Nothing sleepy about Rock-A-Bye Blue

Jessica Fischer • Aug 2, 2013 at 7:51 AM

Samantha Gray and her band Rock-A-Bye Blue will take the stage of Northeast State Community College’s Wellmont Regional Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, but don’t come expecting to be lulled into a peaceful slumber.

The group’s 7 p.m. performance, part of the college’s “Hot Nights, Cool Music” summer concert series, promises a high-energy blend of blues, classic R&B and rockabilly.

Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Admission is free.

Born and raised in the working class town of Ypsilanti, in southeast Michigan, Gray began her creative journey at an early age. Although she was raised in the Midwest, her father and maternal grandparents were from Tennessee, and Gray soaked up a variety of musical influences, ranging from country to Motown.

While attending the University of Tennessee at Knoxville on an art scholarship, she caught a performance by the alt-country band The Bystanders. After the show, she was introduced to the group, and a week later, its members invited her to sing on stage with them. From that moment on, Gray was hooked and knew that she wanted to perform. She earned her bachelor of fine arts degree and headed to Nashville to pursue her love of music.

Gray sang in several bands, including The Old Flames, Jive Deluxe and The Detroit Specials, before deciding to go solo.Gray’s voice has been described as soulful, sultry and powerful. Melding the influences of classic R&B, blues and rock ‘n’ roll, she combines all of these influences into her own brand of blues and roots music, which can be heard on her 2010 self-released album “Bad Girl Now.”

Since late last year, Gray has been lead vocalist for the Northeast Tennessee-based band Rock-A-Bye Blue, also featuring lead guitarist Randy Tarpley (Qualla Boundry Band, Jones Boys Band), upright bassist John Jones (Jones Boys Band, Mal Cooper), keyboard player Jacob Tipton (Jacob Tipton Jazz Trio, Stacey Mitchhart) and drummer Chad Blackburn (Jones Boys Band, Tommy Lyons Band).

To find out more about the band, visit its website at rockabyeblue.com.

For more information about Northeast State’s “Hot Nights, Cool Music” concert series, call (423) 279-7669 or visit www.northeaststate.edu.

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