Ray Charles | Hard Life & Success of a Blues Genius

Written by Brooke Filsinger

Ray Charles by Greg JoensKnown as “The Genius” the world over, he was simply “Brother Ray” to friends and fellow musicians.

He was a musical pioneer in every sense.

It would be impossible to classify him in a single genre. He was on the cutting edge of the development of soul music in the 1950s and integral to the integration of country with other styles during the 1960s. In an effort to have his listener ‘feel’ his message, he filled his recordings with slurs, glides, shrieks, wails, breaks, shouts, hollers and more.

In addition to being one of the first African-American musicians to be granted artistic control which allowed him the freedom to crossover into mainstream pop, he was also offered a large annual advance, higher than usual royalties, and the almost unheard of ownership of his masters.

But despite his ingenuity, he wasn’t immune to the changing times – he experienced ebbs and flows as popular tastes changed, although he never stopped re-inventing what his music could be.

Frank Sinatra believed that he was “The only true genius in show business”.

We knew him simply as Ray Charles . . . but there was nothing simple about Ray Charles or his music.

12-days-christmas-lights-opacity
Listen to All songs in this article:

Continue reading

Inner workings of a DJ mind | Talking with John Joven about MezzJelly ’17

It might be September but I’m still feeling the glow from my amazing trip to New York for MezzJelly Blues in July. 

Mezzjelly

An offer I couldn’t refuse

When Jered Morin first asked me if I wanted to DJ in New York, I kinda thought he was kidding. But Jered never lies, so naturally, I needed to know more.

I turned out that he and Brooke Filsinger were taking MezzJelly Blues to NYC, and I was invited to be on the team. I checked the dates and when I saw I was free I basically said ‘Yes!’ without really knowing how I was going to manage it.

I’m currently the breadwinner for my family, and I work freelance, so my time is money. DJ-ing might seem glamorous, but it never pays any of my ‘real’ bills. It does give me a little ‘pocket money’ for my never-ending music wish-list and anything left over I spend on the fun I have on my weekends away.  

Anyway… budgetary issues notwithstanding, a gig is a gig, and it’s not every day I get asked to fly to the US to DJ, so I knew that come hell or high water, I would do whatever it took to get myself there.

No Pressure

I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the DJ intro on the MezzJelly Blues website:

Continue reading

Blues Musicians | Ray Wallen

Ray Wallen

Ray with Davide

If you’ve ever been blues dancing at The Joker or Blues at the Ritzy, you’ll know Ray Wallen.

If he’s not singing or playing the harmonica, he’s watching. Enjoying the music. Taking in the atmosphere.

One of the things I love about Ray’s music is that he re-works so many of the songs he sings. One of his talents is re-writing blues songs and giving them a ‘London’ spin.

My personal favourite is his Tom Waits/Ray Charles medley ‘Ice-cream Man/ Hit the Road Jack’.

Just. So. cool.

The very first time I met Ray he was playing in The Dan Nash Band at Blues Baby Blues 2013.

I was still quite new at DJing and was super-nervous until Ray popped over to ask me what I was playing. (It was ‘Crawling King Snake’ by Etta James.) He told me he was really enjoying my music.

Continue reading