Sugaray Rayford review….September 20, 2013…

SUGARAY RAYFORD

DANGEROUS

DELTA GROOVE  DGPCD 161

COUNTRY BOY–STUCK FOR A BUCK–I’M DANGEROUS–TWO TIMES SUGAR–WHEN IT RAINS IT POURS–PRETTY FINE MAMA–DEPRESSION BLUES–GOIN BACK TO TEXAS–I MIGHT DO SOMETHIN CRAZY–IN THE DARK–SURRENDERED–NEED A LITTLE MORE TIME–KEEP HER AT HOME–PREACHING BLUES

In just a few short years, Sugaray Rayford has carved himself quite a niche’ in contemporary blues.  The big-voiced singer has already appeared on the Mannish Boys’ “Double Dynamite” CD, as well as a release under his own name.  His latest, for the Delta Groove label, is “Dangerous,” and over the course of these fourteen tracks, this one shows just how versatile the big man from Texas really is.

This set branches out with several variations on the blues theme, and Sugaray, whose background was in the church where he sang as a young man, handles every song with equal aplomb.  There are some mighty fine backing players along for the ride, to which we’ll aluude later.

The set kicks off with the Chicago-style blues of “Country Boy,” featuring the other most famous Sugar Ray, (who’s not a boxer, anyways!), Norcia, on harp on this cool shuffle.  Mr. Norcia wrote a duet for the two of ’em,  and they both get a chance to strut their stuff on “Two Times Sugar,” with Monster Mike Welch on guitar.  Sugaray shines on the full-band numbers such as the West-Coast -styled arrangements of Gatemouth’s “Depression Blues,” and his own original tale of “one step forward and two steps back,” “Stuck For A Buck,” this one with Gino Matteo on lead guitar.

Sugaray does not disappoint his Delta-blues fans, either.  Franck Goldwasser and Monster Mike swap licks over Randy Chortkoff’s harp as Sugaray sings the Hill-country blues of “Real Fine Mama,” and closes the set with the sanctified boogie of Son House’s “Prreaching Blues,” again with Mr. Goldwasser on slide, with Sugaray bringing the fire and fervor of his upbringing on the vocal.

With such a great array of material, favorites were hard to choose, but we settled on two.  The gentle, walkin-blues lope of “Goin’ Back To Texas” has Sugaray describing his homecoming, by way of West Memphis and California, with Kim Wilson on harp.  And, he lets it all hang out on the stop-time ruckus of the title cut, where he “wrestles a lion” and”makes love to a grizzly bear” to prove how “Dangerous” he really is!

No matter what the material, style, or occasion, Sugaray Rayford’s explosive voice can fill the bill.  With “Dangerous,” the big man has proved he’s here to stay  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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