Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Kenny 'Blue' Ray Got Blues!

West Coast guitarist Kenny ‘Blue’ Ray has been growing a reputation for his strong guitar playing over the past few years on a series of discs on his own labels. His latest, Got Blues (Blue Kat), brings together some strong originals and covers that display Ray’s wonderful tone and playing. Ray shows a fair bit of influence of Albert Collins and Albert King. 

What sets him apart from many guitar slingers today is his taste and economy whether evoking John Lee Hooker on Goodbye Johnny or tossing in some blistering flurry of notes mixed in with long sustained ones in a blend of the two Alberts. His band here varies throughout and includes some solid vocals by Charlie Chavez, who is also an able harp player. Stan Powell plays some strong chromatic harp (especially on You Belong to Me). Tributes to John Lee Hooker, in which the group evokes the slow groove of the late King of the Boogie, and Buddy Guy are mixed in with covers of songs from Louisiana Red, Too Poor to Die; Sonny Boy Williamson Mr. Downchild; Magic Sam, You Belong to Me and Everythings Gonna Be Alright; Buster Brown, Fannie Mae; and Robert Johnson, Stop Breaking Down, on which Ray sings

Ray is one of those individuals playing the music away from even the spotlight a national independent label provides yet has produced a strong disc deserving of wider exposure. Even better is Ray’s last cd, Soulful Blues (Tone King) which features the highly underrated singer Jackie Payne on a terrific collection of modern urban blues. For more on Kenny ‘Blue’ Ray, check out his home page, This is available through his website, or through and other online retailers. 

This review originally appeared in the June 2003 DC Blues Calendar. The links in the review may no longer work, but I believe this is still available. Here is a taste of Kenny performing.

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