BIG SUGAR ACOUSTIC Bio
BIG SUGAR have always been known for their powerful, high volume live performances. Soon, audiences will get 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 Gordie, ” 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 is:
-Gordie Johnson – guitar/vocals
-Garry Lowe – bass
-Kelly “Mr Chill” Hoppe – harmonica/sax/melodica
-Friendlyness – keyboards/toasting
-Stephane “Bodean” Beaudin – drums
With its successful 2011 release of “Revolution Per Minute”, BIG SUGAR announced that they were not merely content to rest on their considerable laurels of past hits. Known for their innovative style that refuses to be easily labelled, as well as for their extraordinary live performances, which saw them close out last year with a full 40 city national tour, BIG SUGAR is back.
“Revolution Per Minute” was the first new studio release for BIG SUGAR in almost a decade, and the first two singles – “Roads Ahead” and “Little Bit A All Right” received extensive radio play, with “Roads Ahead” staying in the top 10 on the charts for the entire summer. Fans were quick to embrace the sounds of not only the singles but of all the songs on the critically acclaimed new album.
Led by Gordie Johnson on guitar and vocals, BIG SUGAR consists of Kelly “Mr. Chill” Hoppe on harmonica and saxophone, Garry Lowe on bass, Stephane “Bodean” Beaudin on drums and Friendlyness, who besides keyboards handles toasting duties for the band.
It is hard to find a fan of the band who has not found ways to attend multiple live performances, for as classic and well known as their music is, it is the impact the band makes while performing in front of an audience that resonates with music lovers – both old and new.
Respect for the past will always see BIG SUGAR lovingly perform their classics which can be heard hundreds of times every week across Canada, but concertgoers have learned to expect the unexpected. BIG SUGAR’s new tunes take the band into exciting original directions and are a harbinger of things to come as they travel the roads ahead.
More About Big Sugar…
So, brothers and sisters, the unthinkable has happened and you are now holding REVOLUTION PER MINUTE, the first new and complete Big Sugar album that’s been produced in a decade. You can thank whatever God it is you pray to for that, but you should spare a little gratitude for Texas, too.
After a banner year of producing artists such as Gov’t Mule, Warren Haynes, North Mississippi Allstars, The Trews and Wide Mouth Mason, “I really walked into the studio with the attitude, ‘We run tings, tings na run we’,” says Gordie Johnson, the mercurial guitar genius who unleashed the Hugo Boss clad Big Sugar back in the ‘lumberjack plaid’ grunge era. “It was an attitude I always had germinating, but coming to Texas and living here has really nurtured the outlaw side of me.
To tell it another way, the band Johnson had taken from Queen Street to national institution was under pressure when he bid goodbye to Canada in 2003. “There were a lot of external forces at work in that time,” Johnson explains. “When committee decision-making started to encroach upon our creativity I could see it was time to split.”
End of story. Except that one day Johnson took a gander from his porch in the Texas Hill Country and saw a whole different landscape – finally. “It was like Groundhog Day,” he laughs. “I stuck my head out of the hole, I looked around, I went, ‘Look, no weasels, I guess it’s safe to come out.’”
Which brings us to Revolution Per Minute, an album that puts Big Sugar firmly behind the wheel again, positing Johnson as a reborn Texas soulman on tracks like “There’s No Tellin’ Me” (featuring Ian McLagan of the Faces) as much as it confirms his role as the Godfather of scorching arena rock gone Jamaican. Not that there’s much competition for that.
But what’s most striking about Revolution Per Minute is its looseness. This is as open and groovy as Big Sugar has ever sounded, as if that Texas heat traveled with Johnson to Toronto and relaxed the band’s connective tissue. It’s something he puts down to a stunningly limber line-up that includes drummer Stephane ‘Bodean’ Beaudin and keyboard-savant, ‘DJ Friendlyness’, along with veterans Garry Lowe on bass and Kelly ‘Mr. Chill’ Hoppe manning the harps ‘n’ horns.
Johnson states, “All we did was hit record and we totally captured Big Sugar live off the floor. This is the least messed with record I’ve ever made. Even when it came to mixing at Willie Nelson’s Pedernales Studio, we just put it up on the desk and moved faders. It just didn’t need any help. We let it be what it is.”
The pop-rock side of Big Sugar manifests itself in tracks like “Little Bit A All Right”, or the bobbing and weaving first single “Roads Ahead”. And check the funk on “Come A Little Closer… Now Come!” for Big Sugar at its most organic, where the band channels James Brown for five glorious minutes, or the way that “It’s All I Know” – with Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes sitting in – moves from its slinky North Mississippi pocket into a left-field, horn-driven middle section dispatched from somewhere between Charlie Mingus and Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention.
In their reggae and dubwise moments, Johnson and Co. have never been more convincing, even when they’re pitting melodica against the Maritime fiddle of guest star Tim Chaisson on “If I Were Heaven Tonight”, or goosing the dancehall of “Work It Now” with touches of Bollywood. Montrealer Shane Murphy (whom GJ recently produced) brings extra beef to “Done So Much in the Dark”, while Jay Malinowski of Bedouin Soundclash does his bit to massage the political concerns of the title track into something a little closer to lovers rock.
In the end, it all amounts to 50 new minutes of Gordie Johnson’s patented, multi-dimensional rebel music, only fresher and more inspired than even the hardest of hardcore Big Sugar fans would have any right to expect. In other words, Big Sugar is back, and you better get used to it. All that remains, people, is the listening and the roads ahead.