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450 Franklin Street, Rocky Mount VA 24151 - 540-484-8277

The Robert Cray Band w/ The Gabe Morales Trio

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The Robert Cray Band w/ The Gabe Morales Trio
Tuesday, May 23, 2017 8:00 PM
Harvester Performance Center, Rocky Mount, VA
 
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Show Details
  • Ticket Price: $54.50 - $67.00
  • Door Time: 7:00 PM
  • Show Type: Blues
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About Robert Cray:
Growing up in the Northwest, Robert Cray listened to the gospel of the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, Bobby Bland’s soul, Jimi Hendrix’s rock guitar and the Beatles pop sounds. He would bring all of the influences into play throughout his career, but his teenage band was captivated by Southern Soul and the blues. “In the early days of the band we were getting back into O.V. Wright and paying attention to my favorite blues players; Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Albert King and especially Albert Collins,” Cray says.
The Texas-born blues guitarist known as Master of the Telecaster, Albert Collins, sealed the deal on the Cray Band’s early direction. The musical highlight of Cray’s senior year was his class voting to bring Collins in to play a graduation party.
The glow of a career in music began when Cray was a teen, and in 1974 it burst into flames as the Robert Cray Band came together in Eugene, Oregon. How strong was the fire? “Richard and I didn’t own a vehicle, and we were staying with his girlfriend in Eugene. We hitched a ride to Salem, where our drummer Tom Murphy was going to school, to rehearse,” Cray recalls.
With the group’s 1980 debut release, Who’s Been Talkin’, word about the Cray Band began to spread across the Northwest and down in to California. Playing packed bars and roadhouses the Cray Band was thrilling. Yes, fans could hear an Albert Collins guitar riff and a Howlin’ Wolf song but the sound was present. Blues and soul fans showed up religiously, but those steamy raucous sets also drew crowds whose tastes in music ranged from rock to funk and jazz.
Also among the Cray Band admirers were other musicians. John Lee Hooker put his appreciation into action. “The first time we played with Hooker was in Montana. We were opening the set and he was playing solo,” Cray recalls. “We’d never met him before but he just walked on stage and started playing with us. We dug the hell out of the guy, and after that we were friends.”
The Cray Band’s next two releases – Bad Influence and False Accusations – charted, taking the four-piece’s sound across the airways and abroad. The group was on a roll, but the players slept on couches. “We were just road rats,” Cray says with a chuckle. “We’d take a break for two weeks to record, then go back out. We didn’t have a house, a home, any of those responsibilities.” On one of those breaks Cray went into the studio with Collins and another great Texas guitarist and singer, Johnny Clyde Copeland, to record Showdown!, a CD that has become essential to any 80s electric blues collection.
It was the sounds of the blues and soul that first drew attention from artists in the rock arena. In an interview Eric Clapton gives his initial response to Robert Cray saying, “As a blues fan, we’re saved.” The Cray Band’s beginnings did bring the sounds of its mentors into the mainstream, even taking the music of John Lee Hooker, Etta James and Albert Collins to a larger, younger audience. But no one knew how broad the band’s audience would be until the Cray Band opened the ears of rock radio programmers. With the 1986 release of Strong Persuader the Cray Band’s tunes were put in heavy rotation on mega rock stations across the nation. The first hit, “Smoking Gun,” was followed by “I Guess I Showed Her” and “Right Next Door (Because of Me).” The Cray Band’s next two releases, Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark and Midnight Stroll, brought more radio listeners to record stores, increasing sales of the group’s CDs.
Following the path of fame taken by blues-based rockers like Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Cray became a sensation, leading his band in concerts at large arena and rock festival. He was the first African American artist since Jimi Hendrix to rise to such fame in rock music. Was there a change in the band’s direction or had the blues arrived again into the mainstream after more than three decades of being forgotten by radio? “We were doing blues and Rand B from the first,” Crays says. “That’s just part of what we do. If you’re writing a tune it’s only natural to grab something from someplace else. You’re gonna put in some soul changes and some jazz, something you’ve been listening to. With what we do there’s a whole lot of room to move.”
Clapton’s admiration for Cray led to a writing collaboration on the hit “Old Love,” which featured Cray on guitar. A call came from Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards who asked him to be in the film he and Steve Jordan were producing about the rock guitarist Chuck Berry, “Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Concert footage in the film features Richards, Jordan, Clapton, Julian Lennon, Linda Ronstadt and Etta James. Cray performs “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” with Berry. Dressed in a baby blue tuxedo jacket, the young guitarist is the epitome of the tune’s title. Cray also performed on the Tina Turner TV special “Break Every Rule.”
During the 90s the Cray Band was featured in concert with artists like Clapton, the Stones, John Lee Hooker, BB King and Bonnie Raitt, who declared that the band leader is “an original; he’s passionate, he’s a bad ass and puts on one of the best shows you’ll ever see.”
Amidst these accolades, soaring record sales and a packed touring schedule the Cray Band recorded six CDs in the 90s. Cray produced Shame + A Sin, which referenced his blues roots, in 1993. It was followed by two more self-produced recordings, Some Rainy Morning and Sweet Potato Pie. Recorded in Memphis and featuring the famed Memphis Horns Sweet Potato Pie was the Cray Band’s most soulful album to date. The next recording Take Off Your Shoes delved even deeper into Memphis sounds of the 60s. “That was definitely a soul record,” Cray says. “I’d already been writing songs, Jim (Pugh, who was keyboards with the Cray Band from 1989 to 2014) was writing songs, leaning toward soul. Steve (Jordan, producer) heard them and put the icing on the cake.” Jordan, who subsequently produced the Cray Band’s In My Soul, Shoulda Been Home and the first CD in 4 Nights of 40 Years Live, also brought the personification of Memphis soul to the recording session, Willie Mitchell, to help with arrangements for the Memphis Horns. Mitchell discovered and first recorded Al Green along with other Southern Soul singers like Ann Peebles, O.V. Wright and Syl Johnson for the famed Memphis label Hi Records. When he arrived at the Cray recording session, he brought not only the Memphis presence but also a present. “Willie came over – he was wearing a gold jacket – and gave me this song, ‘Love Gone to Waste,’” Cray says. “Then we put some final touches on the CD at his studio in Memphis. It was a great opportunity to see Willie in the studio.”
Both on Take Your Shoes Off and 4 Nights of 40 Years Live, “Love Gone to Waste” showcases Robert Cray’s natural ease with soul ballads. He is intense but smooth in telling the story of love gone bad. Then in a falsetto voice he soars through the sadness into the inevitable pain. It is a song that Cray owns because no other singer has dared try to do it justice. Take Your Shoes Off won a Grammy in 2000.
In the next decade the Cray Band recorded seven CDs, three of them live, and two – Twenty and This Time – were nominated for Grammys. The group’s most recent recordings, Nothing But Love and In My Soul put the band back on the Billboard Charts.

Gabe Morales Trio
Gabriel Morales was born in Roanoke, VA. At a very young age he started to appreciate a wide range of music genres. 

At the age of ten he started to play the guitar and showed a special affinity for Rock and Blues guitar playing- which he did with great maturity and expression -“like a grown man” (Three-Time Grammy Award-winner, Michael League of Snarky Puppy). The late Michael “Iron Man” Burks (1957-2012) once referred to Gabe as “Guitar Gabe”.

Gabe Morales is a guitarist, vocalist, songwriter, and performer. His songwriting is about life-a personal insight while living in the midst of the everyday life experience. His sound is continuously evolving; he is constantly studying the work of great musicians of all genres. His music includes elements of blues, jazz, classic rock and influences from Latin American folk music. In addition, his music is energetic, and at the same time invites listeners to reflect on daily challenges, feats, and defeats. When performing the blues, Gabe brings the blues legends of past and present to the stage and stands on their shoulders as he tells their stories and bends the strings of his red SG.

In 2011 he got involved with The Music Lab at Jefferson Center in Roanoke, Virginia, where he has had the opportunity to meet, perform, and record with numerous local, national, and international musicians and bands, among them: Blues legend Robert Cray, Snarky Puppy, Dr. Lonnie Smith, Rodney Jones, Victor Wooten, Little John Roberts (George Benson, Janet Jackson), Ben Williams and the Sound Effect, Robert “Sput” Searight, Lucy Woodward, Carla Dirlikov Canales, Julian Lage, Chris Eldridge (Punch Brothers), Quinn Sullivan, The Jamie McLean Band, Banda Magda, Darrel Scott, Malika Tirolien, Matt Schofield, James Pace, Chad Eby, Ocie Davis, The Fat Daddy Band, Hoppie Vaughan, Carlos Aranguren, Cameron McLaughlin, The Floorboards, and Jonathan Scales Fourchestra. 

In 2013, Gabe was a featured guest on the internationally touring band Snarky Puppy’s live CD/DVD recording at the Jefferson Center: Snarky Puppy Family Dinner Vol. 1. He, along with Snarky Puppy, accompanied the twelve-year-old vocalist Jayna Brown. The same album was awarded a 2014 Grammy Award for Best R&B Performance for Snarky Puppy and Lalah Hathaway.

Gabe Morales has opened for the Robert Cray Band, The Wooten Brothers (with Jayna Brown), and Tommy Castro and The Pain Killers.

In June of 2014, Gabe released his debut album, “Gabe Morales and Friends”, which was funded by the Blue Ridge Blues Society. The album features Gabe with the Jamie McLean Band, the Fat Daddy Band, Talk is Cheap, Carlos Aranguren, and Cameron McLaughlin.
The Gabe Morales Trio has performed at festivals such as FloydFest, Virginia Wine Festival, Steppin' Out, Rooster Walk, and Down By The River to name a few. Gabe Morales has performed at venues ranging from the Jefferson Center and the Taubman Museum of Art in Roanoke, Virginia to LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Queens, NYC. 
In addition to performing with a band, Gabriel does solo performances with a classical, finger-picking, and singer-songwriter repertoire.
Gabriel is also an alumni of the Roanoke Valley Children's Choir (formerly known as the Roanoke College Children's Choir) and was a member for 10 years under the direction of Kimberly Ruse Davidson. As a member of the RVCC, he has performed at venues such as Carnegie Hall (Stern Auditorium Perelman Stage), Abravanel Hall, and the Salt Lake Tabernacle.
In 2016, Gabe Morales joined the New York City based non-for-profit, The Canales Project, founded by Carla Dirlikov Canales as an artist on their 2016-2017 roster. As part of the Canales Project, he went to New York in November of 2016 to teach and interact with students at a middle school in The Bronx in conjunction with Education Through Music. In addition, he performed at LaGuardia Performing Arts Center as part of a Carnegie Hall Neighborhood Concert Series presentation of the Canales Project's "Between Two Worlds" program, co-presented by the Carnegie Hall Weill Music Institute.