The BellRays – True Believers

The BellRays True Believers is a facebook group for fans of The BellRays that are more than fans. They are True Believers. A place to hang with like minds and the band. Special offers, LIVE events and more to come.

Blues is the teacher. Punk is the Preacher. It’s all about emotion and energy. Experience and raw talent, spirit and intellect. Exciting things happen when these things collide.

Bob Vennum and Lisa Kekaula made The BellRays happen in 1990 in Riverside, California but they weren’t really thinking about any of this then. They wanted to play music and they wanted it to feel good. They wanted people to WANT to get up, to NEED to get up and check out what was going on. Form an opinion. React.

So they took everything they knew about; the Beatles, Stevie Wonder, the Who, the Ramones Billie Holiday, Lou Rawls, Hank Williams, the DB’s, Jimmy Reed, and Led Zeppelin (to name a very few to whom “BLUES IS THE TEACHER”) and pressed it into service. 

Those bands and artists have since become “buzz words”, things to imitate and sound like. That was never The BellRays intention. The BellRays were never about coming up with a “sound”, or fitting in with a scene. It was about the energy that made all that music so irresistible. The BellRays’ influences learned from the Blues and then learned how to to make it their own. The Beatles wanted to play R&B, converted that energy and invented “Rubber Soul”. The Ramones were trying to be Del Shannon or Neil Sedaka and out came “Rocket to Russia”.

The BellRays believe combining Rock and Soul is not meant to be a conscious effort. You shouldn’t have to force them together because they’ve never really been separated in the first place. It’s an organic trail that flows through Bob and Lisa and the current rhythm section  of Bernard Yin (Fur Dixon, Par Avion ) on bass and Dusty Watson (the Sonics, Dick Dale) on drums, and comes out honest and urgent. You will learn and you will feel. Blues is always teaching and Punk is always preaching. 

The BellRays are always listening. 

Listen to some ‘real’ music here…..The BellRays Music.

Bennetti’s Jazz Blues Club March 2020

With all bars and restaurants closed, and travel banned for non essential purposes there was no way Bennetti’s Jazz Blues Club could go ahead in March. Instead we put out our first ever online broadcast. This featured music from members only. You can listen to it here….

Music from Norrie Snakebite Burnnett, Tim Bragg, Andy Berry, Ann Ellam, Rod Millgate, Madame Blanc, and Steve and Ev’ from Highland Hotclub.

For Sale – 1982 Dan Smith era Gold on Gold Strat (in Europe) SOLD

1982 Gold on Gold Stratocaster with original case, and all important whammy bar with gold tip. Plenty of marks/mojo! This is a player. All original as far as I can tell. Note that she carries the controls from ‘The Strat’. I contacted Fender, they told me this was quite possible.

1982 Gold on Gold Stratocaster

This guitar has the pickups and controls of Fender’s ‘The STRAT’ which means….. A hotter lead pickup (branded the X-1) with a much stronger output than the standard Stratocaster pickup (various X-1 pickups tested were between 6.0 and 8.5 ohms). *a new wiring circuitry delivering 9 different basic tones: a twin mode rotary selector switch replaced the bottom tone control which when used with the five-way pickup selector switch allowed not only for your standard 5 Stratocaster positions(tones) but also 4 “new” tones never before or since available on a Fender Stratocaster : neck and middle pickups in series – humbucking middle and bridge pickups in series – humbucking neck and bridge pickups in parallel neck and bridge pickups in parallel, with the middle pickup in series. Thus, the STRAT delivered nine (5+ 4) different basic pickup tones by combining the 5-position switch with the twin rotary selector tone knob. Otherwise the STRAT was fitted with the standard 250k ohm audio taper pots and the “master” tone control carried a regular .05 MFD capacitor. This unique wiring design delivers many tones not usually associated with a Fender Stratocaster and makes the STRAT one of, if not the most, versatile of any era Stratocaster produced by Fender prior to the recently introduced S-1 switching system.

Friday’s Child

My drummer brother Supawal visited me a while back. We had great fun doing some playing together. It’s over 25 years since we played together in bands.

Each day we’d go into the studio with an idea, a notion, a catalyst. We’d empty our minds and pray that the Gods of music might express themselves through us.
Then we’d hit record and play. After that we’d drink a beer and get on with editing and mixing.
This was Friday’s Child…….. I hope you like it.

Telecaster with a Bigsby

I’ve never really seen many Telecasters with Bigsby tremolos before, so when I saw this one the other day I did some research. It seems that Teles with Bisbys are uber kewl, and some people go out of their way to get them or modify normal Teles. Maybe it’s because it has a more 50s vibe, maybe it sits better with rockabilly and indie than a Strat does – cos that’s what I’d use if I needed a tremolo system. Or maybe the different action of the Bigsby is preferable, it certainly does have a different feel to a Strat.

Anyway, back to this one. A Candy Apple Red ‘Crafted in Japan’ one from around 2006. It is in fabulous condition, and plays very well. At first I wasn’t sure about it, but after trying it for a couple of hours I was won over. It’s fab, and for sale too! Tempted!

Telecaster with Bigsby

What could be cooler than a bound Tele with a Bigsby? Not much in my book! This 62 Custom Reissue was built by the fine craftsman at Fender Japan and exemplifies the quality that many players love. Japanese Fender instruments have developed quite a following in recent years for their cool vibe, great quality and excellent attention to detail. This Tele is no exception. Great specs throughout. The body is alder and is bound in white on the front and back for killer looks. The 25.5 inch scale maple neck features a rosewood fingerboard with 21 vintage frets and dot inlays. Classic Tele single coils deliver trademark twang and growl. A factory Bigsby vibrato offers killer whammy effects. Kluson style tuners keep it rock solid. This example is finished in candy apple red, Leo Fender’s favorite custom color. A really cool looking guitar with vintage mojo to spare.

Like most Fender Japan guitars, this Tele plays great and sounds good. The neck is slim and comfy and the frets are good. The pickups sound great and everything works as it should. A really cool guitar. From Shelton’s Guitars.

A visit from Supawal

Supawal my brother was over for a visit last weekend. We had a great weekend. No cycling, but plenty of beer and music. Here’s a couple of compositions that we put together….I hope you like them.

Funk 15, from an original idea by Supawal with Tim Bragg on Flute, and Serge Baudot on Bass….

F NIK2 with Supawal on Drums, Dave Purple on harmonica and bottleneck guitar. From and original idea by stratobiker :-)….

The Sugaree Band – gigs coming up!

I have a nice string of gigs coming up with my band ‘The Sugaree Band’. As follows…

July 18th – Blues Rock Cafe, Angouleme
July 20th – Soleil Couchant, Plan d’Eau, Verneuil, 16310 Massignac
July 26th – Le Rivage, Exideuil 16150
August 3rd – Santrop, Lac Saint Pardoux.
August 8th – Saint Junien, 87, ‘Comme un Effet de L’Art Scene’
August 10th – Bessines sur Gartempe
August 17th – Soleil Couchant, Plan d’Eau, Verneuil, 16310 Massignac
August 24th – Wedding, Bordeaux
September 8th – Mecaniques Passion, Saint-Mathieu
September 13th – Golf de Saint Junien

We have a bunch of new songs that we’ve been practising, and we are ready to rock! I’m really looking forwards to these.

….and all this on top of the Jazz n Blues club, which by the way is going very strong. More on that soon.
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