A new album is about to be issued by Austin-via-Montreal songwriter Ray Bonneville for his upcoming Red House Records release Easy Gone (out April 16 2014). I’ve just listened to the new tracks and I’ll be re-visiting them many times. The album has a well-worn, travel-weary feel that has much appeal.
Ray didn’t write his first song until his early forties, some twenty years after he started performing. But with a style that draws comparisons to JJ Cale and Daniel Lanois, this blues-influenced, New Orleans-inspired “song and groove man”, as he’s been described, has found his rightful calling. Easy Gone takes listeners to some of the dark spaces and exotic places Bonneville has gone on his own travels and features his wonderfully greasy percussive guitar playing and distinctive vocals.
An Austin Texas resident since 2006, Bonneville still puts the rhythms and soul of New Orleans into much of his music. His songs carry a groove and momentum and his narratives are inspired by the drifters, smoky clubs and odd jobs he’s encountered in his life.
Born in Quebec, his family moved to Boston when he was twelve. Not speaking English, he struggled with school and dropped out in his teens. He served a year in Vietnam as a Marine, struggled and overcame drug addiction, earned a pilot’s license in Colorado, then moved to Alaska, then Seattle, and Paris and New Orleans. But it took a close call while piloting a seaplane across the Canadian wilderness to make him decide it was time to get busy writing songs – gritty narratives inspired by a lifetime of hard-won knowledge set against his gritty, soulful guitar and blistering harmonica playing.
He’s since earned many accolades, including a (Canadian) Juno Award for his 1999 album, Gust of Wind. His post-Katrina ode, “I Am the Big Easy,” earned the International Folk Alliance’s 2009 Song of the Year Award, and in 2012 Bonneville won the solo/duet category in the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge.
He has guested on albums by Mary Gauthier, Gurf Morlix, Eliza Gilkyson and Ray Wylie Hubbard, and shared songwriting credits with Tim O’Brien, Phil Roy and Morlix, among others. Slaid Cleaves placed Bonneville’s “Run Jolee Run” on his lauded 2009 album Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away.
“Bad Man’s Blood confirms Bonneville’s stature as of Americana’s foremost singer-songwriters.” -Austin Chronicle
“Few can ride a groove like Canada-born, U.S.-raised Ray Bonneville” – No Depression
“Not prone to cliche or sentimentality, the well-traveled singer-guitarist-harmonica player stands behind the hardscrabble folks dwelling in those tuneful songs, giving voice to their yearning” – DownBeat ****
“Ray Bonneville may have one of the sexiest guitar styles around” – Acoustic Guitar
“poetic…infectious…Bad Man’s Blood emerges as Bonneville’s magnum opus.” -All Music Guide
“A weathered voice, a pule of a beat, fuzzy electric guitar, growling harmonica, late-night vibe, blues-cool…it’s Ray Bonneville at his best.” -Music Matters Review
“moods and feelings that go beyond the bare facts of his tales…funny and quirky one minute, and cerebral and reflective the next.” – PopMatters
“The appealing gumbo of his weathered voice, percussive guitar playing, amplified footboard and hook-rich songs (all originals) results in a rootsy folk-blues sound that tugs at the ear with its grainy groove and less-is-more production.” – Sing Out!
“Bonneville is a true diamond with many facets within his arsenal….a master of cut & paste; a 21st century musical alchemist!” – Blues Matters (UK)
“Like Gunpowder and Opium . . .” – Ray Wylie Hubbard
“raw, gutsy music” – New Times
RAY BONNEVILLE ON TOUR
SU 4/13 New York, NY – Hill Country Live 8 pm
MO 4/14 Washington, DC – Hill Country Live, 8 pm
WE 4/16 Buffalo, NY – Sportsman’s Tavern, 8 pm
TH 4/17 Rochester, NY – Abilene, 8 pm
SU 4/27 Austin, TX – Whip In “Rhymes, Beers and Wines Songwriter Series,” 7:30 pm
TH 5/01 Mankato, MN – University of Minnesota 7:30 pm
FR 5/02 Minneapolis, MN – Aster Café Red House Record Release, 7:30 pm
SU 404 Des Moines, IA – Flying Mango, 7:00 pm
SA 4/17 Austin, TX – Strange Brew Lounge, Record Release show, 9:00 pm
SA 6/14 Isleton, CA – Isleton Cajun and Blues Festival
FR 6/20 Lafayette, CA – Mighty Fine Guitars, 8 pm
SU 6/22 Santa Monica, CA – McCabe’s Guitar Shop, LA Record Release show, 8 pm
* Additional dates to be announced soon