May 21, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville: Linda Davis...

It's that time once more...I've just finished watching episode 6, Season 6 of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville and I'm ready to post my re-cap. The special guest this time around happened to be Linda Davis.

Ray opened the show performing "Cadillac Style"...something of a change considering most, not all, but most of the time the show's opening performance is of a song he himself had recorded at some point in his career. Even though Ray had never recorded the song he is the publisher of the song. It was a mega-hit for Sammy Kershaw...his very first hit single in fact...late in 1991 and into early 1992. I had knew of Ray's behind the scenes involvement but I was happy to see him make mention of being the song's publisher after he finished singing it.

Ray introduces "the lovely and stylish Linda Davis" who walks out and immediately begins to offer commentary concerning the red piano and says how much she loves it. Ray asks of her earliest years in the music industry and she makes mention of being inspired by seeing performances of Loretta Lynn...specifically Opry appearances...where Loretta traditionally wore those big ballroom gowns anytime she made an appearance. I didn't know a lot about Linda Davis other than what the general public may know about her and so I was surprised to learn that a daughter of hers, Hillary Scott, is a member of the country music group, Lady Antebellum. There again I'm not too involved with 'contemporary country music' and so I only knew of the group's name but knew nothing of their personnel. Linda and her family had released a project together billed as Hillary Scott and the Scott Family on a CD titled Love Remains, released in 2016, and produced by Ricky Skaggs. One of the album's singles, "Thy Will", won a Grammy in early 2017.

Ray asks how Linda met up with Reba McEntire...

Linda explained that part of her career was singing demo recordings and a lot of songs that Reba had put on hold featured Linda as the demo singer. Linda then announces that she's going to sing just a piece of "Does He Love You?" (her duet with Reba) without the band and that she wants Ray to just repeat the lines that she sings. Ray goes along with it but is increasingly getting nervous repeating the lyrics...once Linda gets to the line "does he think of you when he's holding me?" Ray begins to repeat the lyric but stops himself and interjects some objection by saying something along the lines of and I'm paraphrasing: "hold on, now...we're gonna have to have some major lyrical changes in this if at some point we'd ever officially record it...". The audience laughs and the subject shifts to Linda having once recorded "Young at Heart". Linda had mentioned that she had a connection to Ray in that they've both recorded songs originally hits for Frank Sinatra. Linda mentions a CD she released featuring her versions of pop and jazz standards and one of the recordings is "Young at Heart". She sings it while Ray plays the piano.

Ray asks if Linda is on tour anywhere and she makes mention of being part of Kenny Rogers farewell tour... [given this episode had been taped months earlier there isn't a mention of the tour abruptly ending last month due to health reasons surrounding Kenny]. I'll make mention, since it wasn't brought up in the show, that Linda has another connection to Kenny in that she was once on the roster of his own label, Dream Catcher, in the early 2000s...not only that but she was part of his tour in 2013 and 2015. Ray and Linda's conversation about her current schedule leads into Linda singling out a member of Ray's band and announcing that one of the guitar players, blue glasses wearing Mike Noble, is a co-writer of a song Kenny had a hit with, "Twenty Years Ago". Mike enters the scene and Ray introduces him, jokingly, as Kenny Rogers. Ray vacates the piano while Linda sits down behind it. After their performance Linda's husband, Lang Scott, emerges and takes his spot on the stage and sings with Linda on "Some Things Are Meant to Be", her biggest solo hit. Ray thanks Linda and her husband for being on the show.

Prior to performing the closing song he explains the reason behind the dancing with a member of the audience as the closing credits roll. He explained that it goes back to his years as a teenage performer at sock hops in the late '50s and how, as a member of a band, he could never participate in the actual dancing due to his obvious role as the lead vocalist and piano player on stage. So, once he began this particular television series, he decided to have an instrumental version of "Everything is Beautiful" play during the closing credits while he chose a member of the audience to dance with. Ray then concludes by saying that he'll now perform the song he and the band always closed the sock hops with, "Goodnite, Sweetheart, Goodnite". Given Ray's musical inclination in his youth he more than likely first heard the song by The Spaniels, a doo-wop/rhythm and blues group who had a hit with it in 1954...but it had also become a hit for other entertainers in the mid '50s, too. The pop version was performed by The McGuire Sisters while the country music version was performed by Johnnie and Jack.

Next weekend I'll have a recap of Season 6, episode 7 guest starring CeCe Winans. This episode is currently airing on local PBS stations but it won't appear on Ray's video site until this coming weekend. As long-time readers of this fan-created blog should already know Ray uploads episodes of his television series onto his video site Video Site a week after they've aired on PBS stations.

If you're attending the CMA Music Fest this year (formerly known as Fan Fair) it'll be held June 7th through June 10th. On the final day the National Anthem is going to be performed by Ray Stevens at the Nissan Stadium. There is no information on whether or not Ray will perform a set of songs or if he's simply going to make an appearance for the National Anthem performance. I'd assume that since there's only been news released surrounding a performance of the National Anthem that's probably the only involvement he'll have in this year's CMA Music Fest...but there is nearly 3 weeks remaining before the CMA Music Fest begins on June 7th (a Thursday) and any announcement of a booth is possible during the coming days or weeks. I remember one year, back when it was still called Fan Fair, that news wasn't released that Ray would have an autograph/meet and greet booth at the event until the week of Fan Fair. So keep yourself up to date on his social media sites for any kind of last minute announcement just in case. If I find anything I'll blog about it, too...but sometimes I may miss something if I happen to be too busy with off-line activities.

May 12, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Moe Bandy

Hello all...I just finished watching episode five, Season Six of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. The special guest this time around happened to be Moe Bandy.

As I mentioned in a couple of previous blog entries Moe happens to be the first guest star to appear on the CabaRay stage. All previous episodes that have aired originated from his Music Row studio. I also noticed the different montage during the opening sequence reflecting the special guests for this season. Ray opens the show performing "New Orleans Moon"...a song that long time fans may be aware originally hit in 2007. I found it to be an out of left field choice because to my knowledge he's never performed it on television...except for a performance on New Orleans local television right around the time the song was originally released. At the time of the song's release the horrific, devastating aftermath of Hurricane Katrina was still dominating the headlines (some two years after Katrina hit) and if I recall correctly Ray appeared on local news programs performing the song. I'd never seen the footage but the appearances were reported, or so my memory seems to recall, on Ray's website at the time.

Ray introduces Moe Bandy and he discusses his music heavy upbringing...mentioning that his mother played piano and his father was a guitarist. Ray asks about 'Moe and the Mavericks'. Moe discusses the local band and their origin. Moe tells of the time he came into contact with Ray Baker, a record producer, who he credits with getting him on records. Ray then asks about the Texas Rodeo Hall of Fame of which Moe was made a member. Moe discusses his rodeo career and insists that his brother was much better at the rodeo life. Moe says he got out of the rodeo life due to back problems...he says he couldn't get this yellow streak off his back (a humorous reference to being afraid). This leads Ray into asking if Moe happened to be a rodeo clown, instead...but Moe clarified that he was a genuine rodeo cowboy, briefly, but the discussion sets up Moe's performance of "Bandy the Rodeo Clown".

After the performance Moe mentioned getting a phone called from one of his idols, Lefty Frizzell. Moe says that the call was about how Lefty and collaborator, Whitey Shaffer, had come up with a song specifically written for Moe...the just performed "Bandy the Rodeo Clown". Moe speaks of his music influences and Ray promotes Lucky Me, Moe's autobiography, which is also the name of Moe's previous CD (released in 2016). Moe speaks of his brother winning the top prize at the Houston Rodeo.

Moe makes mention of his long time friendship with the Bush family and that Barbara wrote the book's forward. He speaks of his song, "Americana", and his involvement in Bush 41's campaign during 1987/1988. Now, of course, this episode had been taped months earlier...prior to Barbara's recent there is no discussion made about this in the episode.

You can purchase your copy of Moe's life story by clicking HERE. The CD of the same name, released in 2016, can be found HERE. He performs "Someday Soon", a hit for him in 1982...and was later a bigger hit for Suzy Bogguss. It had pop music origins, ironically, but it gained it's biggest impact in the country music market. Ray brings up Moe having had success as a duet partner with several artists...most notably Joe Stampley...

This conversation leads into a performance from Ray and Moe of "Just Good Ol' Boys". Ray introduces their duo as Moe and Schmo. It was a pretty good collaboration and I wonder if Ray will ever track down Joe Stampley and get him on the show...perhaps reunite him with Moe Bandy?! Ray closes this episode with a performance of "St. James Infirmary/Just a Closer Walk with Thee". This song is on the 2007 New Orleans Moon CD. The episode airing this week on local PBS stations guest stars Linda Davis. I'll catch that episode next weekend on Ray's video site and then I'll write my review/recap.

May 7, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Hall of Fame episode

Good early Monday morning!! I'm a bit depressed over the loss of the Feedjit traffic counter. I always looked forward to visiting the blog and see how many visitors had stopped by and where they were from, etc. etc. I've replaced it with a service called StatCounter which doesn't provide the country of origin of visitors which the previous service did...StatCounter only shows the total number of times the blog's been accessed. When I visited the blog yesterday morning the StatCounter shown the blog had accumulated 6 visits since it's installation. This morning it shown a total of, in a way I'm glad I can still see something of a visitation total for my blog but it doesn't provide location or time of day, etc. etc. But anyway...this blog entry is about the fourth episode of Season Six of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville.

This episode originally aired on local PBS syndication the weekend of April 28th and it was uploaded onto Ray's video site just this past weekend. Speaking of which...Ray has a second option for people to view his video programming. He now has a Roku channel in addition to The Roku channel can be accessed HERE. I know nothing about Roku but I've heard of it for a number of years and so for those that are familiar with it you can get access, for a subscription, to all of Ray's video content...with the allure being the episodes of his television series...which a lot of fans routinely complain that their local PBS station doesn't carry it. Those two video sites provide a solution.

Season Six's fourth episode, titled Hall of Fame, marked the first episode of the series to air at the CabaRay showroom. The curtains pulled apart after Bill Cody's introduction...and you see his familiar lit up signature on display behind the band...and Ray promptly launched into "Nashville". This was the only performance at the CabaRay, though, as the bulk of the episode highlighted clips from previous episodes...singling out Hall of Fame members or recording artists performing songs produced by Hall of Fame members. After Ray's performance of "Nashville" the camera faded from the stage and the next thing we see is Ray speaking about the CabaRay and how up until tonight the episodes had been taped at one of his recording facilities on Music Row but from here on out the episodes will originate at the CabaRay.

Ray takes the viewer on a tour...reading an inscription on the wall which provides visitors a brief background on why Ray wanted to build the showroom and have it spotlight people behind the scenes (session musicians, arrangers, and record producers). Ray is next seen in front of the Owen Bradley booth. There are red booths inside the CabaRay named for legendary record producers.

Ray speaks about Owen's legacy as well as Harold's. This sets up the performance of "Crazy" by Harold Bradley (on guitar) and Mandy Barnett (vocals) from the third season (it's first on PBS). Ray next speaks of Chet Atkins and of their long history in and out of the music industry. He mentioned that he produced a novelty record on Chet which became a hit. Although he doesn't mention it by name it's "Frog Kissing". Ray speaks of playing on numerous recording sessions for Chet...and on one session he did string arrangements for the Bobby Bare recording, "Streets of Baltimore", which Chet produced. Ray plays a clip of Bobby's performance of the song.

Ray speaks of Shelby Singleton next...and he tells the viewer that Shelby's responsible for the production of "Ahab the Arab". Shelby produced the recording sessions at Mercury Records during the time Ray recorded for them and in those days the record company typically had one or two head producers who were responsible at production of all artists on the roster which is why people like Shelby, Chet, Owen, and several others were in charge of so many sessions. Ray name drops a couple of other songs Shelby produced, "Harper Valley, PTA" and "Hey Paula", but then a clip of "Walk on By" by LeRoy Van Dyke is played. Ray doesn't mention that he played on the recording session. Ray next speaks about Fred Foster and Monument Records. A clip of "Orange Blossom Special" by Charlie McCoy is played. Ray talks about Billy Sherrill and the recordings he produced...citing "He Stopped Loving Her Today"...which leads into a clip of one of the song's writers, Bobby Braddock, performing it on a keyboard.

The next producer spoken about is Jerry Kennedy...a legendary figure as a session musician and producer. He produced nearly everything The Statler Brothers and Tom T. Hall recorded during their years at Mercury Records...also producing sessions on Roger Miller. Ray plays a clip of himself performing "King of the Road". Ray closes the show detailing more things about the CabaRay prior to the closing credits. There isn't a closing dance...I don't know if it'll be worked into future episodes though...during the closing we see images of the trophy case and other areas of the CabaRay interior.

The special guest this weekend happens to be Moe Bandy. This episode will be uploaded onto his video sites next weekend. This will mark a return to a more typical episode...minus the retrospective and clip-filled assemblage of the previous two. As such Moe's episode will hold the distinction of being the first complete episode to air on the CabaRay stage. When it's uploaded onto Ray's video site I'll watch it and provide a recap next weekend.