Blues On My Shoulders
Gandy Dancer Records
Peter and Michael Ward grew up in Lewiston, Maine where they listened to blues records and went to see artists as frequently as possible.
Peter was trying to figure out how guitarists such as Jimmy Rogers played. He and his brother were influenced by the music of Muddy Waters, Little Walter and Sonny Boy Williamson. He once roomed with Ronnie Earl and first heard Duke Robillard play guitar at a high school dance. Peter later moved to Boston where he frequently sat in with his brother, now nicknamed “Mudcat”, the bassist with Sugar Ray and The Bluetones.
After Waters died Muddy’s band resurfaced as The Legendary Blues Band and Peter got to tour with them. He played alongside Pinetop Perkins, Calvin “Fuzz” Jones, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Jerry Portnoy, Duke Robillard and members of Roomful of Blues. Peter appears on The Legendary Blues Band’s 1981 recording “Life of Ease” and on their 1982 follow up “Red, Hot ‘N’ Blue”. In 1982 Peter also married Mai Cramer who was a weekend radio host on Boston’s WGBH-FM. Unfortunately his wife passed away in 2002. In 2010 Peter produced “Goodbye Lisa Jane: Hello Western Swing”, a tribute album, featuring ex-members of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys. Recently he began writing songs. This is his debut album.
The band includes Peter, guitar and vocals; Bob Berry or Joe Delia, bass; and George Dellomo, drums. Special guests include Earl, guitar; Rusty Scott, B-3; Gordon Beadle, sax; and Eric Kilburn, mandolin. Also featured are The Bluetones: Sugar Ray Norcia, harp; “Monster” Mike Welch, guitar; Anthony Geraci, piano; Neil Gouvin, drums; and his brother “Mudcat”, bass.
Twelve of the thirteen tracks are songs written by Peter. “She Took It All” is about a friend who thought he was happily married until his wife took everything. Sugar Ray is featured on harp.
“Which Hazel” …”should I choose” is a humorous tune about having two girlfriends with the same name. Peter states that the song was influenced by Chuck Berry.
“Collaborate” is another humorous tune this time with a jazzy narrative from Norcia and some smoky sax courtesy of Beadle. “Shiprock” is an instrumental inspired by a Navajo Indian celebration. Peter states “Southpaw” is a tribute to left handed swing guitarist Dickie Thompson who played with organist Wild Bill Davis. Featured on the B-3 is Rusty Scott.
On all the above Peter is the only guitarist and his skills are well displayed. “Kansas City Blues” is the only cover and a showcase for Peter’s fabulous guitar playing.
“Blues On My Shoulders” the title track, is inspired by Jimmy Rogers. Featured are Norcia on harp; Geraci on piano and Welch on guitar. They guest again on the instrumental “On The Ropes”. “What Can I Do To You?” features Geraci and Welch. Peter is an able vocalist too as he sings a song about a womanizer, a subject that is currently all over the news.
Ronnie Earl joins Peter on “It’s On Me” and Earl takes a nice solo while Beadle plays sax. Included is the lyric “keep your hands away from that check now”. Earl and Beadle play again on “A Little More”.
“Coletta …how blue can you make me get”; is another hilarious tune with some great mandolin from Kilburn.
The closer “Drummin’ Willie” is Peter’s tribute to Willie “Big Eyes” Smith. “Drummin for Muddy Waters and drivin’ the van from town to town”. Norcia’s harp is a delight as Peter tells us about his touring with The Legendary Blues Band.
Peter Ward is a very good songwriter. As a sideman he spent some forty years serving the blues. He steps upfront on this highly entertaining album.
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