Musicians from the Midwest have a knack for reinventing tradition. Jeff Ray is no exception. Go to any one of his performances and you’ll hear his fans say the same thing, “his music sounds old and new at the same time.” Born and raised in Minnesota, Ray left home at the age of 17 to cut his teeth in Memphis. It was through those travels that he developed his unmistakable “East-meets-West” bluesy Americana sound.
Watch closely and you’ll see Jeff Ray’s thumb keep the bass note thumping while he glides a glass slide seamlessly across the fret board. At the same time, his foot drives a heavy backbeat on a homemade portable front porch while an electronic tanpura drones at his side.
Jeff Ray and his lineup of guest musicians have been featured at a number of high-profile venues, including the Taste of Minnesota, the Porcupine Mountains Festival, Deep Blues Festival, Highland Fest, Acoustic Sounds Café (NPR), and Radio Heartland (NPR), to name a few. He has shared stages with Chris Smither, Justin Townes Earle, Indigenous, Spider John Koerner, Earl Greyhound, the Black Diamond Heavies, Pat Donohue, Retribution Gospel Choir, Dawes, Charlie Parr, James Hunter, Marcia Ball, and many more.
In 2009, Ray won second place in the Spotlight Songwriter Competition in Minneapolis, MN and in 2010, Jeff Ray and Harold Tremblay (harmonica) won first place in the Greater Twin Cities Blues Society’s ‘Road to Memphis’ competition. They were selected to represent Minnesota at the 2011 International Blues Challenge in Memphis, TN.
“a quality that could only come by blending the birthplaces of Bob Dylan and the delta blues.”
- Des Moines Register
“The clarity and precision of Ray’s bottleneck playing, as it swoops and dives through his vocal lines, is so well-honed and has such an alluringly liquid quality that it puts him in a league with the best on the planet. Folks such as Ry Cooder, David Lindley and Bob Brozman have nothing on this young virtuoso.” - Duluth News Tribune
“Ray’s honeyed vocals and deft slide guitar stylings offer blues fare more contemplative than gritty, with a vibe that’s equally indebted to Ravi Shankar, Nick Drake, and Greg Brown. Simply lovely.” - mnartists.org