Robert Cray is one of the most accomplished blues musicians with whom far too few people seem to be familiar. The five-time Grammy Award-winner will bring his Robert Cray Band to the Bardavon 1869 Opera House in Poughkeepsie on Saturday, January 31 at 8 p.m., giving fans new and old a chance to hear his contemporary take on the blues.
Cray’s earliest success came in the ’80s with Strong Persuader, an album boasting three hit singles built around his soulful guitar, smooth voice and a mainstream-friendly approach to the blues. It was just the tip of the iceberg.
Cray began playing guitar because he wanted to be George Harrison. He soon found his own way through the music of Albert Collins, Buddy Guy and B. B. King, and eventually performed with Eric Clapton, Bonnie Raitt, Stevie Ray Vaughan and John Lee Hooker. There are likely bits and pieces of all those classic guitarists in the mix, but what comes out regardless of the indefinable genre is pure Cray.
Cray was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame in 2011 at the age of 57, making him one of the youngest performers to earn the distinction. He continues recording vital music – In My Soul was released in 2014 – and is seemingly always on the road with the Robert Cray Band, a group of musicians who share in their leader’s aesthetic the singular goal of breaking down stylistic barriers in the name of the blues.
The Robert Cray Band, Sat., Jan. 31, 8 p.m. at the Bardavon, 35 Market Street, Poughkeepsie. Tickets are $50 general admission, $45 for members and are available at the Bardavon box office, the Ulster Performing Arts Center box office at 601 Broadway in Kingston and through TicketMaster. For more information, visit www.robertcray.com or www.bardavon.org.