Friday 18 Apr

Dustin Prinz - Eleven

Few musicians take the time to master their instrument in the way that Oklahoma City singer-songwriter Dustin Prinz has; he’s a guitar virtuoso in every sense of the word, and Eleven gives him the chance to show just how far he can push that skill.
04/15/2014 | Comments 0

Horse Thief – Fear in Bliss

Listening to Horse Thief’s previous release — the haphazardly melodramatic Grow Deep, Grow Wild — felt like a chore. Whatever potential the Oklahoma City folk-pop act demonstrated on the EP was obscured behind a formulaic, contrived and ultimately hollow cloud. But it at least offered a glimmer of promise for a band consisting of, frankly, five pretty talented dudes. Critics saw it; the band’s management saw it; its current label, Bella Union, saw it; and its increasingly fervid fan base saw it.
04/08/2014 | Comments 0

Colourmusic — May You Marry Rich

There’s always a sense of danger when debuting songs in a live setting and playing them well. Without having heard the studio versions, expectations are set according to the live incarnations. But capturing the breadth of free-flowing atmosphere and sheer volume on a disc, vinyl or digital file isn’t the easiest thing to do, especially for a band as vociferous as Colourmusic.
04/01/2014 | Comments 0

Em and the MotherSuperiors — Churches into Theaters

As titles go, Churches into Theaters is an apt descriptor for the debut album from Oklahoma City rockers Em and the MotherSuperiors. It’s a reverential record, one that shares the gospel of classic rock, blues and soul but embraces the need to refashion it for modern times, channeling The Dead Weather, Grace Potter and Cage the Elephant along the way.
03/25/2014 | Comments 0

Rachel Brashear — Revolution

Rachel Brashear’s second EP, Revolution, starts with a kick to the shins.
03/18/2014 | Comments 0
Home · Articles · Music · Music · Ray of humanity

Ray of humanity

Folk’s Ray Bonneville imparts musical messages of life the only way he knows how: feeling his way around.

Chris Parker March 23rd, 2011

Ray Bonneville
8 p.m. Friday The Blue Door
2805 N. McKinley, 524-0738
$15 advance, $25 door

Ray Bonneville’s latest album is titled “Goin’ by Feel,” and there couldn’t be a better summation of the Canadianborn roots artist’s life and approach.

Inspired early on by country music, blues and pre-Beatles pop, he remembers pressing his ear against his grandmother’s furniture-size radio in the 1950s upon hearing that oldfashioned twang. Soon, he got a guitar and taught himself to play.

The spirit of those early days inform Bonneville’s music, a mesmerizing, unhurried blend of folk, blues and country, with a strong percussive undercurrent.

“I like to get a groove going and tell some kind of story in there,” said Bonneville, who plays Friday at The Blue Door. “I love that sort of music which is attempting to hypnotize the listener into paying attention.”

He’s unconcerned with lots of chords and flashy changes; his focus is more on how one plays than what. When he first picked up the guitar, he spent months strumming the first chord he learned, feeling little need to go further.

“I used to only know the E chord, and my parents at one point asked me to please learn another chord! I learned a couple more and now I know maybe five,” he said. “I’m not a schooled musician. I’m a by-ear guy. I play the chords that are on page one of book one of guitar-playing.”

That humility infuses his music. “When it comes to songwriting, I am trying to make the listener make up how their own life pertains to the song,” he said. “I like to sketch them just enough to be a trigger or a catalyst to the listener so they can say, ‘This song is about me.’” He’s lived a nomadic life; being born French-Canadian, he didn’t even learn English until he was 12. He played in bands in high school, and returned to music after military duty.

But he didn’t strike out on his own until nearly 20 years as a sideman and session player. He worked as a taxi driver and flew airplanes, but it wasn’t until 1993, well into his 40s, that he released his first album, ‘On the Main.’” “I really had to feel confident with the nuance of the English language, and for a long time, I didn’t,” he said. “That allowed me to develop the style I have on the guitar and the harmonica.”

Things have been going strong ever since. His 1999 record, “Gust of Wind,” won a Juno — Canada’s Grammy — for Best Canadian Blues album, and he was nominated again for 2000’s “Rough Luck.” He’s currently working on his seventh album for release this summer.

In the meantime, he keeps doing the only thing that’s really made sense to him.

“There was a voice inside of me saying, ‘Do what you like in this world, because you only have one time around,’” he said.

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