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Robert Cray Enjoying Latest Version Of Band

of the Oakland Press

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Eight months after its release, Robert Cray is still high on the songs from “This Time,” his band’s first studio album in four years. But he’s even more excited about the continued evolution of the current group lineup, which brings bassist Richard Cousins back in the fold after a an absence for several albums.

“Richard coming back is, I think the most important thing to the band,” says Cray, 56, whose past achievements include five Grammy Awards as well as a cameo in “Animal House” as part of Otis Day & the Knights. “I’ve known Richard since 1969, and we’ve worked together since about 1972, even before we started the Robert Cray Band. We have this chemistry that works really well together; I breathe in, he breathes out. He knows where I’m trying to go and helps me out a whole lot.

“And Tony (Braunagel), our drummer, has added to that as well, his whole wealth of knowledge about all the different things we like to do. It’s really comfortable, really good. We’ve been having a blast.”

That means the Cray Band may not take another four years to make its next album, though the guitarist cautions that “we haven’t really put that into any serious focus.”

“I like the fact that all of us have listened to a lot of different styles of music,” Cray says, “so even at sound check, just messing around and jamming, we’re coming up with ideas where we didn’t know we could go — all kinds of stuff, straight-ahead jazz to New Orleans kinds of grooves. They could translate into something we could record down the line.”

The Robert Cray Band and Shemekia Copeland perform at 8 p.m. Friday, April 2, at Sound Board in the MotorCity Casino-Hotel, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit. Tickets are $35 and $38. Call 313-237-7711 or visit www.motorcitycasino.com.

Web Site: www.motorcitycasino.com

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