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May 2015

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Sugaray Rayford
Nimoy Sue Records

Sugaray Rayford

I recently had a Facebook conversation with Sugaray Rayford, in regards to his new record, Southside. I’ve known Sugaray since his days with Aunt Kizzy’s Boyz out of San Diego, to his rise today as the front man for his own band and the Mannish Boys. He’s currently nominated for a number of Blues Music Awards and I’m looking forward to seeing him  in Memphis. I indicated to Sugaray that I’d just received his new disc in the mail and he told me, “Enjoy it, you have my soul in your hands.” The soul of Sugaray is very fine indeed, let’s hit play and give Southside a spin.

Sugaray and the band open up with “Southside of Town,” and I hear the presence of Gary Bivona on trumpet and Alan Walker’s sax complimented by the fine keyboard work of Leo Dombecki and a light tough on the drums from Lavell Jones. Sugaray’s telling us all about the south side of town and the wonders that can be found there. “Come gather around…the band is in your town…we’ve come to play for you…yeah, what we came to do now…if you want to have a good time…make your way to the south side of town.” Sugaray and the band have it going on and the party’s definitely on the “south side of town.”

Ralph Carter’s bass is in the intro with Gino Matteo executing his fine fretwork as Sugaray tells us about a devil woman in his life, “Miss Thang.” “She’s shaking them big old hips…Lord, they made a believer out of me…Miss Thang….Miss Thang…don’t need no apology.” You can tell by Gino’s extended solo that Sugaray is enjoying himself and he’s definitely not apologizing for being out with Miss Thang. I think it’s best to let the temperature die down just a bit and we’ll move on to “Live to Love Again.” A tale of the rites of passage, here we find Sugaray lamenting an old love in his life when he was a much different man. “If I live to love again…I’ll do it different…next time…If I live to love again…I’ll be a better man…next time.” Sugaray took her love for granted…didn’t treat her right and he’s living with the mistakes he made back the, because they definitely cost him the love of a good woman.

Sugaray’s from Texas and he isn’t bashful in telling us all about it in the next cut on his disc, “Texas Bluesman.” I’m continuing to appreciate Gino’s fretwork as Sugaray sings to us, “Six foot five…300 pounds…sexy as you, baby…that’s how I get around…got a Black Cadillac…you’re messing with a Texas Bluesman, baby…anything goes.” Sugaray came all the way from Texas to sing his blues for us, and he’s doing a mighty fine job of doing just that. “Take it to the Bank” is up next and Sugaray starts out talking about fried chicken and love. Bob Corritore brings his harp to the mix as Sugaray begins to lay it down. “People always talking…about the economy of love…all the best investments…ain’t nothing but a bust…you’ve taken some losses…and it’s hard for you to trust…but a man like me has what you need…my love is guaranteed woman…you can take it to the bank.” Bob’s mournful harp adds just the right touch to Sugaray’s declaration of the worthiness of investing in his love…”my love is a good as gold, baby…you can take it to the bank.” Sugaray is everything he’s advertising and this might be the best investment she ever makes.

“Call off the Mission” is up next and it’s a stark contrast to the playfulness of “Take it to the Bank.” Here Sugaray is surveying the happenings in the world and dealing with the depressing news he’s watching on the TV. “Call up the mission…call up the strike…we’re in no position…to say what’s wrong or right.” We really only have two choices in the world…take it or do something about it. Sugaray’s a doer and he’s ready to take action on the causes near to his heart. Things lighten up again with Sugaray’s laugh in the background as he tackles “All I Think About.” Sugaray’s got loving on his mind and that’s all he can think about. “All I can think about…is knocking about the room…the way you scream and shout…sends me to the moon.” Sugaray’s seriously addicted to the good loving he’s been getting and there’s nothing wrong with that.

The tempo of “Take Away These Blues” brings us back to reality and the darker side of things as Sugaray tells us, “I can still hear the rain…from the day you went away…the sounds of your footsteps…as they slowly fade…I sat helplessly…there was nothing I could do…I watched everything I cared about…walking out with you.” Now it seems the only thing that will cure Sugaray’s pain is for her to “please come back…and take away these blues.” I don’t think she’s coming back and Sugaray will have to slowly learn to love again, though it won’t be any time soon.

Ralph Carter’s bass is back in my ears as he and Lavell Jones set the back end for our final cut, “Slow Motion”. Here we find Sugaray back in love and wanting to share that knowledge with everyone. “Slow down mama…let me take my time…to squeeze and tease...hold your body close to mine…if you rub my back….I’ll rub yours…I’ll bring the lotion, baby…and rub you in slow motion.” With her, Sugaray really only has one wish, “to spend a day in eternity with you, mama…in slow motion.”

Southside definitely represents a change of pace for this Bluesman from Texas by presenting a more soulful side of Sugaray Rayford. I, for one, would love to hear more songs in this vein from Sugaray. There’s a reason why he’s currently nominated for Entertainer of the Year, and this release simply adds another impressive dimension to an evolving artist at the top of his game.

Sugaray and the band are eager to hit the road, so catch them live this summer and enjoy. To find out where, take a look at the band’s schedule at, and order a copy of Southside while you’re there. I wouldn’t wait to see Sugaray live to get a copy of his new disc, and neither should you.

--- Kyle Deibler


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