Ray Bonneville is an architect, of sorts.
The Canadian-born traveling musician and self-styled "song and groove man" has also fought in Vietnam (as a Marine), worked as a taxi cab driver (who taught himself to play harmonica between fares), gained a commercial pilot's license, beat a cocaine addiction (by moving to Paris where he honed his storytelling style) and won a Juno (the Canadian equivalent of a Grammy).
Bonneville has been a lot of things. But, at least on stage, he's an architect.
With a one-man guitar and harmonica delivery, augmented by his own foot-stomping percussion (sometimes aided by a piece of wood to apmlify the sound), Bonneville constructs a sonic reposit for his style of rhythmic, New Orleans-inspired blues.
His storytelling is compelling, wry and observational. And his pace is deliberate and meticulous, satisfying in its propulsive power and measured cadence.
“There’s something about the heat and humidity that makes people slow down,” Bonneville said of his New Orleans infleunce to the now-defunct blues and folk magazine Dirty Linen. “New Orleans is where I learned to take my time, to allow space between the notes so the songs could truly groove.”
Now 65 years old with more than four decades of musical travels under his feet, Bonneville isn't losing any steam.
He still tours heavily, including seven shows in 17 days beginning with his Thursday performance in Mankato. Following his concert, which is part of the Minnesota State University Department of Music's Performance Series, Bonneville will travel to Minneapolis, Avon, Winona, Fort Atkinson, Wis. and Des Moines before culminating in Austin, Texas.
Bonneville also released "Easy Gone" earlier this month — his eighth studio album and fourth with Red House Records — to immediate acclaim. American Songwriter gave the album 4/5 stars and Thom Jurek of AllMusic lent high praise: "On 'Easy Gone,' (Bonneville) establishes that he is also a unique stylist. ... 'Easy Gone' is not just another chapter in his remarkable late-blooming saga, but the finest one to date."