Saturday, December 12, 2009


Billy Ray and I have been friends for nearly 30 years now, and it took about ten years of me bugging him to "work on his guitar and bass playing" that he once had in high school. On various occasions in the 80's, he would jam with me and whatever band I was playing with, which was usually a rock outfit led by a guy named Mikey Ray. If you're noticing a trend of guitarist being referred to by their first name and then the middle name "RAY", you're correct. I like to pay tribute to Stevie Ray by often dubbing certain guitar playing friends of mine with the middle name of "Ray" as an expression of friendship. And to kid them with and to praise them.

I was pretty actively playing with numerous bands in the 80's, and Billy Ray would often attend rehearsals or gigs of these bands. But even though when Billy Ray did play his guitar for me it was pretty killer, I couldn't get him to play music with me for many years.

In any event, it took until the early 90's for me to actually get Billy Ray to start jamming on guitar. We were joined by one of his old college buddies, Ricky Ray, another guitarist and percussionist. We would gather in various isolated locales across the state for extended weekend recording and music making sessions.

We were all living in different parts of the state back then. I live in Houston, Billy Ray lived in a variety of places like Lubbock and Carthage and Mineral Wells (Mineral Hell, according to Billy Ray) and so on. Billy Ray's a rambling man, and he's lived in lots of towns and cities in Gulf, East, Central, Hill Country, West, Near West (near DFW) Texas. All over the dang place. Places like Dallas and Houston and Deer Park and Midland and Brenham and San Angelo and near Abilene. See what I mean?

Ricky Ray for a while was living in Houston, and he too would often attend my gigs with other bands I was playing with. He also lived in Dallas, 20 miles outside of Greenville near a community called Celeste, in the Historic section of McKinney, and now lives out of state on the east coast, working as a college professor.

So from about 1990 until Ricky Ray made his departure in about 2005 to the east coast, we did a lot of recording and song writing and music making. I had the forethought to record the early sessions in stereo on cassette using several nice but analog noisy stereo cassette recorders. By 1992, I bought my first Sony DATMAN recorder, which used digital audio tapes and had literally no noise and use DAT to this day to record the bands I play with.

I began recording gigs and rehearsals back in the early 1980's. Not only is it a handy learning tool for the members of the band at the time it is recorded, it is also the stuff of fond reminsence many years later. When CD recorders emerged on the consumer market in 1998, I got one, thanks to a great wife, and began to record all of my old cassette tapes of 80's gigs and rehearsals onto CD, then did the same with the DAT tapes dating back to 1992.

So today Billy Ray and I spent a good part of the day listening to various CD's representing nearly 20 years of music making with Ricky Ray. I have over 110 CD's from the many various sessions that we have done over the years, and Billy Ray and Ricky Ray both lost many of the CD's that were sent to them as I made them. Billy Ray has about 40 CD's of our work, but is missing crucial portions.

So we spent a large amount of today reviewing recordings from the 2002-2004 era, which was particularly productive for us. In 2002, we gathered four times for weekend music making sessions that were recorded, and there are hours upon hours of various songs and jams that were recorded. Some were named and some were just sorta named.

We want to do some more work with Ricky Ray and we've decided that since we all have Macs with Garageband, Billy Ray and I could work together on weekends and then email the sound files to Ricky Ray for him to add his parts. We've done this before with Ricky Ray sending me 4 track cassette tapes that I converted to digital files and then added drum parts via electronic drums, a cumbersome process that results in more noise with the A/D transfer, but with Garageband we can forget all about the noise loss.

So Billy Ray and I culled about 20 songs that we need to start playing again and do some recording on. We plan to add bass and some keyboards and then send the files onto Ricky Ray on the east coast so he can add some lead and rhythm guitar to the mix.

I'll write more about this band later, and reveal the name at some point. Not like it's a secret of state or anything.

No comments:

Post a Comment