I recently ran into an old acquaintance at, of all places, the Saxon Pub urinal. In the seventies Denny Freeman handled guitar duties for Paul Ray and the Cobras, a well-loved outfit that, along with The Fabulous Thunderbirds and others, helped revive the Austin rhythm and blues scene.
Paul was a smooth as silk crooner who could fill the air with sultry romance. The Cobras had a regular Tuesday night gig at the Soap Creek Saloon when it lay at the end of a dirt road somewhere out in Bee Cave. Yours truly was a regular, and these boys, Paul and Denny, Larry Lange, Rodney Craig the great Joe Sublett, helped set me on a righteous path.
Denny and I exchanged brief pleasantries but, under the circumstances, passed on the customary handshake.
I asked Denny what he had been doing for the last thirty-odd years, and he said not much, mostly hanging out and playing with various people in Austin, except for several years when he was on the road quite a bit. What pulled him out of Travis County? Not much, just touring and recording with Bob Dylan. Check out Denny’s work on Modern Times.
Over the years Denny has also worked with Jimmie Vaughan, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Taj Mahal, Percy Sledge, James Cotton, Lou Ann Barton, Angela Strehli, and many more.
In a sad coincidence, Paul Ray passed away on January 15, 2016.
These days, catch Denny at the Saxon Pub on Monday nights, when he lays it down with old pals John X. Reed, Speedy Sparks and the aforementioned Rodney Craig.