Dave “Snaker” Ray Biography
Dave “Snaker” Ray, with partners John Koerner and Tony Glover, formed Koerner, Ray and Glover in the early Sixties. KR&G was a seminal influence on the folk-blues scene that dominated the post-beatnik, pre-hippie era. They cut six albums for Elektra with an intriguing mix of string-band, ragtime and down-home blues styles. The group performed at the Folk Festivals in Newport and Philadelphia and on the club and college circuits. Their raucous enthusiasm and musical acumen breathed new life into traditional material; artists as diverse as John Lennon and The Doors listed them as influences.
When the Trio drifted apart in the late Sixties, Dave built a recording studio deep in the Minnesota woods. His label, Sweet Jane Ltd., was a prototype for today’s cottage industry studios and made numerous recordings, including Bonnie Raitt’s first sides for Warner Bros.
During the Seventies and Eighties, Dave reunited with KR&G for special shows like the Winnipeg Folk Festival and the celebration concert for Sing Out! magazine’s thirtieth anniversary. A late-Eighties Trio show was filmed to form the foundation for Blues Rags & Hollers: The Koerner, Ray & Glover Story, a two-hour performance/documentary video produced by Glover. The Minnesota Music Academy named them “Best Folk Group” and elected them to the Minnesota Music Hall of Fame, along with Prince and Bob Dylan.
Ray and Glover have always maintained an active performance partnership. A bar gig yielded a 45 on their Ray-Ver label. A series of acoustic performances was captured on the Treehouse release, Legends In Their Spare Time. The Minnesota Music Awards named it “Blues Album of the Year.”
Ray and Koerner have traveled extensively as a Duo, playing Florida dates for the past few winters. They contributed “Delia” for Red House Record’s tribute to Dylan, Nod To Bob.
Dave has led several blues and rock bands, including Bamboo, Snake, The Waist Band, and The Volunteers of the Blue Knight. With pianist John Beach and drummer Kory Badertscher, Dave formed The Three Bedroom Ramblers and recorded What Was The Question? This release accents the exciting and eclectic playlist that has characterized all of Dave’s group efforts. The Elegonzos, featuring John Beach and Paul Lagos, continue Dave’s exploration of the soul of jazz and R&B since the Thirties, especially the funky rhythms of New Orleans.
Dave and Tony’s ten-year run at a local bar was ended when a high-rise office tower replaced the establishment, but the two soldier on at another Minneapolis bistro: Lee’s Liquor Lounge. In the past few years, the Duo has opened for Bob Dylan, The Radiators, B. B. King, Boz Scaggs, Patti Smith and Keb’ Mo’. Besides his hometown commitments, Dave frequently heads out for roadwork. Recent dates have included MerleFest, the Philadelphia Folk, Toledo Riverwalk and Upper Mississippi Blues Festivals, Seattle’s Bumbershoot, Milwaukee’s Summerfest and clubs from coast to coast. When traveling, Dave plays his Taylor twelve-string, knocking out the houserocking boogies, plaintive soul songs and country blues that have kept him in demand for forty years.
Red House Records has reissued the three Trio recordings made in the early Sixties: Blues, Rags and Hollers, Lots More Blues, Rags and Hollers, and The Return of Koerner, Ray and Glover. The first KR&G recording in thirty-five years, One Foot In The Groove, was released in 1996.
Snake Eyes is Dave’s latest solo effort. This disc features a variety of classic twelve-string blues and updated R&B hits. Dave and Tony, along with Camile Baudoin and Reggie Scanlon of The Radiators, combined as The Back Porch Rockers and released By The Water in 1999. With Milwaukee friends, Jeff Dagenhardt and David Kasik, Dave formed the group 6L6 and released A Hollowbody Experience in 2000.
KR&G won both the 2000 and 2001 Minnesota Music Academy’s Folk Group award. When he’s not traveling, Dave can be seen performing weekly in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area.