Peter Ward review…October 27, 2017….

PETER WARD

BLUES ON MY SHOULDERS

GANDY DANCER RECORDS

SHE TOOK IT ALL–WHICH HAZEL–BLUES ON MY SHOULDERS–COLLABORATE–SHIPROCK–WHAT CAN I DO TO YOU–IT’S ON ME–SOUTHPAW–A LITTLE MORE–ON THE ROPES–COLLETTA–KANSAS CITY BLUES–DRUMMIN’ WILLIE

Growing up in Lewiston, Maine, guitarist Peter “Hi-Fi” Ward, and his bass-playing brother, Michael “Mudcat” Ward, absorbed all the blues recordings they could find, learning the licks and chord structures that would serve them thru a lifetime of music.  Peter often sat in with Ronnie Earl, and later toured with the Legendary Blues Band of Pinetop, Fuzz Jones,  Jerry Portnoy, and the backbeat of it all, Willie Smith.  They instilled in Peter an unhurried appreciation for the blues, as well as giving him some life experiences that could never be equaled.  Those influences are all over his latest for Gandy Dancer Records, “Blues On My Shoulders.”  Many of Peter’s old friends drop by for this party, including Monster Mike Welch, Sax Gordon Beadle, Ronnie Earl, Sugar Ray Norcia, Anthony Geraci, Neal Gouvin, and brother Michael.

The twelve original songs and one cover on this set capture the feeling Peter and Michael undoubtedly had during their formative  years listening to their heroes, and several styles are represented.  The set starts with a humorous ode to a lover who departed, and, sho’ nuff, “She Took It All,” even down to “my records, my CD’s, and my MP3’s!”  Sugar Ray lays down some cool harp, too.  Sugar takes the lead vocal on the jazzy “Collaborate,” with Gordon on sax, and features virtually every possible combination of words that rhyme with the song’s title.  “Shiprock” is a pastoral instrumental done in tribute to a region in Navajo country that Peter and his wife visited prior to her untimely passing from breast cancer in 2002.  Another jazzy instrumental is dedicated to swing guitarist Dickie Thompson, and is entitled “Southpaw.”  It features some mighty fine B-3 work from Rusty Scott, too.

We had two favorites, too.  Peter always enjoyed the music of Chuck Berry, and pays the ol’ duck-walker a nice tribute with the clever tale of twin sisters with the same first name but vastly different agendas, begging the musical question, “Which Hazel should I choose?”  And, Peter closes the set with the deep, slow-blues story of one of the greatest blues drummers ever, “Drummin’ Willie.”  This one details Peter’s time spent with Willie “Big Eyes” Smith and the other members of the Legendary Blues Band, sung from the heart of a man who obviously had a lot of fun during this time in his life.

Peter “Hi-Fi” Ward has been concentrating on his songwriting of late, and the results are in the fine material that makes up “Blues On My Shoulders.” Add in excellent musicianship from all the players, and this is one fine collection, indeed!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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