Lodi, Calif. native Kenny "Blue" Ray, 49, is a reassuring reminder that there are still great "unknowns" out there chugging away in the blues landscape. Well, not a complete unknown: he was a member of Little Charlie & the Nightcats in the mid-1970s, backed and recorded with William Clarke and Marcia Ball and appeared on recording sessions with Mitch Woods, Charlie Musslewhite, Ronnie Earl and numerous Bay area artists.
Stevie Ray Vaughan, whom he met and befriended, is an obvious influence, but he draws equally as much from Freddie King, Albert Collins and other Texas guitar greats. Since 1994 he has released ten CDs on his own label, all discs that stand head and shoulders above the normal run of homemade blues products.
On "Keep the Mojo Workin'" Ray gets the kind of production he deserves, and the guitar phrasing is tough and always in a blue, not rock, pocket.
Tone King Records, P.O. Box 844, Menlo Park, Calif., 94026
This review is copyright © 2000 by Matt Alcott, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved.