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
Vintage Guitar Magazine Review
Dirt Road's End
There are enough examples of married-couple acts imploding or having one spouse drag the other down that there probably ought to be a warning sign, if not a law. But the debut duo album by Anthony and Savana Lee Crawford as Sugarcane Jane is enough to give romantics hope.
Multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Anthony Crawford has worked with Neil Young, Steve Winwood, Dwight Yoakam, Steve Forbert, Sonny James, Vince Gill, Rosanne Cash, Eddie Rabbitt, and Rodney Crowell - often as background vocalist, which is ironic considering his prowess on electric and acoustic guitars, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, piano, bass, drums, lap steel, and harmonica, all amply demonstrated here.
The opening "Ballad of Sugarcane Jane" is reminiscent in mood and texture of Steve Earle's "Copperhead Road." The next track, "The Game", falls somewhere between the Georgia Satellites and Timbuk 3. And there might be a touch of Buddy and Julie Miller here and there. But by "Home Nights", the couple's vocal harmonies and entering/disappearing instruments merge into a singular identity.
With co-producer Buzz Cason penning one and co-writing six of the 10 tunes and WIll Kimbrough guesting on banjo, this is one of the liveliest, most engaging Americana CDs you're likely to hear this or any year. - DF
Guitar World Interview | 'Dirt Road’s End': Sugarcane Jane's Anthony Crawford Talks New Album, Touring with Neil Young and More
Anthony Crawford and his wife, Savana Lee, are both virtuosos. Crawford is a songwriter who plays guitar and mandolin while Lee alternates between rhythm guitar, tambourine and snare drum.
Sugarcane Jane’s new album, Dirt Road’s End,provides a rich, homegrown brand of Americana that draws deep from a well of influences, including country, jazz, rock and gospel. The album was conceived and co-produced by legendary Americana/roots singer-songwriter Buzz Cason.
Dirt Road’s End, which was recorded on a classic Otari MTR-90 tape recorder, traverses a spectrum of moods and stories, including the autobiographical “Ballad of Sugarcane Jane” which features Anthony’s driving guitar work, and “Heartbreak Road," which steams with rock energy and bluegrass spirit.
I recently spoke with Crawford about Dirt Road’s End, recording “old school” and what it was like touring as a member of Steve Winwood and Neil Young’s bands.
GUITAR WORLD: To someone who might not be familiar with Sugarcane Jane, how would you describe your sound?
"Saving the planet one good vibe at a time" is our slogan. Savana and I are energy pushers and write songs that make people feel good. Although we have songs in our repertoire that have deeper meaning, the lyrical content for Dirt Road’s End is more light hearted. Savana and I are in love with each other, and that shows in our music. Ultimately, it’s energetic Americana that’s positive and light hearted.
What was the songwriting process like for Dirt Road’s End?
At one time when I was working in Nashville I was forced to write, but I quickly learned that the best songs are never written. Instead, they’re born. For this record, songs like “Ballad of Sugarcane Jane,” “San Andreas” and “Pedigree” were my lyrics and melody.
For the other seven, I wrote a melody or a piece of music and my co-writer/producer, Buzz Cason, wrote the lyrics. Buzz is such a masterful lyricist who's had a lot of success over the years. He’s always inspired. Then Savana came in and with her vocal and energy. She organized everything and brought it to life.
When you record with Pro Tools or in another digital format, manipulating the music is easily done. But when you record on analog, not only do you gather a different approach sonically but it also keeps you from the temptation of manipulating what it is you’re doing. Buzz has a studio in Nashville with a 2-inch tape machine and an old analog board and invited us in to record. We wanted to record that way because we wanted to capture exactly what we sound like live and have it be authentic.
What was it like for you working and touring as a guitarist with guys like Neil Young and Steve Winwood?
It was a fabulous time. I was in Steve’s band back when he did the Roll with It tour. I remember when I was on the road with him I was out with some serious musicians, like drummer Russ Kunkel, guys who’ve played on some really big records. We recently opened a show for Steve Winwood in Birmingham at the Alys Stephens Center, which is a beautiful venue.
But my main claim to fame as a sideman was playing with Neil Young. He’s someone who’s on maximum power at all times. For me to have been around him was an honor because not too many people get his approval. You can’t get a better gig than to play with Neil Young. He’s just amazing. He’s one of the most incredible songwriters of our time.
What excites you the most about the future and the next phase of your career?
We’re excited about having a broader audience and continuing to keep our music attached to who we are. Our secret weapon is to be ourselves, and by today’s standards it’s something that’s almost unheard of. We’re real people and want to continue to be ourselves and hopefully inspire other artists to embrace that philosophy and do the same.