Heavy Suga' & The SweeTones originated in Hot Springs, Arkansas in 2007. The original band was composed of Heather Crosse (bass, vocals), Jerry Jines (guitar, vocals) & Greg Batterton (harmonica, trumpet, vocals & comic relief). In 2008, Heather moved to Clarksdale, Mississippi to follow her Blues dreams & play bass for Super Chikan. While in Clarksdale, Heather kept her band going & added local drummer Lee Williams & Mark Yacovone on keys to the regular lineup. "It was the perfect mix of musicians & souls" says cheez' grinnin' Heather. The band continued to perform until Jerry passed on and Greg got too sick for travel, after which Clarksdale musicians Daddy Rich & Marshall Drew helped Heather keep the band going. Local Clarksdale friend & guitarist, Walt Busby started playing more permanently & Heavy Suga' & The SweeTones continued groovin' on, just like Heather's mentors taught her to do. They also added frequent Clarksdale visitor Boston's Dick "The Poet" Lourie on sax whenever possible. In the last nine years other than being regulars at world famous Ground Zero Blues Club, Juke Joint Fest & Sunflower Blues & Gospel Festival they have also played major Blues Festivals including, King Biscuit & Chicago Blues Fest and many other clubs & events across the country. They have opened for B.B. King, Robert Plant, Paul Thorne, Bernie Marsden, Super Chikan & have had the honor of backing some Blues Legends, including Charlie Musslewhite, Bob Margolin, Jody Williams, Guitar Shorty, Terry "Big T" Williams, James "Super Chikan" Johnson & Chicago Blues Legend, Taildragger. Most recently an old friend/mentor of Heather's, Dan Smith of Hot Springs, Arkansas, joined the band on guitar. In 2014, Heather was signed to the German Blues label, Ruf Records, and in May 2015 the band recorded her debut solo album, "Groovin' At The Crosse Roads," with Grammy winning producer, Jim Gaines. The album was released worldwide in September 2015! Every song pays homage to the Blues greats who have shaped them into the musicians they are today. They are humbled by their success & are happiest when they are sharing their music with their fans. Heavy Suga' & The SweeTones are a fun & unique Soul Blues band that will keep you dancing, touch your heart and always put on a high-energy show that you won't want to miss!
Playing with our friends!!!
Dick "The Poet" Lourie
Dan Smith is a seasoned musician who has played most of his life. He is very well-rounded in several musical genres & plays numerous instruments, including mandolin, pedal steel & lap steel. In Hot Springs, Arkansas, Dan fronted his own Blues band, Danny Smith & the Shuffle Kings, for more than 15 years. He's had the honor of playing with the likes of Smokin' Joe Kubeck, Don McLean & Anson Funderburgh. Dan has got all the guitar licks deep in his soul and knows when to play 'em! Dan joined the SwweTones in 2014 and does all the guitar parts & some back up singing on the album.
Dick Lourie is an old-school tenor sax player whose style began taking shape during his high school days in the 1950's. Originally from New Jersey, Dick has lived in a number of places, but currently he divides his time between Clarksdale, Mississippi & Boston, Massachusetts, where he has been a fixture on the lively local Blues scene for the last 25 years! His style ranges through the expanse of roots music from blues to soul, r&b to jump & rockabilly to doo-wop. For many years he played in the backup band for the G-Clefs, a singing group who began as teenage stars at the Apollo Theater and stayed together for fifty years. He began performing with the late Big Jack Johnson in 1995, appearing with the band at many venues & festivals over the next 16 years. He has also played festivals in Clarksdale, with the Deep Cuts & with Terry "Big T" Williams and the Family Band. In 2012 he was with Big T at the Chicago Blues Festival. On stage with the SweeTones, his solos and horn lines propel the band back into that vintage sound and forward into excitement!
Walt Busby was born in Clarksdale, Mississippi & he still resides there playing & teaching music at the Delta Blues Museum. Although still a young man, Walt is a seasoned guitarist with many years of musical experience. As a teenager he played guitar in Jacqueline Nassar 's band, July 23rd, which included traveling to California to record in a professional studio. In his early twenties Walt was the sound engineer for five years at world famous Ground Zero Blues Club owned by Morgan Freeman. He has grown into a well rounded musical genius who has mastered playing several instruments! Currently, Walt plays in several Mississippi based bands & is a film composer. His vast musical experience also allows him to write original music, in which he plays all the instruments, lays down vocals, records & mixes in his own personal studio! He has played with Heavy Suga’ & The SweeTones for the last seven years.
Mark Yacovone (Piano, Hammond B3 Organ, Accordion), originally from Providence, Rhode Island, is probably least known for his brief appearances on "Gene Simmons: Family Jewels" & "The Next Karate Kid". Mark currently resides in Oxford, Mississippi & is the housebound pianist in "The Thacker Mountain Radio Show" -- a live, unrehearsed radio show, broadcast from the Oxford square on Mississippi Public Radio. Mark recently came off of a cross-country tour with Shannon McNally, in support of her new record with Dr. John, called "Small Town Talk" -- the music of Bobby Charles. In addition, Mark has had the opportunity to play with countless acts including: Jeff Daniels, Maria Muldaur, Charlie Musselwhite, Kenny Brown, Duwayne Burnside, Mojo Nixon, and Jody Williams, to name a few. Mark joined the SweeTones in 2009 and he does all the keys parts on the album.
Born into a musical family in Clarksdale, Mississippi, Lee Williams started out playing buckets in the streets at eight-years-old. Now, at age 33 Lee has become a highly respected & sought after drummer, with 25 years of experience under his belt! He learned to play drums at the Delta Blues Museum's Music Education Program & graduated when he was twelve-years-old. Instructor, Johnnie Billington, took Lee under his wing & made him the drummer in his allstar kid band, JB & the Midnighters. They traveled across America for several years & even played at The White House for Senator Trent Lott in 1995! As a child Lee got to play with B.B. King & he performed a show for ZZ Top. Lee has accumulated years of professional experience including being the house drummer at the world famous Ground Zero Blues Club owned by Morgan Freeman since it's opening. Lee has backed several musicians including, Pinetop Perkins, Super Chikan, Big Jack Johnson, Big T & The Family, Lil Dave Thompson, Bob Margolin, Bob Corritore, Bob Stroger, John Primer, Taildragger, Jody Williams, Cash McCall, Tab Benoit, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, JP Soars, Tommy Castro, Nick Schnebelen, Samantha Fish, Danielle Nicole Schnebelen, T-Model Ford, Little Jeno Tucker Express Band, Razorblade & The Deep Cuts, Jacqueline Nassar & many others! He has performed at various clubs, major Blues Festivals, private parties & events across the USA, Canada & Europe. Lee has also become quite the “Pro” in the recording studio, recording with T-Model Ford, Joe Osburn, Bill “Howlin’ Madd” Perry, Super Chikan, Terry “Big T” Williams, Maria Muldaur, Jerry Jemmott, Bill Payne, and Bernie Marsden. Mentors, like Sam Carr, have touched Lee’s life & now he carries on that legacy through his hard-hitting performances & teaching in Blues music programs. Lee has taught music in the Arkansas, "Blues In The Schools" program & he currently teaches at the Delta Blues Museum in Clarksdale, Mississippi & he gives private lessons to up & coming musicians. Lee is a key long-time member of Heavy Suga’ & The SweeTones, not only giving them their unique sound with his drumming, but also, co-writing the songs & providing backup vocals.
Give it up for... the Band
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