Three Minutes, Three Questions: Ray Bonneville

Three Minutes, Three Questions: Ray Bonneville

Ray Bonneville has been described as a “blues-influenced, New Orleans-inspired song and groove man” and his style compared to JJ Cale and Daniel Lanois. His songs are “narratives inspired by a lifetime of hard-won knowledge acquired through incredible experiences around the world set against his gritty, soulful guitar and harmonica playing.”

Bonneville opens the 19th season for Artist, Audience & Community Live, founded by Dick Renko and John McIntosh in the intimate theater at 801 N. “A” St. in Fort Smith. Its stated mission is “to provide excellence and diversity in the performing and visual arts.”

“Artists love to appear in venues where their needs have been anticipated and met,” says AAC Live spokesman Rob Goodfellow. “We serve audiences by presenting an eclectic mix of musical artists recognized nationally and internationally in genres that include world music, jazz, Americana, blues, bluegrass, folk, as well as spoken word, children’s and family programming. We serve the community by sharing this talent beyond the stage at our theater. Our ongoing educational and outreach programs span generations – from elementary school to senior citizens.”

To kick off the season, the legendary Bonneville answered a few questions for What’s Up!

Q. What did you intend to be when you grew up? What did your parents want you to be?

A. Until we moved from French-speaking Quebec City, Canada, when I was 12 or 13 years old, I really had no idea what I wanted to do in life other than to go fishing and be on the water, and my parents never expressed any kind of desire for me to take any particular direction in life. My father, who held a high-end job as a mechanical engineer with a Ph.D., just made sure I knew that he felt I had enough going for me to pull off anything I endeavored to take on. I thank him for that! My mother bought me a used acoustic guitar when I was about 14, and I fell in love with playing the same simple chords that I still use to write my songs today. I got into some trouble and found myself in the Marine Corps when I was 17 years old, and when I got out, I picked up where I left off playing music I heard— only my own way and not like the original I was exposed to.

Q. What was the first song or first kind of music that made its mark on you?

A. In high school I played rock ‘n’ roll, but in my early 20s, I got caught up in blues and country music. I played professionally for more than 20 years before I ever wrote a song. By the time I did write them, I was in my early 40s. It was in Montreal from the early ’90s to around 2003 or so that I wrote my first five albums, and all those songs came from the things I had lived, felt or had been affected by so far. My characters had experienced failed love, and some were outsiders, nomads and miscreants. I like characters who live on the edge of society.

Q. How much of your life makes it into your songs?

A. I guess you could say that all of my songs have some part of who I am in them, but there is a lot of fiction in there, too. I start out with my own take on something, but then the story takes on a life of its own. It’s hard to tell where or how sometimes, but I’m in there somewhere since they come from me.



Ray Bonneville

In Concert

WHEN — 7:30 p.m. Sept. 27

WHERE — AAC Live at 801 N. “A” St. in Fort Smith

COST — $40

INFO — 719-8931



AAC Live Season

Also on the 2018-19 season are:

Oct. 18 — Joe Krown & Jason Ricci

Nov. 8 — Travis Meadows

Dec. 12 — Jim Lauderdale

Jan. 22 — Sarah Shook and the Disarmers

Feb. 7 — Gaye Adegbalola

March 6 — Gretchen Peters

For season ticket information, visit

Categories: Music