February 24, 2013

Ray Stevens interviewed by Rita Cosby...

Although not as long as previous interviews, one of the most recent radio interviews given by Ray Stevens is nearly 5 minutes. The interview, conducted by Rita Cosby, was uploaded on February 18th and so it's less than a week old. The segment itself runs for 4 minutes, 43 seconds and you can listen to it HERE. The interview is basically about his new television series, Ray-ality TV, on the re-launched Nashville Network, which is currently available as a digital sub-channel in very limited markets. Midway through Ray mentions a previous program he once had in production as a web-only exclusive titled We Ain't Dead Yet which I vaguely wrote about several times a few years back. The sitcom was part of a subscription based membership into what was called Ray Stevens Backstage. Given that it was subscription based there wasn't too much publicity centered around the sitcom other than a basic description of what the show was about. Edited pieces of that sitcom, according to Ray, are part of Ray-ality TV too. Unlike Ray Stevens Backstage from a few years ago, the new Nashville Network isn't subscription based. Television viewers are more or less at the broadcasting mercy of whatever local television station is in their market. The availability of the new Nashville Network rests squarely on the shoulders of local television executives. I have not read anything that suggests that it'll be offered on basic cable television anytime soon and so for now it's only available in limited markets as a sub-channel.

February 13, 2013

Ray Stevens: Nostalgia Valley, Part 48...

We're here once again celebrating the career and music of Ray Stevens! I finished listening to the special about Ray Stevens that was aired on the KSAV internet radio program, Dave White Presents. In a previous blog entry I embedded the link to the program's podcast page. If visitors stop by the previous blog entry before this one and click the link I provided they'll more than likely have to search the show's podcast list for the entry that's marked February 11, 2013. For those reading this blog entry you can click this Mp3 Link. The interview is conducted by Wes Britton, one who I found out is the program's co-host. Dave White opens up the program speaking about what the show will be about. He plays 2011's "Obama Budget Plan" and then plays a couple of songs that Britton asks Ray about in the upcoming interview, 1960's "Sgt. Preston of the Yukon" and 1961's "Jeremiah Peabody's Green and Purple Pills".

The interview, as you'll hear, kicks off with "Mississippi Squirrel Revival". The interview covers a gamut of topics and one that sticks out, simply because it's something rarely discussed in previous interviews with Ray Stevens, is the inner workings of music and the overall construction of music and it's connection with people. Ray speaks of his affiliation with manager Don Williams, the brother of Andy Williams, and briefly speaks of the summer 1970 television show. A few minutes is spent speaking about music formats, labeling and the ultimate typecasting of artists, and the by-gone era of what's often referred to as Top-40 radio where all music formats were played on the same radio station.

Britton asks about "The Streak" and Ray explains the inspiration of the song and then music videos are brought into the discussion but ironically there wasn't any reference made to his You Tube channel or the millions of views that his videos have obtained over the last several years. One of the last things spoke about is the Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music and the inspiration behind it and the consistent charge that novelty songs are long forgotten after their initial splash onto the marketplace. Britton closed the interview playing "Mr. Businessman".

Afterward, White was heard giving his opinions of Ray's style of humor and he actually played a song that I didn't think anybody but dedicated fans were aware of and yet he played it. It's not anything super obscure from the '50s or '60s. It's an album track from one of his MCA comedy albums in the late 1980's that I'm sure a good portion of fans are very familiar with if they happen to have a copy of the album it appeared on. It's one of the funniest songs on that particular release.

I've not gone into any great detail about the interview or relayed how Ray replied to each of the questions because I want you all to hear for yourselves when you click the link in the opening paragraph. I had originally assumed that the entire 90 minute program would feature nothing but Ray Stevens music with an interview sandwiched in between. The show's preview does indicate that another topic during the episode would be slot machines but I was assuming that this topic would've been shorter, in comparison to Ray's segment, but it appears that each topic, Ray Stevens and slot machines, were evenly divided.

February 10, 2013

90 Minutes of Ray Stevens...

Good early Sunday morning any Ray Stevens fan or visitor...I found out about half an hour ago that there is to be a 90 minute salute to the one and only Ray Stevens this coming Tuesday, February 12th, on internet radio station KSAV. I found out about it by doing a routine blog search for Ray and This was one of the newest additions to the blog list.

In the article it states that the upcoming salute, on a program hosted by Dave White, will feature a lot of music from Ray Stevens as well as an interview. The article has only two errors which long time fans of Ray will spot right away.

In the article above it indicates that if people are unable to hear the show on the 12th then a podcast will become available on the 13th. Podcasts are extremely important, in my opinion, given the time zone differences all over the country. You can click Here and be taken to the podcast page. Keep checking that page for the addition of the Ray Stevens episode. As soon as it becomes available I'll be listening to it, of course, and letting you all know that it's available.

February 9, 2013

Ray Stevens and Rayality TV...

On this Saturday morning we take a look at the publicity that emerged the other day centering around the new Ray Stevens reality show, Ray-ality TV. The program, as mentioned in a previous blog, airs on the newly re-launched TNN. There was a media release informing the public and his fans that the channel will air 26 episodes of the series. This adds up to 26 reruns during a 52 week calendar year. It appears as if the new TNN has become available on some select cable outlets but the majority of it's availability continues to be through local affiliate sub-channels.

I hope TNN will one day become a channel on my cable provider, Time-Warner Cable. I live in the Midwestern part of the United States and there's a lot of rural consumers and country music fans in this part of the country and it seems as if it would be a natural that the new TNN would seek out the cable providers and channels in the region but as of now it's nowhere on my channel line-up.

Here's a link to a picture featuring Ray Stevens. It's a recent picture of his visit to the new TNN headquarters. The link will provide the names of the other people in the picture with Ray. Share the link with your friends. The same goes for the media release from the company that promotes Ray's music and appearances, Absolute Publicity. Music Row magazine's on-line site published this News article detailing the 26 episode commitment to Ray-ality TV. The link also features the video clip of Ray promoting the TV show. This is Ray's first ever television show since the 1970 summer series he hosted for Andy Williams. There have been pilots taped by Ray for possible television shows down through the years but none of those were picked up by any local or national network. I want to much to see the program as I'm sure every Ray Stevens fan does. Those fans of Ray who have access to the new TNN, I envy you.

February 4, 2013

Ray Stevens: Nostalgia Valley, Part 47...

Welcome to February 2013...as we look at in the Nostalgia Valley we see a 1966 recording titled "Baby the Magic is Gone", produced by Ray Stevens and performed by a group called The Velvets. As you can see, the recording was for the Monument label. As visitors of this blog are aware, if you've read some of the earlier Nostalgia Valley entries, Ray took a hiatus from recording and he focused on being a producer and music arranger before resuming his recording career in 1966. Ray continued to produce and arrange musical acts for Monument as well as on a host of lesser known labels through the mid '60s but he eventually focused more time and energy on his own recording career by the end of the decade and beyond.

I mentioned a particular You Tube channel several blog entries ago that specialized in obscure mid '60s recordings...and some of those recordings are associated in some way to Ray Stevens. In some instances he's the music arranger and in some he's the songwriter and in others he's the producer. I think in a couple he's all three! The channel uploaded a new clip a few days ago and that's the embed you see above. The upload happened on January 30, 2012 and so it's a few days old. This one was uploaded a year ago today on February 4, 2012...it's a group called The Casuals performing "Promise Her Anything" from 1965. Ray Stevens is the credited music arranger while the producer is Fred Foster.

Here's the You Tube Channel featuring the obscure mid '60s recordings. I've posted a link to this channel before but it's been a few years. There are currently 11 uploads associated with Ray Stevens. When you visit the channel you can easily find the video clips because they're all divided up into different playlists. The playlist devoted to Ray's production/arranging is 8th on the list. 

I'd say the bulk of recordings where Ray was the arranger/producer came from that 1964-1967 era. Once Ray's first LP for Monument hit the market in 1968, Even Stevens, followed by 1969's Gitarzan and Have a Little Talk With Myself, Ray, as mentioned earlier, started to focus more and more on his own recording career and slowly drifted from the production and session work he had been doing for other artists. His increasing presence on television by way of The Andy Williams Show and a change to Barnaby Records in 1970 ushered in different directions and opportunities for Ray as well.

I recall an interview where Ray mentioned that the session work he did all seems like a blur (which is understandable). He participated in hundreds of recording sessions, including his own, in a span of 3 to 4 years...arranging music and playing on sessions and being a producer, at times...it's all a blur to me, too, and I'm only writing about it!

Fast-forwarding to 2013...a couple of days ago, on February 2nd, Ray took part in a benefit concert at the McClain Christian Academy in Lebanon, Tennessee. There were other artists that took part in the concert including Deborah Allen, The Oak Ridge Boys, and Ricky Skaggs just to name a few. The event was titled Music at the Mill. Some of the posts I saw on social media sites indicated that Ray performed "Mississippi Squirrel Revival". There were pictures made available of several of the artists who attended...I found three featuring Ray Stevens...one of those was a picture of Ray and Deborah Allen. I also found what could be described as a publicity photo promoting the benefit concert. Search the internet and use the various combination of keywords 'Ray Stevens', 'Deborah Allen', 'McClain Christian Academy + Ray Stevens', etc. etc.