Sugar Ray and The Bluetones
Living Tear To Tear
Ray Norcia, harp, was appropriately nicknamed Sugar because of his sweet vocals. A former member of “Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters” he left them to form his own band “Sugar Ray and The Bluetones”. Their first album was 1989’s “Knockout”. After two albums Norcia broke up the band and from 1994 thru 1997 was lead singer and front man for “Roomful of Blues”. After leaving Roomful he reunited The Bluetones. In 1999 Norcia collaborated with James Cotton and recorded the “Superharps” album. He has also guested on countless albums by everyone from Ronnie Earl to Michelle “Evil Gal” Wilson. In 2001 Norcia signed with Severn Records. This is his sixth “Sugar Ray and The Bluetones” album on Severn Records and ninth overall.
The Bluetones are one of the most balanced Chicago based Blues bands. The guitar spot has for many years been filled by Monster Mike Welch. Welch made his own mark with the 1996 release of his debut recording “These Blues Are Mine” on the Tone-Cool label.He has seven recordings in his own name. He recently guested on The Mannish Boys “Wrapped Up and Ready” released earlier this year.
On piano and Hammond organ is the formidable Anthony Geraci. Geraci has played with everyone including Muddy Waters; he was a member of Ronnie Earl and The Broadcasters” and has also fronted his own band “Little Anthony and The Locomotives”. He has three albums under his own name including the jazzy “Serendipity”.
Bassist Mudcat Ward plays both electric and standup bass. He has recorded with Hubert Sumlin and has also been a member of “Ronnie Earl and The Broadcasters” and “Ron Levy’s Wild Kingdom”. He has been with Norcia from the beginning.
Drummer Neil Gouvin has also played with everyone, and has been a member of “Ronnie Earl and The Broadcasters”.
Norcia has written six new songs for this album. His rollicking harp opens “Rat Trap”. Geraci’s is pounding on the keys while Ward and Gouvin provide the steady foundation that enable Welch and Norcia to solo. “Things Could Be Worse” features the lyric “for every bad I know there’s a worse”. On “Misery” Norcia sings “please pour me another glass of wine, I’m gonna’ sit here and keep drinkin’, ‘til I get my baby off my mind”.
“Short Ribs” is a Sugar Ray composed instrumental. “Our Story” is a sentimental song sung from a gentleman to his wife and features a beautiful understated harp solo. “Hungry But Happy” “my baby serves my dinner cold but I don’t mind, when I go hungry I’m the happiest hungry man in the world” could be a commercial for Campbell’s Soups but it’s still a great song.
Keyboardist Geraci contributes both the title track “Living Tear To Tear” and “I Dreamed Last Night”. On the later Geraci’s dramatic solo is the centerpiece of this great song.
“Here We Go” is a Welch original beautifully sung by Norcia. Now the listener knows why he is called “Sugar”. Welch’s guitar and Norcia harp explore the melody.
“It’s Never as Bad as It Looks” was written by Ward and sung by Norcia. It goes “I’ve been stranded in broke down junkers and ridden in limosines…it’s never as bad as it looks, it’s never as good as it seems…the music business is murder but the aims justify me, it’s never as bad as it looks it’s never as good as it seems”.
Sugar Ray and The Bluetones are among my favorite bands. From a fan, thank you for the music.