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Former Legendary Blues Band Guitarist Peter Ward Boards Train to Key Biscayne

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Former Legendary Blues Band Guitarist Peter Ward Boards Train to Key Biscayne

Submitted to Record World

Peter “Hi-Fi” Ward announces a March 29 release date for Train to Key Biscayne, his new CD on Gandy Dancer Records. Along for the ride with the former guitarist in The Legendary Blues Band are a trainload of New England blues notables, including Ronnie Earl, Sugar Ray Norcia, Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson, Johnny Nicholas, Anthony Geraci and Michelle “Evil Gal” Willson, plus Neil Gouvin on drums, Peter’s brother Michael “Mudcat” Ward on bass (both members of Sugar Ray & the Bluetones), and Hank Walther on keyboards.

“Peter ‘High Fi’ Ward has been a brother to me since I have known him in 1975,” says guitar legend and multiple Blues Music Award-winner Ronnie Earl. “To me, he plays the kind of music that I just love, which is traditional blues, Western swing and country - and he is adept at all those styles. His music makes me want to pick up the guitar and play. And it’s very inspirational to me. Peter has a beautiful style reminiscent of Louis Myers and that beautiful traditional Chicago Blues. I just love his playing and I’ll go see him anytime. He’s on my records and I’m on his records. He’s a beautiful person and I think you’ll love this album.”

Train to Key Biscayne is Peter’s follow-up to his first solo album, Blues on My Shoulders (2017), which garnered excellent reviews and made it to the Top 25 blues charts. It features 12 new blues, swing tunes and ballads, all written by Peter. On the new CD, he is joined by some of today's best blues artists - who also happen to be his friends. Train to Key Biscayne features excellent vocal performances from award-winning singers Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson, Sugar Ray Norcia, Michelle “Evil Gal” Willson and Johnny Nicholas — all naturally gifted singers who'd be tops in any era.

“The song ‘Blues Elixir (Ronnie's Here)’ features blues guitar virtuoso Ronnie Earl, who always pours his heart and soul into a song,” says Peter. “When Ronnie plays, you always know it. The point of the song: Blues solves all kinds of problems big and small.”

Sugar Ray Norcia, lead vocalist/harmonica player for perennial Blues Music Award nominees Sugar Ray & the Bluetones, gives his pipes a workout on “As Long As I Have a Chance,” a swing tune Peter wrote with Eubie Blake's sense of melody in mind. He also sings on “A Westerly Sunday Night” homage to his Rhode Island hometown and the ballad, “When You Are Mine.”

“The Luther Johnson Thing” track pays tribute to Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson, guitarist and former Muddy Waters sideman, who sings the tune. Peter's song seeks to convey the joy Luther's singing and guitar-playing brings to his many fans.

Michelle “Evil Gal” Willson sings on two tracks, “Coffee Song” and   “I Saw Your Home,” a rock anthem-style song Peter wrote after visiting a friend's childhood home in Alabama.

Peter wrote the title track with singer-guitarist (and former New Englander) Johnny Nicholas of Texas in mind. Even before he moved from Maine to Boston in the 1970s, Peter often traveled to Cambridge, Mass., to see Johnny lead his band, The Rhythm Rockers, at The Speakeasy on Sunday nights. Johnny also sings “"Change (Ain't Never for the Good),” a song Peter conceived when he realized that change rarely means good things in a workplace.

Train to Key Biscayne ends with a poignant solo instrumental guitar piece by Peter Ward in tribute to keyboardist Anthony Geraci’s son, Todd, who recently lost part of a leg from a pedestrian accident in Vermont.                           

While Key Biscayne never supported a railroad line, it's an apt title for the new album. After playing blues for years in many bands and with many artists including the Legendary Blues Band, Johnny Copeland, Joe Beard, Jimmy Rogers, Junior Wells and Otis Rush, Peter Ward remains optimistic on his musical journey. In other words, he's on that train!

Peter "Hi-Fi" Ward grew up in Lewiston, Maine, and later moved to Boston, where he worked in various bands and sat in with Sugar Ray & the Bluetones, who then featured Ronnie Earl on guitar and Peter’s brother Mudcat on bass. He backed artists such as Jimmy Rogers, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Sunnyland Slim and Lowell Fulson when they appeared locally. In New York, Peter was honored when Otis Rush, after performing together, told him he played chords “like an old man.” In the 1980s, Peter toured with the Legendary Blues Band whose members — Joe Willie “Pinetop” Perkins, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Calvin “Fuzz” Jones and Jerry Portnoy — had backed the great Muddy Waters. The experience reinforced in Peter the desire to play blues in a conversational, unhurried and to-the-point way. With Peter the band recorded Red Hot and Blues on Rounder Records, also featuring guitarist Duke Robillard.

Peter was married for 20 years to beloved Boston WGBH-FM blues deejay Mai Cramer, who died of breast cancer in 2002. Each year Peter and Mai's fans stage a fundraiser in her honor for charity at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, Mass. Headliners have included Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard, Jody Williams, Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson, Lurrie Bell, Jody Williams, Ron Levy and Eddie Taylor, Jr. In 2010, he produced Goodbye Liza Jane: Hello Western Swing, a CD of western swing songs featuring Herb Remington, an original member of Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys.