Big Sugar brings its sweet sound to town
It’s a sweet life for Big Sugar.
The Canadian band is on tour with a new CD/DVD Eliminate Ya! concert film recorded in November 2011 on the Revolution Per Minute tour. The song is credited to Joel Plaskett who played Coldsnap 2010 in Prince George.
The concert film captures a moment in time for the band and for the fans, says Big Sugar front man Gordie Johnson.
Once again, in 2012, the band members are doing what they love – playing their unique brand of blues, rock, reggae for fans everywhere.
Since their reunion two years ago, Johnson, guitar and vocals; Kelly Hoppe, harmonica and sax; Garry Lowe, bass; Stephane Beaudin, drums; and DJ Friendlyness, on keyboards can feel the connection.
Big Sugar plays CN Centre on Oct. 26.
The band formed in 1998 and parted ways in 2004. Johnson says it was not so much a hiatus as it was an amicable split.
“It just came to where we had done everything we’d wanted to do. It was all great and everything – there was no bad terms – we just decided to pack it up,” Johnson told the Free Press. “I didn’t want to get to a place where there was no passion anymore, where we’d just show up, play the hits and collect the cheque. Now there’s passion.”
Band members went their own way and did their own thing, but Johnson was far from done with the music industry.
“I moved to the state of Texas, raised my kids and produced records for dozens of different bands and I wrote songs for lots of folks. I still write and co-write with lots of different artists.”
Hey, come on Gordie, Texas can’t be too bad a home base, the reporter notes.
“Yeah, I really couldn’t have picked a better place. From the first day I went there I kind of fit right in.”
With Big Sugar back performing live, Johnson says the band is once again having the time of their lives.
“It’s still a novelty for us to be back together. It’s like we have to pinch ourselves that we’re actually doing this because it’s so much fun – you shouldn’t be allowed to do it in public.”
Will fans hear a mix of vintage and new Big Sugar songs?
“Every show is different but the day we stop loving the old songs is the day we’ll stop playing them,” said Johnson. “But we didn’t play those songs for almost 10 years so now it’s like, ‘hey we get to play Diggin’ A Hole’ (the group’s first single from the 1996 album Hemi Vision).
“We have lots of new songs – and a lot of old songs. We have a huge repertoire to pick from.”
The song list is often guided by the fans, he says.
“It’s whatever the audience is in the mood for, you can tell – if they’re wanting to dance, we go there. If they’re havin’ a great time, waving their arms with their beer swinging in the air, we go there.”
On this tour, Big Sugar has invited along reggae legend and dub musician Willi Williams who grew up with Lowe in Kingston, Jamaica to play on the same stage with the newly energized Big Sugar.
“We took a break from Big Sugar [in 2004] with no plans to put it back together,” explained Johnson.
“It wasn’t like ‘hey, we’ll call you in a few years.’ It’s just that now we’re on the same page at the same time. Now we’re just happy to be doing it.”
Big Sugar with reggae legend Willi Williams and special guests The Balconies play CN Centre on Friday, Oct. 26.
Doors open at 7 p.m. Show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at Ticketmaster outlets.