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Lost in a Storytellers Wilderness with The Ray Elliott Band

by Christopher James Vasseur

I met Ray Elliott a few years back through mutual friends in the music scene here. We now share a band member in the multi-instrumentalist Peter Abonyi. Ray is a little gruff on the outside but soon after talking to him you see he’s a genuine person, and a super nice guy to boot. He’s a fellow storyteller, and a fan of luthiery (stringed instrument construction) so we got along immediately. Ray comes by my shop once in a while to hang out talking about guitars, the new record and life in the music scene. Or sometimes just to drop off some hide glue as a gift.

He was gracious enough to give me a copy of the recently pressed “Storyteller Wilderness” on vinyl. This is my review of my first listening experience…of the vinyl specifically. I already love this record tons.

I find a comfy spot, put on my headphones and drop the needle. The first song “Cidnee’s Song” comes in with a bang. The album comes to life immediately and quite quickly demonstrates the talent of this tight foursome.

Elliott is a storyteller extraordinaire and this is what comes through to me right away. He sings songs of the land and people around him….from BC to Saskatchewan. His lyrics are raw and can be quite emotion filled.

The next song, “Six Feet of Prairie” is a finely put together song with beautiful harmonies and guitar. Peter Abonyi shows off his mastery of the guitar on this one, perfectly accentuated by subtle accordion from Gillian Snider and a tight beautiful groove from Fabian Minnema.

In fact, everyone in Elliott’s group is a CFCR host which speaks to his connection and love of the local music scene. You can often catch Elliott and crew down at the Cap’s open mic on Tuesday’s. They also just came back from a brief stint in Jasper and are headed back to the Jasper Folk Festival as I write this.

Judging by the lyrics in this release, it’s got some kilometres behind it. This is also a musical treat as the whole band are very talented musicians. From Snider’s whiskey soaked vocals and spirited Accordion playing to Minnemas rock and roll backing beat (and vox to match). Peter Abonyi’s stylised guitar & bass playing and Elliott’s own picking & slide playing. This is a fun band to listen to. Live and otherwise.

There is a crackle as I flip the record over and drop the needle on side two. Accordion again fills the headphones and another dreamy story song begins. This is an album I could sit back with outside on a summer day in the mountains with a nice glass of whiskey (short on the rocks with a dash of water) by a river. It’s that kind of a record.

The pressing plant did a great job on the vinyl and it sounds amazing. It was recorded with Ryan Anderson in Saskatoon and also features Lucas Goetz on the Pedal Steele.

I’d recommend getting a hold of Ray and getting a vinyl copy at … but if that’s not your thing, find them on the streams and definitely check them out if you cross paths along the road. Has Ray Elliott ever got a story for you.

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