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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Showing posts with label Anthony Geraci. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Anthony Geraci. Show all posts

Friday, September 1, 2023

VizzTone Label Group artist: Bob Corritore - Women In Blues Showcase - New Release Review


 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Women In Blues Showcase by Bob Corritore and there are some real gems here. Opening with You're Gonna Be Sorry, Barbara Lynn on vocal and guitar is joined by Corritore on harmonica, Maxine Johnson and Laydee Jai on backing vocal, and Bill Tarsha on drums. A cool, early blues rock sound makes this an excellent opener. One of my favorite tracks on the release is soulful, I Just Need A Friend, by Carol Fran. Johnny Rapp on guitar, Paul Thomas on bass, and Chico Chism on drums really support this excellent vocal track perfectly. Koko Taylor is front and center on What Kind of Man Is This with great Chicago swagger. Joined by Bob Margolin on guitar, Frank Krakowski on guitar, Bob Stroger on bass, Adriana Marie on bass and Willie Big Eyes Smith on drums, a real cool track. Shy Perry does a great job  belting out Dixon's Wang Dang Doodle with Corritore on harmonica and Brian Fahey on drums. Diunna Greenleaf 's rocker, Don't Mess With The Messer really is a mover and Greenleaf's vocals are gritty and powerful, backed by Fred Kaplan on piano, Troy Sandow on bass, Andrew Guterman on drums and a terrific bari solo by Doug James. Wrapping the release is Francine Reed on Why Am I Treated So Bad. I gotta say I really love Reed's voice and the choice to place her last on this release is a great one. With  Kid Ramos on guitar, Johnny Main on guitar, Mike Hightower on bass, Michael Reed on backing vocal and Brian Fahey on drums, this is an excellent closer for a really strong release.


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Monday, August 8, 2022

Blue Heart Records artist: Blues Called My Name - Anthony Geraci - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Blues Called My Name, by Anthony Geraci and its strong. Opening with That Old Pine Box which features Sugar Ray Norcia on lead vocal. A quick moving tempo and poised vocals by Norcia as well as super guitar work by Charlie O'Neal, Geraci on keys, Paul Loranger on bass and Jeff Armstrong on drums and this is a super opener. Boston Stomp is a super piano boogie featuring Geraci at the keys and with a great walking bass line by Loranger and Armstrong on drums this track moves. Slow blues, Corner Of Heartache And Pain features Erika Van Pelt on lead vocal. Solid work between Van Pelt on vocal and Geraci on piano and organ creates a really ice dialog and Geraci's bluesy piano solo caps this track nicely. Blues superstar, Walter Trout sits in on lead guitar on Into The Night and his feel and tone is immediately apparent. With his melodic lead, and Geraic's piano/organ solo work, this soulful track is easily my favorite on the release. With New Orleans flavor on Wading In The Vermillion, Geraci masterfully gets the theme going, joined by Loranger, Armstrong and Anne Harris on violin. Very cool. Wrapping the release is rag piano track, Song For Planet Earth which has a grea melody and excellent execution by Geraci. This is a strong closer for a solid release. Terrific cover by the way.


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Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Stony Plain Records artist: Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters - Mercy Me - New Release Review


 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Mercy Me, from Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters and it's strong. Opening with Muddy Waters' classic shuffle, Blow Wind Blow in Earl style and it's great. With Diane Blue handling the lead vocals nicely, Dave Limina on B3, Paul Kochanski on bass and Forrest Padgett on drums and Peter Ward sharing the guitar work with Earl, this is a solid opener. Slow blues, Blues For Duke Robillard, is prime Earl. I know that this may sound repetitive, but although Earl is an excellent player across the spectrum, his flow and chops on slow blues instrumentals are really tops in todays market. His feel, phrasing and tone is excellent and this track is an excellent example. With a slight uptick, Anthony Geraci's A Prayer For Tomorrow, is another great jam showing Earl not only with strong lead phrasing but gripping trem bends and lush chords under the beautiful key work of Geraci. Very nice. Another great shuffle, Dave's Groove, has just the right feel with Earl playing just behind the beat adding nice tension. Mario Perrett lets it fly on tenor sax giving the track a fat horn push along with Limina's B3 work. Excellent! Percy Mayfield's Please Send Me Someone To Love features Blue again on lead vocal and powerful horn work by Perrett on tenor and Mark Earley on bari sax adding a real soulful feel. The warm B3 tone by Limina and Padgett's light drum rhythm lends an excellent slate for Earl's clean, complimentary guitar soloing. Clocking in at over 10 minutes, a terrific track. Wrapping the release is Higher and Higher, further reinforcing the R&B influences throughout the release. Blue gets a great groove going, backed by Tess Ferraiolo on backing vocals and with the warm, gospel feel of  Limina on B3 and piano, excellent sax work by Perrett and Earley really sets the stage for Earl's highlighted guitar accents. Very nice closer for a strong release. 


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Thursday, September 24, 2020

Severn Records artist: Sugar Ray and the Bluetones featuring Little Charlie - Too Far From The Bar - New Release Review


 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Too Far From The Bar, by Sugar Ray and the Bluetones featuring Little Charlie and it's heaping dose of Chicago style blues. Opening with shuffle track, Don't Give No More Than You Can Take, featuring Sugar Ray Norcia on lead vocal and harmonica and the great Little Charlie Baty on lead guitar. This is one of the last recordings of Baty who passed away in March of this year. Norcia's vocals are always great and his harmonica playing is first class, backed by Anthony Geraci on keys, Michael Mudcat Ward on bass and Neil Gouvin on drums. Swinging piano boogie, and title track, Too Far From The Bar really hits the groove with Geraci leading the way and Norcia on piano. Baty takes a great solo run showing just how tight his riffs were. Excellent! Instrumental. Reel Burner is a super harmonica track with Norcia barely taking a breath. Stilladog take notice. This track hums! Rock and Roller, My Next Door Neighbor is a vocal workout for Norcia and Baty spanks the fretboard with 50's style riffs over Geraci's piano wizardry a thumping bass and brushed drums. More smooth and a lot more jazzy, What I Put You Through, is one of my favorites on the release with excellent piano work from Geraci under glistening guitar work by Baty and the excellent vocals of Norica. I have to mention Baty's work on jazz standard, I Gotta Right To Sing the Blues, where the entire band really shines but I gotta say, this track was made for Baty. Excellent! Returning to that classic Chicago styling, Walk Me Home is a cool shuffle with ample jam time for Geraci, Baty and Norcia. Very nice. Wrapping the release is an alternate take on Reel Burner. The is a real burner so it's a great kick in the pants to close the release with hot riffs by Norcia throughout. Very solid release. 


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Monday, July 27, 2020

Shining Stone Records artist: Anthony Geraci - Daydreams In Blue - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Daydreams In Blue, from Anthony Geraci and it's a solid release with a who's who of players. Opening with shuffle, Love Changes Everything, the line up is Dennis Brennan on lead vocal with Anthony Geraci on piano, Monster Mike Welch on lead guitar, Michael Mudcat Ward on bass, Jeff Armstrong on drums, and with Scott Arruda on trumpet and Mark Early on sax. I really like Welch's approach on guitar with excellent phrasing and tone. Very cool. Walter Trout sits in on No One Hears My Prayers and lays in some of the smoking best guitar riffs I've heard in a while over full horns and tight piano riffs. Brennan and Geraci play a smart piano duet on Mister, a smooth shuffle with Brenan on lead vocal and harmonica and Geraci on piano. With cool piano rolls and extended lead lines, this track has a nice groove. Swing track, Tutti Frutti Booty has a great beat and rowdy vocals by Geraci. Geraci really kicks out the stops on this one and Troy Gonyea's guitar work really is tops working it hard with a horn compliment. Classic track, Jelly, Jelly has some of Brennan's best vocals on the track and with a more poised approach, gives Geraci a nice option to play clean articulate riffs. Welch is back on this one and his signature vibrato and overall styling is terrific. Wrapping the release is Ode To Todd, Ella and Mike Ledbetter, a piano focused jazz instrumental. A smart closer for a real nice release. 


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Thursday, May 14, 2020

Gulf Coast Records artist: The Proven Ones - You Ain't Done - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, You Ain't Done, from The Proven Ones, and it's a solid blues flavored rocker. Opening with Get Love, a contemporary blues rocker with hints of Jim Dewer, The Fab Thunderbirds and SRV, lead vocalist Brian Templeton has a powerful voice, and with the stinging guitar riffs of Kid Ramos and Mack McCarthy on trumpet, and with Jimi Bott on drums, Willie J Campbell on bass, and Anthony Geraci on keys, a super opener. Gone To Stay pushes further into the grunginess of rock and with a Nirvana like attack, ventures further into the rock arena. Bott's driving drum work really give this track a firm footing. With a firm backbeat, title track, You Ain't Done is one of my favorites on the release with solid vocal blending from Mike Zito and LaRhonda Steele, a great trumpet compliment from Mack, cool slide work from Ramos and a rich organ solo from Geraci. Ruthie Foster lends her fabulous lead vocal to Whom My Soul Loves, a strong ballad with nice piano work from Geraci. Mack steps up with a real nice sax solo on this one too giving it that extra punch. Excellent! Latin flavored, Nothing Left to Give, has great movement in percussion by Bott and with strong vocal lead and full horn compliment gives it even more spice. Fallen has great swagger with the vocal attitude of Templeton, the ace drumming of Bott and perfectly crafted guitar riffs of Ramos. Mack's horn playing is anything but window dressing with this track being really punchy. Wrapping the release is Favorite Dress with all of the rock and roll feel of a prime time Stones track. This is an excellent closer for a really solid release. 

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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Subcat Records artist: Drive On - Tas Cru - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Drive On, from Tas Cru and he just keeps getting better. Opening with cool boogie, That Lovin' Feeling, with a real nice bass line form Colin Beatty, a stiff drum beat by Andy Hearn, power B3 work from Anthony Geraci, solid sax work from Anthony Terry and of course Cru on vocal and lead guitar. On rocker, Money Talks, Youngblood Gabe Stillman throws fuel on the fire with his fat slide work and Cru's own driving guitar rhythms and vocals give this track real zip. One of my favorite tracks on the release, Save Me, has a real nice driving bass rhythm by Beatty and features a real nice guitar interlude by Cru that has a certain clarity and with ringing harmonics gives the track a great feel. Very nice. Another relentless boogie, Kinda Mess, again features the hot slide work of Stillman, along with a driving bottom courtesy of Sonny Rock on drums, punctual sax work by Terry and Cru's vocals makes for a strong entry for best track on the release. Laid back, Memphis Blue has that radio styling with Stillman on slide, Cru on harp and joining Mary Ann Casale lead vocal, the track has a solid melody and beat. Wrapping the release is Devil In Your Heart, a subdued acoustic blues number featuring Cru on resonator guitar accompanying himself and Casale on lead vocal.  

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Friday, June 21, 2019

Gandy Dancer Records artist: Peter Ward - Train To Key Biscayne - New Release Review


I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Train To Key Biscayne, from Peter Ward and it's energetic. Opening with The Luther Johnson Thing, Luther Guitar Junior Johnson is upfront on lead vocal with Peter Ward on guitar, Mudcat Ward on bass, Neil Gouvin on drums and Anthony Geraci on piano. A cool shuffle with slick guitar lead, nice harp and excellent vocal phrasing, a super opener. Laid back, almost country styled, title track, Train To Key Biscayne features Sugar Ray Norcia on lead vocal and Jiri Nedoma on piano. Ward's warm guitar soloing backed by the sax work of Aaron Gratzmiller gives it a cool retro feel. One of my favorite tracks on the release is Blues Elixir (Ronnie's Here) featuring Ward on lead vocal and really nice trademark guitar lead work by Ronnie Earl. Backed by Nedoma on piano and with solid harp work by Norcia, this is a really cool track. Johnny Nicholas is up front on lead vocal on Change (Ain't Never For The Good) and features excellent guitar work by Ward and a solid harp solo by Norcia. Geraci really gets the keys workin on this one and the drum reinforcement by Gouvin solidifies the natural swing. Very nice. Brisk swinger, As Long As I Have A Chance, again features Norcia on lead vocal and gives Ward and Geraci a great platform to showcase their soloing. Wrapping the release is Anthony's Son, a very clean guitar melody with Ward strumming chorded melody. Very nice closer for a very cool release.


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Thursday, October 25, 2018

Shining Stone Records artist: Anthony Geraci - Why Did You Have To Go - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Why Did You Have To Go, from Anthony Geraci, and it's rich. Opening with R&B title track, Why Did You Have To Go, Sugar Ray Norcia is upfront on lead vocal backed by Michael Mudcat Ward on bass, Marty Richards on drums, Sax Gordon on sax, Doug Woolverton on trumpet and with stellar guitar styling by Monster Mike Welch and piano wizardry by Anthony Geraci. Excellent opener. Bluesy ballad, Angelina, Angelina is really strong with really nice piano work by Geraci and lead vocals by Sugaray Rayford. Welch is back again with signature tone, backed by Willie J Campbell on bass and Jimi Bott on drums. Very nice. Soul track, Two Steps Away From The Blues, features Michelle "Evil Gal" Willson on lead vocal with warm piano and B3 work by Geraci. Norcia is back on vocal and harp on Time's Running Out, an easy shuffle, joined by nice pace piano work by Geraci and the strong guitar accents by Ronnie Earl. One of my favorite tracks on the release is Baptized In The River Yazoo with Willie J Laws on piano duet with Geraci. The piano work here is terrific. Another track with dazzling piano is Too Many Bad Decisions with Dennis Brennan on lead vocal and Welch on guitar. Slow blues, My Last Good-Bye digs in deep with Norcia on vocal and harp. Piano tension and guitar excellence (by Earl) really gives this track edge, making it another of my choices for the release. Wrapping the release is jazzy A Minor, Affair with Troy Gonyea and Geraci leading the foundation of the track which features nice trumpet and sax solos by Wooverton and Beadle and a flight fingered guitar solo by Kid Ramos. Excellent closer for a strong release. 

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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Roseleaf Records artist: The Proven Ones - Wild Again - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Wild Again, from The Proven Ones and it's quite good. Opening with Jimi Bott penned, Cheap Thrills, The Proven Ones hit the high stepping with a driving bass line by Willie J Campbell, Bott on drums, Anthony Geraci on Hammond and piano, Kid Ramos on guitars and Brian Templeton on lead vocal, this is a veritable who's who band. Up next is City Dump, a rolling boogie not unlike James Brown might use with nice solos by Ramos and Renato Coranto on sax, joined by Joe McCarthy on trumpet and Robert Crowell on bari sax. Fats Domino's Don't Leave Me This Way has great dynamics with excellent vocals by Templeton and ripping guitar work by Ramos. Excellent! Peter Green's slow shuffle, If You Be My Baby, has perfect pace and with the jangle of Geraci's piano, Templeton's vocals and the stylistic playing of Ramos, this track really hits! Clarence Carter's Road Of Love had the fortune of having had Duane Allman on the original release giving it broad exposure. This remake is excellent with Templeton doing a great job on vocal and Ramos taking a new route but with definite nod to Allman with a fiery solo of his own. Probably my favorite track on the release. A Fenton Robinson track (and another Duane Allman influenced track from an early Boz Scaggs release) Loan Me A Dime, gets an 11:30min plus dedication. Ramos really digs in on this one ripping some extremely memorable guitar riffs of his own, soaked in the Hammond work of Geraci and of course with the solid lead vocals of Templeton. Very nice. Wrapping the release is Lennon/McCartney's Don't Let Me Down, a solid contribution with balanced instrumentation and nicely interwoven leads throughout. A very nice closer for a really strong release. 

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Tuesday, July 24, 2018

The Little Red Rooster Blues Band - Lock Up The Liquor - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Lock Up The Liquor, from the Little Red Rooster Blues Band and it's a lot of fun. Opening with instrumental shuffle track, Pitchin' Woo,  Dave Holtzman leads the melody on harp, backed by Kevin McCann on guitar, Jeff Michael on bass, Bob Holden on drums and special guest Anthony Geraci on piano. Kickin' it Chicago style, Rather Be Lonesome gives Holtzman a real opportunity to be out front on harp and lead vocal but it's his tribute to James Cotton on Cotton Mouth that the band really shines with Holtzman really winding it up! Jump track, Thrift Shop Rubbers, uses a clever play on words for a fun track with smooth vocals and hot harp work. On Nothing Left Between Us, the band slows it way down for a deep blues with solid solos by McCann, Holtzman and Geraci. Boogie track, There Oughta be A Law, has a cool groove. good vocals, a snappy guitar solo and cool harp work. Very nice. Alternating back and forth between a Latin rhythm and flat out shuffle, Livin' At Jerry's House has some of Holtzman's best harp work and a cool rhythm. On 4 O'clock In The Morning, McCann lays in some real nice blues riffs on guitar with a delicate hand giving the track that extra something. Wrapping the release is my favorite track on the release, Lock Up The Liquor with it's super drive, excellent vocals and solo work by Geraci, Holtzman and McCann. This jam boogie is a terrific closer for a really nice release. 

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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Gandy Dancer Records artist: Peter Ward - Blues On My Shoulders - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Blues On My Shoulders, from Peter Ward and it's quite good. Opening with solid shuffle, She Took It All, Peter Ward on guitar and lead vocal sets a great pace with Mudcat Ward on bass, Neil Gouvin on drums and Sugar Ray Norcia on harp. Excellent opener. Surf rocker, Which Hazel, is a solid rocker along the lines of Chuck Berry with a strong surf twist. Clever lyrics and guitar riffs by Ward give this track a lot of gas. On title track, Blues On My Shoulders, Anthony Geraci adds nice piano and I particularly love the guitar work by Monster Mike Welch. Collaborate is all about lush chords and sassy sax and Ward's guitar work with Sax Gordon Beadle's sax work is just that. Excellent! Shuffle track, It's On Me is another outstanding entry on the release with a hot sax solo from Beadle and hot fingering from Ronnie Earl and Ward. Very nice. Southpaw is a hot number with a smoking B3 solo from Rusty Scott, solid bass work from George Dellomo, and hot guitar riffs by Ward.  One of my personal favorites on the release is jump track, Kansas City Blues featuring great vocals, a strong bass line by Joe Delia and really nice soloing by Ward. Wrapping the release is Drummin' Willie, about Willie Big Eyes Smith with Neil Gouvin on druma, Mudcat on bass and Sugar Ray Norcia on harp. This is a strong release with a lot of cool surprises. Check it out. 

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Monday, November 6, 2017

Stony Plain Records artist: Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters - The Luckiest Man - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release (November 17, 2017), The Luckiest Man, from Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters and it's really strong. Opening with Don Robey's Ain't That Loving You, and a great groove featuring Diane Blue on vocals, the band is smoking. Earl's perfect syncopation on his solos backed by Dave Limina on keys, Forrest Padgett on drums and Paul Kochanski on bass...excellent opener. Jim's Song is a quiet, introspective track using primarily guitar chords as the skeleton and guitar lead soloing as a lush environmental flesh. Very nice. With a cool swing, Blue is back up front on Heartbreak (It's Hurtin' Me). Limina really takes the floor with his B3 solo and Earl tears it up nicely with great balance and style. Soul track, Never Gonna Break My Faith really shows off Blue's vocal style at it's best. Earl and Limina carry the weight, but this track is all about Blue and she kills it. Sugar Ray Norcia's slow blues, Long Lost Conversation features Sugar Ray on lead vocal and harp, backed by Anthony Geraci on piano, Mike Welsh on guitar, Neil Gouvin on drums, Mudcat Ward on bass and of course Earl on lead guitar. This track is extended (over 10 minutes) and excellent! Blues For Magic Sam is another excellent track. Purely instrumental, Earl plays the melody of this excellent track with expressive confidence, technique and style. Really nice!  Wrapping the release is Fenton Robinson's You Don't Know What Love Is with it's funky beat. Blue is back up front on lead vocal works really nicely with Earl adding as much strength vocally as Earl does on guitar. This is a really strong closer for a really solid release.



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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

VizzTone Label Group artist: Ilana Katz Katz - Subway Stories - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Subway Stories, by Ilana Katz Katz and it's a big slice of blues, jazz and Americana all rolled into one. Opening with Boogie track, Don't Forget, Ilana Katz Katz, vocals and fiddle, is joined by ex Canned Heat guitar player and producer, Barry Levenson, Mike Sandberg on drums and Hank Van Sickle on bass. On 12 bar blues number, Subway Blues, Sugar ray Norcia adds his special harp work to the tasty riffs of Levenson and Ilana for one of the more solid of the blues tracks on the release. Motherless Child gets a real soft handling and with it's warm guitar chords, intense blues guitar lines somber violin work and child like innocence on vocals shines as one of my favorite tracks on the release. With it's jazzy slant, Roosevelt Sykes' Ice Cream Freezer Blues features Anthony Geraci on piano and has some of the hottest guitar riffs (and bawdy lyrics) on the release. Super groove, Requiem, is a real nice instrumental jazzy duet featuring Levenson and Ilana over tight drums and bass. Very nice. Instrumental shuffle track, The Excuse, gives Levenson and Ilana a super opportunity to lay out fluid solos over a super blues riff. Wrapping the release is a strong jig (or reel) John Brown's Dream/Subway Light of Mine which along with having great tempo and a great closer is my favorite track on the release.


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Monday, August 28, 2017

Boston-Based Guitarist Peter Ward Sets October 20 Release Date for His New CD, "Blues on My Shoulders," on Gandy Dancer Records; Special Guests Include Ronnie Earl, Sugar Ray & the Bluetones and Sax Gordon Beadle



Boston-Based Guitarist Peter Ward Sets October 20 Release Date for His New CD, Blues on My Shoulders, on Gandy Dancer Records

Special Guests Include Ronnie Earl, Sugar Ray & the Bluetones and Sax Gordon Beadle

BOSTON, MA – Guitarist Peter Ward announces an October 20 release date for his new CD, Blues on My Shoulders, on Gandy Dancer Records. Besides Ward on guitar and vocals, special guests on the new disc include multiple Blues Music Award-winning guitar legend Ronnie Earl, Sax Gordon Beadle on sax and the members of Sugar Ray and the Bluetones: Sugar Ray Norcia (vocals and harmonica), “Monster” Mike Welch (guitar), Anthony Geraci (piano), Michael “Mudcat” Ward (Peter’s brother – bass) and Neil Gouvin (drums). 

“It pleases me to present Blues on My Shoulders, my first solo project,” Peter Ward says about the new album. “I wrote the words and music to 12 of the 13 songs. I grew up wearing out the vinyl records trying to understand how Robert Jr. Lockwood, Tiny Grimes, Louis Meyers and Jimmy Rogers made songs sound so good. It's what I wanted to do. I was lucky to sit in often with my friend (and former roommate) Ronnie Earl and play alongside many of my musical heroes. A highlight was touring with the Legendary Blues Band: Joe Willie ‘Pinetop’ Perkins, Willie ‘Big Eyes’ Smith, Calvin ‘Fuzz’ Jones and Jerry Portnoy, who had brilliantly backed Muddy Waters for years. The way they played blues was everything I believed in, then and now. Willie Smith was an inventive drummer — and a wily character. I pay tribute to him in the song, ‘Drummin' Willie.’ The track ‘Which Hazel’ is my homage to Chuck Berry. Sugar Ray Norcia honored me by singing the heck out of ‘Collaborate,’ a tribute to Lockwood and Lonnie Johnson. I appreciate that Ronnie Earl and Sax Gordon Beadle accepted my invitation to perform on two songs: ‘A Little More’ and ‘It's On Me.’ ‘Southpaw’ is my ode to lesser-known left-handed swing guitarist Dickie Thompson, who worked with organist and front man Wild Bill Davis. My instrumental, ‘Shiprock,’ reminds me of a hallowed part of Navajo country I visited with my wife Mai Cramer, who died of breast cancer in 2002 and previously hosted a popular blues program every weekend for 24 years on WGBH-FM. She was an avid supporter of the blues and its purveyors. I think she would have liked Blues on My Shoulders. I hope you do.”

As a teenager growing up in Lewiston, Maine, Peter and his brother Michael (“Mudcat”) listened intently to blues records and went to see Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy, Junior Wells, Taj Mahal and Hubert Sumlin whenever they performed in the area. Peter played blues with Mudcat and did gigs also with his younger brother Jeff, who died in 1991. “Jeff was too young to drink, but club owners would let him in so he could play bass with New York City drummer Ola Dixon and me,” Ward recalls.

Ward later moved to Boston and played in various bands, frequently sitting in with Sugar Ray & the Bluetones, who then featured his brother and Ronnie Earl, and backed blues artists such as Jimmy Rogers, Eddie ‘Cleanhead’ Vinson and Lowell Fulson.

“In the Big Apple, I was thrilled when Otis Rush told me I played chords like an ‘old man,’ Ward remembers. “In 1978, each week I drove across I-90 to Rochester, N.Y. to play blues for three nights with guitarist-vocalist Joe Beard. Beloved there, Joe had once been a neighbor of Son House. In the 1980s, I loved everything about touring with the Legendary Blues Band — the traveling and camaraderie, but especially the way we played blues in an unhurried, improvisational way. We recorded a CD for Rounder Records that featured Duke Robillard, whose brilliant guitar I had first heard at a high school dance.


“I married Mai Cramer, who spun records for Boston station WGBH-FM every weekend from 1978 until 2002, when she died of breast cancer. Her fans and I stage a fundraiser in her honor each spring for charity at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, Mass. Headliners have included Jody Williams, Luther ‘Guitar Junior’ Johnson, Lurrie Bell, Ron Levy and Eddie Taylor, Jr. In 2010, I produced Goodbye Liza Jane: Hello Western Swing, a CD of western swing (a cousin to the blues) with Herb Remington, an original member of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. In recent years I've begun writing songs, as I culled the many snippets of melodies and phrases stuck in my mind. It's fun to turn thoughts into songs and then sing them while people dance. It's been a blast, and it's not over.”

Friday, November 18, 2016

Severn Records artist: Sugar Ray & The Bluetones - Seeing Is Believing - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the newest release, Seeing Is Believing, from Sugar Ray & The Bluetones and I love it! Opening with Sweet Baby, Sugar Ray Norcia are dynamic and his harp playing fat. Anthony Geraci's piano work is tight and Monster Mike Welch sets a great groove, backed by Michael Mudcat Ward on bass and Neil Gouvin on drums. Great opener. Title track, Seeing Is Believing brings down the pace a bit and Monster Mike's guitar work is outrageously rich. Norcia's vocals are smooth as silk and the band is super. Absolutely excellent! With a cool lope, Noontime Bell strolls along giving Norcia the opportunity to set the bar on harp. Geraci's piano work is always solid and this track plays right into his hands with Welch laying back and watching...very nice. Keep On Sailing is another terrific track with a Muddy Waters feel. Norcia's vocals are super and his harp work solid. Geraci really digs in on this one and Monster Mike a giant. Excellent! Jumper, Blind Date, is just smoking! Norcia cranks it up from the first note and with strong support overall, Monster Mike cranks it up Texas style. Wow! Bringing down the pace a bit, BB King's You Know I Love You is a great opportunity for Monster Mike to play lead and just turn the phrase over and again. Terrific! With a bit of New Orleans blues, Misses Blues, has an almost falling down the stairs drum beat that really makes me like it. Light on instrumentation, Norcia tells the story backed by the crew and heavily saturated harp. Bluesy ballad, Not Me, has the cleanest vocals on the release with chorded guitar work and melodic, Stevie Wonder like harp styling. Got A Gal has a solid lope and Welch really pulls out the round guitar tones giving the track a very human sound. Norcia continues to confirm his vocal prowess cemented by his harp work. Sounding like it's right out of the Morganfield archives, Two Hundred Dollars Too Long, has a great feel. Norcia not only sets the vocal tone but his harp is very Chicago and Monster Mike has the slide tone cooked to a T. Excellent! Wrapping the release is It's Been A Long Time with continuous riffs from Welch and Geraci under the vocals. This is a continuous Chicago blues p[arty and one you wish would never end. Excellent release!

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Thursday, August 18, 2016

Severn Records Sets October 7 Release Date for "Seeing Is Believing," New CD from Acclaimed Sugar Ray & the Bluetones




Severn Records Sets October 7 Release Date for Seeing Is Believing, New CD from Acclaimed Sugar Ray & the Bluetones

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Severn Records announces an October 7 release date for Seeing Is Believing, the new CD from the acclaimed Sugar Ray & the Bluetones. Seeing Is Believing is the band’s seventh album for Severn Records and follows their highly-successful 2014 CD, Living Tear to Tear, which garnered them seven Blues Music Award nominations, including “Best Band,” plus individual nominations for Sugar Ray as “Traditional Male Blues Artist” and “Instrumentalist – Harmonica,” and a song nomination for “Things Could Be Worse.” At the most-recent Blues Music Awards in May, the group was again nominated for “Band of the Year,” as well as individual nominations for keyboardist Anthony Geraci, guitarist Monster Mike Welch and bassist Michael Mudcat Ward. Anthony Geraci’s album with The Boston Blues-All-Stars, Fifty Shades of Blue, received three additional nominations.

Produced by the band, the dozen tracks on Seeing Is Believing – 11 originals and a scintillating instrumental cover of B.B. King’s “You Know I Love You” – sweep out of the speakers with the power of a gale force wind, blowing with a transcendent groove. The band: Sugar Ray Norcia on lead vocals and harmonica, Monster Mike Welch on guitars, Anthony Geraci on pianos and Hammond organ, Michael Mudcat Ward on bass and Neil Gouvin on drums, never wastes any notes. From the opening Mississippi blues of “Sweet Baby,” that features Norcia's down-and-dirty harmonica and his signature blues growl, and the wink-and-a-nod jazz blues of “Misses Blues,” to the smoky lounge tune, “Not Me,”  Sugar Ray and the Bluetones wring out every emotion, demonstrating  just how blues ought to be played.

“We do this to have fun,” laughs Sugar Ray. “Every time we go into the studio or out on a road trip or onstage, we always say ‘let’s have some fun’.” It’s that spirit of keeping it loose and playing for the fun of it and simply letting the music carry them wherever it will that keeps Sugar Ray & the Bluetones burning up the musical landscape. As the band sings on the song, “Blind Date,” written by Norcia, “if you ain't having fun/you're doing something wrong.” Each player’s ability to step right up and plug right into the groove with his own musical vision for the song creates the overarching unity of the band’s music.

“We’re almost telepathic in the way we work together,” says Sugar Ray about the band’s communication, creating a unity that results in the band’s tightness. No notes ever get left on the floor, and Welch, Ward, Geraci, and Gouvin seem to know just when to come in with a riff or a beat and when not to. Monster Mike “understands me very well musically,” observes Sugar Ray; “so if I want to play a low-down blues, he has the part down and comes right in.” Mudcat knows the right things to do and the right things not to do, “and that last part might be even more important,” chuckles Norcia. It’s so refreshing to work with Anthony and Neil, too, Norcia says, because “they, like all of us, want to play this music right to pay homage to it.” This unity of musical vision and ability, says Norcia, is what “sets us apart.”

That musical oneness also grows out of the Bluetones’ time together. They just celebrated 35 years as a band. Monster Mike Welch is the “youngster” of the band, since he’s only been with the Bluetones for 16 years. Over those years, the band has put out many critically-acclaimed albums and garnered high honors; this past April, Sugar Ray & the Bluetones were inducted into the Rhode Island Music Hall of Fame. In 2014, Sugar Ray received his third Grammy nomination (“Best Blues Album”) for his playing on Remembering Little Walter.

On Seeing is Believing, as on all their albums and at their shows, Sugar Ray & the Bluetones are having fun—and so will anyone who listens to any song on this new album—but they’re also paying homage to this “beautiful, wonderful genre of music.” This new album itself is a work of beauty and wonder, indeed, both paying tribute to the music of everyone from Muddy Waters, Otis Spann, and Little Walter to Louis Jourdan and Louis Armstrong. The sound is that big and that tight.

Websites: www.sugarrayandthebluetones.com                www.severnrecords.com


Itinerary
Aug 26 - Blues & BBQ Event, Webster, NY
Sept 2 - Blues In Hell Festival, Hell, Norway
Sept 4 - Harvest Time Blues Festival , Monaghan, Ireland
Sept 9 - Thunder Road, Somerville, MA
Sept 10 - The Knickerbocker Cafe, Westerly, RI
Sept 17 - Pennsylvania Blues Festival (Boston Blues All-Stars) Lake Harmony, PA
Sept 24 - Pitman’s Freight Room, Laconia, NH
Oct 1 - Crossroads Music Series, North Andover, MA
Nov 19 - Blackstone River Theater, Cumberland, RI
Nov 25 - Poland (Sugar Ray and the Bluetones with The Boston Blues All-Stars Featuring Anthony Geraci, Darrell Nulisch and Michelle Willson)
Nov 26 – Holland
Dec 2 - Blue Rooster, Sarasota, FL
Dec 3 - Bradenton Blues Festival, Bradenton, FL
Dec 7 – Englewood’s On Dearborn, Englewood, FL
Dec 8 - Wireless Blues Society Christmas Party, Dothan, AL
Dec 9 - Aces, Suncoast Blues Society Christmas Party, Bradenton, FL
Dec 10 - Eats and Beats, Parkland Amphitheater, Parkland, FL
Dec 16- Chans, Woonsocket, RI

Thursday, April 14, 2016

THE BLUES FOUNDATION 2016 BLUES HALL OF FAME INDUCTION AND 37TH BLUES MUSIC AWARDS SET FOR MAY 4 AND 5











THE BLUES FOUNDATION 2016 BLUES HALL OF FAME INDUCTION
AND 37TH BLUES MUSIC AWARDS
SET FOR MAY 4 AND 5 
Best in blues recording, songwriting, and performance to be celebrated at the Memphis' Cook Convention Center. 
All six living Hall of Fame inductees will be in attendance


MEMPHIS, Tenn. — On Thursday, May 5, 2016, the Blues Foundation will present its annual Blues Music Awards at the Cook Convention Center in downtown Memphis, Tennessee. The Awards are universally regarded as the highest accolade afforded to blues performers, and the awards ceremony is widely recognized as the premier event for professionals, musicians and fans from around the world. The mission of the celebration is to honor the rich cultural tradition of the blues by recognizing the past year’s outstanding achievements in performance, songwriting and recording. 
On May 4, at the Halloran Centre for Performing Arts, the Blues Foundation will induct five legendary artists into the Blues Hall of Fame: Elvin Bishop, Eddy Clearwater, Jimmy Johnson, John Mayall, Memphis Jug Band, and Malaco Records' Tommy Couch Sr. and Wolf Stephenson. Elected by a select group of respected blues scholars and industry veterans, Hall of Fame inductees are recognized for their musical achievements and their contributions to blues history. 
Leading this year’s award nomination count are James Harman with five, and Anthony Geraci and Sugaray Rayford, who each have four. Harman and Geraci will go head to head in three categories: Best Song, Best Album, and Best Traditional Blues Album. Harman’s gift for musical storytelling, combined with the soulful sound of his newest release, Bonetime, propelled him to a nomination as Best Traditional Male Blues Artist, and his strong musicianship set the stage for his nomination as Best Instrumentalist — Harmonica. Geraci's piano finesse led to a nomination for the prestigious Pinetop Perkins Piano Player award. Vocalist-songwriter Rayford is nominated for Contemporary Blues Album and Contemporary Blues Male Artist, as well as Best Song and the B.B. King Entertainer Award
Cedric Burnside and Shemekia Copeland, 2016 Grammy nominees, each have three nominations here, as do Doug MacLeod, the Cash Box Kings, Victor Wainwright and Wee Willie Walker (see below for a complete list of nominees). 
The five new Blues Hall of Fame inductees have all had long and influential careers that have elevated each to seminal status in the blues world. Elvin Bishop was honored with the 2015 Blues Music Awards for Song of the Year. Bishop and his fellow 2016 inductees Clearwater, Johnson and Mayall all have bodies of work spanning more than half a century, and each continues to create new music and perform for new audiences. The legendary Memphis Jug Band’s music crossed racial divides during the first half of the 20th century, and inspired countless musicians to follow in their footsteps. 
For their behind-the-scenes contributions, Malaco Records partners Tommy Couch Sr. and Wolf Stephenson, who founded a Southern R&B empire that continues to be an influential force, are also Blues Foundation honorees this year. 
This year’s literature entry into the Blues Hall of Fame is Jeff Todd Titon’s book Early Downhome Blues: A Musical and Cultural Analysis, which has been widely recognized as one of the most important analytical studies of the blues ever written. 
The Blues Hall of Fame is also honoring several historic blues recordings: The classic Big Bill Broonzy/Memphis Slim/Sonny Boy Williamson album Blues in the Mississippi Night (Nixa, 1957: United Artists, 1959), and the vintage singles “Crazy Blues” by Mamie Smith (OKeh, 1920), “That’s All Right” by Jimmy Rogers (Chess, 1950), Billy Boy Arnold's “I Wish You Would” (Vee-Jay, 1955), “Blues Before Sunrise” by Leroy Carr and Scrapper Blackwell (Vocalion, 1934) and “Merry Christmas Baby” by Johnny Moore’s Three Blazers (Exclusive, 1947). The last disc, with Charles Brown on vocal and piano, is the first Yuletide song inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. 
The Memphis-based Blues Foundation is internationally renowned for its tireless efforts in preserving blues heritage, celebrating blues recording and performance, expanding worldwide awareness of the blues, and ensuring the future of this uniquely American art form. Founded in 1980, the Blues Foundation has approximately 4,000 individual members and 200 affiliated local blues societies, representing another 50,000 fans and professionals around the world.   
The Blues Foundation’s signature honors and events — the Blues Music Awards, Blues Hall of Fame, International Blues Challenge and Keeping the Blues Alive Awards — make it the international capital of blues music. The recent opening of the Blues Hall of Fame Museum in Memphis, Tenn., now adds the opportunity for music lovers of all ages to interact with the music and its history.  
Major funding is provided by ArtsMemphis and the Tennessee Arts Commission. The 37th Blues Music Awards is also sponsored by AutoZone, BMI, First Tennessee Foundation, Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise, Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company and Sony Legacy Recordings
HOF tickets are $100 each, reception at 5:30pm with ceremony beginning at 6:30 p.m. BMA tickets are $150 each, tables of 10 for $1500; a special pre-party will begin at 5:30 p.m.; the BMA begin at 6:30 p.m..
For more information, log onto http://www.blues.org; tickets and membership details are available at http://blues.org/blues-music-awards/2016-blues-music-awards/
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37th Blues Music Award Nominees 

Acoustic Album 
Doug MacLeod - Exactly Like This
Duke Robillard - The Acoustic Blues & Roots of Duke Robillard
Eric Bibb - Blues People
Guy Davis - Kokomo Kidd
The Ragpicker String Band - The Ragpicker String Band 

Acoustic Artist 
Doug MacLeod Eric Bibb
Gaye Adegbalola 
Guy Davis 
Ian Siegal 

Album 
Anthony Geraci & the Boston Blues All-Stars - Fifty Shades of Blue
Buddy Guy - Born to Play Guitar
James Harman - Bonetime
The Cash Box Kings - Holding Court
Wee Willie Walker - If Nothing Ever Changes 

Band 
Andy T - Nick Nixon Band 
Rick Estrin & the Nightcats 
Sugar Ray & the Bluetones 
The Cash Box Kings 
Victor Wainwright & the Wild Roots 

B.B. King Entertainer 
John NĂ©meth
Rick Estrin 
Shemekia Copeland 
Sugaray Rayford 
Victor Wainwright 

Best New Artist Album 
Eddie Cotton - One at a Time
Igor Prado Band - Way Down South
Mighty Mike Schermer – Blues in Good Hands
Mr. Sipp - The Blues Child
Slam Allen - Feel These Blues

Contemporary Blues Album 
Buddy Guy - Born to Play Guitar
Eugene Hideaway Bridges - Hold on a Little Bit Longer
Shemekia Copeland - Outskirts of Love
Sonny Landreth - Bound by the Blues
Sugaray Rayford – Southside 

Contemporary Blues Female Artist 
Beth Hart Karen Lovely
Nikki Hill 
Samantha Fish 
Shemekia Copeland 

Contemporary Blues Male Artist 
Brandon Santini
Eugene Hideaway Bridges 
Jarekus Singleton
Joe Louis Walker
Sugaray Rayford 

Historical Album 
The Henry Gray/Bob Corritore Sessions, Vol. 1, Blues Won't Let Me Take My Rest on Delta Groove Records 
Hawk Squat by J. B. Hutto & His Hawks on Delmark Records 
Southside Blues Jam by Junior Wells on Delmark Records 
Buzzin' the Blues by Slim Harpo on Bear Family Records
Dynamite! The Unsung King of the Blues by Tampa Red on Ace Records 

Instrumentalist-Bass 
Charlie Wooten
Lisa Mann
Michael “Mudcat” 
Ward Patrick Rynn 
Willie J. Campbell 

Instrumentalist-Drums 
Cedric Burnside 
Jimi Bott
June Core
Tom Hambridge 
Tony Braunagel 

Instrumentalist-Guitar 
Anson Funderburgh 
Kid Andersen 
Monster Mike Welch 
Ronnie Earl 
Sonny Landreth 

Instrumentalist-Harmonica 
Billy Branch 
Brandon Santini 
James Harman 
Jason Ricci 
Kim Wilson 

Instrumentalist-Horn 
Al Basile 
Doug James
Kaz Kazanoff 
Sax Gordon 
Terry Hanck

Koko Taylor Award (Traditional Blues Female) 
Diunna Greenleaf 
Fiona Boyes 
Ruthie Foster 
Trudy Lynn 
Zora Young 

Pinetop Perkins Piano Player 
Allen Toussaint 
Anthony Geraci 
Barrelhouse Chuck 
John Ginty 
Victor Wainwright 

Rock Blues Album of the Year 
Joe Bonamassa - Muddy Wolf at Red Rocks
Joe Louis Walker - Everybody Wants a Piece
Royal Southern Brotherhood - Don't Look Back 
Tinsley Ellis - Tough Love
Walter Trout - Battle Scars

Song 
“Bad Feet/Bad Hair” written and performed by James Harman 
“Fifty Shades of Blue” written by Anthony Geraci and performed by Anthony Geraci & the Boston Blues All-Stars 
“Gonna Live Again” written and performed by Walter Trout 
“Southside of Town” written by Sugaray Rayford and & Ralph Carter and performed by Sugaray Rayford 
“You Got It Good (and That Ain’t Bad)” written and performed by Doug MacLeod 

Soul Blues Album 
Bey Paule Band - Not Goin' Away
Billy Price & Otis Clay - This Time for Real 
Jackie Payne - I Saw the Blues
Tad Robinson - Day into Night
Wee Willie Walker - If Nothing Ever Changes 

Soul Blues Female Artist 
Bettye LaVette 
Dorothy Moore
Missy Anderson
Toni Lynn Washington 
Vaneese Thomas 

Soul Blues Male Artist 
Frank Bey
Jackie Payne 
Johnny Rawls
Otis Clay
Wee Willie Walker 

Traditional Blues Album 
Andy T - Nick Nixon Band - Numbers Man
Anthony Geraci & the Boston Blues All-Stars - Fifty Shades of Blue
Cedric Burnside Project - Descendants of Hill Country
James Harman - Bonetime
The Cash Box Kings - Holding Court

Traditional Blues Male Artist 
Cedric Burnside
Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin 
James Harman
Jimmy Burns
John Prime