Ray was a long-time fixture in the Marcia Ball Band while living in Texas and teamed with Stevie Ray Vaughan on Ball's "Soulful Dress" album on Rounder. He has also performed with Albert Collins, Ronnie Earl, Earl King, Hollywood Fats, William Clarke, Big Joe Turner and Pee Wee Crayton, to name a few.
Kenny "Blue" Ray
Keep the Mojo Workin'
Tone King 1064
Review by Ann Wickstrom
If you still aren't hip to Kenny Blue Ray, do yourself a favor and get on board this man's boogie train. Having just turned fifty, KBR has been on over forty blues albums and has been cranking out a minimum of two a year (of his own) for the last five years. Even at that incredible rate, he never disappoints. Nor does he waste notes, your time, or his time. Most of this CD was done live, with a few overdubbed solos, and it was all wrapped up in just two sessions. One would expect no less from this no-nonsense West Coast blues warrior.
The title cut is an instrumental tribute to Anson Funderburgh, who Ray says is one of his favorite players - and people - on earth. "Unseen Eye", a late 50's Sonny Boy Williamson classic, features Charlie Chavez on vocals and harp and Ray doing some sweet Lockwood licks. Ray takes to the Hammond B3 on four of the instrumentals, including Albert Collins' "Backstroke" and Ray's own "Chula Juana Mama", with a bit of Billy Gibbons harmonics. He also plays B3 (and uses a capo on the guitar track) on his tribute to Jimmie Vaughan, "Hush Puppies", and on the early 60's B.B. King/Duke Jethro-style "Grits, Greens and Gravy".
As usual for Kenny, there just isn't a clunker on this CD. Whether playing his originals or a cover you've heard countless times (such as Little Walter's "Mean Old World"), Ray lays down the law and proves once again that he's got the corner on the tone market. At least part of that tone can be attributed to his new batch of custom, made-from-scratch Blueray Signature guitars. These guitars have the 50's and 60's looking design of both Strats and Teles, and have a distinctive West Coast, Texas, or Chicago blues sound to them - depending which one Kenny uses and what he decides he wants to do with it.
Eddie Taylor's immortal 1955 hit "Bad Boy" is here, as well as Jimmy Reed's laconic shuffle "You Don't Have To Go". You also get a great tribute to KBR's late great boss, William Clarke. (Ray's first record appearance was on Clarke's 1978 "Hittin' Heavy"). "Blues for Bill" features Stan Powell on chromatic harp, and it's close enough to Clarke's West Coast blowin' to bring a tear to the eye. Ray plays a Resonator guitar and pairs with Chavez on vocals and harp to do the Broomduster riff all over again on the Elmore James classic "I Believe".
Your blues collection will thank you for adding this notch to the belt; you simply can't go wrong with Kenny Blue Ray. He is the genuine article.
â€¢ Ann Wickstrom, Blues Access Magazine, Winter 99
KENNY "BLUE" RAY
Keep the Mojo Workin'
"Kenny "Blue" Ray has spent most of the 90's generating a series of instructional guitar videotapes and issuing a torrent of albums. Keep the Mojo Workin' follows his established formula: a bale of Ray instrumentals with reworkings of songs from the masters, all held together by butter-and-barbed-wire guitar. Though KBR has branched out into Hammond organ playing, his music is definitely centered on guitar and harp. His guitar showpieces a style blending Albert Collins, Albert King, with bits of B. B. King. When backing harpmen Charlie Chavez and Stan Powell, Ray displays a master's touch, laying down chord figures and single-note lines with the precision of Eddie Taylor.
Mojo's material ranges from the 50's B. B. King vibe of "Grits,Greens & Gravy" and the latter-day Jimmie Vaughan on "Hush Puppies" to the Texas T-Birds mood of "Blue Cat Hop" and the jazzy nod to William Clarke in "Blues for Bill." The remaining half of the album consists of familiar material by Elmore James, Sonny Boy Williamson, Little Walter, Jimmy Rogers, and Taylor."
â€¢ Blues Revue, Nov. 1999
Check out the artist's website:
1. She's My Morning Coffee
2. Keep the Mojo Workin
3. Unseen Eye
5. Bad Boy
6. Chula Juna Mama
7. Blues For Bill (william Clarke)
8. Mean Old World
9. Hush Puppies
10. I Believe
11. Grits,greens,& Gravy
12. You Don't Have to Go
13. Blue Cat Hop