Winston-Salem native Chris Stamey will release a new album of songs influenced by songwriters whose work dominates what is often called the Great American Songbook.

“New Songs for the 20th Century” is a 26-song double CD that features Bill Frisell, Branford Marsalis, Don Dixon, Marshall Crenshaw and a host of others. It will be released on June 28 by Omnivore Recordings.

Now based in Chapel Hill, Stamey said in a press release that he was attempting to evoke an earlier era. “I was intrigued by re-imagining that period right before The Beatles appeared, before President Kennedy was killed, a time of cynicism mixed with innocence, when it seemed like the world was looking around, catching its breath, and wondering what was to come,” he said.

The album was described as a “lush, orchestrated, jazz-flavored outing” that took its cues from the recordings of Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter and Irving Berlin

Other musicians on the album include Django Haskins, Nels Cline of Wilco, Matt Douglas of Mountain Goats and Caitlin Cary.

Stamey is best known for his 1980s indie pop band, the dBs. His memoir, “A Spy in the House of Loud,” was released in 2018.

John Ray album marks

new chapter

John Ray, an immensely talented bass player and a mainstay in the city’s jazz scene, has released a new album, “Vintage Astronaut.”

He is joined on the album by Matt Kosma (tenor sax); Daniel Seriff (guitar); Jonathan Greene (drums); and Michael Kinchen (keys).

Ray said on his Bandcamp page that the album marks the end of a 10-year journey to expand into original compositions after years of playing cover songs with various bands.

“I’ve played in cover bands and done pickup jazz gigs for a long time, and I’m sick of playing cover tunes. Especially the same 50 songs that get called on every gig. I started playing at Southside (Beer Garden & Bottle Shop) in Winston-Salem with the intention of building something unique, and part of that vision is using the session as a creative outlet for my compositions, and those of my friends. I wanted to write tunes that have interesting and unique improvisatory possibilities, and then learn them and hone them live so we can improvise with them as fluently as the jazz tunes we’ve all been playing for years,” Ray wrote.

Ray said that with the exception of one song, “Waffle Time,” the album was recorded in one night.

“The vibe was just right, the crowd was into it, and like the best recordings — the magic was there. There are plenty of mistakes recorded on here, but that’s part of the vibe and trying to fix them would take away from the record in my opinion. This is pure — this is a documentation of what I’ve been trying to say with my music for the last 10 years. I can happily close this chapter now and move on,” he said.

City native will return with outlaw country singers

Karrie Sheehan has jumped headlong into the rich music scene of Austin, Texas, since moving from Winston-Salem in 2015.

A former drummer for local bands the bo-stevens and Vel Indica, Sheehan is currently drumming with the Summer Dean Band, whose front woman, Summer Dean, is making a name in the world of outlaw country music. Dean and Bonnie Montgomery, will share a band when they play The Ramkat on June 28. Montgomery played a memorable gig, with Sheehan on drums, at Cash Bash, on the opening weekend of The Ramkat in 2018.

In addition, Sheehan has been sitting in with various Western swing, blues and honky-tonk bands in Austin, including the BlueBonnets, featuring former Go-Go’s bassist, Kathy Valentine.

Sheehan also plays djembe for hot yoga classes and gives lessons.

“The amount of opportunities afforded to me here has rendered me speechless,” she wrote in an email. “I’m a very lucky drummer!”

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Lisa O’Donnell writes about artists — visual, musical, literary and more — weekly in relish. Send your story ideas to or call 336-727-7420.

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