Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast

Sugar Blue interview

October 18, 2020 Neil Warren Season 1 Episode 25
Happy Hour Harmonica Podcast
Sugar Blue interview
Show Notes Chapter Markers

Sugar Blue has certainly pushed the boundaries of the harmonica, with his rapid fire licks, lots of high end runs and gorgeous tone. It was perhaps his early jazz influences that shaped his distinctive sound, although there is no doubt that he has paid homage to the harmonica greats, spending time with some of the classic players. 
As well as numerous solo albums, Sugar has recorded with many illustrious names, including the Rolling Stones, Willie Dixon and Frank Zappa, to name but a few. 
He has two Grammy awards and has recently released his new album, Colors.

Select the Chapter Markers tab above to select different sections of the podcast (website version only).

Sugar Blue's website:


Pontiac from Crossroads album:

From Paris to Chicago album:

With Louisiana Red:

Willie Dixon Hidden Charms album: Blues You Can’t Lose

Sugar Blue Unplugged:

Also check out the Spotify Playlist, which contains some of the songs discussed in the podcast:

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Where the Sugar Blue stage name came from
Raised in Harlem, New York
Wanted to be a singer when young
Started playing various instruments including saxophone and violin
Godmother gave Sugar his first harmonica
What started Sugar out singing
Billie Holiday held Sugar when he was a baby
Sugar was a fan of jazz when young
Worked on emulating saxophone & violin players early on
Early harmonica influences included Stevie Wonder and Bob Dylan
Little Walter, Sonny Boy II and Big Walter were big influences
Spent some time with Big Walter, Junior Wells and James Cotton
First recording was with Victoria Spivey
Recorded with Brownie McGhee
Sugar didn’t try to play like Sonny Terry
Toured with Louisiana Red
Moved to Paris, busking in the Metro
Met and started playing with the Rolling Stones
Playing with Rolling Stones helped raised Sugar’s profile
Played some harp with Mick Jagger
Debut solo album: Crossroads
From Paris to Chicago album
Moved back to Chicago and sat in with Junior Wells
Won Grammy for track on Blues Explosion album recorded at Montreux Blues Festival
Played with Willie Dixon Chicago All Stars band, winning another Grammy
Blue Blazes album, including own version of Miss You song
In Your Eyes album
Sugar has released various live albums
Code Blue album and tribute to the great Chicago players
Chromatic harmonica
Ramblin’ song on Threshold album where Sugar plays two harps
Interview on Threshold album
Raw Sugar live album, and holding note for a long time
Colors album, and effects on the And The Devil Too song
Day Tripper song on Colors album
Some of the great musicians Sugar has played with, including Frank Zappa
Three Chicago Music Awards
Played at Robert Johnson’s 100th birthday concert at Apollo Theatre
UK concerts with Giles Robson
Recorded on Angel Heart soundtrack starring Robert De Niro
Played with Fats Domino, Ray Charles and Jerry Lewis
Recorded with Bob Dylan
Sugar’s playing style
The amazing acoustic tone of Big Walter
Listening to jazz players to learn the blues
10 minute question
Sugar’s iconic harmonica belt
Sugar’s harmonica’s of choice
Favourite key of diatonic
Different tunings
What positions does Sugar play
Effects pedals
Future plans