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Big Sugar brings sweet sounds to Rainmaker - St. Albert Leader

Article by Glenn Cook

Organizers of this year’s Rainmaker Rodeo and Exhibition are hoping to hear some sweet sounds from their rock lineup.

The St. Albert Kinsmen announced earlier this week that the annual festival’s rock concert will be headlined by Canadian reggae-blues-rock veterans Big Sugar on Friday, May 23, under the big tent at their rodeo grounds on Riel Drive.

They’ll be joined on the bill by fellow Canadian rockers Wide Mouth Mason.

Big Sugar has had a number of members rotate through their lineup since they released their first album in 1991, but the core of the band has remained lead singer/guitarist Gordie Johnson, bassist Garry Lowe and harmonica/saxophone player Kelly “Mr. Chill” Hoppe. Together, they have gained a reputation for being an outstanding live band.

Their breakthrough came in 1995 when they released their album Hemi-Vision, which included such hits as “Diggin’ A Hole,” “Open Up Baby,” and “If I Had My Way.” They followed that up with 1996’s Heated, which included “Better Get Used to It,” “The Scene,” and “Turn the Lights On.”

In 2001, the band released Brothers and Sisters, Are You Ready?, which included “Nicotina,” “All Hell for a Basement,” and a blistering guitar version of “O Canada.” The band also recorded a track-for-track French version of the album for sale in Quebec.

Big Sugar decided to split up and played their last show at the Shaw Conference Centre in Edmonton on New Year’s Eve 2003. But they reunited in 2010, and released a new studio album, Revolution Per Minute, in 2011. Currently, they are promoting an acoustic album, YardStyle.

Meanwhile, Wide Mouth Mason is a blues-rock band that started in Saskatoon, Sask., in 1995. They are best known for sings like “Midnight Rain,” “Sugarcane,” and “Smile.” Big Sugar’s Johnson started pulling double duty as Wide Mouth Mason’s full-time bassist in March 2011, and also produced their last album, No Bad Days, which was released in July 2011.

The Kinsmen also announced about a week ago that the country concert on Saturday, May 24, will feature Tim Hicks and Michelle Wright.

Tickets for the 18-plus rock show are $39.99 each plus fees and taxes, and are available through Ticketmaster.

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