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I remember sometime about 6 weeks back the phone rang, and on the other end was my good friend Jeremy Ray. He was coming up to to see The Lion King play with his family and wanted to do an intimate show that weekend. Agreeing that most venues were already booked that far in advance, we put our heads together and our friend Joe Shirley’s record store, Cabin Floor Records came to mind. A few phone calls were made, and then with ever-increasing velocity the show approached. Dubbed “The Fam Jam” by Jeremy Ray, it was precisely that. All of the musicians playing that night all sat in on each other’s sets, Revival Tour style, to show that even though distance often sets them apart, music can transcend the miles.
Ryan Sheffield kicked off the night, now with his wife Brenna Sheffield on stand-up bass. It was Brenna’s first show, and while the couple did show signs of nervousness to those who knew them, you could see the relief as the songs came together. And what better setting to debut a new member than in front of family? The set pulled from Ryan’s most recent catalogue, and off of his newest 7″ The Shadowbox. While none of his older recorded material made the cut, it’s always good to see an artist evolve. Perhaps the funniest part of the set was when Ryan forgot his harmonica for his song “Jeremy Ray’s Front Yard” and went to retrieve it mid-song. While Sheffield may have been slightly embarassed by this, it brought a touching sense of humanity to his performance. The end of the set saw Jeremy Ray being called to the stage to perform guitar on the last two songs.
Next up was Jeremy Ray who, as always, livened up an already ecstatic audience. Ray’s set also leaned towards newer material also, as he performed a few songs even I had not heard. His material has always been very autobiographical, and leaned towards the wistful and pensiveness of times come and gone (“I Used To Live Near Fountain Inn” and “Here in My Backyard”. However, newer songs such as “This Goes Here, That Goes There” and “I Fell Out Of A Tree In New Jersey” came more from a different side of his emotional spectrum, and were most likely written during the last year.
After playing solo more 5 or 6 songs, Ray then invited his friends The Long Canes and Ryan Sheffield to join him for a few songs with a cry of “Long Canes Assemble!”. The set ended with him handing over guitar duties to friend and ex-bandmate (for those of us who remember Joanna Whitmire) Scott Kittell and closed on “We Are All The Same In This World”. Always a constant showman, Jeremy Ray knows to entertain an audience, whether it’s apologizing to his dad (who was running sound) for cursing, or dancing like a madman, Ray always delivers live. Also rumor has it for us of us that remember, a Throw Out The Obvious reunion is in the works for an upcoming show in August.
After another small break Greenville’s The Long Canes took the stage while the audience slowly trickled back in, as by this point it was completely blazing in the record store, due to the amount of people packed in. I was only able to stay for about half of their set, but I was definitely sad to leave. Since the group’s inception they’ve only gotten tighter, and drummer Jonathan Dorman has incorporated more call-and-response type vocals into the songs to help balance out singer/guitarist Jeff Ridings gravelly croon. It seemed stage banter was at an all-time high that night, but Jeff Ridings may have taken home the crown, with his story of how his dad may or may not have kicked out Bob Dylan of a hotel bar in the 70′s (about 3:20 in the video).
Overall it really was a great night, as there were probably 60-70 people there when I left around 10:30. I was able to see some friends from Spartanburg who came up, as well as other’s I hadn’t seen in a while, and that’s really what the show was about: friendship.
*photo courtesy of Brittan Tyler T*
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