MUSIC

CD Releases
Valhalla (2015)

Authentic high energy roots and blues. Acoustic resonator slide-guitar suggests Muddy Waters and pre-war blues, combined with Sonny Terry-styled harmonica, heavily syncopated washboard, and gospel-inspired bass runs. This album moves!

 

VALHALLA captures the band live-in-the-studio: real people playing real instruments. Recorded on the coldest night of winter in Northeast Minneapolis, the band kept the studio warm with a high level of energy. You can hear an undertone of deep winter blues accompanying the soulful peaks that emerge from improvisation-based roots music. VALHALLA is a ramble that moves with the force of Mikkel Beckmen’s steady foot stomp and syncopated washboard, Nick Salisbury’s smooth and haunting gospel-inspired bass runs, combined with Ray’s resonator slide-guitar and Hurricane Harold Tremblay’s Sonny Terry-inspired harmonica.

Last Great Winter (2007)

Since the release of his rockin’ multi-instrumental 2004 sophomore release, JUNE GENERATION, Ray embarked on a life of touring solo from the Midwest to the South where he found the inspiration for LAST GREAT WINTER. Influenced by the Midwest resonator guitar scene, Ray picked up a National steel guitar and eventually landed opening slots for some of his biggest influences, including Chris Smither. Drawing from those performance experiences, Ray left behind the studio band and found his solo groove on LAST GREAT WINTER. On the album, he weaves his stylistic diversity with unmatched simplicity using only a resonator guitar, his voice, and a stomping foot that blends seamlessly into each song. Jeff reveals with great clarity his unique style that he calls Zen Blues - a style marked by alternate guitar tunings and songs that unsuspectingly shift between thumb-thumping slide-guitar ballads to worldly folk-inspired jams.

Ray even throws in a few surprises, including a bluesy rendition of Bob Dylan’s “Maggie’s Farm” and a catchy version of Woody Guthrie’s timeless anthem “This Land Is Your Land”. Originally a protest song, “This Land Is Your Land” eventually morphed into a childhood sing-along, stripped bare of it’s more controversial verses. But Ray returns this song to its original purpose and gives it new life by altering the melody, changing the rhythm, accentuating the forgotten verses, and even altering the final lines to give new meaning.

Carriage House Sessions (2011)

Recorded side-by-side, live in the studio, the CD captures the raw energy and rhythmic pulse typical of a live performance. Jeff Ray (vocals/resonator slide-guitar) & Hurricane Harold's (harmonica) unique take on old-time roots and blues music is refreshing with original songs that have an undefinable and unpredictable sound yet maintain a familiar americana roots music feel. The six covers on CARRIAGE HOUSE SESSIONS are deep cuts, from eras long forgotten, making the songs sound a bit more relevant with an old-school twist.


In 2010, Jeff Ray & Hurricane Harold won first place in the Greater Twin Cities Blues Society’s ‘Road to Memphis’ 
competition. They were selected to represent Minnesota at the 2011 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN and recorded CARRIAGE HOUSE SESSIONS to raise money and celebrate their trip to Memphis.

June Generation (2004)

A bluesy slide-guitar, soul-searching vocals, catchy percussion, and a chilling Hammond organ capture a mood of soulful spontaneity.

Jeff Ray plays all the instruments on this CD, creating an acoustic jam style that is both retro and modern. The CD's mood is escalated by slide-guitar rants in the styles of George Harrison and Duane Allman (of the Allman Brothers Band), and the lyrics reveal a philosophy rooted in Eastern world influence.

Hidden within each song are hints of influence from musicians like Muddy Waters, Nick Drake, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and Beck. June Generation is definitely a CD for people who are looking for music that means something.

"A compelling and cohesive mix of styles adding snap to the usual acoustic folk tune without straying far from it's roots" - The Capital Times, Madison, WI

"very gutsy . . . a wonderful emotional urgency" - Jerry Kosak, Minnesota Musician

Blue Mara (2009)

Upbeat, pulsing, thumb-thumping resonator slide-guitar with a marrow of darkness, mixed from equal parts Delta blues and upbeat Appalachian rhythms. The music unexpectedly twists from dark blues, to East-Indian melodies, and back again. 


BLUE MARA was recorded on an 8-track reel-to-reel in Jeff Ray’s living room and at Owl Recording in Minneapolis by 
Paul Flynn. The album boasts the handiwork of the finest crop of Minnesota musicians, including: Nick Salisbury on bass guitar (Mick Sterling’s Irresistables / Mary Cutrufello / GB Leighton / Ashleigh Still / etc), Mikkel Beckmen on washboard (The Brass Kings / Charlie Parr), Harold Tremblay on harmonica (Cool Disposition / Summit Stunt Pilots), Brianna Lane on harmony vocals, Tim Zhorne on percussion, Monica Digre on ‘cello, Chris Becknell on fiddle (The Poor Nobody’s) and Chris Hepola on percussion (The Poor Nobody’s).

Sunshine City Tree (2001)

The music of Sunshine City Tree stands in contrast to a consumer-driven and rushed society. The 100% original CD melds Nick Drake-styled folk and a singing slide-guitar like that of the Allman Brothers Band, while the vocals define what it means to express a soulful simplicity.

This is Jeff Ray's debut CD using nine different guitar tunings, a slide-guitar, Hammond organ, vocal harmonies, and a 'cello to create one of the most progressive new folk sounds by a young artist today. To capture the music's simplicity and soul, the CD was recorded using a 4-track analog recorder and NO digital effects.

'flits around the fret board with ease, spinning complex, bright passages that recall the acoustic moments of everyone from Led Zeppelin to Nick Drake.' 
The Onion (Madison, WI)

'We get about 40 new albums a DAY coming in here now, and yours [Jeff Ray's] is one of the best I've ever heard.' Derek Sivers, President of CDbaby.com

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Jeff Ray & the Stakes
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