Tony Ramey — writin’, pickin’, singin’ and grinnin’

| December 26, 2017 | Reply

Photos and story by Mary Jane Farmer, first appeared in December 2017 Buddy Magazine

For a songwriter as prolific and as recorded as Tony Ramey has been over the past two decades, he’s definitely set in the music industry and taking steps to keep on keepin’ on.

So many musicians favor their right, or artistic brain, and let others do the left-brain, everyday work. Tony isn’t one of them. He writes, sometimes a song every day, sometime with a little more time between new songs; he records, and has his own studio; he teaches up-and-coming songwriters; he books himself, for the most part; and he travels to and from Nashville, performing all along the way, as well as all over Texas.

Ramey grew up in West Virginia, and raised on bluegrass. Then, he found Willie, Waylon, Kris, and some others who added gasoline to that fire burning inside him to write. He moved to Nashville. And write he did. One of the first songs Ramey turned out earned him is first Gold record; John Michael Montgomery recorded “I Don’t Want This Song To End,” released in 1998. Since then, such artists as George Strait, Alabama, Moe Bandy, Aaron Watson, Johnny Bush, Doug Stone, Craig Morgan, and others have recorded Tony-Ramey-penned songs.

But among the most exciting for Tony was when Ray Price chose a Tony Ramey song to go on his last CD. Mr. Price recorded the project, “Beauty Is…” before his late-2013 death. The CD was released in 2014. Mr. Price recorded 12 songs on it, and only two of them were first-time recordings. One was Tony’s “No More Songs To Sing.”

Now, Ramey had a hard time finding out if his song had been included. He knew Mr. Price recorded it, but Mr. Price also recorded more than the 12 songs that made the cut. Meanwhile, I had made friends with Mrs. Ray (Janie) Price, and she told me that not only did the song make the CD, but it was her favorite song of them all. Tony was ecstatic when he learned that!

“So many of the online music sites are not paying writers and artists for their talents. I am independent artist and live off the content that I provide. I get paid directly from fans.”

In addition to the usual hard copy CDs for sale, and in addition to the cover charges for his concerts, Ramey created the TR Club, a way for fans and friends alike to get a constant stream of music from Ramey as it comes off the presses. He brings his club members three new songs each month and access to live streaming concerts. There’s other perks for membership, and this provides Ramey with supplemental income. “There are a lot of people who want to support an independent artist. I give away the music to people who are supporting my music.”

But he, like to many artists and fans, “still like the hard CD copy. “I think it’s because you can hold and make it a part of your library. I spend time listening to music. I still like music for the sake of the song, an art form, tangible and real.” He said he still reads the credits at the movies and still reads books, too. “I appreciate the hard work that goes into it all,” Ramey said.

“I created the TR Club for the super fans, who really want to support my music. I don’t lean on it.”

He also provides concerts on Facebook Live. That series is called the County Lines and Country Roads series, which he said has been built into a legitimate production. “People can drop money into the tip jar, and that goes to help build the production,” he said. “Most of my shows are going into feeders and listening rooms, people are talking to you on Live, maybe on a larger screen. I like doing it in the studio and taking it ont eh road. Johnny Lee hosts people in concert right there at his house. It’s a branding extension and it doesn’t cost anything.”

Ramey wrote for about 16 years in Nashville, most often signed with some of the biggest agencies there. That’s where George Strait obtained and recorded Ramey’s “Hot Grease and Zydeco” and so many others opted to record Ramey-penned songs. “Songwriters there, now, are probably turning out 25 or 30 songs a year. I did a lot of co-writing in Nashville, putting the best song on records, I do some co-writing now.”

He likes the ‘have fun, write together, no expectations’ mode best. That mindset was the basis for a songwriting clinic he and other Nashville hitmakers held in September, having the students co-write and helping them with critiques and advice and joining in on the co-writing, They also shared what they had learned in the Nashville music business as well. “How to make a little money in the business takes a little more expertise,” he said. “It’s about the passion for the craft, they really want to learn how to write better songs.”

One of those songs he co-wrote, this time with South Texas songwriter Kelly Kenning, recently won the Texas Country Music Association’s Christian Country Songwriter of the Year Award for their “God’s Got This.”

Ramey sings, too… well! He holds audiences captive with his enthralling style and crystal-clear lyrics. He said he likes the smaller listening venues, including house concerts and private parties, but also enjoys immensely the large venues, where he sometimes works with his band,, and festivals. Wineries are working now in Ramey’s favor, he’s become a regular at several of them in North Texas. “There are a lot of Texas festivals. “Those are neat places to try out the new music. Festivals are always a favorite, especially the old country music and bluegrass ones.” He’s working on an East Coast music tour, including one festival, for Spring.

Did I forget to mention that Tony’s music distinctly qualifies as true country? The real kind, not today’s ‘pop’ country, as many non-fans call that which is hitting the charts today, even in spite of the true country music still coming out of Nashville.

Ramey talks with admiration about his first Nashville publisher, Tom Collins. “He tried to get writers to understand that it is the craft that makes great songs. Passion and inspiration are important, but with craft skills, a good song can become a great song. It’s just like writing an article — you write, edit, rewrite, rework, make word changes and substitutions. You take it from there (as Ramey holds his hand up shoulder height) to way up there (and with that he stood and held his hand as high as he could get it.)”

Somewhere in the middle of his Gold and Platinum records as an award-winning songwriter, Ramey earned a Master’s degree in Literature, and taught at colleges and universities part-time while working on his PhD. He’s still part-time teaching. He said the great poets keep him sharp… grounded in the craft and discipline of writing.

There have been Texas artists who have recorded Ramey’s songs, too, including “Summertime Girl” recorded by Aaron Watson. And soon, if it hasn’t already happened, Jon Wolfe is laying one down.

No gimmicks, no smoke or mirrors in Tony Ramey’s music, just solid lyrics mixed with unique tunes, all well-crafted, and performed with panache.

For more about the TR Club or Ramey’s schedule, go Online to TonyRamey.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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