Big Sugar in for an acoustic set at the Lyric
February 5, 2015

The Prairie Post

Canadian blues/rock/reggae band Big Sugar will perform at the Lyric Theatre Feb. 19.

Known for their innovative style that refuses to be easily-labelled, as well as for their extraordinary live performances, the band will play an acoustic show as part of the “Acoustical Sounds of Big Sugar” tour.
Big Sugar has always been known for their powerful, high-volume live performances.
In this show, audiences will have a rare chance to see Gordie Johnson and the entire Big Sugar family in an intimate and entirely acoustic setting.
“Most of our songs were written and conceived on acoustic instruments,” explains Johnson. “This also gives folks a chance to hear the influences that inform our style.”
Blues, Reggae and Jazz, have always walked hand in hand with the rocking Big Sugar sound. Here they will be at the forefront.
Mr. Chill’s blues harmonica and Johnson’s cowboy yodel mixed with Jamaican folk rhythms and Garry Lowe’s signature bass lines are sure to conjure an unforgettable concert experience.
Big Sugar’s new album Yard Style is 13 tracks of languidly-paced, percussion-heavy acoustic reggae. A fragrant spiritual groundation. This heavy, heavy musical statement, runs the gamut from classics like Turn The Lights On to new cuts Calling All the Youth and Police Bway the Vampire.
Featuring Reggae legend Willi Williams and an extended family of brethren, this is the heartbeat sound of Big Sugar. It’s like the sound of Negril at night, in Johnson’s words. More accurately, it’s the sound of Big Sugar during those long days on the road — a rolling jam session that travels from the bus to the radio station to the backstage lounge.
“That place where our entire band gets together on a regular basis,” is how Johnson describes it.
“We listen to the drumming and the chanting and we have a moment of mental focus before every show, we burn frankincense and other things, and everybody gets their mental game together, then we walk out and do a rock show.”
It was only natural to gather this alternate version of Big Sugar in a studio, invite all of their friends, sit in a circle with wooden instruments, a deep selection of songs old ones, new ones, some you’ve probably never heard before and then press record.
It’s a direct transmission from the band’s private realm straight to your ears.
“How could that not be a good idea?” Johnson asks.
So followed the recording of drumming, chanting, extended family, and electricity-free reinvention. Yard Style is the result.
Williams, the Jamaica-born and bred Armagideon Man’s influence is felt all over Yard Style.
“He’s a pretty major force in solidifying this thing conceptually,” says Johnson.
Williams is a semi-permanent fixture in the Big Sugar lineup where he joins bassist Garry Lowe, drummer Stephane “Bodean” Beaudin, one-man horn section Kelly “Mr. Chill” Hoppe and toastmaster DJ Friendlyness.
The other major force behind Yard Style? Besides the echoes of ocean and tree frogs whistling away in the distance, it’s that omnipresent nyabingi drum.
“It’s the first great acoustic instrument,” Johnson says with reverence. “That’s the heartbeat sound, you know?”
Doors open on Feb. 19, at the Lyric Theatre at 7:30 p.m. and the music starts at 8:30. Tickets are $40.
Tickets are available at Pharmasave or by phoning Shann at 306-778-2686 or srgowan@yourlink.ca.

This project is funded in part by FACTOR, the Government of Canada and Canada’s private radio broadcasters. Ce projet est financé en partie par FACTOR, le gouvernement du Canada et les radiodiffuseurs privés du Canada.