Sunday, February 18, 2007
Larry McCray’s aggressive straight forwardness has a finesse and soulful sincerity that leaves your heart lingering around the notes he plays. Coming from the Delta Blues tradition with a healthy dose of Michigan and a strong pinch of Chicago blues traditions thrown in, his style is definitively his own. A person can’t fake the blues. You either are the blues or you are not. Larry McCray IS the blues. He once told me that one of the most valuable lessons his mother taught him was not to be a selfish person. He said that his mother told him if you can’t share and can’t let go of what hurts you, a person becomes bitter. And that’s what the blues does for all of us…if it’s true blue McCray style sooner rather than later you’ll find you soul soothed. But only after he’s torn your head off! He also told me that his mother taught him that ‘you don’t always have to say everything you think, you don’t always have to say what is on your mind.’ Larry is one generous blues man he doesn’t hold back but like any true artist his style reflects a sense of strength and power that doesn’t crowd our ears with unnecessary notes. Larry McCray Band is like a hearty good meal, you’ve eaten a huge dinner (first and second set) and yet it is so good you still want more (encore(s) please!. Larry describes his father as “fire and brimstone hell-raiser” and describes his mother as long suffering, grounded, kind and yet firm woman. He credits both of his parents for instilling in him values that have helped him throughout his life. Many of you may know he was born in Magnolia, Arkansas in the north east part he refers to as “cotton pickin country”. He gives his sister Clara (and her band The Rockets) credit for showing him how to play the guitar and credits her love of BB, Freddie and Albert King and others legendary luminaries such as Magic Sam and Albert Collins as inspirational. He’s come a long way since his job as an assembly line worker in Detroit to a career playing Delta Blues with his own band. He’s and also with such greats as Buddy Guy, Buddy Miles, Richie Havens, Allman Brothers Band, Gov’t Mule, Lucky Peterson, Kenny Neal, and Sister Monica. His latest CD “Triple Fret” has such luminaries as Bernard Allison (son of Luther), Carl Weathersby and Lucky Peterson on it…hence the name “Triple Fret” and he’s been “honored as the Orville Gibson 2000 Male Blues Guitarist of the Year. "Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, like seven or eight other people were nominated, as well" stated McCray. Never heard his style? Well, give a listen here… http://www.myspace.com/larrymccray and when you’re done we’ll be seeing you at the show. The Larry McCray band makes for Delta Hurricane you won’t soon forget… Larry McCray Band February 15, 2007 at the Walnut Room Larimer Denver Co show starts at (The Larry McCray Band is Larry McCray on Guitar, Steve McCray on Drums, Noel Neal on Bass and Shawn on keys) Q. What was your very first guitar? And what was the first guitar you ever pawned? A. Sears Silvertone Hollow Body and the first guitar I ever pawned…a Gibson 330. Q. What are your favorite guitars now? A. My Deluxe Plain Top Les Paul and my Mahogany Flying V (Gibson). Q. What strings to you like to play with? Got a favorite brand? Do you like playing more expensive or cheaper strings? What about picks? A. It’s not so much the brand as I like playing a nickel string. I like the tone of a nickel string but they’re too soft so you gotta have a bit of stainless steel to give you a bit of wear. As for picks, I play with a variety of them but my favorite pick is a pick I got from Billy Gibbons. Q. What was your first paying gig? Did you play first in Arkansas and then Michigan? Did you ever play with Clara (and the Rockets). A. “You know I never picked up a guitar until I was twelve and no I never really did play with Clara. My first paying gig was a wedding and I was 16.” Q. Besides being a huge influence in music what gift did your sister Clara give you that helps you cope with being a musician today? A. “Clara gave me patience and intuition and she also gave me the ability to sit and read people and situations. She taught me how to sit back and wait a bit. She gave me the finesse of being diplomatic and that you can often outsmart someone by letting things roll and then seeing away around them to get what you want or need without burning any bridges.” Q. I know you started gigging originally with your brothers Carl (bassist) and that you still gig with your brother Steve (drums) but did your parents play any instruments? A. “Yes, my dad played guitar and harmonica and my mom liked to sing and it was my mom who taught me how to survive and maintain relationships.” Q. There are a lot of famous blues musicians out there such as B.B. King or Buddy Guy who do have recognition. What musicians playing now do you think are a bit unsung and deserve a bit of the spotlight? A. Chris Cain, Sister Monica, Ronnie Baker Brooks (son of Lonnie), Chico Banks, and Pistol Pete from Chicago. Q. What musicians would you like to play with? A. “Well, I like the Allman Brothers Band, I like playing with them because Southern Rock always welcomes the Blues (Larry has previously been a guest of The Allman Brothers Band at a few of their live performances). I also like playing with Gov’t Mule. It’s always good to be playing with compatible and great musicians such as Derek Trucks or Jimmy Herring who have a unique signature. They make the music their own but also allow you to interpret the music in your own style. Oh and I’d like to play with Lucky Peterson again (Larry recorded with Lucky and Bernard Allison on the trio’s Triple Fret compact disc) and I’d like to play with Kenny Neal (Kenny’s brother is bassist Noel Neal and plays for Larry now). Q. Who are you listening to right now? A. Clarence Carter, Wilson Pickett, Chris Cain, Little Milton, Mel Waters, Solomon Burke. Q. What would you like people to know about the blues now? A. That the blues can hold its own quality and doesn’t have to take a back seat to any genre if presented properly. It’s awfully hard to find new ways to play some of the same songs but that is also the challenge. Blues may be old style but you can make it unique and new as well. Q. Who do you most admire right now? A. I admire those young people dealing with Iraq. This mess got dumped in their laps and there’s nothing they can do about it. I admire our men and women soldiers. Q. What advice would offer any new blues musician just starting out? A. Learn from your mentors but speak for yourself. Find your own voice and don’t copycat. Learn how to get along well socially with others because in life that is one of the biggest hills to climb. People will remember if you are kind to them and along down the line that can really help you out. Q. What food goes well with Larry McCray Band… A. Cajun Food! Jumbalaya, Etouffe, Blackened Cat Fish, Dirty Rice Q. What is something you think people misunderstand about you? A. I find strength lies in being able to control destructive emotions, passivity isn’t always weakness and can be as loud a statement as any action is. Q. If you didn’t have music what would you like to say or be doing? A. Well, I don’t think I’d like to be a politician but I would like to be involved as a positive influence in my community. Making things better is what it’s all about. Q. What do you feel grateful for? A. Appreciate that I can make a living doing what I love to do…and that I still get the chance to do it. I also appreciate our fans. Q. What is it you want people to know about The Larry McCray Band? A. That we are a bunch of loveable guys who like to play our asses off!