Tattoos and Music with Boo Ray
I love learning about different tattoo collectors and how they came to be covered in tattoos that tell their particular story. Check out Boo Ray and his colorful collection.
Southern troubadour Boo Ray is an outlaw country rocker from North Carolina. He’s been writing and performing songs for years from coast to coast. Not only has he performed his music everywhere, but he’s also gotten tattoos from some of the best tattoo artists in these spots. I sat down with Boo Ray to chat about some of his best tattoos and the stories behind them.
Tattoo Tourist: Do you see your tattoos as a definitive part of your identity as a musician?
Boo Ray: That’s an interesting question. I got into tattoos through motorcycle culture and I definitely identify with that musically. I suppose I take a measure of pride in having biker fans and getting booked at motorcycle rallies. I definitely don’t care to limit myself to that stylistically though… I equally identify with the tattooed rockabilly singers like Dwight Yoakam and R&B cats like Tony Joe White and tattooed blues singers like Jake La Botz.
TT: What was the process like getting your first tattoo? What did you get, Where were you? Etc.
BR: I can’t quite figure out exactly which was my first. But my first big tattoo is a dragon on my right arm that I got in Portland Maine from Markus Kuhn. I drove up from Boston with a tattooist friend Sandra Burbul who’s a great tattooist also. There was this girl back home in Western North Carolina who was painting dragons on t-shirts in acrylic. Some of ’em were kinda D&D looking but she painted a few that were really the coolest and most original dragons I’d seen before or since. Sandra transferred the image from the t-shirt to a pencil drawing and we went up to Portland and got great tattoos from Markus Kuhn.
TT: What is the most meaningful tattoo you have?
BR: Tough question… I’ve got a sacred heart on my forearm and it’s bound by a chain connected to a graffiti burner that says “SHAME”… the links in the chain are breaking and the shame is falling away from the heart…
TT: Tell me about using one side of your body for colored tattoos and the opposite for black & gray.
BR: I got a big black & gray tattoo on my left arm from Freddy Negrete. It was my first black & gray. I haven’t gotten any other color work since then. The color work on my right side is now kinda surrounded by other black & gray work.
TT: How do your tattoos and life as a musician intersect?
BR: Tattooists are normally music heads and very knowledgeable about music. I’ve definitely been turned on to new music by tattooists. I came to know Jake La Botz at Mark Mahoney’s Shamrock Social Club.
TT: Who are some of your favorite artists?
BR: In Los Angeles, Cole Siegel at The Order DTLA is excellent and Space Ghost at Cole’s shop is a great black & gray artist. Also in LA, Freddy Negrete’s son Isaiah Negrete is doing great work. Chris St Clark and his shop Kustom Thrills in Nashville is excellent.
TT: Are there any tattoos you regret?
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and thanks for sharing some of your stories Boo Ray!