A Musical Maestro: Johnny Ray Gable’s EP ‘Shades of Gable’ Redefines Retro Rock


Shades of Gable is the new EP from rising rock star Johnny Ray Gable. He is a musician, singer, songwriter, audio engineer, and instrumentalist, and all of his skills get a chance to shine in this EP release. 

Johnny Ray Gable draws inspiration from a mix of genres to blend them together and spice his music up. He felt tired of the same old sound that characterized rock and a bit of country, so the Shades of Gable EP shakes things up by offering five top-notch songs, each in its own genre and with a distinctive narrative. Each track creates a unique experience and is worth listening to on its own. Shades of Gable tell five tales, using different types of sound, melody, and lyrics to convey all that each is meant to express. 

The featured genres are soul/Motown, 80’s pop, hip-hop, country, and 90’s punk. The EP is certain to have a wide appeal thanks to this unique blend of styles that all bear Johnny’s unique seal and flair. 

Johnny Ray Gable is a rockabilly musician, songwriter, and audio engineer who plays many different instruments, including his specialty, the guitar. He comes from the small town of Escalon, California. This artist’s influences come from a wide variety of places, but he is definitely fond of the greats. His main influence is Del Shannon, so fans of this musician should check out Gable’s music and see if they can find something to enjoy in his work as well. In addition to this, he draws inspiration from many 50’s and 60’s musicians, such as Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, Ricky Nelson, and The Everly Brothers, among many others.

Shades of Gable is a more experimental approach for this musician, who doesn’t lose his classic style but tries different genres to make other types of sound, melodies, and harmonies. Each song tells a story in classic country style but uses the different genres as a way to support what the stories are about and build a fully immersive narrative.

This new EP is sure to be enjoyed by fans of different retro genres and those looking for more fresh releases from indie artists. Gable has been in the business for over 20 years, and it truly shows in the masterful ways he builds each song as a separate narrative, using each genre to help listeners get the most out of the experience. Unusual and interesting, with a retro vibe, this EP is certain to offer a lot to fans of independent musicians and experiments with music.

You can listen to the tracks on Apple Music, stay tuned for more releases.

We had the pleasure of interviewing Johnny Ray Gable. Here are the excerpts from the interview.

Hi Johnny, Great to have you with us today! So, please introduce yourself and tell us about what it is that you do.

Hi, I am a rock musician known for my skills as a singer-songwriter, audio engineer, and multi-instrumentalist. I excel at playing the guitar, keyboard, and clarinet and am a novice at playing the harmonica. It was around the age of 6 when I came to the understanding that music was more than just a pastime or a skill for me. Whether it was performing covers or writing original music, I felt an intense passion for the art of music. My father’s collection of tapes, which ranged from the 1950s to the 1960s, consisted of classic hits in both 8-Track and Cassette formats. At that moment, I made the decision to become a Rock and Roll musician.

There are two distinct facets to my music career. The first item concerns my individual career journey. I am determined to make my mark on the world by sharing my distinct and innovative thoughts and ideas. 

Nevertheless, my journey would remain unfinished if I did not integrate my big idea of impact. As someone who deeply cares about music, I believe that independent artists of all levels should have the opportunity to be heard. I hold the belief that every singer, guitarist, rapper, and similar artists have their individual admirers, regardless of whether they have differentiated them from the rest of the world.

Pursuing my dreams as a musician is not just about me, but also about how I impact others. It is my goal to approach my craft with openness, compassion, and a willingness to learn from constructive criticism. With that being said, I can continue to follow my dreams and pursue my passion for helping other musicians who are struggling to find their voice in this world and who may not even know where to begin on their journey.  


Could you please tell us more about this new journey you’ve just embarked on?

Gladly. This journey has its origins in my High School days when I obtained my first guitar. I obtained the guitar during a unique and memorable period of my life, which makes it more than just a musical instrument to me. The majority of my weekends were spent watching La Bamba, to the point where I have the entire movie memorized verbatim. So, many of the first songs I learned to play were Ritchie Valens songs. I was very heavily influenced by Del Shannon, as well, and it took about 2 years and 6 months to learn the song “Runaway.”

Since 2002, my guitar has been a permanent fixture in my life, accompanying me on every adventure, including my moves in 2004, 2005, and 2006. After joining the Marines in 2007, it took me nine months before I felt compelled to purchase another guitar. When I was stationed in North Carolina, I spent a lot of time writing and ended up with a bunch of songs. Upon leaving the military, I returned home and had the unfortunate experience of falling into a pit, metaphorically speaking. While I was struggling to get out of the pit, my father unexpectedly passed away in the middle of the night. The weight of my problems is becoming overwhelming, and now I have even more to carry. My guitar was present, yet it remained mostly stationary in a corner. I’d take it downtown Modesto, find a chill park, and play there.

The Bay Area is where I went to get clean and sober, and it’s also where I discovered a new appreciation for playing. Collaborating and performing on stage. I used to busk around UC Berkeley quite frequently. Living in the Bay Area made me realize how much I missed the simplicity of small-town life. Although, it lacked the excitement of the Bay Area, it was a lot more peaceful and relaxing. The Bay Area was a place where living comfortably required multiple sources of income. It would take 3 people to rent a studio just to be able to afford it in the larger Bay cities.

Before making my final decision to pursue music full-time, I returned home to the central valley. In my song “Country Boy Rockin,” I make a reference to Oakdale Feed and Seed, the establishment where I landed a job. During my time there, I developed new people skills that helped me stay positive despite the negative atmosphere and ultimately motivated me to quit smoking cigarettes. Eliminating my two greatest vices in the past decade has resulted in a clearer realization of my dreams. 

Since I moved to Washington State, I have had a few jobs, but I eventually decided to quit them permanently so I could focus on my music career full time. I have had 3 single cuts prior to this and just released Shades of Gable, a 5 track EP, on June 20, 2023.


Please tell us more about your EP, Shades of Gable.

I’m tired of the same old rock and a little bit of country, so I want to mix it up. So, I came up with my latest EP release, Shades of Gable. Five songs, each belonging to a distinct genre, with their own individual narrative to convey. 

The following genres are what I chose to run with:

Soul/Motown:  At the beginning of this EP, I wrote the genre in the current order instead of the titles. “Forever Begins Tonight” has kind of an “Earth Angel” vibe, so to speak. My current relationship with my fiancée inspired every word of this song as it stands out from all my previous relationships. This song is right up my alley since it fits perfectly with my Oldies Styled Music collection.

80’s Pop: “Born in the 80’s, Raised in the 50’s.” I’ve been using this slogan since I was a kid. I was first introduced to music videos and popular culture during the 80s. The sight was so frightening that a toddler clung to their parent’s leg in fear. The hairstyles were alright, but the videos were shot in a way that was almost like being on an acid trip (not that I have any experience with that).

I wrote a song in 2012 called “Won’t you ever learn” that had a bit of a rock vibe, but it ended up in the trash with the rest of my forgotten treasures. I came across it accidentally and decided to run it as an 80s Pop song. The story revolves around a man who is tired of being used by his woman whenever she’s tired of her other lovers. It is a well-known tale in my world, and I only got too close to one girl in a similar way. I managed to steer clear of the rest.

Hip-Hop: Upon hearing names like Buddy Holly and Elvis Presley, the term “Rock and Roll” is commonly associated. I made the decision to become a Rock musician. Despite having played oldies-style rockabilly for 20 years, I decided to add it to my library anyways. The two primary reasons I opted to create a Hip-Hop song are the following.

One, this is the very first time I’ve ever done anything like this. And secondly, the challenge it presented was both daunting and thrilling. I didn’t anticipate having as much fun as I did during that event, and it was a pleasant surprise. Even though the unknown scares me, once I’m in a familiar place, I can confidently tap into my creative side again.

This song takes my story back to my military party days when I couldn’t stop getting in trouble over my alcohol consumption. Eventually, I hit rock bottom and had no choice but to confront my addiction and seek treatment. I feel that Hip-Hop would really convey the story better than a rock song would, and a country song about this would be too depressing.

Country: The title of the song, “Country Boy Rockin‘,” clearly indicates the fusion of country and rock genres. You couldn’t escape Country OR Rock and Roll in the 50’s – you had to love both. Though I hold Johnny Cash, Conway Twitty, and Merle Haggard in high esteem, my preference leans towards Del Shannon, Buddy Holly, and the like. It’s worth noting that Del Shannon was a big fan of Hank Williams Sr. 

Now that says a lot about being a little Country and a little Rock and Roll. The lyrics of my song paint a picture of the future that I am now able to see with my own eyes. Balancing my job and my dreams has made it hard to stay focused. My goals become interrupted by work and financial obligations. Now I have no grudge against my past employer; in fact, I left on excellent terms. They helped me in many areas during my employment there, but I realized working for myself is more valuable than working for someone else.

90’s Punk: 10 years ago, in my last days of the military, I envisioned this song. As I put pencil to paper, the tune played in my head, and the beats echoed in my ears; little did I know how perfectly it would translate when I recorded it. The story titled “Crushed by my Crush” narrates the story of a popular girl and a solitary boy who has feelings for her. 

Looking back, it’s amusing to see how differently I feel today compared to how I felt back then. Concurrently, the song aided me in recognizing my advantageous position without the preppy. Throughout school, I was always the outsider with few friends to turn to. 

What are some of the struggles that helped mold you into becoming successful in your journey?

After getting out of the Marines a decade ago, I found myself frequently drinking. My alcohol addiction became so bad, I was hurting people, burning trust, and just all around becoming public enemy #1. Since I lacked any motivation to work, I had no other option but to resort to begging, borrowing, and busking in order to make ends meet. 

I had to leave my old apartment after my roommate had enough, so I turned to a friend in the bay area for a temporary place to stay until the apartment management stepped in. I stayed with a friend who was in the middle of a 60-day eviction notice from the place where he had kindly allowed me to stay, and within a month of leaving his place, I checked myself into treatment. 

October 27, 2014, marked the beginning of my new life at the Bay Area Rescue Mission. I looked back at my previous life, now nothing but a faded memory. The most difficult task for me was to confront life without the dulling influence of alcohol. 

The main purpose of alcohol or any drug is to deactivate the brain’s reinforcement mechanisms, which is obvious. A clear and sober approach to problem-solving can reveal a whole new world of solutions. You have adapted to challenges that once seemed insurmountable and now face them daily with ease. The skills that you have acquired have been so well learned that they have now become ingrained habits. Your work is currently operating on multiple levels.

The journey of discovering my true identity was a challenging one, and it took a long time for me to reach this point because I had never taken the opportunity to reflect on who I really was as a person. The importance of identifying my personal mission statement dawned on me only after I was assigned the task. In my opinion, the music industry is a cut-throat world where only the strongest survive. If you’re ill-prepared, the obstacles it brings will overwhelm you in no time. Thanks to new technologies, independent artists now have more opportunities than ever before. I would have never found this out without quitting alcohol.

It’s not as easy as just releasing a song. The secret sauce is in the networking. The saying “it’s all about who you know” definitely applies here. Building a coalition of indie artists is crucial, and starting with just one is a good first step. I devote my time to developing my music career and instructing those skills to aspiring independent artists.

Any message for our readers?

If someone tells you, “You’re not good enough,” remember that their words don’t define your worth. The level of your performance is determined by your self-perception. Becoming skilled in music, painting, building architecture models, or any other area is solely accomplished by putting in the work. 

If someone is constantly berating you, try asking them about their experience in the field. If a professional insults you, it suggests that they are allowing their power to boost their ego. Dismissing them is necessary as they require your acceptance, not the reverse. 

Personally, I have adopted a no-nonsense approach to managing my business. The muddy trail ahead is littered with sticks and rocks, and I’m sure I’ll stumble a few times along the way. I am reminded of my Boot Camp hikes when I am going through this experience. Being yelled at by a Drill Instructor is a common experience for some individuals. 

Mentally, he may be obstructing your path, but physically, he’s probably not. Therefore, continue on your path and physically push any obstacles aside. If someone is berating you, don’t take their words to heart. Instead, concentrate on the feedback that can constructively improve your skills. The key to success is to keep trying, as the moment you start getting worse, that means you’ve given up and stopped improving.

Fantastic! So tell us, how can people find out more about you?

As of now, my Facebook page is the best platform for me since I am present and active on it every day of the week. I am able to regularly interact with my followers as my phone remains in my pocket. Also, check out johnnyraygable.com to see what else I may be doing.

You can follow me on Instagram @johnnyraygable.

Thank you so much, Johnny, for giving us your precious time! We wish you all the best for your journey ahead!