The West Michigan duo playing an anniversary show next week got cozy with Local Spins on WYCE, which also debuted music by Space Bar, Jack Droppers, The Crane Wives and more.
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Whether playing his raucous rock and blues as a duo, or firing things up as a one-man band, Jesse Ray Cahue figures he’s had a pretty good 10-year run.
Launching Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish a decade ago with his signature salvo of rockabilly-infused, hyper-energy, the Grand Rapids singer, guitarist and harmonica player has honed his talents over the past decade, with a bevy of upcoming 2023 performances and a new studio album on the way.
“I think it’s more authentic,” he said of his music these days. “I’m a better guitar player. I think that I write better music.”
Pairing up last year with new drummer Paul Jensen, of the Muskegon metal band Tiny Tree, Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish will celebrate the band’s 10th anniversary at The Pyramid Scheme in Grand Rapids on May 26, with The Gasoline Gypsies and Tito Villareal also the bill. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $15, available online here.
Cahue follows that by performing a solo show on May 28 as The Reverend Jesse Ray at the three-day Buses by the Beach Bus Benefit, taking place Memorial Day weekend at Camp Blodgett in West Olive, along Lake Michigan. Get tickets, details and the full lineup for that festival online at busesbythebeach.org.
While he concedes his solo gigs are “more singer-songwritery” in nature, they’re still classic Jesse Ray romps.
“It’s fun. I enjoy it. I get to hit drums and scream,” he said, adding that he feels his vocals have improved since he quit smoking. “It’s a good time.”
VIDEO: Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish @ Reggies Chicago
LIVE SHOWS ‘A BLAST’ AND A ‘GREAT RIPPING’ NEW ALBUM AHEAD
Jensen echoes that same sentiment for duo shows, acknowledging that joining Jesse Ray & The Carolina Catfish has been “a blast” with some familiar band tunes coming across as “more aggressive” at live shows.
“I just enjoy the music. It’s fun. I think people really enjoy the music,” he said, noting the duo’s next studio album officially gets released Sept. 29, with some singles released ahead of that date. “There’s a lot of great, ripping tracks on this record.”
Cahue, a native of Cedar Springs, conceded that the band has undergone “quite a few twists and turns” over the years, with two different drummers (Brandon “Dingo” Hopp and Josh Worsham) leaving the fold at various junctures before Jensen took over on the kit.
But the rock ’n’ roll journey continues to create happy new adventures, with the revitalized duo planning a national tour after release of the next studio album this fall. View the full band schedule online here.
“I’ve been working a lot harder recently,” Jesse Ray insisted, “just trying to be a better musician in general.”
This week’s edition of Local Spins on WYCE showcased tracks from the duo’s self-titled 2022 release, “Man’s Back (In Town)” and “Play for Keeps.”
The show – which spotlights local and regional music at 11 a.m. Fridays on WYCE (88.1 FM) and online at wyce.org – also featured new music by Space Bar, Jack Droppers & The Best Intentions, The Gasoline Gypsies (this week’s musician’s pick by Cahue), Brian Koenigsknecht, The Crane Wives, Brent Godfrey and Cameron Blake, as well as tracks from three acts playing Saturday’s Local Spins Fest at Studio Park in downtown Grand Rapids: Lokella, Kari Lynch and In the Valley Below. Listen to the radio show here and browse a Jesse Ray photo gallery from a recent show.
PODCAST: Local Spins on WYCE (5/19/23)
PHOTO GALLERY: The Reverend Jesse Ray at Rockford Brewing
Photos by Anna Sink