The Ray Brothers
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The Ray Brothers

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"Ray Brothers win Battle of Bands, Spring Concert slot"

The University Program Council hosted the Battle of the Bands last Tuesday in the GUC Performance Center. Four bands participated, but only one came out with the prize - The Ray Brothers.

The winner was decided based upon a 50-point scale, rating things such as creativity, originality, sound and audience appeal with a possibility

of an extra 20 points based on crowd vote.

"We appreciated the opportunity

to compete and look forward to playing at the Spring Concert, but most of all we appreciate all our friends that came out and yelled for us," said Timmy Ray, lead singer and piano player for The Ray Brothers.

The Ray Brothers and The Sound of Silence were very close in the judging for crowd vote, which took place at the end of the compitition.

The bands were critiqued and judged by producer and engineer David Vest, Star 94.9 DJ Ashley Mosley, and Jason Flynn, assistant professor of film and digital media production.

The grand prize for the night was the opportunity to open up for the UPC's Spring Concert in April and six hours of studio time provided

by David Vest.

The event was hosted by Chad Meadows, a recording artist from Nashville, Tenn.

Meadows entertained the audience

with his own music while each band was being transitioned to the stage.

The battle began with Gypsy followed

by Séance Fiction, The Ray Brothers and The Sound of Silence.

"The event went very well and I was very happy to see such a great turnout for such a busy night on UNA's campus," said Drew Henderson, UPC entertainment chair. "I was pleased to see the bands performing with great enthusiasm.

"The bands were very entertaining,

and I'll be excited to see The Ray Brothers opening for our Spring Concert in a few months."

Link to article: - The Flor-Ala

"Movin' On Up"

Timmy Ray has played on a lot of stages before, but this Friday will mark the first time he's ever performed on the top floor of a parking deck.

The Rays' music group, the Ray Brothers, are holding their first CD release party on top of the downtown parking deck in Florence.

"As far as I know, this is the first time the parking deck has ever been used like this," said Ray, a UNA student.

"I'm from Florence," said Ray, "and this is something that I've always had the idea for since high school. It's just the first time I've had the opportunity to make it happen."

The event, which begins at 8 p.m., is free and open to the public. Copies of the band's debut album, Missing the Point, will be available for purchase.

Ray said that while the band didn't run into any major snags when planning the show, it did take some time to get permission from the city and to convince people it was a good idea.

"The city was definitely a little surprised by the request," said Ray. "I had a meeting before Christmas with city officials and we told them about [the idea].

"From there, it just kind of took off. It wasn't a whole lot of trouble at all."

Because the parking deck has limited power access, the band is renting a generator to provide the necessary electricity, said Ray.

He also said that he had to walk through the space with the city clerk and other officials when deciding where to place everything on the deck.

The show will move to a lower level in the event of rain, said Ray.

Ray said the project started back in August when he and some friends got together to record a four-track demo of a few songs he'd written.

"It went so well that we decided to make a full-blown record," said Ray. "As the [recording] sessions continued, we just sort of became a band through that process and solidified our lineup that way."

Other than Ray on keyboards and vocals, the band's lineup consists of Ray's brother Benjamin on drums, Brad Greene on saxophone, Joseph Thigpen on bass, with Lee Taylor and Dillon Hodges on guitars.

All members of the band are UNA students.

"It's kind of a 'come what may' situation," said Ray, on whether or not the band will achieve major success. "We're all friends so we enjoy playing. I think more than anything that it's a way we're challenging ourselves musically.

"We all share a love for music and share the aspirations for becoming better musicians."

But Ray is no stranger to being in the spotlight.

A veteran of the W. C. Handy Music Festival, he has performed in different groups and venues across North Alabama, and his current band, the Ray Brothers, recently won a Battle of the Bands in Tuscaloosa.

"It was kind of a lengthy ordeal," said Ray. "We had to go down three separate times."

The battle of the bands was broken up into three rounds and lasted almost two months, with the final round taking place just after UNA's spring break, said Ray.

"It [the judging] was based on crowd response," Ray said. "We definitely owe it to our friends and people who love our music."

Link to Article: - The Flor-Ala

"All For UNA"

Sister Hazel is one of those bands that fans love and remember for their songs like "Champagne High" and "All for You."

Students at UNA are ready to hear the new material as well as some classic Sister Hazel when they perform tonight at 8:30 p.m. at Flower's Hall.

"We've played in Florence a few times, I think last time it was an outdoors thing. It's always a great time and we're excited about it," said Newell.

"We'll probably play a handful of new songs, but we'll be playing the old stuff too," said Newell.

"It's nice to know that people are getting to know and like the new material."

Sister Hazel has already been busy this year promoting the new CD and getting ready for the follow-up CD titled "Bam."

"Right now we are touring and we're doing a Hard Rock Café tour for a Myrtle Beach theme park and we're just trying to do that and get the word out on that right now," said Newell.
Sister Hazel is definitely following a hectic agenda with everything back to back in upcoming months, but they thrive off the road and fans.

"Everyday we have photo shoots, interviews, press, and we try to engineer in the hotel at night. We stay busy," said Newell.

Although the schedule is grueling, the band tries to get home after no more than ten days on the road.

"We balance home and work by working really hard while we're on the road and really having some quality time with our families when we're home," said Newell.

"We are constantly touring and that's what keeps us going and we'll take little breaks here and there."

It can be stressful for the guys on the road, but the road allows time for the band stay creative.

"The song writing process is really different for us. When a song comes to the table we are all heavily involved in the process," said Newell.

The song writing process for Sister Hazel is about evoking emotion, but some days seem more creative than others.

"The song "Mandolin Moon" on the album is really interesting because it came on a day that we had been really uncreative, but then we started making up lyrics and the tune right off the top of our head and that's how that song came about," said Newell.

"Mandolin Moon" is catchy and has the signature Sister Hazel sound that fans love and has quickly become a favorite.

UNA is excited to hear some of the new stuff and they are also ready to hear their own Timmy Ray.

Ray, a UNA senior, said he was in the right place at the right time when he got the information about opening up for Sister Hazel.

"We found out we would be opening up for them last Tuesday and we will be playing some original music and we're also covering a Stevie Wonder song," said Ray.

"We're going to have a band backing us with horns and everything so we're excited about it."

Sister Hazel is one of those bands that people will continue to support because of their authenticity and devotion to their fan base. Sister Hazel is ready to come back to UNA this Thursday and Florence is ready to hear them.

They have been able to captivate the music industry by keeping their creative momentum and staying true to their sound.

Although it seems the band has been out of the spotlight for a while, they have a new CD titled "Absolutely" which was released in October 2006.

The new CD has a different sound and has a bit of a southern twang, which is something Sister Hazel is proud of.

"I think we have a natural tendency to sound country, we are all southern boys from Gainsville so I definitely think that has always made an impact on what we sound like," said Ryan Newell, lead guitar player.

Link to Article: - The Flor-Ala

"Ray Brothers Hardly 'Missing the Point'"

The Ray Brothers are not trying to fill a niche in the Shoals with their pop/funk/rock sound.

It's simply what they enjoy playing, Benjamin Ray said.

The Ray Brothers began when brothers Timmy and Benjamin Ray started recording a four-track demo disc in August.

Timmy Ray, 21, plays keyboard and sings while 18-year-old Benjamin Ray plays drums.

"We brought in some friends, and it went very well," Timmy Ray said.

The friends include saxophone player, Brad Greene, 19, bassist Joseph Thigpen, 21, guitarist Dillon Hodges, 17, and 21-year old singer/guitarist Lee Taylor.

Ray said he and his brother liked the sound so much, they decided to record an entire album with the full band.

"The demo turned into the CD," Hodges said.

The result is an in- your-face mixture of pop, funk and rock, heavy on keys and sax.

The sound is representative of of the band members, which leans heavily toward the jazz, soul and funk genres.

"I don't get by without listening to jazz," Green said.

Hodges, who has won numerous accolades as a bluegrass guitarist, leans toward bluegrass and jazz.

He recalls the first time he met Timmy Ray at a W.C. Handy Music Festival jazz camp.

It was there they learned from Handy Festival regulars and jazz players such as Tom Wolfe, Rick Bell, Gary Motley and Howard Lamb.

"They were a big influence in what we do now," Timmy Ray said.

In their younger days, Timmy and Benjamin performed during the Handy festival as the James Ed Combo.

"I'm a huge Beatles fan," Timmy Ray confides, only to be corrected by Benjamin, who calls his brother a "Beatles scholar."

As the Ray Brothers, the group has started playing locally and in Tuscaloosa, where they won a battle of the bands that featured more than a dozen bands.

At this point, Timmy Ray is the group's primary writer, if only because he had songs ready to go for the demo. He continued writing to fill the album's 10 tracks, but is now writing with Hodges and Taylor.

The album's title track, "Missing the Point," is a look at how people get so caught up in their own lives and pleasing themselves, they tend to forget about the needs of other people.

Timmy Ray admits that many of the tracks are about relationships and broken relationships. He pauses when asked if they're about actual relationships, then adds that 90 percent are fictitious. His friends try to decide which ones are about the other 10 percent.

There are other topics addressed on the album.

"Start With You" is a commentary about how celebrities use the issue of the day for their own purposes, if only to direct attention to themselves.

"You Break My Heart" is based on a friend's comment that nothing he said or did in the relationship was right.

Now that the album is about to be released, the band will shift gears and concentrate on playing more live shows and writing more songs.

"Missing the Point" will be available Friday online at DigStation and iTunes. It will also be available at the band's live shows.

Russ Corey can be reached at 740-5738 or

Link to Article: - The TimesDaily


Missing the Point - 2008



The Ray Brothers got their start in the Fall of 2008 by starting to record what they thought was a four song demo. Timmy Ray, keyboard player and vocalist for TRB, arranged to have a group of friends get together to record demos for four of his songs. After hearing the results of the first session, Timmy, along with his brother Benjamin, decided to see what would happen if they recorded a full length album. It was through this process of recording an album, which eventually became 2008's "Missing the Point," that the current Ray Brothers lineup was solidified. With Timmy on keys and vocals, Benjamin on drums, Brad Greene on saxophone, Joseph Thigpen on bass and vocals, and Lee Taylor and Dillon Hodges both on vocals and guitar, the Ray Brothers began booking shows anywhere and everywhere they could.
The Ray Brothers are known for their unique style and high energy performances. Their original songs are heavily influenced by each of their eclectic musical backgrounds, with traces of rock, funk, soul jazz, pop, and even a little bluegrass and country throughout. TRB also performs a wide variety of familiar cover songs, made popular by such artists as the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, John Mayer, Otis Redding, Michael Jackson, Billy Joel and hosts of other popular artists.