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See Boo Ray’s Rough and Tumble ‘Bad News Travels Fast’

Country-music road warrior strips down his live staple for an intimate campfire performance

Since 2010, the country/Americana singer-songwriter known as Boo Ray has closed every show with “Bad News Travels Fast,” a ramshackle, rough-and-tumble blast of roadhouse country-rock about a traveling man who’s “forever gone.”

“I wrote that song with Colin Linden, who’s T Bone Burnett’s right-hand man,” says the Nashville resident, speaking with the gravely, half-hoarse drawl of a road warrior who’s spent half his adulthood onstage. “At the time, I did not have an apartment or an address. I was in the process of bouncing around America, living out of a suitcase and a guitar case for 10 solid years.”

First released in 2010, “Bad News Travels Fast” made a fresh appearance on this year’s Sea of Lights, its newer recording driven forward at highway speed by Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers percussionist Steve Ferrone. More recently, Ray and his four-piece band tracked an acoustic version in Nashville, setting up shop in the backyard of Nashville-area director Joshua Shoemaker’s home. (Watch the video above.)

“We turned into a string band on accident during a West Coast radio tour, due to small radio station studios,” he explains. In keeping with that tradition, Ray keeps things unplugged and seated in the video, which shows his bandmates swapping harmonies and trading riffs over a campfire. 

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