Up-and-coming outlaw country artist Boo Ray has some stories to tell…after releasing his fifth studio album “Sea Of Lights” last summer he now has plans to release more new music in the next few weeks! He also just recorded a brand new album in L.A. over Christmas that will come out later this year and he’s got lots to talk about…see what he has to say here!
Country Music Pride: First off I have to ask; how did you get such a unique name?
Boo Ray: Naw, that’s a fair question. I grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina but all the women in my family are from Louisiana and have these wild sounding names: Maybo, Tatu, Nini, Bonnycastle & Mamie. So they stuck me with a peculiar handle too. It’s kind of like a “Boy Named Sue” type of thing I suppose. And of course there’s the Louisiana back room card game by the same moniker, which I’ve loved & played since i was a kid. It’s written as a single word, Booray, but I like to pair it as Boo Ray.
Country Music Pride: Your newest single “Bad News Travels Fast” has a very old school country sound that actually makes me feel like I’m enjoying a beer in a good old country bar. Give us a glimpse into what helped bring this song to fruition for you.
Boo Ray: Yeah, thanks for asking about that one. I’d been vagabonding around the country doing Troubadour work. Did a few months on the blackwater swamp in South Georgia with Laney Strickland, a few months in Slidell & New Orleans, a spell in San Antonio, and a stint in Las Vegas and made my way back to Los Angeles where I’d been living the previous year and had some stuff in storage. I flew back to Athens, Georgia to write with Brantley Gilbert and Mike Dekle and also wound up writing with Colin Linden in Nashville the next day. Well, I had the verse & chorus of this rough & tumble vagabond song on my hands, and sat with Colin at his house in Nashville and he put that great bridge on it and helped my develop the pickin’ & singin’ and we finished the hang with the song “Bad News Travels Fast” in the books. I consider writing with Colin Linden a highlight of my career.
I first released “Bad News Travels Fast” as the title track on my 2010 album and then just recently redid the song for the 2016 “Sea Of Lights” album. I’ve been closing every night with that song since 2009 and just wanted to give it another chance production wise and record it live to tape with that incredible band on the “Sea Of Lights” album.
Country Music Pride: You have been said to have a sound along the line of outlaw country such as Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson…who would you say has had the biggest influence on your music?
Boo Ray: Both of those guys have had beaucoup influence on me for darn sure. Cash’s sincerity is unmatched and he turned me on to rock-a-billy. When I learned about Kris Kristofferson it made ok for me to be the vagabond songwriter that I’d become. I’ve been dressing like Jerry Reed since I was 12, but it was years before I had any idea he was the baddest guitar man ever came through town.
I knew he was The “Snow Man” and sang “Eastbound And Down”, but i had no idea that Jerry Reed was the masterful musician and guitar player that he was. Jerry’s style as an entertainer was so natural and generous and just a bunch of danged fun. That Macon, Georgia Sound seems to keep coming out of me. Dwight Yoakam’s made a lasting impression on me too.
Country Music Pride: You recently recorded a new album in L.A., how is it different or would you compare the experience and influences to recording in Nashville?
Boo Ray: We recorded “Sea Of Lights” live to tape in Los Angeles with cats out there at Noah Shain’s Studio in dow. Shoot that album just came out 6 months ago. We just finished recording another new album. On this new one, Noah and my friend Bassist Paul Ill flew to Nashville and we recorded at Welcome To 1979 Studio with my Nashville band that I’ve been working with this past year. Welcome To 1979 is one of the tape machine services and consultants that Noah’s used for years. I love Nashville and call it home these days, so I loved it. I took Noah and Paul to Hermatige Cafe and Bolton’s, Robert’s Western World and The 5 Spot… And Welcome To 1979 Studio is way cool and sounds amazing. So yeah, it was a blast!
Country Music Pride: What are some of the “dues” you’ve had to pay for “paying your dues” as up and comers?
Boo Ray: Oh, you mean stuff like playing on flatbed trailers in 100 degree temperature with no shade, or being 2000 miles from home and driving 9 hours to the next show in Gallup New Mexico and find out the owner of the venue lost the joint in a card game over the weekend and the Club’s closed for construction and under new management, or having to sell CDs at gas stations to get enough money to buy gas to get to the next show date?
Yeah, I’ve done a pretty good bit of that stuff, but I’ve been lucky too and had some good breaks too. Yeas ago Kevn Kinney took me out on the road and let me open & tech for him, Mike Stinson’s put me up when I was stranded and wrote a song with me, Steve Ferrone’s got me out of a couple bad binds and plays on my records, Mike Campbell’s helped me, and some cool clubs have been home base and welcomed me when I’ve developing new bands; Velena Vego at The 40 watt in Athens GA, Nikki Sweet at The Roxy in LA, The Fold Booking & Silver Lake Lounge in LA, The Cadillac Ranch in South Georgia, The 5 Spot in East Nashville, The Exit Inn, 3rd & Lindsley… The help of everybody who’s given me a chance outweighs the dues I’ve payed.
Country Music Pride: Have you received any accolades from any groups or persons that you highly value?
Boo Ray: How long did it take Bob Dylan before he even acknowledged that he’d been awarded The
Nobel Prize for literature? I’d reckon somehow I interoperate that as an expression of humility. I guess it was Mark Twain who wrote “I have been complimented many times and they always embarrass me; I always feel they have not said enough.”, but he also said “I can live two months on a good compliment.” I’m incredibly grateful that radio plays my songs and the writers and critics dig my records and shows and I try to be careful not to drink that cool-aid too much so I don’t risk becoming arrogant or ungrateful. I appreciate you giving me the chance to toot my horn a little bit, but you know what I mean.
Country Music Pride: If you could tour with any artist of your choice, who would it be and why?
Boo Ray: I’d love open to open for Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers because they’re just badass. And I’d like to open for Billy Gibbons & ZZ Top ’cause they the damned coolest. I’d like to open for Eric Church ’cause he runs a fierce damned outfit of pickers and sounds great. Shoot, well open for a Wrestling Bear if he can pay our gas, food & motels.
Country Music Pride: What has been the craziest place you have ever performed?
Boo Ray: That recent underground 3am hollywood party I played called “Overpass” was pretty damned wild. I’ve played a strip club, flea markets, a couple beauty salon’s and a good few rambling shack type joints like Flora Bama. I’ve played some field parties that got good and crazy, people setting off quarter sticks of dynamite while we were playing and drag racing motor cycles and doing burnouts right in front of the stage .
Check out the video for title single from “Sea Of Lights” which premiered on Cowboys & Indians HERE.