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).

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