Thursday, July 31, 2014




With Sugar Ray & The Bluetones celebrating their 35th anniversary with the new album ‘Living Tear To Tear’ (August 19 / Severn Records), its junior member Monster Mike Welch’s guitar interplay with the band is one of its strength. He has played with various members of Sugar Ray & The Bluetones his entire career but since joining the ensemble in 2001, his guitar work recalls Muhammad Ali’s famous quote “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee.” He also wrote “Here We Go,” a poignant, weary blues about an on-again, off-again relationship, for the new album ‘Living Tear To Tear.’

Guitar World premiered “Hungry But Happy,” a Norcia original featuring Welch’s scorching guitar. Damian Fanelli writes, “The hard-swinging band fully absorbed the lessons learned from Chicago blues masters."

By his teenage years, Welch had already played onstage with Ronnie Earl, Luther “Guitar Jr” Johnson, Matt Murphy, Johnny Copeland, Joe Walsh, Dan Ackroyd, James Cotton, Junior Wells and was spotlighted by USA Today, People, Entertainment Tonight, CNN, and NPR. Over the years, he has grown his Chicago-via-Texas-inspired single string attack, boosting the tension and emotionality to a fever pitch. Downbeat Magazine said, “Welch takes the music somewhere special when he plays.” Most recently, he has perfected a “slide sound without the slide” technique, as featured on the title track of the new album. Welch played a Gretsch G5420T on this track and most of ‘Living Tear To Tear.’ For more on his rig, please go to Welch's gear page.

He has six albums to his credit as frontman and his guitar and songwriting were both featured on last year’s Duke Robillard album ‘Independently Blue.’ Robillard said, “He’s a phenomenal blues player.” Most recently, he played on eight songs on the Mannish Boys’ ‘Wrapped Up And Ready’ album, contributing two original songs. He also participated in a Blues Guitar Styles Showcase on the Legendary Rhythm & Blues Cruise alongside John Hammond and others.


Tune in to NPR today for Dom Flemons’ long-form interview and performance on Fresh Air.

Stream the new solo album ‘Prospect Hill’ (Music Maker Relief Foundation) now at USA Today.

Raves have come in from the UK and US:

-Robin Denselow, The Guardian (UK), July 28, 2014

-Clive Davis, The Times (UK), July 25, 2014

“Flemons’ harmonica-heavy, foot-tapping folk makes for the perfect hot summer soundtrack.”
-Dacey Orr, Paste, June 2, 2014

“This is interracial hoedown music, irresistibly delivered with a wink and a strut, and it sounds unlike anything else on the market today.”
-John Morthland, Wondering Sound / eMusic, July 25, 2014

Dom Flemons satisfied an old-time craving.”
-Chris Parton, CMT Edge, June 4, 2014

“A mix of traditional and original songs that explore different moods and strains of Americana… from both the head and the heart.”
-James Reed, Boston Globe, June 26, 2014

“Flemons is a likeable vocalist and has a style on several instruments that is so natural and adept that he could charm snakes.”
-Wayne Bledsoe, Knoxville News-Sentinel, July 26, 2014

“The new album from former Carolina Chocolate Drop Dom Flemons is all quick hits, nervous fits… It's like flipping through radio stations on a road trip.”
-Chris Vitiello, Independent Weekly (NC), July 16, 2014

“Musically, it ranges from fife & drum, original and traditional folk music, ragtime, hokum, early jazz, blues, proto-rock & roll, and more but they are no museum pieces: they relate to experiences in the 21st century with humor, heart, and life.”
-Woody, HearYa, June 27, 2014

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Sugar Ray & The Bluetones clips

Guitar premiere (July 29, 2014)




Grace Askew has a constant tour-mate, her truck Lorraine, a 2007 Ford F-150 with a homemade shelf above the bed packed with mic stands, a PA, and her guitars. The fast-rising Americana star says, “This is my second home during the summer. I pretty much live in this truck.” Most recently, she has launched a web series called Tennessee Tumbleweed, chronicling her life on the road, chronicling everything from an ice storm in New Mexico to her rolling rig.

Being a road dog has inspired many of the songs on her vivid new album ‘Scaredy Cat,’ coming August 12. She tells No Depression, “I come across all types of people and am fascinated by hearing their stories to gain more insight and wisdom in how I perceive my own reality.”

Check out the Rolling Stone Q&A.

She added, in an American Songwriter interview, “The darkest places of the heart and mind, the characters I meet on the road, stark landscapes, the stories of a stranger, the things people decide to show and hide about themselves, the way someone laughs or smiles or cries, nature, solace, driving and watching the world flying past my window.”

The Bluegrass Situation calls her music “devastating."

Askew addresses her wanderlust in song on the noirish blues “Anywhere But Here,” which conjures David Lynchian landscapes.

She says, “My heart cannot tamed, not this tumbleweed. I got to keep on rollin’…”

Askew performs this Thursday at Soulshine in Nashville and has concerts coming up in LA and SF in early August.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


‘Rowdy Love,’ the killer second album from the Americana band Denver, is earning them raves from the press and fellow musicians alike. Denver sold out its hometown (Portland, OR) album release show, which also featured legendary songwriter Michael Hurley on the bill. Next up is an appearance this weekend at Timber! Music Fest, which also features J. Mascis, Charles Bradley, Damien Jurado and Horse Feathers. Additionally, the band will be headlining The Tractor Tavern in Seattle on Sunday night.

“When we BBQ in our driveway, we prefer to do it listening to Denver, the band.” – Shovels & Rope

“Rambunctious… ‘Rowdy Love’ lands somewhere in between icons like Townes Van Zandt and Hank Williams, and modern favorites like Wilco and Blitzen Trapper (whose frontman Eric Earley produced the LP).”
-Laura Leebove, Wondering Sound, July 10, 2014, full album stream

"Rowdy Love is, true to its title, bummed out, hopeful, joyful and conciliatory... For fans of The Rolling Stones, Hank Williams, Guy Clark."
- John Freeman, Country Weekly, June 26, 2014

“Ramshackle but right.”
-Ned Lannamann, Portland Mercury, July 14, 2014

“Dubbing Denver ‘heavy’ would be an understatement. But good country shouldn’t tread lightly. After all, it’s an American institution wallowing in booze and breakups. Drink it in, but expect a hangover.”
-Mark Stock, Willamette Weekly, July 16, 2014

“Glowing… [Music] you’ll want to listen to while drinking a beer in your backyard, thinking deep deep thoughts.”
-Kyle Mitchell, Music Savage, June 25, 2014

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

'We Are The Music Makers' 2CD Set Liner Notes

Through the efforts of the Music Maker Relief Foundation, these amazing people and artists have been able to live dignified lives. In many cases they were rediscovered during their golden years by Tim and Denise Duffy, then given the joy of new recognition by their families, peers and fans world-over!

-Taj Mahal

America tells its stories through song. Consolation to the lovelorn, courage to the oppressed, warning to the naive or a ticket to the Promised Land; a great song can deliver the wisdom of ages directly to our souls.

Deeply personal and implausibly universal, the blues, jazz, gospel and old time music of the American South form a deep aquifer that contemporary musicians all around the world drink from daily. The music is constantly expanding and morphing into country, rock, rap and soul, but trace the origins and you will find yourself standing squarely in the South.

In this album, we present music and portraits of these artists: fathers and mothers, uncles and aunts, daughters and sons, grandparents and neighbors, who continue to lovingly stir the South's musical stew and feed American culture. You probably wont recognize their names or faces, for few have found fame. Most of them weren't easy to find.

Tim Duffy documented these artists with his camera and recorder over the past twenty years and insists, "I know who I am looking at through the lens." He knows them because of the countless hours spent with each artist over months and years. Days spent sharing songs, food, laughter and far too many miles in vans and airplanes have built the bridges of trust that allow these artists to give their wisdom and art so generously. These artists share their life lessons with us because we are dedicated to presenting their music to the world with reverence and to be partners in their struggle for a better life.

-Denise Duffy
We are the Music Makers!
Preserving the Soul of Americas Music
Pictures & Stories by Timothy & Denise Duffy

Disc 1
Freight Train Boogie Captain Luke (L. Mayer)
Winston-Salem, NC 1991. Captain Luke; Jews harp.

A Living Past Guitar Gabriel (R.L. Jones)
Winston-Salem, NC 1991.

Railroad Bill Etta Baker  (trad. arr. by E. Baker)
Morganton, NC 1996. Etta Baker; guitar.

Going Away John Lee Zeigler  (J. Zeigler)
Kathleen, GA 1995. John Lee Zeigler; vocals, guitar.

High Yellow Cootie Stark  (Bull City Red, Julius Daniels)
Pinnacle, NC 1998. Cootie Stark; vocals, guitar Taj Mahal; ham-bone.

Chapel Hill Boogie John Dee Holeman  (J.D. Holeman)
Recorded by Joe McGrath Pinnacle, NC 1997. John Dee Holeman; vocals, guitar. Taj Mahal; guitar.

Shortnin Bread Neal Pattman (trad. arr. by N. Pattman)
Pinnacle, NC 1998.  Neal Pattman; harp, vocals. Taj Mahal; banjo.

Old Rugged Cross Carl Rutherford  (trad. arr. by C. Rutherford)
Hillsborough, NC 1995. Carl Rutherford; vocals, guitar. Cool John Ferguson; guitar.

No Hidin Place Cool John Ferguson (J. Ferguson)
Hillsborough, NC 2006. Cool John Ferguson; guitar.

Feel Like My Time Aint Long Essie Mae Brooks (E. M. Brooks)
Pinnacle, NC 2000. Essie Mae Brooks; vocals. Cool John Ferguson; piano.

Old Time Religion Mother Pauline and Elder James Goins (trad arr. by P. & J. Goins) Ridgeway, SC 1997. Mother Pauline Goins; vocals. Elder James Goins; vocals, guitar.

My Lord and I Elder Anderson Johnson  (trad arr. by E.A. Johnson)
Newport News, VA 1998. Elder Anderson Johnson; vocals, slide guitar.

Cocktail Boogie Mr Q  (C. Settle)
Winston-Salem, NC 1995. Mr. Q; vocals, piano.

Big Belly Momma Albert Smith   (A. Smith)
Rembert, SC 1997. Albert Smith; vocals, piano.

If You Dont Love Me, Would You Fool Me Good Precious Bryant (P. Bryant)
Stone Mountain, GA 1995. Precious Bryant; vocals, guitar.

Old Bill Big Boy Henry  (R. Henry)
Beaufort, NC 1994. Big Boy Henry; vocals. Michael Parrish; guitar. Tim Duffy; guitar.

President Clinton Blues Drink Small (D. Small)
Columbia, SC 1999. Drink Small; vocals, guitar.

Looking For My Woman JW Warren (trad. arr. by J.W. Warren)
Ariton, AL 1995. JW Warren; vocals, guitar.

What Can An Old Man Do (But Sing The Blues) Dr. Burt  (G. Burt)
Hillsborough, NC 2008. Grover Burt; vocals, guitar.

Greasy Greens George Higgs (trad. arr. by G. Higgs)
Farmville, NC 1998. George Higgs; vocals, harp.

Clickin Whistlin Britches (H. Thompson)
Hillsborough, NC 2005. Whistlin Britches; clickin.

Tim Duffy Is A Good Ol Guy Captain Luke and Cool John Ferguson (L. Mayer)
Hillsborough, NC 2014. Captain Luke; vocals. Cool John Ferguson; guitar.

Disc 2
Railroadin and Gamblin Samuel Turner Stevens (Uncle Dave Macon)
Asheville, NC 1994. Samuel Turner Stevens; vocals, fretless banjo.

Pigeon Dance Pura Fé (P.F. Crescioni, Tuscarican Music, ASCAP)
 Hillsborough, NC 2004. Pura Fé; vocals. Deer Clan Singers; vocals.

High Steppin Momma Clyde Langford  (C. Langford)
Midway, TX 2003. Clyde Langford; vocals, guitar.

Fred, You Ought To Be Dead James Davis  (J. Davis)
Perry, GA 1995. James Davis; guitar. Gilbert Henderson; drums.

Back In Business Beverly Guitar Watkins  (B. Watkins, Brand New Music, Ltd., Bug Music) Produced by Mike Vernon, Atlanta, GA 1998. Beverly Watkins; vocals, guitar. Carly Sonny Layland; piano.  Danny Dudeck; guitar. Joe Schwenke; bass. Chris Uhler; percussion. Jason Reichert; drums.

Sourwood Mountain Carolina Chocolate Drops  (trad. arr. by D. Flemons, J. Robinson, R. Giddens, Bring It Forward Music, ASCAP) Recorded by Jerry Brown, Chapel Hill, NC  2006. Dom Flemons; vocals, guitar. Rhiannon Giddens; vocals, banjo. Justin Robinson; vocals, fiddle.

Let No Woman Guitar Gabriel  (R. L. Jones)
Pittsburgh, PA 1970. Guitar Gabriel; vocals, guitar.

Snatch That Thing Macavine Hayes  (M. Hayes)
Winston-Salem, NC 1994. Macavine Hayes; vocals, guitar. Michael Parrish; piano. Ardie Dean; drums. Tim Duffy; guitar.

Cook Corn Bread For You Husband, Biscuits For Your Outside Man
Algia Mae Hinton (A.M. Hinton)
Middlesex, NC 1998. Algia Mae Hinton; vocals, guitar.

Peter Rumpkin Willa Mae Buckner  (trad arr. by W. M. Buckner)
Winston-Salem, NC 1994. Willa Mae Buckner; vocals. Timothy Duffy; guitar. Michael Parrish; piano.

Child Support Blues Adolphus Bell  (A. Bell)
Hillsborough, NC 2005. Adolphus Bell; vocals, guitar, hi hat, bass drum, harp.

Nothing But Your Butt Ironing Board Sam (S. Moore)
Huntsville, AL 2012. Produced by Ardie Dean. Ironing Board Sam; vocals, piano. Nashid Abdul; bass. Albert White; guitar. Ardie Dean; drums. Charlie Rose; trombone. Jim Horn; baritone sax. Chris West; tenor & alto sax. Steve Herman; trumpet.

Bentons Dream Benton Flippen (B. Flippen)
Hillsborough, NC 2003. Benton Flippen; fiddle. Roger Wilson; banjo. Andy Edmonds; guitar. Gene Hall; guitar.

Route 66 Eddie Tigner (Bobby Troup, © Control)
Recorded by Paul Linden, Atlanta, GA 2000. Eddie Tigner; vocals, piano, organ. Felix Reyes; guitar. Paul Linden; harmonica. Matt Sickles; acoustic bass. Ron Logsdon; drum.

My New Next Door Neighbor Jerry Boogie McCain  (J. McCain) Recorded by Ardie Dean, Vinemont, AL 2002. Jerry McCain; vocals, harp. Ardie Dean; drums. Greg Rowell; bass, acoustic guitar. Ralph Lusian; electric guitar, organ. Clay Swafford; piano.

Flossie Carl Hodges (C. Hodges)
Saluda, VA 1996. Carl Hodges; vocals, guitar.

Home on the Range W. C. Minger  IV (W.C. Minger IV)
Pinnacle, NC 1995. William C. Minger IV; vocals, guitar. Sam Duffy; mandolin, fiddle, vocals. Tim Duffy; guitar, slide guitar, bass, vocals.

Keep On Truckin Boo Hanks & Dom Flemons (trad. arr. by B. Hanks & D. Flemons) Buffalo Junction, VA Boo Hanks; guitar, vocals. Dom Flemons; guitar, vocals.

Old Black Buck Captain Luke & Cool John Ferguson  (L. Mayer) Pinnacle, NC 1999. Luther Mayer; vocals. Cool John Ferguson; guitar.

Manman Mwen Leyla McCalla (trad. arr. by L. McCalla)
Floyd, VA 2013. Recorded by Joe DeJarnette. Leyla McCalla; tenor banjo, vocals. Rhiannon Giddens; shaker, vocals.

Amazing Grace Cora Fluker  (trad. arr. by R.L. Jones) Recorded by Raphaël Evrard, Hillsborough, NC 2013. Lakota John Locklear; vocals, guitar. Big Papa John Locklear; harmonica.

Sing It Louder Cary Morin (C. Morin, Cary Morin Music, BMI) Hillsborough, NC 2010. Cary Morin; vocals, guitar. Peter Knudson; percussion.

All songs recorded by Timothy Duffy and published by (Lucky Guitar Music, ASCAP) except where noted. Music Maker Relief Foundation is a tax exempt, public charity under IRS code 501(c)3. All donations are tax deductible to the full extent allowed by law.

Guitar Gabriel was a blues philosopher and the inspiration for the creation of the Music Maker Relief Foundation. This is a rare recording of his 1970 hit.
Big Boy Henry from Beaufort, NC shares his keen observation of senseless sacrifice.
Etta Baker of Morganton, NC was among the finest Piedmont blues guitarists who ever lived.
Neal Pattman from Athens, GA lost one arm after it got stuck in a wagon wheel when he was a child. Neal came up hard, working, fighting, and playing the blues.
Essie Mae Brooks voice is pure and her lyrics are precise. She lives in a small house surrounded by hundreds of acres of cotton in rural GA.  
Captain Luke has a voice like honey dripping on hot chocolate. His vocal style flows deep from the great black river of music. He was best friends with Guitar Gabriel.
John Dee Holeman of Durham, NC is a direct link to the musicians surrounding the legendary Blind Boy Fuller.
Macavine Hayes was born in Marathon, FL and moved to Winston-Salem, NC in the 1960s where he performed in local drink houses.
Cootie Stark, Piedmont blues guitarist/singer, learned from his uncle Johnny Stark and Baby Tate. He spent decades traveling throughout the country playing on street corners.
Precious Bryant had a sparkle of light that shined deep into the heavens when she sang and played her guitar. She was a talented, haunted blues woman who wrote from real life. 
Algia Mae Hinton plays guitar and banjo in the old Carolina style that she learned from her mother. 

Carl Rutherford grew up working in the mines of War, WV, immersed in mountain music. As a young man he migrated to Bakersfield, CA, where he worked in the sawmills and for years performed in honky-tonks. He retired back home and devoted the rest of his life fighting to make a better life for his coal mining community.
John Lee Zeigler played the guitar left handed, picking the bass strings with his index finger and the treble strings with his thumb. His music has direct links to the music of West Africa. 
Willa Mae Buckner was a blues singer, performer, snake handler and carnival mainstay. She achieved her life-long dream and performed at Carnegie Hall in 1994. 
Drink Small, The Blues Doctor, of Columbia, SC has been performing and recording since the 1950s. He is a prolific song-writer and a guitarist extraordinaire.
Albert Smith taught piano and was a musical director in his small church deep in rural SC during his 80 plus years. 
Eddie Tigner of Atlanta, GA toured with the Ink Spots for 35 years and is still performing today at 86 years old.
JW Warren of Enterprise, AL dated Big Momma Thornton in his youth and was a country blues giant.
Carl Hodges of Saluda, VA dug wells by hand for a living and played the blues every Friday and Saturday night.
Cora Fluker of Marion, MS was a preacher and an itinerant musician.
Mr. Q of Winston-Salem, NC moved to Harlem in the early 1930s; he made his living in piano bars and was an original hep cat”.
Pura Fé is a Tuscarora Indian who has dedicated her life to bringing light to issues facing indigenous peoples.
Benton Flippen of Mt. Airy, NC lived to the age of 91, performing at square dances up to a few weeks before his passing.
Elder James & Mother Pauline Goins of Ridgeway, SC performed a very early style of gospel music. 
Adolphus Bell of Birmingham, AL proclaimed himself the Worlds Greatest One Man Band.
Elder Anderson Johnson first recorded this song in the 1950s. He was a well-known folk artist and preacher.
WhistlinBritches had an amazing spirit and exuded utter joy every waking moment.
Taj Mahal will tell you, "Cool John Ferguson is among the five greatest guitarists he has ever heard.
Dr. Burt studied nonviolence with Coretta Scott King and marched for equal rights on the streets of his hometown, Birmingham, AL and Detroit, MI.
George Higgs of Speed, NC was a remarkable singer and harp blower.
Samuel Turner Stevens was a musician who sang old folk songs and played fiddle, guitar, mandolin and piano. He made beautiful fretless banjos, fiddles, guitars, and mandolins.
Beverly GuitarWatkins started playing guitar behind her uncle, Piano Red, when she was a senior in high school. At age 74, she continues to blow away crowds with her screaming guitar and stage acrobatics.
Ironing Board Sam is the Ninth of Wonder of the World of Music. In the 1970s he performed from a hot air balloon 100 feet above Jackson Square in New Orleans.
James Davis was a sawmill worker and played DRUMBEAT every Saturday night since a child.
Boo Hanks learned guitar from his father. He worked as a tobacco farmer for most of his life, and made his first recording at the age of 79. 
Jerry BoogieMcCain earned his nickname Boogiefrom playing on street corners in his hometown of Gadsden, AL.
Taj Mahal is a Grammy Award-winning blues musician. He is a long time supporter of Music Makers mission and has befriended and played with many Music Maker artists.
W.C. Minger IV worked as a fruit tramp and migrant worker. He played guitar, wrote songs and sang at hobo camps throughout the Great Northwest.
Clyde Langford, from Centerville, TX, learned to play guitar from Joel ThunderHopkins, LightninHopkinsolder brother, when he was 13 years old. He remained close with the two brothers, to whom Clyde is related.
The Carolina Chocolate Drops revitalized and reintroduced the black string-band tradition to a new generation of American youth.
Leyla McCalla, who lives in New Orleans, is a cellist, singer and songwriter born to Haitian emigrant parents.
Cary Morin brings together the great musical traditions of America and beyond.
Disc 1
1/ Captain Luke/ Freight Train Boogie
2/ Guitar Gabriel/ A Living Past
3/ Etta Baker/ Railroad Bill
4/ John Lee Zeigler/ Going Away
5/ Cootie Stark/ High Yellow
6/ John Dee Holeman/ Chapel Hill Boogie
7/ Neal Pattman/ Shortnin Bread
8/ Carl Rutherford/ Old Rugged Cross
9/ Cool John Ferguson/ No Hidin Place
10/ Essie Mae Brooks/ Feel Like My Time Aint Long
11/ Mother Pauline and Elder James Goins/ Old Time Religion
12/ Elder Anderson Johnson/ My Lord and I
13/ Mr Q/ Cocktail Boogie
14/ Albert Smith/ Big Belly Mamma
15/ Precious Bryant/ If You Dont Love Me, Would You Fool Me Good
16/ Big Boy Henry/ Old Bill
17/ Drink Small/ President Clinton Blues
18/ JW Warren/ Looking For My Woman
19/ Dr. Burt/ What Can An Old Man Do (But Sing the Blues)
20/ George Higgs/ Greasy Greens
21/ Whistlin Britches/ Clickin
22/ Captain Luke and Cool John Ferguson/Tim Duffy Is A Good Ol Guy
Disc 2
1/ Samuel Turner Stevens/ Railroadin & Gamblin
2/ Pura Fé/ Pigeon Dance
3/ Clyde Langford/ High Steppin Mamma
4/ James Davis/ Fred, You Ought To Be Dead
5/ Beverly Guitar Watkins/ Back In Business
6/ Carolina Chocolate Drops/ Sourwood Mountain
7/ Guitar Gabriel/ Let No Woman
8/ Macavine Hayes/ Snatch That Thing
9/ Algia Mae Hinton/ Cook Corn Bread For You Husband, Biscuits For Your Outside Man
10/ Willa Mae Buckner/ Peter Rumpkin
11/ Adolphus Bell/ Child Support Blues
12/ Ironing Board Sam/ Nothing But Your Butt
13) Benton Flippen/ Bentons Dream
14/ Eddie Tigner/ Route 66
15/ Jerry Boogie McCain/ My New Next Door Neighbor
16/ Carl Hodges/ Flossie
17/ W.C. Minger IV/ Home On The Range
18/ Boo Hanks and Dom Flemons/ Keep On Truckin
19/ Captain Luke and Cool John Ferguson/ Old Black Buck
20/ Leyla McCalla/ Manman Mwen
21/ Cora Fluker/ Amazing Grace
22/ Cary Morin/ Sing It Louder

Dom Flemons clips

USA Today Online LP Stream & Feature (July 15, 2014)

New Yorker illustration (on stands August 5, 2014):

Wednesday, July 9, 2014




Sugar Ray & The Bluetones – the storied blues ensemble which has backed Otis Rush, Jimmy Rogers, Joe Turner, Roosevelt Sykes, Big Walter Horton, Big Mama Thornton, and JB Hutto – marks its 35th anniversary and sixth album for Severn Records with the August 19 release ‘Living Tear To Tear.’ The hard-swinging band fully absorbed the lessons learned from those Chicago blues masters, making it one of New England’s most beloved blues institutions. The Boston Phoenix said of its frontman, "A fixture on the national blues scene[, Sugar Ray] Norcia's elegant, emotive voice is his calling card [alongside his] rich, melodic harmonica blowing."

Sugar Ray & The Bluetones have an incredible history, from early tours with Big Walter Horton; collaborations with Ronnie Earl; backing legendary artists in Cambridge and on tour; being invited for a residency at Chicago’s legendary south side juke joint Theresa’s, musical home of Junior Wells (though they had to decline due to other commitments); and earning five Blues Music Awards nominations for their last album ‘Evening’ including Band of the Year and Album of the Year.

‘Living Tear To Tear’ promises to be even bigger, coming on the heels of an eventful year that saw the blues world take notice of Sugar Ray & The Bluetones. Norcia was nominated for a GRAMMY and won two Blues Music Awards for his singing and harmonica on the album ‘Remembering Little Walter,’ his third nomination.

Tightly-knit after decades of performances together, Sugar Ray & The Bluetones feature four strong songwriters who penned ten of the album’s twelve tracks: Norcia, guitarist Monster Mike Welch, bassist Mudcat Ward, and pianist Anthony Geraci. ‘Living Tear To Tear’ delivers a breath-of-fresh-air set including the hard-driving roadhouse music of “Rat Trap,” the gritty, South Side-style “Things Could Be Worse,” the taste of Memphis on “Short Ribs,” the stinging slow blues of “Misery,” Louisiana swamp pop on “Our Story,” the expertly done Sonny Boy Williamson II cover “99,” and the tongue-in-cheek, jazzy “Hungry But Happy.”

Kim Wilson said, “Sugar Ray is the real deal.” Norcia fronted Roomful of Blues for the better part of the ’90s. Along with Ward and Geraci, he earned a GRAMMY nomination for ‘Superharps,’ which put his musicianship alongside that of Charlie Musselwhite, Billy Branch, and James Cotton. ‘Living Tear To Tear’ marks his 17th album as a leader. All Music Guide raved, “Aside from his stellar harp work, Norcia is an excellent singer, and at his best, brings a touch of country and jazz to the blues.” For The Boston Globe, Steve Morse wrote, “Sugar Ray’s voice combines the roadhouse grit of Muddy Waters with a lonesome desperation all his own. Sugar Ray gets so down and out that he makes your skin crawl. He has an ability to convey pain as few bluesmen of his generation can.”

Mudcat Ward has been heard on over fifty albums, including Hubert Sumlin’s  GRAMMY-nominated ‘About Them Shoes,’ which also featured Keith Richards and Levon Helm. He's contributed both acoustic and Fender bass in live performance with Jr. Wells, Buddy Guy, Memphis Slim, James Cotton, Lowell Fulson, Otis Rush, Big Mama Thornton, and many more.

The band’s junior member, Monster Mike Welch began his recording career as a blues guitarist at thirteen years of age and has seen the depth of feeling in his playing grow exponentially over the ensuing two decades as he’s played with individual members of the Bluetones. He has joined the likes of Junior Wells, Johnny Copeland, Joe Walsh, Susan Tedeschi, James Cotton, and Johnny Winter on stage and is featured prominently on last year’s ‘Independently Blue’ with Duke Robillard.

Anthony Geraci is one of the finest blues pianists working today, having graced performances with B.B. King, Otis Rush, and Chuck Berry, and played at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Drummer Neil Gouvin’s many credits include albums by Ronnie Earl & The Broadcasters, John Hammond, Jr., and Luther Allison.

Sugar Ray & The Bluetones Summer Tour Dates:

July 12 – Ottawa, Canada – Ottawa Blues Festival
July 13 – Toronto, Canada – Waterfront Festival
July 15 - St Louis, MO - BB's Jazz Blues & Soups
July 16 - Okoboji, Iowa - Pearson Lakes Art Center
July 17 - Decatur, IL - Summer Blues in Central Park
July 18 - Chicago, IL - Buddy Guy’s Legends
July 19 – Pittsburgh, PA Thunderbird Cafe
July 26 - Boston, MA - Save The Harbor Boston Boat Cruise
July 30 - Westerly, RI - Blues On The Beach
August 9 – Gloucester, MA - Gloucester Blues Festival, Fort Stage Park
August 24 – Marshfield, MA – Marshfield Fair

Monday, July 7, 2014




Grace Askew – the fast-rising Americana singer – has announced a run of tour dates marking the release of ‘Scaredy Cat’ (August 11). Rolling Stone recently ran a Q&A with Askew, talking about growing up in Memphis, recording at Sun, singing on The Voice (NBC) for Team Blake Shelton, opening up for Americana legends, songwriting, and touring in her pickup truck.

Grace Askew Tour Dates:

July 25 – Memphis, TN (with Jimbo Mathus) - Lounge 1884 at Minglewood Hall –
August 1 – Nashville, TN – Soulshine
August 7 – San Francisco, CA – 50 Mason Social Club
August 9 – Los Angeles, CA – Hotel Café
August 10 – Los Angeles, CA – Silverlake Lounge

Yahoo! Music previous called Askew “smoldering and searing… the girl with the badass beehive, boots made for walkin', and velvet 'n' sandpaper vocals who would've been right at home on Jack White's Third Man Records roster."

Daytrotter raved about "her extraordinary voice," saying, "Mark our words, Memphis' Grace Askew will be the best thing to ever come out of 'The Voice…' Askew has officially taped one of the finest Daytrotter sessions of all-time. Just listen. She makes us believe in the beauty of hurt and the elixir of booze."