Last week, Taos Plaza Live took a hiatus while the Fiestas de Taos were celebrated with a 2017 theme of “Dios, Familia, Amigos y Comunidad” (”God, Family, Friends and Community”). Tonight (July 27), the summer concert series resumes its weekly Taos Plaza performance with an early show by touring band Sugar Still, followed by a set by Taos band Last to Know.
Sugar Still starts out the night at 5:30 p.m. with an hourlong set of original music. Grounded by a background in roots-blues, storytelling and classical music, Sugar Still’s influences include Devil Makes Three, Stevie Wonder, Jefferson Airplane and Gillian Welch.
“We’re gonna try and keep it up-tempo and snappy and see if we can get people up and moving around,” says Charlie Cheney, guitarist-vocalist for Sugar Still. “We’ve got a bunch of new songs that we’ll preview.”
“Go,” the acoustic duo’s third album, was released in early March of 2017. The title is a reference to life on the road. For more than two years, the duo has been touring nonstop through the United States and Canada in a minivan. Sugar Still started touring for “Go” in Taos. The duo is returning this summer with brand-new material.
Sarah Blick, Sugar Still’s classically trained vocalist and violinist, said she and Cheney are pleased with the attention they have received from National Public Radio and elsewhere in response to “Go.”
“You can play the side of the industry where you’re hustling, hiring publicists, working the system. We don’t have the patience or money for that. We just let it happen,” said Blick.
Today, at 8 p.m., Sugar Still will also be playing at Taos Mesa Brewing’s Taos Tap Room. If you like what you hear at the Plaza show, you can take a short walk over to Taos Tap Room to hear another set by Sugar Still.
Last to Know performs at Taos Plaza Live from 6:30-8 p.m. tonight. The Taos jam band has been around for some 17 years now and is a real crowd-pleaser. Last to Know features Curt West (bass), Scott Barady (percussion), Howie Roemer (keyboards), Dan Irion (mandolin and vocals), Randy Morris (drums), Marisa Ireland (vocals and acoustic guitar) and Tom Pryor (guitar, pedal steel and vocals).
Last to Know originally had a bluegrass orientation, according to Roemer. Then, with the addition of drums, the band took on a funkier feel. When Pryor and Ireland joined the band, the sound again evolved and has grown closer to Americana with influences of rock and roll.
Despite the changes, Roemer is quick to point out, “We still call ourselves a jam band.”
While there is no date set, Roemer said that Last to Know would like to record an album of original songs and the band has started rehearsing songs with that in mind.
“We pay more attention to the structure of the song,” noted Roemer. He said that Last to Know has also worked on creating a more compact, recording-friendly version of the group’s songs, taking out the jam portion to shorten their length.
Roemer said members of the band discovered that most of their songs work without the jam session. “Now we have two versions of every song,” he added.
For the Taos Plaza Live show, the band’s members will play some of the shortened versions of their songs. But, they also will stay true to their love of jamming, reading the crowd and throwing in what feels good in the moment. In addition, they plan to debut a new classic rock cover tune.
“It’s one of our favorite shows,” commented Roemer of Taos Plaza Live.
Last to Know has played at the Taos Solar Music Festival, Silverton Jamboree, Crestone Music Festival, Albuquerque’s Alibi Spring Crawl, Santa Fe’s Thirsty Ear Festival and the Dreamtime Festival. The group has shared the bill with Hot Buttered Rum String Band, The Motet, Buckwheat Zydeco, Culture, The Vince Herman Trio, The Skatalites and Leftover Salmon.
Catch Last to Know at noon on Aug. 5 at Taos Ski Valley’s Bavarian Lodge for the celebration and award party for the 12th annual 10K Up and Over Trail Run. On Aug. 12, Last to Know headlines at Eagle Fest in Eagle Nest.
For more information, visit Sugar Still at sugarstill.com and Last to Know at lasttoknowmusic.net. Taos Plaza Live is produced by the Taos County Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Taos businesses. Visit taoschamber.com/taos-plaza-live-music-schedule or call (575) 751-8800 for a full schedule of Taos Plaza Live concerts this summer.