RHYTHM AND NEWS
February' s Budweiser Artist Of The Month: Ray DeTone
by Lisa Fairbanks
'I have a plaque on my wall that somebody made up for me. It's a poem called
persistence,' says guitarist Ray DeTone. "When I start doing something,
I don't stop. It's in my nature."
Perhaps it's DeTone's persistant nature that compels him to also maintain
a high standard in his music and business dealings.
"To think about the whole picture is mind blowing - like trying to get in
someplace and putting materials together, going after them - you can't
rest," he says.
DeTone has seen his career cross paths with artists as diverse as Ronnie
Spector and Steve Vai
(he even took music theory classes as a kid with Steven Tyler's father),
but it would seem these days the Hudson Valley-based guitarist has come
Today, as frontman of his own instrumental trio (which also features bassist
Rick Mullen and drummer Mike Sciotto), DeTone has his sights set less on
backing a notable artist than on becoming famous all on his own.
"At the age of 14, I wanted to be a rock star," he laughs. "By
age 18, I was naive enough to think that it was actually possible by playing
at all the high school dances. It still comes down to a true belief in
the love for what you do."
Although the musician admits that having a name such as Ronnie Spector
on his resume "adds credibility," DeTone points out that in order
to excel in a variety of musical situations, you have to step back to find
what's right for a particular song.
"I've always prided myself in coming up with the right sensibility
for the right artist," he explains. "It started out as a producer
and it's spilled its way into my guitar playing by doing a lot of session
work. You have to listen to the whole thing - not from the point of view
of a guitar player, but from the point of view of the song."
Musical score Beyond the R&B/pop of a Ronnie Spector gig, DeTone's chops were courted by
many hard rock-type bands prevalent during the 1980s. The artist soon discovered
he had carved a niche for himself - and a reputation as a "shredder."
DeTone wound up scoring a major sideman stint with CBS recording artist,
Drive She Said.
"By the time I got that reputation, I was already more of a straight-ahead
player," he explains. "But Drive She Said did real well in Europe.
It was interesting because it was at the pinnacle of pop-metal: Bon Jovi,
Whitesnake, bad hair. They would say: 'Oh, by the way, we're doing a show
with Whitesnake and Steve Vai's in the band.' That's when I said, 'I'm
going home to practice.' "
Although DeTone did (not) play the Whitesnake gig, he admits that there
were times he would stop and wonder how he got onto the same stage as these
rock icons in the first place.
"There are so many great players," he offers. "I'm constantly
comparing myself to others and am hard on myself. I'm trying to learn to
DeTone has been tagged to be an endorser for DR Strings and Fender guitars.
His CD "Once More ... With Feeling," released over a year ago,
has just been re-released in Japan and continues to open doors for his
music and his band.
"A friend of mine told me a long time ago that I always seem to have
a lot of irons in the fire," he says. "The way I see it, as long
as the irons are in the fire and you have choices and keep looking for
new avenues to promote yourself, at least you are moving forward and doing
something positive. That keeps your energy up."
"Of course," he admits, "you like to score once in a while."