At 62, ROBERT CRAY is now deemed a veteran of blues music, though it doesn't seem that long ago since he was a fresh-faced young man being touted as a rising star of the genre. But time, as it usually does, can plays tricks on the mind - in fact, 34 years have passed since the Georgia-born singer/songwriter/guitarist broke into the big time with his charting second LP, 'Bad Influence.' That was in 1983 and since then, the affable, quietly-spoken, musician who is seen as a direct lineal descendent of legendary blues figures like Muddy Waters and Albert Collins has been steadily and quietly accruing a huge fan base around the world with his dynamic live performances. In that time he's recorded over twenty albums and worked with the likes of Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan, John Lee Hooker, Keith Richards, and Chuck Berry. While not a household name, perhaps, Cray has been much-feted by the music industry - to date, his work has garnered five Grammy awards - and in addition, his services to blues music were honoured in 2011 when he was inducted into the Blues Hall Of Fame.
Cray has a nine-date UK tour lined up which begins later this month (and goes through until May 2017) and also releases his 22nd long player, 'Robert Cray & Hi Rhythm,' at the end of April. Helmed by the singer/guitarist's old sparring partner, producer/drummer, Steve Jordan, the 11-track set pays homage to Willie Mitchell's influential Memphis-based record label, Hi Records, which was responsible for putting soul singers Al Green and Ann Peebles on the map.
The Georgia blues maven made the record in Mitchell's hallowed Royal Studios in Memphis working alongside some of the venerable musicians that had played on Mitchell's Hi sessions - namely, organist, the Reverend Charles Hodges, bassist Leroy 'Flick' Hodges, and keyboardist, Archie 'Hubbie' Turner. Cray blends fresh original songs - exemplified by the excellent 'You Had A Heart' - with a couple of songs apiece by Mac Rice (the writer of 'Mustang Sally') and Tony Joe White plus a sultry Memphis-style remake of Bill Withers' 'The Same Love That Made Me Laugh.' It's a soulful collection of powerful performances that like Cray's previous studio offering, 'In My Soul,' dissolves the divide between blues and R&B music.
In an exclusive interview with SJF, ROBERT CRAY talks to Charles Waring about his upcoming tour, new album and other aspects of his long career...
Last Updated on Thursday, 20 April 2017 11:30