Big Sugar

Genres: Pop / Rock
Decades: 1990s 2000s


Comprising Gordie Johnson (vocals/guitar), Terry Wilkins (vocals/bass), Al Cross (drums), Kelly Hoppe (saxophone/harmonica), Paul Brennan (drums) and Gary Lowe (bass), Big Sugar was one of the newest sounds to blow out of Canada, combining the blues vocabulary of the Tony D Band with a visionary abandon more akin to the Rheostatics. Leader and mastermind Johnson grew up in Windsor, Ontario, listening to Jimi Hendrix and the music that followed his example. Later, in Toronto, he supplemented that with the music of Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk, and the ska and reggae he heard in the city’s Jamaican clubs. On Big Sugar’s debut album, the basic trio was augmented by members of the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir on a set that combined blues by Skip James, Robert Johnson and Otis Rush with Monk’s ‘Bemsha Swing’ and Henry Mancini’s ‘Shot In The Dark’. Johnson coarsened the band’s approach for Five Hundred Pounds, favouring an...

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