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The Robert Cray Band is Cray-zy good

BY ERIC SUNDERMANN | AUGUST 25, 2009 7:05 AM

A leader in the ’80s blues revival, shows with Diana Ross and Tina Turner, 18 albums to his name, and numerous awards — Robert Cray is a legend.

The Robert Cray Band will wield guitar and soul at the Englert Theater, 221 E. Washington St., at 8 p.m. today. Admission ranges from $49 to $55.

Englert Theater CEO Sean Fredericks said he thinks it’s great for Iowa City to snag a performance by the likes of Cray.

“It puts Iowa City on the entertainment map,” Fredericks said. “It’s a communal effort — when the Mill, Picador, or the Englert is trying to bring in big-name artists such as Robert Cray, it grabs the attention of more and more artists and their agencies, and bigger names come to the town.”

Cray’s lavish career includes five Grammy wins while dominating the blues categories. He began playing guitar in his teens, and after years of local and regional success, came into the national spotlight in the mid-80s with the album Strong Persuader. The ’90s were friendly to Cray, and he became a household blues name, opening for and performing with such acts as Eric Clapton and Bob Dylan.

“A lot of people are going to like [Cray’s performance],” Fredericks said. “There is a big blues following in the area. He played last year, and it was sold out — and a great show. Right away, people were like, ‘If you get the chance to bring him back, bring him back.’ ”

Cray has been busy in the past few weeks. His newest album, This Time, released earlier this month to critical acclaim. Last week, the band performed the track “Trouble and Pain” on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” and after stopping in Iowa City, the group will head west and up through Canada on a fall tour.

“[The show is] going to be fun,” Fredericks said. “Whether you’ve seen him before or not, the Englert only has 700 or so seats, so every seat is a good seat. No matter where you sit, it’s an intimate show.”


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