There is growing gap between traditional country and the new crop of artists coming up in a scene tinged with pop and hip hop flavors. North Carolina native Ray Scott is doing his part to honor the country legends that influenced his career and remind young fans what it means to make honest music.
Scott performs Oct. 22 with the Charlie Daniels Band at the Florida Theatre in support of “Roots Sessions Vol. 1”, an EP of six classic country tracks that Ray handpicked as a tribute to his favorite artists. “We recorded it just for fun. It let’s people know who I was influenced by and it also lets a new audience in on some great country music,” he says. “There’s a couple generations of separation happening with people that think country music started with Kenny Chesney. I have a reverence and appreciation for older country music so I try to carry that torch.”
The singer-songwriter generated quite a buzz with his third album, ‘Rayality,’ which he released independently in 2012. Scott relied on alternative marketing methods with a focus on internet and satellite radioto sell over 200,000 copies at a time when many major label releases are consistently under-performing.
Scott knows how to tell a story and writes for people who appreciate his unique perspective on his craft. When he was gearing up to release his song “Ain’t Always Thirsty,” which he describes as a “very traditional country song,” he says he knew its traditional style would stick out like a sore thumb among the current roster of shiny singles playing on country radio. “Roots Sessions Vol. 1” is an abridged version of his musical history that tells his fans where he came from and why he sounds the way he does.
He previously partnered with Rolling Stone Country to record a series of performance videos to pay homage to some his musical heroes with his renditions of Billy Joe Shaver’s “Live Forever,” Don Williams’ “Good Ole Boys Like Me” and Johnny Cash’s “Ghost Riders in the Sky.” The positive response from country music fans prompted Scott to return to the studio and polish up the recordings for release. Roots Sessions Vol. 1 also features covers of Merle Haggard’s “That’s The Way Love Goes,” Willie Nelson’s “Always On My Mind” and Tompall Glaser’s “Put Another Log on the Fire.”
“Put Another Log on the Fire” was so tongue in cheek, it was meant to be funny at a time when Willie, Waylon and Jessie Colter were all doing love songs. For whatever reason, I knew when I was a little kid there was something different about that song. It was formative in the way I developed my songwriting and for me, it was a no-brainer to record it,” says Scott. “All of us are influenced by what we grew up on. I grew up listening to guys like Jerry Reeves and Waylon Jennings. Today, kids are more influenced by hip-hop and pop music. Evolution is inevitable and I’m not saying it’s all terrible. Everyone’s definition continues to change but country music as an American art form needs to remember its roots. I just don’t want it to disappear.”
Scott released his debut album “My Kind Of Music” in 2005, selling over 100,000 albums earning the distinction as one of Billboard’s Top 10 Albums of 2005. The first single and title track cracked the Top 40 radio. His 2008 release “Crazy Like Me” and 2011’s “Rayality”, featuring the hit single “Those Jeans,” both received critical acclaim and branded Scott as one to watch.
Plans are underway to follow Roots Sessions Vol 1 with a second collection of less obvious song choices. Scott’s in no particular rush and taking his time this time around to cherry pick songs that are a bit more obscure “but at the same time hit you right between the eyes.”
“Not everyone can tell a good story. Some people say country is three chords and the truth but it can be three chords and a lie as long as it’s entertaining,” he says. “It’s about painting pictures of life that’s based on real life stuff. People want something they can relate to.”
His latest single called “The Ugly One” from his self-titled album “Ray Scott” is one he knows people will relate to although it is sure to ruffle some feathers in the same vain as “Put Another Log on the Fire”. “I love to do something with a little twist in it. I just hope people will listen to it all the way through before they turn on me,” says Scott with a laugh. “All of us have had to take one for the team time and again.”
Tickets and more info at floridatheatre.com.