Robert Cray and his four piece ensemble helped turn the Homer Center for the Arts into a Sunday soul release of blues on September 26. In just over 40 years, Cray and his band have recorded 20 studio releases, as well as co-wrote and performed on Eric Clapton’s iconic blues piece “Old Love.” When Producer Steve Jordan worked with Robert in the studio, he said the artist has to be able “to perform at a live capacity, a very high level. The way Robert sings and plays, that’s at the highest level. So, boom. We got that.”
The Homer Center for the Arts helped treat the 400 person capacity crowd to a live performance as intimate as a studio recording. The center is a community of artists, art lovers, music makers, and creators who truly have the fervor for live music. The 150-year-old church turned venue still boasts rows of pews leftover from with balcony spirits. At one point Robert looked up to the center ceiling and said “Jimi… (Hendrix) can you hear me?,” a nod to Jimi’s quote about a live music performance, “When I get up on stage – well, that’s my whole life. That’s my religion. My music is electric church music, the cosmos are the sky church as you can see.” On the altar with Robert Cray was bass player Richard Cousins, drummer Terrence Clark and keyboardist Jim Pugh. Robert’s catalog of sound included all the ups and downs of lifestyle love through the blues.
“You can’t make me change” and “Anything you Want,” both performed in Homer this evening, originated in the studio with drummer and producer Steve Jordan, who produced Cray’s blues album Take Your Shoes Off, winning the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Blues Album at the 42nd Annual Grammy Awards in 2000.
Robert begged for someone to “Fix This” during a take on a painful love experience: “Fix this, broken heart of my I just can’t catch my breath, I’m all, torn apart, Trying to forget all the pain I’ve been through And all the time spent with you, not knowing you never gave a damn about us.” The band kept the bitter blues ballads on “I’m Done Crying,” for accepting a love that’s come to its end, singing “I’ve got no more tears you can’t hurt me anymore At least now I know where I stand you won’t take away my dignity Cause I am still a man.”
Cray gives hope for the ones still looking to move past an old love with “Bouncin Back,” singing “I’m finally bouncin’ back, I’ve got the urge to dance, I believe that I’ll Give love just one more chance.”
The crowd heard Crays’ classic cut off his 1986 studio album Strong Persuader. “Right Next Door (because of me),” a tale about being the man on the side that sacrifices his love for the woman’s greater good. You can hear Cray’s guitar tone influence on John Mayer’s new Sob Rock album.
The band closed with “You Must Believe in Yourself” That’s what you gotta do now! What you gotta do!,” to a standing ovation from the Homer audience. The two song encore “You Move Me” and “Time Takes Two” helped end the Sunday sermon, “You know time makes two, it takes two to heal a broken heart.”
The Sunday gospel blues presented by Robert and his band helped ease everyone’s restless hearts in attendance.
Robert Cray – Homer Center for the Arts, Homer, NY – September 26 2021
Setlist: Anything you want, I Shiver, You can’t make me Change, Deep in my Soul, Fix This, Bouncin Back, Sitting on top of the world, Chicken in the Kitchen, You don’t even care, Hot, I’m done Crying, Right Next Door, You Must Believe in Yourself
Encore: You Move Me, Time Takes Two