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VISITING ACT: The Robert Cray Band

Blues and More: The Robert Cray Band return

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“Our Last Time” from the album Live From Across the Pond
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Fans who have seen the current edition of the Robert Cray Band know that one of the real attractions is hearing the four band members play together, support each individual instrument, and serve each song. On stage, the chemistry among guitarist/singer Cray, keyboardist Jim Pugh, drummer Kevin Hayes, and bassist Karl Sevareid is both blatantly obvious and seemingly spontaneous and effortless.

Cray says that even after having played more than 1,000 shows with this lineup, he had never fully appreciated how his band plays together until he started listening to tracks for his new album, Live From Across The Pond (recorded at the Royal Albert Hall in London).

"There are a lot of things you don't realize go on when you're performing," Cray says. "I'm at the microphone and I'm playing guitar, and I hear the support — but then again I don't really hear it because I'm concentrating on what I have to do. It wasn't until I sat down and listened to each one of these tracks that I was able to sit and listen as an audience member would. I'd just start from the beginning of the song see where these guys were going to take me."

Live From Across The Pond is the first live album from Cray in a career that now stretches more than 30 years and hit a commercial peak in 1986 when his album, Strong Persuader, spawned the hit singles "Smoking Gun" and "Right Next Door (Because Of Me)." The idea of doing a live album was not new, but previous shows that were recorded just didn't pass muster. One key reason is that he's felt the pressure of delivering a top performance with tape rolling.

"For some strange reason, it's a complete psych out. You know it in advance, and you get all wound up and tight, I'm speaking for myself," Cray says of live recording. "And I've even kind of lost my voice in anticipation." —Alan Sculley

The Robert Cray Band perform at 8 p.m. on Tues. Oct. 16 at the Charleston Music Hall (37 John St., (843) 853-2252). Tickets are $36. Check www.charlestonmusichall.com and www.robertcray.com for more.

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