Drummer Bill Ray’s got a lot of irons in the fire.
“I played Joshua Tree Music Fest with Earl Thomas & the Kings of Rhythm, primarily performing the music of Ike and Tina Turner,” says local drummer Bill Ray, who was part of Turner’s band when he passed away in 2007. The performance with Thomas was recorded for an upcoming live album.
“It was a tribute of sorts, a hybrid tribute being that we [Armando Marcos Cepeda, Seth Blumberg, Paul Smith, Ryan Montana, and Ray] had all played with Ike.” He says revisiting Turner’s music brought back polarizing memories of his tenure with the mercurial bandleader.
“Going into the project, anything to do with Ike, there’s a level that one has to rise to. When we played with Ike, a ‘bad’ night was equivalent to a ‘great’ night on the local scene. See, you had to start out at that place and work upwards. Every night had to somehow eclipse the previous one, and we did. For the British press to call us ‘impossibly tight’ was proof, because there wasn’t a moment that someone didn’t want to rip Ike a new one for the tiniest thing, being that he was who he was.”
The busy drummer also appears on upcoming releases with his band the Odd Get Even and a collaboration with Mike Watson (Greyboy All-Stars). “The Odd Get Even is the online project that I share with Bill Cornish. The tunes begin as drum solos, and Bill writes music over the top of them. It’s quite interesting to make an album from the drums up.” As for the record with Watson, “The best classification I could give it is Frank Zappa meets the Mahavishnu Orchestra. It’s witty, funny, some of it vulgar, but all of it challenging to play.... We plan on releasing it as a ‘play-along,’ with a tempo map in lieu of the drum tracks, so that others may experience the fun of playing this very creative stuff.”
Ray is also working on music with a newer experimental group called Nice World, featuring Marcelo Radulovich (Me Me the Moth), James Call (the Penetrators), Joyce Rooks (Trowsers), Joey Carano (Ian Tordella), and 21-year-old bassist Henry Wessman. “Nice World is actively recording the strange and beautiful sounds we manage to come up with. It’s an extemporaneous and unbridled creative dump.
“We just set up the gear and start playing whatever falls off our head.”