Swedish Review of Monsteras Blues Festival


90-year old veteran transmitting the deepest essence of the blues.

The man on the stage performing great piano and wonderful song is 90 years old. He was fighting in the Pacific Ocean in WW 2 and has been a recording artist since the early 50s, the golden age of the Chicago blues. Henry Gray has appeared with most of the giants of the blues – Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf, Little Walter just to mention a few – on the stage and as a studio-musician at the legendary Chess Records. You can’t miss the respect his band gives him, and this is not only because of his impressive age. When you hear Henry Gray sing and play, you can hear the essence of big city blues, so genuine and great that you almost wonder why others even try.

But he also has a formidable band, giants that a few hours earlier, performed a acclaimed set of their own. The stylish, smiling Bob Corritore,  like a nightclub owner in a Martin Scorsese movie, a formidable harmonica player. Junior Watson, with a shawed head and a beard, like if somebody placed a black sheep on his face, an inspired and totaly unpredictable guitarist. The coolest cat in town, Fred Kaplan, a master on piano and organ. Together with a bass player and drummer that can not be better. In short terms, the perfect band!

But what distinguishes them, what the best musicians do, is how they listen. These super musicians listen to each other at all times. They have the control of the overall picture, and step forward in perfect time, to create a unity that fits together as a perfect total band sound. Nobody trys to eclipse the others, these musicians support each other and have fun while they doing it. What a ball. It’s a fantastic experience where even well-worn songs like Dust My Brom and Sweet Home Chicago, sounds like you are listening to them for the first time in your life.

An electrical bull’s-eye.
If you could pack al electrical energy consumed in Mönsterås into one person’s body and let that man be on a stage and perform blues, you would get Sugaray Rayford. This multiiple nominated artist from The USA is an absoulute bull’s-eye. Blues songs are often about heart and pain, and Sugaray performs them as if his life was depending on it..This leaves no one untouched. The audience loves it from the beginning. The pro Bob Corritore on harmonica, takes it to even a higher level. Close to midnight the festivals oldest participant appears, Henry Gray 90, Joins the band on stage to play piano. This brings the music up to an even further level. Sugaray Rayford and his band get the highest points.
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