Veteran Oklahoma musician Kelly Raines seems remarkably optimistic considering the long trajectory of his career and his near complete lack of fame or fortune. “I’ve been performing since I got to sing “This Little Light of Mine” as a pre-schooler in church. I think I recall feeling about the same way I do now when I play. Its something like pure adrenalin fueled transcendence. I’m lucky. I love every show even when everything goes wrong. Making the gig is success and the rest is just bragging.”

Claims of humility aside, Raines may not have a string of hits or other marquee achievements to fill out his bio. Instead of the typical embellishment and resume padding press kits seem to demand, Kelly is more inclined to talk about what’s happening now. “I could tell a hundred stories of what I’ve done, who I’ve played with, what almost happened or could have been, but who can’t? At some point, success is surviving to load up the van and get to the next gig. That’s where I always want to be.”

Raines’ has been a fixture of the regional club scene since the early ’80s as member of the band Jimmy Swat, as a solo artist, and for almost 30 years with honky tonk legends, Ringos of Soul. Through this time, Raines has succeeded in not merely surviving, but continuing to produce exciting music regardless of the size of his audience. “I release a record every once in a while. Some get wider releases than others, but regardless of how much I might intend to promote a particular record, I still need to release them periodically just to declare a project finished. I’m perfectly capable of beating my songs to death and given too much time, that’s what seems to happen.”

Raines’ “every once in a while,” seems average about five years. The Ringos released several small run cassette releases before their influential 1991 record “Under the Double Eagle.” The follow up got shelved so in ’95 Raines released his demos as his first solo record, “Junior Barnard’s Blues.” Smaller releases came after the turn of the century including 2010’s “Impedimenta, Etcetera,” a compilation of previously unreleased Ringos of Soul tracks and his 2015 collaboration with Crucial Ed Cotton, “Full Gospel Happy Hour.”

Currently, Raines is putting the finishing touches on “Tall Grass or Smokestacks” set for summer release and the Ringos are doing per-production for a record Raines’ predicts will get both finished and released. “The Ringos work at their own pace. We’re dedicated to this effort but I’ve learned that sometimes the sheep lead the shepherd and sometimes its root hog or die. I don’t know what this is going to be yet.”

Until then, catch keep track of Kelly at http://kelly-raines.com and Ringos of Soul at http://ringosofsoul.com and https://www.facebook.com/ringosofsoul.

Here’s a preview of Tall Grass or Smokestacks: