September 30, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Riders in the Sky

Hello to all the fans of Ray Stevens...several minutes ago the latest episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville came to a close. At the time of this blog creation it's 8:36pm.

Tonight's episode certainly lived up to my expectations as the guests happened to be The Riders in the Sky. Ray opened the show performing "The Ballad of Cactus Pete and Lefty". During the performance there was a different sound effect heard for Lefty (the sidewinder). The recording, from 1987, used a maraca whenever Lefty "reacts" to Cactus Pete's comments. In the performance tonight the sound was a buzzer-type effect...that's the best I can describe it. If you have Ray's tribute to Frank Sinatra CD you'll hear this sound effect during his performance of "Witchcraft". I assume it's something created with a synthesizer. Anyway...

Following the performance of the show's opener Ray brought out The Riders in the Sky! Here's the video promo for tonight's episode...

If you're familiar at all with this group then you should already be aware of their individual talents. The group has won two Grammy awards and they became members of the Grand Ole Opry in 1982. They have a strong fan base of children and adults. The group's lead vocalist goes by the name of Ranger Doug. He is also the group's yodeler. The second in command, as I refer to it, goes by the name of Too Slim. The group has comical inflections, overall, and I'd say Too Slim is the group's natural comic given that during interviews and during their concerts he's the one that delivers the jokes and one-liners. He's the one with the handlebar mustache. Woody Paul is the tall member of the group and sings lead vocals on some of their songs but primarily he's recognized as the group's fiddle player. The accordion player goes by the name of Joey the Cow Polka King and he had been with the group since 1988, as their accordion player, but it wasn't until a few years later that he began to receive equal billing as the fourth member of the group.

Ray asks the group how they formed and in typical fashion he gets a joking response from the group. They speak of their radio program, Riders Radio Theater, which aired for 6 seasons (1988-1995) on's last couple of seasons originating in studios located in Cincinnati, Ohio. They didn't bring up their TNN series, Tumbleweed Theater, which aired 5 years (1983-1988) but Ray does mention a later program that the Riders hosted on TNN and a previous performance of "The Ballad of Cactus Pete and Lefty" during the episode Ray guest starred on. Too Slim recalls the use of a snake puppet to which nobody remembers whatever come of it leaving Ray to assume it got washed away in a flood. They speak of their involvement in the movie Toy Story, 2. The Riders and Ray perform "Cool Water"...later on Ray does his Gabby Hayes impression. One of the group's visual highlights is when Too Slim slaps his own face in rhythm...and he does the theme to Bonanza. Woody Paul gets into the act and starts to slap his own face...and for awhile both he and Too Slim are having a battle going on as they compete against the other. This leads to Too Slim encouraging the audience and the band to start face slapping. You can see some of this in the video clip. The Riders then perform "Gay Ranchero".

Ray closes the show performing his rendition of "Running Bear". Something you'll notice is there wasn't any Comedy Theater segments and I'd say a lot of this had to with the fact that the episode itself was nearly devoted to comedy and so there wasn't any use for comic relief insertions in between the serious performances from the guest artist. Instead of the short comedic skits or music videos being inserted what we see are close-ups of the show's title card and the skyline of Nashville appear on screen.

The Western theme is carried over into the next episode, sort of, as next week's guest is Rex Allen, Jr. but based on the brief description on KET's website it doesn't look to be another Western dominated episode. If you follow the career of Rex Allen, Jr. then you should already know that he's retiring next month. I don't follow his career that closely and so it was news to me. In a bit of incredible irony or clever strategy Rex Allen, Jr. is set to retire after performing at the annual Rex Allen Days event and the final day of that 4-day event is on a Sunday...October 8th...the day after his episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville airs in my area on October 7th. I'll give my commentary/review of that episode next weekend.

September 23, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Angaleena Presley

Hello once more!! On tonight's episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville the special guest happened to be Angaleena Presley.

Ray opened the show with a performance of "Ahab the Arab" and it was delivered with just the right amount of silliness that you'd probably expect. He performed the entire song...including the often over looked final verse of The Sultan catching Ahab and Fatima's tryst twist by surprise. If you hadn't seen a recent performance of the song, either in concert or from a television program, it may take you by surprise that Ray's added some lines to the song. Instead of saying the phrase "whoah, babies" at the conclusion of the fictional Arabic chant Ray has often substituted that phrase with a reference toward the tenor of Slim Whitman. During the encounter Ahab has with Fatima most recordings have Ray saying "crazy, baby!" in falsetto one recording Ray (as Fatima) scolds Ahab and says "get out of here, you idiot!". In more recent performances Ray (as Fatima) giggles uncontrollably. This can be seen in the 1995 music video and I assume this is why Ray stopped reciting lines as Fatima and now simply giggles.

After the opening performance a clip from We Ain't Dead Yet airs. This time it's a clip of Ray as the Wolfman Jack-inspired disc jockey, Rooster, attempting to sell 500 baby chickens to some person he randomly called on the phone. The 'radio station' is actually Rooster's room at The Encore...he's lost his mind and thinks he's hosting a radio show. The name of the station is WILD.

Prior to actually seeing this episode I was under the impression that the guest, Angaleena Presley, appeared as Margaret during a performance of "It's Me Again, Margaret" and more or less reacted to Ray's antics. I was surprised to learn that she actually performs the song, as Margaret, while Ray recites the Willard McBain lines. The performance by the two comes off like a live music video. Ray is seen a few feet away using a rotary phone prop which is hanging on a wall. During his call's to Margaret he appears full screen while Margaret (Angaleena) is shown in a small thumbnail screen shot in the upper left. There's a sign above the stage, but part of the performance, which reads S.T.O.P., which stands for Stop Telephone Obscenity Please. I took it to be a jab at political correctness because there's a lot of critics that say the song glorifies prank what better way to mock thin skinned critics than by having the performance take place near a PSA regarding obscene phone calls.

I did some research on the special guest and learned that she happened to be born on September 1, 1976...that makes her the same as me...and learned about The Pistol Annies.

I had heard of this group, actually, but having no real knowledge about them I didn't know much; which includes not knowing the names of the group members. It's a trio of singers...some critics have described them as outlaws...but I looked them up and discovered that they've been in existence as a trio for a number of years but they record solo, too.

After the performance of "It's Me Again, Margaret" another clip from We Ain't Dead Yet appears. In this clip Rooster once again calls somebody and informs the guy on the other end to expect delivery of 500 baby chickens. Darrell Waltrip can be seen listening on the other side of the door and he's informed that Rooster thinks he's on the radio but in reality he isn't. Ray introduces Angaleena and she discusses her career and remarks that she loves "The Pirate Song". Ray tells her that the music video happened to be shot in the very studio they're seated in and she tells him that she likes the squirrel song as well. She mentions that "It's Me Again, Margaret" happened to be a relative's favorite and loved being able to perform it as a tribute to her late relative. Angaleena peaks of being a descendant of the McCoy's...and Ray wonders whatever became of the Hatfields. She reacts with mock anger over hearing that last name. She performs "American Middle Class" which happened to be the name of her 2014 solo album. She has a current album out...released earlier this year...titled Wrangled. That particular release is also available in vinyl.

Ray closes the show with a performance of "Bon Temps Roulette". This is a song that Ray recorded back in 2000 and it's appeared on a couple of CD's. It's the first time I've seen him perform the song, though. It's a bouncy sing-a-long detailing the exploits of a woman on a riverboat while her past is revealed as the song progresses. There were no YouTube video clips promoting this episode or the one from last week guest starring Duane Eddy.

Next week's episode (September 30) guest stars The Riders in the Sky. It should be hilarious.

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Duane Eddy

Hello out there to all the fans of Ray Stevens! In this blog entry I'll be spotlighting the September 16th episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. The episode, as you can see, aired last weekend but I'd been busy with off-line activity. The guest that night happened to be legendary guitarist, Duane Eddy. Ray opened the show with a highly energetic performance of "Searchin'", a song that should be familiar to most of Ray's fans. The song had originally been a hit recording by one of Ray's favorite groups, The Coasters. Ray recorded a version of the song for his 9-CD box set, Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music (released in 2012).

In the installment of the Comedy Theater we're treated to a clip from Ray's sitcom, We Ain't Dead Yet. The clip features Phil Everly playing the role of William Maurice (a pun on talent agency William Morris). Afterward Ray introduces Duane Eddy and they speak of his upbringing. Duane mentions that be was born in Upstate New York but later the family moved out west to Arizona. The reason given by Duane is that his father got tired of shoveling snow. Duane speaks of his record producer, Lee Hazlewood.

Duane talks of his innovative 'twangy' style of guitar playing and speaks of the mechanism he added to the guitar strings to create that effect. He and Ray perform a duet version of "Forty Miles of Bad Road"...and the performance is something to behold. It was as if the two of them were competing with one another: Duane on the twangy lead guitar and Ray playing piano. The image off to the left is a single release showing Duane as a co-writer. In smaller print the record producers are credited as Sill-Hazlewood, a reference to Lester Sill and Lee Hazlewood. Since I wasn't too familiar with the production credits of Duane Eddy recordings I had to look them up and that's how I learned of Lester Sill being one of the producers along with Lee Hazlewood. Upon the conclusion of "Forty Miles of Bad Road" Duane performs another one of his instrumental classics. This time around it's his signature instrumental, "Rebel Rouser". It, too, is performed as a duet. Ray's longtime saxophone session musician, Denis Solee, does his rendition of the instrumental while Duane performs it on the guitar. This performance also carries a kind of competitive presentation, too, with each legendary musician matching note for note on their very different instruments.

This episode seemed to be a bit shorter than the others but maybe it's because the guest happened to be an instrumentalist...or maybe because the episode was peppered with various instrumental performances it just seemed like it had a shorter running time? Whichever the reason this particular episode seemed to fly by...and he closed the show with a performance of "Three Legged Man". He had performed that song in a more recent episode but in that performance he did some vocal effects during the performance. This time around he had his sound effects played over the speaker system. The next episode of the series, which aired tonight (September 23rd), guest starred Angaleena Presley. I'll be doing a re-cap of that episode in a couple minutes so be on the look out for 2 blog entries from me tonight...maybe a third one by early Sunday morning...

September 13, 2017

Ray Stevens: Everything is Beautiful Exhibit...

Well, hello once more!! Two fan created blog entries in the same day...and back to back!! Well, the reason for this one is due to the breaking news concerning an upcoming honor taking place later this month. As soon as I published my previous blog entry about last week's episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville I visited a social media site...and was hit with the news that the Country Music Hall of Fame is going to have an Everything Is Beautiful'll be unveiled on September 22nd. You can see details about this exhibit...honoring Ray's 60th year in the music clicking this LINK. That's a photo of me and my vinyl album of Everything is Beautiful. The album, issued in 1970, was later released on CD and paired with his other 1970 album, Unreal!. The back of that 2-album-on-1-CD is seen in the second photo...

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Mark Wills

Hello's me blogging on a Wednesday morning of all things!! I happened to be doing a quick on-line overview of sites that I frequent and I came across a YouTube clip promoting the Mark Wills episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. It aired here this past Saturday but I realize that the episode could air at a later date should the series start airing on even more PBS stations in the coming weeks/months. As always spoilers abound in my reviews and so if you hadn't seen this episode yet you may want to read some of my other blog entries in the archive section off on the right hand side of the screen.

Ray opened the show singing "Too Drunk To Fish". Now, for those that don't know, this is one of Ray's popular on-line music videos. Ray recorded the song for his Hum It album (1997) and the music video arrived shortly after. He had performed the song several other times on television programs. One of the performances took place on the George Jones Show. After the performance a clip from Ray's 1995 Get Serious! movie is spotlighted. It's the scene in which the security guard (a gorilla) is seated in Ray's dune buggy...eventually culminating with the showering of counterfeit money. After Coy notices that the money has Ray's face instead of George Washington it cuts back to the audience and Ray's introduction of Mark Wills.

Mark discusses his experience as the voice of Huckleberry Finn in an animated movie about Tom Sawyer which leads Ray to make mention of the song he co-wrote and recorded for the Tom Sawyer soundtrack...that song being "Injurin' Joe". Mark voiced Huckleberry Finn in that animated movie. Rhett Akins voiced Tom Sawyer. Mark had no idea that Ray contributed to the project all those years ago. The project was released back in 2000.

In one of the thrilling moments of the episode Mark performs "Mississippi Squirrel Revival" with Ray on the piano and singing harmony vocals during the chorus. Mark seemed to genuinely get a kick out of performing it...and to my ears he even sounded like Ray Stevens while singing it!

After this bit of whimsical entertainment it was time to get serious as Mark performed one of his hit songs, "19 Somethin' ". That particular single spent 6 weeks at number one in 2003 and ended up being the number 3 song of the entire year. In a second installment of the Video Spotlight it focuses on "Ain't Nobody Here But Us Chickens", a duet between Ray and Connie Freeman (the actress portraying Charlene MacKenzie in the Get Serious! movie in 1995). In the final song of the episode Ray treats everybody to his version of "Can't Take My Eyes Off You"...and no, he didn't hit any falsetto/high notes in an attempt to emulate Frankie Valli...but it's a great performance from Ray nevertheless. You'll get just a brief taste of the song when you watch the video clip above. I'm sure it's going to be on some future CD...I hope!!

The special guest this coming Saturday is Duane Eddy!

September 11, 2017

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Tommy Roe

Hello once again...oh yes I know that I hadn't posted a blog entry in a couple of weeks but a lot of it had to do with off-line events taking place that took me away from the computer and of course other demands prevented me from posting as well. As most of the frequent readers/visitors of this blog should know by now I rarely post episode summaries halfheartedly which is what you would've gotten if I attempted to simply rush an episode summary to the internet...but I prefer to be as detailed as possible.

Now, to be specific, in this particular blog entry it's a summary of the September 2nd episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville which guest starred Tommy Roe. The episode was officially billed as the bubblegum pop show because of it's guest star. A promo for the episode appeared on YouTube several days ago...but yet the episode by that time had already aired...but I'm posting the promo here nevertheless because you never some point the episode is bound to air on PBS stations that pick the show up at some later date...and so this serves as a promo for that episode...

Ray opened the episode singing "Chantilly Lace" in his own style...utilizing a familiar physical presence seen during performances of his immortal classic, "It's Me Again, Margaret". Ray recorded his version of "Chantilly Lace" several years ago and it's part of his 9-CD collection, The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music. Following the opening performance there's a short clip from his 1995 Get Serious! movie...the clip features George Lindsey as a Shriner introducing Ray to some other members of the shrine and they're presenting Ray with a dune buggy...referred to in the movie as The Mone Mobile.

After this sketch airs Ray introduces Tommy Roe but not before Ray makes mention of their past in Atlanta and the music scene at the time. Bubblegum is the order of the day as Ray grabs a large plastic bin of bubblegum for everybody on the set. Ray and Tommy grab their piece while one of the harmony singers, Sabrina, hands out bubblegum to the band and ultimately the audience. Tommy speaks about his entrance into the industry and "Sheila"...and Ray brings up Tommy's record producer at the time, Felton Jarvis. Ray mentions that he and Felton were once brothers-in-law (Ray and Felton married a couple of sisters). Ray and Tommy speak about Felton's idolization of Elvis, too. Tommy mentions that the first album released on him, also called Sheila, featured musical arrangement by none other than Ray Stevens. I've searched all over the internet but all the images I've come across the music arranger isn't credited. During my image search I came across various single releases of the song and the LP releases in both the America and International market. I was wanting to find an arranger credit for Ray Stevens on a Tommy Roe project as a visual for the blog entry but I couldn't find one. If I ever come across one I'll edit the image into this blog entry at a later date...but back to the summary...

After Ray and Tommy speak about their early musical endeavors, which also included a photo being displayed of Tommy and Ray in the recording studio in the early '60s, Tommy sings his 1969 number one hit, "Dizzy". Throughout the performance the camera pans over to the band and the harmony singers...several of them blowing bubbles as they play their instruments. After the high energy performance of "Dizzy" there's an edit...and these edits/fade outs are commonplace on Ray's television program and if you have an eagle eye you should be able to spot them. Some are more obvious than others. The edits represent where a commercial would be if the series were running on commercial television but because it airs on PBS stations there aren't any commercial insertions. Anyway...after the fade out/fade in...Ray introduces Tommy one more time. Tommy performs "Memphis Me".

Upon the conclusion of the performance Ray walks back into the scene and removes his jacket. Tommy had been performing "Memphis Me" in a white shirt...and so Ray took off his own jacket to reveal a white button up shirt, too. That scene was highlighted in the video promo embedded above. In a bit of coincidence or intent this Tommy Roe episode airing the weekend of September 1st...airing here in my area on September 2...but the coincidence or irony tied to this episode comes from the fact that "Sheila" had hit number one on September 1, 1962...even though it was Tommy's other number one, "Dizzy", that got the spotlight via performance on Ray's show Saturday night. Given that "Dizzy" was performed rather than "Sheila" leads me to assume that Tommy's episode airing the weekend of September 1st was merely coincidence.

In a second installment of the Comedy Theater segment we're treated to the music video of "Dudley Dorite of the Highway Patrol" (from the 1995 Get Serious! movie). Ray follows this with a performance of "Maybellene"...a 1955 classic made famous by Chuck Berry. This is another song that Ray recorded for his 9-CD project, The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music. As mentioned in previous blog entries concerning the 9-CD project Ray slipped in his performances of a lot of early rock and roll classics that lend themselves to being associated with novelty songs and in this case it's simply due to the song's uptempo, comical story of a man in a V8 Ford chasing the driver of a Cadillac. The girlfriend of the Ford driver is cheating on him and she's cruising all over town in a Cadillac with her new boyfriend.

Ray closes the show with one of his one-liner jokes...and the melody of "Everything is Beautiful" strikes up...meaning it's slow dance time. On this particular occasion after Ray picks somebody from the audience to dance with a 'gorilla' appears from out of nowhere as the credits are rolling. The gorilla cuts in and begins dancing with the woman that Ray had picked from the audience. A funny, unexpected twist to the familiar closing dance scene. The CabaRay venue is suppose to have it's grand opening next month and I have a feeling this is the main reason a lot of the on-line content has been a bit sparse...there wasn't a video promo of the episode that aired this past Saturday night (guest starring Mark Wills)...and so it's my guess that all of Ray's concentration is being placed on the eventual grand opening of the CabaRay.

I'll have a review/summary of the Mark Wills episode at some point...but as a reminder the guest star on the episode that airs this coming Saturday the 16th is Duane Eddy...and I can't wait to hear the stories/memories that come out of this appearance. I wonder if Ray brings up Wayne Twang? If you don't know who I'm referring to then you haven't heard Ray's "The Rock and Roll Show" novelty song.