As I Roved Back
Singer-songwriter/guitarist, Ray hails from Belfast City in the North of Ireland. His musical roots are embedded in the rich ballad tradition of his native land. His original songs twig those roots with other branches of music, most notably 'folk' and 'rock', producing his distinctive driving, rhythmic style. His first 'major' public singing engagements were on the picket-lines and rallies of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement in the 1960s. Many years later he is still singing and writing songs which relate his experiences of life and death in Belfast and beyond!! Collins also spent much of his riotous turbulent youth playing the illegal late night shebeens, smoke-filled rowdy bars, and jam-packed boisterous clubs of Belfast, oft' times without the aid of a PA system. In the '60s and '70s he spent various chunks of time in London, England, playing the bars and clubs there, with occasional sorties to Glasgow, Scotland, and frequent trips to Europe. Ray has performed with a variety of artists including Luke Kelly (The Dubliners);Eamonn McGirr;The WolfeTones;Pete Seeger;Richie Havens;Black '47; and Shenachai. In the early 1980's Collins went on a concert tour of Brittany and France eventually settling in Paris where he played a resident gig at the Guinness Tavern, run, ironically, by a former CRS 'flic', (notorious riot cops). In 1984 Collins embarked on a 4-month coast-to-coast tour of the United States and Canada, playing bars, cafes, coffee houses, colleges, press clubs, concert halls, festivals, and appearing on television and radio. During this extensive tour Collins played several benefit concerts for the American Indian Movement from which he developed a strong friendship and close cultural bond with singer-songwriter/actor Floyd 'Red Crow' Westerman', (Dances with Wolves, Son of the Morning Star) of the Sisseton-Wahapteh-Dakota (Sioux) Nation It was during this American tour that Collins began a long-term love affair with New York City, which has become his second home. While in the Big Apple Collins worked at the famed Irish Arts Center in Hell's Kitchen, forming a friendship with Irish filmmaker and Director Jim Sheridan, (My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father, In America). In 1986 Collins played the lead role of James Connolly in Connolly's play 'Under Which Flag', directed by Sheridan, with music and songs arranged by Collins. In the same year 'In Belfast Town', a one-man-show written, produced, and performed by Collins, had it's American premiere at the Irish Arts Center. The show is a social history of Belfast in song, story, verse, and prose, with especial reference to Collins's family neighbourhood; the York Street/Sailortown District around the Belfast Docks. Jim Sheridan praised Collins's performance as: ',. a masterful portrayal of the enduring spirit and strength of the people of Belfast.' 'As I Roved Back to York Street', a song originally written by Collins as the finale to 'In Belfast Town' eventually became the title track of his 1996 album, 'As I Roved Back...' Collaborating with his close friend, Dublin rocker Sean O'Connor, they co-produced this album of original songs depicting Collins's adventures on the road and relating his experiences of life in his native Belfast. Joining Collins and O'Connor on the album are New Yorker Dave Sandler on drums; Black '47 member Geoff Blythe on saxophones; and Dublin chanteuse Susan McKeown singing backing vocals. ENJOY LISTENING TO THE ALBUM AS MUCH AS I ENJOYED MAKING IT!!. SLAINTE ray.