With the Homegrown benefit concert quickly approaching, most people have their eyes on Hootie & the Blowfish. And while some attendees may only wanna be with that band, there may be another group on the roster that deserves some special attention.
Early Ray was formed by South Carolina native Rayen Belcher, a musician with a heart for the guitar and a long-term relationship with country music. Except this relationship isn’t a smooth and easy one. Early Ray has been roughing and tumbling with the genre as they create the lovechild of KISS, Hank Williams Jr., and Johnny Cash. And next week, Belcher is taking the stage at the Homegrown concert with band members Joanna Perry, Kerry Brooks, and Gary Greene.
Early Ray was introduced to Hootie & the Blowfish when Hootie’s Mark Bryan produced a song last year and re-recorded it with Ray in his studio. At the time, Early Ray was looking for a drummer, and Bryan pointed the band to Greene. “It all started with Mark and the relationship grew from there,” says Troy Perry, the band’s manager. Later, Early Ray was asked to play at the Homegrown concert. They accepted.
And that’s not all that's on the band’s plate. In June, Early Ray released its second EP Country Music, an album that reached No. 8 on the country music EP charts on iTunes and No. 6 in the UK. The band is working on the video for their new single “Where the Wild Things Are.” “It’s just taking off,” Perry says.
Early Ray hits Charleston next week on August 16 with a performance at the Windjammer at Homegrown's warm-up party. The band will then play at the festival on Aug.18.