My name is Laddie Ray Melvin, and, yes, it is my birth name. I've actually had people at shows ask me how I came up with that name. "Well," I say, "it was given to me when I was just an innocent babe." Then I say, "My father's name was Laddie as well, so it's true that my daddy was a laddie until the day he died, as I will be also, but you can call me Ray." That usually takes care of the howdys, but then the inevitable comparisons begin. The most common of which is, "You sound like Gordon Lightfoot," which is a compliment to me, but might not be to him. I'm also compared to Guy Clark sometimes, and John Prine among others. Someday somebody will say I sound like me and it will blow my ever-lovin' mind. I'm from a place on the Columbia River shore named The Dalles. It's in Oregon. I'm a life long resident of the Pacific Northwest, and I think my songs reflect that. The song "He Left Missouri," a song about work and workers says something about this region which is that we are all from somewhere else. "Railroad Town" is another song of mine from the Rocky Ground CD that touches on the an aspect of the place. As a kid I learned to sing in church, and while in high school played country music and pop-folk on an occasional basis. I soon began writing my own songs, and studied what other writers were doing throughout that time of social and political upheaval we now refer to as the sixties. It was during that time that what we now refer to as the singer songwriter was loosed upon the world. As I listened to what was happening musically to my generation, I began to understand that I was part of a wonderful folk tradition. I was learning backward by tracing my musical influences from the contemporary to what had come before. By the late sixties, I was a traveling musician, and after a decade of travel--an endless couch tour--I took day jobs and played weekends in bars and taverns, and best of all in friends' living rooms and kitchens. After a ten year break from song writing to pursue an education of another kind, I earned an MFA with an emphasis on writing poetry. So, that's part of the story. The best part is that I'm playing and writing and living in a world of wonder and pain, a world the arts can and do make a little better. Rocky Ground is a small contribution that I am very proud of. Won't be long and my new CD titled In The Aftermath will be available at cdbaby.com. I hope to see you down the road.
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