Redefining the Classroom

Ray Kamalay and his Red Hot Peppers to spice up the Arts Center

Posted: October 15th, 2008

SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. – Even if the temperature outside returns to what's considered normal for fall, it will be hot inside the Arts Center at Lake Superior State University on Thursday when Ray Kamalay and his Red Hot Peppers come to town.

The jazz group will perform at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 16, as part of LSSU's annual Superior Festival. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students of all ages and are available at the Norris Center box office and at the door on the night of the performance.

Ray Kamalay

In the early 1930's, America was blessed with a heyday of small-band jazz, the likes of which it has not seen since. In ballrooms across North America, hot jazz, laced with exciting improvisation, and ballads, melancholy and blue, told stories of joy and tragedy, and provided rhythm for the feet of dancers of the two-step, the Lindy and the Swing. Ray Kamalay and his Red Hot Peppers are reminiscent of this peculiar era.

With some of the finest players in the United States, the band's members play this music with all its excitement and sentiment. They have impressed audiences at some of the very finest venues, including Interlochen, Edinburgh, and the Philadelphia Folk Festival.

Kamalay is the singer, guitarist and leader of the group. A Detroit native, he started playing professionally immediately after graduating with a philosophy degree from the University of Detroit in 1974. Even then, he showed an unusual interest in both folk music and jazz. In that same year, while searching for the ancient Celtic muse on the Shetland Islands, he got his first big dose of the music of Django Reinhardt. Since then, his interest in both genres has only gotten bigger.

Kamalay has worked in collaboration with many fine artists, including Joel Mabus, James Dapogny (who has also appeared at LSSU), Johnny Frigo, Betty Joplin, the Chenille Sisters, Jethro Burns and Ralphe and Howard Armstrong. In 1997, his work with the Armstrongs was nominated for the WC Handy Award. A student of the music, Kamalay lectures periodically at the college level with a talk called "Freedom, Slavery and the roots of American Music." His anecdotes during his performances are often highlights of the show. –LSSU-