$35 – $65

Robert Cray - 8pm Headliner

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Location

Southwest Florida Event Center

239-245-9910

11515 Bonita Beach Road SE

Bonita Springs, FL 34135

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Refund Policy

No Refunds

Event description

Description

Robert Cray has been bridging the lines between blues, soul and R&B for the past four decades, with five
Grammy wins, a Blues Hall of Fame inductee, recipient of the Americana Lifetime achievement award,
countless tours and over 20 acclaimed albums. Growing up in the Northwest, Robert Cray listened to the
gospel of the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, Bobby Bland’s soul, Jimi Hendrix’s rock guitar and the
Beatles pop sounds. He would bring all of the influences into play throughout his career, but his teenage
band was captivated by Southern Soul and the blues. “In the early days of the band we were getting back
into O.V. Wright and paying attention to my favorite blues players; Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Albert King
and especially Albert Collins,” Cray says. The Texas-born blues guitarist known as Master of the
Telecaster, Albert Collins, sealed the deal on the Cray Band’s early direction. The musical highlight of
Cray’s senior year was his class voting to bring Collins in to play a graduation party. The glow of a career
in music began when Cray was a teen, and in 1974 it burst into flames as the Robert Cray Band came
together in Eugene, Oregon. How strong was the fire? “Richard and I didn’t own a vehicle, and we were
staying with his girlfriend in Eugene. We hitched a ride to Salem, where our drummer Tom Murphy was
going to school, to rehearse,” Cray recalls. With the group’s 1980 debut release, Who’s Been Talkin’, word
about the Cray Band began to spread across the Northwest and down in to California. Playing packed bars
and roadhouses the Cray Band was thrilling. Yes, fans could hear an Albert Collins guitar riff and a
Howlin’ Wolf song but the sound was present. Blues and soul fans showed up religiously, but those steamy
raucous sets also drew crowds whose tastes in music ranged from rock to funk and jazz. Also among the
Cray Band admirers were other musicians. John Lee Hooker put his appreciation into action. “The first
time we played with Hooker was in Montana. We were opening the set and he was playing solo,” Cray
recalls. “We’d never met him before but he just walked on stage and started playing with us. We dug the
hell out of the guy, and after that we were friends.” The Cray Band’s next two releases – Bad Influence and
False Accusations – charted, taking the four-piece’s sound across the airways and abroad. The group was
on a roll, but the players slept on couches. “We were just road rats,” Cray says with a chuckle. “We’d take
a break for two weeks to record, then go back out. We didn’t have a house, a home, any of those
responsibilities.” On one of those breaks Cray went into the studio with Collins and another great Texas
guitarist and singer, Johnny Clyde Copeland, to record Showdown!, a CD that has become essential to any
80s electric blues collection. It was the sounds of the blues and soul that first drew attention from artists in
the rock arena. In an interview Eric Clapton gives his initial response to Robert Cray saying, “As a blues
fan, we’re saved.” The Cray Band’s beginnings did bring the sounds of its mentors into the mainstream,
even taking the music of John Lee Hooker, Etta James and Albert Collins to a larger, younger audience.
But no one knew how broad the band’s audience would be until the Cray Band opened the ears of rock
radio programmers. With the 1986 release of Strong Persuader the Cray Band’s tunes were put in heavy
rotation on mega rock stations across the nation. The first hit, “Smoking Gun,” was followed by “I Guess I
Showed Her” and “Right Next Door (Because of Me).” The Cray Band’s next two releases, Don’t Be
Afraid of the Dark and Midnight Stroll, brought more radio listeners to record stores, increasing sales of the
group’s CDs. Following the path of fame taken by blues-based rockers like Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray
Vaughan, Cray became a sensation, leading his band in concerts at large arenas and major music festivals.
He was the first African American artist since Jimi Hendrix to rise to such fame in rock music. Was there a
change in the band’s direction or had the blues arrived again into the mainstream after more than three
decades of being forgotten by radio? “We were doing blues and R&B from the first,” Crays says. “That’s
just part of what we do. If you’re writing a tune it’s only natural to grab something from someplace else.
You’re gonna put in some soul changes and some jazz, something you’ve been listening to. With what we
do there’s a whole lot of room to move.” Clapton’s admiration for Cray led to a writing collaboration on
the hit “Old Love,” which featured Cray on guitar. A call came from Rolling Stone guitarist Keith Richards
who asked him to be in the film he and Steve Jordan were producing about the rock guitarist Chuck Berry,
“Hail! Hail! Rock ‘n’ Roll.” Concert footage in the film features Richards, Jordan, Clapton, Julian Lennon,
Linda Ronstadt and Etta James. Cray performs “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” with Berry. Dressed in a
baby blue tuxedo jacket, the young guitarist is the epitome of the tune’s title. Cray also performed on the
Tina Turner TV special “Break Every Rule.” During the 90s the Cray Band was featured in concert with
artists like Clapton, the Stones, John Lee Hooker, BB King and Bonnie Raitt, who declared that the band
leader is “an original; he’s passionate, he’s a bad ass and puts on one of the best shows you’ll ever see.”
Amidst these accolades, soaring record sales and a packed touring schedule the Cray Band recorded six

CDs in the 90s. Cray produced Shame + A Sin, which referenced his blues roots, in 1993. It was followed
by two more self-produced recordings, Some Rainy Morning and Sweet Potato Pie. Recorded in Memphis
and featuring the famed Memphis Horns Sweet Potato Pie was the Cray Band’s most soulful album to date.
The next recording Take Off Your Shoes delved even deeper into Memphis sounds of the 60s. “That was
definitely a soul record,” Cray says. “I’d already been writing songs, Jim (Pugh, who was keyboards with
the Cray Band from 1989 to 2014) was writing songs, leaning toward soul. Steve Jordan (producer), heard
them and put the icing on the cake.” Jordan, who subsequently produced the Cray Band’s In My Soul,
Shoulda Been Home and the first CD in 4 Nights of 40 Years Live, also brought the personification of
Memphis soul to the recording session, Willie Mitchell, to help with arrangements for the Memphis Horns.
Mitchell discovered and first recorded Al Green along with other Southern Soul singers like Ann Peebles,
O.V. Wright and Syl Johnson for the famed Memphis label Hi Records. When he arrived at the Cray
recording session, he brought not only the Memphis presence but also a present. “Willie came over – he
was wearing a gold jacket – and gave me this song, ‘Love Gone to Waste,’” Cray says. “Then we put some
final touches on the CD at his studio in Memphis. It was a great opportunity to see Willie in the studio.”
Both on Take Your Shoes Off and 4 Nights of 40 Years Live, “Love Gone to Waste” showcases Robert
Cray’s natural ease with soul ballads. He is intense but smooth in telling the story of love gone bad. Then in
a falsetto voice he soars through the sadness into the inevitable pain. It is a song that Cray owns because no
other singer has dared try to do it justice. Take Your Shoes Off won a Grammy in 2000. In the next decade
the Cray Band recorded seven CDs, three of them live, and two – Twenty and This Time – were nominated
for Grammys. The group’s most recent recordings, Nothing But Love and In My Soul put the band back on
the Billboard Charts. Cray’s latest record, also produced by Jordan is called “Robert Cray with Hi
Rhythm” and was recorded at Royal Studios in Memphis with the famous Hi Rhythm section. While the
present tour is with Cray’s current band (The Robert Cray Band) and NOT Hi Rhythm, Robert will perform
occasionally at select special shows with Jordan and Hi Rhythm.







Venue opens at 5:30pm for cocktails and dinner in our front room**

Theater doors open at 6pm, dinner service begins for all table seating

Opening artist begins at 7pm

Headliner begins at 8pm

If a ticket is purchased for a table seat (including counter tops), each seat must purchase a minimum $15 of food. If the $15 minimum food purchase is not met, the remaining balance may be charged to the customer.

**If you have a general admission ticket and make a reservation for dinner in our front room at least one day before the event, we will allow you to reserve your seat on the day of show when the theater doors open. Dinner service is available in our front room beginning at 5:30pm by reservation. Regular dinner service for sections table seating ticket holders begins in the theater at 6pm.


Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable.



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Date and Time

Location

Southwest Florida Event Center

239-245-9910

11515 Bonita Beach Road SE

Bonita Springs, FL 34135

View Map

Refund Policy

No Refunds

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