Big Ray and the Kool Kats

Big Ray and the Kool Kats is a Charlottesville Wedding Band dedicated to delivering a highly professional, musically diverse, and multi-talented live music experience designed to lend sophistication and generate excitement for your event.

Big Ray and the Kool Kats is from Charlottesville, VA, but regularly serves all couples throughout the country, such as Richmond, VA, Texas, Maryland, Tennessee, Washington D.C., and many more. We have even traveled overseas and will for you!

Who is Big Ray and the Kool Kats?

Big Ray and The Kool Kats is the perfect live entertainment for your wedding, corporate, or special event. Big Ray and The Kool Kats sprang to musical life in 1996 when Ray Caddell, longtime professional musician, and veteran of tours and performances (from Frank Sinatra to Gladys Knight to The Temptations) was driving down the road listening to the University of Virginia college radio station and heard a tune from a band with a different, horn-driven sound that somehow seemed to combine rock, Motown and Big Band music. He called the station, found out the band’s name, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, got a copy of the cd from the station, and wore it out on his car’s cd player.

Ray’s current project at that time, The Ray Caddell Swing Orchestra, was working sometimes a couple of times a month playing traditional big band swing music with some of the best musicians in town. Rehearsals were sometimes more fun than the gigs, playing through the great repertoire of the ’30s and ’40s, but there really wasn’t a lot of work for a traditional big band, and challenges like stage size and budgets made it difficult to work as much as he liked. After many years of 6 nights a week, a few nights here and there just wasn’t the same.

How Big Ray Picked The Perfect Live Entertainment Band Members

Ray handpicked the first 8 members, rebranded the band as Big Ray and the Kool Kats, had a rehearsal or 2, recorded a demo and almost immediately the band found itself with almost more work than it could handle. 8 guys traveling around, throwing the equipment into Ray’s conversion band and playing everything from outdoor concerts to nightclubs to fraternity parties, each all the while holding down full-time day gigs.

The hard swing thing started to fade after a few years, the musical focus expanded, the band size grew with the addition of Sinatra Stylist Dan Barrale and female vocalist Dee Dee Bellson (the daughter of superstars Pearl Bailey and Louis Bellson), and the work continued to roll in. Later years added more female vocalists, a few natural personnel changes, but the band kept its focus on great players and singers, exceptional customer service and work continued to flow in.


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