Boo Ray / by E

Catch up with singer-songwriter Boo Ray, listen to his single "Redneck Rock & Roll" off his album Sea Of Lights, out now, and look for more to come soon.

What got you interested in music?

Boo Ray: I liked the cowboy singers as a kid and then there were a couple things. Hearing Dwight Yoakam made me want to play guitar and be a troubadour. And The Highwaymen made me want to be a songwriter.

Do you remember the first song you wrote that you were proud of?

I remember the first one I wrote that I was embarrassed of - but I still liked it - it was called "Oh Sheryl" [laughs]. It was my next door neighbor who was older than me; she was 15, I was 12.

Which musicians - other than The Highwaymen and Dwight Yoakam - have you been influenced by?

Oh man, it's something I realized - I didn't know it at the time - but Jerry Reed has probably had a ton of influence on me and for most of my life I didn't realize because I didn't know, as a kid, that Jerry Reed was the master musician that he was, I just thought he was a cool guy who played guitar in bands. That sound has had a big impact on me.

Is there anyone that you're hooked on now you'd recommend everyone take a listen to?

I've got some buddies in East Nashville that make great records. Derek Hough is making great records. Elizabeth Cook makes great records that I listen to. Darren Bradbury makes good records. That's three East Nashville cats that I listen to. I totally dig North Mississippi Allstars and JJ Grey & Mofro.

How would you describe your sound to someone who hadn't heard your music?

When I listen to something I definitely hear the Georgia sound in it. I've spent years tromping around South Georgia; that tawned out Macon sound is part of my DNA, I believe. And running around the Gulf Coast has had an impact on me too. I've tried to wash the red clay out and it won't come out [laughs].

What were your inspirations behind your single "Redneck Rock & Roll"?

One of the sideline jokes that I was making, or maybe it was just disclaiming, while we were writing it was that I was making a joke that I was writing the song first-person as Kenny Powers. I wrote that song with my Texas songwriting buddy Davy Ulbrich, he wrote the title track on Jon Pardi's Write You A Song. I really do like that stuff; I love old Monte Carlos and I love old Panhead Choppers; I know how to ride a jock-shift chopper, I know how to ride a footrest motorcycle - which is more like a lawn tractor than it is a motorcycle.

Could you tell us more about your album Sea of Lights?

Sea Of Lights was recorded live with a live band tape to tape in Los Angeles and it's a fun group of songs. It's a pretty up-tempo record, I think. That record reflects some of the Jerry Reed thing that we were talking about and it might reflect some Bob Seger and some rock stuff like Thin Lizzy or some Allman Brothers and stuff like that.

Is there a song off that album you'd call your favorite?

I really do love "Redneck Rock & Roll", that song just does its job really, really well. It's a ton of fun to play, it's a good riff, and people like that song. I got trapped in a honky-tonk one time and there was a group of patrons who got way too inebriated way too early in the evening and I literally was made to play "Redneck Rock & Roll" four times in a row at the honkey-tonk [laughs]. Good thing I like that song. Another one off the CD that I like a lot is "One More Round"; it continues to be an excellent song with the band. And then, of course, the title track, too. But "One More Round" is cool, it's kind of got that Houston sound.

In one sentence, how would you sum up Sea Of Lights?

I think Sea Of Lights is a rough and tumble ride across country.

What can fans expect to hear from you next?

Well we actually just finished a brand new record. We just got the finished, mastered record sent back to us and everybody is crazy about it and we can't wait to turn it around and show it to you guys a little bit later this year.

What do you hope listeners are able to take away from your music?

I hope that the music satisfies their need for a big beat and a guitar riff that takes their mind off things for a little while. I hope there's a good melody and a clever turn of phrase that is able to catch their attention and maybe help them think about something else besides the trials and tribulations of day to day life. That's what I look for in music, I want something to take my attention away from the details that I'm forever lost in, trying to wrangle my way through life.

Is there anything you want to add?

The "Bad News Travels Fast" live performance video is pretty cool. It's a Joshua Shoemaker video and he's a Nashville video maker - he shot the first Alabama Shakes video. Check out the "Sea Of Lights" video and I think they'd get a kick out of the "Bad News Travels Fast" video too, it's us doing a string band type of thing around a campfire.

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