Raccoon Motel; Davenport, Iowa • 2/1/2019
by Jeremy Glazier
Since befriending Boo Ray over a year ago and asking him to come to Iowa, Iowa is finally getting a damn taste of what Boo Ray and his amazing band bring to the table. He’s out promoting the new album Tennessee Alabama Fireworks and hitting as many venues as he can pack in to spread the word. Luckily for us, the Triple Crown Whiskey Bar & Raccoon Motel in Davenport, Iowa was on the list and he and the band treated us to his brand of country and rock and roll.
The new album continues with more life stories of the traveling troubadour and while his deep southern roots are always present, he’s music is more eclectic than any one category, genre, or geographic location. The opening song, “A tune you can whistle”, mentions Tennessee Alabama Fireworks in the lyrics and is a reference to a huge road sign, a “southern gothic effigy” as Boo Ray describes in the liner notes, that he passed numerous times on his various road trips. Produced and mixed by his buddy Noah Shain at Welcome to 1979 in Nashville, this team is really firing on all cylinders and has again put out a classic Boo Ray album.
“Don’t look back” and “Honky Tonk Dream” both made this album and are 2 of the first Boo Ray songs I became aware of through his One Mic Series videos with legendary producer, John Cuniberti. Both songs have that genuine 70’s honky tonk feel and tell great stories in typical Boo Ray fashion. A couple other ballads are “She Wrote the Song” and Outrun the Wind”, which both feel like he’s singing directly to the muse that inspires him. His songs are born of real life experience and that honesty plays like another character in his music.
“Gone back down to Georgia” has the addition of some great horns and is easy to see why it was picked as one of the singles before the albums February 15th release. Boo Ray’s love of Jerry Reed’s fast paced, double guitar leads show up a number of places on the album as well as his signature slide playing, and pedal steel to give it some country roots. With a Boo Ray album you get everything from heart string pulling love songs and heart break, to honky tonk rock and roll.
Back at the Raccoon Motel, Boo Ray and band mates Cooper Heffley on Drums, Twan Haugen on Bass, and Nick Champeau sharing guitar parts with Boo Ray, had on all the clothes that they brought with them as they weren’t expecting the below zero temperatures that were experience. It didn’t deter them from firing with both barrels and performed “20 Questions” and “Skin and Ink” from the new album, and also treated us to crowd favorites “Bad News Travels Fast”, “Redneck Rock and Roll” and a nice rendition of “Willin” by Lowell George as part of the nights 16 song set list. The band is exceptionally tight and Boo Ray and Nick do an excellent job handling dual leads that really add a ton of musicianship to the music.
The unique venue, with exceptionally friendly staff and atmosphere in droves, only holds around 60 people but the almost capacity crowd was definitely there to see the band and made the guys feel welcome. Boo Ray and the band hung around and talked with fans and genuinely connected with those of us brave enough to face the weather and support the band. Tennessee Alabama Fireworks is available now online and from his website and I recommend grabbing the album and sinking your teeth into another great Boo Ray album.