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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 Seeing Is Believing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Seeing Is Believing. Show all posts

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.


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