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Ray Cardwell is one of the most diversely talented artists playing bluegrass/Americana music today, with a broad array of interests and influences.  He grew up in a family bluegrass band, and his father, Marvin Cardwell, was a talented multi-instrumentalist as well as a collector of vintage instruments. The senior Cardwell fronted one of the first live music shows in Branson, MO at Jesse James Confusion Hill in the 1960s as "Marvin Cardwell and the Country Boys." The group played a combination of traditional country music and bluegrass, performing at county fairs, town festivals, coon hunts, church events, and they even had their own live radio show every Saturday afternoon based in Aurora, MO.

Ray started singing at church and on his father's show at age three, and in sixth grade he started playing guitar and saxophone. Around 1975-76, Ray and his two sisters, Susan and Nancy, were ready to form a family band with their parents. The Cardwell Family bluegrass band performed in the late 1970s - early '80s on a variety of stages, including the Mountain Folks Music Festival at Silver Dollar City, Fort of the Osage, Dogpatch USA, and various concerts hosted by Ozarks musicologist, Max Hunter.  In the ‘80s Ray was into rock & reggae, working out of Springfield, MO and in the Midwest as a musician and front man, keyboardist and sax player. He relocated for a time to Hollywood, CA with Springfield based band Resonance and played saxophone for celebrated songwriter Jack Lee (The Nerves, and writer for Blondie, Pat Benatar, and Neil Young). In 1992 he met some bluegrass enthusiasts from Columbia, MO and started his return to bluegrass with the regional band, Slick Nickel. He moved to Nashville in 1994 as a member of the critically acclaimed, nationally touring bluegrass gospel band, New Tradition. He recorded two albums with the band--one for the Brentwood label (Old Time Gospel Jamboree) and one independently released (Following the Son). In mid '96 Ray left Nashville to raise a family back in Missouri and returned to college to finish a degree in Music Education. While attending Lincoln University he performed with National Honor Choirs at both Alice Tully Hall at Lincoln Center and Carnegie Hall in New York City.

As a band and choral director he led students to several national competitions with high markings. While teaching he also played with an indie band called Squigglefish – a popular rock/blues/reggae power trio at the Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri.

Rays return to bluegrass came when Producer/guitarist Pat Flynn heard a demo of his originals. After meeting with Pat, Ray decided that it was time to return to his roots. His Debut CD Tennessee Moon on Pinecastle Records was received with high praise with 10 songs charting on Bluegrass, Americana and Folk Charts. His newest single "Time to Drive" debuted at #1 on the Bluegrass Today's Grassicana Chart and remained on the chart for 37 consecutive weeks. Angels We Have Heard On High" was released on Pinecastle Records Artist CD "A Very Acoustic Christmas" Made it on Bluegrass Today's Bluegrass Weekly (#2) and Bluegrass Today's Gospel Chart (#3) as well.  Time To Drive was the first single release from Ray's upcoming CD Stand On My Own which was released on May 24th 2019 “Time To Drive” debuted at #1 on Bluegrass Today’s Grassicana Chart. It remained on the charts top 15 for 6 months. “Alright” debuted at #1 on the Grassicana Charts and “Hurricane Rain at #2 Before it made its way to #1




Ray Cardwell

& Tennessee Moon

Whetstone Boys Ranch & Therapeutic Boarding School


Mountain View, MO

Mar 20


 6 PM

Ray Cardwell

& Tennessee Moon

Rock House


Reeds Spring, MO

Aug 22


 6:30 PM


Ray Cardwell Returns With New Bluegrass Single From Forthcoming Album ‘Just A Little Rain’ Available September 25th Via Bonfire Music Group



Available for Download on AirPlay Direct

Album Includes Lead Single “Rising Sun” Co-Written With Louisa Branscomb Available Now


Nashville, Tenn. - Ray Cardwell is back with his brand new inspiring single, “Rising Sun.” Co-written by the Missouri native alongside songwriting veteran Louisa Branscomb, the track serves as the first release from the forthcoming Bonfire Music Group project, Just A Little Rain. The straight-ahead Bluegrass album includes 10 new recordings, and is set for release on September 25. The entire collection was produced by Bluegrass mainstay and Grascals mandolinist Danny Roberts. Fans can download and stream “Rising Sun” HERE. Check out the lyric video below.


“This is the first song I’ve ever written with Louisa. I knew her of course from her awards and reputation as a skilled songwriter,” says Cardwell. “I really love getting a chance to write with another songwriter. It's good for new ideas, and when people hear a song I wrote and add to it, making it into something else, that's when I get excited! That's the creative collaboration I live for. Louisa's lyrics were spot on and conversation-like. We just musically talked out all our fears, frustrations and hope.”


With so much chaos and uncertainty looming in the world, Cardwell channeled that feeling to deliver a COVID-19 message of inspiration. With deep lyrics like, “the sun will rise like it always does, like a promise from the lord above” the takeaway is clear. It ends with the main point from the track, which is that “the rising sun will set us free." The single, along with the entire project, was recorded in Nashville at Scott Vestal’s Digital Underground.


“I guess I’d just say that the situation has either invited or demanded that we grow and change very suddenly and take new risks and live creatively,” says Louisa Branscomb about the song. “And that I am a private writer, I don’t co-write much, but I was so glad I took the risk and messaged Ray about something I said on Facebook that I thought would make a cool song and we just jumped in and did it! And got to know each other in the process and it’s one of those unexpected small blessings in the middle of all this.”


When Just A Little Rain becomes available later this year, fans can expect Cardwell to pick up right where he left off. In addition to the lead single, the chart-topper’s powerful four-octave voice is on display from start to finish. Standout cuts like the title-track serve as a constant reminder of the singer’s staying-power. Getting his start performing regionally with The Cardwell Family in the Show-Me State, the collection of tracks were heavily inspired by the singer’s humble upbringing, which included stops at venues and Bluegrass festivals throughout the 70s and 80s, along with performing as a member of New Tradition in the 90s. The album closes by showing a softer side of Cardwell in “Constant State of Grace,” which is a heartfelt ballad about moving on. From start to finish, Just A Little Rain is a reminder that even in the darkest of times, things will always get better.


The upcoming album serves as the follow-up to Ray Cardwell’s critically-acclaimed sophomore release, Stand On My Own. The project produced three No. 1 hits on the Bluegrass Today airplay charts, while multiple singles spent several months in the Top Ten on the Grassicana Weekly Airplay Chart. Two of the tracks, “Hurricane Rain” and “Alright” both finished in the Top Five songs on the Grassicana charts for the entire year of 2019.


Just A Little Rain Track Listing:

1. Grass Is Greener

2. Standing On The Rock

3. Take Me To The River

4. I Won’t Send You Flowers

5. Born To Do

6. Just A Little Rain

7. Rising Sun

8. Shoulda Known Better

9. Thief In The Night

10. Constant State of Grace


Ray Cardwell Releases Brand New Single “Born To Do” From Upcoming ‘Just A Little Rain’ Album  on  August 26, 2020

Check out the details here





Check out the great article about Ray on Vents Magazine titled "Ray Cardwell Delivers Roots-Inspired Spin on the Al Green Hit “Take Me To The River” [Exclusive Song Premiere]"

Read what Bluegrass Today had to say about Ray in the article "Ray Cardwell - Passing it On"


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Ray Cardwell



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or 573-690-8053


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Ray Cardwell

copyright 2019

Sept 10


 6:40 pm

Ray Cardwell & Tennessee Moon with Special Guest Mark Bilyeu



Looking forward to being in Springfield, MO

Sept 12

11 am



Ray Cardwell Live on Nashville Today

Hosted by Devon O'Day




A prolific songwriter, Cardwell’s powerful, four-octave voice is in large part what has caught the ears of some of Nashville’s most respected bluegrass musicians, several who lended their substantial musical expertise to studio sessions in Nashville in late 2015. “One of the most interesting things about Ray is his range,” said Pat Flynn, the highly respected guitar stylist, top flight studio musician, songwriter and member of New Grass Revival now sitting in the producer chair at Ray’s sessions. “He has a very diverse musical background. We have a bluegrass foundation, but we’re doing everything from blues and gospel a cappella to straight-up bluegrass. I like the fact that Ray is able to embrace a lot of different styles...and pull them all off. His vocals are very distinctive, as well as his bass playing; that sets the stage for us to do a lot of things acoustically with modern bluegrass as a base.”


Cardwell has the kind of voice and stage presence that leaves an audience spell-bound and makes converts wherever he plays. As a band leader, music director or sideman, Ray has performed and toured extensively with bluegrass, Americana, country, jazz, reggae, blues, musical theater, rock, Motown, choral and rockabilly groups.


The Cardwell Family bluegrass band, from the Missouri Ozarks, performed in America’s heartland in the late 1970s. In the ‘80s Ray was into rock & reggae, followed by a move to Nashville as a member of the critically acclaimed bluegrass/gospel group, the New Tradition in 1994. Then he returned to Missouri to raise a family, where he earned accolades as an award-winning vocal and instrumental music teacher with ensembles.


March 20 | 6pm

Ray Cardwell & Tennessee Moon

Whetstone Boys Ranch & Therapeutic Boarding School


Mountain View, MO


August 22 | 6:30pm

Ray Cardwell

& Tennessee Moon

Rock House


Reeds Spring, MO