Into it: Robert Cray

Robert Cray, master of the blues, what are you ...

... Reading?

Over the last couple of years I've been reading a lot of political books. It's been mostly about what's going on in Iraq, so I've read Plan of Attack [by Bob Woodward] and Michael Moore's Where's My Country? and House of Bush, House of Saud [by Craig Unger]. In Michael Moore's book, you have to look at it a couple of different ways because it's comedic in a sense, but he's trying to wake people up to the fact that there's a lot of association between the Bush family and the house of Saud.

... Watching?

[My wife and I] saw Good Night, and Good Luck. [It's about how] Edward R. Murrow battled the president of CBS at the time because he was getting deeply involved in his story on the McCarthy hearings. It was really well put together. And they kept it short, too, so you didn't get lost in it like in Syriana.

... Listening to?

There's a musician who I like quite a bit and have had an opportunity to work with: His name is Eric Bibb. He's got great charisma on stage. He's very well versed in blues and gospel and is a fine singer, as well.

Recommended: 3 novels about home and estrangement

I bought Thelonious Monk "The Columbia Years: 1962 to 1968." I got into Monk through our former keyboard player, Peter Bow, who was in the band in the late 1970s and '80s and is a jazz pianist. He turned me onto Coltrane, and Byrd, and Dizzy Gillespie, and Dexter Gordon, and Duke Pearson.

Albert Collins is one of the most dynamic, explosive guitar players out of the box with his different tuning and his approach to a song. Albert Collins played our high-school graduation party in 1971 in Tacoma, Washington, and that's when I got an opportunity to say "hi" to him afterwards. There's one song by Ike and Tina Turner called "Bold Soul Sister" that was a single and was on the radio in the '60s. And Albert Collins is featured on the solo on this cut - at the end of the song it just rocks. There's a rock 'n' roll riff going on the guitar and then Albert Collins just cranks it up and takes off!

One of my favorite all-time singers, if not my all-time favorite, is a guy by the name of OV Wright. One of my favorite albums by him is "Nucleus of Soul." It's mainly ballads - those heartwrenching, slow ballads. He takes a song slowly at the beginning and raises its level from verse to chorus, to verse to chorus, and at the end it's all this squalling.

I'm also a fool for Howlin' Wolf. I like the play between Wolf's voice and Hubert Sumlin's opposite high-end guitar and the grooves are unlike anybody else's grooves. It's big city Chicago music but they brought Mississippi up there with them.

Robert Cray is on tour with a new album, "Twenty." See www.robertcray.com.

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