Interview with Robert Cray

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robert cray
Robert Cray

Interview by Scott Preston

Cincy Groove: I read on your website you were in the movie “Animal House“. How did that all come about?

Robert Cray: Well I was living in Eugene, OR where we started the band. Thats actually where they did most of the filming for Animal House. One night after a show a lady came up to me and asked me if I wanted to be in the film.

Cincy Groove: Was there much of a buzz about the film at that time?

Robert Cray: Well there was a buzz about a movie being made in Eugene, OR just because its a small college town.

Cincy Groove: Did you know who John Belushi was at the time?

Robert Cray: Well, us being professional musicians who played on Saturday nights, we never saw the program (Saturday Night Live). I  was a part of this splinter band, I called The CrayHawks. It was the Cray Band and some of the members of The Nighthawks. A combination of the two bands that played on Monday nights. This guy comes in the bar and says he wants to sit in with us. Somebody in the band tells me “Its John Belushi from Saturday Night Live!”. So he does his Joe Cocker impersonation and then he befriends Curtis Salgado, Curtis was schooling Belushi on the blues all the while while John was there in Eugene making the movie. John got the idea for wearing the dark sunglasses from Curtis. A few years later down the road they started the Blues Brothers Band.

Cincy Groove: What was it like when you won your first Grammy award?

Robert Cray: That was the one we won for Showdown. Then we won one for Strong Persuader also. We went to the awards , they called our category then called our names all of us got up and started up the stairs to the stage. Somebody stopped and the last 2 people bumped into the first two, which was just perfect.

Cincy Groove: I saw that you played in Estonia back in 1989.

Robert Cray: That crowd was the biggest I have ever played in front of. The crowd was about 150,000 people. There were people from all over Europe there. I was just thinking about that the other day , meeting a lot of people from the former Soviet Union. They wanted to trade things with us. I ended up getting a Soviet Union belt buckle with the hammer and sickle, t-shirts, buttons.

Cincy Groove: Who are some of your influences?

Robert Cray: Otis Rush, Elmore James, Freddie King, Magic Sam, Albert Collins of course.

Cincy Groove: Did you get a chance to sit in with any of your idols?

Robert Cray: I got the chance the play with Muddy Waters, John Lee Hooker. We were on this big tour with Willie Dixon, Elvin Bishop, and we all ended up in Carnegie Hall. Ornette Coleman showed up , he is a huge Willie Dixon fan.

Cincy Groove: Did you get a good response when you toured Japan?

Robert Cray: Absolutely, Japan is great. The first time I went to Japan, I tagged along with John Lee Hooker. That was about in 1985. When I played John Lee Hooker’s band backed me up. It was pretty cool. People in Japan were just going nuts over John Lee Hooker.

Cincy Groove: What do you do when your not playing music?

Robert Cray: I’m pretty much a home person. My wife and I now have a 8 month old child after being married for 18 years. I like to cook. I try to stay out of clubs lol I got that out of my system years ago. My wife and I waited to have kids and we are really happy about it.

Cincy Groove: Who are some younger blues players that really impress you?

Robert Cray: I was doing some work with Keb’ Mo’ and he showed me this guy on youtube.com called Gary Clark Jr. Gary is from Texas and he is the stuff. He’s got it all. He plays this Gibson guitar without any cutaways. He is an old blues man in a young persons body. I think everyone is looking for that one person and he is the guy. Derek Trucks is an awesome player as well. When I watched the Crossroads program I thought Derek Trucks was the baddest guy on the stage.

The Robert Cray Band is:
Robert Cray – Guitar, vocals
Kevin Hayes – Drums
Jim Pugh – Keyboards
Karl Sevareid – Bass Guitar

Upcoming Robert Cray shows:
2/22 B.B. King’s Blues Club – New York, NY
2/23 Bardavon Opera House – Poughkeepsie, NY
2/24 The Mahaiwe Theatre – Great Barringotn, MA
2/25 Paramount Theatre – Rutland, VT
2/27 The Ridgefield Playhouse – Ridgefield, CT
2/29 Mohegan Sun Casino – Uncasville, CT
3/01 Mohegan Sun Casino – Uncasville, CT
3/02 Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center – Westhampton Beach, NY
3/03 The Birchmere – Alexandria, VA
3/05 The Midland Theatre – Newark, OH
3/06 House of Blues – Chicago, IL
3/07 Odawa Casino Resort – Petoskey, MI
3/08 Music Hall Center for Performing Arts – Detroit, MI
3/20 Jackson Rancheria Casino – Jackson, CA
3/21 Wells Fargo Center – Santa Rosa, CA
3/22 Cerritos Center for Performing Arts – Cerritos, CA
4/11 Tampa Bay Blues Festival –
St. Petersburg, FL
4/12 St. Augustine Amphitheatre –
St. Augustine, FL
4/27 Mississippi Coast Crawfish Festival –
Biloxi, MS

For more tourdates and details for each show please visit Roberts website: http://www.robertcray.com