BLOGGING AND VLOGGING FROM CANADA'S BEST KNOWN UNDISCOVERED OLD WHITE BLUESMAN

Friday, February 25, 2000

Sugar Ray, Bill & Sue

The Silver Dollar - Sugar Ray Norcia wowed Toronto again with a performance that featured his great harp playing and a very natural vocal style. Last summer's appearance at the Dollar resulted in an on-the-spot booking at the Beaches Jazz festival. I saw both performances and was knocked out by his machine-gun delivery of one song after another, usually starting the next song with a harp intro before the applause had died down. This approach didn't work as well with this new band, as the bass player scrambled to switch between string bass and electric or when guitar player Kid Bangham was caught leaning off to the side of the stage to have his king-size cigarette lit by his number one fan, Mary Schultis.
Before the set at the Dollar, I was around the corner at the Free Times Cafe listening to Bill Garrett and Sue-Ellen Lothrop with the legendary Curly Boy Stubbs. I got to hear one of my tunes, The Big Fire, performed by Sue and what a treat it was to see her performing again. She has a unique timbre to her voice and it hasn't changed in thirty years. We grew up on the same street in Sherbrooke, Quebec. Her brother married my sister. And she teamed up with Allan Fraser (pre-Fraser & DeBolt) in the 60's in a folk duo called "Breakfast" and I was their manager. We used to do some recording after-hours in the pioneer Hallmark Studios (at the time they had the first and only 1-inch 8-track recorder in Canada). Here's an old promo pic of Breakfast from 1968 or 69: