All about E chords and tragic tales of rare souls
Ray Bonneville brings his blues to Evergreen
By Heather Killen
Ray Bonneville likes to break his songs in a little before he considers them finished.
The Canadian-born bluesman is playing at Evergreen Theatre on October 17 at 8 p.m. Now promoting his sixth release, "Going By Feel," the world-class guitarist takes his time putting together the right mix of vocals and percussion.
It's been several years since his last release, but Bonneville doesn't seem the type to rush things. He once joked in an interview that when he learned to play guitar, it took a while to get past the first feel. "I just played the E chord for months," he said. "until my family asked me to learn a few more chords."
Last week in an telephone interview from his home in Austin, Texas, he admits he's still partial to the full tangy sound of the E chord and the rich wood sound of the guitar itself.
Taking time to really get to know his instrument has paid off for him in a bluesy panache. He's found a way to deliver striking lyrics with a smokey voice and a steady rhthym so you forget the world outside the song.
He said he learned to play guitar and harmonica in his teens, but for many years performed other people's songs. Writing his own material is another process that came to him later in his career.
Bonneville doesn't consider any song complete until he's performed it at least once. The songs tend to work themselves out in the back of his mind first and when they're ready, he begins teasing them out with a guitar. "When I wrote 'The Big Easy,' I just closed my eyes and remembered," he said. "I watched the images of the good days and bad days, and tried to imagine what the city wanted to tell the world about who it was and what it's looking for."
The stories that capture his imagination are often the quirky and tragic tales of rare souls. He says he keeps his images deliberately vague, so the audience has plenty of room to write themselves into the story and the song.
But it isn't until he actually performs the songs live that he can fine-tune words if they don't feel right, or if they don't strike a chord with the audience.
For tickets, or more information on upcoming show at Evergreen visit www.evergreentheatre.ca; For more information on Ray Bonneville visit www.raybonneville.com