Dray Harris, of JamSessions, has a deep love and passion for music. It shows in the commitment, consistency, and quality he puts into every video he produces, as well as the friendships he’s formed and the respect he’s earned among the Savannah music scene over the years. Here, he talks more about where his passion comes from, his appreciation for the many musical friendships and connections he’s made, his plans for his brand, and much more.
1. Where does your love for music come from?
My love of music stems from a deep appreciation and respect for the role music played throughout periods of my life. Growing up, music could always be heard in our family home; whether the format was LP, 8 track, 45, or reel-to-reel. By trailing my older brother Tony, who served as a stagehand while in high school, I became deeply fascinated by the magic of live performances and a listening diet composed of a plethora of genres. He was our neighborhood DJ and was always exposing us new music. You could count on hearing AC/DC’s Back In Black blasting out of his low rider. Even to this day, he and I attend concerts and chat music regularly.
2. Who are some of your musical influences?
My musical influences can be compared to the colors of a 64 piece crayon box. It began with a foundation in Soul and R & B. Next, came the hard and soft rock artists. Although I didn’t embrace the Blues, Jazz, Country, & Folk music until later in life, I was heavily influenced by 70’s & 80’s stadium rock. Then while living in Atlanta during the early 80’s I got involved in the punk, alternative, reggae, and house music scene. When I returned to Midway, GA in the late 80’s I began to become involved in the emerging Savannah music scene. In short, if I listed my musical influences it would consume this interview.
3. Do you play an instrument or write music?
I’ve attempted to play guitar for the last ten years but our relationship is one of “love/hate”. Recently, I’ve started performing onstage as a percussionist and vocalist when the opportunity allows. I enjoy that because the instrument is so personal and expressive to me. Like most artists, I have a number of recordings on SoundCloud. Mine are under the name of DreGhost O & DJ LS. I collaborated with a long-time friend, producer, and Savannah musician Eugene Lyons (of the mighty band Superhorse) to create 8 tracks. This gave me insight into the process of song crafting. As a result, I have a new found respect for songwriters.
4. Who are some of your favorite local artists and musicians?
Although I don’t have any “favorite” local artists (because the scene is so diverse, vibrant, and I work with too many talented artists to list), I encourage everyone to attend any upcoming festivals or walk into most local bars or music venues. In Savannah and the surrounding areas, you are guaranteed to find an artist or band worthy of your continual support. I’m Blessed in that I’ve developed friendships with so many talented people that create for the Love of Music.
5. How did you get into video production?
I got into video production by accident. During my affiliation with Savannah’s CatHouse Playas, I started filming our sessions as a way to “remember” our ideas and practice video skills. That was a dojo that I worked hard in to develop my techniques. As a result, I am now a creator that uses the medium of video to capture artistic musical performances. I’m grateful for the advice and encouragement received from Eugene Lyons, Keith Kozel, Chris Evans, Bailey Davidson, Harry Goeller, Jason Anderson, and Bob Holmen. Through them, I’ve learned to push boundaries, take creative risks, constantly learn, and take the Lead; skills which I bring to each video project.
6. Why did you start JamSessions?
My specialty is the filming and sharing of live, music performances. JamSessions, my video services, originated from my need to store the more than 1K videos I have filmed over a 10-year period. Once I figured out the storage part, I decided to share all these recorded performances with the world. I’m proud that JamSessions on Facebook has 14K likes/followers and is literally viewed on all continents. I discuss JamSessions projects regularly with a brain trust of good friends & local musicians such as Tim Eightay (At Sundown), Mark Rehfuss (At Sundown), Ben Thomas (Groove Benders), Scott Anderton (Moss City Groove), Ray Tomasino (High Velocity), and Rocker John (Flashback fam). Their experience is invaluable. As Mark Rehfuss stated, “You (Dray) are chronicling the music of the local scene for a period of time.” Also, JamSessions can be found on YouTube and IG.
7. How did your partnership with Flashback form?
A heartfelt “Thank You” to James and Laura Castiglione, owners of Flashback (bar & music venue in Richmond Hill, GA) for allowing JamSessions to be based there. Our friendship extends deeper than music; we are family no doubt. Jimmy needed someone to help further his vision of a neighborhood sports bar/restaurant where the love and respect for music is evident. I needed a studio/lab to refine my videography. He’s become one of my closest friends. I know it was GOD that brought us together. Flashback’s motto is that we are the “Hottest Spot South of Savannah” and we work hard everyday to hit/stick to that mark. We have live music every Friday and Saturday night. Also, Laura and Jimmy have created one of the best kitchens in the area. Stop in.
8. What are your thoughts on the current state of the Savannah music scene?
I have a good feeling about state of the local music scene. The word has gotten out about the wealth of talent and opportunity that is found throughout South East Georgia. I constantly meet musicians that have relocated here from other states and countries. They often comment about the vibrancy of our music scene. However, we need to continually support live music venues and public events. By doing this we continue to add to the demand for the variety of music that supporters can enjoy. I hate to hear of or read about the closing of a bar, restaurant, or venue that provides live music or of programs or events that provide music to the community at large. The services we provide are valuable assets to the local community and economy. We should never loose revenue to other areas due to regulatory or other practices that work against the growth of the local music scene. Music and other forms of art keep a community growing.
9. Do you have plans to expand the JamSessions brand?
I create works that musicians can use as “game tape” and press material for their financial benefit. Presently, I’m expanding my freelance services by collaborating with a growing roster of talented friends like Kyle Yardley (Kyle Yardley Blues), Wade and Erica Holmes (Wood and Steel) and Stee (Stee & Ear Candy). If someone would have told me that I would create and enjoy the level of success that JamSessions has awarded me so far, I would laugh at them. Now, I humbly smile and keep grinding. I’ve got new content to upload every week.
Special Thanks to my lovely wife Lydia and daughter Gabrielle for being in my corner from Day 1. They have and always will be the first ears that check my ideas. Lydia motivates me to go and do when I just don’t feel it. I embrace this feeling as part of my creative process. Gabrielle is my technical support and has been receiving the “first” after video shoot/gig/rehearsal conversation since age 7. It’s always beneficial to get input from the next generation. She also serves as my 2nd camera on certain jobs.
Finally, Thank You to Jon Willis (Ben Keiser trio/Jonathan Murphy Band) for the social media post years ago that certified and recommended my skills to the musician community of Savannah and surrounding areas. That unexpected Blessing opened up the floodgates of interest in my work and helped expand my service area. I’m forever grateful. Also, major Thanks to Xulu Jones (XuluProphet) for providing early opportunities for me to hone my craft. They serve as a constant motivator for me to stay true to myself and my Craft while redefining the Goals.