April 22, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Mark Chesnutt

Happy early Sunday morning...well, it's early Sunday morning as I type this blog entry. I just finished watching Mark Chesnutt's episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. This particular episode began with Ray performing "The Streak", his massive hit from 1974. On the heels of the performance came Ray's introduction of Mark Chesnutt.



Ray starts things off by mentioning that Mark recorded a song from a writer that also happened to write one of his own hits, Paul Craft. In Ray's case it was "It's Me Again, Margaret" whereas in Mark's case it was "Brother Jukebox". Mark describes it being brought to his attention by the record company but he didn't want to record it because it had already been recorded by Keith Whitley (one of Mark's music heroes). However, Keith's recording wasn't issued as a single, and eventually Mark decided that since Keith didn't technically have a hit with it then that's when he decided to do it. Mark's recording was the second single released during his career and it hit number one.

During the conversation Mark mentions that he always wanted to do a song with a line asking a woman if she happened to be naked (referring to "It's Me Again, Margaret"). Ray suggests that he'd be happy to go into the studio and record Mark performing the song. Mark plays along and points out that Ray would have "to do the pervert part" (referring to Willard McBaine's giggle) which has Ray, Mark, and the audience howling with laughter. Ray composes himself and states that he may laugh like a pervert but Mark sings like a pervert...which causes more laughter...and Mark comes back with "well, I am a pervert...". It was a nice give and take banter that you normally do not see take place during the interview/talking segment of the program. Mark (lead vocals) and Ray (piano/harmony vocals) perform "I Don't Need Your Rockin' Chair".

Ray asks how Mark got acquainted with George Jones. Mark says that he first met George back in 1983. He says that he was part of a local band opening up for a concert George was going to do. Any other host/emcee would probably have been crass enough to ask if George shown up for it, given the era in George's career being spoken of, but Ray side-stepped that kind of a question. Afterward things get a bit too serious...some may say candid...but it began when Mark spoke of his father's dreams of becoming a country music artist. He said his father wrote a lot of good songs but things didn't work out due to family commitments. Ray says there's a fine line trying to balance family and life on the road and being part of the music business in general.

Mark tells of the day he decided to quit school and become a country music singer. He says his father didn't really try to stop him from quitting given the age factor of Mark being legally able to quit school if he wanted but he says the problems arose when he told his father that he wanted to try and become a country music singer in Nashville rather than Texas. The family lived in Texas and his father said that Mark could become very successful as a singer in Texas without the trappings of having to record in Nashville. Mark mentioned that he spent at least 10 years as a singer at honky-tonks and clubs in Texas before getting a recording contract with a major label. He said the first label he signed to was a small Independent label called D Records.

Mark calls Ray a music hero and says that although they've never met for any lengthy period of time he's the reason he decided to return to Nashville. He pointed out that he doesn't return to Nashville to do interviews but he couldn't turn down an appearance on a television show Ray hosts.

Mark performs a song titled "Hot" which is from his 2016 release, Tradition Lives. He follows this with one of his hits, "It's a Little Too Late". Ray closes the show doing a performance of "You Don't Know Me" at the piano. This weekend on local PBS stations an episode titled Special Moments is airing. This will be uploaded onto Ray's video website next weekend. The Special Moments episode is to feature clips of performers who've previously appeared on the program singing songs that weren't part of the original airing of their episode. It's an out-take presentation which will feature Ray at the CabaRay Showroom delivering wraparound segments.

April 20, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Season Six...

Hello one and all!! I found out the guest line-up for the new season of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. It will have 13 half hour episodes and the first two episodes have already aired on local PBS stations as most of you may already be aware of.

The local PBS station in my area (KET2) will begin airing Season Six episodes in late May. They're airing the last several episodes of Season Five at the moment. I'll be watching the current season on Ray's video website, raystevens.tv, but I continue to DVR the episodes as they air on KET2, also. Here is the Season Six guest line-up:

1. Jamie O'Neal
2. Mark Chesnutt
3. Special Moments**
4. Hall of Fame (clips featuring guests that are members of the Country Music Hall of Fame; Ray will provide wraparound segments from the CabaRay Showroom)
5. Moe Bandy
6. Linda Davis
7. CeCe Winans
8. Micky Dolenz
9. Tribute Show (Ray sings the songs of Jerry Reed, Glen Campbell, Mel Tillis, and Merle Haggard)
10. Ronnie McDowell
11. Shoji Tabuchi
12. John Schneider
13. Lee Roy Parnell

On episode three, first airing on local PBS syndication this weekend, Ray presents performances from Rex Allen, Jr., Lari White, and Don McLean. It's kind of like a clip-filled out take episode in which footage that didn't originally air is finally making it to the airwaves. It's worth noting that a lot of footage is taped and some of it airs and some of it doesn't. Rex guest starred on episode one of Season Four; Lari White was the guest on episode two of Season Four; and Don McLean guest starred on episode nine of Season Four. Lari has since passed away from cancer (earlier this year at the age of 52).

On the Hall of Fame episode Ray presents clips from past episodes of CabaRay Nashville featuring guests that are members of the Country Music Hall of Fame. Ray will appear on the stage of the CabaRay, likely seated at his piano and likely minus an audience, introducing each clip with probably some history of the song or perhaps his friendships with some of the Hall of Fame guests. Even though this clip-filled episode will feature Ray at the CabaRay introducing Hall of Fame members from previous episodes I don't think it's going to be counted as the first episode at the CabaRay Showroom because of the special nature of that particular episode. To my way of thinking Moe Bandy will hold the distinction of appearing on the first episode to air originating from the CabaRay Showroom while Mark Chesnutt will hold the distinction of being the final guest to appear at the original recording studio...meanwhile...

A third special episode is titled Tribute Show. I can't wait to hear Ray perform the songs of Jerry Reed and others!! Mark Chesnutt's episode (which aired last weekend on some local PBS affiliates) will be uploaded onto Ray's video site this weekend. Once I see it I'll provide a recap.  

Did you hear Ray's guest appearance on the Grand Ole Opry this past Tuesday (April 17th)? He performed three songs: "Nashville", "Ahab the Arab", and "Please Help Me I'm Falling". In between the songs he spoke about their origin and he also spoke of his CabaRay Showroom and his PBS television series. WSM radio's website has the Tuesday Night Opry available in their audio archives. You can listen to the show by clicking HERE. Ray appears midway through the first half hour. The Whites perform during the first 13 minutes and then Ray Stevens takes the stage not long afterward. Pay close attention to one of his jokes...he mentions he got a request from someone who happens to be 111 years old.

April 16, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Jamie O'Neal

Hello to all the fans of Ray Stevens!! Well, I learned earlier this morning when I visited raystevens.tv that there have been some changes in the CabaRay Nashville presentation. For several weeks I've been mentioning that Season Six will mark the debut of episodes taped at the CabaRay Showroom but I found out that a couple of episodes taped during the Season Five sessions at Ray's Music Row location will kick off Season Six.

On the weekend of April 7th the episode guest starring Jamie O'Neal aired on local PBS stations and it was uploaded onto Ray's video site yesterday. That is when I discovered that her episode kicks off Season Six. I should have known because each season has 13 episodes...which meant Tony Orlando's episode was the final episode of Season Five if you're keeping track.

I've updated the episode list I previously posted in a couple of other blog entries to reflect the start of Season Six. I know that Mark Chesnutt's episode aired on local PBS stations this weekend (April 14th) and it'll be uploaded onto Ray's video site next weekend. This will be episode two of Season Six...and then the episodes taped at the CabaRay Showroom should start to air. As of this writing I have no chronological guest list for Season Six. Once a guest list is made available I'll edit this blog entry and fill in the rest of the season's line-up.

Season One: (January - March 2017)
1. Steve Wariner
2. Larry Gatlin
3. Bobby Bare
4. Don Schlitz
5. Charlie McCoy
6. Bobby Braddock
7. Jimmy Fortune
8. Aaron Tippin
9. John Conlee and Jeff Bates
10. Tanya Tucker and T.G. Sheppard
11. Gene Watson
12. James Gregory
13. Billy Dean

Season Two: (April - June 2017)
1. Bobby Goldsboro
2. T. Graham Brown and Suzi Ragsdale
3. Williams and Ree
4. Leroy Van Dyke
5. Bellamy Brothers
6. The Gatlin Brothers
7. Collin Raye
8. Darryl Worley and Lee Greenwood
9. Bill Anderson
10. Sylvia
11. Con Hunley
12. Jimmy Wayne
13. Reed Robertson

Season Three: (July - September 2017)
1. Harold Bradley and Mandy Barnett
2. Shenandoah
3. Michael W. Smith
4. B.J. Thomas
5. Rhonda Vincent
6. Restless Heart
7. John Michael Montgomery
8. Baillie and the Boys
9. Tommy Roe
10. Mark Wills
11. Duane Eddy
12. Angaleena Presley
13. Riders in the Sky

Season Four: (October - December 2017)
1. Rex Allen, Jr.
2. Lari White
3. Charley Pride
4. Janie Fricke (originally aired on RFD)
5. Gary Mule Deer
6. Gary Morris
7. John Berry
8. Jeannie Seely
9. Don McClean
10. Felix Cavaliere
11. Suzy Bogguss (originally aired on RFD)
12. Deborah Allen
13. New Year's Eve Cast Show

Season Five: (January - April 2018)
1. Ray Hildebrand
2. Steve Wariner (edited airing of the series debut episode)
3. Paul Overstreet
4. Daily and Vincent
5. Jenny Gill
6. Tracy Lawrence
7. Sam Moore
8. Wilson Fairchild
9. Deana Carter
10. Gary Puckett
11. John Rich
12. John Rich, Part Two
13. Tony Orlando

Season Six: (April - June 2018)
1. Jamie O'Neal
2. Mark Chesnutt (current episode as of this writing; I'll add the rest of the season's guests once they become available).

And so now...here's my recap of Jamie O'Neal's episode...

Ray opens the show performing his version of "Open the Door, Richard". He had recorded this for The Encyclopedia of Recorded Comedy Music but never mentioned this during his brief introduction/backstory about the song. Upon the conclusion of the song Ray mentions his early years in Nashville as a member of the A and R department of Mercury Records. He mentions that the guest on this week's episode also began her career at Mercury Records and by pure coincidence also worked in Mercury's A and R department. The initials stand for Artists and Repertoire...which basically means the person in charge of listening to songs, writing songs, or finding songs that he or she feels best fits a recording artist among a whole host of other functions.

Jamie mentions how much she loves classic/traditional country music and she name drops several legends such as Dolly Parton, Larry Gatlin, and Hank Williams. She mentions her birthplace being Sydney, Australia but at the age of five her family moved to the United States which Ray acknowledged is the reason she doesn't have an Australian accent. Ray brings up Hank Williams being universally recognized as a traditional country music icon and says he'll be performing one of Hank's songs later in the show but suggests that he and Jamie perform a duet rendition of Hank's "Hey, Good Lookin'".



After the duet performance Jamie tells of how she and her family used to do the county fair circuit opening for the headlining acts. Ray asks about her studio, which she said is nicknamed The Grotto, at the suggestion of her husband. She goes into detail about how much she loves the studio life but says that one of her dislikes is the audio mixing...saying she doesn't know how to do it. Ray asks about her record label, Momentum Label Group, of which she speaks about it's formation. He asks her to sing once again and she performs a song she said is brand new and hasn't been released called "Just Whiskey". Afterward she performs her signature hit, "There is No Arizona", a number one country hit for her in 2001.

Ray closes the show singing "Your Cheatin' Heart", the Hank Williams song he hinted at earlier in the show. As previously mentioned Mark Chesnutt was the special guest on this weekend's episode of CabaRay Nashville and once I see it next weekend on Ray's video site I'll write a recap of it. Episode three should take place at the CabaRay Showroom. Some of the guests on Season Six will be Moe Bandy, Mickey Dolenz, Lee Roy Parnell, and CeCe Winans...but as of this writing I don't know when their episodes are going to air.

April 8, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville: PBS Special and More...

Several times throughout the latter half of 2017 and into this year local PBS stations aired an hour long documentary on Ray Stevens with narration provided by Bill Cody. The special, part of PBS pledge break programming, aired twice on the local PBS affiliate that carries Ray's television show and as a result of their airing his TV series I decided to make a one time donation with my thank you gift from them being a DVD copy of the pledge break documentary. You can tell from the photo on the left that I've since received the DVD in the mail but I hadn't watched it yet. I plan on watching it later today. The special, as mentioned, runs one hour but there's additional footage (nearly half an hour's worth) that wasn't aired during the pledge break special. This is where it may get confusing but read carefully and you'll be able to follow along. In the original presentation aired on PBS stations, as a pledge break special, Ray is seated next to a host and in between the broadcast of the documentary he answers a lot of questions about his career and the CabaRay. Those segments aren't part of the actual documentary since they were exclusive to the pledge break itself where Ray, the segment host, as well as long time collaborator, Buddy Kalb, and harmony singer, Sabrina, ask for donations to support PBS and speak about the numerous Ray Stevens thank you gifts offered...one being a DVD of the documentary. Those pledge break segments featuring Ray; the host; Buddy; and Sabrina aren't part of the actual documentary.

If you're familiar with the television series then you'll know that Bill Cody introduces Ray and provides the voice over during the opening and closing credits. Bill, rather fittingly, narrates the documentary. A brief overview: Bill's been heard on radio in Nashville ever since the mid 1990s (April 1995) as the morning host on 650 WSM but that was following a lengthy career on radio stations from neighboring state, Kentucky, and on radio stations as far west as Texas. His radio career dates back to the mid 1970s but his 23 years (and counting) at WSM is more than likely where he'll eventually retire from broadcasting.

In the photo, even though it doesn't show up clearly, there's an As Seen on Public Television publicity stamp on the lower right hand side of the DVD case. The documentary features performances taken from episodes of the television series...including the one of a kind performance of "Mr. Businessman" featuring Ray on piano and B.J. Thomas singing lead. Ray sings one of the verses but B.J. performs the majority of the song. It's from Season Three. The performance of "Georgia on My Mind" by Ray and Con Hunley (from Season Two) is also highlighted in the documentary as are other performances and some music videos of "Santa Claus is Watching You", "Shriner's Convention", and "Mississippi Squirrel Revival".

This is a collage I created this morning centering around all things CabaRay. In the first panel there's an early photo I took spotlighting the CabaRay Nashville Special but some some of the lights in the room got into the scene and the glare streaked right across the photo of Ray in the process. I took a second photo...the one I led off this blog entry with. Now, in panel two, it's a photo I'd posted before. It's a coffee cup promoting Ray's television series. I purchased this at the Ray Stevens gift shop at the CabaRay. I remember it like it was yesterday but the actual concert I attended at the CabaRay was more than a month ago on March 1st! In panel five it's an official CabaRay Showroom brochure. On the back of the brochure there are photo's of the interior of the CabaRay in addition to the street address, ticket information, phone number, and internet address. When you open up the brochure you'll see a photo of the CabaRay and a time table listing the hours of operation of the Piano Bar and when the Dinner seating begins and the concert gets underway. Event times may change in the future but at the time of my concert attendance the Piano Bar opened up at 5pm while the Dinner seating began at 6pm. Balcony seats are for those that didn't purchase a dinner and just wanted to attend the concert. The concert itself began at 7:30pm. After the concert the Piano Bar re-opened for the rest of the evening. If you search the internet you'll see photo's of Ray and the fans inside the piano bar. Throughout my evening at the CabaRay we (my brother and I) were often told that Ray likes to make appearances after the concert inside the Piano Bar for interaction/photo's with the fans and sometimes brief performances at the piano. If we weren't on such a tight schedule with that next day being a Friday we would've stayed longer but instead we took one last look around the place and then got in the car and headed for home...but back to the collage...

In panels three and four are the Season One and Season Two DVD releases of his television series based upon their chronological air dates on public television. As many of you know the first 26 episodes of Ray's television program aired on RFD and they were reran on PBS beginning in January 2017 with some episodes airing in different order from when they aired on RFD. The title of the show had also changed, slightly. During it's RFD airing it ran as Ray Stevens' Nashville. Once it moved to PBS, coupled with the planning and ultimate construction of the future CabaRay venue, the title of the show was changed to Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville.

The taping of the television show at the future showroom was probably already under consideration by Ray and so why not promote the upcoming showroom within the title of the television series? The showroom opened in January of this year and taping of television episodes began the following month. A marathon taping session for sure considering material for 13 episodes were recorded throughout the month...sandwiched between regularly scheduled concert performances at the showroom.

Let's also not forget that last month Larry Black began taping his television series at Ray's showroom. His long running series, airing on RFD, is titled Larry's Country Diner. The diner set was re-constructed on the stage and so, on camera, it'll still appear as if it's at a diner even though the tables will be floor level while Larry and the guests will be stage level. The show has long had a reputation for airing practically anything captured on camera...whether it be flubbed lines, dropped dishes by waitresses, Larry or one of the guests losing track of time, etc...and this kind of loose atmosphere led to the show's motto of "where the camera keeps rolling and we don't care".

First-run episodes of the television series began airing on PBS in June 2017 with the first 13 episodes promoted as Season Three. Halloween and Christmas themed episodes that had originally aired on RFD were placed among the Season Four episodes airing on PBS in the latter half of 2017. Season Five got underway the first week of January this year and it's nearing the end of the current season...and if you've been following along you all know what Season Six means!! Season Six is scheduled to begin airing the weekend of April 21st. Yes...you read that correctly...the next season is to begin airing in local PBS syndication later this month and this season's episodes were taped at the CabaRay earlier this year. Ray, on social media sites, announced that Season Six taping sessions were underway back on February 5th and the resulting 13 episodes are to begin airing on local PBS stations later this month. There hasn't been an episode list of the upcoming season but based on social media posts from Ray's staff I know that Linda Davis, Lee Roy Parnell, Ronnie McDowell, and Mickey Dolenz are some of the guest stars for the upcoming season. By the way...art work by Ronnie as well as Bobby Goldsboro are on display at the CabaRay.

In a previous blog entry I made mention of a certain funky instrument being played by a member of Ray's band on a recent episode of the television show. Ray was performing "Your Bozo's Back Again" and I noticed the instrument due to it being prominently featured throughout the performance. It's from Episode 12 which was Part Two of John Rich's appearance. I made mention in that blog entry that once I found the name of that instrument I'd share it with all of you; although I'm sure a lot of you already knew the name of that instrument long before I did.

Well, I found out that the instrument is called a melodica and you can also find it listed as a pianica. Do an on-line image search and you'll see various versions of the instrument. It's a piano/harmonica hybrid kind of instrument. My assumption as to why an actual harmonica wasn't used in the performance is because there isn't a harmonica player in Ray's house band but given the melodica can be played like a saxophone it made more sense to just have the saxophonist play the melodica since the distinct sound of a harmonica was the lead instrument in the original recording.

Make plans to attend a concert at the CabaRay...here's all the information...


April 7, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Tony Orlando

Hello all once again...I just finished watching the latest episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. This time around the special guest happened to be Tony Orlando. The episode originally aired for the first time in local PBS syndication last weekend (March 31st).



Ray opens the show performing "I Remember You". He walked out on stage and spoke about the song having been a hit in 1962 by Frank Ifield (I had to look up his name for proper spelling). I had heard the song, in bits and pieces, for years but never knew who sang it. Once I heard Slim Whitman for the first time I mistakenly thought he must have been the singer of that song. The song is from the pen of Johnny Mercer and perhaps it'll be on this Great American Songbook CD that Ray made mention of several months ago in an interview.

Tony is brought out and he speaks about a tour he happened to be on in 1961 which featured Ray and several others. Tony recalls a comical situation in which Ray was getting tired of sleeping on a chair inside the tour bus and, according to Tony, decided to sleep up on the luggage rack. Apparently after several hours of sound sleep the bus had to make a quick stop and Ray slid off the luggage rack to a rather rude awakening. The conversation shifts to current day and Tony credits Ray with all the success he enjoyed in Branson, Missouri. Tony opened his theater, called The Yellow Ribbon Theater, in 1993 and performed there for the rest of the decade. The first song that Tony performed on the show happened to be "Knock Three Times". He made mention that he couldn't call Ray's backup singers The Raelettes or Dawn so maybe he'll refer to this impromptu group as Tony Orlando and Dust. He asks if any of the harmony singers were born when the song was a hit.

A thoroughly engaging performance ensues as Tony has the audience in his hands...giving instructions as to what lyrics come next during the sing-a-long portion.

After the performance of "Knock Three Times" he is asked by Ray to perform his first hit, "Candida". Tony asks if the audience remembers it. 

A lot of people forget that Tony had a massively popular recording career throughout the bulk of the '70s. A lot of this is due to the internationally recognizable imagery of his act at that time and a couple of songs which tend to overshadow everything else he did that decade...including a variety show that ran three years (1974-1977).

The enormously successful "Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree" is performed next. Tony delivers a brief history of the song and it's impact on his career...stating that he's performed it all over the world at various USO events as well as political events over the decades. This is the song that came to identify the act for decades to come. It hit the top of the charts in eight countries and sold millions upon millions of copies. Of all of the picture sleeves and music books advertising the single I chose the picture sleeve from it's release in Australia to spotlight in this blog entry. I happen to like this one the best out of all the others I'd seen. For this performance Tony engages the audience and harmony singers as he did with "Knock Three Times" earlier. Near the end of the song he pulls Ray into the spotlight to help him finish the song. Ray and Tony take turns trading lyrics with Ray adding sing-a-long harmony vocals with repeats of "tie a yellow ribbon, tie a yellow ribbon". Tony ad-libs a brief portion of the song to acknowledge his appearance on CabaRay Nashville and asks if he can appear at the actual CabaRay showroom when it opens. Ray thanks Tony for appearing and as Tony makes his exit Ray humorously calls him Mr. Shyness.

Ray closes the show with a performance of "In the Still of the Night"...but during this episode Tony Orlando is brought back to finish the song with Ray. The two of them share the spotlight as they trade scat singing phrases such as shoo-wop and shooby-doo. Having made mention of this I should also mention that the song they perform is the pop standard from the '30s and not the pop hit from the late '50s...even though the arrangement of the song by Ray recalls the late '50s pop hit by the time the performance ends. Ray opened and closed the show with his versions of pop standards...so maybe these songs are kind of like sneak previews of this pop standards project that Ray's cryptically referred to, albeit briefly, over the last couple years.

Up next in the series is the episode guest starring Jamie O'Neal. Earlier in the year they had this episode airing the weekend of April 14th but it's actually airing this weekend on local PBS stations. So, if you're keeping track, her appearance is Episode 14 of Season Five. If no PBS stations carry his television series in your area you can subscribe to his video site and watch the episodes on-line. You can visit his video site by clicking HERE. You can either subscribe for half a year or a full year. I subscribed for a full year back in November 2017. If you're a dedicated/serious fan of Ray Stevens you should think about becoming a subscriber.

April 2, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...John Rich, Part Two...

Hello once more!! I just finished watching Part Two of Episode 11 of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville guest starring John Rich. The episode's dialogue didn't make any reference to it being a 'part two'...in fact it played like a typical episode. Ray opened the episode singing "Game Show Love". Now, for those not aware, this happens to be one of my favorite songs of his. I had never, ever seen him perform the song and so you could guess my excitement at seeing him on camera and singing the clever break up song using game show catchphrases and titles in the lyrics. The song itself goes back to his 1983 album, Me, but he re-recorded it fairly recently for a CD titled Bozo's Back Again.



Ray re-introduces John Rich. The first thing Ray asks about is John's work as a record producer. John tells of how he's produced some of Kenny Rogers' later recordings as well as those from John Anderson. John Rich describes John Anderson was "the George Jones of my generation...nobody can sing like John Anderson and you immediately know it's him when you hear his voice". John tells of how great it is to make music in America because you're free to do whatever you want. He speaks of visiting a local bar in Nashville and frequently encountering a bartender there trying to get into the music business. He told her to make a demo, etc. etc. and the next thing he knew his discovery became a big hit...that discovery being Gretchen Wilson. Ray demonstrates visible enthusiasm over John's house containing a showroom complete with a bar.

John also speaks of discovering an act going by the name of Cowboy Troy, a rapping country entertainer. Ray then asks how John and Big Kenny met and formed their duo, Big and Rich. John remarks that his first impression was one of concern because here he was dressed a bit more conservative by comparison to Kenny's wild hair and rock 'n' roll attire. John tells of seeing Kenny tossing small, wrapped pieces of bubble gum into the audience...and one happened to land in the middle of John's forehead. He speaks of their success as a duo before speaking about his grandfather and World War Two. He mentions that his grandfather received 6 Purple Hearts during his military service and this sets up the performance of "The Good Lord and the Man".

After this performance John starts to talk about the 2009 market crash and the bailouts of the banks. John commented that the news angered him so much that he literally threw one of his boots at the television. This inspired him to come up with "Shuttin' Detroit Down", a collaboration with one of his music idols, John Anderson. John Rich performs the market crash/bailout song to wild applause.

Ray then closes the show singing "Your Bozo's Back Again", arranged in the manner that you hear on the Bozo's Back Again CD from 2011 instead of it's original arrangement on 1989's Beside Myself. I should point out the difference in arrangement is very subtle but if you're as familiar with 1989's recording as I am then you'll notice the subtle differences in the 2011 re-recording. Unlike "Game Show Love", "Your Bozo's Back Again" happened to be a song that I've seen him perform on television before...but only once. One of the band members was playing an instrument that I have to admit I'd never seen before. It was a handheld instrument that had the appearance of a piano but it was being blown into as if it were a member of the horn family of instruments. If I come across the name of that instrument I'll make note of it in my next blog entry. Speaking of which...my next blog entry should be this coming weekend sometime...it'll be a re-cap of episode 12 guest starring Tony Orlando! I can't wait to hear the things the two of them discuss!!

March 28, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...John Rich, Part One...

Good morning all the fans of Ray Stevens!! Oh yes I'm a bit late at posting my recap of the most recent episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville but nevertheless here it is. It wasn't uploaded onto Ray's video site until sometime yesterday and by the time I checked the internet to if the video had been uploaded there wasn't enough time to watch it and post a recap yesterday but I decided to watch the episode first thing this morning when I arrived home from work. Episode 11 is a two part event guest starring John Rich.



Ray opens the show singing "Shriner's Convention" in it's entirety!! I emphasize this because he usually performs an abbreviated version (omitting the second phone conversation) but this time he performed the entire song from start to finish. Afterward he introduces John Rich and makes mention that the window's from John's house give a great view of Nashville. John refers to the area in which he lives as Lover's Hill and that the house is on Civil War ground. He mentioned that during construction several relics from the Civil War were found. Asked by Ray the reason for the house being built where it is and John replied that he always loved country music and Nashville and if he should ever get a house in Nashville or have one built to make sure it's on a hill and overlooking Nashville's skyline. He said it's because when he wakes up he wants to be able to look out the window and see Nashville below.

Ray asks John to discuss his career at Opryland. John says how much he misses Opryland and asks the audience if they feel the same to which they applaud. He tells of his career at a venue in Opryland called Music City, U.S.A. which leads into Ray telling the audience that John is a positive thinker. John says how much he loved hearing Ray's songs and sings a piece of "Mississippi Squirrel Revival". John tells of the time he called Information asking for Ray Stevens and he was put in contact with Ray's office. John says that he asked to meet Ray...and to his surprise Ray called him back. John recalled that they ended up spending at least 2 hours talking about songwriting and the music industry. The conversation turns to Johnny Horton and how patriotic his records happened to be. John said that he's never gotten the chance to record anything with Ray and with that the two of them perform "The Battle of New Orleans".

After the performance Ray asks John to discuss the song's he's written that others have recorded. He tells of how he got a phone call from an up and coming act needing songs for a Showcase in the hopes of getting signed to a recording contract. John recalls that the label the artist happened to be aiming for was an unknown called Broken Bow. John said that he eventually gave the newcomer the okay to perform the songs...and that newcomer happened to be Jason Aldean. John remarked that five songs he wrote were eventually taken to number one by Aldean. John recalls Tim McGraw wanting "Like I Never Loved At All" and it eventually became a duet hit by Tim and Faith Hill. This leads into John telling how Faith wanted a song written especially about her...and John came up with "Mississippi Girl". John sings a piece of that song...just the opening couple of lines...and Ray thanks him for appearing but says "talk to you later". No mention is made that there's a part two the following week but there is. The second part of John Rich's episode aired this past weekend on local PBS stations. It will be uploaded this coming weekend on Ray's premium video site. Ray closes Part One of episode 11 by singing his arrangement of "Young Love" (which he released as a single in the latter half of 1975).

Once Part Two of episode 11 with John Rich is uploaded onto Ray's video site I'll watch it and provide a recap. If you're in or around Nashville or are on vacation...think about visiting the Ray Stevens CabaRay Showroom. It's located in West Nashville on River Road off Charlotte Pike. The upcoming season of Ray's PBS series (season Six) is currently in production at the facility...also, episodes of Larry's Country Diner are being taped at the showroom each Tuesday. The video clip provides all the information you'll need.


March 17, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Gary Puckett...

Hello all...and in this fan created blog entry I'm reviewing episode ten of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville which guest stars Gary Puckett. This is one of the special episodes...by that I mean it's one of the episodes that features a performer from pop music's history (much like Sam Moore's episode a couple of weeks ago). Ray opens the show singing "The Hustler", a song from the pen of Buddy Kalb. Ray recorded the song in 2000 and it appears on the Ear Candy CD (2000) and later it appeared on 2002's Osama Yo' Mama which was largely a re-release of Ear Candy with a few noticeable differences. What I didn't know when I first heard the song is that it had previously been recorded by country singer Mel McDaniel. His recording was never released as a single.



Ray introduces Gary Puckett who walks out and sits down by the piano. Ray makes mention that both he and Gary were contemporaries on the charts during the late '60s and early '70s. Gary speaks about his early years in Southern California and mentions Suicide Ridge and his odd jobs before becoming a recording act...one of which happened to be a cashier at an auto parts store called Foreign Auto Supply. He asks Ray to guess how many foreign cars were in operation by American motorists in the mid '60s and Ray gives a number and Gary tells him he's close...and discloses the very small total. Ray says that he drove a foreign car at the time but reflected on how aggravating it was because parts for it were in limited supply.

Gary mentions that his influences in life were his parents. He says his mother is 98 and that both she and his father were musicians but not in any professional way. Ray asks about the creation of Gary's band, Union Gap. Gary mentioned that as a kid he loved seeing Civil War imagery and he loved the blue uniforms the Union Army wore and given his birth being in Washington State, where an actual Union Gap exists, he more or less decided to call his band Union Gap.

Ray mentions that in show business, no matter how successful, partnerships typically do not last long. Duos break up, bands dissolve, etc. and Ray asks about the disbanding of Union Gap. Gary mentions that after enjoying a lot of success certain creative differences crept in and the only thing to do, in the end, was to dissolve the band. Gary mentions that he learned their song, "Over You", was a favorite of Jack Webb. Gary sings "Over You" and then launches into what might be the group's second or third biggest hit, "Woman, Woman". The group had a string of power ballad successes in pop music in that late '60s time frame. As you can tell from looking at one of the picture sleeve's promoting "Over You" they're dressed in their Union Army uniforms. The uniforms aren't light blue, as you can also see, but there are other photos of them dressed in uniforms of all shades of blue. The official title of the song is "Woman, Woman" but Gary introduced it as "Woman, Woman Have You Got Cheating on Your Mind?". After the performance of this song he follows it up with "Young Girl".

That particular song peaked in the runner up position on the Hot 100 for three weeks in 1968...it was kept out of the top spot by a pair of hits: "Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay" from Otis Redding and the Bobby Goldsboro hit, "Honey". Given that their single was a million seller but kept out of the top spot there's an argument to be made that the song's subject matter may have caused anxiety and therefore it was not given a number one finish on America's pop music chart and so Goldsboro's hit leapfrogged over "Young Girl" to claim number one. There's also arguments to be made that Bobby's hit was so strong that you couldn't stop it from hitting the top and it was simply a case of timing that caused "Young Girl" to fall short of number one. Having said that...the single hit the top in the United Kingdom. Gary has the audience singing most of the song's chorus along with him during the performance. Afterward Ray thanks him for being a guest on the show.

Ray typically closes the show with a one-liner or a comical story of some sort before the closing music begins to play...but on this episode he changed things up a bit. After thanking Gary for appearing on the show Ray tells a brief story about somebody that wonders why they've had some strange dreams. One morning they dreamed about the "Green, Green Grass of Home" and then the next morning they recall a dream about "Delilah". The dreamer was told he had Tom Jones Disease. When he asked if such dreams are common the reply he got was "It's Not Unusual"...and with that Ray launches into his version of "It's Not Unusual", a pop hit for Tom Jones.

Airing over the weekend is episode 11 of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. It's part one of John Rich's guest appearance. The second half will air the following weekend. This marks the first time in the show's history in which an episode is broken into two parts. I'll see the first part of this episode next weekend when it's uploaded onto RayStevens.tv. When compiling the current season's list of episodes I don't know whether to refer to the two part event as Episode 11 and Episode 12 or if it's officially going to be listed as Episode 11, Part 1 and Episode 11, Part 2. If it's listed as 2 separate episodes then the current Season Five will have 15 altogether. If it's listed as one episode but with a numerical suffix added then it'll keep the current season at 14 episodes.

March 11, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville: Deana Carter...

Hello to all the fans of Ray Stevens and those that stop by out of curiosity. I just finished watching the ninth episode of Season Five of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. This episode originally aired on local PBS stations the weekend of March 3rd but was recently uploaded onto RayStevens.tv. The special guest was Deana Carter.

Ray opened the show performing his take on "Night and Day". A brief history is in order...Ray recorded the song in the mid 2000's for a CD of his titled Ray Stevens Sings Sinatra...Say What??. The tribute CD became available in 2008 on his Clyde Records label. You can see more information about the CD by clicking this LINK. It takes you to Ray's official web-store at his website. Ray introduces Deana Carter by inquiring if she shaved her legs for the appearance.

One of the first discussions revolved around her childhood and upbringing as the daughter of performer and session musician, Fred Carter. She mentioned that it was a help and a hindrance in that it can provide all kinds of perks and with having a connection to the industry through a relative it carries the potential of getting a foot in the door a lot more easily but at the same time she mentioned it can be a hindrance because of all the expectations of being a relative, this case an offspring, of a noted musician. She mentioned that as a typical twenty-something she often didn't take the advice of her father and others older than herself because she felt the desire for independence.

Deana speaks about her entry into the music industry and how a demo tape made it's way to Willie Nelson, which, as a result of his hearing it, enabled her to get a segment on Farm Aid VII at the Super Dome in Louisiana that year (1994). She mentioned being terrified and that she was the only female artist on the entire show that year. She drew laughter when mentioning 'demo tape' given how everything nowadays is digital and she got laughs when mentioning that during her early days in Nashville she was always thinking of a back-up plan in case things didn't work out. She mentioned Jimmy Bowen being the main key into her getting on records when he signed to her Patriot Records in 1995. Her debut CD on Patriot was released in the United Kingdom but it was transformed a year later after it got a re-release on Capitol Records in the United States (only a couple of songs from the debut version made it onto the re-release in 1996). The debut CD's title was the eye catching Did I Shave My Legs for This? The photo's of the CD are also strikingly different. On the UK release in 1995 she's standing in front of images of skyscrapers and looking very urbane whereas in the US release in 1996 the photo has a close-up of her in a field among a collection of wild flowers in a green shirt and about as far away from urbanity as you can get. If you Google the images of the 1995 and 1996 releases of her debut CD you'll see what I'm referring to.



Deana performs "Did I Shave My Legs for This?". Ray brings up a song that she had a hand in writing that received a Grammy nomination called "You and Tequila". She mentions having co-written the song with Matraca Berg. Deana and Matraca recorded their own solo version of the song but a duet version by Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter emerged in 2010. Their recording became a Top-10 country hit in 2011, sold over a million copies as a digital download, and it received a Grammy nomination. Deana recalled how personally gratifying it was to receive a Grammy nomination as a Songwriter and how it carries an entirely different emotional reaction than being nominated as a performer/artist. After she performs "You and Tequila" she is then asked to perform her breakthrough song, "Strawberry Wine". This song was one of the new recordings in the 1996 release of her debut CD...meaning it wasn't on the UK version a year earlier.

Ray closes the show performing "Oh, Leo Lady". He mentions that the idea of the song came as a result of his discussing astrology with his bass player. Although not mentioned by name I'm assuming that bass player to be the late Stuart Keathley (who also doubled as the engineer of Ray's albums). The song appears on Ray's 1982 album, Don't Laugh Now. This is the first time I've seen him perform the song and probably the only time it's been performed on television.

The episode of CabaRay Nashville airing on local PBS stations this weekend will be uploaded onto RayStevens.tv next weekend. That episode guest stars Gary Puckett. You know the routine by now...look for my recap/review of that episode next weekend sometime. I'm in the early adjustment stages of the time change. We lost an hour earlier this morning at 2am when we set our clocks ahead to 3am. As of this writing it's 7:25am Eastern time.

March 3, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville: Wilson Fairchild...

Hello once more...and I just finished watching episode 8, Season Five of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. The special guests on this episode happen to be the duo, Wilson Fairchild. Ray opened the show singing a rendition of "Misty" while seated at the piano. After the performance Ray introduces the duo and asks about their background and origins.



The duo explain that their name is derived from each of their middle names. The duo consists of Wil and Langdon Reid and their fathers are Don and Harold Reid of The Statler Brothers. Ray asks the duo about their run as opening act for George Jones. This leads into a story about how they called up a concert promoter one day and asked if George had an opening act booked for a nearby concert. The promoter said "no" which caused the duo to ask if they could be the opening act for this appearance. The promoter told them "yes...but you're not going to be paid". Then they learned that George, within the following week, was going to be at another venue several hours away and so, according to the duo, they called the promoter of that concert to inquire about George's opening act. Hearing that there wasn't an opening act they asked if they could come down and open the show. Just as before they were told "go ahead...but you're not going to get paid". One thing led to another and they ended up being an opening act for George Jones for several years.

The duo sing "The Statler Brothers Song" which is largely composed of song titles of Statler Brothers hits. It was written as an obvious tribute to their blood line and Ray asked about their current CD titled Songs Our Dads Wrote. They joked around about how long it took them to come up with such a spectacular and original title for the CD. The duo perform "Guilty" which was a huge hit for The Statler Brothers in 1983. The song is on their CD so it was obviously written by Don and Harold Reid. Even though "Guilty" was a big hit from the The Statler Brothers 1983 album, Today, it was overshadowed largely by their version of "Oh Baby Mine", which hit number two, and the blockbuster number one hit, "Elizabeth".

After the duo perform "Guilty" they are thanked for appearing on the show. Ray introduces a newcomer named Marisa who performs a ballad titled "Goodbye Back". I did several internet searches and couldn't find anything about her. I even typed her name and the song's title and didn't get any useful search results. If I could've found something about her I would supply a link to a website or a CD advertisement of some kind. Ray closes the show with "Come on Home to Baseball", a song from his 2004 CD, Thank You. This episode of CabaRay Nashville originally aired the weekend of February 24th. The episode airing this weekend on local PBS stations features Deana Carter as a special guest. I'll provide a review/re-cap of that episode next weekend.

Have you visited the CabaRay showroom in West Nashville yet? I visited it this past Thursday (March 1st) and posted some commentary about my day in Nashville. Any fan of Ray Stevens should plan a trip to the venue. I live a couple of states away from Tennessee and I never thought I'd ever get the chance to visit Nashville but being a gigantic fan of his I felt that visiting the CabaRay was something I needed to do. During his years in Branson, Missouri (1991-1993; 2004-2006) I was never able to attend any concerts at his former theater (now owned and operated by RFD television). I didn't want to tackle such a road trip, first of all, and secondly I simply felt too scared to travel that far anyway. It's farther away from here than Nashville. However, a visit to Nashville was something I had always wished I could accomplish and once Ray's showroom opened earlier this year I decided no more procrastinating about Nashville and so, at long last, I stepped foot in Nashville early Thursday morning on March 1, 2018. Plan your visit to the CabaRay this year. While there you can look at the various awards and plaques he's received over the years. The image off to the left is a certificate of nomination. It's a certificate recognizing 1979's "I Need Your Help, Barry Manilow" being nominated for a Grammy in a comedy category. This is just one of the items on display at the CabaRay. For those of you that live in the Tri-State area (Southeast Indiana, Northern Kentucky, and Southwest Ohio) be sure to tune in or DVR the Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville Special on KET2. It airs at Midnight tonight (technically Sunday morning). If you come across this blog entry on Sunday or Monday of this week then you can catch a repeat of the special on March 6th. KET2 is airing it again at 3:30am Tuesday morning.

Ray Stevens CabaRay and Me...

Hello one and all!!! In my previous blog entry or in the one prior to that I made mention of my brother and I driving around and testing a new G.P.S device I had bought for a road trip we were planning this past Thursday. I was vague about the trip but the trip we were planning was a visit to the CabaRay in West Nashville. I attended a concert on March 1st at the CabaRay...my first ever visit to Nashville, Tennessee but it happened to be my third Ray Stevens concert. My brother and I began the journey to Nashville around 2:30am Eastern time. Of course we gained an hour after we entered the Central time zone which we were already aware of ahead of time. There were only a couple of predicable events that occurred as we made our way down south. The first was the various stops at fuel stations to top off the gas tank, grab additional bottles of pop, and to stretch our legs and give the car a rest. The second predictable event was the heavy traffic on the interstates. We traveled on three major interstates during the trip: I-71 South to I-65 South and then I-40 West to the Charlotte Road exit and then on to River Road to pick up the tickets for the concert later that night. When I purchased the tickets a couple of weeks ago I had them put on hold (their Will Call service) and so when we arrived at the CabaRay Thursday morning I shown the woman at the box office my order confirmation and she printed off the two tickets I purchased and then off my brother and I went to see some of the sights of Nashville.

The only major traffic mess we encountered was near a merge lane in which cars were simultaneously trying to exit the interstate while other cars were trying to merge onto the interstate and every car exiting had to wait and let a merging car get on and vice versa...a total traffic mess. Obviously a lot of this had to do with the time of day...morning rush hour. Again, traffic jams were something we expected which is why we left for Nashville so early. The first place we went to prior to picking up the concert tickets was to a large second hand store called McKay's on Old Hickory Boulevard. I first heard of this place on a social media site...on one of Ray's social media posts there was a photo of a vinyl album somebody found at McKay's and I did some research. I saw some of the pictures from the store's interior and knew I just had to visit this place. The only regret is I wish I had knee pads because the rows of books and vinyl albums went all the way to floor level and there was no way I could've crawled along the floor, in any degree of comfort, to view every single title they had in stock and so I missed a lot of titles by not being able to see the bottom shelves.

Nevertheless, I was able to come across several vinyl albums that I ended up purchasing. One of those was The Remarkable Ray Stevens on Warwick Records, a title that was originally released in the United Kingdom in 1977. This is one of those many compilation albums that came along in the late '70s and according to the cover art it was a televised album with the 'as seen on TV' catchphrase but more specifically it reads 'as advertised on TV and radio'. There are 20 recordings on the album as you can tell by looking at the album's cover. When I seen this album at McKay's I knew I had to purchase it because it's rare, it's an import, it's on vinyl, and it's still sealed. Perhaps the word 'rare' is over-used...I'd say it's an obscure release. You can easily find the LP on various auction sites (so, in that respect, it's not rare) but it's a title that can easily be defined obscure...let's put it this way: it's only rare for those not aware of it's existence. Given it's still sealed I'm not going to open it. I already have those songs on other vinyl albums and on cassettes and CD's anyhow...I just bought it for it's, well, obscure rarity status.

After leaving McKay's my brother and I went to the CabaRay box office to get the concert tickets and then we made our way to the Music Row area of Nashville. We drove by the famed bars and recording studios in the Broadway region and drove by the Ryman Auditorium. We seen the famed Tootsie's Orchid Lounge and the Ernest Tubb Record Shop. We parked in a lot near the Country Music Hall of Fame and visited the Hall of Fame and Museum. My brother took a lot of photo's and I snapped some photo's, too. One such photo he took was of me standing next to the Ray Stevens exhibit at the Hall of Fame.

The Ray Stevens Everything is Beautiful Exhibit opened in the latter half of September 2017 at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum to commemorate Ray's 60th year as a recording artist. It isn't a permanent exhibit, as of this writing, and it's scheduled to be removed in April of this year. Talk about perfect timing! I seem to recall reading somewhere that officials at the Hall of Fame decided that the exhibit would become a permanent display but I can't find that article on the internet anywhere and so we'll just have to rely on the original publicity from September 2017 in which it states that the display will be a featured attraction through April of this year. As you can see in the photo there's a black and white photo of clean shaven Ray at the piano next to a much more familiar photo (among general audiences). On display are his two Grammy Awards and a Fez with 'Coy' written on it. Coy is the name of a fictional Shriner in his 1980 recording, "Shriner's Convention". There's also a piano...the one in which "Everything is Beautiful" was composed on. Ray isn't a member of the Country Music Hall of Fame but he's a member of the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame, The Georgia Music Hall of Fame, and the Christian Music Hall of Fame. We visited Centennial Park in downtown Nashville simply for it's large Parthenon attraction. I was originally going to have my brother take my picture holding a stuffed animal rabbit in a position similar to Ray's on his album cover for Lend Me Your Ears (1990, Curb Records) but there were several people on the steps at the Parthenon and I didn't want to create a scene or attract attention. Could you imagine people's reaction upon seeing somebody having their photo taken holding a stuffed animal on the steps of the Parthenon?!? In case you're wondering I never purchased a rabbit stuffed animal beforehand...it was just an idea I had several weeks ago...but did I look for rabbit stuffed animals prior to our Nashville trip? The answer would be "yes!" but as I said I ended up deciding against the idea fairly quickly and never continued looking for stuffed animal rabbits.

When I shown up for the dinner/concert at the CabaRay (better traffic by that time of the day, too) my brother and I were greeted by a man who said his name was Raymond Hicks. There is an upstairs area for balcony seating but also on the second floor is an additional display case area for several of Ray's music publisher awards (which, in my opinion, never get the attention/notice his other achievements have gotten). As we were looking over the various awards and trophies I never seen any of the plaques for his Home Video sales achievements (for Comedy Video Classics, Ray Stevens Live!, and Get Serious!). Later on we were told that a lot of his other awards were still in storage and hadn't been put on display at the CabaRay yet. On the first floor there's a gift shop, the piano bar (Bill Lowery High Spirits Emporium), an area with several display cases filled with trophies and gold records, and of course there's the main performance area. Those who have purchased dinner along with the concert are seated at tables around the stage and in other floor level seats where as those who just purchase concert tickets are seated in the balcony upstairs. There are several booths named for Nashville record producers.

From 5pm until a few minutes prior to the Ray Stevens concert at 7:30pm the piano bar performer, John Jonethis, can be heard throughout the venue even if you're not literally in the bar itself. We visited the gift shop and I purchased a couple of items. There were several trinkets and souvenir items that aren't posted in the on-line store. I purchased the Love Lifted Me CD and a CabaRay Nashville coffee mug.

The concert itself ran almost 90 minutes from 7:30pm until a little before 9pm. Ray performed quite a few medley's and several songs in their entirety sandwiched between comedy monologues and general conversations about his career, the purpose behind the CabaRay, and his television series on PBS stations. He spoke about being in the middle of taping the current season of his CabaRay Nashville television series and that those episodes would be the first to originate from the CabaRay rather than the much smaller studio he'd been taping the show in since the series debut in 2015. He kept the concert more or less uptempo and sang only a couple of ballads. "Everything is Beautiful" came near the end of the concert as one could have expected. He opened the show with what's become his signature opening number, "Such a Night". He opened his Renfro Valley concert with a performance of that song and that was a concert I seen back in the mid 2000's and so it's safe to say it's his official opening number. He also performed "Misty", "It's Me Again, Margaret", "Gitarzan", "The Streak", "Mississippi Squirrel Revival", "Turn Your Radio On", and "Nashville". Those nine songs were performed in their entirety. Those that were performed medley style were: "Sgt. Preston of the Yukon", "Jeremiah Peabody's Green and Purple Pills", "Ahab the Arab", "Along Came Jones", "Shriner's Convention", and the more recent "Taylor Swift is Stalking Me". I was a bit surprised that particular song would've gotten abbreviated considering it's one of his more recent recordings. Another surprise is he didn't perform "Safe at Home" or "Thank You" which always elicit strong emotional reaction from audiences.

During the concert you could also take advantage of the jumbo screens. If you chose to look up at those you'd see how he'd appear if it happened to be a television show taping. My brother and I sat at Table 103 which is right next to the stage. If you look at the seating chart from a bird's eye view our table was the second at the left side of the stage...so we were very close to the stage. Here's a somewhat blurry photo of the table and it's relation to the stage. You see the first table at the side of the stage and then the second table and the row of tables in front of the stage. That second table on the left hand side of the photo is where my brother and I were seated. My brother sat in the chair right next to the stage (he could've rested his arm or hand on the stage if he chose to) and I sat in the chair beside the red carpeted walkway.


He closed the show with "The Streak". The gift shop and the piano bar remained opened until the venue itself closed. There may have been a possibility of Ray making an appearance at the Piano Bar after the concert and it was tempting to stay but being from out of State with financial obligations the next day (a Friday) we decided that in order to fight potential traffic issues on our way home, making our up I-40 to I-65 North and into the heart of downtown Nashville, my brother and I opted to take one last look around the place and then head to the car. The experience was everything I had hoped it would be. The only thing missing was Buddy Kalb. I was under the impression that he was a big part of the venue, too, but I didn't catch a glimpse of him anywhere. In concerts past he was often seen around the merchandise area before and after the show. He may have been backstage/behind the scenes, though. There's a little room off to the left of the stage where I think the sound engineers and production staff monitor the performance so it's possible he could've been in there.

This being the start of the weekend be on the look out for my next re-cap of Ray's television series. His video site should have last weekend's episode available on-line at some point this weekend or it could be available on Monday. Last week's episode guest starred Wilson Fairchild. Airing this weekend on local PBS stations is the episode guest starring Deana Carter.

February 27, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville...Sam Moore

Well, hello once more! I'm on vacation from work all this week but yesterday I happened to literally be away from the house from mid morning until around eight last night. My brother and I were driving around, stopping at various places, inserting addresses and generally testing out a new G.P.S. device I purchased for a road trip we're planning this coming Thursday morning. When I arrived home I checked Ray's premium video site and discovered that episode seven of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville had become available for viewing.



As you can tell from the embed the special guest is Sam Moore. Ray opened up the show giving a brief history on the song "C.C. Rider" which set the tone of the episode. He perhaps half jokingly said that it's the official opening song for live performers but didn't specifically single out Las Vegas. Ray spoke of somebody that I'd never heard of...a guy named Wayne Cochran...and then went on to tell how Wayne more than likely influenced the Vegas-era performing style of Elvis. Ray then says that Wayne Newton began opening shows with "C.C. Rider", too. Ray performs the song and it includes shout outs to several members of the band as well as interaction from the harmony singers.

Ray introduces Sam Moore and upon entrance Sam lets out a "How-dee" in the style of Minnie Pearl. Ray mentions his love for rhythm and blues and says that's the music he heavily gravitated toward as he got older and into his teen years. Ray lists several of his favorites in addition to how he worked with quite a few during his years at Mercury in the early '60s. Sam mentions of working with the likes of Ray Charles and Brook Benton. Ray Stevens and Sam perform "Rainy Night in Georgia" which had originally been recorded by Brook. Afterward Ray asks how it was like to sing with Conway Twitty. Sam remarks that he was incredibly nervous prior to meeting Conway for the recording session and once he saw him in person he thought to himself "My...you have a lot of hair!". The audience laughs...but, of course, the funny thing is at the time Conway and Sam recorded their version of "Rainy Night in Georgia" in 1993 Sam's hair had a lot of length to it as well.

Ray asks about Sam's latest CD, An American Patriot. Sam tells of being at a social event and getting chills realizing that he was standing in a spot where Martin Luther King, Jr. once stood and then he does a vocal drum roll and presents Ray with a t-shirt promoting Sam's CD. The project was released in October of 2017 but this episode was taped during recording sessions which had taken place months earlier than that (the latter half of June 2017 to be specific). Sam performs his rendition of "Battle Hymn of the Republic" and by song's end the entire cast (including Ray) and the audience are in a hand clapping, sing-a-long presentation. Ray asks him to sing another song...and you can guess what the request would be...Ray asks for "Soul Man". Sam comically refuses to do it but this leads into his 'giving in' and performing it anyway. It's in this performance where Sam has the audience standing up to provide dance routines during the performance. Genuinely getting a kick out of it he proclaims how much fun he's having doing the show. Ray eventually comes out to thank him for being on the show. Sam departs the performance area.

The guests exiting the stage area is something that's become a part of the show recently. I think it began in the latter half of the previous season where the guests exit on-camera. In most episodes up until last season after Ray thanked the guest for appearing it would edit to Ray being center stage or at the piano to perform the closing song. Like I mentioned, here lately, the episodes show the guest leaving the performance area and then the camera pans back over to Ray, seated at the piano or standing, and he starts to perform the closing song. This time the closing song is "Save the Last Dance for Me". Ray had recorded the song, partially, in 1978 and used it as part of what he called a Dance Trilogy. A medley of three dance songs incorporated into a single performance. This trilogy of songs include: "Do You Wanna Dance?", "When You Dance", and "Save the Last Dance for Me". It's the lead-off track on his 1978 Rhythm and Blues tribute album, There is Something On Your Mind.

Episode Seven of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville, guest starring Sam Moore, officially aired on local PBS stations last weekend (most air-dates were on Saturday February 17th). As I mentioned in a previous blog entry the local PBS affiliate in my area will begin airing Season Five episodes the first weekend of April but they will begin with Episode Eight and won't air the first seven episodes of the current season. Like a broken record I have to say it again: Thank God for RayStevens.tv. If it weren't for this premium on-line website I'd not have been able to see the first seven episodes of this season and up until the other day it seemed as if I'd not be able to see Season Five air on KET2 until later this year sometime. I'm glad the rest of Season Five will be airing on television and reaching a more wider local audience than the episodes otherwise would have but I'd never understood why the local PBS station never aired Season Five from it's beginning in early January but chose to repeat the first half of Season Three in it's place.

The next episode of the series will guest star Wilson Fairchild. This episode aired this past weekend on local PBS stations and so I'll provide a recap of this episode after it's been uploaded onto the Ray Stevens video site I provided a link to in the previous paragraph.

February 26, 2018

Ray Stevens: Promotional On-line Videos...

Hello all...there's been a lot of activity showing up all over several social media sites regarding all things CabaRay...all things CabaRay Nashville...all things Ray Stevens...you get the idea. Everything from video promo's to wine to most recent news of Larry's Country Diner. In an effort to not let everything jumble together and perhaps get confusing or overlooked I'm going to methodically go through and offer each bit of activity that's gone on at a slower pace so everything can sink in.

First off several months ago, prior to the grand opening of the CabaRay, Ray launched an on-line video site called RayStevens.tv and I immediately subscribed. I purchased a full year's service rather than have a monthly payment. This subscription based site is something that offers fans, among many other things, the opportunity to see episodes of CabaRay Nashville. Ray's television program previously aired on RFD television. It aired on that network from November 2015 until December 2016. In January of 2017 the series began airing on local PBS stations across the country.

Ever since the television series moved from RFD to PBS there isn't a day that goes by that someone on social media doesn't complain about their not being able to see Ray's television show anymore...and some wish it were still on RFD.

Anyway...this video site that Ray launched a couple of months ago offers those that do not have the opportunity to see his television show a chance to watch it on-line. He posted a promotional video clip late in November and a second promo clip in late December. In the first clip he makes mention of the often posted commentary from those that used to watch the show on RFD but no longer can once it moved to PBS.

The video promo's do not reflect chronology. The clip marked Promo2 actually appeared on-line first (November 14, 2017) while the clip marked Promo1 appeared on-line second (December 27, 2017). I guess they (Ray and associates) want more emphasis on the December clip and so they re-named it Promo1. A third promo video for the video site arrived on YouTube on his birthday (January 24th). Those not familiar with video uploading, yes, you can edit a video's title and it not even impact the statistical data of the video whatsoever.







Now, of course, you all should be able to notice that each of those promotional video clips were taped on the same day but individually released a month apart (November, December, and January). A promo clip for the CabaRay itself shown up on February 21st...



Once you visit the CabaRay you'll no doubt come across the Bill Lowery High Spirits Emporium Bar located inside the venue. It is in this section of the CabaRay where you can now sample and even purchase a bottle of what's being sold/advertised as CabaRay Wine. In the advertisement on Ray's social media sites it states that he personally selected the kind of wine being sold. They make mention in the description for the wine that it's bottled in Napa, California. You can see, once you click the image, a larger view of the wines being offered at the CabaRay. The label's contain the years 2013 and 2016 along with the CabaRay logo, the type of wine, and the state in which it was bottled. The news release of this CabaRay Wine appeared on Ray's social media sites on February 21st and so it's only been less than a week since the announcement was made. There isn't video footage promoting the wine, yet...I assume there will be such video publicity at some point. At the moment it's advertised in the form of photographs.

Yesterday a post on the Facebook page of Larry's Country Diner (a television show hosted by Larry Black on RFD) advertised that their upcoming season of television programs is going to be taped at Ray's very own CabaRay venue. Their taping season gets underway on March 6th and they'll be taping two episodes each Tuesday through the middle of April.

Along with the activity surrounding the subscription based video site and the introduction of CabaRay Wine and Larry's Country Diner there have been more promo clips uploaded, on YouTube, for Season Five episodes of CabaRay Nashville and this brings me to the news I found out late last night concerning the local PBS station in the area that airs Ray's television show each Saturday at 8pm. In blogs past I have often made the comment that KET2 began a repeat cycle in January of past episodes of Ray's television series rather than airing Season Five (the current season). I checked the show's profile page at KET2's website and found out that the show is going to go on hiatus for a month (other programs, for unexplained reasons, are going to air in CabaRay Nashville's time slot) but then according to the posted schedule CabaRay Nashville is to return to the airwaves on KET2 on March 24th.

However, if you remember, Ray produced a 90 minute special last year that PBS stations could air during pledge drives. I found out that this PBS special will air on KET2 next month. In fact, it'll air at 12am on March 4th and it'll rerun on March 6th at 3:30am. If you're not a night owl or if you happen to work during those hours then definitely set your DVR for either of those air dates. I'll be watching it on March 4th and more than likely I'll DVR it at the same time. The PBS special has aired already on several PBS stations over the last several weeks. Iowa's PBS station, IPTV, aired the 90 minute special just this past Saturday. Some PBS stations are offering a DVD of the television special as a donation gift.

Back to the previous paragraph. Once KET2 brings back CabaRay Nashville as a weekly series on March 24th it'll begin with a repeat of Tommy Roe's episode from September 2017. This will be followed by, on March 31st, the episode with Mark Wills as a guest (originally airing on KET2 in September 2017). Then, on April 7th, KET2 will start airing recent episodes from the current season of Ray's series. Season Five officially began the first weekend of January this year but rather than add the first 7 episodes to their schedule they're going to start with episode 8 on April 7th. Episode 8 is the one that aired over the weekend guest starring the duo, Wilson Fairchild. Of course this means KET2 will not be airing the first 7 episodes of Season Five but they'll air the remaining episodes. Here's the upcoming KET2 schedule of CabaRay Nashville air dates:

March 4th: CabaRay Nashville Special (12am)

March 6th: CabaRay Nashville Special (3:30am; repeat)

March 24th: Tommy Roe (repeat from September 2017)

March 31st: Mark Wills (repeat from September 2017)

April 7th: Wilson Fairchild

April 14th: Deana Carter

April 21st: Gary Puckett

April 28th: John Rich (part one)

May 5th: John Rich (part two)

May 12th: Tony Orlando

May 19th: Jamie O'Neal

May 26th: Mark Chesnutt

Notice that John Rich will appear in two back to back episodes. This is the first time that a guest artist will headline on back to back episodes.

Season Six is still in production and those episodes are being taped at the CabaRay. I don't know when those Season Six episodes will begin to air...in a previous blog entry I made the assumption that they might start airing in April of this year on his video site and then air on local PBS stations later in the year.

Oh my...was this a lengthy blog entry or what??

Hopefully episode seven from last weekend (guest starring Sam Moore) will be uploaded onto Ray's video site later today. Usually they're uploaded no later than Sunday, a week after they're aired on PBS, but there have been times where uploads didn't surface until Monday. Once I'm able to see the episode I'll provide a re-cap.

February 18, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville Overview

Hello once more! I was going over some social media sites a couple of minutes ago and while doing so I came across a photo posted on a social media site by a fan club of The Monkees. The photo promoted the appearance of Mickey Dolenz on an upcoming episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. The description stated that the episode is scheduled to air in April. This is one of the episodes making up the next season of Ray's locally syndicated PBS series. These episodes will also mark the transition from recording the episodes at the Ray Stevens Studio to the recently opened CabaRay (which you see in the background of the photo). Back on February 7th I posted a blog entry about the upcoming Sixth Season of the show and mentioned some of the guests: Moe Bandy, Linda Davis, Ronnie McDowell, and now we can add Mickey Dolenz to that list. Anyway in that earlier blog entry I mentioned that post-production could take anywhere from half a year to a year and these Sixth Season episodes would likely make it to the airwaves later this year or even in 2019. I said that because in the past a lot of taping sessions of the series took place quite a few months in advance of their airing...and so, after reading the social media message from the Monkees fan club, it dawned on me that the Sixth Season is going to air immediately following the current Fifth Season.

The current season has 14 episodes and half of those have aired. The episode airing this weekend on some of the local PBS stations (episode 7) features Sam Moore as a guest. I will see this episode next weekend on Ray's video site. Anyway...I counted up 14 air dates on the calendar...and the current season of Ray's show will conclude the weekend of April 13th. The following weekend (April 20th) the Sixth Season is to get underway and those episodes will originate from the CabaRay Showroom. Given the social media message I came across earlier this morning from a Monkees fan club it looks as if the Mickey Dolenz episode will either be the first episode of Season Six or the second episode of Season Six due to the fact that the final two episodes of Season Five are to air on the weekends of April 6th and April 13th. The upcoming Sixth Season should conclude the weekend of July 6th. We're getting ahead of ourselves, obviously, because the current season is just midway through. If you've been a long time follower or visitor of this blog then you should know that Ray considers a season to consist of 13 episodes as do a lot of niche programmed cable, satellite, and on-line channels.

I hadn't provided an episode list in awhile but in case you hadn't seen any episodes of this series or you're wondering who's all been on the show, so far, then take a look.

The show began airing in November of 2015 on RFD-TV under the title Ray Stevens Nashville. It moved to local syndication on PBS beginning in January 2017 as Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. Excluding the Christmas episode all of the RFD episodes ran on PBS during the first half of 2017 and were advertised as Season One and Season Two. Those episodes (26 in total) were released on two separate 13-episode DVDs. The first all new episode of the series didn't arrive until mid summer 2017...billed as the series Third Season. The guests on that episode were Harold Bradley and Mandy Barnett. The Third and Fourth seasons consist of 13 episodes each and they aired throughout the remainder of 2017. In the Fourth Season the RFD Christmas episode guest starring Suzy Bogguss finally aired on PBS as did a Halloween episode guest starring Janie Fricke plus a second Christmas episode, first run on PBS, guest starring Deborah Allen also aired. The Fifth Season got underway in January of this year and the 7th episode of the season is airing on local PBS stations this weekend.

Here is the episode list based on it's official PBS run. I realize not every local PBS station has aired episodes of the series in chronological order and I realize that not every PBS station is airing the current season but this is the official episode list. The first two seasons are available on DVD and those 26 episodes first aired on RFD in the latter half of 2015 and throughout most of 2016: 

Season One: (January - March 2017)
1. Steve Wariner
2. Larry Gatlin
3. Bobby Bare
4. Don Schlitz
5. Charlie McCoy
6. Bobby Braddock
7. Jimmy Fortune
8. Aaron Tippin
9. John Conlee and Jeff Bates
10. Tanya Tucker and T.G. Sheppard
11. Gene Watson
12. James Gregory
13. Billy Dean

Season Two: (April - June 2017)
1. Bobby Goldsboro
2. T. Graham Brown and Suzi Ragsdale
3. Williams and Ree
4. Leroy Van Dyke
5. Bellamy Brothers
6. The Gatlin Brothers
7. Collin Raye
8. Darryl Worley and Lee Greenwood
9. Bill Anderson
10. Sylvia
11. Con Hunley
12. Jimmy Wayne
13. Reed Robertson

Season Three: (July - September 2017)
1. Harold Bradley and Mandy Barnett
2. Shenandoah
3. Michael W. Smith
4. B.J. Thomas
5. Rhonda Vincent
6. Restless Heart
7. John Michael Montgomery
8. Baillie and the Boys
9. Tommy Roe
10. Mark Wills
11. Duane Eddy
12. Angaleena Presley
13. Riders in the Sky

Season Four: (October - December 2017)
1. Rex Allen, Jr.
2. Lari White
3. Charley Pride
4. Janie Fricke (originally aired on RFD)
5. Gary Mule Deer
6. Gary Morris
7. John Berry
8. Jeannie Seely
9. Don McClean
10. Felix Cavaliere
11. Suzy Bogguss (originally aired on RFD)
12. Deborah Allen
13. New Year's Eve Cast Show

Season Five: (January - April 2018)
1. Ray Hildebrand
2. Steve Wariner (edited airing of the series debut episode)
3. Paul Overstreet
4. Daily and Vincent
5. Jenny Gill
6. Tracy Lawrence
7. Sam Moore (current episode as of this writing; airing on local PBS stations)
8. Wilson Fairchild
9. Deana Carter
10. Gary Puckett
11. John Rich
12. Tony Orlando
13. Mark Chesnutt
14. Jamie O'Neal

The 14th episode should air the weekend of April 13th and the following weekend Season Six should get underway. Once again I'll write more about the next season once it officially gets underway.

February 17, 2018

Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville: Tracy Lawrence...

Hello all...it's a snowy Saturday late afternoon here as I type this fan created blog entry. I'm giving a re-cap of the February 11, 2018 episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville. It was uploaded onto Ray's video website, raystevens.tv, not too long ago and I just finished watching the episode.

Ray opens the show performing "Gitarzan". The episode was recorded during mid-year 2017 but it aired for the first time this year. I looked up the song's more technical information and found out it was released as a single in January of 1969...so last month marked it's 49th anniversary. I typically do not keep the month of release for a single or an album in my memory and so, yes, I looked up the single's release month because I already knew it's release year was 1969. But isn't it mind boggling...it's been part of Ray's concerts for many years...and he still performs it with incredible energy and gusto.

The special guest on this particular episode happens to be Tracy Lawrence. If you're familiar with country music from the last 20 some years then you should be very familiar with him. He was one of the superstars of country music during the 1990s commercial and radio programmed renaissance of the genre. During that decade more radio stations had switched to the country music format and most of the singers of country were selling half a million or more copies with each album release...quite a few were routinely selling Double (two million) and Triple Platinum (three million) each release.



Ray introduces Tracy Lawrence and says that he had asked Tracy to be a guest on the show during a recent appearance at the Opry. Just for fun I Googled their names and the Opry and in the search results I found out that the last time the two were scheduled performers at the Opry was back in May of 2017 which is right around the time the current season of Ray's television series was taped.

Tracy says that the two of them share a common connection with Atlanta...well, kind of. The video above doesn't contain this exchange but Tracy's giving a big hearty laugh after Ray asked just where Atlanta, Texas happened to be and wondered if it was in Oklahoma. Tracy confirms that Atlanta, Texas exists and it's more close to the Arkansas and Louisiana borderline's than Oklahoma. He speaks of his first taste of success stemming from radio appearances on local Opry-style radio programs in 1990 and how he compared it to the Louisiana Hayride days in country music's history. Ray mentions that two instrumental figures in his early career, Shelby Singleton and Jerry Kennedy, were from Shreveport, Louisiana.

Tracy performs "Texas Tornado", which hit number one in 1995. Ray brings up Tracy's charity called Mission: Possible. Tracy talks of it's origin and how it provides Thanksgiving dinner to various people during the week of Thanksgiving each year. He said that the most recent fund raiser brought in over $140,000. Due to it being a Christian charity it receives no funds or grants or anything from any Government organization. Tracy performs "Find Out Who Your Friends Are" which hit number one in 2007 and featured guest vocals from Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney. This performance was followed by "Time Marches On" which Tracy remarked was his biggest hit so far (it spent three weeks at number one in 1996).

Ray closes the show telling the audience about being involved in the soundtrack of the 1981 Burt Reynolds movie, Cannonball Run. Ray mentions singing the movie's theme song and how he was inspired to write the movie's main love song, "Just for the Hell of It". He performs the love song and it gave me chills...it's almost identical to the 1981 recording...music, vocalization, phrasing. He had re-recorded the song recently for a CD called Bozo's Back Again but this marks the first time I'd ever seen Ray perform the song on television.

The episode of Ray Stevens CabaRay Nashville airing this weekend on some of the local PBS stations across the country feature Sam Moore as a special guest. This episode will be uploaded onto Ray's video site next weekend sometime. Once I'm able to view it I'll provide my re-cap/review.