My husband David Ray and I just released an album called I Dream of Water. I am so proud to say that we’ve been nominated for two “2019 Best of the Beat” Awards from OffBeat Magazine. I Dream of Water has been nominated for Best Country/Folk/Singer-Songwriter Album. And I’ve been nominated as Best Country/Folk/Singer-Songwriter Artist. I am absolutely blown away.
I’ve been reading OffBeat Magazine since I was teenager. I studied it like a musical bible and it’s as much a part of my musical edification as all the hours in the Hogan Jazz archives and all the sorting and listening through old 78s and LPs I’ve hoarded. Keeping up with contemporary Louisiana music and New Orleans music has been part of my life as long as I’ve been an adult….and there is no way to do that without OffBeat. This is a tremendous honor for me.
Over this past summer, when the streets in our neighborhood in New Orleans were flooding for the first time ever, and with the Mississippi River at flood stage constantly as hurricane season opened up, water was invading my dreams. I couldn’t stop writing the songs. We were compelled to make this album. (And taking a job in Memphis at St. Jude, and trying to make a life in two cities has also been inspirational… “Do you know what it means?”)
We recorded the album up at Fellowship Hall Sound in Little Rock (with some tracks at Marigny Studios in New Orleans) to work with wonderful Arkansan guitarist Greg Spradlin, who brought such creative ideas to every song as producer. While I was in Little Rock in June 2019 for a brainstorming session, Greg and I drove around talking about ideas and looking at the landscape. The Arkansas river was flooding downtown Little Rock and threatening to cave in a levee north of the city in Lollie Bottoms. The opening track of the album, “Lollie Bottoms,” was written based on the amazing true story of the Lollie levee.
Another song on this album called “Dirty Water” was written by my husband all the way back in October 2005, while we were evacuated from New Orleans after Katrina. I always thought someone with a giant voice should sing this song—Irma Thomas, for example. I finally recorded it for this album (and it’s still up for grabs, Irma!).
“Kings, Queens & Jesters” was written on the floor of my parents’ bathroom in Shreveport in July 2019. We happened to be visiting them when Hurricane Barry was bearing down on New Orleans while the river was at flood stage. That was terrifying…yet, at the same time, my people were doing what New Orleanians do—making the best of it. A line from this song was inspired by my friend Karen Konnerth, a wonderful puppeteer who lives in Algiers Point.
We’re all Kings, We’re all Queens,
We’re all Jesters on the edge of the knife
of joie de vivre and annihilation.
Let’s have a ball. Let’s celebrate this life.
The official summary of I Dream of Water is this: “Inspired by events in coastal regions and cities along the great rivers of the USA, the album is both social commentary and personal reflection on how increasingly intense storms and rising waters are affecting daily life, futures, hopes, and dreams.”
My summary: “This is something I have to get off my chest so that I can get back to writing songs about pirates, mermaids and the Roman Candy Man.”
I’m so grateful to Dave for his songwriting and his unwavering support of my ideas, and to Steve Howell, my longtime friend and musical collaborator, for putting this album on his label Out of the Past Music, and to Betsie Brown with Blind Raccoon for publicizing it. And of course… the musicians. The wonderful musicians who made this music and brought these songs to life!
“I Dream of Water” - Katy Hobgood Ray featuring Dave Ray Out Of The Past Music, LLC Musicians: Chuck Dodson – piano, organs Scott Frock – trumpet Dave Hoffpauir – drums Vikki McGee – background vocals Katy Hobgood Ray – vocals Dave Ray – vocals Greg Spradlin – guitar, background vocals Dylan Turner – percussion Brad Walker – saxophone Jason Weinheimer – bass, percussion Produced by Greg Spradlin Engineered by Zachariah Reeves and Jason Weinheimer at Fellowship Hall Sound, Little Rock, Arkansas Horns recorded at Marigny Studios, New Orleans, Louisiana, by Paul McDonald Mixed and Mastered by Jason Weinheimer at Fellowship Hall Sound, Little Rock, Arkansas Executive Producer – Steve Howell Photography: Sally Asher Album Art and Layout: Isaac Alexander, Little Rock, Arkansas Publicity and Radio Airplay: Blind Raccoon LLC, Memphis, Tennessee Publishing Credits: All songs published by Confetti Park except for “Little Children’s Blues” by Folkways Music Publishers Inc.