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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 Sugar Ray and the Bluetones. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sugar Ray and the Bluetones. 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

Friday, June 29, 2012

Severn Records Artists Garner Multiple Nominations for the 2012 Blues Blast Music Awards


ANNAPOLIS, MD – Severn Records artists Mud Morganfield and Sugar Ray & the Bluetones each received two nominations when the 2012 Blues Blast Magazine Music Awards were announced yesterday, June 28. Both artists were nominated in the Traditional Blues Album category: Mud Morganfield for his acclaimed Severn label debut, Son of the Seventh Son; and Sugar Ray & the Bluestones for their latest CD, Evening, which also led the way with five nominations at the recent Blues Music Awards in Memphis. Additional Blues Blast Award nominations include Sugar Ray & the Bluestones for Blues Band of the Year and Mud Morganfield for the prestigious Sean Costello Rising Star Award.

Currently featured on the cover of the latest issue of Living Blues magazine, Larry “Mud” Morganfield is the son of the legendary Muddy Waters. Recorded in Chicago and produced by Bob Corritore, Son of the Seventh Son features Mud Morganfield’s earthy, soulful vocals backed by a cadre of blues all-stars, including Kenny Smith on drums, Rick Kreher and Billy Flynn on guitar, Barrelhouse Chuck on keyboards, E.G. McDaniel on bass, and Harmonica Hines and Bob Corritore on harp.

Evening is the fifth Severn album for Sugar Ray and the Bluetones, which features Sugar Ray Norcia on vocals and harmonica, “Monster” Mike Welch on guitar, Anthony Geraci on keyboards, Michael “Mudcat” Ward on bass and Neil Gouvin on drums. The album

showcases a band keeping things direct and sizzling on the nine originals, plus covers of Johnny Young’s “I’m Having a Ball” (the blazing opener), Otis Rush’s “You Know My Love” and the title track, which has been recorded by T-Bone Walker and Jimmy Rushing, among others.

Voting to determine the Blues Blast Award winners begins July 1, 2012 and continues until August 31st, 2012 on the magazine’s website at Voting is free and open to anyone who is a Blues Blast Magazine subscriber. Blues Blast Magazine subscriptions are FREE and subscribers are automatically signed up as part of the voting process on their website.

Blues Blast Magazine has partnered with public radio station WGLT FM in Normal, IL, which has set up a web page where you can play selected songs of the 2012 nominees. To hear samples of these great blues artists on WGLT’s 2012 Blues Blast Music Awards Artist Listening Site visit:

The complete list of nominees is available at the magazine’s website complete with links to all the artist websites at: When you get there, click on one of the nominees links to listen.

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Thursday, February 9, 2012

Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor - Ursula George / Sugar Ray Norcia

Ursula is a blues singer from Providence, RI presenting very cool, sexy and contemporary interpretation of Vaudeville-era blues tunes, mostly penned by the female writers of the day.
Check out Marty Ballou's bass solo out of "Make Me a Pallet on Your Floor" (J.Hurt /J. Yancey arrg.) with Ursula George at Chan's, Woonsocket RI on November 12, 2011. Special guest Sugar Ray Norcia with Lori Urso, Marty Richards, Eric Barron, Anthony Geraci

People who remember Sugar Ray fronting Roomful of Blues can attest to the fact that he is as much at home with a swinging horn band as he is with his four piece Chicago style blues outfit. Besides his recordings with Roomful, some examples of Ray's big band music can be heard on Porky Cohen's CD RHYTHM & BONES "Sent For You Yesterday"
and a CD by Doug James entitled BLOW MR. LOW
"Dirty People" and "I Want A Little Girl."
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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Review: Severn Records to release "Evening" by Sugar Ray & the Bluetones on 10/18/11!

I just received and have been listening to the new Sugar Ray release. It's really good. I really should say I got it last week and have been listening to it for a few days. Sugar Ray has a great command over the harp. This band is really tight and listening to it all day is a pleasure. Oh, and Monster Mike Welch covers the guitars like yu would expect from a seasoned pro!

Many have long celebrated the fact that this dyed-in-the-wool bluesman has never been one to give in to fads, excesses or over-the-top antics. Sugar Ray sings, plays and writes from his heart. This is apparent on Evening which also reunites Sugar Ray & the Bluetones with guitarist Monster Mike Welch for this set of Chicago Blues. Whether it's Johnny Young's "I'm Having A Ball," Otis Rush's "You Know My Love" or any number of the superbly crafted originals, Sugar Ray delivers - as do the Bluetones on this their 5th album for Severn Records! Track Listing: 1) I'm Having A Ball2) Hard To Get Along With3)You Know My Love 4) Dear John 5) I Like What You Got 6) Too Many Rules And Regulations 7) Dancing Bear 8) Evening 9) I Came Down With The Blues 10) (That's Not Yet) One Of My Blues 11)I'm Certain That I'm Hurting 12) XO US Street Date: 10/18/11

This is a cool recording.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011


ANNAPOLIS, MD – Severn Records announces an October 18 release date for Evening, the latest album from multiple Grammy and Blues Music Award nominee Sugar Ray & the Bluetones. Evening is the band’s fifth album for Severn and first release since My Life, My Friends, My Music in 2007, which was nominated for Blues Music Awards as “Album of the Year,” “Instrumentalist – Harmonica,” “Instrumentalist – Bass Player” and “Song of the Year” (for “Last Words of a Fool”). Joining Sugar Ray Norcia (vocals, harmonica) are guitarist “Monster” Mike Welch, drummer Neil Gouvin, bassist Michael “Mudcat” Ward and pianist Anthony Geraci.

“We approached this one like Hank Williams made records,” says Norcia about the sessions. “I went in with my lyrics, just rough sketches of the songs and the great musicians in the Bluetones, who always play something exciting. This album’s mostly original and in the Chicago blues vein. Last time, I used a full horn section, so My Life, My Friends, My Music was more jump blues-oriented. For this one, I wanted to keep things spare and gritty.”

True to his word, Sugar Ray and the band keep things direct and sizzling on the new CD’s dozen songs, including nine originals, plus covers of Johnny Young’s “I’m Having a Ball” (the blazing opener), Otis Rush’s “You Know My Love” and the title track, which has been recorded by T-Bone Walker and Jimmy Rushing, among others.

Evening also demonstrates Norcia’s penchant for writing songs that hit the gut on a visceral level, while at the same time keeping things loose and in a party atmosphere. “I aim to sing numbers that have good melodies and arrangements and entertain people,” he explains. “Part of that is writing lyrics that might make them smile. My dad, who was a great entertainer, would play unbelievable harmonica, sing and be the life of the party. I always aspire to that.”

A good illustration of that technique can be found in his “Too Many Rules and Regulations,” a song that would have been right at home being sung by Sonny Boy Williamson.

The Bluetones are seasoned veterans, one and all. “Monster” Mike Welch has been a perennial blues guitar hero since his early teens, and he acquits himself more than ably on the new album with some fantastic guitar work, all the while playing with expert feel and passion. Pianist Anthony Geraci handles the ivories in tones that recall such greats as Otis Spann and Pinetop Perkins. The rhythm section of Michael “Mudcat” Ward on bass and Neil Gouvin on drums form the perfect in-the-pocket tandem, creating solid rhythms on which to build the lead instruments.

As with any Sugar Ray CD, Evening showcases Norcia’s fluid, expressive harmonica work. “I’ve always considered my voice to be my main instrument,” Norcia states. But I truly love playing harmonica, and the fact that I could only play one or two harp tunes when I was with Roomful was one of the things that led me to move on.”

“Roomful” - of course – was the seminal blues and R&B band, Roomful of Blues, where Norcia spent seven years recording five albums, including 1996’s Turn It On, Turn It Up, which received a “Best Traditional Blues Album” Grammy Award nomination. He also received a Grammy nomination for his 1999 collaboration with fellow blues harmonica masters James Cotton, Charlie Musselwhite and Billy Branch, titled Superharps.

Originally from Connecticut, Sugar Ray Norcia has been based in Rhode Island for many years. Having formed his first group in high school, Norcia’s career really kicked into high gear in 1979 when he formed the original Sugar Ray & the Bluetones band, which included legendary guitarist Ronnie Earl. Since then, he’s appeared on over 50 albums, including his work with the Bluetones and Roomful, plus others with Duke Robillard, Ronnie Earl, Ann Peebles, Pinetop Perkins, Big Walter Horton and Otis Grand. During his turn with the first Bluetones lineup, the band also backed such great as Big Joe Turner, J.B. Hutto, and Roosevelt Sykes. “Hubert Sumlin and Ted Harvey were actually members of the Bluetones for a while,” he remembers.

Sugar Ray & the Bluetones will tour throughout North America in support of Evening. For more information, visit as well as


9/3 Chan’s Woonsocket, RI

9/15 Lozano’s Grill Stockton, CA

9/16 Biscuits & Blues San Francisco, CA

9/17 Delta Blues Festival Antioch, CA

9/18 Moe’s Alley Santa Cruz, CA

9/22 The Triad New York, NY

10/8 Knickerbocker Café Westerly, RI