Nimoy "Sugaray" Rayford (born February 13, 1969) was born in Smith
County, Texas, United States, and sang at the age of seven in the
Bethel Temple Church of God In Christ in Tyler, Texas.
with Aunt Kizzy's Boyz
"Trunk Full Of Bluez" (SugarKing 2004)
1 Jelly Roll
*** There's plenty of adequate blues bar bands on the West Coast but how many of them got a shot at the next level? Alls I know for certain is that California-based Aunt Kizzy's Boyz is one of them. I've heard a lot of hot shot guitarists and tight rhythm sections at pubs, clubs, festivals, weddings, Bar Mitzvah's (okay, maybe not) but if you ain't got a great singer you ain't got this critic's ear. Well, the Boyz got themselves a serious blues-shouter who goes by the name Sugaray Rayford. Hailing from Tyler Texas, Sugaray possesses one of those powerful ,gospel-soaked voices that can take the meekest of songs and improve it. He and his mates start their debut disc, "Trunk Full Of Bluez", on the good foot with a ripping 12-bar blues shuffle called "Jelly Roll". Sugaray comes-a-wailing' and guitarist Jim King shreds mightily over the racing groove, courtesy of bassist Joe Sciavone and drummer Duane Hathorn. Equally hot is track 2, B.B. King's "You Upset Me", which adds Teddy Andreas on B-3 and Bill Kilpatrick on keys. It's one of six covers and 7 appropriately derivative originals, including the fantastic Staxy soul/blues "Right On" and a smoky slowie ("Big Legged Woman"). Sugarar occasionally sounds like early Joe Cocker. Axeman King also sings and he handles vocals on a rousing "Route 66" and the disc's only weak spot- a tedious reading of Bob Dylan's "All Along The Watchtower". The latter along with the mellow instrumental "Hands Turned Upward" simply stick out like a giant white head on the tip of your schnoz. This 14-track collection would rate higher sans these two cuts. Better covers are found in the Zydeco-peppered "Got My Mojo Working" and their show stopping version of Albert King's "Rub My Back". This track sizzles! Dare I say it even eclipses King's version and this is coming from a serious Albert King admirer! I gotta catch these "boyz" live.
"It's Tight Like That" (self released 2007)
1 Texas Bluesman
with The Mannish Boys
"Double Dynamite" (Delta Groove Prod. 2012)
2 CD Set
As Sugaray Rayford
"Blind Alley" (self released 2010)
Nuthin' I Wouldn't Do (For A Woman Like You)
"Dangerous" (Delta Groove Prod. 2013)
1 Country Boy 3:14
"Southside" (NimoySue 2015)
1 Southside of Town
"The World We Live In" (Transistor Sound 2017)
***** I first became aware of Rayford when he joined The Mannish Boys and was a featured vocalist on their 2012 "Double Dynamite" project for the Delta Groove Productions label (Update: It initially slipped my notice but my first exposure to Sugaray was my March 2006 review of the Aunt Kizzy's Boyz album "Trunk Full Of Bluez" where I wrote: "If you ain't got a great singer you ain't got this critic's ear. Well, the Boyz got themselves a serious blues-shouter who goes by the name Sugaray Rayford".) Delta Groove gave Rayford his own album in 2014, "Dangerous". Needless to say Rayford's husky voice and the label's brand of musicians created a rollicking album. There was some R&B on that album along with Blues lumps, shuffles, acoustic pieces but no real Soul songs so I didn't include it on our "Best Of 2014" list. "The World We Live In" is the album I was hoping he'd make. The title cut features choppy verses and a gorgeous almost Jazzy chorus about the troubled times we live in. The leadoff cut is a Funky mover with a rip-roaring vocal and yes oh yes that tasty horn n' organ marriage. They were made for each other. I was floored by how much Rayford sounds like Benny Latimore on "What Do We Own", "Home Again" and "Keep Moving"-only harder edged. Then came the Latimore cover, "Dig A Little Deeper" and I exclaimed: "Aw yes. Gotcha". I ain't the only who noticed. Latimore should align himself with this same set of producers, pickers and players. Blues Critic chose this album as the #1 album in their annual "Top 10 Retro-Soul/Soul Blues Albums" list in 2017.