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Roy Kay Trio

Ember Brothers (the)

The Ember Brothers – s/t

Ember brothers

VLV Records [2021]
Hey Midnight – Lonesome Last Night – Fight My Lover – Sinking Blue – Tumblin’ Down – Cast A Wish – Jealousy – Danger – Something Strange – I’m Here – Truly (I Love You) – Sings The Devil – Left To Wander

The Ember Brothers are a relatively young band formed by Roy Kay (vocals and guitar) and Robin Cady (double bass), both from the Roy Kay Trio. They are joined by John Olufs on guitar and Eddie Martinez on drums. The four of them also play in the Starjays. With such a bunch of talented guys, I wasn’t too afraid about what I’d find on this platter. And boy was I right!
The quartet delivers a solid set of thirteen highly melodic songs with vocal harmonies reminiscent of the Everly brothers. The whole collection is enhanced by the jazz-influenced guitar that takes things to a whole new level and thus, creates a very unique and swinging sound.
Some songs are more Rockabilly oriented but always remain bouncy, with light drums, mostly a brushed snare.
Others have a slight 1960’s feel. Jealousy, to name but one, sounds a bit like the missing link between the Roy Kay Combo and the Margraves, with a twangy guitar and assorted percussions.
The whole thing is always surprising and never predictable, with unusual structures and superb arrangements.
The band doesn’t seem to care about falling in one specific genre and looks very happy to incorporate every kind of reference and style to build their own sound. By doing that, they’re not that far from what Big Sandy and his Fly-Rite Boys achieved with Turntable Matinee, namely create a roots-oriented yet modern brand of music.
I couldn’t recommend this album enough.

Fred “Virgil” Turgis

Roy Kay Trio / Roy Kay Combo

Roy Kay Trio – Travel Bound

Miz Liz 002 [2014]

Travel Bound – One year ago Tonight

Fantastic single from the Roy Kay Trio (but that’s not a surprise.)
A side is a superb piece of wild Rockabilly with a strong Johnny Burnette feel. The flip is mellower and is a beautiful country shuffle.
And to add more beauty to all that, it comes in colored vinyl.

Roy Kay Combo - I'm Hooked
Roy Kay Combo – I’m Hooked

Roy Kay Combo – I’m Hooked

Lur Liner Records LL004 (2009)
Boom – From Can To Can’t – Give Me Love – I’m Waitin’ – Askin’ But Not Gettin’ – Midnight Station – I’m Hooked – How It’s Done – Hey Honey – Dream On My Own – Love To Spare – Think Of Me
After releasing some of today’s finest rockabilly records, Roy Kay and his two partners in crime (Mike Geglia on guitar and Robin Cady on double bass) decided to try something new. They added drums (played by Aaron Mlasko) and a suberp rockin’ piano, giving them a fuller sound and a more rock’n’roll flair. The piano and Roy’s catchy melodies (he wrote 11 out of the 12 songs of this album) also evoke the recordings of Kenny Parchman and Carl Mann too. The whole thing is rounded by solid backup vocals, some in a doo-wop style that work very well. Tony Laborie (The Top Hands, Rattled Roosters, Ray Condo) plays steel on some tunes addind a Bill Haley’s Saddlemen feel to “How It’s Done” (that also features fine question/answer vocals) and a straight hillbilly style to “Think Of Me”.
Another great album from Roy and the boys (welcome to the new one) and I bet that the first time you hear it you’ll bet at your turn hooked by the Roy Kay Combo.
Nice digipack presentation too.

roykayharmonyRoy Kay Trio – The Rhythm and Harmony of…

Texas Jamboree TexJam 6903 (2008)
Why Even Try – Starlight Alone – Everyone’s In Love – She’s Trouble – Heart That Beats With Mine – Young And Foolish – Goodbye Romance -Endless Night – Hearts Unknown – New Girl – Feelin’ Down – So Tired – What She’d Love To Hear -Wonder
Released on the excellent Austin based label Texas Jamboree (Horton Brothers, Miss Lauren Marie, Nick Curran…) and coming in a beautiful digipack the fourth album from this drummerless trio shows a slight departure from their usual sound. Instead of the rockabilly boppers you’ve been used to you’ll find the band exploring late fifties/early sixties territories. The result is fourteen highly melodic (not that their rockabilly wasn’t melodic) and very well crafted pop songs written by Roy Kay that play in the same league as Buddy Holly (She’s Trouble, New Girl, I Wonder), The Everly Brothers (thanks to the fine harmonies of Robin Cady and Mike Geglia). The more you listen to this sweet tunes the more they grow in you and you find yourself playing the album over and over. These boys don’t have any equivalent on the scene, though you could rapproach them to The Horton Brothers or The Bellfuries as they really try to bring new structures and unusual chord progressions in their songs. Succumb to the charm of the rhythm and harmony of the Roy Kay Trio.

Roy Kay Trio - Rock-A-Way Lonesome Moon
Roy Kay Trio – Rock-A-Way Lonesome Moon

Roy Kay Trio – Rock-A-Way Lonesome Moon

Lur-Liner LL003 (2005)
Their third album . The previous ones has been respectively produced by Deke Dickerson and Ashley Kingman. For this one they went to Germany and choose Axel Praefcke (Ike & The Capers) as co-producer. I believe you already know all the good things I think about them. And this album won’t change my mind!
All but three songs are originals mostly written by Roy. Robin (bass) and Mike (guitar) contribute one song each. About the music there’s no big departure from the previous albums, you’ll find the same blend of rockabilly (“My Rockin’ Heart”, “Move On”), hillbilly boogie (“She Tracked Me Down” has backing vocals very similar to Webb Pierce’s Teenage Boogie), beautiful ballads (“I’ve Lost”, “Untie This Strings”) but this time they added a touch of western swing with “Cadillac In Model A”. Axel did a very good job producing this record and gave it a sound of its own. I won’t go more into details, but if you want to hear a well produced album, good songwriting, beautiful harmonies this one is for you. Another (the third !!!!) future classic album from Roy and the boy. Wouldn’t be surprised to find them on “That’ll Flat Git It Vol. 217” in 2052. And as usual with this band, the cover and the booklet are very well designed.
Fred “Virgil” Turgis
Fred “Virgil” Turgis

The Roy Kay Trio

Roy Kay TrioI love to be surprised in music. Of course I’m always happy to buy a record I’m sure I won’t be disapointed with (you can’t go wrong with Deke Dickerson, Marti Brom, Big Sandy to name but a few). But sometimes I just buy records for the name of the band, the cover they play (or the ones they don’t play), pictures I saw or guys they’ve played with. That’s what happened when I ordered “Wanderin’ Mind” by The Roy Kay Trio just because Deke Dickerson was the producer. And, man, what a good choice I did that day. This “classic” rockabilly trio (two guitars and a slap bass) played the best rockabilly I’ve heard since High Noon, melodic and agressive in the same time. Then a few years later the band released “Knockin’ Em Back” which was, believe it or not, even better. Once again Roy Kay showed he was a accomplished songwriter with mid tempos like “In the middle”, “Overboard” and the beautiful slow “Tell me your dreams”. In 2005 they released their third effort “Rock-A-Way Lonesome Moon”, another killer. This interview took place just after they went to Berlin to record it..

Fred “Virgil” Turgis


Could you introduce us the member of the band ?
Roy Kay:Robin Cady on upright bass and Mike Geglia on electric guitar

What did you grow up listening to ?
Roy Kay:All kinds of music. My mom was a Bing Crosby fan, my brother, 9 years older than me, was into the Beatles and the Beach Boys. I used to dig through all their record collections. My dad was a clarinent/saxophone player in the late 40’s/early 50’s for small swing combos. He didn’t play much by the time I was growing up, I think that made the idea of playing music live more intriuging. Since then, I’ve been into a lot of different things, garage, punk, early country, western swing, early rhythm and blues. I dig country blues from Son House, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Sleepy Johh Estes, Arthur Crudup to name a few. I like Muddy Waters before he moved to Chicago and started playing the kind of music I think most people stereotypically think of the blues. I’ve always liked rockabilly in one form or another, from my mom’s 8-track tape Elvis collection to the Stray Cats when I was twelve to when I first saw Johnny Cash in London in ‘94.

In your biography, you’re talking about punk bands you’ve played with. Could you tell us more about this period?
Roy Kay:Sure, I grew up in Orange County, California. The punk scene was doing really well in that area with bands like Agent Orange, Adolescents, Social Distortion and DI and great all ages venues like Fender’s in Long Beach and LA’s Olympic Auditorium. There was also a DJ show on a local radio station, Rodney Bingenheimer… The label Posh Boy released these compilations called Rodney on the Roq (KROQ – I think it’s a top 40 station now). Anyway these were my first punk records, with bands like Black Flag, the Minutemen, Circle Jerks and a bunch more. I dug it and started a band when I was 15, Red Scab, with my two best friends. We played shows, mostly crazy parties, including a house wrecking party, for two years and recorded two demo tapes. It was a lot of fun and I still see some of the people from those days at rockabilly weekenders here and there.

You were a drummer at that time ?
Roy Kay:No, I started the band singing and playing bass guitar. I moved to bass guitar/backing vocal when a friend of mine wanted to become the singer. I started playing drums in 1999.

Do you still play drums ?
Roy Kay:Yes, occasionally. It’s a really cool instrument. The last project I played drums in was a 40’s rhythm and blues bands with some good friends in Seattle.

When did you first start playing rockabilly? How did you discover that style?
Roy Kay:In 1999, I played drums for a short lived band called the Knocked-Outs. I was just learning drums; it was great at the beginning. After a year, I really wanted to play music with fewer people and less instruments, so in 2001 I decided to start the trio. As far as discovering the style, like I mentioned before, I’ve always known about it, but I really started being serious about it after I saw Johnny Cash in London. It was a great show in a small club and I’ll never forget it.

Did you record things before the Roy Kay Trio ?
Roy Kay:Yes, lots of stuff. One punk demo still survives from 1986 and the rest are from various bands from ‘87 til ‘98. Mostly experimental lo-fi blues.

How did you meet Robin and Mike ?
Roy Kay:I met Robin in the Knocked-Outs and I met Mike through a guitarist wanted ad!

You formed the trio in 2001, did the line up remain steady?
Roy Kay:Yes, I’m thankful for that. Robin and Mike are great to work with and a lot of fun to hang out and travel with.

Roy Kay trioThen you met Deke Dickerson and he produced your first album. Who approached who at first?
Roy Kay:I asked Deke if he was into it and he said yes. I had met him a few times before through mutual friends in Los Angeles. That recording session for Wanderin’ Mind was a great weekend. He was really easy to work with.

Lance LeBeau said about Sun studio (where he recorded with Go Cat Go) « Sun studio is an amazing place, the vibe in that room is chilling; there’s a definite air to that place. To me the room felt alive of energy». Was it the same at Electro-vox ?
Roy Kay:Not really, the studio has been through a lot of changes, even in the last two years. The building is interesting, the location is great and the room has really good accoustics, but that place is more about the current people involved. Wally Hersom is a great engineer. For that session he used mostly his own equipment and it worked out great. Knockin’ Em Back was Ashley Kingmans first job as a producer. He did a fantastic job. We all had a blast that weekend !!

You have a 45 out. What about this one. Is this a preview of the forthcoming album, or will they be available only on vinyl ?
Roy Kay:No it’s not really a preview, and yes, this will be only released on vinyl for now. We recorded this in a couple hours at the same place we recorded Wanderin’ Mind. Travel Bound is a wild song that we wanted to record for Tex who runs Miz. Liz Records. The B-side is an old western swing song and we added our own arrangement.

And what about the new songs to appear on compilations ? Where ? When ?
Roy Kay:There are a few compilations coming out, one on KamiKazi Records and another that our local radio station put out for Seattle’s Shake the Shack Rockabilly Ball, but both of those use previously recorded material.

You’re back from Berlin, where you recorded your next album, how was it?
Roy Kay:It was great, it’s always fun going over there. The tour was great. Good crowds at the festivals in Waldorf and Berlin. The Voodoo Bar in Goettingen once again was incredible. Small club, but one of the wildest crowd anywhere. The recording was real cool. Working with Axel at Lightning Recording was a great experience, he really works for the right sound for every song. He puts a lot of heart into what he does.

What can you tell about us this new recording?
Roy Kay:I think it’s real cool, we’re all really happy about the way it came out and can’t wait to release it. It’s different from the second record (Knockin’ Em Back) just like the Knockin’ Em Back was different from Wanderin’ Mind. This record is very inspired by music from the early fifties especially the work from artists like Tillman Franks, Faron Young, Webb Pierce, Jimmy and Johnny and Curtis Gordon. We’re currently mastering the record right now. It will have 14 songs with 11 to 12 new originals.

Did you record stuff only for the album, or also for compilations and 45 rpm?
Roy Kay:We recorded 18 songs all together, we may or may not use them for something else. We definitely want to do a few more singles, we’ll see what happens.

Do you have a release date?
Roy Kay:Not exactly, but it should be out by the fall of this year! Look for it and we hope you enjoy it!!

I saw that it will be out on Rhythm Bomb records. Do you stop the activities of Lur Liner?
Roy Kay:No, LurLiner will continue to run.

Have you been approached by other labels ?
Roy Kay:Yes, other labels have made us offers, but Rhythm Bomb worked out the best for us. We had a great time touring Germany last year and this is a great reason to go back.

You toured europe last year, do you have special memories. And will you come back ?
Roy Kay:D-Day was a blast! But along the whole tour all the people were great. We made a lot of friends and I’ll be glad when I get to hang out with them again. Later in the year we are planning a longer European/England tour in October.

You’ll be at the the next Hemsby ?
Roy Kay:Yep, it looks like Sweden and Finland too, but we’re still working out the details!!

Talking about festivals, how was Oneida?
Roy Kay:I had a real good time at Green Bay, different from other weekenders I’ve been to. Great for seeing music with 120 bands, but not nearly as many people dancing during the DJ sets as other weekenders. One of the reasons might have been there was always a band playing at one of the 4 stages, so lots of people were moving around trying to see as much as they could.

Roy Kay TrioWhat is your best memory?
Roy Kay:One highlight for me was to see so many friends from all over the world in Green Bay, Wisconsin! Best music memory, if I had to pick one it would be Jimmy Cavello’s set, especially singing Rock, Rock, Rock. To me it sounded like little time had passed since he originally recorded it.

Did you back “original” artist?
Roy Kay:No, got to see our good friends back up plenty though. The Ragtime Wranglers, The Fly Rite Boys, Deke and Wally all did a fantastic job.

Your cd’s are very well designed. They are credited to I guess you’re the « Roy « in Roybot…
Roy Kay:Yep, that’s me.

This is your job, or do you play music full time ?
Roy Kay:I’m happy you dig the designs, because that’s what I do when I’m not playing music. I’ve been doing graphic design for 10 years.

What about the rockabilly scene in Seattle ?
Roy Kay:Lately it’s been good, not too many touring bands in the last year, but the local shows are crowded.

Johnny Burnette, Carl Perkins and Hank Williams or Texas rockabilly a la Budy Holly are obvious influences (among others). Did more recent bands like High Noon influence you ?
Roy Kay:I would say inpire, more than influence. The real influence comes from the original 50’s artists, like Charlie Feathers and Jack Earls, but when I hear a new band do something really cool, it reminds me that there is a lot of great ideas still in Rockabilly.

What is for you the ultimate rockabilly singer ?
Roy Kay:I’m not sure if I have one. I really like Charlie Feathers especially the country songs, and the way the Burnettes sing with intensity. I like Webb Pierce, althought he wouldn’t be classified as a rockabilly singer. If I had to pick one, I’d choose Carl Perkins or Curtis Gordon. They both can sing with heart in a subtle way from a rockin’ tune to a country ballad.

A last word to conclude ?
Roy Kay:Thanks for the great questions and I hope we can make it to France this year!