Written by: Kevin Brennan
Harken back to 1987 when blues was experiencing a revival of sorts. On FM radio, you could hear new music from Stevie Ray Vaughan, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Mason Ruffner, Johnny Winter and others as they fit nicely alongside of what was to become classic rock. The door was open and Robert Cray was walking on through.
Cray had five albums under his belt by this time, including an acclaimed live collaboration with Johnny Copeland and Albert Collins called Showdown! which was released on Alligator Records, the home for dozens of legendary and otherwise blues artists.
His most recent work at this point was 1986’s Strong Persuader, a breakout piece that featured two songs destined to become staples of the Cray catalog: “Smokin’ Gun” and “Right Next Door (Because of Me).” Cray was riding a wave of popularity that cemented his career and enabled him to release 14 more albums over the next 25 years with no foreseeable end in sight.
Can you remember what you were doing on April 26, 1987? Me neither, so at least this gives us some perspective. Get your blues hat on and head down to the Tower Theater for an hour plus of Robert Cray and see if your memory improves any.
More Than I Could Stand
I Guess I Showed Her
Right Next Door (Because of Me)
Playin’ in the Dirt
Too Many Cooks
Written by: Matt Wardlaw
One of the best compliments paid to Robert Cray's performance at the House of Blues on Tuesday night came from a reaction to "Time Makes Two," the closing song of Cray's two song encore. A gentleman in front of me, probably a few drinks deep, turned around and said to everybody within earshot, "I'm gonna go dance with my woman....gonna love somebody to-night!"
Seeing a full set from the Robert Cray Band has been on my rock and roll bucket list from the moment I finally got a chance to see Robert and his band play an abbreviated set at Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival in 2007. While Cray and his band moved fairly briskly through their business on Tuesday night with a set that timed out right around 90 minutes, it was definitely worth every penny that I laid down for the privilege. "Time Makes Two" is to me, one of the songs that illustrates perfectly why Robert Cray is in my opinion, one of the most underrated blues players on the scene. From my perception, he's been quietly doing his thing for so many years, getting occasional notice and radio play and for anybody that's been paying attention to the releases he's been putting out on the table, there's been plenty to enjoy. I do wonder why "Don't Be Afraid Of The Dark," which got a pretty good amount of radio play at the time, never really seems to pop up in the setlist. Is the sound too far removed from what he's doing now? Perhaps.
After seeing Cray at Crossroads, I wanted to catch up and get a quick primer on what he's been up to since songs like "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark" and "Smoking Gun" in the '80s, which were two of my main reference points for Cray's music. Might I suggest if you're on a similar hunt, the retrospective collection Heavy Picks and also the double live album Live From Across The Pond are two good starting points. Bringing things into the present, you can also nab This Time, his latest studio album and also another live album, Cookin' In Mobile (which to my ears, has a better audio mix than the Pond live disc). From there, I think that you'll find that whatever path you choose musically in Cray's discography, it's all good listening material.
It's been a while since Cray's last appearance in the Cleveland area and hopefully we won't have to wait as long for the return visit, because Tuesday night was nothing but good times which left me wanting plenty more!more
Written by: Kevin Brennan
Hey there music lovers, it’s time for some video to go with our audio. Today, we’ll look at two recent DVD releases: B.B. King Live at Montreux 1993 and Jethro Tull: Living With The Past.
For those of you whose only reference to B.B. King is his appearance in the U2 film Rattle and Hum, it’s time for some education. King is one of the finest American blues guitarists, living or dead, whose distinctive soloing and soulful vocals influenced such rock legends as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, and Jeff Beck in addition to anyone who has ever played the blues. His Grammy award-winning version of Rick Darnell and Roy Hawkins’ “The Thrill Is Gone” cemented his place as a star and a true crossover artist in the late sixties.
He reached out to rock audiences for the first of several times as the opening act for the Rolling Stones 1969 U.S. tour. His list of later collaborators is long and features Bobby “Blue” Bland, Albert King, Albert Collins, Robert Cray, Katie Webster, Gary Moore, Clapton and many others.more