“Spider” John Koerner. Dave “Snaker” Ray. Tony “Little Sun” Glover. The names are legendary, and the seminal country-blues group they formed in the early Sixties influenced a musical era with its passionate treatments of rare blues stylings. A fun-loving trio of misfits, they turned audiences on their heads with foot-stomping performances throughout the U.S. Their series of Elektra recordings, commencing with Blues, Rags and Hollers, is considered the cornerstone of the Sixties folk/blues revival.

Though based in Minneapolis, Koerner, Ray and Glover first connected in New York City in the spring of 1962. Glover was visiting his pal Ray when Koerner dropped in from Upstate. Amidst the bar-hopping and jamming, the three clicked, and the Trio was born. By that fall, they were back in the Twin Cities, picking together at clubs and parties. In 1963, Paul Nelson, who edited The Little Sandy Review, hooked them up with Audiophile records in Milwaukee. In one twelve-hour session, the boys recorded Blues, Rags & Hollers. They put copies into the hands of a few influential people, including Jac Holzman at Elektra Records. When Holzman heard it, he flew to Minneapolis and signed them to a recording contract. Elektra also bought the Blues, Rags & Hollers master from Audiophile and reissued it.

Eventually, Koerner, Ray & Glover cut six albums for Elektra, with an intriguing mix of string-band, ragtime and down-home blues styles. They performed at the Newport and Philadelphia Folk Festivals as well as on the club and college circuits. Their raucous enthusiasm and musical acumen breathed new life into traditional material and earned them fans that included John Lennon and the Doors.

During the Sixties, Koerner pursued a solo career and in 1969 recorded the classic Elektra album Running, Jumping, Standing Still with Willie Murphy at the same California lodge in which Ray completed Bamboo. In the Seventies, Koerner turned to other interests, including experimental film making, and moved to Denmark for several years. There he immersed himself in traditional American folk music. When he returned to Minnesota, he made two records for Ray’s label, Sweet Jane, Ltd.: Music Is Just A Bunch Of Notes and Some American Folk Songs Like They Used To. His recent work for Red House Records, including Nobody Knows The Trouble I’ve Been, Raised By Humans and StarGeezer, continues his effort “to salvage the soul of American music,” as one critic put it.

In 1972, Ray built a recording studio in the Minnesota woods. His label, Sweet Jane Ltd., made Bonnie Raitt’s first Warner Brothers album and was a prototype for the “cottage industry” studios of today. Ray has led several blues and rock bands, including Bamboo, Snake, The Waistband and The Volunteers of the Blue Knight. His recent band, The Three Bedroom Ramblers, released a 1995 disc, What Was The Question? that highlights the exciting, eclectic performances that have characterized all of Ray’s group efforts, including his current Blackburn-Beach Blues Band and The Elegonzos trio.

Glover authored several best-selling harmonica instruction manuals, worked as an all-night “underground” DJ, and spent time in New York as a music journalist for various magazines, including Rolling Stone, Crawdaddy and Circus. His notes for Dylan’s LIVE 1966 album won the ASCAP Deems Taylor award. A Trio show in 1984 formed the foundation for his production: Blues, Rags & Hollers: The Koerner, Ray & Glover Story, a two-hour performance/documentary video. In 1987, he won the “Best Electric Harp” award from the Minnesota Music Awards. His collaborative biography of Little Walter will soon be published.

Ray and Glover have maintained an active performing partnership over the years. A Minneapolis blues bar gig resulted in the release of a jukebox 45 on their own Ray-Ver label. A series of acoustic performances was captured on a 1987 Treehouse release, Legends in Their Spare Time. It was named “Blues Album of the Year” by the Minnesota Music Awards. They have appeared on numerous albums and anthologies and on bills with artists as diverse as John Lee Hooker, Bob Dylan, J. J. Cale, Dr. John, B.B. King, Beck, Boz Scaggs and Keb’ Mo. In 1990 they recorded Ashes In My Whiskey for Rough Trade. Tim/Kerr Records released their most recent effort, Picture Has Faded, winner of the 1994 Minnesota Music Awards’ “Best Independent Record” prize. Both albums garnered critical praise, including many-starred reviews in Rolling Stone.

Ray and Koerner have traveled extensively as a Duo, playing Florida dates for the past few winters. They contributed “Delia” for Red House Records’ tribute to Dylan, Nod To Bob.

During the Seventies and Eighties, Koerner, Ray & Glover reunited for special shows, including folk festivals in Winnipeg and Vancouver, and Sing Out! magazine’s thirtieth anniversary concert. The Minnesota Music Awards named Koerner, Ray & Glover “Best Folk Group” and elected them to the Hall of Fame along with Bob Dylan and Prince.

The Trio recorded a four-concert series in 1996, and Tim/Kerr has released an album from these sessions entitled One Foot In The Groove. They followed this release with a tour that included the Philadelphia Folk Festival and the Seattle Bumbershoot Festival. The Trio won both the 2000 and 2001 Minnesota Music Awards Folk Group category and regularly performs at clubs and festivals: from coast to coast, old fans and new welcome the return of Koerner, Ray and Glover.

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