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Rambling with Willie Sugarcapps (TSR)

20 Aug 2013

written by The Southern Rambler



Rambling with Willie Sugarcapps

Originally posted on The Southern Rambler

Photo by Catt Sirten


Pick up your guitar and sing us all a song about the people that you’ve seen and the places that you’ve gone. Tell us all the news from across the land. Show us all of the calluses you hide on your hands. – “Willie Sugarcapps” by Grayson Capps

The band Willie Sugarcapps was born in front of an audience. There was no rehearsal, no warm up, and no set list. Just Grayson Capps, Corky Hughes, Will Kimbrough, and Savana and Anthony Crawford as Sugarcane Jane, and the spontaneous music made when improvising fingers flew across the strings of guitars, banjos and mandolins. Voices blended into haunting four-part harmony with a tambourine and shaker on the backbeat as they created music that unfolded from the inside.

Their debut album, Willie Sugarcapps, comes out on Tuesday, August 20, 2013.

How did the five of you come together?

Will: Cathe Steele booked us to play together at the Frog Pond at Blue Moon Farm in Silverhill, Alabama. I had never played with Grayson, Corky, Anthony, and Savana, but we all jumped in and it was an instant cohesion that felt like déjà vu. I have been a musician for 31 years and at this stage it is hard to find peers with experience and enthusiasm who enjoy playing with each other.

Grayson: We didn’t know we were forming a band. Playing together was just fun as shit.

Where did you get the name Willie Sugarcapps?

Anthony:  Johnny Fisher thought of the name Willie Sugarcapps when he saw us play at the Blue Moon Farm. He is a former general manager at Lulu’s in Gulf Shores and the House of Blues in New Orleans. He now owns Fisher’s in Orange Beach.  The full name of the band should be Willie C. Sugarcapps–the C is for Corky.

What are your firsts? First date to play together? First gig as Willie Sugarcapps?

Savana: Our first time to play together was at the Blue Moon Farm on February 4, 2012. Our debut as Willie Sugarcapps was at the 30A Songwriter’s Festival in Santa Rosa, Florida in January 2013. The bookings took off after that. Our first album was recorded on May 6, 2013.

Describe Willie Sugarcapps music.

Anthony:  Playing with Grayson, Corky, Will and Savana is like being at a track meet with people who can anticipate the gun and take off. Rhythmically we are all in the same key so no matter where the music goes, we have the anticipation level to chime in. That first night at Blue Moon Farm we played “San Andreas Fault Line” and I called everyone in to play. Each person played his interpretation of where the lead would go right then and it was a beautiful moment. We can pick up a guitar and play anything together. Playing with them is making me a better musician.

Savana: These guys can play anything and they are bringing in instruments that they don’t get to play in their regular gigs. Anthony on the bass and Will on banjo, mandolin, and ukulele sound so good. Corky adds a layer of coolness with lap steel or electric guitar that is like the sweetest candy you’ve ever put in your mouth. Grayson is a great lyricist and so fun to watch. Then you add the harmonies. Everyone has a different tone of voice that somehow blends well together.

Grayson: We grew up listening to old blues and country, Hank Williams, and rock and roll. That is what shapes our music. The four-part harmony is new for me because I have never had that in my music but I can now add call and response to my songwriting. It is an incredible energy when the voices lock together to make a chord.

Will: Our music is timeless and universal. Our styles are different but complimentary because they come from the same place. There is chemistry and humanity in the blend of our voices that covers the range from Grayson with his deep, New Orleans blues to the Appalachian high of Sugarcane Jane. Corky adds a fifth voice with his slide guitar.  Each of us has played music for a long time and we are taking all of the things we have learned and throwing it out there. Staying fresh, spontaneous, and in the moment is important to our music.


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