Welcome! My blog on Music, Coffee, Travel and more...

...the dicussion of music; behind the scenes musicians stories, everyday happenings based around music, favorite musicians, favorite artists, favorite records, favorite concerts...also, coffee related interest, what we like and why...as well as interesting travel stories and insights on traveling and food...feel free to add to the discussion.

After your look around this blog, please check out Big Coffee Records http://www.bigcoffeerecords.com We're constantly adding great music and artists to this new indie label.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Band X plays Festivals - Food, Arts, Music, Holiday, Season

There are many festivals of all types held throughout the year, all over the US...and the world for that matter.

 - Food Festivals, Wine and Food Festivals, Music Festivals, Dogwood Festivals, Flower Festivals, Holiday Festivals, Arts Festivals, Beer Festivals, Culture and Folk Festivals, Film Festivals, Nature and Earth Festivals, Seasonal Festivals, and many more...!

Most of these festivals are based around food, music, art, and beverage - some festivals are sponsored by the local towns, cities, organizations, while others are sponsored by fund raising organizations to promote and raise money for their particular charity. Entertainment for all types of festivals is a big priority.

Music is a strong factor and sets the tone and proper atmosphere for all of these events...

Band X, being one the best party bands and variety bands across the US, provides the best live entertainment for any outdoor festival in all towns, cities, and local areas!

 Many good bands perform for festivals - but BAND X stands out from all the rest!
Information can be viewed at http://www.bandxlive.com


Thursday, August 23, 2012

Bryan Cole Benefit August 19 2012

The "Java Monkey" band cranked the day of music off at 3:00 - playing for the Bryan Cole and Lisa Cole Benefit at Tavern 99 in Buckhead-Atlanta Ga., on Aug 19 2012.

All bands and musicians had a strong connection with Bryan and donated their time for the event to raise money...Bryan went through another open heart surgery (July 16) to repair his aorta, this follows many procedures and operations following his original 2001 aorta rupture and 4 operations to save his life...each time he's come through the events with enough flying colors to still be with us today!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Joan Baez and Band 1990

1990-91' I played with Joan Baez, 2 US tours and 1 European tour...my old buddy Bob Babbitt (Funk Brothers) passed away this week. So sad. Bob was the ultimate bass player, just his approach to bass playing was remarkable and memorable...playing on hit records from his Motown days "Sign, Sealed, Delivered" by Stevie Wonder, to Marvin Gaye, to "Midnight Train to Georgia" by Gladis Knight and the Pips...and on and on, more than you would imagine. And what a nice guy and a character, just fun to be around...we're all going to miss him and his amazing bass lines will live on for generations to hear.

The rest of Joan's band was Rick Shlosser on drums, Jamie Fox on guitar, and myself on keys. Joan Baez was a pleasure to work for and with...we had such a great time...and her voice is a national treasure, here in the US, but also all around the world.

Bob Babbitt you will never be forgotten. My thoughts and prayers to Ann and the rest of your family and all your many friends....love ya Bob!

Francine Reed and Java Monkey Swiss Tour 1996

1995 or 96' - Francine Reed took Java Monkey on tour with her to Switzerland - we played Ski Resorts for about 2 months. 5 or 6 different resorts plus Lucern...Great trip! Here we are playing in either Davos or Arosa, in their dining room/foyer area. Francine Reed (vocals), Marvin Taylor (guitar), Michael Bastedo (sax), Sean O'Rourke (drums, subbing for our regular drummer Bryan Cole), and me, Steve McRay (keys/key bass)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Band Road Stories - too true to be made up...!

Mose Jones band - in the 70's, we had a gig at University of Alabama opening for Dionne Warwick, we had no money and no truck - so a friend of a friend rented us his Van...it "died" somewhere in Not-quite-big-enough-to-have-a-name, Al...so only thing to do was: (1) find and call a wrecker service to tow the van, (2) find a truck rental company and rent a Truck big enough to put the van into, and (3) find a location out in the country where a building had been torn down, leaving a loading dock that we could access with the wrecker and the van - so we could have a place to make the transfer....and in the picture,....that's what we were doing! We made the GIG!! - PRICELESS!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Cliff Davies (on the right) with Marvin Taylor (our guitar player in "Out a Hand" Band)...this was back in the 80's...I think Cliff was drumming for Ted Nugent at this time....I miss Cliff, what a great guy to talk to - I miss all our conversations....RIP, buddy!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Cliff Davies (RIP) - Drummer, Producer, Songwriter

<< from a letter I wrote last year when Cliff Davies, my old friend, was found dead from an apparent self inflicted gun shot wound...I still miss this guy and I wish he was still with us>>

Cliff Davies (RIP brother…)

I first met Cliff back in the 70’s when Mose Jones (our band) opened a show and IF (Cliff’s band from England) was the headline group. We opened a few shows for them that year, and the band members hit it off right away - we quickly became fast friends and we all respected the musicianship immensely, it was mutual and obvious. We had a great time hanging out together off the stage as well - it was a lot of fun for both bands.

During that year or early the next, IF’s manager, Lew Futterman, called to offer me the keyboard/vocal position with IF - they were preparing to go in the studio and record their album “Tea breaks over, back on your ‘eads” …they wanted to fly me out right away and add me to their band and record their album. I was flattered to say the least.

Side note: IF was a Rock/Jazz/Blues band from London England - they started out as England’s answer to BLOOD, SWEAT, & TEARS (an 7 piece horn driven jazz/rock band created in the 60’s by Dick Morrissey - one of London’s top and popular Jazz sax players). The band had 8 or 9 albums to it’s credit (CBS and CAPITTAL Records)

I turned down the IF offer, not because I wasn’t interested, I was - but our band Mose Jones had recently added our good friend guitar player Davis Causey to our band and we wanted to give Mose one more big opportunity to make it or break it…well, it took about 6 months to realize we weren’t going anywhere playing every small club in every small town throughout the southeast, so we broke up. Soon after I received a call again asking if I wanted to join up with the IF band for their series of tours in support of their new album - so I joined IF and immediately flew to London for rehearsal. At this point the band consist of:

Ÿ         Dick Morrissey (sax, flute)

Ÿ         Cliff Davies (drums, vocals)

Ÿ         Geoff Whitehorn (guitar, vocals)

Ÿ         Walt Monahan (bass, vocals)

Ÿ         Steve McRay (keys, vocals)

The band toured around England and Wales, recorded a few live broadcast, one for the BBC, and then came to the US for an extended tour over here - I think the whole thing took about 7 months - It was a great experience and the music was fun - we played some great shows, some headlining and others co-billed with artist like Kiss, Ted Nugent, and others, and then it was over …the IF band broke up for good.

I came back home, and soon received a call from Cliff - he wanted me come back over and help write some new songs and try to get a record deal based on my voice and style…so I went back to London, and lived with Cliff and his wife while we wrote songs and rehearsed and eventually recorded 4 songs at Manfred Mann’s studio. The songs turned out fine, but we were unable to secure a record deal at that time. In the meantime, I was getting back involved with our old band Mose Jones - we decided to just play some gigs under another name to make some money.

While this was going on, Lew Futterman, who was IF’s manager, became Ted Nugent’s manager and subsequently hired Cliff to come help produce and play drums for Ted’s new album project, which was being recorded at the Sound Pit in Atlanta. I was called in to play keyboards and do some background vocals for Ted’s album. Cliff did an excellent job of sussing out the songs and combining  the strength of Ted’s sound and ability with that of Derick’s vocals, Rob’s bass, and Cliff’s polished drum sound - it was what the record buying public wanted to hear - and it was a great match producing 2 successful solo albums for Ted Nugent and launching an even greater carrier for Ted.

Through all of this, Cliff worked hard and was easily accessible to all his friends. He and his wife eventually moved to Atlanta and set up a residence…

<<more later, on my association with my old friend Cliff Davis....>>

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Big Coffee Blog: Mose Jones - 70's Southern Rock band

Big Coffee Blog: Mose Jones - 70's Southern Rock band: Big Coffee Records released a CD from a once thought "lost" live recording - Mose Jones "Live at Richard's - Atlanta, GA. 1974" The live s...

Mose Jones - 70's Southern Rock band

Big Coffee Records released a CD from a once thought "lost" live recording - Mose Jones "Live at Richard's - Atlanta, GA. 1974"

The live show was recorded by Sam's Tape Truck, and was a simulcast with an  Atlanta FM Radio stations broadcast...the tape was found (in 2008), baked, transferred to digital (ProTools), then mastered and released by two of the original members of the band, Bryan Cole and Steve McRay...Two of the members of this band have passed, Jimmy O'Neill and Randy Lewis...this project is dedicated to their memory, as well as to the memory of the original Mose Jones band!

For more information, please visit the Mose Jones web site. There is also a Remembering Mose Jones FaceBook page, please check it out and "LIKE" it!

The CD is available at Big Coffee Records - CD Baby - Amazon - iTunes  , and more...! Please check it out!

Band X - Atlanta Party Band

I'm playing (keyboards & vocals) with Band X - a high-energy and dynamic Party/Event/Wedding band based out of Atlanta, GA (we travel all over the country - by either car, tour bus, or air) - designed for entertaining at special events, casinos, corporate functions and so much more...we cover songs from the 60's and 70's right up to current songs being played today, and everything in between...70's and 80's party songs, disco, funk, etc., 80's big-hair rock, 90's and 2000's hits and dance music...just a huge variety appealing to any audience or event that Band X is performing in front...this band makes the party rock and the dance floor over-flow!

Band X is designed around a 6 piece core group (guitar/sax, keyboards, bass, drums, percussion with 4 male vocalist) and expands up to a full 10 piece group with 3 dynamic and beautiful female vocalist/dancers, as well as an added guitar player...this is a full stage wall-of-sound, with dancing, stage lighting, high quality sound system, audience participation...it is quite a party and, quite a show!!

For all information, queries, and current videos, please visit the Band X web site http://www.bandxlive.com

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sonar Home Studio with RME audio - Steve McRay Music

Steve McRay Music - Working in my home studio - I use Cakewalk's Sonar software with a RME Babyface audio interface - many nice plug-ins with this system...great sound.

Monday, February 6, 2012

SuperBowl - Giants Win - Kelly Clarkson - Madonna

I have to say, that was one of the better Superbowl games I've seen, two good teams taking it down to the wire...Kelly Clarkson did great "live" rendition of our National Anthem, what little over singing she did, it was kept in control, nice voice and I'm happy she's doing well...Madonna was entertaining, she can still pull off most of her moves - when you have 1000 people in your act it makes it easier to be impressive...like one of those old epic gladiator movies, with 5000 people in every camera shot, hard not to be entertained...not sure which commercial was the best though...

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Insight into Big Coffee Blog

Steve McRay -

This collage gives insight into who I am....I am a musician, first and foremost: Piano, Hammond B3 (still have 2), synths and modules, still have an old Wurlitzer electric B200, a Vocalist...plus a songwriter, although my lyrical skills always give me trouble, and a composer. As a songwriter and composer, I'm now spending my time trying to release these songs and compositions, on the indie record label we created, Big Coffee Records, as well as CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes and all the rest....

I've recorded, toured, and played with many well known artists (more on this later) and traveled all through-out the US and around the world (Europe, Asia, Australia). I enjoy music, coffee, traveling, good food and many different cuisines, snow skiing, the mountains, the beach and the water, and many other things...

And stories....interesting and colorful stories; things that happen behind the scenes - while traveling, in the studio, on stage, before or after the gig,...these are the stories that need to be told. The public generally sees artists and musicians on the stage or they hear their music, and from their view everything looks pretty normal and sometimes pretty exciting - it's never really normal, let me tell you...things happen before, after and even onstage that can make for colorful conversation, and later...some pretty good and sometimes funny stories.

("Elvis has left the building"...well, where did Elvis go and what happened to him next...? We know some of what he did, but there's even more to his and others stories that haven't been told...)

My hope is, other musicians will share their happenings and stories here as well! My bet....well, I bet we'll hear some pretty good stories. (please keep your comments and stories PG14 rated, so everyone can get a chance to see them...otherwise, I'll have to edit or remove them, thanks!!)

One last point, I'm creating this blog based on my interest - not only in music, but coffee (I do like Starbucks...I grind my own beans and maybe one day I'll get into roasting, who knows), traveling (I really love seeing new places and getting into and enjoying the culture of that place, foreign or domestic), food (anything and everything)...you know, these are my interest....just share your thoughts and experiences here on this blog! Tell your stories....And have fun!!

Steve (MacJava)

Friday, February 3, 2012

State of Music today

All packaging and little substance....I watched a movie that was based on the music biz in the 60-70's the other night, and the record company told this singer "we already have someone like you on our roster, you need to be different and find your own style"...hahaha, can you believe that? These days, if you DONT sound like the last big hit, they don't want you, they're so shallow they wouldn't know how to market something different. Music is so homogenized today...used to be all about the song and the performance and the lyrics and the feel - when have you heard that lately. There's some good music and some fun music out there today, but by a whole different set of standards...(my 2 cents).