Wednesday, October 19, 2011

CD Review: “Evening” by Sugar Ray & the Bluetones

Sugar Ray_Evening

“I Was Reading About The Evils Of Hard Drinking, I’m Just Going To Have To Give Up Reading”

What’s a Connecticut Yankee to do when your father’s a voice teacher and your mothers a jazz singer? Well, you become a monster with a blues harp, and one of the baddest blues singers on the planet of course!

From a high school blues band caller Linseed Sam and the Oilers to seven fruitful years fronting Roomful of Blues, with stops in between sharing stages with the likes of Pinetop Perkins, Ronnie Earl, Otis Grand, Big Walter Horton, Ann Peebles, Duke Robillard and Sax Gordon. And side trips for Grammy nominations with harp legends James Cotton, Charlie Musselwhite and Bill Branch – Superharps, “Best Traditional Blues” 1999. Sugar Ray Norcia is now back with his band, The Bluetones and still touring the world.

Sugar Ray & the Bluetones - Evening brings the band back into the studio, “Monster” Mike Welch – Guitar, Neil Gouvin – drums, the killer bassist Michael “Mudcat” Ward and Anthony Geraci on piano, led by Sugar Ray of course, have cut an album in the old fashioned way. It has a live feel and it’s obvious that the band is so comfortable together that most cuts were done with no charts, and in one take.


Sugar Ray “The Last Blues Song”

What an album it is, consisting of mostly originals but stopping to visit some old favorites. Opening the set is a great cover of Johnny Young’s I’m having A Ball. The Willie Dixon tune, made famous by Otis Rush, You Know My Love is a favorite in concerts. And the blues ballad treatment of the title track, Evening by the great Song Writer Hall Of Fame duo of Mitchell Parish and Harry White may just be the highlight of the album, Rays voice is a slow grinding caress, and ‘Monster’ Mike plays some guitar for the ages on this soulful tune, but…Sugar Ray banner

…. it’s the great original blues tunes that keep drawing the crowds in Europe and America whenever Sugar Ray shows up. Songs like the slow talking blues, Too Many Rules and Regulations – maybe my favorite tune, it’s a playful and comedic take on getting’ old in todays world. The piano is just so sweet on this one. And then there is country blues, Dear John, soaked in reverb and a guitar hook that holds the line as Sugar Ray preaches the blues on the harp.

I Like What You Got will take you back to the ‘50s blues rockers and ‘Monster Mike’ earns his moniker on that telecaster guitar. There’s a tune that closes out the album, XO, is an instrumental that not only gives you am hug and a kiss to send you home, but allows the band to really shine and show off just how tight, together they are on this, their fifth release from Severn Records.

Sugar ray &the Bluetones are currently playing date in in New England, here’s some dates, but check Severn Records website for updates:


Sat 10/22/11
Cambridge, MA
The Regatta Bar - Sugar Ray and the Bluetones CD Release Party special guest Darrell Nulisch

Sun 10/23/11
Shirley, MA

Sat 11/12/11
Woonsocket, RI
Chan’s- Special guest with Lori Urso

Sat 02/25/12
Framingham, MA
Amazing Things Art Center


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Copyright © 2011 Robert Carraher All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

  1. I'm so happy to have this compilation of this year's 2011 Grammy Nominees, particularly Cee Lo Green's Forget You. I listen to that selection & visualize the Grammy production and enjoy it so much!!!