Ray Bonneville, Richie Lawrence bring grit and soul to The Palms on Saturday, Jan. 12

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Ray Bonneville did a lot of living in three countries and two continents before he started setting down his own words and music. But with a style that draws comparisons to JJ Cale and Daniel Lanois, this blues-influenced, New Orleans-inspired song and groove man eventually found his rightful calling as a songwriter as well as musician. Bonneville will perform at the The Palms Playhouse on Saturday, Jan. 12 starting at 8 p.m. Sacramento-based musician Richie Lawrence will accompany on keys, accordion and vocals. Tickets are $20. Based in Austin for the past decade, Bonneville strips his bluesy Americana to its essentials and steeps it in a humid, southern vibe, creating compelling poetry of hard living and deep feeling. His new CD, “At King Electric,” delivers his trademark grit and groove. “I never had kids, but this will be my ninth studio album since I started writing and performing my own songs,” said Bonneville. “I guess you could say that the songs, the records and the folks I meet out on the road have been my family. I get to know the characters in my songs as they reveal themselves to me over the hours, days and nights of writing. This new album is alive with them.” Sympathy for the lost runs through Bonneville’s songs, many of which are gritty narratives inspired by a lifetime of hard-won knowledge. Bonneville’s penchant for a peripatetic life began at 12, when his parents moved their nine French-speaking children from Quebec to Boston. He learned to play a little piano and guitar, but language and cultural challenges made school uninviting. Before getting expelled, he played weekends in New England with a young band that traveled in a ’57 Cadillac ambulance. At 17, he joined the Marines, mainly to escape his oppressively authoritarian father, and served in Vietnam for a year. Post-discharge, he discovered the blues, and taught himself to play harmonica while working as a Boston cabbie. Bonneville honed his chops during stints in Boulder, Alaska, Seattle, Paris, New Orleans, Quebec, Arkansas and Austin. When in Colorado, he fronted the Ray Bonneville Blues Band. While playing solo between pilot jobs in the Pacific Northwest, he worked to bring a blues groove to rowdy crowds. “My thumb became my bass player and my index finger became my lead guitar and rhythm player,” he explained. “My feet became my drums and with my harmonica and my vocal, that made for a four-piece blues band.” While in Paris, Bonneville encountered audiences who sat in silence, truly listening, for the first time. “I realized that you’d better have something to say if you’re going to play in front of this kind of crowd.” He’s found that something to say. Bonneville’s post-Katrina ode, “I am the Big Easy,” was folk radio’s top song of 2008 and earned the International Folk Alliance’s 2009 Song of the Year Award. He won a Juno Award for his 1999 album “Gust of Wind” and an International Blues Challenge solo/duet award in 2012. Bonneville’s worked with Mary Gauthier, Gurf Morlix, Eliza Gilkyson, Ray Wylie Hubbard Tim O’Brien and Slaid Cleaves. Regional favorite accordion and keys man Richie Lawrence tours with Bonneville, recorded “At King Electric” with him, and will join him at The Palms. Lawrence first played in Bonneville’s band in the 1970s. Other projects include solo albums, The Yolos, Horse Sense, The Loose Acoustic Trio, Rotandi, and guesting with I See Hawks in L.A. Tickets are available at Pacific Ace Hardware in Winters, Armadillo Music in Davis, Davids’ Broken Note in Woodland, online via The Palms’ website and Eventbrite, and at the door if not sold out. For more information, visit palmsplayhouse.com, raybonneville.com and richielawrence.com.   ]]>

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