September 13, 2012


Getting the hoedown started in scenic Northern Rhode Island, from left: Stuart "Tiny" Ranslow (rhythm guitar), Richard Charbonneau (drums), Ray "Gee" Gouin (lead guitar) and Ray Lamberto (organ). Photo courtesy of Ray Lamberto.

According to everybody's favorite quasi-legit information source, Wikipedia defines hootenanny in one incarnation as "an old country word for 'party.'" Well, that sure sounds like what Woonsocket, R.I.'s own Ray Gee And The Counts brought on back in 1965. Though rather than riding the crest of the British Invasion wave, the Counts' lone single is a throwback to the Buddy Holly era of rock and roll, with nary a Beatles or Stones lick found in the grooves. In fact, "Hootenanny Baby" even turned up on a bootleg compilation, "Echoes Of Buddy Holly," featuring cover versions of his songs and (apparently) Buddy Holly soundalikes as well. The flipside, actually listed as Side 1 on the labels, is a bizarre instrumental, less conducive to doing the mashed potato or the swim than to busting out jerky futuristic robotic movements.

Details on the band's existence are scant, though organ player Ray Lamberto (yes, the band contained no less than two Rays) kindly lent the band photo and personnel info.

After the Counts, Stuart "Tiny" Ranslow signed on as organ player with the Bobby Shannon Group, a long-running, popular cover band that was a mainstay at the St. James Hotel in Woonsocket. Ray Lamberto continued to gig six nights a week — between three different clubs — for the next 42 years. And Ray Gouin is keeping his moniker alive, still performing regularly as Ray Gee and The Silver Dollar Band at Casa Fernandes in Glendale, R.I.

Hootenanny Baby / Arabic Jazz
Planet Records
(No. 54)
May 1965

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