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Album Review

Singer/songwriter/harmonica player Ray Norcia may be a New Englander, born in Connecticut and resident of Rhode Island, but on Evening, the fifth album for Severn Records by his band Sugar Ray & the Bluetones, this Roomful of Blues alumnus sounds more like a Mississippi expatriate living on Chicago's South Side. He and his bandmates — "Monster" Mike Welch on guitar, Neil Gouvin on drums, Michael "Mudcat" Ward on bass, and Anthony Geraci on piano — also make music suggesting that the era is the late '40s or early ‘50s instead of 2011. The title track, perhaps better known with a dropped "g" as "Evenin'," is a 1934 copyright introduced by Cab Calloway and popularized in the ‘40s by Count Basie with Jimmy Rushing on vocals; "You Know My Love" was written by Chess Records' Willie Dixon and recorded by Otis Rush; and the leadoff track is Johnny Young's "I'm Having a Ball." The rest of the songs are newly written by Norcia or members of the Bluetones ("Hard to Get Along With" is by Welch, "[That's Not Yet] One of My Blues" by Ward), but they might just as well be of the vintage of the covers. Norcia has two different vocal styles. He adopts a hoarse, gruff tone for the more raucous numbers like "I'm Having a Ball" and "I Came Down with the Blues," but he has more of a smooth croon for "You Know My Love" and other ballads. The blues styles vary from slow tunes like the politically — or at least medically — incorrect "Too Many Rules and Regulations," in which Norcia rejects modern notions of healthy living, to the R&B/jump blues styles of "I'm Certain That I'm Hurting" and "Dancing Bear (Little Indian Boy)," which surprisingly begins with a Native American flute passage played by the bandleader. Thus, there are a few unusual touches in the lyrics and music here and there, but for the most part this is contemporary blues with a traditional cast from some accomplished veterans.

Biography

Formed: 1979 in Orange County, CA

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

East Coast based blues band fronted by singer/harmonica man Ray Norcia and featuring guitar work over the years by Ronnie Earl (Roomful of Blues, Ronnie Earl & the Broadcasters) and Kid Bangham (The Fabulous Thunderbirds). Blues sensation Monster Mike Welch added his name to the list in 2003 with the release of The Bluetones fifth studio album. Aside from his stellar harp work, Norcia is an excellent singer,...
Full Bio
Evening, Sugar Ray & The Bluetones
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  • $16.99
  • Genres: Blues, Music
  • Released: 18 October 2011
  • Clean

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