August 27, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Baillie and the Boys...

Hello once early Sunday morning here and time to re-cap the most recent episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. On this particular episode Ray opened the show performing "Little Egypt". For those that don't know this is a song that Ray recorded for his 1969 album, Gitarzan, but it had previously been a hit by The Coasters in 1961. In the 1969 recording from Ray he channels his Coasters inspirations and at various times slips in his vocal impressions of Coasters member, Billy Guy, a member that sang lead on most of the group's well known recordings...most notably, "Searchin"...but back to the television show...Ray performed a more informal, stripped down arrangement of "Little Egypt" but it still managed to carry a lively flair during his remarks to the audience as the background singers repeated the Ying-Yang phrase. The thing that the performance lacked was the very loud James Brown-like howls and hollers that you'll hear in the 1969 recording and the 'sock it to me' phrase clearly borrowed from the Laugh-In television series.

Ray tells everybody that the guests are Baillie and the Boys and to stay tuned. A recurring segment, Comedy Theater, airs a clip of Ray coming out on stage at his Branson, Missouri theater in the early '90s riding Clyde the Camel. It's, of course, a puppet in which Ray operates in a most unusual fashion. He steps inside a pair of "camel legs" while two "human legs" are sewn on either side of the camel. The head of the camel and it's "reigns" are in front and camel's hump and a set of puppet legs are in back. As he makes his way from behind the curtain and onto the stage he's running but it gives the appearance he's a passenger on a runaway camel. Ray then brings out Baillie and the Boys and they speak of their career and interact with Ray when the conversation turns to making music. Kathy Baillie and her husband, Michael, make up the duo and she mentioned that they're actually referred to now as Baillie and the Boy because it went from a trio to a duo.

Michael speaks of demo recordings and this causes both Ray and Kathy to remark about demo recordings...and Michael mentions that most demo recordings sound more real than an actual recording but demo's lack the bells and whistles of a studio recording. The duo perform "Wish I Had a Heart of Stone"...their biggest hit. Every so often I hear that song on a local Classic Country radio station to this day. As far as their commercial recordings go they recorded for RCA for five years (1987-1991) but had been a road/touring act for several years prior to and after that. The second song the duo sang happened to be a new one, "The House My Daddy Built". Along for the performances was special unannounced guest, Molly Cherryholmes, who sang the harmony and played the fiddle. Molly happened to be part of a Bluegrass family group, Cherryholmes, which research shows had been a top Bluegrass attraction for 12 years (1999-2011). I had heard of the group due to Bluegrass being a big part of the playlist on the local Classic Country radio station I listen to but I knew nothing about them. When Molly Cherryholmes was introduced a light bulb went off and I thought to myself "Cherryholmes? I had heard of that last name before...but where??" so I had to Google it and sure enough it reminded me that there once was a group called Cherryholmes.

Ray closes the show performing another classic made famous by the Coasters. After opening the show with "Little Egypt" he closes the show singing "Poison Ivy". This performance is more faithful to the recording and for visual humor Ray adds some body twitching and itching as he warns the people to be careful getting too close to the poisonous ivy. Coming up on next week's episode (airing here September 2nd) is one of Ray's long time music acquaintances, Tommy Roe.

In my previous blog entry I provided some updates on the episodes that'll be airing on KET2 through November 18th. I checked KET2's episode guide of CabaRay Nashville episodes and there's a slight error. They have September 23rd and September 30th listed with Angaleena Presley as the special guest. However, once you click the September 30th episode to read the details, you'll see that the special guests are actually The Riders in the Sky. The episode guest starring Angaleena Presley is going to air on September 23rd. I had wondered where the episode of The Riders in the Sky had vanished to because I know they recorded an episode for this season but it had never appeared on KET2's list. In fact, now that I think about it, the schedule had previously shown Duane Eddy as the guest on September 16th and then it would jump to September there was a missing episode from the list and now it's been added but with some confusion.

The next series of episodes...the air dates represent the first showing which are always on a airs here on Saturday...

Sept 1 – Tommy Roe
Sept 8 – Mark Wills
Sept 15 – Duane Eddy
Sept 22 -- Angaleena Presley
Sept 30 -- The Riders in the Sky
Those 5 episodes are followed by the 7 that I posted in my previous blog entry for the month of October and first half of November. If you're keeping numerical track The Riders in the Sky mark the 13th episode of the first PBS season. The November 17th episode guest starring John Berry is episode 20. This means there are 6 more episodes from this first season on PBS yet to air (there were 26 produced altogether). Several of those episodes are holiday themed...2 Christmas episodes and a New Year's Eve episode (26). There are no "repeats" and so more episodes are planned to start airing the weekend of January 5, 2018. In total there are suppose to be 52 first-run episodes that'll eventually air on PBS. As mentioned the New Year's Eve-themed telecast is episode 26 (it should air here on December 30th) and then the next round of 26 first run episodes should then begin airing come the first weekend of January 2018. I think those episodes are going to be taped at his CabaRay venue, edited, and then they'll hit the airwaves but don't quote me on that. I know from the things I've read on his social media sites that the goal is to start taping the show in the facility but I don't know if all 26 episodes set to air in the first half of 2018 are going to originate from there or not. His most recent taping session took place at the usual facility and those episodes haven't aired it will probably be that the first half of 2018's episodes will be in the familiar studio setting and the second half of the 2018 season the episodes will originate from the CabaRay. It's difficult to know for certain...but once it becomes more clear and an announcement is made I'll of course blog about it.

August 23, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Episode Update...

Hello all!! I decided to take a look at the local PBS station's website...the one that carries Ray's television show...and I received a wonderful surprise. For several blog entries I'd made mention that the episode list provided on KET2's website stopped on September 30th...and I was curious as to whether more episodes of the show would air. Well, a few minutes ago, I checked their website and learned that they added more episodes! They added 7 more episodes to their broadcast list!! So, as of this writing, the October and November air-dates on KET2, the local PBS affiliate in my area, are as follows:

October 7th: Rex Allen, Jr.

October 14th: Lari White

October 21st: Charley Pride

October 28th: Janie Fricke (billed as the Halloween episode)

November 4th: Gary Mule Deer

November 11th: Gary Morris (Patriotic episode)

November 18th: John Berry

Now, of course, there are even more episodes available for PBS stations to fill out the rest of November and December and it looks like those episodes are going to air on KET2 also because I can't see the station up and ending their broadcast of the show with a number of PBS exclusive episodes yet to air...but I'll wait and see if more episodes get added to their episode guide before getting even more excited than I already am!

August 19, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...John Michael Montgomery...

Hello I begin this entry of the fan-created blog it's 4 minutes until 9pm and the latest episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville ran it's closing credits about half an hour ago. On this episode the special guest happened to be John Michael Montgomery. Ray opened the show performing a song from his 1984 album, He Thinks He's Ray Stevens. A couple of episodes ago he performed "Ned Nostril"...the first time I'd ever seen him perform it on television; in fact it may have been the only time he's performed it on television as far as I know. This time around he opened the show singing "I'm Kissing You Goodbye"...a song that has a peculiar history.

As mentioned it's from a 1984 album...his debut album for MCA (a label he was with from 1984-1989 and again from 1996-1998). This song was actually the album's lead-off single...some of the vinyl albums that are sold on-line at places like eBay feature publicity stickers on the album's shrink wrap advertising this song as one of the spotlight recordings. MCA began promoting it as a  single but there wasn't much favorable response and very quickly the hype for the single ended...but whatever initial disappointment there might have been surrounding the future of the album was changed, however, once the squirrel got loose and demand for that song forced the label into releasing "The Mississippi Squirrel Revival" as a single...and once that happened late in 1984 it caused the album to do an about face and eventually climb into the Top-10...all on the strength of a song that originally was meant to be an album track and nothing more. Like "Ned Nostril", a song that I'd never seen Ray perform on television, the same holds true for "I'm Kissing You Goodbye"...and throughout the performance it received a rousing response from the audience. After the opening performance a clip from We Ain't Dead Yet aired in which Phil Everly portrays a manager of George Jones...attempting to get George booked for a series of concerts in Germany. You all may remember Rayality was one of Ray's television offerings seven or eight years ago. It was produced in sitcom style and it took place at a fictional retirement home for entertainers called The Encore...which enabled there to be a music segment in each episode. The series aired, originally titled We Ain't Dead Yet, as a subscription-based internet exclusive (to subscribers of Ray Stevens Backstage, specifically) but later the series aired in bits and pieces, surrounded by an assortment of other clips, as Rayality TV on the re-launched TNN (now called Heartland TV) but it was never seen nationally due to the limited coverage of the network at the time. It aired on the re-launched TNN during the 2012-2013 season prior to the channel re-branding itself Heartland TV...but back to tonight's episode...

Ray brings out John Michael Montgomery after making the point that some singers are known by only one name but most are known by first and last name...but then, as Ray points out, some artists boast three names...and after listing some of those three name acts he introduces John Michael Montgomery. John speaks of his career (going back to 1992) and mentions his brother, Eddie, and how both his brother and Troy Gentry (of the duo Montgomery-Gentry) were members of band's that John put together in the early years.

Following this conversation there's a short clip from Rayality TV once more. George Jones appears at the end of the clip looking for someone named William Maurice (a take-off on the talent agency, William Morris).

John sings "Letters from Home" and upon it's conclusion he performs "Sold". This is a rarity for it broke formula a little bit. In the episodes that have aired there is usually a performance from the guest, then a Video Jukebox segment, and then a second performance from the guest artist...but on tonight's episode John spoke about and then launched into "Sold" after the end of his first performance. For those not familiar it's an auction song whose official title is "Sold (The Grundy County Auction Incident)".

After the performance there's a clip from Rayality TV once's the comical performance of "White Lightning" from George Jones. It's comical due to the fact that George is lip-syncing to the original 1959 recording and the footage was taped at some point in 2009/2010. It was done like that on purpose because of how funny it would look. After the clip is finished it returns back to Ray on the set of his show to perform the closing number, "Retired". That song was originally a duet with Ray and one of it's writers, Brent Burns. Ray also recorded a solo version and his solo recording appears on his 2009 CD, One for the Road. Afterward Ray tells some one-liner jokes prior to the closing theme playing...leading him to request a dance partner. Prior to the closing credit roll there's a message that appears on-screen dedicating the episode to the memory of Phil Everly and George Jones.

Next week's episode (airing here August 26th) will guest star Baillie and the Boys.

August 14, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Restless Heart...

Hello one and all...I'm a bit late in posting my commentary/review of the latest episode of the Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville series. As all of you should know by now I often give away spoilers...and so for those that are able to see his weekly PBS series and haven't seen this episode yet I'll warn you in advance that I often give out a lot of information pertaining to each episode so spoilers are plentiful. Here we go...

Ray opened the show performing a rendition of "That Old Black Magic". This is a song that goes back a great many decades in the world of pop music. It's the creation of Johnny Mercer and Harold Arlen and it's been recorded by many recording artists over the all fields of music...but it was first recorded by Glenn Miller in 1942. Some of the other artists that have recorded it include Bing Crosby, Sammy Davis, Jr., Ella Fitzgerald, and Frank Sinatra to name just several. Ray's performance seemed to blend the Ella Fitzgerald and Sammy Davis, Jr. it was completely uptempo. The trio of female back-up singers that appear in every episode are referred to as The Shameless Hussies (a reference to an adjective directed at Ethel in Ray's 1974 song, "The Streak") and the band is The A Team. In this episode the back-up singers appeared next to Ray during the performance of "That Old Black Magic"...this was necessary because as the song was winding down each one took turns spinning into Ray's side (as Ray was in the process of singing the lines 'down and down I go, 'round and 'round I go').

After this lively show opener the limited animation music video of "Smoky Mountain Rattlesnake Retreat" hit the television screen. The music video originated in the mid 2000s with a slower, ballad-like vocal delivery but it was originally recorded by Ray in 1986 and in a much more uptempo vocal delivery. After the music video ends Ray is shown seated at the piano as he introduces Restless Heart...calling out their names. He tells the audience that Verlon Thompson was once a member of the group (the lead singer, in fact) and mentions that Verlon had married Suzi (Ray's daughter). Verlon happened to be with the band before any single releases emerged (prior to their being signed to a record label).

In an interesting note it is during this segment a story about Glen Campbell was brought up by a member of Restless Heart. They told the story of how early in their career Glen suggested that they record something by Jimmy Webb...and ultimately they got around to recording "Wichita Lineman" for an upcoming project 30 some years after the suggestion. Glen passed away recently (August 8th at the age of 81). The story/reference to Glen is entirely coincidental given this episode was taped in the latter half of 2016...but once you all see the episode you'll perhaps get a little bit of a chill on the back of your neck hearing the story in the aftermath of Glen's recent passing. A music video from the group is mentioned, too. You can find it on YouTube.

Ray and Restless Heart then team up for a rendition of "Everything is Beautiful". First, Ray begins to sing the first line but lead singer, Larry Stewart, interrupts the performance by saying they all have a surprise for him. The surprise? They sing the opening verse originally performed on the single release by the group of children. After the performance it's time for the Video Jukebox segment. This time around we're treated to the live-action music video of "Freddie Feelgood". In this video we see Ray appear on-screen 6 times in the same screen shot. He appears as himself but also appears as Freddie, Yum-Yum, Ace, Tyrone, and Percy. After the video concluded Ray handed it over to Restless Heart and they performed one of their classic hits, "The Bluest Eyes in Texas".

Ray follows their performance with his take on "Spiders and Snakes", the classic originally recorded by Jim Stafford. Ray recorded it in 2012 for The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music. The original from Jim Stafford hit in 1974...the same year as Ray's "The Streak"...although "Spiders and Snakes" had it's chart debut much earlier (in November 1973). Jim has never appeared on Ray's television series, as of this writing, and based upon OETA's episode list he isn't scheduled to appear on the episodes that'll be airing on PBS stations in the fall and winter months of this year...but the two of them have some similar statistics.

Jim opened a theater in Branson, Missouri in 1990...Ray opened his theater in 1991...Jim was born January 16, 1944...Ray was born January 24, 1939...they each are known for comedic performances but each one also has superior talent at serious performances and are both multi-instrumentalists.

I don't have a copy of it, I wish I did, but in the early 1980s Archie Campbell did a live performance of his chicken fight story, "Rojo", on one of the award shows. In the background stood both Ray Stevens and Jim Stafford side by side providing chicken clucks. Ray closes this episode of CabaRay Nashville by telling a story about a kid being accused of cheating on a test in grade school...and then the music strikes up the familiar melody of "Everything is Beautiful" and Ray picks someone to dance with from the studio audience.

Next week's episode guest stars John Michael Montgomery but only a brief description accompanies the episode mentions that John will be performing "Sold" and Ray is to to perform "I'm Kissing You Goodbye"...and that's all there is to the description of next week's episode on the local PBS station that carries the show. Unless breaking news emerges concerning a CD or music video release I'll be posting my next blog entry this weekend...yes, you guessed it, it'll be my recap of the next episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville!!

August 7, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville DVD commercials...

Hello all...early Monday morning here and I'm getting ready to post the YouTube video clips, promoting the first season DVD of Ray's television series, that went on-line back on July 31st. I hadn't embedded these clips yet and so I thought the perfect opportunity would be to post them in an early morning blog post. The clips debuted on YouTube in between my previous 2 blog posts (July 30th and August 5th). Why didn't I post them in my previous blog post Saturday night? I didn't think to do so...I was in the middle of posting about the latest episode of Ray's television show...but I'm posting the commercials now...

There are two separate promo clips for the DVD...and each run various lengths. The first clip runs 34 seconds and has more detailed information about the release...

This promo clip runs 21 features a slightly different voice over from Ray (for the shortened presentation) and several images of the special guests (plus the house band) from the longer promo clip do not appear in the second promo clip...

In addition to awaiting any kind of information about any further DVD or CD releases from Ray Stevens I'm also awaiting information on the grand opening of the much anticipated CabaRay Nashville entertainment venue! I know it's only early August but throughout every article and interview that has appeared since the middle of last year concerning the project it was always suggested that the CabaRay would have it's grand opening in August or no later than September of 2017. There hasn't been any updated photographs posted of the venue to see if it's close to a grand opening yet. The previous photo's that were uploaded shown that there was still work to be completed. Those photo's are part of a YouTube video clip that Ray uploaded back in early May of this year...almost 3 months have passed since then...and I'm sure the parking lot's complete and it no longer looks like a construction zone anymore. In case you hadn't seen that video clip here it is...

Ray's television series, Ray Stevens Nashville, ran for 26 episodes on RFD-TV (2015-2016). After it's departure from that channel it was re-branded Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville and in January it began airing on local PBS affiliates across the country. The PBS affiliates that began airing the show in January of this year have since aired all 26 episodes from the RFD era. In July (last month) 26 additional episodes became available for PBS stations. The local PBS affiliate that carries the show in my viewing area aired all of the episodes that appear on the First Season DVD (13 episodes) plus the affiliate aired 2 additional RFD originated episodes (one that guest starred Ray's daughter, Suzi Ragsdale, and country-rock artist T. Graham Brown; and one that guest starred Bobby Goldsboro) for a total of 15 episodes.

After the airing of the July 1st episode (guest starring Suzi Ragsdale and T. Graham Brown) the local PBS affiliate began airing (July 8th) first-run episodes exclusive to PBS. The episode airing July 8th guest starred Harold Bradley and Mandy Barnett. I'll have to wait until a future DVD release from Ray (hoping there's more to come) to see the remaining RFD episodes (episodes that guest starred Williams and Ree; Leroy Van Dyke; Sylvia; Con Hunley; Bill Anderson; The Gatlin Brothers; The Bellamy Brothers; Collin Raye; Lee Greenwood and Darryl Worley). Episode 5 of the PBS exclusives aired this past Saturday (guest starring Rhonda Vincent).

August 5, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Rhonda Vincent...

It's an almost fall like night here as I put together my first fan-created blog entry of the month. Oh yes, it's a Saturday night and that means that I'm fresh off the latest episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. On tonight's episode the guest star happened to be Rhonda Vincent...introduced by Ray as The Queen of Bluegrass.

The video clip is a promo of the episode. If you visit Ray's YouTube channel you'll be able to see promo clips for all of the episodes. The episode carried an overall feel of Roger Miller and Ray opened the show performing "King of the Road" and afterwards the Video Jukebox segment spotlighted a more recent release, "Unchained Melody". To date Ray has only released his version of the song as a music video (October 2, 2013) but it's part of a larger project that has yet to be released.

Ray brings out Rhonda Vincent and the two have an unusually lengthy conversation. I say this because most of the time the guests are brought out and they interact with Ray, briefly, before the guest performs their song. This particular episode is a bit different in that Rhonda spoke of her childhood, her family, and how strong of an impact that Bluegrass music had on her life. Ray mentions her brother, Darrin, of the Bluegrass group, Daily and Vincent. Moments later Ray tells a story of Bill Monroe meeting Frank Sinatra at a function in Washington, D.C. in which Bill received an honor. Sinatra walked over to offer congratulations and Bill's reply was: "Thank you and who might you be?". This lead into Rhonda explaining how much Bluegrass impacted her upbringing and that she didn't hear any music outside of that...she offers recollections about the songs, "A Little Piece of My Heart" and "Yesterday", and how she was raised thinking those were Bluegrass songs. She tells of the origins of her own group, The Rage.

She sings the gospel song "Just a Closer Walk With Thee" with Ray singing harmony and playing the piano. Afterward the limited animation music video, "Teenage Mutant Kung Fu Chickens", airs. The song itself goes back to 1991 in the career of Ray Stevens. It appeared on the album, #1 With a Bullet. It, like so many of Ray's songs, wouldn't become a music video until years later. The music video emerged in 2006 on a DVD release titled Teenage Mutant Kung Fu Chickens (a DVD featuring five limited animation music videos). It's now part of a DVD collection called Cartoon Carnival, Volume 2.

Rhonda returns and sings "Jolene", the Dolly Parton classic, which Rhonda recorded in 2000, and afterward Ray walks over and thanks her for being on the show. I'm sure the most devoted of Rhonda Vincent fans may have preferred that she perform songs more closely associated with her career (such as "Is The Grass Any Bluer on the Other Side?", "I'm Not Over You", or "All-American Bluegrass Girl") but then again, if you happen to be one of her fans, I'd assume you'll enjoy/like whatever she sings.

Ray closes the episode performing Roger Miller's "Chug-a-Lug". This is one of the songs that Ray had previously recorded for his 2012 project, The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music. Next week's episode guest stars the famed country music band, Restless Heart. Have you contacted your local PBS station? Remember that Ray's program is locally syndicated on PBS affiliates...if you have a local PBS channel in your area contact them via e-mail or telephone and suggest they air Ray's show. But hold's a much better and simpler idea...

Ray's website, if you hadn't checked it in awhile, has actually done the hard work. They've gone through and listed contact information of local PBS affiliates across the country. All you need to do is type your zip code. Once you enter the zip code a box opens up displaying contact information for your local PBS station's programming department. You can see it by clicking HERE.