WESTERLY — Nick “Mr. Nick” David will emcee the New England Winter Blues Festival at The Knick Friday night, a program he says will feature "some of the very best blues musician on the planet."

David, who is based in Manchester, N.H., is the producer and host of the show. He said he plans to guide listeners through the show and "make sure you all flip your lid."

Along with David, who'll be playing harmonica, guest artists will include Sugar Ray & the Bluetones, the Brothers Moss (Joe and Nick Moss), Rick Estrin and Jason Ricci.

As local fans well know, Sugar Ray & the Bluetones have been playing their unique style of blues for almost 40 years. The group is not limited to one style, but is able to play Chicago Blues in the style of Muddy Waters, Little Walter and Billy Boy Arnold; Kansas City Swing in the style of "Big" Joe Turner; Texas Blues like "T Bone" Walker and Freddie King; and the swampy Louisiana sounds of "Lazy" Lester — all played with the distinctive originality of band leader Sugar Ray Norcia (vocals and harmonica), guitarist Little Charlie Baty, Anthony Geraci at the piano and Hammond organ, Michael "Mudcat" Ward playing acoustic and electric bass, and drummer Neil Gouvin.

Members of Sugar Ray and the Bluetones have been featured on other artists' recordings, including Hubert Sumlin, John Hammond, Johnny Winter, Otis Grand, Pinetop Perkins, The Mannish Boys, Sugaray Rayford, Debbie Davies, Duke Robillard, Ronnie Earl and many others. 

Estrin, always dressed to the nines, sporting his trademark pencil-line mustache and pompadour haircut, "sings and writes songs like the brightest wiseguy in all of bluesland and blows harmonica as if he learned at the knee of Little Walter," according to Downbeat.   

Ricci, said David, is one of the most popular harmonica players on the planet today. Listed in almost every top ten list of players on the internet today, Ricci is "a polarizing force always in the spot light and on the tips of critics, artists and fans tongue’s everywhere."

His style of playing is "so revolutionary and influential that there exists an entire younger generation of players imitating his music, clothes, gear, and even stage presence," according to a release.

Nicknamed “Moon Cat,” he is a "white, queer, skateboarding, punk-rock-loving, multiple-convicted felony-having Moon Cat from Maine" and an LGBT, mental health and addiction activist ... currently changing the world through music and education."

David, who said he's been "putting on the New England Winter Blues Festival for more than 10 years now," has been gradually expanding the tour's reach via the Winter Blues Tour. This year he has five shows in the run. A very rhythmic player, who calls Junior Wells "my guy," he urges blues fans to take a look at the lineup on the poster.

"This tour features some of the very best blues musician on the planet," he said in an email. Music-lovers can expect to laugh, cry and dance their tails off, he said. 

Afterward, they'll be boasting to anyone who misses the show, "they blew it BIG time."


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