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Ray Stevens streaks into Hiawassee

Musician to play classic hits, new songs from latest album for Independence weekend

POSTED: June 30, 2010 11:30 p.m.
For The Times/

Ray Stevens will perform Saturday at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds in Hiawassee.

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If Elvis is the king of rock ’n’ roll and Michael Jackson is the king of pop, then Ray Stevens could be considered the king of corny satire.

Whether you grew up listening to his tall tales of Pascagoula, Miss., and where not to get a haircut, or you’re just hearing his music for the first time, there is no denying Stevens’ knack for hokey humor.

The two-time Grammy winning artist is celebrating 50 years in the music business with a new album and an Independence weekend show at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds.

His new album, "We the People," is a blend of satire with a patriotic pulse that makes the Saturday performance somewhat fitting.

And Stevens promises a mix of his classic favorites for his longtime fans.

From his first comedic hit, "Ahab the Arab," to his rendition of the pop standard "Misty," Stevens’ music spans country, pop and rock genres. But his new album takes a more political stance than previous hits.

"Come to the U.S.A." has recently been making headlines for its anti-illegal immigration theme. While Stevens backs the controversial Arizona law making waves along the border, he dedicated the song to all the hardworking folks who immigrated the "right way."

The song makes light of an overabundance of government aid, education and health care Stevens feels this country practically hands to illegal immigrants.

And to say he feels strongly about the current administration is putting it mildly.

In fact, much of the album reflects how Stevens feels about global warming, the health care bill and government bailouts.

"Global warming is a bunch of crap. The health care bill is double crap. All these bailouts and TARPS are just spending money the American people don’t have," Stevens said in a phone interview with The Times.

His conservative stance also makes him a key spokesperson for the Tea Party movement. Stevens recently performed some of his new music at a Tea Party rally in Washington, D.C.

In "Come to the USA," the chorus tells us to find all we could ever want in America, regardless of how we get there.

"Come to the USA

There’s no penalty to pay

If you get caught illegally immigratin’,

Come to the USA

It will be your lucky day

‘Cause when you get in

There’s lots of goodies waitin’"

And he takes a few jabs at Congress in his song "If 10 Percent is Good Enough for Jesus," comparing paying taxes to tithing at church.

"I don’t know why they think they gotta squeeze us

But I tell ya just exactly where I stand

I believe if 10 percent is good enough for Jesus

It ought to be good enough for Uncle Sam."

Saturday’s show "won’t be a political rally" or a "give ’em hell performance," but just a good time with good, funny music, he said.

Stevens’ music is suitable for the whole family; the entertainer says he has a history of being clean, but he’s "not a prude."

"I personally don’t want to be profane. My audience doesn’t expect that; I might lose myself (if I were)," said Stevens.

"Comedy is harder to write, harder to record," Stevens said.

And at 71, Stevens has no plans to slow down. He’s currently working on an encyclopedia of comedy music, dating back to some of songwriting’s earliest recordings.

As a comedic entertainer in a politically correct climate, Stevens said he feels "we need to blow the lid off that ridiculous hypocrisy." If you don’t like his brand of humor, his message is clear — don’t listen.

The Georgia-born musician is always happy come back to his home state and entertain, he said.



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