Sugarcane Jane – 2019 Music Artist of the Year
An Article by Johnny Cole | Photos by Stephen Anderson
The Southland Music Line loves devoting its time to spreading the word about the great music, venues and musicians that we are privileged to encounter during our travels around the globe, but primarily those from across the Deep South. The Southland Music Line is now entering seven years of sharing our love for music with others. Each year, we recognize a band or musician as our annual Music Artist of the Year. In past years, we have recognized Willie Sugarcapps (2014), The Mulligan Brothers (2015), Lisa Mills (2016), Grayson Capps (2017) and Abe Partridge (2018).
With 2019 soon coming to a close, we began considering a number of musicians for this year’s selection. Several things factor into our process of choosing. We want it to be someone our readers admire and embrace as fans. Also, we look for someone who has had a successful year based on an array of accomplishments. Sales and marketing of an artist don’t always play a part, but creativity and connection to fans has much value in our final decision. Several have had an impressive year and are to be congratulated for their successes.
After three consecutive years of being voted Favorite Music Artist in our annual Readers’ Choice Awards, The Southland Music Line is proud to recognize Sugarcane Jane as the 2019 Music Artist of the Year as voted by our staff and contributors.
We have covered Sugarcane Jane abundantly in the past several years including our 2015 article, “Why We Love Sugarcane Jane as Told by the Friends & Fans of Sugarcane Jane”, which to date is our most read article. Sugarcane Jane also played a significant part in the formation of The Southland Music Line. Seven years ago, I was invited to Jack’s by the Tracks by Stephen Anderson and Robby Amonett to check out a duo called Sugarcane Jane. They told me the duo included a guy named Anthony Crawford who had once toured with Neil Young. After hearing Crawford’s name, I responded “didn’t he also perform with Steve Winwood in the late 80s and was part of Young’s Shocking Pinks band?” Obviously, I went to Jack’s that evening and have been a fan since that first performance. Shortly afterward, The Southland Music Line was formed at the popular Pascagoula, Mississippi venue. The husband-wife duo of Anthony and Savana Crawford have always been supportive of The Southland Music Line – we are very thankful.
Anthony Crawford has had one of the most amazing careers – recording and touring with some music’s biggest stars (Sonny James, Neil Young, Vince Gill, Steve Winwood, Dwight Yoakam, Steve Forbert, etc.) and has written for such artists as Kenny Rogers, The Oak Ridge Boys and Lee Greenwood. He has shared the stage with industry giants like Paul McCartney and Bruce Springsteen and has appeared at the monumental events, Live Aid and Farm Aid. His stories of the road are priceless and deserving to be told in print.
Savana Lee Crawford carved out an interesting career prior to the forming of Sugarcane Jane, too. While living in Nashville, she spent time writing and performing at some of Music City’s most famous venues. She also co-owned and managed the vintage analog recording studio, Deepfield Studio, where many major label stars recorded. This is where she would meet Anthony, her future husband and music partner.
In recent years, Anthony and Savana have been non-stop recording and performing as Sugarcane Jane and as part of the Americana supergroup, Willie Sugarcapps, along with Will Kimbrough, Corky Hughes and our 2017 Music Artist of the Year, Grayson Capps. One of the most impressive things about Anthony and Savana has been their balance of a career and their beautiful family (Nine-year-old Loretta Raine, seven-year-old Levon Cash, and four-year-old Dusty Lee).
In 2018, Sugarcane Jane released their album “Southern State of Mind” (produced by Anthony & Buzz Cason) to impressive reviews, chart successes, and enthusiastic fan reception. The album was also voted as the fan favorite in our Readers’ Choice Awards. By the end of 2018, continual interest in the new album had them appearing on multiple radio shows including a spectacular interview on Sirius XM’s Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale Radio Show.
Things continued to thrive as the album made headway, charting on RMR (Roots Music Report) for much of early 2019. By late summer, Sugarcane Jane took things to the next level, adding The Bucket Fillers to accompany them on several dates with old friend Dwight Yoakam. The addition of Pete Nice (pedal steel, lap steel, and mandolin), Leif Bondarenko (drums), and Gary Edmonds (guitar) shined new light on their already great songs, earning Sugarcane Jane & the Bucket Fillers standing ovations while on tour with Yoakam. Due to the heavy workload and future touring, music veteran Rick Carter came on board as manager, too.
Following the Yoakam tour, The Southland Music Line caught up with Sugarcane Jane & the Bucket Fillers at two exciting shows at T-Bones Records in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and Slowboat Brewing Company in Laurel, Mississippi. Article contributor, Cindy Thamert, saw their show in Shreveport, Louisiana. She commented, “We were lucky enough to be in attendance to see this wonderful, high energy show at Shreveport House Concerts. It was our first time to see the full band since they’ve come off the road from opening a number of shows for Dwight Yoakam and we were not disappointed.”
Also, we must acknowledge the incredible article about Sugarcane Jane in Portico Eastern Shore magazine by longtime friend, Jim Hannaford. He gives a fully detailed account about this much loved music duo – past, present and future.
On November 1, Sugarcane Jane released a much requested live album with the Bucket Fillers. Sugarcane Jane’s eighth album (first live album) was recorded at Fairfield Studios in Shreveport, Louisiana during a September house concert and mastered at the Crawford’s Admiral Bean Studio in Loxley, Alabama. As always, reviews have again been positive.
2019 has definitely been one of Sugarcane Jane’s most successful years. The Southland Music Line is pleased to recognize them as our 2019 Music Artist of the Year. They continue to make new fans wherever they go and we can certainly expect more good things to come from this amazing duo.
Savana and Anthony Crawford at Admiral Bean Studio
At home with Sugarcane Jane
Will The Circle Be Unbroken: A Look Inside the Lives of Local Musicians
A decade into Sugarcane Jane, Anthony Crawford and Savana Lee revisit their roots
By Jim Hannaford of Portico Eastern Shore
Photos by Stephen Anderson, Barbara Beaird, Leigh Ann Edmonds, MCE Photography/Chad Edwards, Neil Ladner, Keith Necaise and Frank Serio
Looking out for his musical future, Anthony Crawford ended up reaching back to his past, to a time when he was a budding musician in Birmingham. This recent journey has been a rewarding one not just for him but also for fans of Sugarcane Jane.
The talented multi-instrumentalist has been a recording and touring pro since he left his hometown of Mountain Brook for Nashville almost 40 years ago, making music with some of the top names in the business. For the last decade he and his wife, Savana Lee, have enjoyed their own success in the Americana field with the sweet sounds they make with their memorably named duo. They recently decided to put together a full band, in part because of an opportunity to go on tour with old friend Dwight Yoakam, with whom Anthony performed and recorded in the mid-90s. But because the opening act’s job is to excite the crowd and build anticipation for the headliner, they knew that a duo wouldn’t do. When they were thinking about supporting musicians they could call on to flesh out their sound and create more energy, an interesting possibility from his past emerged.
“Savana and I were playing at a festival a few months back, and I was on stage setting up, and I heard this great pedal steel that was playing over the sound system,” Anthony says. “I asked the sound guy who it was, and he said it was a group called Rose Colored Glasses, and it was Pete Nice playing steel. And Pete was at the festival, too (to play with a band called The Starlings). When we got through with our set, I walked right up to him and asked him to join our band.”
Pete and Anthony were big-time pals growing up but had drifted apart as adults. They learned to play guitar together as kids and ran track alongside one another at Mountain Brook High School. During their teen-aged years they performed as a duo, first at school events but later at popular night spots such as The Lowenbrau and Joe Bar in Five Points. They even recorded an album in Nashville before parting ways – Anthony soon hit the road with a dizzying succession of world-class musical artists while Pete started a family and a career in construction and, later, high-end home decor, while still playing music on the side.
They also reached out to ace drummer Leif Bondarenko and hotshot lead guitarist Gary Edmonds, and the new backup band (soon dubbed The Bucket Fillers) was instantly thrilling crowds with its natural chemistry and professional prowess. On the road with Yoakam, their explosive energy grabbed attention at theaters and casinos in the Mid-Atlantic region and up the Eastern Seaboard.
“We had standing ovations at every show,” a jubilant Anthony said at the end of the triumphant run of shows in August, “and we sold everything we had but a couple of CDs.”
They’ve kept the five-piece band together for a string of club and festival dates since, even though, on paper, it may not make financial sense. It’s part of a concerted effort to take Sugarcane Jane to the next level and in front of new and bigger audiences, even though it comes with a price that includes extended periods of time away from their three young children.
“We’re going out on a limb, but we just feel like it’s going to pay off for us in the long run,” Anthony says. “We felt like we had kind of reached a glass ceiling with the acoustic duo.”
Brushes with greatness
Anthony worked off and on with Neil Young for years starting in 1983 and later toured with Steve Winwood. He has also toured or recorded with a long list of other stellar artists such as Eddie Rabbitt, Vince Gill, Rosanne Cash, Rodney Crowell, Pegi Young, Blackhawk, Steve Forbert, Nicolette Larson, and Tanya Tucker. Many others, including Yoakam, Sawyer Brown, Kenny Rogers, Lee Greenwood, and The Oak Ridge Boys have recorded his songs.
He got his start on the road in the early 1980s after he got word that country hit maker Sonny James, who was nearly 30 years his senior, was looking for someone who could play banjo, sing harmony, and help out driving the tour bus.
“He wanted to know if I knew how to double-clutch, and I said, ‘Of course I do.’“ He had to learn that last part literally on the job but recalls that, after maybe grinding a few gears at first, he became so smooth at it that he was soon pressed into double shifts behind the wheel on longer trips.
It’s not his nature to boast of his accomplishments, but he has some great stories. He says the only time he was ever star-struck was when Paul McCartney sauntered up backstage after a Neil Young show at Hyde Park in London. Just minutes earlier, Sir Paul had joined them on stage for the Beatles classic “A Day in the Life.” As the others had already taken off for the dressing rooms, he found himself face-to-face alone for a long and awkward moment with his favorite Beatle – he was virtually speechless for the first and only time of his life.
There were brushes with Bruce Springsteen (Anthony showed him the chords to “Down by the River”) Joe Walsh and others. He laughs about the time Faron Young offered him a shot of banana liqueur in a Nashville motel room. And he will never forget the time he performed “Blackberry Blossom” and “I’ll Fly Away” with country patriarch Roy Acuff at the Grand Ole Opry. But there are plenty more experiences he’s forgotten completely, and he has kept surprisingly few mementos.
“I didn’t really realize how special it was. I was just living it,” he says. “I never thought, ‘Wow, this is something I’m going to look back on and this is going to be a great story to tell some day.’ “
The Crawfords live at the end of a mile-and-a-half red dirt road in a secluded but not remote patch of woods near the small town of Loxley in Baldwin County. They are surrounded by nature, and their only close neighbors are members of Savana’s extended family. Just steps from their two-story dogtrot-style house is Anthony’s cozy but state-of-the-art studio where they have crafted most of their own seven albums and where he has also recorded three solo albums. As a busy producer for hire he has lent his expertise and instrumentation to the works of a couple of dozen other artists over the last few years. He can track virtually any instrument himself, and having Savana there to add harmonies certainly sweetens the deal.
Their three adorable and precociously creative children have names that reflect their parents’ passion for music. Nine-year-old Loretta Raine, six-year-old Levon Cash, and three-year-old Dusty Lee are already showing talent in a range of artistic pursuits.
Savana grew up in nearby Robertsdale, where her father was the principal and her mother the school counselor. (Now retired, Grandma and Grandpa live nearby and help out with the kids.) She was already playing piano when she sang in public for the first time at age five. Later, she took up clarinet and trumpet. As an adult, she pursued music on her own briefly in New Orleans and then Nashville, where she co-owned and managed a recording studio. One day Anthony came in to record, and their vocal harmonies were undeniably great. They sing like birds, yes, but perhaps more soulfully.
As they got to know one another, they realized they had something in common besides the love of roots music that was about to help bind them. Though he had grown up in Mountain Brook, his parents had relocated to Daphne down on the Mobile Bay, just eight miles away from Savana’s.
During Sugarcane Jane’s early years, Savana played acoustic rhythm guitar before switching over to snare drum, which she played along with Anthony on guitar and bass drum (yes, simultaneously). She took up the bass ukulele – a smaller version of a bass guitar – a couple of years back as another way of filling out the duo’s sound, which has elements of bluegrass, country, and folk, and a dash of rock ‘n’ roll.
The business end
Savana has always booked the shows and tours and promoted them through social media and the website that she designed. She has used her graphic arts skills to design their CD covers, posters, and other promotional materials. And she’s the one who has kept them stocked with the all-important merchandise to sell at shows. She has coordinated itineraries for the band and made the hotel reservations, conducting a lot of their business while in the car going from show to show.
This is, of course, in addition to her duties as a mom.
“It’s certainly a challenge,” she says. “The reality of it is nowhere near as glamorous as it might seem. We’ve never had a honeymoon, and we’ve never taken a vacation – we just work hard.”
Because of the heavy workload, they recently asked Birmingham music veteran Rick Carter (of Telluride and Rollin’ in the Hay renown) to come aboard as their manager. Like the hand-picked band members, he and Anthony go way back – Anthony was even a guitarist in Telluride briefly before setting off for Nashville.
“It’s just one of those organic things that made sense to us,” says Savana. ”Rick is so knowledgeable and experienced, and he has such a good reputation in the industry.” Of the new band, she says: “We’re not just bringing in random players. We have a relationship with these guys, and that makes it feel really comfortable.”
Talking from the road, after a dozen or so shows under his belt on pedal steel, lap steel, mandolin, and occasional harmonica, Pete Nice was thankful to have made the reconnection with his old friend and was excited about the new music they are making.
“It does seem like a real twist of fate,” says Nice. “This all coming down like it did, the timing of it all, is perfect. I am happy to be a part of it – absolutely.”
Review: Sugarcane Jane and The Bucket Fillers- 'Live'
by Chris Griffy of Concert Hopper
Sugarcane Jane is usually a two-piece outfit, consisting of the husband and wife duo of Savana Lee and Anthony Crawford. If you want to see them as a band, you typically have to see them with roots music supergroup Willie Sugarcapps. But when country legend Dwight Yoakam asks you to put together a band and open for him on tour, you start finding musicians. For Sugarcane Jane, that became The Bucket Fillers, a set of instrumental ringers hailing from Birmingham. To celebrate their newfound status as a band, Sugarcane Jane and The Bucket Fillers decided to record a house show and release it digitally as Sugarcane Jane and The Bucket Fillers Live, available Nov. 1 through their website and on all major digital platforms..
If you're a fan of Sugarcane Jane's mix of rockabilly, classic country, and Gulf Coast boogie, you're going to love the fuller sound the band brings to favorites like “Cabin on the Hill” and “Ballad of Sugarcane Jane.” As much of a guitar hero as Crawford is, he's just one man, and fellow guitarist Gary Edmonds gives the whole thing an injection of Carl Perkins-esque rockabilly flow.
Of the Sugarcane Jane originals on the album, two standout in particular. The first, “Campfire” is from the band's most recent album Southern State of Mind, which Concert Hopper premiered the video for. The song was the feel-good highlight of that album and, as a full band live song, it pops even more. The second, also from Southern State of Mind, is “Man of the Fewest Words.” This song is the best feature of the pair's harmonies, and of their talent for passing vocal leads at just the right moment.
But the real sell of Sugarcane Jane and The Bucket Fillers Live is its covers. Crawford, who has performed extensively as a sideman for both Neil Young and Steve Winwood, pays tribute to his former bosses with a medley of Young's classic “Old Man” and “Can't Find My Way Home” from Winwood's Blind Faith. “Old Man” is an oft-covered song that Sugarcane Jane makes its own, though Crawford has obviously heard the song enough to inject just a bit of Young's Canadian twang into his vocals. The bigger feat is “Can't Find My Way Home.” That one has been covered a few times over the years, mostly badly, to the point that it's a song I consider near uncoverable. There's a quality to Winwood's near falsetto, Clapton's tone, and Ginger Baker's unique drumming that is near impossible to replicate. Wisely, the band doesn't, choosing instead to lower the vocal register (and let both Crawford and Lee share the heavy vocal load), balance the electric guitar flash with some acoustic grounding, and let the bass and drums keep it all on the rails. It's the best cover of the song that doesn't feature Steve Winwood in some way that I've ever heard.
The album closes with a surprise cover, “Folsom Prison Blues”, voiced by drummer Leif Bondarenko. Bondarenko's deep rumble is close enough to At Folsom Prison era Cash that the recording could probably pass for a live bootleg from the day. There's nothing new, innovative, or revolutionary in this cover, and there shouldn't be. Some songs are best left alone. “Folsom Prison Blues” is as perfect a rockabilly sing-along song as has ever been written and a down the middle crowd pleasing show closer is always a good idea.
It's not known if, after the tour with Yoakam, Sugarcane Jane will return to their status as a duo or continue to play occasional shows with The Bucket Fillers, but either way this album should be enough to convince you to see whatever iteration of the group comes your way. You can see their current run of tour dates here.
New album from local artists with big-name roots
by: Curt Brewer
Posted: Oct 19, 2018 / 01:42 PM CDT/ Updated: Oct 19, 2018 / 01:46 PM CDT
If you have lived in the Mobile area for any length of time, then you know that we have deep musical roots and some of our talent is known far and wide. One of those we speak of is decades-long guitar player for Neil Young, Anthony Crawford and his wife, Savana Lee. Anthony and Savana live in Baldwin County and have a groovy band called “Sugarcane Jane.” They have just released their seventh studio album titled, “Southern State of Mind.” I had a chance to interview Savana and find out a little more about this majestic duo that we get to claim exclusively.
Q: Where are you and Anthony from?
Savana: “Anthony was born in Birmingham. Moved to Nashville at 18. After he lost a brother who was serving in the Military his parents moved to Daphne, Alabama…literally 8 miles from my parents in Loxley, Alabama, which is where I grew up.”
Q: Where and how did you and Anthony meet?
Savana: “March, 2000, Deepfield Studio, Nashville, Tennessee. I co-owned and managed a private analog recording studio with my first husband. Anthony was recording there.”
Q: What is special to you about the new album, “Southern State of Mind?”
Savana: “It’s more romantic, to me. I teared up the first time I heard Southern State of Mind, written by Anthony and Buzz Cason. I pictured us growing old out here on this property, and memories flooding through about the kids… Christmases and Thanksgivings… it is a fairytale life we are living, truly. We Can Dream is another special one to me. But not to stray too far from Dirt Road’s End, we still have the pound on the dashboard up-tempos like Cabin on the Hill and Campfire.”
Q: What is your favorite song on “Southern State of Mind?”
Savana: “Man of fewest words. The melody hit us hard and we knew it was like a big fish. The concept of the lyric is based off of the search for wisdom.”
Q: What can people expect from a Sugarcane Jane live show?
Savana: “Leaving with knowing you just experienced love. We love what we do and it’s infectious..
Our fans choose love.”
Q: What would you be doing if not playing music?
Savana: “What we do now when we’re not playing music. We record artists at our home studio, Admiral Bean Studio, in Loxley, Alabama where we do projects on a regular basis. We are a full production company where we can make records, graphics/design, manufacture CDs, websites, promotion, videos, etc. It keeps us busy when we’re not performing.”
Q: Where do you see yourselves in 5 years? 20 years?
Savana: “In 5 years, I have to age my children to figure this out… Loretta would be 13, Levon would be 11, and Dusty would be almost 8. I see us touring the country and homeschooling the kids, bringing them with us. Teaching them about the country as we travel. I remember my parents taking us up to Washington DC to see the monument and out West, to the Alamo and the Grand Canyon. Those left huge impressions on me as a kid and I want to give that to our kids. Plus it’s a great opportunity to go out and perform for fans across the country. We live in an area where people come from all over to vacation on the Gulf Coast, so after performing here for a decade we’ve gained fans all over that never get to hear us unless they come back to visit. Our snow bird fans… we love them. We want to go play in Minnesota and Michigan. Where ever people are that want to hear what we do, we want to go there. I think in 20 years…. Loretta will be 28, Levon will be 26, and Dusty almost 23. and we will be, hmm, 20 years older. I think we will be retired from performing except for maybe special occasions…. Anthony will be a highly sought after producer, recording at Admiral Bean Studio. We could possibly be grandparents technically at that time… I think I would just embrace family, and do more artwork. I used to do pen/ink, pencil, charcoal, scratchboard drawings when I was younger. I plan on getting back into that and I’ve always wanted to teach myself how to sew.”
For more information on Sugarcane Jane, please visit their website at https://sugarcanejane.com
Review and Video First Look: Sugarcane Jane Are a Musical Melting Pot on 'Southern State of Mind'
October 20, 2018 - by Chris Griffy
The Gulf Coast region of Alabama is a bit of a musical melting pot. In addition to their own water-born musical influences, their proximity to the musical meccas of New Orleans, Muscle Shoals, and Northern Florida has given the region a little bit of the musical flavor of all of those places. For Anthony Crawford and Savana Lee, the husband and wife duo who are collectively known as Sugarcane Jane, that musical melting pot gets even more flavors. Both Lee and Crawford have significant Nashville connections and Crawford spent a quarter century as a sideman performing in the bands of Neil Young, Steve Winwood, Vince Gill, and more. On their new album, Southern State of Mind, the duo teams up with another Southern music legend to bring all of those influences into focus.
For Southern State of Mind, Sugarcane Jane teamed up with Americana mainstay Buzz Cason, who co-produced the album, co-wrote most of the songs with Crawford, and is releasing the album Oct. 19 on his own ArenA Recordings label. The result of this meeting of the roots music minds is the most cohesive and wide-ranging album of Sugarcane Jane's career, and one that wears their influences on their sleeves.
The first musical influence that comes to mind while listening to Southern State of Mind is The Carter Family. Savanna Lee's vocals are so laced in the Carter Family tradition, she might want to consider a DNA test to be sure she doesn't have a little bit of Mother Maybelle's blood flowing in her veins. The Carter Family influence is most pronounced on “Cabin on the Hill.” The rollicking country barnburner invokes Rock City, moonshiners, and self-medicating grannies in what is the album's instant “got to make the setlist” track.
Another up tempo highlight is the album's first single, “Campfire.” Sometimes simplicity trumps subtlety and “Campfire” is a simple, exuberant, and fun-loving celebration of the Southern tradition of the group campfire. Read to the end of the article for a Concert Hopper first look at the video for “Campfire.”
But not everything on Southern State of Mind is so uptempo. “Man of the Fewest Words,” which best highlights how much the pair's harmonies fit like a well-worn old sweater, reminds us that, in an America that favors hyperbole over substance, sometimes it's the person who speaks the least who holds the most wisdom. “The One Before Me” is a mournful ballad about a woman who has to constantly compete with the memory of an old lover.
The pair's partners in the supergroup Willie Sugarcapps have also very obviously influenced their style. “Red Flag Warning” is a Southern gothic tune that, while not written by bandmate Grayson Capps, would certainly fit into his musical style nicely. The cadence and delivery of “Destiny,” another highlight, is straight out of the Will Kimbrough playbook. It's not surprising, considering how much time Sugarcane Jane has spent playing with Capps and Kimbrough that their styles have begun to bleed into each other, and it's certainly not a bad thing. It adds another dimension to a band that already has plenty of them.
If you want to see Sugarcane Jane performing songs from Southern State of Mind, you have plenty of opportunity. Rather than a traditional CD release show, the band is touring some of their favorite venues in the next few weeks to debut the new material as widely as possible.
Oct. 24- Watersound Beach Club- Watersound, FL
Oct. 27- Speckled Trout Tournament- Bon Secour, AL
Nov. 2- Big Beach Brewing Company- Gulf Shores, AL
Nov. 3- Playa Restaurant- Orange Beach, AL
Nov. 4- Frog Pond Social- Silverhill, AL
Nov. 9-10- FloraBama- Pensacola, FL
Nov. 9- Sunset Cork Room- Gulf Shores, AL
Nov. 11- Pirates Cove- Elberta, AL
Dec. 5- ArenA Records Showcase- 3rd & Lindsley- Nashville, TN
Now, as promised, the first look at Sugarcane Jane's debut video from Southern State of Mind, “Campfire”:
REVIEW: Sugarcane Jane’s “Southern State Of Mind” Is A Finely-Crafted Labor Of Love
October 22, 2018
Southern State of Mind is the most recent album by husband/wife duo Sugarcane Jane. The Alabama Gulf-Coast based group, which consists of Savana Lee Crawford and Anthony Crawford, have made a name for themselves with their rich vocal harmonies and outstanding lyricism. The duo fills their sound out, bringing the energy of a full band, with Savana and Anthony showcasing their multi-instrumentalism. Their new album, co-produced by well-known singer-songwriter Buzz Cason, is a finely-crafted labor of love.
The influence of traditional sounds fills this album, from the bluegrass influenced vocal style in “Cabin on the Hill” to the folk ballad approach taken in “Red Flag Warning.” While traditional sounds inform the sound, the duo manages to create new magic and find an original sound. They tamper with indie rock in the White Stripes-esque “Destiny,” and find influence from indie folk in “The One Before Me.” The feel good stomper “Campfire” and nostalgic “Southern State of Mind” will remind any southerner of home, painting pictures out of the the mystique of the American South. Sugarcane Jane hits their peak of vocal performance in the aptly titled “Man of the Fewest Words,” with Savana and Anthony trading lines back and forth before coming together for fine tuned harmonies in the chorus. “Rainbow” is a reminder to hold on through the bad, because good things come to those who wait. The album closes with two songs that feel like honest love letters to one another. “How Do You Know” and “We Can Dream” seem like they may have come out of a page of the couple’s life together.
You can hear the love in the vocal harmonies Savana and Anthony share throughout this astounding record. Not only love for eachother, but love for the music. Despite Anthony Crawford’s long history working with top players in the industry (Neil Young, Rosanne Cash, Steve Winwood), Sugarcane Jane is his and Savana Lee’s passion project, and you can hear the passion in Southern State of Mind. Get your copy at www.sugarcanejane.com
Nashville Music Guide
Album Preview of Sugarcane Jane With Soon To Be Released “Southern State Of Mind”
October 15, 2018 Sherryl Craig
Anthony Crawford and Savana Lee are Sugarcane Jane and they are probably one of the best duos on the Southern Rock, and what I call, Rock A Billy circuit. They are truly genuine talent and it’s spoken loud and clear in their music.
Crawford is a Birmingham Alabama native and Savana hails from Loxley Alabama. Together they make up this amazing duo called Sugarcane Jane. One of my favorites is their latest release “Campfire” from their album “Southern State of Mind” and I must say they knocked it out of the park on this one.
If you are a southern rock, folk rock fan, you’ll love the mix on this song and the harmonies are off the charts.
Influenced by legends such as The Everly Brothers, Neil Young, The Dillards, and Simon and Garfunkel, you’ll find hints of those timeless artists in the music and vocals you hear with Sugarcane Jane.
Anthony plays acoustic guitar, harmonica, kick drum, and fiddle while blending his crisp and energetic vocals with Savana’s sweet chorus. Savana plays acoustic guitar, snare drum, and Uke Bass while also joining in with mesmerizing lyrical harmonies.
“Southern State of Mind” has a soft wonderful ebb and flow to it. This single “Southern State Of Mind” on the self-titled album has a breezy feel to it. The harmonies are once again like honey. You’ll find yourself inside the story and the essence of each and every song. Feet tapping, soul cleansing, and all-around feel-good vibes will embrace you.
As husband and wife they know each other well and as a singing duo, they know exactly where the other will go with the inflection of tone, style, balance, and level of vocals and instrumentation. It’s not just a musical thing it’s a partner thing. I closed my eyes and it felt like there was a touch of Emmy Lou Harris and Neil Young or Bob Dylan and Alison Krauss.
The single called “Cabin On The Hill” stirred up my feet and I could not sit still in my seat. It’s gonna keep you jumping and dancing. The harmonies are tight and the instrumentation is jumping and jiving. Southern rock at it’s best. The harmonica and the driving percussion sections on this album keep it uptempo from the first note to the last. I’m a southern girl born and bred right here in Alabama, in a holler, this is where it’s at. “Cabin On The Hill” is a mover and a shaker, literally.
This outstanding duo shares their love of music and their talents with everyone they meet. They make fans feel like friends and part of the musical family. The simplicity and the down to earth feel to their music should not be seen as a weakness. It is the simplicity and the down to earth quality that makes their music, their style, and sound, a timeless and evergreen talent.
Anthony has performed with chart-topping artists such as Sonny James, Vince Gill, and Rosanne Cash plus he has written songs for some of my all-time favorites The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and Lee Greenwood.
The couple has performed at some of the most famous venues in the Southern/Gulf Coast region, places like The Shed, Flora-Bama, and The Causeway, just to name a few.
This album was released on Buzz Cason’s new label called ArenA Recordings. Buzz is famous for his work with The Crickets and he was also a backing singer for Elvis Presley and Kenny Rogers. He has been a professional in the music industry for many years.
For more information on where and how you can purchase your own copy of their music please visit the links below.
Note: All photos provided by the artist.
AXS - Review
Review: On 'Ladders and Edges,' Sugarcane Jane finds a reason to slow down
By: Chris Griffy AXS Contributor Jul 19, 2017
A lot is written about an artist's home and how the area they hail from influences their musical lives. But just as important as where they are from is where they've been, the road traveled, the people they meet and the styles picked up along the way. Most importantly to any artist who has been at it a while is how all of those things color how they see the place, and the people, they come back home to. Alabama Gulf Coast based husband and wife duo Sugarcane Jane explore that and more on their new album, Ladders and Edges.
Certainly Savana Lee and Anthony Crawford have plenty of miles on life's odometer to pull from. While both originally from the Gulf Coast, they met in Nashville after Anthony had spent a long career as a sideman to the likes of Neil Young, Vince Gill, and Steve Winwood and Savana had settled into life as a successful songwriter and studio head. Since forming Sugarcane Jane, they have developed a reputation as some of the most collaborative musicians in the business, sitting in with numerous artists and forming the supergroup Willie Sugarcapps with fellow Gulf Coasters Will Kimbrough, Grayson Capps, and Corky Hughes.
For Ladders and Edges, Sugarcane Jane have found a kindred spirit as producer. Colin Linden is the Canadian multi-instrumentalist and songwriter who is currently best known as the musical director for the hit soap opera Nashville. Linden has logged his own share of miles and his production philosophy blends perfectly with the band's.
While Ladders and Edges isn't a concept album, there is a general theme across its eleven songs, best laid out in the song “Slow It Down.” The acoustic rambler is a call to unplug from the 24 information feed that is 21st Century life and enjoy the things and people around you. In the same vein is “Train of Information”, with its refrain “take your seat, enjoy the ride, you're never going back” backed up by some slick electric guitar licks by Crawford.
In the album's press material, Sugarcane Jane emphasized the importance of family in shaping their current musical philosophy, saying “family is everything to us and we are trying to give our kids some guidance and advice in song, without having to necessarily tell them everything repeatedly.” Nowhere is this more clear than in the album's standout track “Never Do We Know.” A bare declaration of the need to enjoy “one last kiss” or “the last time we look into each other's eyes” because life isn't a given is hardly a new concept in song, but the gentle harmonies and endearing earnestness of the pair's harmonies elevate a time-worn trope to something worth a second listen.
If you're familiar with Sugarcane Jane, Ladders and Edges is all of the instrumental prowess, tight harmonies, and diverse gospel, country, rock, and swamp influences you'd expect, with a serious rock and roll punch up from Colin Linden. If you're new to Sugarcane Jane, Ladders and Edges is a great jumping on point.
Lagniappe Mobile - Review
by Steve Centanni
Over the years, playing together as Sugarcane Jane and as two-fourths of Willie Sugarcapps, Anthony and Savana Lee Crawford have become the “first couple” of the Mobile Bay music scene. Sugarcane Jane’s infectious music draws an enthusiastic crowd to every performance. Fans now have the chance to sample new material from their favorite band.
On June 2, the duo released their latest album, “Ladders & Edges.” Sugarcane Jane kept the recording process close to home by utilizing Anthony Crawford’s Admiral Bean Studio. This also marks the band’s first release on vinyl.
“Ladders & Edges” is marked by layer after layer of rich and lovely instrumentation with acoustic guitar in the forefront. The Crawfords also expertly weave their beautiful harmonies throughout each song. “Ladders & Edges” could not have been released at a more ideal time of year, providing the perfect complement to warm, starry evenings on the Gulf Coast.
The Southland Music Line
After a long, extensive process following their successful 2015 album “Dirt Road’s End”, Sugarcane Jane delves into a more contemporary sound than some of their previous work yet stays true to every element of music that is very much their trademark Sugarcane Jane identity. They (Anthony and Savana Lee Crawford) enrich our lives with something very personal and intimate with the latest release. “Ladders and Edges” which features guest appearance by Colin Linden continues a mission of excellence that we have come to value and appreciate from the popular duo. In 2016, Anthony Crawford’s solo release “National Treasure” ranked among The Southland Music Line’s top albums. His latest with wife Savana is sure to merit that same recognition.
Sugarcane Jane has been featured in numerous articles and photo collections at The Southland Music Line. They were voted Music Artist of the Year in 2015 by the readers of The Southland Music Line and their album “Dirt Road’s End” was voted 2015’s Album of the Year by the readers too.
Some of the songs from the new album that stand out early for me are “Words”, “The Whistle Song” (you’ll catch yourself whistling along), the beautiful and moving “Never Do We Know”, “The Edge”, “New Love” and the amazing “13th Believer”.
We highly recommend “Ladders and Edges”.
The Washington Times Review