C.S. Gray 270

Something a little different -- my good friend Chris Gray, a.k.a. C.S. Gray, will be playing two sets on Friday evening, July 22, at Banjo Jim's in the East Village. He asked me to fill in on bass guitar, and I was delighted to say yes.

Chris and I go way back. Back in the early 1990s, we co-founded the band Martin's Folly. Before anyone ever heard the term "roots rock," we started writing songs that portrayed what we liked best about the American music we loved. That was the pre-Internet, pre-download era, so we were more or less working in the dark. We made three albums that were produced by Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, and for five or six years we played in the New York clubs, up and down the East Coast, and out to Cleveland, Chicago, Nashville, Asheville and points in between.

After I veered off into instrumental music, Chris took his brand of songwriting, singing and guitar tone-making up to the next level, and his solo album "Shoot Out the Star" is finally getting the exposure it deserves. Like a vintage Neil Young album, "Shoot Out the Star" collects sessions done with various groups of musicians, some acoustic, some very electric.

On Friday the 22nd, Chris will be doing a quiet set of his own tunes, in a contemplative manner, on acoustic guitar and harmonica, with some special guests and surprises. I may play a bit of piano. Beyond that, I shall say no more about the "quiet" set.

And then Chris will plug in his amp for the warm, buzzy tone he is known for. On drums will be the swinging Karl Myers, and I'll be thumping the bass. And we may have more electric guitars on stage than you're supposed to. In our rehearsals, we're sounding quite bluesy and ... I don't quite know how to say this ... a bit British? It's something different. Some tunes are getting stretched out, other tunes are getting compressed. It's all a bit mysterious, but it sounds way cool, both raunchy and refined, and I can't wait to hear how it comes out.

So make it to Banjo Jim's on Friday, July 22, for this double-barreled show. It will be live, spontaneous and real, and it may not happen quite this way ever again.

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