Why Did You Have To Go
Blue Duchess/Shining Stone Records
Anthony Geraci is both a founding member of Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters and Sugar Ray and The Bluetones. He has been with the latter for over thirty-five years. Geraci also has six albums of his own the last being 2015’s “Fifty Shades of Blue” on which he fronted a contingent he called The Boston Blues All-Stars. That last album garnered Geraci four 2016 Blues Music Award nominations including one for Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of The Year. In fact he has now been nominated for that award for each of the last three years. Overall Geraci has six BMA nominations and one Grammy nomination.
This new album is a sort of follow up to “Fifty Shades of Blue” as Geraci enlists the aide of an outstanding cast of musicians some of whom previously joined him on that last release. Returning are vocalists Sugar Ray Norcia and Michelle “Evil Gal” Wilson; guitarist Monster Mike Welch; bassist Michael “Mudcat” Ward; and drummers Neil Gouvin and Marty Richards. Joining the cast are vocalists Sugaray Rayford, Brian Templeton, Dennis Brennan, and Willie J. Laws; guitarists Ronnie Earl, Kid Ramos, and Troy Gonyea; bassist Willie J. Campbell; drummer Jimi Bott; and the horn section of Sax Gordon and Doug Woolverton. The album is produced by Geraci. The Executive Producers are Jesse Finkelstein and Duke Robillard.
All of the songs have been written by Geraci who plays both piano and Hammond organ. Geraci’s has included songs that cover the wide spectrum of styles and influences that we know him for. Norcia, bandleader for The Bluetones, is the featured vocalist on three tracks including the opener “Why Did You Have To Go”. Also from the Bluetones are guitarist Welch and bassist Ward. Richards is on drums with the horn section of Beadle and Woolverton. Geraci is content to basically play in the background as the song becomes a fabulous production. Geraci states “As a songwriter and arranger, I chose each musician for their individual talents that I knew would sound awesome on the songs they were singing and playing on. Being surrounded by musicians that are your friends is a very special feeling”. Norcia is featured again both singing and playing harmonica on “Time’s Running Out”, and “My Last Good-Bye” with a great piano solo from Geraci; on these Welch is joined by Earl on guitar as Earl was one of the original members of The Bluetones. On each of these Norcia’s vocals are fabulous.
Rayford, the only vocalist who makes his home on the West coast, is also chosen for three songs, and for these Geraci has chosen mostly West coast players. “Don’t The Grass Look Greener” features Ramos joining Welch on guitar, with the fabulous rhythm section of Campbell and Bott, who played together for many years with both The Fabulous Thunderbirds and The Mannish Boys. Ramos sits out on “Angelina, Angelina” and leaves the guitar chores to Welch. On “Long Way Home” Ramos is back on guitar while Welch steps out. On the latter Rayford is brilliant as the horns of Beadle and Woolverton workout on a fabulous horn arrangement with a terrific trumpet solo.
Boston’s Michelle “Evil Gal” Willson sings on both “Two Steps Away From the Blues” and “What About Me”. The latter is performed as a vocal duet with Brian Templeton of The Radio Kings. They are joined on these by Welch, Ward and Richards.
Willie J. Laws was born and raised on the Gulf coast of Texas where he was mentored by the late Phillip Walker. He now makes his home in Massachusetts. He is the chosen vocalist for “Fly On The Wall” performed with Ramos, Campbell and Bott, while Geraci plays some fabulous piano. He also sings on “Baptized In The River Yazoo” performed in a duo setting with only Geraci on piano. Geraci takes a brilliant solo.
Also from the Boston area is Dennis Brennan who is the vocalist chosen for the delightful “Too Many Bad Decisions”; and “Hand You Your Walking Shoes” with another solo from Geraci. On these Brennan and Geraci are joined by Welch, Ward and Richards.
Geraci chooses to close the album with a Jazz composition. Geraci calls the instrumental “A Minor, Affair”. He is joined by Ramos and Gonyea on guitar; the rhythm section of Campbell and Bott, and the horns of Beadle and Woolverton as they, along with Geraci, take their respective solos.
Geraci states “My biggest joy is being accepted by people that I respect musically…I have a Masters Degree in music, but the real experiences playing with these and many more musicians worldwide have earned me a PhD in Bluesology!”
One of our biggest joys is listening to the versatile Geraci as his music is always new and refreshing. This jam packed album should further elevate Geraci as he continues his musical journey.