From the depths of the South Shropshire Hills emerges ‘Dirty Ray’. In a previous life Ray was known as Kevin Weatherill, singer & principal songwriter of British band Immaculate Fools, but that really is another man’s story, ‘Dirty Ray’ is who he was always waiting to be.
After disbanding Immaculate Fools in 1995, having released six albums over an eleven year period, Ray headed for Spain, returning to a people that had already taken his poetic song writing well and truly to their collective heart.
Ray spent several years immersing himself in Spain’s traditional music, the Flamenco of the south and further North, in Galicia, he wrestled with the complicated acoustic guitar rhythms of the chant based alalas songs, fusing these styles with his already deeply ingrained love of Delta Blues, (think; better dressed Seasick Steve with a passion for Tapas) until perfecting his now peculiarly individual style of treating the acoustic guitar.
On returning to his native UK in the early 2000’s Ray continued to further his odyssey to become the one-man-acoustic-firestorm that he has now achieved. Perpetually gigging, constantly writing, Ray has chronicled many of his life’s experiences with no sign of reticence. Just as Leonard Cohen once described poetry as being the language of women, Ray will shamelessly tell you that he is indeed a poet and he became such to get closer to the fairer sex, perhaps this is the origin of Dirty Ray’s change de nom?
In 2008 Ray met Miles Hunt, front man and songwriter of UK band The Wonder Stuff and producer of “Big World For A Little Man”, Hunt says of Ray’s live shows,
“Watching Dirty Ray perform is like being mauled by someone you really like! To begin with it’s a sensory attack, until you slowly realise that what this loud-mouthed little man is actually doing is opening his heart to you, beckoning you in to share what he has seen throughout his life, the man is beautiful.”
Ray and Hunt worked together in 2009 on Hunt’s ‘Shared’ project (an ongoing acoustic enterprise that seeks to introduce lesser known artists, showcasing them alongside established song writers and performers via a series of albums and gigs), Hunt producing three of Ray’s songs for the album, again Hunt,
“Working in the studio with Ray was inspirational, his devotion to song writing and his abilities as a performer is beyond anything I have ever experienced.”
The Mission’s Wayne Hussey, also a contributor to the ‘Shared’ project, described Ray’s approach to playing guitar as ‘choreographed violence’, add that depiction to Ray’s enormous and uncompromising voice, landing somewhere between Tom Waits and Kevin Coyne, and you begin to form some idea of what we’re dealing with here.
In January of 2010, Ray’s 60th year, Ray and Hunt began working on what has become “Big World For A Little Man”, Dirty Ray’s debut album. Enlisting the further talents of violinist/pianist, Erica Nockalls, New York based drummer Andres Karu and flautist Geoffrey Kelly of Canada’s Spirit of the West, they have created an album that has captured the full ambit of Dirty Ray’s artistry. From the elegant allure of ‘The Rain Song’ to the naked aggression of ‘Moon On A Stick’, the collection of songs perfectly captures where we find Ray today.
Ray says of the album;
“I’ve never heard an album like it, we started recording the songs with no clear intention of what it was we wanted to achieve, just to finally get them recorded was all I wanted to do. But what we’ve created is like a day in the life of Dirty Ray, with the final song, “Cherry Tree”, saying okay Ray, you’ve done enough, go to bed now mate”.
Dirty Ray is constantly gigging, there seems no reasonable way of stopping him. A guitar is rarely out of the man’s reach and he is currently working on his next collection of songs.
“Big World For A Little Man” is released on IRL, September 13th 2010.
(Dirty Ray will be celebrating the release of “Big World For A Little Man” at Putney Half Moon, Thursday 16th of September. His band will include Miles Hunt & Erica Nockalls of The Wonder Stuff & several other artists involved with the ‘Shared’ project.)