Boo Ray Navigates The “Sea Of Lights”

Southern troubadour gives the scoop on his latest album

Boo Ray Icebreaker Interview

Boo Ray is never one to get bored. The Nashville/Los Angeles/Athen, Georgia based singer-songwriter first headed west in 2006, and has since released five albums; the most recent being Sea of Lights. Though released digitally last year, the collection of songs is getting the wax treatment and will be released on vinyl in September.

ARTISTdirect chatted with the ever-motivated troubadour about the album, Co’Cola, and what else he’s got up his sleeve.

Boo Ray Icebreaker Interview

Hello – Please introduce yourself.

Howdy, Boo Ray here. Glad to meet you.

Where are you right now?

I’m at Dino’s in East Nashville having a piece of Key Lime Pie & a Co’Cola while I catch up on a few write-in’s.

Please name your fellow band members and their roles… oh, and who has the best dance moves?

Patrick Bubert on Drums- Will Moore on Bass- Smith Curry on Steel & Matt Workman on Telecaster and I’m on resonator and tele. Will and Matt both sing with me too, so we’ve got three vocals across the front of the stage. Far as who’s got the best dance moves? Hands down Eddie Perez from The Mavericks has the best rock moves in the business. There’s not even a close 2nd

Tell us about your new project:  Who did you work with? Where was it recorded? What’s it about? Is there candy?

Little bit hard to figure which is the newest because the Sea Of Lights album is fixin to come out on 12″ vinyl, we’ve got a brand spanking new record just in the can set to release early 2018, and we’ve got series of collaborations with other artists that will release on 7” vinyl every few weeks starting this fall, but I’m probably not supposed to say anything about that… I recorded Sea Of Lights in LA with producer Noah Shain and an all-star gang of close friends: Steve Ferrone on drums/ Paul Ill on bass/ Sol Philcox on Tele/ Smith Curry on steel and twin brothers Todd and Troy Garner on bgv’s. We recorded 10 songs live to 2″ tape in two days at Noah’s studio in downtown LA. The subject matter’s pretty close to the way it all went down. I’d been through it pretty damned good; held up at gun point, had to abandon my vehicle outside of Chattanooga, lost the girl who was the love of my life and just as all this was going down got the call from Noah Shain to do this record… so it’s about the long haul. And yes there’s candy; Moonpies, Cheerwine, lots of vinyl and a comic book.

How do you describe your music to new friends?

A lot of people say to me, “I don’t normally like country music but I like your music.”  My take on the sound is that we’re kind of a hillbilly version of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. We’re a singer/songwriter band first and a guitar slingin’ outfit next. 

How did you first meet, and where exactly did you become a band?

Matt and I first started working together about three years ago here in Nashville and have had a few different drummers and bass players between us since then. Matt and I both moved to Nashville to play country music and pick guitars but neither one of us is a “Row” cat or into pop country, you know. We ain’t really “Nashville cats” but Matt can pick with absolutely anybody in town and apparently I can write my way out of a disaster. My long time collaborator Sol Philcox matched us with Smith Curry and Will Moore. Patrick Bubert went to conservatory in West Texas with our previous drummer Justin Cromer. Each one of these guys is individually top-notch, and now we’ve all been working together for a while and got some chemistry.

 Other than the Blue Ridge Mountains what should your hometown be known for?

You mean like the parking lot at Hardee’s?! Hahaha! Just kidding. Western North Carolina is chock full of interesting history & characters. Thomas Wolfe from Asheville of course and I know a number very fine pickers up there who the world will mostly likely never hear. Some of those guys either won’t come off the mountain or aren’t fit for public consumption. 

Please look around you right now and please describe the first item or person you see that’s significant to you (and that your relationship with it/them). 

Well, I’m sitting at a table just across from grill and counter at Dino’s and there’s a juke box over in the corner playing Outkast’s “southernplayalisticadillacmuzik“. Somebody played the whole record.  There’s a big folk-art painting of Dolly Parton hanging on the wall. Right in front of me on my table is a glass bottle of Mexican Coca-Cola. It’s been a big deal my whole life. As a kid when we’d drive to Atlanta we always stopped at the Georgia state-line rest area and got complimentary Coca Colas. Pronounced Co’ Cola. 

What first inspired you to pursue music? If it was a musician or a specific piece of music, please tell us all about why you find it so inspirational…

Dwight Yoakam made me want to be a troubadour. Along the way, I’ve kinda discovered that Jerry Reed’s had a huge influence on me too. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten over “East Bound And Down” and Dwight’s “Guitars Cadillacs & Hillbilly Music”. When I discovered Jerry Reed in the movie as a kid, I identified because I wore boots, jeans, snap shirts & trucker hats and was crazy about trucks. I’ve always wanted to sound like both of those guys.   

What’s the best advice anyone has given you about pursuing a life in music?

I’ve been getting some good information for a few years now, but I’ve gotten lots of bad advice before too. You know that Hunter S Thompson quote? “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.” But the best advice I’ve ever gotten came in the form of a question from Steve Ferrone. I was struggling in ’05 when I first got out to LA and Steve asked me, “Why are you in the music business, do you want to make a buch of money and be famous, or are you in love with the craft for the long haul?” At the time I couldn’t answer the question. I thought what I really needed at that point was some success and money, but as it turns out what I really needed was a bigger catalog songs with more singles.   

Not including your current crew, who (alive or dead) would you love to have in your van for an all day drive from gig to gig?

Mark Twain, Bill Murray or Flannery O’Connor.

What song best sums up your life right now?

How about Eddie Rabbit’s “Drivin’ My Life Away”.

What is the best reaction to your music you have experienced so far?

When Dallas Davidson first heard “Redneck Rock & Roll”, he got so excited he did reverse doughnuts in his truck in the barn yard until he finally clipped a 6”x6” post and cut it off clean at the ground with the front of his brand new truck. Dallas and Randy Houser had invited me to  a crawfish boil and I had my plate piled high when he told me the story, so I felt obliged to offer a reimbursement for the damage to his truck once the song gets cut by a big singer like Eric Church.   

Take a moment to dream – Where do you hope to be a year from now?

Well, after telling that last story, a year from now I’d like to be at Eric Church’s big #1 party for “Redneck Rock & Roll” and I’ll be cutting Dallas Davidson a check for the damage to his truck from listening to that song.  

What’s your next step towards that dream?

I reckon we need to get hold of Eric Church pronto if he’s going to release “Redneck Rock & Roll” as his next single.

Sea of Lights Album Art