What is a jam band? Well, it depends on who you ask. My initial thought when listening to The Blackbird Sessions, the new album by Sugar Lime Blue was “this is a jam band”. However, Sugar Lime Blue is much more than a jam band. Their music is a reflection of the blue-collar American soul. Blue’s, folk, country, rock, jazz… is all melted and reshaped. A familiarity is immediately recognized, aiding the listener to go with the flow. This group is an established regional force who plays big shows both home and abroad. They’ve earned their stripes playing over 100 festivals alongside major artists like Buddy Guy.
Blues music is the foundation of their new album. Leading the blues charge are tracks “Burn It”, “Didn’t Mean To Kill You”, and “Cattin’ Around”. Particularly smooth is the single “Didn’t Mean To Kill You” which reminds of blues greats Eric Clapton and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Something about the track’s sound whisks my mind to a packed bar as patrons engage in promiscuous behavior in the shadows of the dancefloor as the band plays on.
Watch The Video For “Burn It” Here
Variation is a strength of the band. Borrowing from country music they deliver “Million Pieces”. Slide guitars roam free like mustangs in the old Midwest. A subtle signature country twang is present as heartbroken lyrics pour over the music like whisky into a glass. Her singing delivery is spot on perfect. She pulls back her attack and gives us a performance that could be construed as a soliloquy. Ten seconds into this song, I circled it on my notes as special. A standout cut.
A pleasant curveball is the single “Hello October” which borrows flavors from the 1950’s. When I was young, there was an infomercial “Dick Clark’s Rock n Roll Era” which would play late into the night. I loved when it came on. I could hear this song in that memory. Of course, it’s done in a modern take with the band’s treatment, but it touches on that aforementioned familiarity.
In my mind “Prophet” has the biggest pop crossover appeal. I’m not saying it’s the best song, but I believe the track has something special in how it chugs along like a party train. That Bee Gees strumming guitar plays into the drums and moves my feet. The tempo never lets up. Kind of reminds me of the magic that Hootie and The Blowfish brought with “Only Want To Be With You”.
Not only is Sugar Lime Blue a great band, but they also have a great story. The band started as a project that kept expanding as band leader David Beth’s dreams and ambitions grew. Ashley auditioned for the band to be a backup singer. She and Dave eventually fell in love and got married. Dave nudges her into lead vocals and the rest is history. Dedication and hard work overtime has led to the band’s success. Moving to Tennessee certainly added to their unique flavor. I don’t anticipate them slowing down anytime soon. As more people discover the group, you can add me to the list of “whatever they’re selling, I’m buying”.