Grand Rapids, MI

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How do you go from a sandwich delivery guy to a touring musician in less than a year? If you’re Earthmover Jesse Ray & the Carolina Catfish you do it by never taking a night off, by sticking with the music that moves you, and by being willing to out work every other band in town.

Singer/guitar player Jesse Ray Carolina seems to have been playing back-to-your-roots rock-in-roll since birth. He formed a band in 2013 as a way to create a sound he’d grown up loving. But as happens, the bands line-up was in constant flux. Then he met drummer Dingo Hopp. They met through a mutual acquaintance, talked music like old friends, and lamented over the fact that Dingo would soon be going back to school. But the seed was planted. Just a week later, Jesse Ray got a call with a simple message, “plans have changed.”

Dingo grew up playing in garage and heavy metal bands. Jesse Ray’s songs were slicked back, swinging throwbacks to a different era. The melding didn’t happen immediately. The two liked each other though, and most importantly they liked playing music. Hours of practice led to the musical alchemy that makes them stand above the fray. Hard work let them find a place where smooth and heavy could come together, let out a high pitched yelp, and get down like the sun might never come up.

But having a sound was just the beginning. Jesse Ray and the Carolina Catfish took the next step by taking to the road. They played Kentucky hoedowns, block parties, and arena rock shows. They spent nearly as many hours behind the wheel as they did in their practice studio. No gig was too big or too small, and every night was an opportunity to connect with their audience in a new and better way.

It’s an exhausting lifestyle that isn’t for everyone, but Jesse Ray and the Carolina Catfish can’t imagine doing anything else. This passion has remained their secret weapon, and it’s allowed them to leave their sandwich delivery days in the dust. They’re Earthmovers who’ve made their own musical niche in the world. Through pure sense of purpose (and thousands of hours of playing), they’ve created that rarest of things: genuine originality.

Photo courtesy of Shutter Sam Photography

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