Sugar Ray & the Bluetones have set an October 18 release date for their new album called Evening.
Evening is the band's fifth album for Severn and first release since My Life, My Friends, My Music in 2007, which was nominated for Blues Music Awards as "Album of the Year," "Instrumentalist Harmonica," "Instrumentalist Bass Player" and "Song of the Year" (for "Last Words of a Fool"). Joining Sugar Ray Norcia (vocals, harmonica) are guitarist "Monster" Mike Welch, drummer Neil Gouvin, bassist Michael "Mudcat" Ward and pianist Anthony Geraci.
"We approached this one like Hank Williams made records," says Norcia about the sessions. "I went in with my lyrics, just rough sketches of the songs and the great musicians in the Bluetones, who always play something exciting. This album's mostly original and in the Chicago blues vein. Last time, I used a full horn section, so My Life, My Friends, My Music was more jump blues-oriented. For this one, I wanted to keep things spare and gritty."
True to his word, Sugar Ray and the band keep things direct and sizzling on the new CD's dozen songs, including nine originals, plus covers of Johnny Young's "I'm Having a Ball" (the blazing opener), Otis Rush's "You Know My Love" and the title track, which has been recorded by T-Bone Walker and Jimmy Rushing, among others.
Evening also demonstrates Norcia's penchant for writing songs that hit the gut on a visceral level, while at the same time keeping things loose and in a party atmosphere. "I aim to sing numbers that have good melodies and arrangements and entertain people," he explains. "Part of that is writing lyrics that might make them smile. My dad, who was a great entertainer, would play unbelievable harmonica, sing and be the life of the party. I always aspire to that."
A good illustration of that technique can be found in his "Too Many Rules and Regulations," a song that would have been right at home being sung by Sonny Boy Williamson.
Sugar Ray & the Bluetones will tour throughout North America in support of Evening.
9/3 Chan's Woonsocket, RI
9/15 Lozano's Grill Stockton, CA
9/16 Biscuits & Blues San Francisco, CA
9/17 Delta Blues Festival Antioch, CA
9/18 Moe's Alley Santa Cruz, CA
9/22 The Triad New York, NY
10/8 Knickerbocker Café Westerly, RI