Larry McCray is one of a handful of talented young blues performers leading the genre across boundaries and into the new century. McCray’s savage blues-rock guitar and warm, soulful vocals have drawn attention worldwide.
Larry McCray’s hard work paid off when he became the first artist signed by Virgin Records’ blues division – Pointblank Records. In 1990, they released his debut, “Ambition,” which was well received by the U.S. and European press.
1993 saw the release of McCray’s second Virgin/Pointblank album, “Delta Hurricane”, which was recorded in Memphis with the notoriously funky Uptown Horns. The guitarist’s gut wrenching rendition of Warren Haynes’ power ballad, “Soul Shine,” opened many ears to Larry McCray’s talent and diversity.
In 1998, “Born To Play The Blues” on the House of Blues label moved the story of McCray’s broadly appealing music forward another giant step. Bold, brawny, often dazzling guitar lines are matched with confident, soul-drenched vocals. Understated funk rhythms and crunchy rock riffs meet searing slow blues and booty-bumping shuffles.
The year 2000 found the guitarist co-establishing his own independent record company together with Paul Koch, forming Magnolia Records. The release “Believe It” kicked it
off, putting McCray on chart to continue to release albums on his own dime and time, without the business or rules of a pressing-type of label. France’s Dixie Frog label repackaged and released the recording as “Blues Is My Business” later in 2001.
McCray also sights a career highlight as being honored as the Orville H. Gibson 2000 Male Blues Guitarist of the Year. “Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton, like seven or eight other people were nominated, as well” stated McCray.
With Magnolia Records his new home and a young son to raise, McCray was able to pull back into his personal life for a while trying to find the time to write music. Larry McCray keeps busy on the road touring both nationally and internationally, pleasing large audiences at festivals and club dates around the globe.
Magnolia Records released the McCray’s first live album, Live On 75, on December 6, 2005. Larry’s latest studio record, simply self titled – “Larry McCray” was released in 2007 and is gaining popularity in the U.S. from coast to coast and is also making a splash in Europe.
2013 sees Larry McCray headed back in the studio this February in preparation of a long anticipated new recording due out later this spring in time for what is becoming a busy
schedule of touring dates ahead.
Steve McCray - Vocals, Drums
Kerry Clark - Bass Guitar, Back Up Vocals
Larry McCray - Vocals, Lead Guitar
1996-Meet Me At The Lake
1998-Born To Play The Blues
2000-Blues Is My Business (Believe It European Release)
2003-Live On I-75
Larry McCray brings the heat to Tahiti Nui
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From his home in Michigan, Larry McCray plays a blues riff on his electric guitar. “My guitar jus...From his home in Michigan, Larry McCray plays a blues riff on his electric guitar.
“My guitar just wanted to say hello,” McCray said.
The guitarist will bring his flavor of blues to Kaua‘i during his Tuesday performance at Tahiti Nui in Hanalei. During the concert, musician/promoter Kevin Rogers promised a few surprise guests.
“He’s a phenomenal guitar player and singer,” Rogers said. “I can personally guarantee a fantastic show. That’s how good this guy is.”
McCray will squeeze in the time for Tuesday’s concert during a brief layover in Honolulu before he embarks on his tour of Japan.
“I do whatever it takes,” McCray said about the brief window of time he has to perform in Kaua‘i. “But I’m getting old for that type of schedule. I don’t snap back like I used to.”
The concert also symbolizes McCray’s debut in front of a Hawaiian audience.
“This is introductory for me,” he said. “I’ve been to 49 states and this time will complete the map. It’s something I wanted to do for a long time.”
Audiences can expect McCray’s signature style, which combines blues, rock and soul layered upon his smooth and soulful vocals.
“I was influenced by ’70s funk and other types of music that was happening at that time. I think our Blues is a little more progressionary than 12-bar blues. We just to bring energy and sincerity.”
McCray will be backed by local blues band Swampdaddy, and audiences can bet on hearing McCray’s signature song, “Soulshine,” which was recorded a year before The Allman Brothers’ version.
“I was getting ready to do my second record,” McCray said about how he was able to snag one of Warren Haynes’ most popular songs. “(Warren Haynes and I) hung out for a couple of weeks around 1990 or ’91, and he gave me about 40 songs, and ‘Soulshine’ was in the batch of songs that he gave me.
“When we released the record, at this particular time, it was one of the most requested and most responded to songs. People really connected with that song.”
For McCray, it’s his self-interpretation and a connection between his music and the audience that he thrives on.
“In today’s modern world, I don’t think they will ever have the vision I have for the music,” he said. “This music is not something they want to bring to the forefront. But when I take it to the people and the people connect with it, they can’t get enough of it. It’s disheartening to know the people accept it but the forces that be have a vision of what is and isn’t.”
McCray learned to play the guitar in 1971, when he was 11 years old. His older sister taught him how to play, turning him on to blues and jazz music.
“Blues music has been in my family. That’s what we would listen to in those days,” McCray said.
After McCray graduated from high school, he worked the second shift on the factory line at General Motors, but that didn’t stop him from touring Michigan.
“I played every weekend,” he said. “I would get off at 12:30 in the morning. I would have the guys I played with at that time — my brothers, my nephews and my niece — I would just have them go to the gig and start off and by the time the second set rolled around I’d be there.”
McCray listed the Three Kings (Albert King, B.B. King and Freddie King), James Brown, Ray Charles, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Jimmy Smith, Jimmy McGriff, Mississippi Fred, Furry Lewis and Memphis Slim as part of a long list of influences.
“I like anything that was intense,” McCray said. “You can hear a lot of music, even today, just a lot misrepresentation of the music because of the lack of sincerity and background. I don’t mean that in any other standpoint other than having knowledge of what you do.”
Amidst a busy schedule, McCray said he is trying to record another CD.
“For some reason my traveling schedule really picked up here recently,” he said. “It’s making me think that people are getting the message. I’m finally getting the opportunity I was trying to get 25 years ago.
Larry McCray | BackStage Pass
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Larry McCray is widely known in Michigan and beyond for his major role in keeping the genre of blues...Larry McCray is widely known in Michigan and beyond for his major role in keeping the genre of blues alive. However, McCray doesn't even consider his band a blues band. "It's a whole different place," he says. "If you can't step outside the lines and put any of your own influence, then there's not really much of a future left for musicians."
Stepping outside the lines seems to be what McCray does best. His astounding guitar playing makes it clear that he has mastered the blues, but McCray imparts his music with his own unique stamp. His soulful vocals along with his rock and R&B influences give him a musical style that is completely his own.
Songs like "Blues is My Business" showcase McCray's incredible technical guitar skills, while other numbers like "Soul Shine" put McCray's warm singing voice front and center. But no matter what the song, McCray's own unique style of blues is evident.
Larry McCray has been a professional recording artist for over 20 years and has achieved many impressive accolades over his career. He has released six studio albums, the most recent two were released by McCray's own record label, Magnolia Records. McCray's music has received rave reviews from critics and fans in the U.S. as well as Europe. McCray received the prestige title of Orville Gibson Male Blues Guitarist in the year 2000, beating out seven other nominees including Jeff Beck and Eric Clapton.
US BLUES STAR LARRY MCCRAY NOVEMBER UK SHOWS
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Paul Jones has Larry in session on his BBC Radio 2 blues programme on Monday 29th October, from 7pm,...Paul Jones has Larry in session on his BBC Radio 2 blues programme on Monday 29th October, from 7pm, so tune in to find out just how good this guy is, then go book a gig ticket………… Larry was the very first artist to be signed to the UK blues label Pointblank, part of Virgin, in 1990 and burst onto the European scene with a blindingly great record: “Ambition.” Larry McCray is one of a handful of talented young blues performers leading the genre across boundaries and into the new century. McCray’s savage blues guitar and warm, soulful vocals have drawn attention worldwide. 1993 saw the release of McCray’s second album, Delta Hurricane, which was recorded in Memphis with the notoriously funky Uptown Horns. In 1998, Born To Play The Blues moved the story of McCray’s broadly appealing music forward another giant step. Bold, brawny, often dazzling guitar lines are matched with confident, soul-drenched vocals. Understated funk rhythms meet searing slow blues and booty-bumping shuffles. Believe It in 2000 was the debut on his own label. McCray cites a career highlight as being honoured as the Orville Gibson 2000 Male Blues Guitarist of the Year, beating giants such as Jeff Beck, Eric Clapton and others. Yes folks, McCray is THAT good. Magnolia Records released McCray’s first live album, Live On 75, in 2005. Larry’s latest studio record is the simply self titled – Larry Mccray,which has made a real splash in UK and Europe. Look out for his famed "Flying V" guitar at the following venues in November, and he will be back for more UK shows in May and July next year (inc festivals). If you like Albert Collins, Albert King, Freddie King, Stevie Ray Vaughan or today’s big blues guitar star Joe Bonamssa, you are just gonna love Mr McCray and his attack of the killer vee……………..
August Blues 2012 features the Larry McCray Band at the historic Barth building
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Yolo Eats is proud to announce their first major public event, August Blues 2012. The event will be ...Yolo Eats is proud to announce their first major public event, August Blues 2012. The event will be held on Saturday, August 11, and will feature a performance by the Detroit-based Larry McCray Band and a dinner of authentic BBQ prepared by Yolo Eats Chef John Gamboni.
Larry McCray is recognized as a leading contemporary blues singer, songwriter and guitarist and has been known to share the stage with musical greats including Buddy Guy, the Allman Brothers Band and most recently, the Steve Miller Band. Larry has been recording music since 1990 and experienced a career highlight when he was named the Orville Gibson 2000 Male Guitarist of the Year.
Yolo Eats, parent company of Maria’s Cantina Restaurant, hopes August Blues 2012 is the first of many future events that help bring great tastes, sounds and experiences to Yolo County locals.
“Our goal with August Blues is to provide a special experience for our guests... to create the perfect environment for a great time,” said event coordinator Emily Tucker. Smoky eats, cool drinks and American Blues will be enjoyed within the walls of Woodland’s historic Barth building property located downtown at 423 First Street.
The 3-Minute Interview: Larry McCray
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Having entertained audiences since the age of 9, Larry McCray sports a self-depicted “contemporary b...Having entertained audiences since the age of 9, Larry McCray sports a self-depicted “contemporary blues” style, baritone vocal range, and guitar prowess. He will be appearing in Hillsdale at the Dawn Theater on Jan. 26 for a live performance. Doors open at 7:00 p.m., and tickets are $20 at the door.
From where do you draw inspiration for your lyrics?
From life. I listen to a lot of genres: country western, rock, rap, gospel, and jazz. It can be important for artists to try to see how other people get their stories told. I try to assimilate what others say by putting ideas in my own terms, but it is good to pay attention to what others do, think, and how they find success. That way I can draw on others for inspiration, and they can do the same with my success.
What is your perspective on illegal music downloads?
I do not believe it can ever be stopped. As an artist, I have to find some way to make that system work partially to my own advantage. Believe me, it is easier said than done because free music is available to anyone who wants it. At the same time, if you work hard enough and people feel a connection with your music, then they will have a tendency to want to support those they have a passion for. That’s what I rely on — putting on an honest, intense show for people who appreciate the genre of music to come out and enjoy.
What is your vision for the future of blues in modern American culture?
My hope is for blues to break the ethnic barriers of music because there is a lot of segregation in terms of success. It is easier for certain people to find success based on cosmetics or style rather than being delegated by performance. I believe it has too much to do with how people receive and perceive you. For example, the majority of white blues artists have a hard time getting bookings in Chicago clubs because it is an underground band taboo. People don’t give each other a chance sometimes for the wrong reasons so there is a lot of work to be done. My hope is that America will start judging artists according to what they sound like on record rather than popularity or preconceptions. Take off the chains, and let the music speak for itself.
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Larry McCray’s band got up and started playing their energetic blues with no ado. Soon after, Mr. Mc...Larry McCray’s band got up and started playing their energetic blues with no ado. Soon after, Mr. McCray’s smooth and powerful vocals, “savage blues-rock guitar,” and the band’s spectacular rhythm had inspired most of the audience to dance. This gift, brought to us by the Tantramarsh Blues Society and the Town of Sackville, quickly warmed the cold Bridge Street air with a sultry, funky rhythm.
McCray is being called the “torchbearer of blues” and this is true. His performance was very much appreciated by all ages- cutting across the demographic, with both old and young letting loose. Audience members I spoke with all had the same reaction to the show: “this is killer”. Even some of the Bishop’s alumni turned up to partake in the festivities, while members of the Blues Society danced and joked with the band from beside the stage throughout the show. They summed up the evening tellingly in two words: “It rocks”.
Attendance was quite low during the first half, which was arguably the gem of the evening. The songs chosen were particularly energetic. The moment that floored me the most was after one of McCray’s soul-bursting guitar solos, when the quartet switched into three-part vocal harmony. The sound was heavenly. I had a visceral reaction; this is blues music. It throbs with emotion and relates a sense of wanting to break free. This was clear with the throng of dancing audience members in front of the band. It’s lucky that the band played a three-hour gig; the throng grew up to midnight when the band played its last and only encore.
The quartet’s sound is that of rock-blues and is defined by McCray’s forceful, animated lead vocals and searing guitar riffs. He bends the strings to find your soul and make you dance. Bassist Carrie’s expressiveness of movement on stage and feeling with his instrument was extremely entertaining, while the groove made feet start to tap. The drummer, Steve McCray, seemed relaxed as he produced the beat that held the songs together, also providing understated and soulful lead vocals for some of the songs. Particularly outstanding were keyboardist Shawn McDonald’s solos, especially when he switched to Hammond organ on his keyboard.
A slower ballad that saw a big reaction from the crowd was “Soul Shine”, it sounded and was presented sort of like Bob Marley’s ‘One Love’. Carrie, the bassist, got everyone in the audience swaying their hands back and forth in unison.
Mr. McCray’s presence is an encouraging follow up to previous shows on Bridge Street, from the Arcade Fire to fellow blues musician Charles Bradley. You know you live in a pretty cool town when you consider the fact that the Town of Sackville funded Saturday night’s show.
Larry McCray and his band travelled almost 2000 km for the performance, as the tour dates in New Hampshire and New England were cancelled because of flooding. Sackville turned out to be the band's only stop. From their enthusiasm after the show it is clear that they enjoyed playing just as much as the audience enjoyed listening. When asked if it was worth the trip, McCray replied, “Hell yeah!” The band rocked Sackville and had a blast doing it.