Ray Cardwell - Tennessee Moon
  • Tennessee Moon
  • Stop, Look and Listen
  • Cedar Creek Pickaway
  • Open Your Eyes
  • Whole World 'Round
  • Cry
  • My Heart Stays With You
  • His Will
  • New Jerusalem
  • Sailin' for Glory
  • Sing it to the World
  • Think About Me
Contact and booking Info:
Ray Cardwell

Ray Cardwell is one of the most diversely talented artists playing bluegrass/Americana today, with a broad array of interests and influences. From soaring harmonies to well crafted hooks Cardwell presents a fantastic collection of music like no other. His live performances leave an audience spellbound by his vocals and songwriting alike. Using a bluegrass band as a base they play not only bluegrass but you will hear influences of Americana, Roots, Folk, Spirituals and World Music.

Click here to go to Ray Cardwell - Just A Little Rain

Click here to go to Ray Cardwell - Stand On My Own

Tennessee Moon

This is Ray Cardwells debut CD released on January, 2017.
Songwriter, vocalist, and bass player, Ray Cardwell, has joined Pinecastle Records to release his solo album, Tennessee Moon. The album has a clear New Grass influence in producer Pat Flynn. However, with nine out of twelve tunes written by Cardwell, the album is his own take on that classic sound. Flynn also lends his own sound on guitar and harmony vocals to the album along with fellow New Grass alum John Cowan lending tenor and harmony vocals on many of the tracks (full personnel listing below).
“One of the most interesting things about Ray is his range,” said Pat Flynn, “…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.”

“In addition to possessing an extremely powerful, John Cowan-like vocal prowess, Ray is also a talented songwriter.” – Bluegrass Today


1)His Will (02:35)
Written by Ray Cardwell
(RAC MAC Publishing, ASCAP)
This song hit me real fast, it was written within 15 minutes.
It was at a time when I was not playing bluegrass gospel. It has always meant a lot to me because I felt in a way it was a call to me to come home to my roots of faith and music.

2)Tennessee Moon(03:00)
Written by Ray Cardwell
(RAC MAC Publishing, ASCAP)

I wrote this song in 1993 when I first moved to Nashville to play with the New Tradition. It was in between Christmas and New Years. I had to find a place before my wife and son came down in January. It was an exciting time getting ready to make a musical career move, and yet it was the first time I had been away from my family for any amount of time. My son was three at the time.
I remember coming down I-24 and seeing the Nashville skyline with a full winter moon. It was very profound for me. I simply pulled out a mini recorder I kept for song writing and sang "Tennessee moon I see you shinin' through my window" The chorus literally wrote itself. I had moved from Jefferson City, MO which is on the Missouri river, so that first verse came pretty quickly. A couple of weeks later I was in a hotel room with Richie Dotson and was strumming some chord progressions on the guitar to him. He helped me smooth it out and we co-wrote the second verse together.
When I started picking out songs for this project, Pat Flynn changed the chord progressions on the verses and cut a word or two.
I was very happy with the final outcome.

a special note-
This song features bluegrass Hall of Fame member and Grand Ole Opry member Jesse McReynolds on mandolin.(at the time of the recording he was 86 years old)
Jim and Jesse were a big influence on my family bluegrass band. And I have had the honor of playing with Jesse as a "Virginia Boy" in his band most weekends on the Grand Ole Opry and various bluegrass festivals since the spring of 2016
When I was singing with New Tradition in the 90's we would play a lot of the same festivals as Jim and Jesse. My sister had introduced me to Jesse and he would always make time for me at the CD table, we'd talk for hours and watch all the bands at the festival together. He has definitely been a friend and mentor to me over the years and I couldn't be more proud to have him on this project.

Band members on this track are
Ray Cardwell-Bass guitar, lead vocals and baritone
Pat Fynn-guitar
Jesse McReynolds-Mandolin
Scott Vestal-Banjo
Andy Leftwich-Fiddle
John Cowan-tenor vocals

3)Whole World 'Round(02:52)
Written by Mitch Jayne and Joe Stuart
(Lansdowne Music Publishers, ASCAP)

As a kid this song was my favorite Dillard's song. And I was so excited when Claire Lynch agreed to sing with me on it, what a voice!
Growing up in Southwest Missouri I was quite the Dillards fan. I had worked on Rodney Dillard's sound crew at Silver Dollar City's Echo Hollow amphitheater in the late '80's.
I also grew to become very close friends with Mitch and Diana Jayne. Mitch's guidance and mentoring had a profound affect on who I am as a writer and musician. I miss him dearly.

4)Open Your Eyes (02:44)
Written by Billy Kirsch and Fred Koller
(Door Number One Music, BMI;Universal Music Careers, BMI; Universal Songs of Polygram International, BMI)

Some of you might recognize song writer Fred Koller.
He co-wrote the song "Angel Eyes" with John Hiatt.
When Pat and I were looking for some songs to put on the project, we came across this one. As soon as we heard it we knew it was a good fit for my voice.
I especially loved singing with John Cowan on the tenor part. our vocal blend almost sounds like siblings at times.

5)Sailin' for Glory (02:07)
Written by Ray Cardwell And Danny Roberts
(RAC MAC Publishing, ASCAP; Just Dans Songs, BMI))

The night before I went on the road with The New Tradition I was excited and couldn't sleep and these words kept running through my head. The next day in the van I told the guys I had a new song and wasn't sure what style it was. We quickly decided it should be an a capella song. We worked it up en route to the show and performed it that night!

6)Cry (04:06)
Written by Kyle Wood
(Mea Culpa Music, BMI)

Kyle was the lead singer and mandolin player for the band Crucial Smith. I was always a big fan of the band and their sound. It's one of my favorite songs they did!

7) Stop, Look and Listen (03:09)
Written by Ray Cardwell and Pat Flynn
(RAC MAC Publishing, ASCAP; Mea Culpa Music BMI)

This was a song that I had written in the 80's. I thought it would work great as a bluegrass number and Pat Flynn added a few words and a bridge.
It's a song about a Man whose Mom is telling him to Look before you leap when it comes to love. Good advice for anyone

8)Cedar Creek Pickaway(03:09)
Written by Ray Cardwell and Pat Flynn
(RAC MAC Publishing, ASCAP; Mea Culpa Music BMI)

This song is about growing up in a family band from the kids perspective. My Dad did teach us how to play and sing. My sisters and I were very grateful for the way we were brought up.
I wrote this song originally in the early 90's when I was playing with Mid Missouri based Bluegrass Band Slick Nickel. It was a fun band and we had lots of good times and shows. I was playing with them when I was seen by members of The New Tradition, I got a call a week later and my life was forever changed.
*insider note-in the song the old man who taught the kids how to play is named Mac. Thats my Dads initials. He was a great Mandolin and guitar player, in this song I have him playing the fiddle. Believe me no one wanted to hear him play the fiddle!

9)Sing it to the World (03:51)
Written by Ray Cardwell
(RAC MAC Publishing, ASCAP)

Some of my favorite Newgrass Revival songs were the ones that had a reggae beat to them. I love the sound of acoustic music playing Reggae.
The song is about leaving behind the negative aspects and hate that can build up in our lives, and that we should take the positivity and love for each other and Sing it to the World!

10)My Heart Stays With You (02:37)
Written by Ray Cardwell, Danny Roberts, Richie Dotson, Ken White
and Pat Flynn
(RAC MAC Publishing, ASCAP; Just Dans Songs, BMI; Mea Culpa Music, BMI))

This song was written around February of 1996. I was playing with The New Tradition at the time. We wrote this song all together in the van driving to the next show.
I always felt like it was a new direction and was opening up a different sound for us. But by April Ken and I had left the band and it never got recorded.
I had written down the lyrics and chord progressions and had it in my book 'o songs.
When Pat and I were going through songs for this project
he and I wrote a bridge for it and re-worked the changes a bit. I'm glad we finally got to record it, it not only reminds me of missing your sweetheart on the road. But, it takes me back to a time when I was having the time of my life playing, singing, and writing with my brothers.

11)Think About Me (3:43)
Written by Ray Cardwell and Pat Flynn
(RAC MAC Publishing, ASCAP; Mea Culpa Music BMI)

I wrote this song around 2009. I was playing in a power trio rock/blues/reggae band called Squigglefish in mid Missouri.
This is the blues, I believe heartache transfers across all genres.

12)New Jerusalem (02:02)
Written by Ray Cardwell and Danny Roberts
(RAC MAC Publishing, ASCAP; Just Dans Songs, BMI)

I wrote this song when I was reading through the book of Revelations. I just switched a few words around for rhyming but it's pretty much right out of the Bible


Ray 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.

His Debut CD Tennessee Moon on Pinecastle Records was received with high praise with 10 songs charting on Bluegrass, Americana and Folk Charts.
  • Members:
    Ray Cardwell-Bass guitar, lead and baritone vocals; Pat Fynn-guitar and harmonies; Danny Roberts-Mandolin; Scott Vestal-Banjo; Andy Leftwich-Fiddle; Rob Ickes-Resonator Guitar; John Cowan-tenor vocals; guest vocalists Ronnie Bowman and Claire Lynch
  • Sounds Like:
    Bluegrass, Americana, Folk, Roots and Blues
  • Influences:
    Jim & Jesse, Bill Monroe, Stanley Brothers, The Dillards, New Grass Revival and The Ozark Mountain Daredevils
  • AirPlay Direct Member Since:
  • Profile Last Updated:
    08/14/23 13:40:28

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