AUSTIN, TX – Award-winning singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville will release his new CD, At King Electric, on September 7 via Stonefly Records. Featuring 11 all-original songs, At King Electric was recorded in Austin, Texas and produced by Ray Bonneville and Justin Douglas. In addition to Ray Bonneville (guitars, vocals & harmonica), the band for the recording sessions included Richie Lawrence (electric piano & accordion), and Andre Bohren (drums, percussion & piano), with additional guest artists Gurf Morlix (guitar & bass) and Stefano Intelisano (B3 organ).
Based in Austin for the past 10 years, Bonneville strips his bluesy Americana down to its essentials and steeps it in a humid, southern vibe, creating a compelling poetry of hard living and deep feeling. His new CD, At King Electric, delivers more than his trademark grit and groove. Songs such as “The Next Card to Fall” and “Codeine” gleam with intimate narratives of characters reaching for hope and wrestling with despair. Rich guitar and harmonica lines resonate over spare and infectious rhythms, while Bonneville’s deep, evocative voice confesses life’s harsh realities.
“I never had kids, but this will be my ninth studio album since I started writing and performing my own songs,” says Bonneville. “I guess you could say that the songs, the records and the folks I meet out on the road have been my family. I get to know the characters in my songs as they reveal themselves to me over the hours, days and nights of writing. This new album is alive with them. There are several characters inhabiting one song in ‘The Next Card to Fall;’ one who is emotionally rescued by a street parade in ‘Papachulalay;’ there is the reflective addict in ‘Codeine;’ the lost and destitute road dog in ‘It’ll Make a Hole in You;’ the prison inmate who calls his estranged brother as his release date nears in ‘The Day They Let Me Out.’”
Ray Bonneville, talking about the players he tapped for the new CD: “The recording family for At King Electric included my friend Richie Lawrence, with whom I played many years ago. We’d lost sight of one another for years until we fatefully reconnected to play once again. Andre Bohren, an incredible talent, I knew many years ago as a boy in New Orleans when he lived with his family on the southern shore of Lake Ponchartrain. Gurf Morlix, a wonderfully visceral player, always unique in his approach, is also a good friend. Justin Douglas, a highly skilled studio engineer and trusted co-producer with whom I’ve made the last few of my records.”
Ray Wylie Hubbard described Bonneville’s music as “Like gun powder and opium;” Jim Withers (Montreal Gazette) called it a “folk-roots gumbo…a languid groove, seasoned with smooth, weathered vocals and propulsive harmonica.” Whether performing solo or fronting a band, playing electric or acoustic guitar, Bonneville allows space between notes, adding potency to every chord and lyric. Thom Jurek (Allmusic.com) said of his work, “With darkness and light fighting for dominance…he’s stripped away every musical excess to let the song speak for itself.”
Often called a “song and groove man,” Ray Bonneville has lived the life of the itinerant artist and raconteur. From his native Quebec, he moved to Boston at age 12, where he learned English and picked up piano and guitar. “I grew up the second child in a French speaking Quebecois family of nine kids with a very strict father and we moved around a lot,” Bonneville recalls about his childhood. “From a young age, I was always looking to get off on my own and ditch the heavy rules that were imposed on me. I liked to go off into the woods with a fishing pole or a slingshot, and then later as a teenager in the Boston area, with a guitar and a few chords. I really wanted to roam and find a place for myself in the music world.”
Later, he served in Vietnam and earned a commercial pilot’s license in Colorado before living in Alaska, Seattle, and Paris. Six years in New Orleans infused his musical sensibilities with the region’s culture and rhythms. Then, a very close call while piloting a seaplane in the Canadian bush proved pivotal: After two decades working as a studio musician, playing rowdy rooms both solo and with blues bands, Bonneville’s lifetime of hard-won experience coalesced into an urge to write his own songs.
“Many years ago, I threw away caution to make music my full time job,” he declares. “While I’m glad about my decision to devote myself entirely to this way of life, it wasn’t until I was in my early forties that I began to write my own stuff. The songs became my constant companions, and I lived to write better and better ones. It may have been a loner’s life, but it allowed me the potential for a recording career.
“Lately I’ve been thinking about how my past, my family history and my songwriting and work as a touring musician have shaped my character and path. I’ve come to realize how much a part of my chosen family my songs are, and also my fellow musicians, dear friends and fans.”
About Ray Bonneville:
Ray recorded his first album, On the Main, in 1992 and earned wide critical and popular acclaim, winning an enthusiastic following in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. His awards include a prestigious Juno, the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy, for his 1999 album, Gust of Wind. In 2012, Ray won the solo/duet category in the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge in Memphis. His post-Katrina ode, “I Am the Big Easy,” from his 2007 Red House Records release, Going By Feel, earned the International Folk Alliance’s 2009 Song of the Year Award, placing number one on Folk Radio’s list of most-played songs of 2008, and has recently been covered by Jennifer Warnes on her new album, Another Time, Another Place (May 25th, 2018 BMG). Other notable artists who have recorded his songs include Ronnie Hawkins (“Foolish”) and Slaid Cleaves (“Run Jolee Run”). Ray has shared the bill with heavyweights Muddy Waters, B.B. King, Dr. John, J.J. Cale, and Robert Cray, and has guested on albums by Mary Gauthier, Gurf Morlix, Eliza Gilkyson, Ray Wylie Hubbard, and other prominent musicians. He has performed at renowned venues around the world, including Austin’s SXSW, The North American Folk Alliance, The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the Montreal International Jazz Festival, and plays over 100 shows per year across the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Ray is managed and booked in the US by The Maple Street Music Agency.
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