Old Dominion, Michael Ray set for arena show
Fresh off of a win at the CMA Awards, Old Dominion brings their Happy Endings World Tour to Huntington. Happening on Friday, Dec. 7, at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena, the concert will also feature Michael Ray and Canada’s High Valley.
Just a few weeks ago, Old Dominion won the CMA Award for Vocal Group of the Year, a high point in their career. This follows a win in the same category by Old Dominion at the Academy of Country Music Awards earlier in the year.
The Old Dominion concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $40 to $62. More information can be found at bigsandyarena.com and 800-745-3000.
Michael Ray has been producing some No. 1 hits of his own over the last couple of years with “Kiss You In The Morning” and “Think A Little Less” from his first recording. Ray’s new album, “Amos,” released a couple of months ago, has also spawned a couple of chart toppers with “Get To You” and “One That Got Away.”
Amos is the name of Ray’s grandfather, who was a big influence on his career in his native state of Florida. It was Ray’s grandfather that loved country music and played the guitar and encouraged everyone in the family to learn how to sing or play an instrument of some kind. By the time Ray was nine years old, he was performing in front of people with his kin in the central Florida town of Eustis.
“When my grandpa got out of the Army, he was such a huge country music lover and fan and he became a great guitar player, and he passed that down to my dad and my uncle and my cousins,” said Ray. “They formed a band and my grandpa played the lead guitar with them. I came along later in life and would get up onstage with them as well. He taught me my first set of chords and I was in his band from nine years old on, so I began to figure out my sound and what I wanted to say in a confident way. So, I want my fans to know where my story started, and that is when my grandpa Amos planted that love of country music in my family.”
At 9 years old, Ray was onstage before he knew what the concept of nerves or stage fright was when it came to performing in public and those experiences were priceless. Years later, Ray’s grandfather stayed alive long enough to see the beginning of his grandson’s success.
“Unfortunately, grandpa passed away a couple of years ago in February of 2016,” said Ray. “He got to hear my first single on the radio and got to see some of my shows in Florida. He passed away a week before ‘Kiss You In The Morning’ hit country radio. It was a bittersweet time, but now I view it as instead of him being at one show in Florida, he now gets to be at all of them. He loved to see my success. It was something that he wanted somebody in the family to do.”
Although Grandpa Amos never made the big time in country music, and there are a lot of great small and big town musicians that don’t make it their profession for many reasons; he set the tone for his grandson’s success.
“My grandpa was very selfless as a man and he just wanted to see someone take what he loved and was passionate about and do something with it,” said Ray. “There was a guitar in everybody’s house and he was constantly trying to get music into family events. He would bring all of the instruments because a jam session was going to break out at some point. Him and I had that bond, not just in a grandpa and grandson way, but over traditional country music and the Grand Ole Opry and the artists that paved the way before us back in the day.”
Ray remembers when he heard his own song on the radio for the first time. Once again, it was an emotional moment that involved his family.
“That happened back home in Florida,” said Ray. “I was fortunate enough to be driving around with my dad in his truck. We were driving down a road to meet my grandfather and some of our family members at this restaurant called Jeannie’s Place where we all ate at when I was growing up. We happened to have the radio on, turned down a little bit so you could still talk over it. Then, I heard that first guitar riff of ‘Kiss You In The Morning’ and it was awesome. To hear your own song coming out of the speakers in your dad’s truck played by the hometown radio station that you grew up listening to was great. That radio station had my back a long time before I moved to Nashville, so it was really cool.”
Ray was in the crowd when Old Dominion won their CMA Award a few weeks ago.
“It has been awesome being on tour with Old Dominion as everything is growing so much for them,” said Ray. “It is cool to be a part of it. If you look back at the footage of the awards show, I think I jumped up for them before they did when their name was called. They are great guys and great songwriters and great artists and they have helped me a lot. It was kind of like seeing your older brothers get an award.”