Ray Dafrico (say “Africa” with a frickin’ “o” at the end) recently released Tunnel Visions, a 9-song disc recorded in New York City. It’s a follow-up to his last release Solo Au Go Go, which was recorded at FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, where greats such as Aretha Franklin, Wilson Pickett, and many others cut early tracks. He’s been playing and writing music professionally since he was 17, and although he doesn’t have as much time to devote it as before, he is in it for the long haul. As founding member of Atlanta bands, the Nightporters, Kathleen Turner Overdrive, and the Ray City Rollers, Dafrico is well known in the local music scene.
Dafrico credits Keith Richards as his main influence, inspiration, and mentor. “I have many influences. Pete Townshend, Bob Dylan, the Kinks, The Clash, and Tom Petty are probably at the top of the list, but Keith is the guy that gives me strength. He’s like a scrappy fighter with a big heart. When he plays guitar, to me, that is what a guitar should sound like. I’ve had the chance to spend some time with him and Ronnie Wood and they did not disappoint!”
Tunnel Visions is full of raw, guitar-driven rock – and plenty of great melodies. Born in Queens, Dafrico has the swagger and attitude of a younger Richards, with a dash of Paul Westerberg thrown in for good measure. The album kicks off with “Give it a Try,” fueled by a T-Rex-ish guitar punch. The wonderful “Rejected” has Dafrico dueting with former Pogues member Cáit O’Riordan. It’s a total singalong tune. O’Riordan also chimes in on “Child of the Moon.”
“The new release has received a lot of good press and airplay especially in Europe,” Dafrico says. “I have plans to do some short tours sometime in the near future but have been busy with my political activism, which I feel is a priority at the moment. Music is great, but the music ‘business’ can leave you a little unfulfilled at the end of the day. When you are helping fix problems that have long been neglected and really affect people’s lives, it is a really great feeling, like you’re actually doing something to help society. Music can do that to a certain extent but it’s a completely different monster.”
Dafrico has become extremely involved in Georgia politics. “I’m sitting here watching the first day of hearings for the Kavanagh Supreme court nomination and it’s making me sick. I’ve been involved in protests since before Trump got elected and will do anything I can to fight those turning our country away from democracy and into a dictatorship. I have actively been helping many candidates right here in Georgia, Stacey Abrams, Christine Triebsch, Karín Sandiford, Luisa Wakeman, Cindy Zeldin, and Rachael Kinsey, to name a few. I make videos, canvass, donate, send texts, make calls, and attend protests. I believe we can turn Georgia blue this November.
“I know we have the votes, it’s just a matter of getting people to the polls. We are fighting (gubernatorial candidate) Brian Kemp’s efforts to purge and suppress voters. I have been very active in the push for paper ballots for the upcoming midterms and it looks like the federal court may rule on that very soon. Kemp had tried to get it dismissed but the judge ruled against him, so there is hope!” Dafrico co-founded the Facebook page A Chance for Georgia, focusing on voter registration, paper ballots, election security, and candidate support.
Dafrico will soon be back out playing live music and recording new material. To hear or buy Tunnel Visions, visit his website, CD Baby, Amazon, iTunes, and wherever good rock is found. Catch him live when you can and register to vote!