The Robert Cray Band and Marc Cohn feat. Blind Boys of Alabamawith special guest Shemekia Copeland
Rose Music Center at The Heights proudly presents The Robert Cray Band and Marc Cohn together live for one night only on Wednesday, June 19th. The show will feature special guest vocalists The Blind Boys of Alabama and special guest Shemekia Copeland.
ABOUT ROBERT CRAY
With five Grammy wins, a Blues Hall of Fame inductee, recipient of the Americana Lifetime achievement award, countless tours and over 20 acclaimed albums, Robert Cray has been bridging the lines between blues, soul and R&B for the past four decades.
Growing up in the Northwest, Robert Cray listened to the gospel of the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, Bobby Bland’s soul, Jimi Hendrix’s rock guitar and the Beatles pop sounds. He would bring all of the influences into play throughout his career.
The glow of a career in music began when Cray was a teen, and in 1974 it burst into flames as the Robert Cray Band came together in Eugene, Oregon. With the group’s 1980 debut release, Who’s Been Talkin’, word about the Cray Band began to spread across the Northwest and down in to California. Playing packed bars and roadhouses, blues and soul fans showed up religiously but those steamy raucous sets also drew crowds whose tastes in music ranged from rock to funk and jazz.
The Cray Band’s next two releases – Bad Influence and False Accusations – charted, taking the four-piece’s sound across the airways and abroad. The group was on a roll, but the players slept on couches. “We were just road rats,” Cray says with a chuckle. “We’d take a break for two weeks to record, then go back out. We didn’t have a house, a home, any of those responsibilities.” On one of those breaks, Cray went into the studio with Albert Collins and another great Texas guitarist and singer, Johnny Clyde Copeland, to record Showdown!, a CD that has become essential to any 80s electric blues collection.
The Cray Band’s beginnings did bring the sounds of its mentors into the mainstream, even taking the music of John Lee Hooker, Etta James and Albert Collins to a larger, younger audience. But no one knew how broad the band’s audience would be until the Cray Band opened the ears of rock radio programmers.
With the 1986 release of Strong Persuader, the Cray Band’s tunes were put in heavy rotation on mega rock stations across the nation. The first hit, “Smoking Gun,” was followed by “I Guess I Showed Her” and “Right Next Door (Because of Me).” The Cray Band’s next two releases, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and Midnight Stroll, brought more radio listeners to record stores, increasing sales of the group’s CDs.
Following the path of fame taken by blues-based rockers like Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Cray became a sensation, leading his band in concerts at large arenas and major music festivals. He was the first African American artist since Jimi Hendrix to rise to such fame in rock music.
During the 90s the Cray Band was featured in concert with artists like Clapton, the Stones, John Lee Hooker, BB King and Bonnie Raitt, who declared that the band leader is “an original; he’s passionate, he’s a bad ass and puts on one of the best shows you’ll ever see.” Amidst these accolades, soaring record sales and a packed touring schedule, the Cray Band recorded six CDs in the 90s. Cray produced Shame + A Sin, which referenced his blues roots, in 1993. It was followed by two more self-produced recordings, Some Rainy Morning and Sweet Potato Pie. Recorded in Memphis and featuring the famed Memphis Horns, Sweet Potato Pie was the Cray Band’s most soulful album to date. The next recording Take Off Your Shoes delved even deeper into Memphis sounds of the 60s.
“That was definitely a soul record,” Cray says. “I’d already been writing songs, Jim (Pugh, who was keyboards with the Cray Band from 1989 to 2014) was writing songs, leaning toward soul. Steve Jordan (producer), heard them and put the icing on the cake.”
Jordan, who subsequently produced the Cray Band’s In My Soul, Shoulda Been Home and the first CD in 4 Nights of 40 Years Live, also brought the personification of Memphis soul to the recording session, Willie Mitchell, to help with arrangements for the Memphis Horns. Both on Take Your Shoes Off and 4 Nights of 40 Years Live, “Love Gone to Waste” showcases Robert Cray’s natural ease with soul ballads. He is intense but smooth in telling the story of love gone bad. Then in a falsetto voice he soars through the sadness into the inevitable pain. It is a song that Cray owns because no other singer has dared try to do it justice. Take Your Shoes Off won a Grammy in 2000.
In the next decade the Cray Band recorded seven CDs, three of them live, and two – Twenty and This Time – were nominated for Grammys. The group’s most recent recordings, Nothing But Love and In My Soul put the band back on the Billboard Charts. Cray’s latest record, also produced by Jordan, is called “Robert Cray with Hi Rhythm” and was recorded at Royal Studios in Memphis with the famous Hi Rhythm section.
ABOUT MARC COHN
After winning a Grammy for his soulful ballad “Walking in Memphis,” Marc Cohn solidified his place as one of this generation’s most compelling singer-songwriters, combining the precision of a brilliant tunesmith with the passion of a great soul man. Rooted in the rich ground of American rhythm and blues, soul and gospel and possessed of a deft storyteller’s pen, he weaves vivid, detailed, often drawn-from-life tales that evoke some of our most universal human feelings: love, hope, faith, joy, heartbreak.
Cohn followed up his platinum-selling debut with two more releases in the 1990s, at which point Time magazine called him "one of the honest, emotional voices we need in this decade" and Bonnie Raitt declared, "Marc is one of the most soulful, talented artists I know. I love his songs, he's an incredible singer, and I marvel at his ability to mesmerize every audience he plays for."
Raitt, James Taylor, David Crosby, Graham Nash and Patty Griffin all made guest appearances on Cohn’s early records for Atlantic as his reputation as an artist and performer continued to grow. In 1998, Cohn took a decade-long sabbatical from recording, ending in 2007 with Join the Parade. Inspired by the horrific events following Hurricane Katrina and his own near fatal shooting just weeks before, Parade is his most moving and critically acclaimed record to date.
About his album Listening Booth: 1970, a collection of reimagined classics from that seminal year in music, Rolling Stone said, “Cohn has one of rock’s most soulful croons – a rich, immediately recognizable tenor that makes these songs his own.” In late 2014, Cohn released “The Coldest Corner in the World,” the title song to the documentary Tree Man and his first original song released in more than seven years.
On March 25, 2016, in celebration of the 25th anniversary of his platinum-selling debut album, released Careful What You Dream: Lost Songs and Rarities along with the bonus album Evolution of a Record, featuring never-before-heard songs and demos dating back to years before his debut album and the Grammy award that followed.
Marc’s momentum continued into a busy and fruitful 2017, which he spent in part on the road with the legendary Michael McDonald, garnering critical acclaim across the U.S. His writing talent was also drafted for work with a roster of American music greats including soul survivor William Bell, who won his first Grammy at age 78 with Marc’s help; Marc co-wrote a solid half of Bell’s celebrated album This is Where I Live, including the passionate opening cut “The Three Of Me.” The album revived the sound of Stax soul’s golden age, when Bell had first cut his teeth as an artist, and which had influenced Marc Cohn so powerfully - in its way, completing a circle and letting Marc give back to one of the originators of the sound that shaped him.
Marc revisited another corner of American music’s rich heritage with the Blind Boys of Alabama on the Grammy-nominated song “Let My Mother Live,” and also worked with David Crosby on the album Lighthouse. As powerfully influenced by the singer-songwriter tradition as he is by the legacy of soul and gospel, working with the ‘60s icon was a project that got right to Marc’s creative core.
Moving forward, he continues to do what he does best: infuse American music with both a fresh perspective and a reverence for its deep roots.
Reserved Pavilion Seating:
$60.00*, $53.00*, $43.00*, $37.00*, $33.00*
HOT HEAD® Seats:
*While supplies last. Ticket prices include parking and are subject to price increase based on demand and applicable Ticketmaster fees. All events are rain or shine. Dates, times and artists subject to change without notice. Limit 8 tickets per person.
Jun 19, 2019