These days, a rather wide net gets cast for the musical catch called Americana. While we throw back those artists whose songs lack substance and spirit, the musical style of what we hold onto can be as elegant as caviar or as gritty as catfish. The music of Boo Ray carries a distinctly Southern style and soulful feel that, pardon my cheesy comparison, will make you think more of Lynyrd Skynyrd than the Eagles. In my book, that’s a great place to be.
I’m willing to bet you’ve heard and loved Boo’s “Redneck Rock & Roll” from his 2016 LP “Sea of Lights.” If not, welcome yourself to Mr. Boo Ray by giving this one a taste. Then I’d head right for his latest LP, “Tennessee Alabama Fireworks.” It’s lead single “20 Questions” was recently featured in Rolling Stone mag’s “Songs You Need to Know” column. The record was recorded in Music City at the hip Welcome to 1979 Studio.
When he’s not an outlaw poet, Boo Ray spends some of his time doing custom leather work making snazzy guitar straps and belts and counts many of his musical pals as customers.
We thank Boo for his well-spent time on the usual 11 Questions. You can see him play at 8pm this Friday night June 28th, at a place better know for its food than live music. Nonetheless, I’m ready to get down and dirty with some tunes and some smoked turkey at Martin’s Bar-B-Que joint in downtown Nashville (Fourth Street just off Korean Vets).
Where are you from originally, when did you move to Nashville and why?
I grew up in the mountains in Western North Carolina. I moved to Nashville in 2012 with a girl so she could join the roller derby team. I’d been coming to Nashville for songwriting appointments since ’07 or so, a few times a year. When I was living in Los Angeles ’05-’08, I got a gig working the Magic Fashion Show in Las Vegas in ’07. At the end of that long week, I took what was the best paycheck I’d seen in a pretty good minute and cashed it at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino and got a comp card. After playing $5 blackjack tables for 20 hours straight, I started shooting craps and wound up hitting the table for $14,000, while unknowingly standing next to a pair of Nashville music publishers. They won big too. We made out like bandits and have been friends ever since.
A couple of weeks after getting back to LA, the music publisher sent me plane tickets to Nashville to write for a few days. I came to Nashville a week or so at a time, a few times a year from ’07 to ’09. So, I knew a few folks before I moved here to live in 2012.
What are the first and the last records you bought, and where did you buy them? Were they CD, vinyl or digital?
I think the first record I bought was Guitars, Cadillacs, Etc., Etc. (Dwight Yoakam) and the most recent was the brand new Jimbo Mathus album, Incinerator, which is off the chain great.
First and last live concerts that you’ve seen.
Willie Nelson at Cherokee was first, and I saw Jump Blues singer and guitar player prodigy, McKinley James, last weekend.
Whose star should be added to the Music City Walk of Fame?
Where do you go in Nashville for coffee and pizza?
Barista Parlor and Five Points Pizza.
What’s your favorite record to ever come out of Nashville?
Nashville Skyline comes immediately to mind, especially since we recorded my 2016 album Sea of Lights album on Noah Shain’s Ampex tape machine from Quonsett Studios, which also recorded Nashville Skyline.
Where’s the best place to eat late night after a show?
Dino’s…and get the Dino’s burger. If it’s too packed at Dino’s after a big show, then a sandwich at Duke’s is my next move. If it’s sure enough real late, then Hermitage Café is an institution.
The Bluebird calls and asks you to host an “In the Round.” Pick three local songwriters to join you.
Erin Rae, Elizabeth Cook, and Mike Miz.
What are your favorite music venues to play in town?
The 5 Spot’s my weekly townie joint for sure. There’s no doubt 3rd & Lindsley is a world class stage and venue, and it was nothing less than life-changing and transforming to sing on the Opry with Marshall Chapman the day after Cowboy Jack Clement died. Marshall sang Cowboy Jack’s song “Let’s All Help the Cowboy Sing the Blues”, and Matraca Berg and I sang backup.
Name a musician who you’d like to see move here?
Well, I’d sure love for my buddy Steve Ferrone to spend more time in Nashville. It’d be cool if Paul Ill was in Nashville too.
Finally, what’s in your musical future?
Guitars, Cadillacs and hillbilly music! Ha! Pete Lyman’s fixin’ to produce a new project on me real soon, and I’ve recently signed with Tina Terry Agency, so look for us out on the road.