IMAGES OF LARRY McCRAY BY KURT SWANSON
To some the blues are acoustic, bending and shaping chords that wrap around a century of pain. To others the blues are electric and breathe with a throaty growl, but for Larry McCray the blues are heavy, dense and full of lead. McCray’s love for the blues has been with him since childhood. That passion has carried him from his humble position as a GM automotive lineworker in Saginaw, Michigan to a world class bluesman often said to have the voice of B.B. King and the spirit of Jimi Hendrix. Unlike other contemporary bluesmen, McCray plays his guitar with aggression. His volume is all the way up and his voice booms millimeters from his mic.
Following a long-standing tradition among blues players, McCray has played every bar, club and jukejoint from Chicago to New Orleans. He’s there for any roadhouse that needs a night’s entertainment. He still believes that’s how it’s supposed to be done. "We’re a road band," says McCray. "Hell, just the other night we were trying to make this gig in upstate New York and we rolled the van driving through a snow blizzard. We got to the gig but it was too late to play and we’re still catching grief from that promoter." McCray and his band were in town showcasing a set of new numbers found on their House Of Blues debut Born To Play The Blues. The intensity of McCray’s show is blinding. His standard night consists of two sweaty ninety minutes sets with a half-hour intermission to cool off.
In 1991, McCray signed with Virgin's blues imprint Pointblank, and released his debut Ambition to glowing response. But it was his second record, Delta Hurricane (produced by legendary British blues producer, Mike Vernon) that won the critics over and gave the fans the full force of what the bluesplayer was capable of. Tours with Gary Moore and Gov’t Mule have encouraged his popularity and tonight Larry added selections off Born To Play The Blues for a cookin’ array of ten years in the business. Larry’s a big man and plays the blues to match his persona. “Me and my guitar are completely one up there,” remarks McCray. Afterwhich he proceeds to tear the house down!~thecutting-edge.com