by Justine Pechuzal for Seward City News-
Get ready Seward, The Super Saturated Sugar Strings are coming to town! (If the tongue-twister is too much for you, Sugar Strings will do.) This rousing six piece band from Anchorage boasts a piano, percussion, guitar, cello, violin, trumpet and bass in their instrumental repertoire, making for a sound that is full, inventive and just plain fun.
Since Kat Moore, Carlyle Watt, Theresa Watt, Miriah Phelps, Logan Bean, and Kevin Worrell joined in 2011, The Sugar Strings have been labeled everything from folk to gypsy country—even carnival sideshow. Regardless of the typecasting challenges, the band is well loved in the Alaska music scene and can be heard performing at venues as large as the Bear Tooth or Salmonfest. Over the years, The Sugar Strings have played for our community at the Music and Arts Festival or local bars, but the upcoming show at the Rae Building marks their first Seward concert setting.
Says trumpeter Logan Bean, “A concert setting with a listening audience affords us to really focus on nuances and brings out a different energy in the music.”
At the all-ages show, the band plans to play a mix of old and new music, including songs from their March release album, “All Their Many Miles.” Listeners who haven’t caught a sample from the album yet are in for a treat. “All Their Many Miles,” completed in a San Francisco studio, was recorded in analog, leaving little room for post-production manipulation. The band recorded live, playing together, a method that captured the energy of their music, an otherwise difficult accomplishment in traditional recording sessions where each musician records individually. In addition, the band was particularly excited to have worked with an excellent professional sound engineer. You can hear the results of these innovations for yourself; albums in CD and vinyl will be for sale at the event.
The Sugar Strings will be coming to Seward on Saturday, March 3, hot on the heels of ambitious travels. First was a late November tour in Washington and Oregon.
“We came back super charged up,” Bean said, crediting well-attended, interactive shows in intimate venues. “I think we made more friends than fans.”
In addition to smaller gigs, the band played three opening shows for The California Honeydrops, an established American blues and R&B band. Playing for big audiences, observing the discipline of a seasoned band, and getting feedback from club managers accelerated the band’s development in a big way.
“It was a great benefit,” said guitarist, vocalist, and percussionist Carlyle Watt.
More recently was participation in the Folk Alliance International, an annual conference in Kansas gathering thousands of top musicians under one hotel roof. Among opportunities such as panel discussion with industry experts, and Q & A sessions with those in the know of music business, was of course, playing music. Twenty four Alaskan musicians, including the Sugar Strings, gathered as the Alaska Independent Musicians Initiative and hosted a room for a night time private showcase. Beds were replaced with plastic chairs; Alaska flags and a taxidermied bear decorated the space. Performance guests were served smoked salmon and beer from the Anchorage and Denali Breweries. Sound fun? Imagine a similar scene in the 60 other rooms of the hotel floor, then add two more floors.
“Performances cycle in each room every twenty to thirty minutes, hundreds of musicians running around from room to room. It was joyous and crazy,” said Kevin Worrell.
After catching up on sleep, the Sugar Strings are headed to Colorado for more recording and collaborations with Dango Rose of the folk band Elephant Revival. Then at last home to Alaska and a small road trip south. The band is looking forward to their time in Seward. Pianist and vocalist Kat Moore hopes to “write poetry on the edge of Resurrection Bay.” Worrell would like to visit Resurrection Art with his new bride to “commemorate where our relationship started.” Watt claims he will be “roaming up and down the docks, looking for an opportunity to sail.” All this fun, of course, after entertaining the town.
The Sugar Strings Concert is the annual membership drive for the Seward Arts Council. Advance sales for membership tickets ($35 individual/$60 family) can be purchased at www.sewardartscouncil.blogspot.com. General admission tickets ($15/person) can be purchased at the door as available. Doors open at 6:30, the concert starts at 7:30. Beer, wine, and cupcakes will be for sale. A raffle will feature work by local artists and a Major Marines boat tour. Don’t miss this family friendly, all ages event!
Full disclosure: The author of this article is also a Seward Arts Council Board Member