Stevie Ray strides into the room, looking sharp, as usual! He’s sporting his signature snakeskin boots, a grey Late Night With David Letterman tee-shirt tucked into his blue denim jeans and a cool black denim jacket over that with the face of Dr. Martin Luther King boldly emblazoned across the back. And though the apparel hasn’t changed all that much- the same flamboyant Texan bohemian fashions that he flaunted some five years ago when we first met- there’s still a new look to the man, a new vibe.
Gone are the bleary eyes and the telltale stagger. Gone is the booze and coke haze that hung over the band and crew like a heavy shroud. A new spirit of positiveness permeates the entire entourage, right down to the roadies, soundmen and lighting crew. Like Stevie Ray, they’ve all come clean. Two years ago, he’d more than likely be waving a bottle of Old Crown whiskey in your face as he answered your questions. When I first interviewed him for Guitar World, Stevie Ray seemed shy, inarticulate, guarded… He gave one-, two-word answers and rarely offered eye contact. But on this bright day in Orlando, Florida, a few hours before his show at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre, just across the road from the Omni Hotel where he and the crew are staying, Stevie Ray is a different man. He speaks with a kind of urgency and conviction that was lacking in his repartee the last time we spoke. And when he makes a point, he stares you down with an intense gaze, just to make sure you’re copping his drift.