Apparently his parents - Bob and Evelyn Carpenter - weren't paying any attention to Willie Nelson's warning, "Mama don't let your babies grow up to be cowboys," for that is exactly what their oldest son Ray did.
The ﬁrst born of the Carpenters, Ray was born in Grand Junction in 1940. He has two sisters - Marilyn and Martha - and a younger brother - Marvin. Ray graduated from Fort Morgan High School in 1958 and attended Pasadena Nazarene College before entering the Air Force in 1960.
Music has always played an important role in Ray's life. As a youngster in the fourth grade, Ray had a hankerin' to play the trombone. But he ended up taking lessons on the trumpet. "Because I was too little to play the trombone," he laughed.
In the early 1950s, while living in Ft. Morgan, Ray picked up the guitar, learned a few songs. Because he was the "son of a preacher man" (Ray's father was the pastor of the Cedaredge Church of the Nazarene for nine years), he began playing for church groups, youth groups, at family gatherings and on campouts.
Ray also loves to dance, and in 1993, during a line dance at the Elks Club in Lake Elsinore, he met his wife Jo. She too loved to dance, and for the next ﬁve years the two frequented the local line dances as dance partners, before marrying in 1998. Today, Ray teaches line dancing at St. Philip's Catholic Church in Cedaredge.
In 2002, the year he and Jo moved to Cedaredge, his father, Bob, asked him to bring his guitar to the Ward Lake Ranger Station for the annual "end-of-the season" party. It was also a tribute to Madelyn Moos, former board member and volunteer of the Western Colorado Interpretive Association. At the time, Bob was a seasonal employee with the U.S. Forest Service, and Moos was retiring.
Ray was really reluctant to do so because the only songs he knew were church songs.
So as not to disappoint his dad, Ray prepared for the event by memorizing three or four more worldly, traditional "cowboy songs." Ray recalls one of these was the "Wayward Wind." That done, Ray loaded Jo and his guitar into their motorhome and headed up the mountain to play and sing. "And all this time I didn't even know he could play the guitar," Jo quipped.
Grand Junction District Ranger Connie Clementson and VIS ofﬁcer Kim Ralston happened to be at the party and heard Ray play his guitar and sing. They were impressed and asked if he would be interested in taking part in a talent contest at Vega Lake the following weekend.
He agreed, and once again he loaded his guitar and Jo into their motorhome and headed for the Grand Mesa. Once again, he almost reneged, but Jo told him, "We've not driven this far just to turn around and go home." So Ray played, sang and won the talent contest. "That's where it all began," said Jo.
Inﬂuenced by the likes of Roy Rogers and Dale Evans, Gene Autry, "Tex" Ritter, the Sons of the Pioneers, Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Jim Reeve, Eddie Arnold, Merle Haggard, Marty Robbins, Ray Price, Johnny Cash and others, Ray learned a few more songs and started playing at the Olathe Jam on a regular basis. Eventually, local guitarist and dance enthusiast Rick Bohl introduced him to Howard and Katie Jones. At the time, the Jones were playing for dances at the Bill Heddles Recreation Center in Delta, and were looking for someone to join them.
One thing led to another and by the time Howard called, Ray had a dozen or more songs memorized. Howard picked out two or three songs that he thought they might be able to do together, so they got together and "jammed." It was a "good ﬁt," and the three (Ray, Howard and Katie) eventually became the popular "Three's Country" western dance band.
"And that's when Ray's musical career really took off," said Jo.
Ray soon discovered that his voice and vocal range are just right for the older, more traditional style of cowboy music. "And I just like the old music," he added. In 2007 Three's Country disbanded. "Howard was a good mentor," noted Ray. Howard has continued on his own, and still plays for the dances at Bill Heddles on the ﬁrst Saturday of every month.
Jo said Ray has performed on the Royal Caribbean Cruise Line (2005) where he was dubbed the "Karaoke King"; The Princess Cruise Line (2006); and on Carnival Cruise Lines (2007), even winning a talent contest on one of those outings. And for the past three or four years Ray has played and sung at the Grand Mesa Visitor Center for special events including the annual "Color Sunday" celebrations, and most recently to a standing room only crowd as a part of the Western Colorado Interpretive Association's summer programs.
He has also performed at various venues throughout Delta County, including a fund raiser for the Tongue Creek Conservation Project and for the annual free Christmas dinners.
Even though he doesn't listen to much of the new genre of county music, his musical inﬂuences have expanded to include the likes of Alan Jackson, Dwight Yoakam, Josh Turner and Don Edwards. Ray said a friend of his, Dick Scales, gave him a tape of Don Edwards and "he's become one of my favorites."
Ray has also built a lovely home just outside of Cedaredge, and in his spare time loves to ride horses on the Grand Mesa, in the ‘dobies, and on the Uncompahgre with long time friend Ed Wintz. "I ride as much as I can," he said.
"Ray's passion for horses is as great as his love of music," said his wife. She added that both Howard Jones and Ed Wintz had a great inﬂuence on Ray's life. "Howard helped him to grow musically, and Ed gave him the freedom to become himself."
Ray agreed.blog comments powered by Disqus