New Album From Ceili Rain Hymns & Hers

In 1997, Ceili had lost its original guitarist Tony Hooper, and gone through a couple interim steps in search of someone permanent. Friend Gary Vincent told of a fellow who plays and sings well and produced a phone number for a guy called Raymond Arias. I got Raymond on the phone and asked him what music he grew up on. When he said "The Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Jimi Hendrix" I said "You're in!" He came round the house, we played and sang, it was a perfect fit.

August 2014 will mark Raymond's 17th Anniversary of being in the group. We all would rather not think about how many miles that means he's had to travel to Ceili gigs. Raymond is a road warrior though, neither a whiner nor a complainer, a steady hand in a sea of unworkable PA system situations, a beacon of logic in a world seemingly bereft of reason. His son Cole has made it harder for Ray to make those Nashville departures, but has also made it all the sweeter to return!

Raymond hails from Madera, California, and is 100% Mexican-American. He played for a year in California with our once-and-O'Ceisional drummer Chris Eddy, who seduced Ray into making the Nashville move in the 1990s.

Raymond has that great Stratocaster he has played through all these Ceili years, and brings a serious-rock-dude vibe to the group which all rock fans love. He has muscles in places I don't even have places, but he is gentle as a lamb, very slow to anger. Raymond has made many friends along the Ceili Trail, but admits that remembering names is not a long-suit, so if you see him and he calls you "darlin" or “hey, man" understand that there is no disrespect intended by this fabulous guitar-slinger. And if you've heard Raymond's trademark versions of "Alright Now" or "Wild Thing," you know that his vocal chops are equally serious!

Ray usually sings the high harmonies with Ceili, but if it's a low part you fancy, he has a gorgeous deep baritone range, and his speaking voice is one of those classic "radio voices.” Ray brings so much to the Ceili sound, but at the end of the day, all the Ceili Kidz will tell you that Raymond is a great roommate and a great friend, not just a great musician.

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