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by GFats on December 29, 2013



Delta Groove Productions – B00DSAUJ4G


Review by The Bluebird


“Good Morning Mr. Blues, give me your right hand … ”

Solo record, “Dangerous” by Mannish Boys’ Sugaray Raymond, is chock full of standard blues tones, Muddy Waters vocal style and reliable harp wailing, alongside expertly bent notes. A mix of classic and contemporary ranges, which span the historic Son House and reach to include Raymond’s original works, this is a record that can speak a happy jive to a wide variety of blues fans.

The line-ups of both the recording artists and the touring band are impressive, and the combinations of musicians who gather to support Suga validates his award winning talent. Special guests on the production of Dangerous include: Kim Wilson, Sugar Ray Norcia, Big Pete, Kid Andersen, Monster Mike Welch, Gino Matteo, Franck Goldwasser, Fred Kaplan, Anthony Geraci, Bill Stuve, Willie J. Campbell and Jimi Bott.

The hidden gem in all of this, however, is Mr. Rayford’s soul. Not only his Memphis Stax vocal power, which echoes James Brown, Otis Redding and Teddy Pendergrass, but his caliber of strength, dignity and resilience as a human being. Listen to his record cold, just put it on and kick back. Then read through his website and absorb the ‘story’ behind the words to the songs Rayford wrote. Once you know his character, take that all in and listen to the record again. Go for a ride with “Dangerous” on your car music player. The words and sharp arrangements on the record are so transparent, they are a window to his courage.[1]

Texas born and raised, Sugaray knows real life blues and the inspiration required to celebrate the spirit within them. He started his music career at age seven. Playing drums in his church during gospel sessions, the boy overcame incredible loss and poverty through music, family and faith.

His official website tells his childhood story:

“He remembered a sad game he played with his brothers, a competition that determined who was skinniest by counting the number of belt holes left unused. His mother struggled to raise three boys alone while battling cancer. When she died, it was a kind of relief. “She suffered and we suffered,” Rayford said. “Then, we moved in with my grandmother and our lives were a lot better. We ate every day and we were in church every day, which I loved. I grew up in gospel and soul.”


Dangerous/Delta Groove Music/Released September 17th, 2013.

Produced by Randy Chortkoff and Jeff Fleenor.

Engineered and Mixed by David Z.

Dangerous/Track List (Song Credit):

Country Boy (R. Norcia) –

Understand this now to avoid confusion later. There are two, I say two, “Sugar Ray” performers on this record. Sugaray Rayford and Sugar Ray Norcia. Norica does a great deal of writing too, as he fires up his harp. But another thing to note is that there are three, I say three, harmonica players who have contributed to this record: Big Pete, Randy Chortkoff, and Sugar Ray Norica. Chortkoff is executive producer and mixes as well. The dedication to this album can be seen in the overlapping credits and heard in how the arrangements are wound up tight.

Stuck for a Buck (R. Rayford, R, Carter) –

This was one of my favorite songs on the record. An original by Rayford, it blasts from the past with some James Brown style brass. Ron Dziubla and Mark Pender arrange the horns for the record, keeping their tenor sax and baritone trumpet in the forefront of some pieces, to add a classic soul vibe to these blues tunes. I can only imagine how seeing this live would get good people out of their seats into some Saturday night swing. Gino Matteo picks up the lead guitar, with Willie Campbell on bass. The whole song is pulled together with bring it on home organ by Fred Kaplan. Love transition right before the bridge mid-song, it is so flexible, you’re gonna look around for the rubber band man.

I’m Dangerous (R. Chortkoff) –

Chortkoff penned this title track, which hides appropriately as the third song on the record. Monster Mike Welch takes on the rhythm guitar with fierce ups and downs to take the listener through the winding curves that are highlighted by Sugar Ray Norcia’s lead harp. The only critique of this song is that Sugaray Rayford has such a warm vocal presence, he doesn’t sound ‘dangerous’ at all. He brings forth a welcoming atmosphere and his bad boy stance is something that makes you want to smile.

Two Times Sugar (R. Norcia) –

Just in case you slept through my first song intro, these men wrote a song that cleverly notes the two Sugarmen introducing themselves to each other and having a fun song conversation. Great track, another one of my favorites!

When It Rains It Pours (C. Crayton) –

Original by Pee Wee Crayton.

This song, literally, sounds like rain when it opens. It is a cold November day as I listen, and the jazz shake, that Jimi Bott creates with his drums and percussion, comes through this track is very relaxing and reflective of the season. Franck Goldwasser takes on the lead guitar, which is perfectly tempered to the simmering stream of blue that evolves from this great ballad. Bill Stuve brings on the big bubbling bass, that is highlighted by Kaplan’s twinkling piano. The horns round out the sound for an expert take on a jazz inspired song that mirrors some of Rayford’s core blues narratives, in an elegant and powerful piece.

Pretty Fine Mama (R. Chortkoff, T. Leavy) –

Chortkoff takes on the lead harp mid-song in this fun and fast moving track, but it’s the opening hook that gets you right from the start. A gidde-up gallop of beats and bass from Goldwasser and Campbell keep the rhythm going and the song is a party in a box. Geraci on piano gives it an old road house feel. Rayford provides some texture to the set with his vocals, which range from straightforward to gruff, while Bott keeps up the pace with a great foundation on his drums.

Depression Blues (C. Brown) –

Written by Gatemouth Brown.

Celebrating the struggles of relationships and life’s everyday strife, yeah, celebrating blues, that’s what Suga is all about, and it comes through in this song. Even when you think you’ve got it all together, you too may end up in the soup line. Life is unpredictable, but one thing that’s for sure is Rayford’s consistent voice and solid guidance in soul infused style.

Goin’ Back to Texas (R. Chortkoff) –

Kim Wilson makes his debut on the record with the autobiographical song written by Chortkoff, which depicts Rayford’s life and travels. The longest track on the album, it’s a tribute to Sugaray as he opens up to the audience and lets loose with fire and might, controlled only by the slower pace of the song, with some expert grooves by Geraci and Campbell on bass and Monster Mike on rhythm guitar. One thing I listen for is whether or not master musicians show off, or play within the framework of what’s best for the song. This record is stocked with more talent than ego. Bravo, but hey, we ain’t done yet.

I Might Do Somethin’ Crazy (R. Rayford, C. Carter) –

I was waiting to hear another one of Rayford’s original works come through here and this one did not disappoint. His sense of humor, use of metaphor and great sense of rebel freedom takes you up on yonder’s wall and back again.

In the Dark (H. Parker, D. Robey) –

Written by Junior Parker, this “post war gem” shines bright to keep the foundation of the blues alive. Riding high in the top ten on the R&B charts in 1971, the original is all about smooth vocals and horns. Suga’s version is well done, honest to his deeper voice and consistent. It’s straight shooting steady, as Rayford makes it his own and still respects the source.

Surrendered (R. Chortkoff) –

This long running ballad is as prolific as it’s meditative. Suga offers advice and his life experience has earned him the respect to do so.

“The victory is yours, when you surrender …”

“All you fears are gone, the knock out punch returns … ”

Need a Little More Time (R. Rayford, R. Carter) –

A clever clip with some deep Delta grooves indeed. Suga calls out to Franck Goldwasser’s National Steel guitar, which makes such a sweet riding sound. The back ground sticking is charming and makes you want to pour some icy cold lemonade on the porch. With Chortkoff running the harp, all you need is a jug and some dust to kick up the whole scene.

Keep Her at Home (F. Goldwasser) –

Penned by the lead guitarist, Franck Goldwasser, this is a contemporary take on a some world boogie. Big Pete’s contribution here is a slam dunk on the harp, which cuts like scissors through the thick blues grooves.

Preaching Blues (E. House) –

The legendary Son House is echoed, and the spare opening guitar is so comforting and welcoming! The pace quickens and Rayford finds his voice, tells his story and brings the listener to another level of connection and respect. “Blues comes a runnin’ takes me from tree to tree …” The guitar pickin’ is right on time and sets up a clap along gospel beat, but Rayford is strict about keeping the gospel only in church, so he flattens it out by “Preaching Blues.”

Known by fans in the LA area as ‘Suga,’ his journey through music covered R&B funk with the Urban Gypsys, sharing the stage with the Average White Band, Dennis Quaid, Joe Luis Walker, and Kal David, among others. A bluesman at heart, he eventually left the Urban Gypsys to lead vocals for Aunt Kizzy’s Boyz in the Temecula area, drawing huge crowds, winning international blues awards, and landing an RBC Records contract because of Sugaray’s gift of connection with the crowd.


Suga is now in Los Angeles and hosted Cozy’s blues jam in Sherman Oaks. Through the world class musicians he met at this venue, his solo career has skyrocketed. Delta Groove management signed him on as the lead vocalist for the Mannish Boys in 2011. He has contributed to countless productions in many media settings and continues to do so.

[1] “Sugaray – Sugaray Blues.” 2009. 20 Nov. 2013 <>

[2] “Sugaray – Sugaray Blues.” 2009. 20 Nov. 2013 <>

[3] “Sugaray – Sugaray Blues.” 2009. 20 Nov. 2013 <>

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