The Robert Cray BandSunday, June 24, 2018
“You gotta keep your ears open and expand your mind.” – Robert Cray
Open ears and an open mind are the essence of singer, guitarist and songwriter Robert Cray’s approach to writing, recording and playing music. He has created a sound that rises from American roots and arrives today both fresh and familiar. In just over 40 years Cray and his band have recorded 20 studio releases, 15 of which have been on the Billboard charts, and played bars, concert halls, festivals and arenas around the world. There are five Grammys with Cray’s name on them, and he has a suitcase full of W.C. Handy blues awards. Four years ago Cray was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.
The glow of a career in music began when Cray was a teen, and in 1974 it burst into flames as the Robert Cray Band came together in Eugene, Oregon. How strong was the fire? “Richard and I didn’t own a vehicle, and we were staying with his girlfriend in Eugene. We hitched a ride to Salem, where our drummer Tom Murphy was going to school, to rehearse,” Cray recalls. With the group’s 1980 debut release, Who’s Been Talkin’, word about the Cray Band began to spread across the Northwest and down in to California. Playing packed bars and roadhouses the Cray Band was thrilling. Blues and soul fans showed up religiously, but those steamy raucous sets also drew crowds whose tastes in music ranged from rock to funk and jazz. Following the path of fame taken by blues-based rockers like Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Cray became a sensation, leading his band in concerts at large arena and rock festival. He was the first African American artist since Jimi Hendrix to rise to such fame in rock music. The multimedia 4 Nights of 40 Years Live is a testament to the band’s longevity and vitality. The 80s concert footage is exuberant and shows the charisma of Young Bob (a reference in song that Cray makes to himself in homage to Muddy Waters calling himself Young Muddy) as a guitarist, vocalist and band leader. The live performances at recent concerts capture seasoned musicians bringing a vivid, illustrative past into the moment. Cray’s Stratocaster solos sing, cry and take on the funk. His voice has grown richer and wiser yet remains sweet.
It is extraordinary for musicians to thrive over four decades, and the Robert Cray Band is just that, an extraordinary story of success. Texas blues and R&B artist Jimmie Vaughan sums up Robert Cray’s singularity and success simply when he says, “He’s got one foot in the future and one foot in the old stuff.”
Sunday, June 24, 2018
Doors Open 6:00 PM
Showtime 8:00 PM
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