November 17, 2019

Ray Stevens: Early 1980s footage...

Although the abrupt removal of CabaRay Nashville from the airwaves of RFD-TV is still fresh in my mind and something I'll continue to be upset over until some sort of official statement comes along regarding the future of the program on the network's airwaves...I'm hoping it'll make a comeback...but until then it's back to my doing what I'd rather do: blogging positive news surrounding our entertainment hero, Ray Stevens.

In this blog entry I'm embedding a video clip that appeared this past Thursday (November 14th) on Ray's social media sites. The clip comes from one of his appearances on Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters variety show of the early 1980s. Her television series ran on NBC for two seasons from November 18, 1980 until June 26, 1982. Unusual for a prime-time series, which often features 26 first-run episodes per season, the total number of episodes for this series happened to be 35. The season getting underway in November (rather than September) was due to a writer's strike that took place...which, as you can see, had a direct impact on the start of the 1980-1981 television season. It's arguable that there could have been at least 10 or 11 additional episodes had the 1980 television season gotten underway in September. Ray appeared two times on this series. This is from his second appearance and it features performances from Barbara and her sisters along side a performance by Donny Osmond and a performance by Ray. This performance comes from the episode that also features the jogging comedy sketch that I embedded in a previous blog entry.

Ray made some appearances during CMA week in Nashville...being one of the newest members of the Country Music Hall of Fame he was recognized by several media outlets covering the awards telecast last week. The clip below is kind of breezy...meant to serve mostly for quick publicity or photo opportunities...with the conversation often times being secondary. The two hosts from an FM country radio station captured some commentary from Ray and he spoke of how being on the road/traveling from place to place wore him out and that the CabaRay showroom is now the place for the people/fans to come see him in concert. He also spoke of his recent election/induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame.

November 16, 2019

Ray Stevens: CabaRay Nashville vanishes from RFD-TV...

Hello all...admittedly I hadn't been paying too much to all things internet this past week due to an increase in unpredictable winter weather that passed through here. I keep my computer shut down during those times...don't like having the computer on and there's a power outage. Anyway, something that I've been doing each Saturday morning since January this year when I arrive home from work is check the program guide for the episode details of the Ray Stevens television series, CabaRay Nashville. The show had been airing Saturday nights at 8:30pm Eastern on RFD-TV since this past January. It also airs Saturday nights at 8pm Eastern on a local PBS affiliate in my area, KET2, and since this past January I've been able to see two different episodes of Ray's television show during the 8-9pm hour. However, tonight (November 16th), RFD-TV decided to remove Ray's show from their schedule and replace it with a series featuring footage of Grand Ole Opry performances from the 1950s. As mentioned at the beginning of this blog entry I hadn't been on-line much this week and so I did some research and discovered that Country Legends: Grand Ole Opry Stars of the '50s was announced as a new series back on November 13th, just this past Wednesday. In the show's description it made no mention of it replacing CabaRay Nashville nor has there been any information regarding future airings of CabaRay Nashville.

To say I'm annoyed would be putting it mildly. It's extremely frustrating and a slap in the face to all of Ray's fans to have his program removed in favor of a new series. I hadn't come across any comment from the network regarding the removal of CabaRay Nashville but I can guess what they may say in their defense. The powers that be may declare that this new series fits in with Marty Stuart's program at 8pm and the Opry Encore program at 9pm and so it was natural to place the new series in the middle of those two programs. If that should be their explanation, fine, but where does that leave Ray's show and his viewers and his fans? See, it isn't just the fact of the series being removed (without advance warning), that's bad enough, but it's the fact that the network hasn't placed it in a different time-slot or made any kinds of statement of when it'll return. It makes no sense. The show was simply pulled from the network and not given another time-slot as if us, the show's viewers, are unimportant. It's a slap in the face. Now, should the network make any kind of statement regarding the show's future I'll post about it, of course...but I highly doubt such a statement will be forthcoming considering there was no warning that the show was going to be removed.

November 10, 2019

Ray Stevens: Vintage Video Clips...

Hello's been almost a week since my previous blog entry. I'll post a reminder as we get more deeper into November of the upcoming appearance of Ray Stevens and Ralph Emery in Dickson, Tennessee on December 3rd. The blog entry I previously posted was meant as a breaking news kind of blog as we get more closer to next month I'll obviously post about the event. In addition to the Christmas-themed concerts at the CabaRay showroom Ray has also been busy sharing video clips from his large collection of previously released and unreleased video clips. Now, in addition to the video clips posted on Ray's social media site, there's been the upload of another clip of Ray that isn't affiliated with Ray's social media group...but I'm going to embed it nonetheless.

I'll begin with the most recent video upload...a comical sketch from his Amazing Rolling Revue VHS. It's a parody of cereal commercials...specifically the athletic driven Wheaties brand. In Ray's video the name of the cereal is Beeties, from overseas, and it contains all the ingredients designed to help with a certain type of personal'll find yourself laughing, of course, but mixed in with the comical overtone is a shot of Ray in horror attempting to swallow the prune and high fiber cereal concoction. The voice-over is provided by Buddy Kalb. It was uploaded on November 8th...

A day earlier, November 7th, a video clip of the jogging sketch from Ray's guest appearance on Barbara Mandrell and the Mandrell Sisters variety show appeared on YouTube. Barbara's show was on the air for two seasons, 1980-1982, and Ray appeared on it twice. In this appearance not only is Ray and the Mandrell's in the sketch but it also features the other guest, Donny Osmond.

Jogging was becoming something of a new fad, I guess, even though it had been popularized in the mid 1960s...for not only do we have the above sketch but in this same time period the concept of jogging had inspired a couple of songs: "The Jogger" by Bobby Bare and "Joggin'" by our music/entertainment hero, Ray Stevens, plus a comical story, "Joggers", from Jerry Clower. Bobby's novelty recording hit in 1983 whereas Ray's recording arrived in 1984 as did the story by Jerry Clower. If jogging hadn't been a fad in the early/mid '80s then it was purely coincidental that the subject matter took center stage on three separate recordings all within a year from each other.

On November 5th a very appreciated video clip surfaced onto YouTube. If you recall earlier in the year I made mention of RFD-TV airing a 1981 episode of That Nashville Music featuring Ray Stevens as a guest star. Video footage surfaced not too long afterward of performance clips from that episode but the footage of Ray wasn't included. I taped the episode not too long ago when it was reran...but thankfully the performances from Ray have now made it onto the internet so that an even bigger audience can enjoy them. The series was one of the longest running...airing in syndication from 1970 to 1985...and Ray appeared many times. The video clip captures only the Ray Stevens performances and he sings: "You've Got the Music Inside", "Marie", and "Everybody is a Clown Inside". Ray performs the re-arranged version of "You've Got the Music Inside"...the way he did on an episode of Pop! Goes the Country from this time period. Ray had originally recorded the song as a mid-tempo love ballad in 1973; he then re-recorded it in 1978 as a slower ballad...the re-arranged version, which he never officially recorded, blends the mid-tempo and slow ballad styles together...and on top of this he added a layer of he covers all the bases in that performance. "Marie" is a slow love ballad that would've made a great addition to his 1981 album, One More Last Chance. The tempo and overall feel of that song fits in with the overall mood of that album.

I like all the performances but for me the stand-out is "Everybody is a Clown Inside"'s a fabulous performance, first of all, and it's simply a feelgood, cheery puts a smile on your face kind of song...if you dislike the song then something must be wrong with you...or you have an intense dislike for fun songs and patter...but "Everybody is a Clown Inside"...

Ray Stevens 1981

A member of YouTube named Randall Hamm uploaded the above video. If you do a YouTube search for Ray Stevens and select "video" as well as "release date" in the filter area, so that the video clips will be arranged from most recent to oldest, you won't find this clip among the search results. Ray's name isn't featured in the video tags...which could explain it...but if you do a YouTube search for Ray Stevens and you include the name of the TV show or one of the songs he sang on the TV show then the video clip will show up in the search results. I have a brief conversation with the video's uploader...if you read the comments over on the video's main page you'll be able to see it. Those curious can click this LINK to watch the above video on it's main YouTube page with the comment section. In the brief conversation the clown's identity is revealed to be a man named Bayron Binkley, Sr. who went by the character's name, Happy A Clown, and the character was well-known by locals watching WSM-TV. I didn't know this information before hand, though. This information was supplied by the video's uploader during the brief conversation I had with him in the YouTube comments section. Also in the comments section I was asked if I had been to the CabaRay showroom, I replied I had been there, and I directed them to this fan-created blog where I wrote about my visit to the CabaRay last year (you can find it in the Archives on the right hand side of this page located in the month of March in 2018).