How Michael Ray’s friendship with Kid Rock became higher education

Michael Ray has a great Kid Rock story, although the rap rocker turned country artist might not agree. Talk to Taste of rural nights, the “Whiskey and Rain” frontman shared how he hooked the multi-genre veteran to “Higher Education,” the title track of his new EP.

ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Lee Brice and songwriter Tim Montana also join Ray on the song. Montana was the linchpin of it all, but now you get the feeling Ray could just call or text Kid Rock whenever he needs a favor.

“For me, just being good buddies with Kid Rock… he’s been there for me through the tough times. He’s just one of my favorite artists and people,” Ray told Evan and Amber in this interview. about his new music, his very tough 2020 and his plans to celebrate, if “Whiskey and Rain” becomes his second career Billboard Top of the Country Airplay charts.

The new EP talks about all of Ray’s influences and finds him at the heart of who he is as an artist. Lyrically, it covers a lot of ground (skip to around 4:45 to hear Ray talk about how he handled his divorce from Carly Pearce on this album), and sonically, it presents a more traditional mix. , if not more rock than ever. before. ZZ Top is one of his father’s favorite bands which makes this song even more special.

It all started when Ray and Montana were sitting in the garage, playing songs for each other. They had the idea of ​​making “Higher Education” a superstar event.

“It (Montana) is the way I know Kid Rock and Billy Gibbons,” says Ray. “Him and Billy Gibbons have a hot sauce together, they’re in business together so they’re really, really tight, and Kid Rock. So I was like, ‘Do you think they would?’ And he’s like ‘Yeah, man, absolutely.’ “

They arrived quickly, and later Brice got on board when he performed the song on a hunting trip in Arkansas. Talk to Table of contents nights, Ray recognizes the moment of the full circle; Kid rock Devil without cause is the first CD he buys.

“That kid… when we were in sixth grade, that random kid on the school bus was like, ‘Hey man, you play guitar… I got a CD for $ 2, bring it tomorrow'”, share the country singer, starting to smile. “I think I did my first drug deal like this (Laughs). It was like, ‘You bring the money, I got the stuff.’ “

This album came out in 1998, and Ray says he carved lines on it that he played it so much. Years later, when the young singer told his new friend about his favorite anecdote, Kid Rock was only partially amused.

“He said, ‘How old were you? Like six? ‘ I’m like, ‘Dude, I think I was 12!’ “Ray says laughing now.

The Higher Education The EP is available now. Look for a full, unedited version of this conversation on Thursday (September 2), as part of Taste of rural nights, on request.

Best Country Albums of 2021 – Critics’ Choice

There were plenty of creative country albums in 2021, but not all of them hit the mark. Artists are playing more than ever with distribution methods and packaging as much as they are new sounds, so you get double and triple, Part 1 and Part 2 albums, and digital EPs instead of a traditional 10 release. or 11 songs.

The bar for an EP on this list of top country albums of 2021 is higher than an LP, but one project managed to reach the Top 10. Too much music has been found to dampen the efforts of other artists, although the Alan Jackson’s debut album in years was filled with country music that we couldn’t shy away from. Where did you go has 21 songs, but somehow no filler.

More than ever, this relied on staff opinion and artistic merit to allow a certain parity between the artists of the big labels and the independents. The 10 albums listed below are unranked, although the year-end list released in the fall will crown a truly best album of 2021.


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