FREETIME: ‘Rootsy, bluesy’ guitar, harmonica player to perform at Radio Room Oct. 6 |

FREETIME: ‘Rootsy, bluesy’ guitar, harmonica player to perform at Radio Room Oct. 6

Sharon Sullivan
Ray Bonneville
Submitted photo |


What: Concert with Red House recording artist Ray Bonneville

When: 7:30 p.m. Sun., Oct. 6

Where: Radio Room, 1310 Ute Ave.

Cost: $17 advance; $20 door

Info: 970-241-8801, ext. 223, or

“Tough, gritty songs and masterful guitar playing” is how music magazine Dirty Linen describes the music of Ray Bonneville, who is drawn to telling the stories of people who live “on the edge of society” — the drifters, miscreants and criminals.

The “rootsy, bluesy” Bonneville was discovered by Red House Records, an independent folk and roots label, where Bonneville recorded “Going By Feel” — named by DownBeat magazine as one of the best CDs of 2008. The song “I Am The Big Easy” was the number one song on folk radio the year the CD came out and it won the Folk Alliance Award for Song of the Year.

Bonneville was also awarded the Juno award (Canada’s Grammy) and won first place in 2012 in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis.

Bonneville spent a half dozen years in New Orleans, where according to Red House Records, he acquired his “funky finger-picking guitar style. The song “I Am The Big Easy” is a tribute to the resilience of New Orleans after the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

“The government ignored the town; it floundered,” Bonneville said. “I thought the city might want to speak to the world.”

It’s not a “woe is me” tune, but instead, speaks to the pride and character of the great people there, determined to rebuild, Bonneville said.

A French Canadian native, Bonneville moved to Boston with his family when he was 12. He’s since lived in Boulder, Alaska, Seattle, Paris and now Austin, Texas, where he’s often hired as a session player for artists such as Ray Wylie Hubbard, Mary Gauthier and Eliza Gilkyson. He’s also performed with blues artists B.B. King, Muddy Waters and Robert Cray.

Bonneville began playing guitar at 14 and a couple of years later was in a band performing in fraternity houses in New England (he was too young to play in bars). While living in Boulder during the 1970s, Bonneville played in a blues band performing all over Colorado.

He’ll return to Colorado for a performance in the Radio Room, 1310 Ute Ave., Sunday, Oct. 6.

Bonneville is a songwriter, electric guitar player, singer and harmonica player whose latest recording is “Bad Man’s Blood” — a record described by Red House as “a potent blend of N’awlins style swampy folk blues.”

Radio Room volunteer programmer Jim Marshall met Bonneville a couple of years ago in Austin at a Jimmy LaFave concert that Bonneville opened. Marshall sought out a Grand Junction venue to bring Bonneville back to Colorado.

“I like his lyrics. I’ve liked his music since I first heard him,” Marshall said. “He’s like a more upbeat JJ Cale.”

Bonneville lists Roy Orbison, the Rolling Stones, Muddy Waters and Mississippi John Hurt as among his influences. He covered a Hank Williams Sr. song on “Mile Marker 41,” the album he’s currently working on.

For more information about Bonneville, visit

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