Local band brings Billy Joel to Mane Room

From left: Timmy Ray, Tony Bush, Brad Greene and Benjamin Ray represent their band, the Ray Brothers, in fall 2011 in Muscle Shoals. The Ray Brothers will perform a Billy Joel cover concert April 29 in the Mane Room with all proceeds going toward the adoption process of Timmy Ray’s and his wife’s, Maggie Bea Ray’s, second child from Colombia.

A local band hopes to bring a new meaning to “The Longest Time” when it performs a Billy Joel cover show at the Mane Room in downtown Florence April 29.

The Ray Brothers, a piano rock band comprised of UNA graduates, will perform Billy Joel songs with all proceeds from the event going toward a band member’s 12-18 month long adoption process. Admission is $10 per person.

Timmy Ray, the band’s lead singer and keyboard player, organized two similar fundraising concerts in 2013 and 2014 to help pay the funds for his and his wife’s first adopted child, Maddux Ray, a 6-year-old from Ethiopia.

“The Lord called us into adoption, and he’s provided multiple ways for that to be completed,” Timmy Ray said.

“Fundraising has been a big part of (the process). We’ve done concerts, yard sales and advertising with local restaurants where a portion of the proceeds go to us.”

The upcoming fundraiser would help fund the process to add a second child to the Ray family from Colombia, Timmy Ray said. While he and his wife, Maggie Bea Ray, are not sure what gender the child will be, Timmy Ray said he predicts its age to be between birth and 5-years-old.

Timmy Ray said the passion for adopting international children came from his wife and was a “calling from God” when the two married in 2011.

Maggie Bea Ray said she took a semester off during her sophomore year of college and went to Kenya to work in orphan care. This experience helped solidify her desire to adopt internationally.

“At a very early age, I started talking about (adoption), and my mom still laughs that I wanted dolls that didn’t look like me,” she said. “I would say they were my adopted children. It was something that was like a God-given passion.”

Timmy Ray said through research he discovered many people use fundraisers to pay adoption fees, which can range well into five-figure amounts. With this in mind, he decided to approach the band with the idea of performing to raise money, he said.

“As a musician, it’s just a skill that I have that I know I can use to raise funds for this,” Timmy Ray said.

Alongside Timmy in the Ray Brothers band are his actual brother, Benjamin Ray, who plays drums, Tony Bush, who plays bass and Brad Greene, who serves as a utility member who can perform saxophone, guitar and vocal duties.

All of the performers will play without compensation to further help the cause, Benjamin Ray said.

“It’s a pretty special feeling (to participate in the fundraiser) just in the short time I’ve been around Maddux,” Benjamin Ray said. “He’s a great kid and has been a welcomed part of the family. Just to know that you can play a part in helping better someone else’s life, that’s what it’s all about.”

Timmy Ray said he is thankful for the band’s support.

“I am blessed with a brother and very close friends that are willing to play on multiple occasions knowing they will not be compensated financially,” he said. “They do it because they love me and love my family. They’re good folks, and we’re fortunate to have them in our lives.”

Also performing at the event are “local guitar guru” Scott Todd and Mark Ray, who is Timmy and Benjamin’s uncle.

The event should last about two hours, as the band will play 18 songs that represent the entire 28-year career of Billy Joel, Timmy Ray said. Timmy Ray hopes this year’s event brings 200-300 people, he said.

There will also be a silent auction and possibly coffee, with those proceeds also going toward the adoption process, Maggie Bea Ray said.