The Sugar Kings bring back jug band tradition


The Free Press
Mankato, MN
September 13th, 2001

Clint Hoover, Cam Waters and Steve Sandberg of The Sugar Kings will bring a unique style of music following the jug band tradition to MSU Sunday.

The Sugar Kings bring back jug band tradition

Band resurrects old recordings people don’t normally hear, but with their own interpretation

By Christine R. Thompson
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO – What do you get when you cross a guitar, a harmonica and a sousaphone? You get “Jug band spirit of fun and spontaneity,” said Clint Hoover of The Sugar Kings.

The Sugar Kings will take the stage Sunday as a part of Minnesota State University Performance Series Event, put on by the Music Department.

“It’s homemade music,” Hoover said. “There is a kind of spirit to the music – backyard fun.” The music ranges from country to swing to hard rural blues to early primitive jazz.

“The spirit of what we are doing is in the jug band tradition,” Hoover said. Influences of many styles of music can be found in The Sugar Kings’ songs. There is a bit of the blues, ragtime, urban jazz blues, country and Tin Pan Alley, Hoover said.

Styles from the 1920’s to the 1970’s also shine through the music with influences from Louis Jordan and Nat King Cole. The Sugar Kings resurrect old recordings people don’t normally hear, but with their own interpretation. They are careful to stay faithful to the true recording.

“We listen and then play it the way we want to hear it.” Sandberg said.

Each group member has their own obscure collection of recordings and it is this love of old recordings that gives them such a unique style.

“That music has it’s roots in today’s music,” said Dale Haefner, events coordinator for music at MSU. “Music is constantly evolving.” Both the community and the students of MSU may find although The Sugar Kings are playing music from decades ago, the sound is familiar to today’s rock and blues.

The Sugar Kings are made up of three musicians: Cam Waters, St. Paul, on guitar, Clint Hoover, Minneapolis, on harmonica and Steve Sandberg, Minneapolis, on sousaphone, a style of tuba.

Sandberg has the “attack and feel of the rhythm,” said Hoover of his fellow band member. Although the sousaphone is not what the average person would expect from a band today, the tuba was often used in the 1920’s, Sandberg said. His sousaphone gives the bass line a bounce that a string bass can’t, Hoover said.

“I enjoy giving it a little punch here and there with the tuba,” said Sandberg, who is strongly influenced by the tuba players of 1920s bands. The tuba gives the band their special style since it gives the music a more dynamic feel.

“He’s almost a one man band,” Sandberg said of Waters. He plays the slide guitar and the high-hat and has an engaging voice that blends well with Hoover’s.

“Clint is an incredible harmonica player,” Sandberg said of Hoover, who is also influenced by musicians of the past. “We came together and realized we were quite a unique ensemble,” Hoover said.

Waters, who was, “the original catalyst behind getting the group together,” Hoover said, had been doing solo work when he asked Sandberg to play on one of his CD’s. Hoover joined four years ago in 1997. In the spring of 2000 the group put together a CD, “Take Your Time, Mr. Brown.” The CD made an impact on acoustic music programs in the Midwest and since its release, The Sugar Kings have taken off.

The CD can be found at Homestead Pickin’ Parlor and Cheapo, all music stores in the Twin Cities.

The Sugar Kings have been well received in the area. Recently they played at the Rock Bend Festival in St. Peter.

The group also has upcoming shows in the area including, Riverblast in New Ulm, The Tree Frog Festival in Faribault and the Performance Series Event at MSU. It’s the fun of what they are doing that brings in the audience, Hoover said, because the group tries to get the audience involved.

The Sugar Kings will perform 7:30 p.m. Sunday at Halling Recital Hall on the MSU campus.

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