the Top-10...all on the strength of a song that originally was meant to be an album track and nothing more. Like "Ned Nostril", a song that I'd never seen Ray perform on television, the same holds true for "I'm Kissing You Goodbye"...and throughout the performance it received a rousing response from the audience. After the opening performance a clip from We Ain't Dead Yet aired in which Phil Everly portrays a manager of George Jones...attempting to get George booked for a series of concerts in Germany. You all may remember Rayality TV...it was one of Ray's television offerings seven or eight years ago. It was produced in sitcom style and it took place at a fictional retirement home for entertainers called The Encore...which enabled there to be a music segment in each episode. The series aired, originally titled We Ain't Dead Yet, as a subscription-based internet exclusive (to subscribers of Ray Stevens Backstage, specifically) but later the series aired in bits and pieces, surrounded by an assortment of other clips, as Rayality TV on the re-launched TNN (now called Heartland TV) but it was never seen nationally due to the limited coverage of the network at the time. It aired on the re-launched TNN during the 2012-2013 season prior to the channel re-branding itself Heartland TV...but back to tonight's episode...

Ray brings out John Michael Montgomery after making the point that some singers are known by only one name but most are known by first and last name...but then, as Ray points out, some artists boast three names...and after listing some of those three name acts he introduces John Michael Montgomery. John speaks of his career (going back to 1992) and mentions his brother, Eddie, and how both his brother and Troy Gentry (of the duo Montgomery-Gentry) were members of band's that John put together in the early years.

Following this conversation there's a short clip from Rayality TV once more. George Jones appears at the end of the clip looking for someone named William Maurice (a take-off on the talent agency, William Morris).

John sings "Letters from Home" and upon it's conclusion he performs "Sold". This is a rarity for it broke formula a little bit. In the episodes that have aired there is usually a performance from the guest, then a Video Jukebox segment, and then a second performance from the guest artist...but on tonight's episode John spoke about and then launched into "Sold" after the end of his first performance. For those not familiar it's an auction song whose official title is "Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)".

After the performance there's a clip from Rayality TV once again...it's the comical performance of "White Lightning" from George Jones. It's comical due to the fact that George is lip-syncing to the original 1959 recording and the footage was taped at some point in 2009/2010. It was done like that on purpose because of how funny it would look. After the clip is finished it returns back to Ray on the set of his show to perform the closing number, "Retired". That song was originally a duet with Ray and one of it's writers, Brent Burns. Ray also recorded a solo version and his solo recording appears on his 2009 CD, One for the Road. Afterward Ray tells some one-liner jokes prior to the closing theme playing...leading him to request a dance partner. Prior to the closing credit roll there's a message that appears on-screen dedicating the episode to the memory of Phil Everly and George Jones.

Next week's episode (airing here August 26th) will guest star Baillie and the Boys.

August 14, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Restless Heart...

Hello one and all...I'm a bit late in posting my commentary/review of the latest episode of the Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville series. As all of you should know by now I often give away spoilers...and so for those that are able to see his weekly PBS series and haven't seen this episode yet I'll warn you in advance that I often give out a lot of information pertaining to each episode so spoilers are plentiful. Here we go...

Ray opened the show performing a rendition of "That Old Black Magic". This is a song that goes back a great many decades in the world of pop music. It's the creation of Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen and it's been recorded by many recording artists over the decades...in all fields of music...but it was first recorded by Glenn Miller in 1942. Some of the other artists that have recorded it include Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis, Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra to name just several. Ray's performance seemed to blend the Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Davis, Jr. arrangements...as it was completely uptempo. The trio of female back-up singers that appear in every episode are referred to as The Shameless Hussies (a reference to an adjective directed at Ethel in Ray's 1974 song, "The Streak") and the band is The A Team. In this episode the back-up singers appeared next to Ray during the performance of "That Old Black Magic"...this was necessary because as the song was winding down each one took turns spinning into Ray's side (as Ray was in the process of singing the lines 'down and down I go, 'round and 'round I go').

After this lively show opener the limited animation music video of "Smoky Mountain Rattlesnake Retreat" hit the television screen. The music video originated in the mid 2000s with a slower, ballad-like vocal delivery but it was originally recorded by Ray in 1986 and in a much more uptempo vocal delivery. After the music video ends Ray is shown seated at the piano as he introduces Restless Heart...calling out their names. He tells the audience that Verlon Thompson was once a member of the group (the lead singer, in fact) and mentions that Verlon had married Suzi (Ray's daughter). Verlon happened to be with the band before any single releases emerged (prior to their being signed to a record label).

In an interesting note it is during this segment a story about Glen Campbell was brought up by a member of Restless Heart. They told the story of how early in their career Glen suggested that they record something by Jimmy Webb...and ultimately they got around to recording "Wichita Lineman" for an upcoming project 30 some years after the suggestion. Glen passed away recently (August 8th at the age of 81). The story/reference to Glen is entirely coincidental given this episode was taped in the latter half of 2016...but once you all see the episode you'll perhaps get a little bit of a chill on the back of your neck hearing the story in the aftermath of Glen's recent passing. A music video from the group is mentioned, too. You can find it on YouTube.

Ray and Restless Heart then team up for a rendition of "Everything is Beautiful". First, Ray begins to sing the first line but lead singer, Larry Stewart, interrupts the performance by saying they all have a surprise for him. The surprise? They sing the opening verse originally performed on the single release by the group of children. After the performance it's time for the Video Jukebox segment. This time around we're treated to the live-action music video of "Freddie Feelgood". In this video we see Ray appear on-screen 6 times in the same screen shot. He appears as himself but also appears as Freddie, Yum-Yum, Ace, Tyrone, and Percy. After the video concluded Ray handed it over to Restless Heart and they performed one of their classic hits, "The Bluest Eyes in Texas".

Ray follows their performance with his take on "Spiders and Snakes", the classic originally recorded by Jim Stafford. Ray recorded it in 2012 for The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music. The original from Jim Stafford hit in 1974...the same year as Ray's "The Streak"...although "Spiders and Snakes" had it's chart debut much earlier (in November 1973). Jim has never appeared on Ray's television series, as of this writing, and based upon OETA's episode list he isn't scheduled to appear on the episodes that'll be airing on PBS stations in the fall and winter months of this year...but the two of them have some similar statistics.

Jim opened a theater in Branson, Missouri in 1990...Ray opened his theater in 1991...Jim was born January 16, 1944...Ray was born January 24, 1939...they each are known for comedic performances but each one also has superior talent at serious performances and are both multi-instrumentalists.

I don't have a copy of it, I wish I did, but in the early 1980s Archie Campbell did a live performance of his chicken fight story, "Rojo", on one of the award shows. In the background stood both Ray Stevens and Jim Stafford side by side providing chicken clucks. Ray closes this episode of CabaRay Nashville by telling a story about a kid being accused of cheating on a test in grade school...and then the music strikes up the familiar melody of "Everything is Beautiful" and Ray picks someone to dance with from the studio audience.

Next week's episode guest stars John Michael Montgomery but only a brief description accompanies the episode list...it mentions that John will be performing "Sold" and Ray is to to perform "I'm Kissing You Goodbye"...and that's all there is to the description of next week's episode on the local PBS station that carries the show. Unless breaking news emerges concerning a CD or music video release I'll be posting my next blog entry this weekend...yes, you guessed it, it'll be my recap of the next episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville!!

August 7, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville DVD commercials...

Hello all...early Monday morning here and I'm getting ready to post the YouTube video clips, promoting the first season DVD of Ray's television series, that went on-line back on July 31st. I hadn't embedded these clips yet and so I thought the perfect opportunity would be to post them in an early morning blog post. The clips debuted on YouTube in between my previous 2 blog posts (July 30th and August 5th). Why didn't I post them in my previous blog post Saturday night? I didn't think to do so...I was in the middle of posting about the latest episode of Ray's television show...but I'm posting the commercials now...

There are two separate promo clips for the DVD...and each run various lengths. The first clip runs 34 seconds and has more detailed information about the release...



This promo clip runs 21 seconds...it features a slightly different voice over from Ray (for the shortened presentation) and several images of the special guests (plus the house band) from the longer promo clip do not appear in the second promo clip...



In addition to awaiting any kind of information about any further DVD or CD releases from Ray Stevens I'm also awaiting information on the grand opening of the much anticipated CabaRay Nashville entertainment venue! I know it's only early August but throughout every article and interview that has appeared since the middle of last year concerning the project it was always suggested that the CabaRay would have it's grand opening in August or no later than September of 2017. There hasn't been any updated photographs posted of the venue to see if it's close to a grand opening yet. The previous photo's that were uploaded shown that there was still work to be completed. Those photo's are part of a YouTube video clip that Ray uploaded back in early May of this year...almost 3 months have passed since then...and I'm sure the parking lot's complete and it no longer looks like a construction zone anymore. In case you hadn't seen that video clip here it is...



Ray's television series, Ray Stevens Nashville, ran for 26 episodes on RFD-TV (2015-2016). After it's departure from that channel it was re-branded Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville and in January it began airing on local PBS affiliates across the country. The PBS affiliates that began airing the show in January of this year have since aired all 26 episodes from the RFD era. In July (last month) 26 additional episodes became available for PBS stations. The local PBS affiliate that carries the show in my viewing area aired all of the episodes that appear on the First Season DVD (13 episodes) plus the affiliate aired 2 additional RFD originated episodes (one that guest starred Ray's daughter, Suzi Ragsdale, and country-rock artist T. Graham Brown; and one that guest starred Bobby Goldsboro) for a total of 15 episodes.

After the airing of the July 1st episode (guest starring Suzi Ragsdale and T. Graham Brown) the local PBS affiliate began airing (July 8th) first-run episodes exclusive to PBS. The episode airing July 8th guest starred Harold Bradley and Mandy Barnett. I'll have to wait until a future DVD release from Ray (hoping there's more to come) to see the remaining RFD episodes (episodes that guest starred Williams and Ree; Leroy Van Dyke; Sylvia; Con Hunley; Bill Anderson; The Gatlin Brothers; The Bellamy Brothers; Collin Raye; Lee Greenwood and Darryl Worley). Episode 5 of the PBS exclusives aired this past Saturday (guest starring Rhonda Vincent).

August 5, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Rhonda Vincent...

It's an almost fall like night here as I put together my first fan-created blog entry of the month. Oh yes, it's a Saturday night and that means that I'm fresh off the latest episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. On tonight's episode the guest star happened to be Rhonda Vincent...introduced by Ray as The Queen of Bluegrass.



The video clip is a promo of the episode. If you visit Ray's YouTube channel you'll be able to see promo clips for all of the episodes. The episode carried an overall feel of Roger Miller and Bluegrass...as Ray opened the show performing "King of the Road" and afterwards the Video Jukebox segment spotlighted a more recent release, "Unchained Melody". To date Ray has only released his version of the song as a music video (October 2, 2013) but it's part of a larger project that has yet to be released.

Ray brings out Rhonda Vincent and the two have an unusually lengthy conversation. I say this because most of the time the guests are brought out and they interact with Ray, briefly, before the guest performs their song. This particular episode is a bit different in that Rhonda spoke of her childhood, her family, and how strong of an impact that Bluegrass music had on her life. Ray mentions her brother, Darrin, of the Bluegrass group, Daily and Vincent. Moments later Ray tells a story of Bill Monroe meeting Frank Sinatra at a function in Washington, D.C. in which Bill received an honor. Sinatra walked over to offer congratulations and Bill's reply was: "Thank you and who might you be?". This lead into Rhonda explaining how much Bluegrass impacted her upbringing and that she didn't hear any music outside of that...she offers recollections about the songs, "A Little Piece of My Heart" and "Yesterday", and how she was raised thinking those were Bluegrass songs. She tells of the origins of her own group, The Rage.

She sings the gospel song "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" with Ray singing harmony and playing the piano. Afterward the limited animation music video, "Teenage Mutant Kung Fu Chickens", airs. The song itself goes back to 1991 in the career of Ray Stevens. It appeared on the album, #1 With a Bullet. It, like so many of Ray's songs, wouldn't become a music video until years later. The music video emerged in 2006 on a DVD release titled Teenage Mutant Kung Fu Chickens (a DVD featuring five limited animation music videos). It's now part of a DVD collection called Cartoon Carnival, Volume 2.

Rhonda returns and sings "Jolene", the Dolly Parton classic, which Rhonda recorded in 2000, and afterward Ray walks over and thanks her for being on the show. I'm sure the most devoted of Rhonda Vincent fans may have preferred that she perform songs more closely associated with her career (such as "Is The Grass Any Bluer on the Other Side?", "I'm Not Over You", or "All-American Bluegrass Girl") but then again, if you happen to be one of her fans, I'd assume you'll enjoy/like whatever she sings.

Ray closes the episode performing Roger Miller's "Chug-a-Lug". This is one of the songs that Ray had previously recorded for his 2012 project, The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music. Next week's episode guest stars the famed country music band, Restless Heart. Have you contacted your local PBS station? Remember that Ray's program is locally syndicated on PBS affiliates...if you have a local PBS channel in your area contact them via e-mail or telephone and suggest they air Ray's show. But hold on...here's a much better and simpler idea...

Ray's website, if you hadn't checked it in awhile, has actually done the hard work. They've gone through and listed contact information of local PBS affiliates across the country. All you need to do is type your zip code. Once you enter the zip code a box opens up displaying contact information for your local PBS station's programming department. You can see it by clicking HERE.

July 30, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville series...

Hello all...I don't know if I usually write fan-created blog entries on Sunday mornings much anymore but this morning I decided to compose one. I was looking over some of my previous blog entries...more or less reviews of Ray's PBS television series, CabaRay Nashville. In one of those blog posts I shared a list of the upcoming episodes set to air on KET2 (the local PBS affiliate that carries Ray's television program). The list looked like this...

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
 
All of those air-dates are from a copy of episodes and each of those air-dates happen to be on a Friday. OETA distributes Ray's television series and on their site they have an episode guide which lists the first 26 episodes set to air on PBS. The air-dates range from July 7, 2017 to December 29, 2017. That particular December episode is billed as The New Year's Eve episode following back to back Christmas episodes (December 15 and December 22). Each episode on OETA's list has already been taped and have air-dates scheduled. 
 
Local PBS stations have the option of carrying the program on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday in the afternoon, evening, or night. So, technically, Friday is the day of the week for the earliest of air-dates. Several weeks ago KET2 added a couple of episodes to that list. I never made mention of it because of my preoccupation writing reviews of his television episodes. 
 
The two episodes added are for the month of September. So, going by the official Friday air-date method, September 22 will guest star Angaleena Presley and September 29 will guest star The Riders in the Sky. On KET2 those episodes will air September 23 and September 30. 
 
These 13 episodes are being promoted as his summer PBS schedule. I am hoping that there is going to be a fall PBS schedule of episodes released because there are 13 more episodes "in the can", as they say, for a total of 26 exclusive PBS episodes. 
 
KET2 doesn't have any episodes listed beyond September 30th and so I'm hoping that doesn't mean they're going to stop airing his program. This is why I hope that episodes are going to be added to KET2's web page to fill in the months of October through December. So, to my way of thinking, once it hits late August or early September KET2 may add the rest of the available episodes to their list. The OETA list of episodes I made mention of has episodes set to air on PBS stations throughout the rest of the calendar year. The first episode in October, for example, is to guest star Rex Allen, Jr. but given that KET2 doesn't provide any air-dates beyond September 30th I'm wondering if they'll air the episode or not. I'll find out more information, though.

July 29, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...B.J. Thomas...

Hello once more! If you are among the fans of Ray Stevens that are able to see his syndicated PBS series, Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville, then this week's episode is another spectacular show. The guest this week happens to be B.J. Thomas.

The show airs in my area every Saturday night at 8pm on KET2, a sub-channel of KET. Ray opened the show singing "Hound Dog"...with mostly an entirely different arrangement/delivery than the Elvis recording...and I suspect that Ray's recorded the song for some future project but then again perhaps the performance of the song is exclusive to the series. It's a wonderful performance nevertheless. Ray then brings out B.J. Thomas...and the conversation immediately shifts to "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head". Ray tells of how he turned the song down...not because he didn't like it...but because he had another song ready to come out (that song, while not mentioned, happened to be his recording of "Sunday Morning Coming Down"). Ray pulls out a ukulele and attempts to play the musical intro to "Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head"...B.J. takes the instrument away and hands it to guitarist Jerry Kimbrough (a long time member of Ray's group of studio musicians).

After B.J. performs "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" Ray mentions the session work he used to do and brings up being organist on a recording by B.J. in 1966 called "Billy and Sue". B.J. remarks of how much he's loved Ray's songs and makes references to "Just One of Life's Little Tragedies" and "Funny Man". Ray brings up B.J.'s recording of "Mr. Businessman"...and B.J. talks of his recording and jokingly refers to the song having at least four thousand words. B.J. mentions the reason they never issued it as a single...it had to do with not wanting to have a competing record of the same song on the market. He sings the song as Ray plays piano...but Ray sings a verse, too, and they both sing parts of the song's chorus as a duet. The performance is one of the highlights of the episode...you could tell that Ray enjoyed it and you could visibly see from their expressions how invested the two were in the performance.

Following a brief clip of a scene from Ray's 1995 Get Serious! movie (the one featuring the partially made music video of "The Day I Tried to Teach Charlene MacKenzie How To Drive") B.J. sings his biggest country music hit, "Hey Won't You Play Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song". Strangely enough there's no mention made of B.J.'s award winning gospel career. For a period of time in the late '70s and into the early '80s B.J. had a very strong association with gospel music. In a 4 year span (1978-1982) B.J. racked up 10 gospel hits (6 of them hitting the Top-10 of Radio and Records Christian music chart) and he won 8 Grammy awards for gospel performances.

Ray closes the show in an Elvis vein...just as he opened the show...but this time it's a stripped down performance of "I Saw Elvis in a U.F.O.". I say stripped down because it doesn't feature a lot of the big production that the recording featured...but it does contain some outer space music effects. Is there such a thing as outer space music effects?? I should say Sci-Fi music effects...specifically the sound effect of the U.F.O. soaring and hovering. If you're familiar with the recording (from 1989's Beside Myself album) then you know the sound effect I'm referring to. Even stripped down performances from Ray Stevens are still entertaining because he's a natural Entertainer.

I've written about this in some of my other blog entries. Season One of Ray's television program is on DVD. The project contains the first 13 episodes that originally aired on RFD beginning in November 2015. Some trivia: during it's run on RFD (2015-2016) it was called Ray Stevens' Nashville. Once it joined PBS stations it's title was slightly changed to Ray Stevens' CabaRay Nashville as a tie-in to his upcoming venue (set to open either late August or early September). The episodes on this DVD serve as a wonderful introduction to the series as a whole. I think that the episodes that started to air on PBS this month will eventually get repeated but I have no idea. His RFD episodes (26 total) had gotten re-aired several times during the RFD run and they were the first episodes to air once the program moved to PBS this past January but only time will tell if the rest of the RFD episodes make it to DVD or if any of the PBS episodes make it to DVD. As of now there are 26 episodes available to air on PBS affiliates based upon a program guide provided by the show's distributor, OETA. The air-dates cover the months of July through December of this year. The local affiliate in my area, KET2, has a schedule of upcoming episodes listed on their site. They are scheduled to air episodes through September 30th. There is no episodes listed beyond the 30th of September...so, for me, it's a small mystery of why the rest of the episodes aren't listed. KET2, like other local PBS stations, began airing episodes of the show that originally ran on RFD. KET2 picked the show up in late March and they aired a handful of the 26 episodes that originally ran on RFD. Starting in July of this year PBS began airing first-run episodes. September 30th will be the 13 episode mark of first-run shows...will KET2 add the remaining 13 first-run episodes to their schedule (taking up the months of October through December)...as we get closer to the end of August or September perhaps we'll have a more clearer picture.

Ray has long been known as an artist that is predictably unpredictable...you can't guess or make assumptions...if he gets an out of left field idea he may run with it or just when you think you have his music direction figured out he'll do something that'll surprise you...even after 60 years as a recording artist.

Next week's episode is going to guest star Rhonda Vincent!

July 23, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Michael W. Smith...

Hello once more...last night Ray Stevens happened to be in Renfro Valley, Kentucky performing at the venue in Mount Vernon. I wasn't able to attend this time around but I've attended several of his previous concerts in Renfro Valley. I was, of course, seated in front of my television at 8pm last night catching the latest episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. This particular episode carried a gospel theme and it guest starred a Contemporary Christian icon, Michael W. Smith.

Ray opened the show singing "Dry Bones". Now, this is a song that I first heard Ray perform at a telethon hosted by Gary Chapman several years ago. I did some research and it was actually 6 years ago (2011) on a telethon called Somebody Cares for the Southeast. Ray eventually recorded the song and it appears on 2012's The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music and the Gospel Collection CD from 2014. It appeared on the Encyclopedia project because of it's lighthearted and whimsical overtone...and how some consider it a gospel novelty song. Ray also performed "This Old House", a legendary hit by Rosemary Clooney and other recording artists but she had the biggest hit (featuring bass vocals from Thurl Ravenscroft) and then there's the recording by the song's writer, Stuart Hamblen, which wasn't a hit but it's a recording I also love to hear. It's been recorded by numerous artists and other performer's have had hits with the song but I singled out those 2 recordings from Rosemary Clooney and Stuart Hamblen because those are the recordings I was more familiar with...that is until Ray recorded his version of the song! Ray's version appears on Just a Closer Walk with Thee/Gospel Favorites, a CD from the summer of last year.

Michael W. Smith is brought out after Ray makes mention of Smith's legendary career in gospel music. He cited that Michael had won a lot of Dove Awards (the leading awards organization in gospel music...winning 45 as of 2015) and he also made mention that Michael has racked up 31 number one hits in his career and sold millions of albums (14 gold and 5 platinum albums). They spoke about a couple of CD's...Hymns and Hymns II-Shine On Us. Michael made mention of the exclusive sale of the CD's through the Cracker Barrel chain of restaurants. Ray mentioned that his latest gospel recordings had originally been meant as a double CD of 24 songs but at the last minute they decided to break them up into 2 separate volumes: Gospel Collection (2014) and Just a Closer Walk with Thee/Gospel Favorites (2016).

Ray speaks about his first gospel album in 1972, Turn Your Radio On, after Albert Brumley is brought up in a conversation. He tells Michael that the record company (Barnaby) didn't want him to issue a gospel song or an entire gospel album "because you're not a gospel singer, etc." and at the time they didn't feel a gospel recording would go over well with a pop music audience. Ray mentioned that he recorded "I'll Fly Away" for that record, too. They both perform "I'll Fly Away" (Ray sang background vocals and played piano as Michael sang) and this was followed by a solo performance from Michael seated at Ray's piano performing "Shine On Us".

After the stirring performance of "Shine On Us" it was time for some lighthearted fun with a presentation of the animated music video of "Can He Love You Half as Much as I?". This was followed by the Professor Cusic segment. He gave some background on one of the writers of "Would Jesus Wear a Rolex?", Margaret Archer, and he delivered one of the funniest exit lines by asking if anyone's ever heard of Ray's television show. Some of his commentary went something like this: "Did you know that one of the writers of Would Jesus Wear a Rolex?, Margaret Archer, is a part of the staff of Ray's CabaRay Nashville television show. Have you seen it?". The poker face he gives the camera is priceless. Chet Atkins and Margaret Archer are the writers of the song, by the way.

Upon that introduction Ray performs "Would Jesus Wear a Rolex?" standing up. I say that because he's usually seated at the piano when he performs the song. There happened to be just a slight re-arrangement (to my ears) but the overall execution of the song remained the same as Ray's original recording from 1987 during the various televangelist scandals.

Next week's episode is going to guest star B.J. Thomas. Those of you who are long time fans of Ray should know the unique connection between Ray and B.J. but if you don't I'll briefly inform you that it has to do with "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" (a song from the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid movie) but B.J. had also recorded one of Ray's songs, too, before that. Stay tuned!

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).