Alt-country artist Boo Ray is known for his gritty vocals and insightful sound, but he also channels his artistry into intricate leatherwork. In this exclusive for Wide Open Country, he gives insight into his craft and shares his top picks for great holiday gifts.
My Custom Leatherwork
Few people know that I build belts, guitar straps and bracelets for friends and a few word-of-mouth referrals. Basically, I've copied the "Double-Sided Rivet" trucker style that was adopted by Elvis and combined that with a very simple version of the Southern California Vaquero style of tooling with smooth lines, broad scallops and diamonds patterns.
The Farmer Russ Belt is a 1.5-inch hand-tooled saddle leather-dyed dark brown, then distressed and polished with black polish, with an antiqued brass buckle. It can be made with up to seven-letter nameplate of contrasting color, or three-letter monogram behind the buckle.
This is kind of my standard 2 3/4-inch tooled guitar strap an ith adjustable back piece. Up to seven-letter name on the front with contrasting color lettering or 3-letter monogram on the rear of strap.
This is kind of my standard 2 3/4-inch tooled guitar strap an ith adjustable back piece. Up to seven-letter name on the front with contrasting color lettering or 3-letter monogram on the rear of the strap.
This is a 1 1/2" tooled cuff with domed double-sided rivets.
I'm a pretty brand specific guy on a lot of things. Levi's jeans, H Bar C snap shirts. I like dead-stock JCPenney Towncraft cotton/polly v-necks and the polyester socks at Dollar General store. After that, most of my personal possessions and garments are used, vintage, local handmade, or small batch made in the United States. So here's my list of cool stuff to get for your loved ones. Inquire about orders here.
H Bar C Vintage Western Ranch Wear
My grandfather wore H Bar C western shirts. This brand is coming back to life with those great designs. I'm a total fan and pretty much wear H Bar C shirts all the time. Get them here.
Handmade boots are a great big gift item. My dad wore Olathe Boots, and I've been an official endorser since 2009. Olathe Boots are the most comfortable and best fitting boots I've ever had. I like their Rough Stock line. If you prefer a shorter heel, try the 8005's. Get them here.
Guitar case art by James A. Willis
I got to know James A. Willis when he was Artist In Residence at Gibson Guitar when I first moved to Nashville in 2012. And he's not a luthier. James is a South Georgia boy who became well known as an oil and canvas painter in New York City. He's a prolific artist and seems to work in any medium that comes to hand. Some of my favorites include his Saints (Of)" Guitar Case also available at Carter Vintage Guitars. These guitar cases are incredible. The color, design and texture are incredible. They're deluxe cool! Get them here.
Sean Brock's "Heritage"
Sean Brock's Book "Heritage" is way more than a cookbook. It's an exploration of Southern culture through food that might offer more perspective and depth on what it means to be Southern than anything else I've read. The back stories on the recipes are incredible and the recipes themselves are totally doable with an adventurous spirit and basic kitchen skills and knowledge. The photography is great too. Get it here.
Ellie Monster Designs
Ellie Monster is my favorite western wear maker on the scene. She's in East Nashville and has my favorite take on the classic western wear designs and a cool rock-a-billy style. Get them here.
To top everything off I love Hatwrks Nashville. They made the open crown felt hat that I wear most often. Gigi's a topnotch hatter and I dig her style a bunch. Get them here.
I hope you all have a Happy Holiday with you and yours and remember it's not the price tag but the thought that counts, and what's most important is not the gifts but being around the people ya love. And while you're here, check out my new single "All Strung Out Like Christmas Lights" with Elizabeth Cook.