Sugarcane Jane - Organic Music at its Finest!
Just one listen is all it takes to understand why Sugarcane Jane is quickly becoming one of the Gulf Coast's most popular bands - one with an extremely devoted and loyal following.
This high-energy folk rock duo, made up of husband and wife Anthony Crawford and Savana Lee Crawford, bills its unique sound as "Organic Music at its Finest." The music is home grown and natural, and draws from a deep well of roots influences. Listeners can expect mostly acoustic sounds (guitar and mandolin), and some of the freshest-sounding vocal harmonies they will ever hear.
Anthony, a virtuoso multi-instrumentalist and a prolific songwriter with more than 400 songs to his credit, has had a long career as a sideman to the stars, with long associations with Neil Young, Steve Winwood, Dwight Yoakam and many others. He and Savana first met in Nashville several years ago when she was searching for success as a solo performer. Their first musical meeting was magical, resulting in a collaborative CD called "Redbird," and they soon teamed up musically, and romantically, and returned their native Alabama and its warm and welcoming family roots.
Despite having traveled the world with rock stars such as Young and Winwood and having recorded on dozens of albums with industry heavyweights like Vince Gill, Rodney Crowell, Rosanne Cash and many others over the years, Anthony says Sugarcane Jane is his life's calling. "It's the pinnacle of my musical career,” he told the Mobile Press-Register last year. And, finally, he's singing, playing, arranging and recording his own songs instead of others'.
Anthony and Savana live in Loxley, Ala., an easy drive to and from clubs and festivals in Mobile as well as Coast destinations such as Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Biloxi and Pensacola. Demand for the band has kept them busy along the Gulf Coast as they begin to explore the Southeast for touring possibilities. Despite having frequent opportunities to catch Sugarcane Jane live, fans regularly drive 30 or 40 miles (and sometimes a few hundred) to enjoy another unique Sugarcane Jane experience.
The song arrangements are always changing, and the musicians can literally turn on a dime at any moment, veering into psychedelia and giving 'jam bands' a run for their money.
Another innovation, one that Anthony calls a "game-changer" for the group's sound, has been the addition of drums. Anthony plays the bass drum or stomp box (yes, while also playing guitar) and Savana plays snare drum or tambourine in addition to rhythm guitar. "As soon as I brought that kick drum to a show," he said. "I knew that was the missing piece of the puzzle, that low-end thump. It's amazing to see how people react to it."
While Sugarcane Jane's first two CDs were stripped-down and sparse, reflecting their live sound as a duo, their new CD is a bit more lush and polished. Entitled "Listen with Headphones," it contains 14 songs that were lovingly and professionally crafted in Anthony's home studio; it offers listeners plenty of "ear candy" that rewards them if they follow the album title's advice. Their muse for the project is the couple's young daughter, Loretta Raine; no fewer than six of the album's songs were written about her or inspired by her. And, like in Sugarcane Jane's performances, there are a few cover tunes, too.
And as far as "Jane" goes, there's not one. Sugarcane Jane is a band name that the two came up with to distinguish themselves from the dozens of self-named duos that were also playing in the area. It comes from a remembrance of Savana’s grandfather cutting sugarcane for Halloween treats for neighborhood children.
"People ask me all the time if I'm Jane," said Savana with a smile. "I tell 'em, "No, I'm Savana, and we are Sugarcane Jane."
Sugarcane Jane fans can expect a series of live performances to be released on CD, as the group has recently been recording all of its shows. These performances include mostly original music but also surprising cover tunes, including many that Anthony has performed alongside his mentors and contemporaries over the years such as a few cleverly re-arranged Neil Young pieces, and will often surprise audiences with well-chosen covers such as “California Dreamin’,” “Ode to Billie Joe” or “House of the Rising Sun,” which always showcase their sibling-like harmonies.