The first thing you need to know about Ray Hambleton is that when he was four years old …. his favorite things in the entire world were listening to Supertramp’s “Take The Long Way Home” and SNL’s Czech brothers (Steve Martin and Dan Aykroyd’s “Two Wild And Crazy Guys” sketches). The mix of music and comedy still defines Ray to this day.
Ray Hambleton was born in Sedro Woolley in 1976 and has resided in the trifecta area of Eastern Skagit County (Marblemount, Concrete and Rockport) his entire life. His musical roots are a combination of classically trained musicians on his dads California side, and raw boot stomping down home hootenanny music on his mother’s North Carolina side.
Ray first picked up a guitar when he was 7 years old. It was quite an undertaking to get the hang of stretching his fingers over the huge fret board of the Yamaha classical guitar. Ray’s interest in the guitar was fleeting until the movie “Crossroads” came out in 1986, which sparked his lifelong love of playing the square-neck Dobro. Because of the movie, at 10 years old Ray’s biggest musical influences were guitarists Ry Cooder and Steve Vai. When Ray’s father noticed his interest, he introduced him to blues/folk slide guitarists John Hammond and Leo Kottke. Ray would take sockets out of his fathers tool chest in an effort to mimic playing the slide guitar. Another musical staple that was played in the Hambleton household was folk legend Bob Dylan, which led to Ray’s first full song he executed on guitar …. Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right”.
Around this same time period, Ray also picked up a love of playing the drums. He would get into his grandfathers “yellow tent stakes” supply and start banging on tin pans. Ray officially started his music career aspiring to be a drummer. In 6th grade, he coerced a friend to join the school band with him where Ray played the snare drum and his buddy played the bass drum. Ray continued to play the drums until around 2010.
Ray’s love of music really blossomed when he acquired his first Walkman, a gift from his parents. Ray’s music savvy father, who became fluent in a copious amount of different musical genres during his time as a courier for the Pentagon during the Vietnam war, made the decision that the first cassette tape for the Walkman should be Credence Clearwater Revival’s (CCR) greatest hits. These Southern Rock icons were a great introduction into the world of popular music.
As with most teenagers in the late 80’s into the 90’s, Ray went through a heavy metal stage. Being influenced by Led Zeppelin and Metallica, Ray started his own heavy metal band in high school. His teenage years consisted of a mix of playing hits like Louie Louie in the high school band during the day and screaming metal songs at night.
As an adult, one of Ray’s favorite past times is doing musical YouTube challenges with his wife. She will play something off of the internet and gives Ray a few seconds to figure out what key it’s in and then he jams along with it. Ray uses a variety of instruments in this challenge, such as piano, accordion, resonator, banjo, 6 and 12 string guitars. This always turns out to be a fun and goofy past time that they share together.
You can now find Ray playing his signature Dobro resonator slide guitar in the band “Bare Feet”, which he started with childhood friend Josh Fichter In 2001. This is where you’ll also see that humorous side that Ray exudes when he banters back and forth with his band mates. I’m not sure which SNL Czech brother Ray resembles most, but when it comes down to it, does it really matter? Ray Hambleton has always, and will always be a “wild and crazy guy” as well as a phenomenal musician. You can catch him this Friday, December 6th, at The Woolley Market in Sedro Woolley from 6-8pm. It’s an All Ages show and there is no cover charge. It’s a great opportunity to introduce your kids to a type of guitar playing that they’re probably not used to seeing very often, or at all.
LEARNING MOMENT: A square-neck Dobro is a type of resonator guitar that is held where the strings face up. The strings are higher than a standard guitar. It is used with a metal slide instead of picking the chords with the fretting hand. Because of the metal strings over the metal resonator plate, it creates a sound similar to a banjo. These instruments are often used in bluegrass, folk and blues genres of music.