Robert Cray's got friends in high places, but that's because he's worked his way to the top.

Robert Cray's got friends in high places, but that's because he's worked his way to the top.

The Robert Cray Band has toured and performed with B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Tina Turner, Bonnie Rait and The Rolling Stones.

They've had over 1,000 performances all over the world, and now they're bringing that expertise to Southern Oregon.

The five-time Grammy-award-winning Robert Cray Band will perform this Saturday at 8:30 p.m. as part of the Bite of the Rogue and Harvest Fair events at the Lithia Motors Ampitheater in Central Point.

"Just like any other fan, I've grown up listening to a lot of B.B. King, I've listened to them, and had the good fortune of being on stage with them. Both Eric and B.B. are just great people," Cray said in a telephone interview.

The performance, along with the events, will benefit the Boys and Girls Club of Southern Oregon.

"We wanted somebody that really had a heart for the area, and that everybody would enjoy. A concert that families would feel comfortable bringing their kids to," said Danette McCann, executive director of the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Rogue Valley.

The Robert Cray Band got its start in Eugene in 1974, where Cray lived for seven years. Their first tour was a small one: playing all over Oregon, with the occasional trip up to Tacoma. Four years later they recorded their first album.

Since then, they've just been doing what they love — making music — just on a larger scale. And that's what they promise to bring to the show.

"For our band, we've been recording since '78. We go back. We'll play songs from back in those days, up to the live album we recorded last year. We don't have a stage set, we just call the songs as we play them," Cray said.

The band likes to entertain the audience with their impromptu mentality and the variation of their playlist.

Their passion for playing is evident; but describing their sound is a little trickier.

Cray cites the Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, B.B. King, Magic Sam, Otis Redding and Muddy Waters as their influences, but says their sound is 100 percent original.

"Our band is blues based, but it also incorporates touches of R & B, jazz, rock, up-tempo and slow ballads," Cray said.

Over the years they've added band members, produced 17 albums, received five Grammy awards, and were nominated for 11 more.

The band has opened for and toured with some legends, and their own impact has been indelible.

"I saw The Robert Cray Band open for Huey Lewis and the News in 1987. He rocked then and I have liked them ever since"¦it is rare to have an opening act that is just as good, if not better than a headliner, but this was it," said one online fan.

Tickets are available at all Rogue Federal Credit Union branches for $36, or online at lithiamp.org for $40. Call 770-0101 for information.