Train to Key Biscayne is an exciting follow-up to Peter Hi-Fi Ward’s debut solo release, Blues on My Shoulders (2017).
The album showcases the guitar and songwriting of Ward, former guitarist for the Legendary Blues Band, who wrote 12 original blues, ballads and rock n roll tunes for this album. Someone told him they sound like a string of hits from the 50s!
Ward enlisted special guests including four outstanding award-winning vocalists: Luther “Guitar Junior” Johnson, Sugar Ray Norcia, Michelle “Evil Gal” Willson and Johnny Nicholas. Other special guests are pianist Anthony Geraci, drummer Neil Gouvin, keyboardist Hank Walther and Peter’s brother, bassist Mudcat Ward.
Of Peter and the new CD, Elmore Magazine‘s Jim Hynes said, “His deep immersion in the blues makes him as credible as any blues artist playing today.”
Ronnie Earl said, “His music makes me want to pick up the guitar and play. And it’s very inspirational to me.”
The album opens with a stirring tribute to Luther Johnson, the former Muddy Waters guitarist, sung by Johnson himself. The song conveys the happiness Johnson’s music has brought to his fans.
Michelle Willson sings a heartfelt rock anthem, “I Saw Your Home” about how a sad childhood can still have a happy outcome, and the more sanguine “Coffee Song,” about being willing to serve someone you love, even when it leaves crumbs in bed.
Sugar Ray Norcia, co-founder of Sugar Ray & the Bluestones, sings a rockin’ ode to his hometown of Westerly, R.I., a swinging “As Long As I Have a Chance,” and an optimistic ballad about love, “When You Are Mine.”
Johnny Nicholas, formerly of Asleep of the Wheel, sings the CD namesake, “Train to Key Biscayne,” about a journey aimed at reviving a friendship and “Change (Ain’t Never for the Good)” about how change doesn’t always work out well.
Ward chimes in on two numbers, “Blues Elixir” with Ronnie Earl’s unmistakable guitar and “Something Always Slows Me Down,” a subtle take on impatience, done in a swamp-style blues.
Born and raised in Lewiston, Maine, Peter moved to Boston where he played in bands and grabbed the chance to back blues luminaries such as Jimmy Rogers, Junior Wells, Joe Beard, Buddy Guy, Otis Rush, Lowell Fulson, Louisiana Red and Sunnyland Slim.
The Legendary Blues Band — Pinetop Perkins, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Calvin “Fuzz” Jones and Jerry Portnoy — had backed the great Muddy Waters for years before striking out on their own. They hired Peter in time to record their second LP, Red Hot and Blues (Rounder). Hitting the road with those cats was like a course in Blues 101 as the band crisscrossed the country in a van, traveling hundreds of miles each day to perform to delighted audiences at night. Through them, Peter learned how to play a brand of unhurried emotion-packed blues. He eventually came off the road and took time off from music. But the desire always stayed with him, and he returned to the blues and recording. Peter said he hopes people will listen to and like his songs.