He could’ve talked about Ray Bonneville. Born in Quebec 68 years ago, his parents took him and his 8 siblings down to Boston. Early on he got acquainted with a bunch of instruments. Due to some turbulence with a restrictive father, he left home at 17. Joined the marines which earned him the status of Vietnam veteran. Later, to overcome his fear of flying and to make an extra buck, he got himself a pilot’s license. «When I was flying I felt completely at home» he says.
But his real home is still the road, save for some lengthier pit stops in Colorado Springs, Seattle and New Orleans, with worldwide touring in between. Might be one explanation why his face looks like an old passport. Call his music narco-whisky blues, this grizzled veteran’s fronted his own bands but solo travel is the way he likes it. «My thumb became my bass player, my index finger became my lead guitar and rhythm player, my feet became my drums and with my harmonica and vocals, it made for a four-piece blues band.»
Ray’s a natural raconteur of the terrestrial kind with a light hand and gravelly voice, his art chiseled and perfected by over 170 gigs a year. It’s dry and cool stuff he’s serving up and stoicism is the hat he wears. «Like gunpowder and opium» enthused Ray Willie Hubbard about his current album «Easy Gone» (2014). He’s a sought-after studio musician and has worked with some of his heroes like Muddy Waters and Bukka White. There are some big names in his vicinity but the artist he is most often compared to is J.J. Cale.The place that left the largest imprint on Ray, both in his music and persona, has been the Big Easy. From the album «Bad Man’s Blood» the song «Mississippi»: «I said M- I double S… amhhm / I, double P – I / I’d love to cross over pretty mama / But the water’s way to high / - - - / Big mud is a-rising this morning coming knocking on my door / Cry, cry to me pretty baby somebody’s beautiful wife /A whole lot of dirty water coming down / This river change your life.»