What: Michael Ray

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Where: Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center, 3800 SW Airport Way, Redmond

Cost: Free with concert pass and fair admission ($22 for full fair, $12 for day pass; $13/$7 for kids ages 6 to 12 and senior citizens ages 62 and older; free for kids younger than 5)

Contact: expo.deschutes.com or 541-548-2711

Fair concert schedule

Thursday — Old Dominion

Friday — Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Saturday — Michael Ray

Michael Ray considers his second album, “Amos,” to be a turning point in his career.

The young singer-songwriter has experienced many of those already, from his early days growing up in Florida and playing music with his father and grandfather, to touring the South “in a van at 20 years old with five, six dudes” in the 2000s. All that led to his mainstream breakout in 2012, when he won The CW’s talent competition “The Next: Fame is at Your Doorstep” while mentored by Big & Rich’s John Rich. The two would go on to co-write Big & Rich’s 2015 hit “Run Away with You,” which Ray re-recorded for his self-titled debut that same year.

But “Amos,” named after Ray’s grandfather, stands out in the singer’s mind. As he told GO! Magazine during a recent interview before his closing concert at the 100th annual Deschutes County Fair on Saturday, the 2018 album represents “where I start growing and finding what I want to say and who I am and confidently being able to say that.”

Fans have responded to the new material. The album’s first two singles, “Get to You” and “The One That Got Away,” peaked at Nos. 3 and 15, respectively, on the Billboard Country Airplay Chart. Most recent single “Her World or Mine,” which Ray shot a video for this week, peaked at No. 57 on the same chart, per Billboard’s website.

“I think that a lot of the songs are very relatable and real, like ‘Her World or Mine,’” Ray said from a tour stop in Green Bay, Wisconsin. “It’s about heartbreak, but that’s what made me fall in love with country music — the real songs that you put in, and they kind of just — they hit you. I think the reaction and the response has been incredible, man, and I’m seeing more people singing album cuts off this record than my first one, which is what you want. I think as an artist, you don’t want your third album to sound like your first; you don’t want your second to sound like your first.”

To that end, Ray shook up his sound a bit on “Amos.” In keeping with the tribute to his grandfather, Ray wanted to reach back to the traditional country music he grew up on. Songs such as “Her World or Mine” or “Summer Water” reflect this, but then, there are tracks such as “Fan Girl” or “I’m Gonna Miss You,” which meld country with R&B vocal inflections and hip-hop inspired beats similar to one-time tour mate Sam Hunt.

“I had my dad, my grandfather, and that influence was Hank Williams and Ray Price and Porter Wagoner and Bobby Bare and Merle Haggard and Waylon Jennings,” Ray said. “And then, my mom was listening to Boyz II Men and Michael Bolton and all these other people, more R&B artists. And then, you grew up in the ’90s where ’90s country was on fire, but then, so was rock ’n’ roll, punk rock and all this other stuff, so I think some of this influence is from that. … I remember riding in my buddies’ trucks on roads, and it would go everything from Hank Williams Jr. to Nelly on the same CD.”

While Ray has no songwriting credits on the album, he still considers much of the album to be personal. He particularly wanted to share his grandfather’s story with his fans, he said.

“He is the one that taught my family what country music — the love of it, and that’s what he instilled,” Ray said. “He was an unbelievable lead guitar player, and then when my dad, my uncle and their cousins, that generation started growing up, my grandfather was putting guitars in their hands, whatever he would teach them, harmonies and stuff. He was so passionate about it that you would think he was playing Madison Square Garden every night.”

He passed that on to Ray as well, teaching him about the significance of the Grand Ole Opry and other country music institutions and artists. That came full circle in 2015 when Ray debuted on the Grand Ole Opry stage months after his grandfather’s death.

Instead of moving to Nashville like many budding young country singers, Ray decided to stick it out in his hometown of Eustis, Florida, forming a band and touring surrounding states (some of those band members are still with Ray today, he said). Even then, the group would play with expectations and genres, pulling out covers of Snoop Dogg and OutKast.

“I used to play four hours a night, about four nights a week, and I’d go into these bars I wasn’t really even old enough to be in, but I’d sneak in,” Ray said. “… They wouldn’t have that many people. I was like, ‘Man, I’m playing acoustic; what if I just did a bunch of random (stuff)?’ And so I started it kind of as a joke just to honestly kill some time too because four hours of music nonstop is a lot.”

Ray still looks back fondly on those early days.

“There are times where me and my band will be like, ‘Man, you remember when we just showed up to a bar happy as hell just to be there,’ you know what I mean?” Ray said. “It was just that innocent thing that you just allowed yourself to mess up a little bit. I think those days are important for anybody in music.”

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