Cardwell brings a progressive “newgrass” style, featuring his powerful vocals, accomplished bass playing and remarkable songwriting skills.
His current project, Tennessee Moon, produced by NewGrass Revival’s Pat Flynn, is due for release from Pinecastle on January 17, 2017.
Ray grew up in the ’70’s, performing with his family band which included his parents, Marvin and Wanda, sister Susan and sister Nancy Cardwell, who you may recognize as a former executive director for IBMA.
During the ’80’s, he developed his craft by embracing a broad range of genres. Later, Ray went on to become a member of the renowned “New Tradition” bluegrass/gospel band in the 90’s, further honing his diverse skills on stages across the country.
His impressive professional music career thus far has included extensive touring with bands that play not only bluegrass, gospel and Americana, but also blues, jazz, country, reggae, rock, rockabilly, musical theatre and more.
Cardwell was also an award-winning high school bandleader and choir director.
“Playing bluegrass in Nashville again is something I have dreamed about,” Cardwell said. “My time in the studio this past fall is exceeding my wildest expectations. To be playing alongside musicians I have admired for many years makes me feel as if life really can come full circle. And following your heart can lead you through open doors you never dreamed were possible.”
Wilson Pickins looks forward to bringing the bluegrass soul of Ray Cardwell and Tennessee Moon to stages across the United States and Canada.
More About Ray:
Ray Cardwell is one of the most diversely talented artists playing bluegrass music today, with a broad array of interests and influences.
The senior Cardwell fronted one of the first live music shows in Branson, MO at Jesse James Confusion Hill in the 1960s as "Marvin Cardwell and the Country Boys." The group played a combination of traditional country music and bluegrass, performing at county fairs, town festivals, coon hunts, church events, and they even had their own live radio show every Saturday afternoon based in Aurora, MO.
Ray started singing at church and on his father's show at age three, and in sixth grade he started playing guitar and saxophone.
Around 1975-76, Ray and his two sisters, Susan and Nancy, were ready to form a family band with their parents. The Cardwell Family bluegrass band performed in the late 1970s - early '80s on a variety of stages, including the Mountain Folks Music Festival at Silver Dollar City, Fort of the Osage, Dogpatch USA, and various concerts hosted by Ozarks musicologist, Max Hunter.
In the ‘80s Ray was into rock & reggae, working out of Springfield, MO and in the Midwest as a musician and front man, keyboardist and sax player. He relocated for a time to Hollywood, CA with Springfield based band Resonance and played saxophone for celebrated songwriter Jack Lee (who penned songs for Blondie, Pat Benatar, and Neil Young).
In 1992 he met some bluegrass enthusiasts from Columbia, MO and started his return to bluegrass with the regional band, Slick Nickel.
He moved to Nashville in 1994 as a member of the critically acclaimed, nationally touring bluegrass gospel band, New Tradition. He recorded two albums with the band--one for the Brentwood label (Old Time Gospel Jamboree) and one independently released (Following the Son).
In mid '96 Ray left Nashville to raise a family back in Missouri and returned to college to finish a degree in Music Education. While attending Lincoln University he performed with National Honor Choirs at both Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York City.
As a band and choral director he led students to several national competitions with high markings.
While teaching he also played with an indie band called Squigglefish – a popular rock/blues/reggae power trio at the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.
Rays return to bluegrass came when Producer/guitarist Pat Flynn heard a demo of his originals. After meeting with Pat, Ray decided that it was time to return to his roots.