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The best kept secret in music


"DARKER SIDE OF FUN - 4.5 stars!"

"Darker Side of Fun" – The Shades

Many years and a wide range of experience in music have culminated in this incredible debut album from The Shades. Based in the NY/NJ/CT area, their music is an eclectic blend of Rocking Blues and up-tempo R&B featuring experienced, skilled players and knock-out vocalists whose talent is evident in the tight performances and production on every track. They have received rave reviews [from] Isaac Hayes when they were requested to perform at his Birthday Bash (Isaac said they were "Slammin'!").

If that isn’t enough to tempt you to give them a listen, as individuals they have performed and or recorded with: The Commodores, Stylistics, Lenny Kravitz, Harry Bellefonte, Michael Bolton, The Pointer Sisters, David Sanborn, Anne Murray, Freda Payne, Helen Reddy, Grand Funk Railroad, Trini Lopez, The Drifters, The Marvellettes, and The Platters, just to name a few.

The CD’s title is strange at first, there seems nothing dark here, the music rocks, it rolls, it swings, it boogies, it shakes. We were swept along by the incredible talent of not only the two lead vocalists, but all the musicians. It is only in listening closely that we hear in the lyrics the pain and The Darker Side of Fun. It is as if the music wants to say, ‘Tomorrow will come soon enough’ put on The Shades and crank it up. It’s slammin’, it’s jammin’, it’s time to party.

All the superlatives, name-dropping and classifications as Blues-Rock, R&B Band can’t really describe to you the sound. For that you have to hear them. Visit the website. Buy the CD. Support an independent artist that has earned it.

Dagwood Radio: 4 ½ Stars

- Dagwood Radio Network

""This multi-talented band knocks out one exciting song after another.""

Long-time fans of this extraordinary high-powered rhythm and blues band will not be disappointed in THE SHADES’ debut release. With the vocal dynamics of Nicole Hart and Julius Dilligard Jr. to lead them, this multi-talented band knocks out one exciting song after another. They are not content to sit idle for long, tearing into rock, blues, and R&B with plenty of passion. THE SHADES live have always brought crowds to their feet, creating some of the best party atmospheres around.

Darker Side of Fun is a crowd-pleasing set of excellent tracks from one of the area’s best bands. Definitely - By All means - Go Buy It!

© John Muller, President Emeritus, United Jersey Blues Network
- United Jersey Blues Network

"Blazing Musical Bonfire"

The Shades - Darker Side of Fun

New York’s THE SHADES have a big sound steeped in Jazz, R&B, Blues & Rock with incredibly soulful vocals by Julius Dilligard, Jr. & Nicole Hart. Solid rhythmic grooves drive the instrumentation, which is flavored primarily with organ, horns and guitars. From the gutbucket blues take of the Eagles’ “Take It to the Limit” to the funky rocker “If I’m Wrong,” this band really knows how to cook with a blazing musical bonfire. – Music Morsels, December 2004.

- Music Morsels, December 2005,

"Heinekin USA Summer Concert Series"

"Two passionate, skilled singers fronting a band of seasoned professionals."

by Roger-Z, (8/21/04)
New York Jazz & Blues Society
Published at

Sometimes things just work out.. On this muggy and slightly overcast day, I opt to leave the car at home and walk all my errands. Turning the corner onto Main Street in White Plains, I hear the sound of a kick drum. Call it the sound of serendipity. At the beginning of the summer, I swore I would remember to see THE SHADES on August 19 at the White Plains noontime Heinekin concert series at Renaissance Center. Could this be the day? Two seconds later, a city official introduces THE SHADES.

I grab a seat and reminisce about the first time I experienced THE SHADES. In the mid '90s, they played at Mexicali Blues Cafe in Teaneck, NJ -- a club literally across the street from my apartment. At that time, they called themselves "Ruby and Toots and THE SHADES." Their conceptual blues astonished me -- two "divas" fronting a band where each song flowered into a one-act play complete with costume changes and dialogue.

People change, and so do bands. Sometimes, though, personnel changes make a unit even stronger. Currently, two lead vocalists front the band. Julius Dilligard, Jr., best known for his stint in the RCA recording group, The Crown Heights Affair, joined THE SHADES as a backup singer but now impressively co-commands the front line with his soulful renditions of classic R&B hits. Nicole Hart passionately provides the female perspective. Her credits include singing backup for Billy Joel and appearing on-camera in his "All About Soul" video from the River of Dreams CD. Together, these two seasoned professionals meld their diverse backgrounds to create a breathtaking show.

Back to the present. The band steps on stage and immediately launches into the instrumental "Hot 'Lanta" by The Allman Brothers. Guitarist Tony Pagano and saxophonist Mikey Carbone immediately distinguish themselves with well-thought-out, dynamic solos. Out steps Dilligard to deliver an impassioned version of "Every Night of the Week." He plays the audience like a cat pawing a ball. With sweat pouring from his brow, he won't stop singing until he has looked directly into the eyes of every audience member.

But nothing could prepare me for what comes next. Nicole Hart runs on stage tastefully dressed in a black miniskirt, high heels and a white Danskin top. Wow! She possesses legs that seem to go on forever, a bust that would do Victoria Secret proud, and long blonde hair. I find myself averting my eyes for fear she can read my impure thoughts. Singing "Hurt So Bad," Ms. Hart unleashes a torrent of emotion. I would never want to get that woman mad at me. On the other hand, I can only imagine that energy channelled in a positive direction.

You get the picture. Two passionate, skilled singers fronting a band of seasoned professionals. It only gets better. Mr. Dilligard sings "Footprints," the current single from their 2004 album, "The Darker Side of Fun." This infectious dance song, written by band leader and keyboardist Lance Ong, gets the crowd up and moving. Ms. Hart lifts the crowd even higher with the Aretha classic, "Chain Of Fools." The set climaxes with a shockingly soulful arrangement of "Take It To The Limit" by the Eagles. This tune, also on their latest CD, morphs into a classic Teddy Pendergrass turn. The sax and guitar solos push the audience to an even higher level.

Next up, James Brown's "Cold Sweat" continues the dance groove and features the hottest solo of the day. Slinging his keyboard over his shoulders like a guitar, Lance attacks it just like a guitar. His stinging vibrato drives the crowd into a frenzy. The set ends with the B.B. King favorite "Let The Good Times Roll." Propelled by the tight rhythm section of Tommy Sochor on drums and Vonnie Hudson on bass, the crowd joins in a giant sing along.

If you ever crave a night out listening to some classic R&B...You might just end up as exhausted and satisfied as the band after the show.

- New York Blues & Jazz Society/Nothin' But Da



Songs receiving airplay:
You Can't See
Take it to the Limit
Think About Love
If I'm Wrong
Devil's Work


Feeling a bit camera shy


Enjoy the ride! GET SHADIFIED!** (see the definition of "shadification" further below...)**

This band grooves from the very first beat combining Blues, Traditional R&B, Jazz & Rock with knock-out vocalists & great musicianship. The diverse experience & musical backgrounds of each member of THE SHADES merge into their mutual love of MODERN ELECTRIC BLUES**, creating a captivating listening experience. Vocalists Julius Dilligard, Jr. (Crown Heights Affair) & Nicole Hart (Billy Joel) blend their magic chemistry to take you on a sonic road trip through the "DARKER SIDE OF FUN," as well as "shadifying" classic material.

THE SHADES performed for Isaac Hayes' Hot Buttered Soul BBQ/Birthday Party to rave reviews. After performing Riverhead Blues Festival, THE SHADES’ debut CD, DARKER SIDE OF FUN, sold out completely within the hour. THE SHADES can be heard on Radio Stations throughout the Northeast, Worldwide on Internet radio stations, & were recently nominated by United Jersey Blues Network, one of New Jersey's two affiliated Blues Foundation**( societies, to represent Heritage Blues in the Garden State at the 2005 International Blues Challenge for "BEST SELF-PRODUCED CD."

JULIUS DILLIGARD, JR. ~ Julius can still be heard on radio as lead vocalist with the RCA recording group, "Crown Heights Affair" on the group's first single to go gold, "Dreamin' a Dream". Julius has also appeared at the Apollo Theatre with such acts as The Commodores, Stylistics, The Main Ingredient, Maxine Nightingale, & has performed w/George Duke at Westbury Music Fair.

NICOLE HART ~ Effortlessly integrating Blues, Jazz, Soul & Rock, Nicole's timeless, intoxicating voice is beautifully soul-sweet, then powerful & gritty ~ classic, yet absolutely contemporary. She has sung back-up for Billy Joel & is featured on-camera in his "All About Soul" video from the River of Dreams CD, as well as on recordings for many other artists & television commercials.

LANCE ONG ~ Master B-3 organist, multi-keyboardist & Musical Director, his record credits include David Sanborn, a Grammy Award winning album by Andre Crouch, Eryka Badu, The Pointer Sisters, Grand Funk Railroad, Frankie Beverly & Maze, Johnny Halliday, Sylvie Vartan (French), Trini Lopez, & many others.

MIKE CARBONE ~ (Tenor Sax, Alto Sax, Soprano Sax, Midi Sax, Flute, BG Vocals): Mike's heart & soul penetrates each note he plays, fusing classical training, old school Jazz, Blues & Funk to bring a visceral interpretation to the music of THE SHADES. Mike holds a Masters Degree in Music from William Paterson University.

TONY PAGANO ~ (Guitars, BG vocals): Born in Brooklyn, New York, Tony began playing guitar at age 11 & was performing in clubs by age 14 using his brothers' ID. Like many other guitarists, Tony is most influenced by Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Jimi Hendrix, Joe Pass & Wes Montgomery. He brings this depth of eclecticism to the Modern Electric Blues of THE SHADES.

TOMMY SOCHOR - As a self-taught musician, his musical range is eclectic. He played and recorded with progressive rock group Thunder Zone, featuring bassist extraordinaire Percy Jones (of Phil Collins' jazz/rock group Brand X) and Bronx guitarist Alan Tynes. During his tenure with THE SHADES, Tommy's thundering, "bad boy" beat is the backbone of THE SHADES' sound.

VONNIE HUDSON ~ The final piece in this extraordinary configuration is the addition of this virtuosic bassist. From laying down a solid mesmerizing groove, to his exciting soloing to the delight of our fans, Vonnie’s playing rounds out the rhythm section for a totally satisfying funky finesse.

**THE SHADES are often asked how we define our sound. We think the definition below gives a very accurate explanation of what we call "SHADIFICATION": According to The Blues Foundation in Memphis, Tennessee, the official keeper of the Blues flame, “Modern Electric Blues is an eclectic mixture, a sub genre embracing both the old, the new and something that falls between the two…It also is a genre that pays homage to those vintage styles of playing while simultaneously recasting them in contemporary fashion. It can also be - by turns - the most forward looking of all blues styles, embracing rock beats and pyrotechnics and enlivening the form with funk rhythms and chord progressions that expand beyond the standard three that usually comprises most blues forms.”

"Great keyboard work by Lance Ong & strong vocals from Julius Dilligard & Nicole Hart"~ BLUESWAX

“These spectacular vocalists and instrumentalists bring their considerable talents together to rock your world…Rhythm & Blues at its finest!”

~ Bob Kisielius, Barrelhouse Blues, recipient, USA Today’s coveted “Hot Site” award for blues on the web, and Livin'Blues Gold Award for Virtual Excellence on the Web.

"...With horns, back-up singers and multiple lead singers, the group is one hard workin', soulfunkin', blues jumpin' R&B revie