Madison Ribberfest Blues Bash
Cray a showstopper
Blues Hall of Famer is 2012 headliner
Helen E. McKinney
(August 2012) When he burst upon the blues
scene three decades ago, Robert Crays indefinable sound brought
new life to blues music. It revved up the old definition of blues and
turned the music genera around.
(Festival Gates Open at 5 p.m.)
6 p.m.: Jimmy Davis Band
(7 p.m.: Backyard BBQ Blast
Judging begins in the Brown Gym)
8 p.m.: Trampled Under Foot
(9:30 p.m.: Backyard BBQ Blast amateur cooking winners announced
10 p.m.: Nick Moss
(9-11 a.m.: Kidz Q amateur cooking
competition and judging)
(11 a.m.: KCBS first cooking entries
turned in for judging at the Brown Gym)Saturday, Aug. 18
(Festival Gates Open at 11 a.m.)
11:30 a.m.: Jimmy G & the Sidewinders
1:30 p.m.: Tyler Mac
3:30 p.m.: Good to the Bone
rib-eating contest in front of stage)
3:30 p.m.: Eden Brent
5:30 p.m.: Tad Robinson
7:30 p.m.: Johnny Hoy & the Bluefish
9:30 p.m.: Robert Cray
(Schedule subject to change.)
Two-day pass $20 through Aug. 17 and only available at the Lanier-Madison
Visitors Center, 601 W. First St., Madison.
No two-day passes sold at gate!
Friday only = $20; Saturday only = $20.
Children ages 12 & under = Free.
Bring lawn chairs or blankets.
No pets, coolers, skateboards, bikes, rollerblades, umbrellas,
canopies, food, beverages,
video or audio recording devices.
Sale at the Souvenir Tent:
Ribberfest T-Shirts = $15
Ribberfest Pins = $5
Ribberfest Chairs = $10
At 57, Cray recently became the youngest living legend
to become inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2011. This feat proves
that persistence pays off.
Blues is one of the foundations of our music, but its not
all that we play, Cray has been quoted as saying. Every
time somebody asks me about where my music comes from, I give them five
or six different directions a little rock, soul, jazz, blues
and a little gospel feel.
He said there are other things that may fall into the mix, like
a little Caribbean flavor or something. You just never know. He
attributes his wide ranging sound to the music he grew up listening
to and radio tunes of the 1960s.
Cray is scheduled to perform as the Saturday night headliner for the
Madison Ribberfest Blues Bash. He will take the stage at 9:30 p.m. and
finish out what organizers hope will even top last years show,
which featured blues legend Buddy Guy.
Each year we seem to top the year before, said Rocky Harrell,
a member of the Ribberfest band committee. With the talent weve
got, were going to be as good as or better than last year.
Cray did not experience the typical upbringing of a blues musician.
In contrast to the impoverished beginnings of many blues greats, Cray
grew up in a middle-class lifestyle, born in 1953 in Columbus, Ga. His
father was an Army quartermaster and the family moved around a lot from
location to location.
This constant uprooting made him a shy, introverted child. He convinced
his mother to buy him a guitar, and he found solace in music. He had
some training as a classical pianist when young, but his first serious
attempt at music was a mix of rock-and-roll and rhythm and blues.
In his 20s Cray played college towns on the West Coast before moving
to Eugene, Ore. This is where he formed the Robert Cray Band in 1974.
This was a four-piece touring band that featured Cray on lead vocals
His big break came in 1986 with the release of his fifth album, Strong
Persuader. It was his third album and won him his first Grammy
Award. Throughout his career, Cray has been nominated for 15 Grammys
and sold more than 12 million albums worldwide.
As a testament to his influence, Rolling Stone Magazine credits Strong
Persuader with reinventing the blues with Crays distinct
razor sharp guitar playing that introduced a new generation
of mainstream rock fans to the language and form of the blues.
Cray said of the album that went platinum, I guess Strong
Persuader just captured a good spirit and energy. People are still
calling out for some of those songs at shows.
Harrell said Cray is very popular. Hes won five Grammys.
In the 70s and 80s, a lot of FM radio stations played his
music. Cray has had a strong crossover appeal, his music being
a combination of blues, soul and rock.
Scoping a wide range of emotions, his songs have been characterized
as modernized twists on such age-old themes as love found, love lost
and every facet of relationships in between-lyrics that told fundament
blues stories. All the blues greats took chances and developed
their own style, Cray said in an interview with People magazine.
They didnt copy. They dared to be different, which is what
we want to do.
years Madison Ribberfest Blues Bash lineup includes Trampled
Under Foot (consisting of siblings Kris, Danielle and Nick Schnebelen);
Johnny Hoy; Eden Brent and Tad Robinson. Friday night headliner
Nick Moss and Saturday night headliner Robert Cray (pictured).
Not content with interpreting his music the same way twice,
Crays daring innovations have placed him at the top of the
business, wrote Blues Rock Review earlier this year. His
distinct guitar style that has become a signature blend of rhythm and
blues, pop, rock, soul and traditional blues helping introduce old and
new fans to a more contemporary blues sound.
Many in the industry feel Cray was obviously influenced by guitarist
Albert Collins. He saw Collins perform up close when Collins played
a set at one of Crays high school dances. This proved to be instrumental
to Crays career, since he was even passionate in high school about
Collins later recruited the Robert Cray Band to play with him on his
Pacific Northwest tour. This gave them more exposure to much larger
audiences. The veteran musician also taught Cray and his band members
invaluable information about the financial side of a career in the music
Cray said other major influences included Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Jimi
Hendrix and George Harrison. His father owned a voluminous record collection,
which included gospel, rhythm and blues, jazz and traditional blues.
The latter had an effect on his music as well.
During his illustrious career, Cray has recorded 15 Billboard charting
studio albums and performed thousands of sold-out shows. He has played
or written music with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bonnie Raitt, John Lee Hooker
and Eric Clapton. Cray has been an opening act for Clapton and supported
him on Claptons 2006-2007 world tour.
The New York Times has said that Crays voice, alternately
smooth and craggy, is often richer and more emotive than Mr. Claptons,
and he knows the best ways to use it.
Cray puts that voice to the
test on his latest effort, Nothin But Love. Produced by
famed rocker Kevin Shirley (Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin), Crays much
anticipated 16th studio album includes material from all four Robert
Cray Band members. Cray, Jim Pugh, Richard Cousins and Tony Braunagel
make a communal effort to blend blues, rock, soul and jazz into a distinct
and indefinable sound all their own.
Cray said that Kevin did an amazing job producing this album,
and Im really happy with the outcome. He captured the real essence
of the Robert Cray Band, that live energy we deliver on the road that
is usually so difficult to nail down in the studio. I think its
one of the strongest records that weve had in some time.
Nothin But Love will be released by Mascot Label Groups
Provogue Records on Aug. 28. Recorded live over a two week period at
Revolver Studios in Los Angeles, the CD contains 10 songs full of Crays
trademark sound and distinct playing style.
We have been very luck, Cray said of his band, with
music becoming mostly digital in recent years and artists not selling
the same number of physical records; were afforded the luxury
of having a great loyal and amazing fan base around the world, allowing
a band like ours to continue to work.
Back to 2012 Ribberfest