FAIRFIELD — Ray Bonneville grew up listening to his grandmother’s big radio, which was usually set on a country music station.
The twang of the guitar was appealing, he said.
His taste grew from there to include Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Ricky Nelson. The British invasion followed, and the Kinks and Manfred Mann were some of his favorites.
A tour of Vietnam with the United States Marine Corps introduced him to the blues, the genre of music that is bringing the Canadian-born singer, songwriter and guitarist to Vacaville on Saturday.
“My stuff comes from the blues,” he said. “It’s (the music) formed by it, in a sense . . . People call me (a blues artist).”
Bonneville considers himself a member of the blues family, calling himself a blues-influenced writer who draws inspiration from a variety of sources ranging from literature to eavesdropping.
He has been touring to promote his latest release, “Easy Gone,” which came out in April.
Vacaville will be his last show for a few weeks, then it’s off to Louisiana. Canada, the Midwest, another swing on the West Coast and Europe in December will follow.
Living a nomadic life is almost second nature for the Austin, Texas, resident.
“I am home wherever I am,” he said. “When I’m home, sitting down with nothing on my schedule, I’m very lost.”
Bonneville didn’t begin writing songs until his early 40s. He used to play other’s compositions, with his own spin.
The process of crafting a tune is still somewhat of a mystery.
“I don’t understand what is going on in the back burner of my mind,” he said. “I have lots of ideas. A lot in the computer and in notebooks.”
He estimated he has between 12 and 18 lines to tell his story. Character development is the key to making it work.
Each line has to trigger the imagination, he said. Bonneville wants listeners to decide the details, such as what the people look like and what the story was about.
Fans who ask him to tell them the meaning of a song usually get the reply, “Ask the guy in the song.”
Bonneville was a high school student when he decided music was his career. He played with a young band that traveled to their gigs in a 1957 Cadillac ambulance.
Bonneville joined the U.S. Marine Corps at 17.
“I had a lot of movies in my head from watching war movies,” he said. “I had no idea it was a real thing.”
He spent a year in Vietnam.
“When I came out of there, I had to find myself again,” he said.
Airplanes became a passion. Bonneville got his commercial pilot’s license and went to work as a bush pilot. He logged more than 3,000 hours of flight time, about half of it on water, he said.
While that may not be an impressive number of miles for a pilot, Bonneville said, it’s pretty darned good for a guitarist.
The flight bug fled after about 10 years and he turned his efforts to music again.
Bonneville produced his latest record.
“It was challenging as the stories (songs) were not fully developed,” he said. “I went in and laid the music down.”
He called upon engineer Justin Douglas for his input on whether the songs were believable.
Bonneville said he must believe the stories he weaves in his songs to make others believe, too.
Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected] Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.