Sugar Brown review…July 25, 2018.

SUGAR BROWN

IT’S A BLUES WORLD..(CALLING ALL BLUES!)

HUMMINGBIRD–LOVE ME TWICE–LOUSY DIME–SURE AS THE STARS–IT’S A BLUES WORLD–HARD TO LOVE–OUT OF THE FRYING PAN–THOSE THINGS–WHAT I KNOW–TIDE BLUES–LOOKING FOR TWO O’CLOCK–DEW ON THE GRASS–BROTHERS

Sugar Brown is a Toronto-based bluesman who is the son of a Japanese father and a Korean mother. (His real name is Ken Kawashima).  Raised in Ohio, he moved to Chicago as a young man where he hooked up with Rockin’ Johnny Burgin And The Headhunters band, then later joined Tail Dragger’s La-Z-Boys, playing harp during the Nineties.  In 2017, he reached the Finals of the IBC’s, and is a global festival favorite.  Sugar loves all manner of blues expression, from deep in the Delta to contemporary and everything in between.  That love of varying sounds and styles is the theme of his latest album, and third overall, the aptly-titled “It’s A Blues World…(Calling All Blues!).   On this set, Sugar is on vocals, harp, and guitar, and his old friend (and ours, too!), Rockin’ Johnny Burgin, is on lead guitar.  All the songs are Sugar’s originals, and they all reflect his many influences that helped define his style.

The party blasts right outta the gate just like that V-8 motor made of modern design, with the juke-joint romp of “Hummingbird,” featuring a cool sax break from Minnie Heart.  “Love Me Twice” is loosely-derived from Dylan’s “It’s Not Too Late,”  with Farfisa organ throughout, and a recurring guitar riff from Rockin’ Johnny that is reminiscent of his “Grim Reaper” days!  “Hard To Love” is pure country-blues, as is the set-closer, which served as one of our favorites.  We all gotta realize that we’re all “Brothers” and “doin’ the best we can,” no matter what the circumstances!  This one is humorous, and sho’ nuff ain’t politically-correct!

Our other two favorites had Sugar taking a long, hard look at the shortcomings of today’s society.  “Lousy Dime” looks at “the lifestyles of the rich and famous,” that have “left us behind,” and features banjo from Nichol Robertson and haunting fiddle again of from Minnie.  Sugar’s mournful harp adds to the vibe of the minor-key title cut, where “there’s no other name” for a world filled “with so much shame!”

Sugar Brown has crafted an eclectic set of songs that covers a wide musical territory.  It ain’t no time to sit still and scratch your head and wonder, it’s time for “It’s A Blues World…(Calling All Blues!).  Until next time…Don and Sheryl Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

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