If you aren’t able to catch one of the two performances by Chicago Americana duo, there’s a possibility that you could still get a postcard from Taos.
That’s right, while the band has the ubiquitous email list, they also allow fans to give them their snail mail. Those who do will be rewarded with regular postcards from the road. And Sugar Still, who will be playing at Taos Mesa Brewing on Monday (Feb. 22), and at The Taos Inn on Tuesday (Feb. 23), is a band that will be on the road a lot this year.
While only being together as a performing act for a little more than a year, Sarah Blick and Charlie Cheney are not the type of people to work out their sound around their hometown. They are currently on a set of dates for about 40 gigs across the West, before heading back to Chicago, and then hitting the road again.
“We get antsy,” says Blick. “We both love to travel and that’s why we do this, because we want to see new places and meet new people.”
A classically trained violinist and vocalist, Blick teamed up with guitarist and songwriter Cheney after meeting through a mutual friend, and eventually taking a road trip back together from Los Angeles.
“We wrote some songs together on the trip, and then we decided to play them at an open mic when we got back to Chicago,” Blick says. “We thought, ‘this is a good thing, we should do more of this.’”
The duo incorporates folk and bluegrass, classical and through Cheney, Led Zeppelin.
“We do a lot of blues-based stuff and we’re getting more into gypsy jazz and swing,” Blick says. “That’s been a lot of fun for me because it’s a great mix of jazz and fiddling, but it’s classically structured.”
She says that she brings the classical and jazz and Cheney brings the rock.
“We’re way more energetic than what people might think about when they think of a folk duo,” she says.
And the energy seems to apply to more than just Sugar Still’s live show. After only four months together as a band, the two were in the studio recording their fist album, “Balance.” They released another EP at Christmas.
“That’s just the kind of people we are,” Blick says. “When we find something we like, we push down on the accelerator. It’s been an incredible year. The things we do keep leading to more things and it’s so cool to be able to perform and have that sustain you. Neither one of us have ever been in a band when we’ve been able to dedicate so much time.”
In many ways, this current tour is Sugar Still’s coming out party to most of the country. And it’s an exciting time for the band, who has jumped into the project with all four feet.
“We moved out of our apartment and I left my job,” says Blick. “We’re really going for it. It’s a huge step, going into being a full-time performer. I couldn’t be happier.”
The popularity of many harmonizing man-woman duos right now, like The Civil Wars and HoneyHoney (who recently played at TMB) is something the band hopes it can capitalize on, as well as another trend that Blick says has been interesting and helpful.
“The biggest thing we’ve found is this renaissance in the craft beer world,” says Blick, noting that many of their gigs are at small breweries around the West. “They’re community based, independent and they’re all about having a good time. That’s been our biggest market.”
When they aren’t on the road, writing songs in the car, Blick and Cheney enjoy performing and getting to know new places and people.
“We’re excited to check out the music scenes of all these different places,” she says. “We’re looking forward to meeting new people and we wanna learn people’s stories.”
The giving and taking of stories is something they both love about working as performing songwriters and musicians, which is one of the reasons they do things like keep a blog, and send fans postcards.
“We just want to share the entire experience with people,” Blick says. “We believe in personal connections. Instead of just being performer and audience, we’re going to tell you our stories and we want you to tell us your stories.”
While he was driving for the entire phone interview with The Taos News, Cheney did manage to pass on one message to Taos readers through Blick.
“At our core, we are singer/songwriters,” he says. “We love to share our songs and our art.”
And according to Blick, Cheney does a mean Robert Plant pose. “I’m his Jimmy Page,” she says.
Taos Mesa Brewing is located at 20 ABC Mesa Road, off U.S. 64 west. Call (575) 758-1900. The Taos Inn is at 125 Paseo del Pueblo Norte in downtown Taos. Call 758-2233. There is no cover charge for either show, but donations will be appreciated. Visit sugarstill.com.