“Would you play something off of your, ‘Ruff America’ album?,” asked an audience member.
Blues singer-songwriter Ray Bonneville let out a chuckle, answering the man in the front row table with, “Which song from that album do you want to hear?”
The man shot back, “All of them!”
That about illustrates completely Canadian-born, Austin-based Bonneville’s relationship with his fans. They love everything he does. His Red House Records release, “Goin’ By Feel,” hit it big in 2008 with the folk radio top-of-the-charts hit, “I Am the Big Easy,” which won the Folk Alliance Award for Song of the Year.
Not bad for an ‘overnight sensation,’ albeit, thirty-plus years in the making. Bonneville honed his craft one coffeehouse and honky-tonk at a time, year after year.
Bonneville has a voice and guitar sound that doesn’t ape blues legends of the past, black or white. He’s his own man singing about what he sees and feels, especially, the difficulties and hardships of everyday life.
With a mix of self-penned originals and covers by singer-songwriters off-the-beaten-path of popularity in Nashville and Austin, Bonneville is comfortable in his own skin. He doesn’t have to prove anything to anyone, and his fans love him for it.
If only there were more of them last Friday night at Caffé Lena… The two dozen that came were treated to two splendid sets of songs and intimate interaction with Ray Bonneville – troubadour and an ambassador of the acoustic blues tradition.
Review and photograph by Andrzej Pilarczyk