LLAMA LIVE: THE SUGAR THIEVES ON WEEKEND PROGRAM

The Jacob Fried Jazz Odyssey with Mark Southerland on sax  performs tonight, Wednesday

Have you ever snapped your fingers so hard you grew calluses? Have you ever seen someone play two saxophones at the same time? Have you ever seen “The Sugar Thieves”? Me neither. But there’s a first time for everything, and in this case, it’s this Friday late night (starting at 9 a.m.) at the Llama.

Billed as “Arizona’s finest meat-shaking band,”  The Sugar Thieves are definitely one of the hottest blues bands in the West. You can Google the group to find their full (and very long) list of accomplishments, but highlights include being two-time winners of the Arizona Blues Showdown and voted one of the Ten Best Unsigned Blues Bands in the Country at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis. The Phoenix New Times described the group as “the embodiment of the future of blues,” choosing The Sugar Thieves as “The Best Americana Band of 2009.”

The Sugar Thieves say their goal is to breathe new life into what some call a dying genre and introduce it to a new generation. Their influences include Tom Waits and BB King. While you can hear the inspiration of these performers in their music, The Sugar Thieves are a powerhouse unto themselves.

Yab Yum Music writes: “When the Sugar Thieves play, their union of the Big Band sound with a Jazzy Soul finish creates a sound one would be hard pressed to duplicate or dislike. Every performance is like a party that starts on the stage and spills over into the crowd, reminding people how music was in the past and showing them what they have now molded it into.”

The Sugar Thieves started in 2007 when singer Meridith Moore and singer/guitarist Mikel Lander got together, and it could’ve stopped there with that fantastic duo. Mikel is an excellent musician, and his funky, gravelly voice is perfectly balanced by Meridith’s soulful crooning. But no, the two wanted to Go Big. They soon added Ray Thiry on stand-up bass, David Libman on drums, Jeff Naylor on pedal steel, and the unstoppable Shea Marshall on keyboard, horns, clarinet, and saxophone. (Shea is the virtuoso behind the aforementioned double-sax trick.) Together, the sextet is an unstoppable force of sass and funk, determined to blow us out of the water.

Joining The Sugar Thieves is a St. Louis-based group, The Bottoms Up Blues Gang, who’ve been playing more than 200 shows a year across the country for almost a decade. Their bluegrassy soul music jibes perfectly with TST.

Tickets to Friday’s double header are $10 at the door, or you can purchase them in advance by calling Wizard Entertainment at 970 728 9424.

Also at the Llama:

The Jacob Fried Jazz Odyssey with Mark Southerland on sax  plays Wednesday, February 22nd,  10:30pm. Tickets are $10 at the door.

The band Thunder Body, who boast a mix of “Roots, Dub, Noise, Dancehall, Afrobeat and beyond,” are scheduled  for Saturday, February 25th, 9 p.m. Tickets are $10 at the door.

Local favorite Lilly Von Schtupp performs next Wednesday the 29th at 9 p.m. for free.

The Sugar Thieves clip:

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