We are proud to open our season by welcoming back Ray Bonneville! Ray Bonneville is a poet of the demimonde who didn’t write his first song until his early 40s, some 20 years after he started performing. With a style that sometimes draws comparisons to JJ Cale and Daniel Lanois, this blues-influenced, New Orleans-inspired “song and groove man,” as he’s been so aptly described, luckily found his rightful calling. Born in Quebec, his family moved to Boston when he was 12. He served a year in Vietnam as a Marine, struggled to overcome drug addiction, earned a pilot’s license in Colorado, and spent time living in Alaska, Seattle, Paris and New Orleans. It took a close call while piloting a seaplane across the Canadian wilderness to help him decide it was time to get busy writing songs – gritty narratives inspired by a lifetime of hard-won knowledge set against his gritty, soulful guitar and harmonica playing.
Ray has earned many accolades, including a Juno Award for his 1999 album, Gust of Wind. His post-Katrina ode, “I Am the Big Easy,” earned the 2009 Song of the Year Award from the International Folk Alliance, and in 2012 Bonneville won the solo/duet category in the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge. He’s introducing a new CD in September entitled “At King Electric”.
This show promises to be a one-of-a-kind event for AACLive featuring two New Orleans stalwarts. Joe Krown is a New Orleans styled piano and Hammond B-3 player. He’s currently touring all over the world as the organ and piano player for the multi-award winning and chart-topping Kenny Wayne Shepherd Band. Joe was the piano/organ player for the legendary Texas guitarist Clarence Gatemouth Brown from 1992 until Brown’s passing in 2005. Joe is a Hammond organ-endorsed-artist and is a member of the elite Hammond artist family.He has played the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival every year since 2001 and the French Quarter Festival every year since 1998. He has been nominated twice and won a 2000 New Orleans Big Easy Award in the Blues category.
Jason Ricci is one of the most popular harmonica players on the planet today. Listed in almost every top ten list of players on the internet today Jason Ricci is a polarizing force who is always in the spotlight and on the tips of tongues of critics, artists and fans everywhere. Through two plus decades of endless touring, TV appearances, recordings and the internet Jason Ricci’s style of playing is so revolutionary and influential that today there is an entire generation of young players imitating his music, clothes, gear, and even stage presence. Nicknamed “Moon Cat”, Jason has been an almost constant force for decades in the studio, festivals, club dates and press. Jason was a featured performer on Johnny Winter’s Grammy award winning CD ‘Step Back’ (2014). He has received multiple Blues Music Award Nominations 2009 – 2016, and won a Blues Music Award in 2010. You may recall having seen him as a featured performer at the Rock & Roll hall of fame with Zac Brown & Tom Morello for the Paul Butterfield Blues Band induction in 2015. He’s worked and/or recorded with Junior Kimbrough, RL Burnside, Nick Curran, Walter Trout, Ana Popovic, Cedric Burnside, Joe Louis Walker, Peter Karp, Sue Foley, and many others.
Rolling Stone Magazine calls Travis Meadows “one of Nashville’s most important songwriters”. His songs have been recorded by Kenny Chesney, Dierks Bentley, Eric Church and Jake Owen among others. Travis spent 17 years as a Christian missionary, lost his right leg to cancer at the age of 14 and was in and out of rehab four times before finally getting sober in 2010. His songs speak to the reality and honest truths that reflect the journey he has been on. In Travis’s own words, “Life can be a little challenging for all of us. It’s beautiful and it’s tragic, it’s awesome and it hurts” Meadows says, “I hope people sense that through this record and want to come to a show, which is a lot of storytelling, a lot of tears, a lot of laughter. They’ll come face to face with a damn lot of humanity. I hope they see themselves in it.”
Winner of multiple Grammy awards, singer/songwriter and sideman Jim Lauderdale has released at least one, and sometimes as many as three, records every year since 1998. He is the second most recorded writer in George Strait’s Canon of Country Music, as well as having been responsible for country hits for Patty Loveless, George Jones, Mark Chesnutt and the Dixie Chicks. He’s recorded albums with Dr. Ralph Stanley, the North Mississippi Allstars, Donna the Buffalo, Elvis Presley’s band, Elvis Costello and Buddy Miller. Jim has also written whole albums with long time Grateful Dead collaborator Robert Hunter. AACLive is proud to present this fine ambassador of Americana.
North Carolina’s Sarah Shook sings with a conviction and hard honesty often lacking in much of today’s Americana landscape. Always passionate, and at times profane, Sarah stalks/walks the line between vulnerable and menacing, her voice strong and uneasy — country classic but with contemporary, earthy tension. You can hear in her voice what’s she’s seen; world weary, lessons learned—or not—but always defiant. In her level-steady manor, she means what she says. Writing with a blunt urgency—so refreshing these days it’s almost startling—Sarah’s lyrics are in turn smart, funny, mean, and above all, uncompromising. Sly turns of phrase so spot-on that they feel as old and true as a hymn. Anger that’s as confrontational as it is concise. Humor that’s as wry and resigned as a park bench prophet. She and her band The Disarmers have been touring non-stop and are sure to bring that tight in-the-pocket sound to Fort Smith with them!
Teacher, storyteller, activist, singer, songwriter. In the early ‘70’s, Gaye Adegbalola began her teaching career. She was an educator in the Fredericksburg City Public School system for 18 years and was Virginia State Teacher of the Year in 1982. Throughout her teaching career, she directed Harambee 360 Experimental Theater where she creatively used performance as a tool to assist black youth in gaining confidence as they struggled with identity issues during the spread of “integration.” During her teaching career, she moonlighted as a musician, maintaining the blues legacy and keeping the its history alive, delivering messages of empowerment, ministering to the heartbroken and finding joy in the mundane. As a founding member of the Saffire – The Uppity Blues Women ensemble, she made the transition to full-time performer. Gaye has toured internationally and has won numerous awards including the prestigious Blues Music Award as well as numerous nominations for her composing, singing, songwriting, and mastery of both acoustic and slide guitar as well as harmonica. She can engage, provoke, and inspire just about any audience. In the music she composes, she provides a voice for those who have been marginalized by society. With her unique writing style, she is often able to find humor in the pain which, in turn, empowers her listeners to live and not just survive.
Nashville singer/songwriter Gretchen Peters is one of a kind. Winner of the CMA Song of the Year Award in 1995 for “Independence Day”, she was also twice nominated for Grammy Awards and a Golden Globe Award for best original song. Beauty tempered by dread, sorrow buoyed by hope, these are the ever-present tugs of war that make life worth living and songs worth writing. And they are the over-riding themes that make Gretchen Peters one of her generation’s most compelling singer/songwriters.
“You would be hard-pressed to find a better songwriter than Gretchen Peters. Her willingness to sing about tough, somber subjects is a rarity in the industry, and on her new album, Dancing With The Beast, she continues to prove her mastery.” – The Shotgun Seat
And from past AACLive performer Janis Ian: “I love Gretchen Peters. Love her work, love her live presence, love her songs. I’ve been trying to get her to hire me as her backup guitarist for two years now. I keep promising I’ll work for room and board, but she won’t do it. So I settle for the closest I can get – working with her whenever and wherever possible.”