April 30, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...episode Six...

Hello one and all...on this early Sunday morning I find myself having just finished viewing episode six of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. I DVR the series and watch it later. Here's a LINK that takes you to Ray's website. It lists the first 6 episodes and if you click the next page link over there it'll open up to page 2 and you can read about the next 6 episodes (the first 12 are spotlighted). The thing about the local syndication market is you can't necessarily follow a cohesive air-date schedule. Due to the series debuting on some PBS stations in January with other PBS stations adding it as time has gone by it created the scenario of some viewers seeing different episodes in any given week.

Those of us viewing the series on PBS affiliates that added CabaRay Nashville after the month of January are always going to be playing catch-up to the stations that have aired it since it became available for PBS syndication in early January 2017. That is the reason Ray can't necessarily promote any particular episode on social media during any given week because the PBS markets that are airing the program are on different air-date schedules.

CabaRay Nashville PBS addition: The program is going to start airing in Martin, Tennessee on PBS affiliate WLIT beginning July 7th according to his website. This means that it'll start with episode 1 on July 7th for those viewers...but in my area episode six aired last night...

On episode six the special guests happened to be legendary songwriter Bobby Braddock and Sheri Copeland Smith. Ray opened the program singing "There Must Be a Pill For This" from his Here We Go Again! CD. He introduces Bobby Braddock...and the songwriter is asked to name some of the songs he's written/co-written over the years. Ray calls on Sheri Copeland Smith to exit the background singers line-up and perform the soprano harmony during the upcoming performance. Ray makes note of the fact that prior to her joining his group she was part of the George Jones group for 6 or 7 years. On a personal note I remember when she appeared as one of George's back-up singers, too. She and her husband, Barry, used to open George's concerts during their time with him.

Bobby performs "He Stopped Loving Her Today", a song he co-wrote with Curly Putnam, which of course became a monumental hit for George Jones and an iconic country music classic. In the original recording George did in 1980 the soprano effect happened to be performed by Millie Kirkham. Sheri did a great job. The music video of "The Dooright Family" airs next. The Video Jukebox segment acts as a kind of intermission between the first and second half of the 30 minute program.

Kicking off the second half of the program Sheri joined Ray in a duet of "Golden Ring"...a classic duet by George Jones and Tammy Wynette which, not coincidentally, Bobby Braddock co-wrote. Don Cusic appears in a segment featuring information about Dick Feller that he's reading from Ray's box set, The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music. The segment sets up Ray's performance of "Makin' the Best of a Bad Situation", a song that Feller wrote. Ray had previously recorded the song on his 1986 album, Surely You Joust. Upon the conclusion of the performance he tells a joke about Setters and Pointers. It's more or less a running gag that he closes the show with either a corny joke or perhaps an obscure bit of trivia that has a humorous double meaning.

April 29, 2017

Nice Tee Shirts of Ray Stevens available...

Hello once more to the fans of Ray Stevens! I'd been on vacation from work this past week but vacation's soon going to be over tomorrow sad to say. I received an e-mail this morning as a lot of others should have received if you're on his mailing list. I highlighted in bold print the most important of information. It's information about this season's CMA Music Fest.

Ray is to have a booth set up again in the Music City Center during this year's Fan Fair X festivities. According to the information he's to appear on June 8, June 10, and June 11 and sign autographs, sell items, and I assume have his photo taken with fans. There's a standard time slot given: 1:30pm - 2:30pm Central time

Based upon things I've read in the past, most meet and greet/photo/autograph events are timed so that everybody in line is able to get their item signed or their photo taken...cutting off any small-talk a fan may have with their favorite artist...ensuring that everybody gets through the line within the allotted time frame.

Some fans bristle at the notion of a time table in place (a common practice for a number of years...some years it's more strictly enforced than others) but the organizers of the event perhaps want to avoid the potential for a seemingly never-ending parade of professional autograph seekers...those that aren't necessarily fans of an artist clogging up a line...and cutting off legitimate fans' chances of meeting their favorites. The autograph seekers then, more often than not, put the autographed item on sell (eBay usually).

I assume the booth is going to be operated by members of his staff prior to and after his autograph session each day. I can't imagine the booth only being open for 1 hour each day...but I've never been to the CMA Music Fest (formerly known as Fan Fair) and so I don't know if the booth's of artists are only open if the artist is there in person or not. I had always thought that the booth's are operated by members of the artist's staff or representatives of the record company and that booth's are open during business hours for fans to walk by, browse any merchandise available, etc. but the artist being represented at that booth may only be there in person for an hour or 2 per day. It's safe to say that the in-person appearance by an artist is the busiest a booth is going to be each day.

The other big news item in the e-mail are the arrival of a couple of items at Ray's official website store. A couple of T-shirts are available...and yes I already made a purchase!! I ordered the black T-shirt featuring a recent photo of Ray on the front and an advertisement for the CabaRay Nashville on the back. A second T-shirt is red in color and features the photo of Ray from Comedy Video Classics and "Don't Look Ethel" underneath the photo. That T-shirt may be purchased by more of a general audience but I selected the other one. The introductory price for each shirt regardless of it's size is $20. Sizes range from Small to XXL. You can see the T-shirts for yourselves and decide which one you want...you may choose to purchase both...and you can see those T-shirts by clicking HERE. Once you open the page you'll see the items on display.

Tonight episode six of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville airs at 8pm. On this episode Hall of Fame songwriter Bobby Braddock and musician/harmony singer Sheri Copeland Smith are the guest stars. I have my DVR set to record the program...last week the special guests happened to be Charlie McCoy and Lori Stegner. Ray performed "I'm My Own Grandpaw" on last week's episode...he performed it as a ballad instead of the uptempo manner in which he recorded it in 1987. The arrangement of the performance was similar to the arrangement used on the 1987 recording, too, only slightly modified by the use of some different instruments not heard in the original.

He and Lori sang their duet, "Temptation", from his Encyclopedia project a couple of years ago. The song is officially spelled "Tim-Tay-Shun" because they perform it in an exaggerated southern dialect.

April 28, 2017

Ray Stevens recalls "The Streak"...

Hello all...oh yes, I know that I'm 2 weeks late in adding these links to the fan-created blog page but I'm adding them nevertheless. It's an article about and in interview of Ray Stevens published April 14th and the history behind "The Streak". The setting takes place at the NSAI. That acronym stands for the Nashville Songwriters Association International. The actual interview itself took place late last month and it's broken up into 2 different uploads. There's a clip of Ray talking about "Everything Is Beautiful" (from March 31st) and one recalling "The Streak" (April 14th). In each clip the interview is being conducted by Bart Herbison of NSAI.

Here's a link to the article published about EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL in The Tennessean on-line site. Here's a link to the article published about THE STREAK from The Tennessean. If any of those links give your browser any kind of upload fits, like it did mine, then visit Ray's Facebook page and access them there and see if there's any kind of upload issues. His Facebook page can be accessed by clicking HERE. The March 31st article wasn't uploaded to Ray's Facebook page until April 7th...I don't see a link on his Facebook page for the article about "The Streak". Here's a word of caution, though...even after accessing the link to The Tennessean via his Facebook post I still had difficulty keeping the story uploaded. The host site would jump to their home page as I as trying to read the article and sometimes the page would simply vanish and all that remained would be a blank white screen with only the site's letter head at the top and no article/video on display. Those that have much more knowledge about computers might have some sort of an explanation for The Tennessean website doing that.

Ironically those video clips hadn't been uploaded to YouTube so the only way in which to see them are through The Tennessean website.

From April 3rd, however, is an article that shouldn't give your browser any kind of fit. It's an interview posted on the Cowboys and Indians site. It focuses on his television program, Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville, and there's mention of the much-anticipated Bluegrass project he's been keeping on the back burner for several years. Here's a LINK to that particular article.

The only song that's been officially released from this mysterious, unreleased Bluegrass project is "Unchained Melody" but the official upload on Ray's YouTube channel doesn't reference it being part of a future release...however, during a performance at the Grand Ole Opry prior to the music video's on-line release he specifically mentioned that it'll be part of an upcoming Bluegrass project.

The song hit YouTube as a music video several years ago...October 2, 2013 to be specific...and I'm sure once this cryptic Bluegrass project hits the market as a CD or perhaps a DVD "Unchained Melody" is going to be among the songs...but considering it's been four years and counting since the video hit on YouTube I doubt they'll promote that song once Melancholy Fescue (the name of the Bluegrass project) is unleashed.

It's hard to tell exactly what's ahead...in the interview I linked to from Cowboys and Indians he mentions that he hopes to have Melancholy Fescue available in the fall of this year but not before his CabaRay venue has it's grand opening in August. Could this mean the project is going to hit the market in September? October? As fans of Ray Stevens aren't we used to being surprised, anxious, and on the edge of our seats?? 

April 9, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville Episode List...

Hello once again! Last night I seen episode 3 of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville which featured Bobby Bare as a guest. He sang "The Streets of Baltimore" and told a couple of stories of Nashville's past. He and Ray spoke of Mel Tillis and "Detroit City". Ray played a clip of Bobby performing the song on an episode of Ray's previous internet-only series, We Ain't Dead Yet. Ray performed a rhythm and blues classic, "Hi-Heel Sneakers", and later on performed "Mississippi Squirrel Revival". Earlier this morning I began thinking about Ray's current television series and it's history. It previously aired on RFD-TV...debuting on November 7, 2015. There happened to be at least 26 episodes (maybe more) that aired on the channel prior to it's RFD exit nearly a year later. It began airing on local PBS stations across the country in January of this year (starting with episode 1 from November 2015).

On Ray's main site there's a section focusing on his television series and it lists the first 12 episodes. You can access that page by clicking HERE. On that page there's a state by state list of PBS affiliates carrying Ray's series. Click on the name of the state to see the PBS affiliate. Given that the series hasn't been available on PBS for too long (since January) the number of markets isn't saturated across the country which obviously explains the reason a lot of states are missing from the line-up. Some states carry the program on more PBS affiliates than others. For example...if you click Oklahoma you'll see that 19 stations carry the program. There are 16 PBS stations in Kentucky that air the program. I can tune into the program via KET2, a sub-channel of WCVN.

A couple days ago the Inductees of the Country Music Hall of Fame (class of 2017) were released. Going into the Hall of Fame this year are Alan Jackson, Jerry Reed, and songwriter Don Schlitz. Next week's episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville, by pure coincidence, guest stars Don Schlitz. Ray is not a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame, by the way, but he's a member of other Halls of Fame and they're just as meaningful...but of course as a fan of his I'd love to see his name become enshrined as a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame one day!

A couple months ago a 4 minute publicity video featuring snippets of Ray's television series appeared on YouTube. Some of the episodes spotlighted in this video clip have already aired on PBS and some have yet to air.

April 2, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville successfully Recorded...

Hello once more...last week I wrote a post about my lack of experience setting up the DVR recording options and that the episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville that I thought would be taped didn't turn out as planned. As I had guessed all I had to do was change it's default setting from "record new episodes" to "record all episodes" and that did the trick. Obviously by having the episode recorded I loved having the opportunity to go back several hours later and watch the episode all over again. In case you missed it the April 1st airing guest starred Larry Gatlin. Ray opened the show singing "Such a Night" and later performed "It's Me Again, Margaret". In case you hadn't seen this episode yet keep your eyes open for Don Cusic. Interestingly Ray didn't do a live vocal impression of the telephone dial during "It's Me Again, Margaret" but instead had his recorded sound effect piped in through the sound system. In a segment referred to as the Video Jukebox Ray presented his music video of "Freddie Feelgood and His Funky Little Five Piece Band".

Larry Gatlin spoke about his career and his brothers, plus he did his impression of Mel Tillis in addition to mentioning Mickey Newbury (a noted songwriter). He sang a couple of lines of a song from the pen of Newbury, "American Trilogy", before launching into "All the Gold in California".  Throughout the episode there happened to be comical inserts of vintage comedy bits featuring Ray as Sickmind Fraud, a parody of Sigmund Freud.

Prior to and after the episode PBS aired commercials for The Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame and the more broader Musicians Hall of Fame. Ray was elected a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1980 (the same year he was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame!). Also promoted, of course, was Ray's website. In addition to the publicity for the Halls of Fame and Ray's website he appears before and after the episode seated at his piano for exclusive footage introducing/closing the presentation. This footage is exclusive to it's PBS airings given that he asks viewers to stay tuned to their local PBS station. It's a syndicated series...airing on scattered PBS stations across the country and on whatever day and time a station chooses to air it. Those wraparound segments of Ray at his piano reminded me of the PBS airings of classic episodes of Lawrence Welk's program. Former cast members/associates of that series often appeared before and after the episode to talk about the show, etc.

Saturday night (April 1, 2017) happened to be the first time I'd been able to see a complete episode of Ray's television program. Over the years the thing that's been consistent from those that had previously seen the episodes on RFD-TV is their sentiment that "the episodes are too short" or "it needs to be an hour long". After finally being able to see an episode I agree...it did feel as if the half hour flew by...but only time will tell if he expands it to an hour. My overall reaction: it's sort of an informal formality...it's a top flight, formal program lacking the stuffiness or pompousness often associated with formality. That's the best way of describing my feel of the series...and I've had that opinion of the series solely based on the clips I'd seen on his YouTube channel...so to finally see an episode in it's entirety only helps to reinforce my earlier opinion. I can't wait to see the next episode on April 8th!!

Here are a couple of articles about the upcoming CabaRay Nashville venue...set to open at some point later this year. Once it opens, it's already been announced, that future episodes of his television series are going to be taped there.

The first article features comments from Ray's longtime business and songwriting partner, Buddy Kalb, plus comments from Bill Cody (WSM radio personality and the announcer of Ray's television series) and several others. The second article features comments from Ray himself. Each article appeared in the March 31st issue...so they're still "hot off the presses" as the saying goes.

Nashville Ledger Buddy Kalb

Nashville Ledger Ray Stevens