Ray Bonneville likes to leave a story unfinished. He writes songs that are open-ended, allowing the listeners to come to their own conclusions and become a part of the song in their own way. Out on tour behind the extremely well-received 2014 release, “Easy Gone,” Bonneville took a breather at BeeHive Studios in Saranac, New York, to chat with Folk Alley and play a few Bluesy numbers from the new CD. Hear the interview and watch video performances.
Bonneville’s highway life began at 12, when his parents moved their nine French-speaking children from Quebec to Boston. He learned to play a little piano, then guitar, but language and cultural challenges made school uninviting. At 17, he joined the Marines, winding up in Vietnam for more than a year. Post-discharge, he taught himself to play harmonica in-between fares while driving a cab in Boston. Bonneville spent the ’70s in Boulder, Colo., where he formed the Ray Bonneville Blues Band and got over his fear of flying by earning a commercial pilot’s license. He headed to the Pacific Northwest ” first Alaska, then Seattle ” flying wherever he could. Next to Paris, where he busked and played.
Returning stateside in ’83, he moved to New Orleans, training pilots by day and playing at night. The romantic notion of becoming a bush pilot took him to northern Quebec’s wilderness, where he shuttled sportsmen via seaplane and played Montreal clubs in the off-season, until, flying in fog, he almost hit a power line and barely landed. At 41, he moved to Montreal and began to write. His 1999 album, Gust of Wind, won a Juno Award. In 2003, Bonneville moved again, this time to Arkansas, where the fly-fishing was good. He began recording for Red House Records and headed to Austin in 2006.