Sugar Pie DeSanto with The Butanes|
The Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant
October 13, 2009
By Rich Benson
Copyright © 2009, all rights reserved
She may be small in stature, yet Sugar Pie showed an unbreakable spirit and unique style in her first appearance in the Twin Cities in at least 50 years. Hitting the stage with strong vocals and attitude she wowed the crowd with "You Is One Black Rat" from her latest CD, Refined Sugar. Dancing, clapping, and glaring at the crowd with her tough woman stare to make her point, she basked in the spotlight. Even when she tries to be nice, smooth, and soulful in her singing, her grit and attitude come through. Starting out slow and soulful, the band playing softly, she started "One Day Baby (I'll be in the Hall of Fame." She dropped her wrap, kicked off her shoes, and literally kicked it into high gear, jumping, shaking, and dancing in front of the crowd, kicking out her leg, and informing the crowd, "I can get nasty if I want!" The solid Butanes followed her with a great instrumental sound.
Sugar Pie immediately got the crowd up to dance and wave on the funky, jamming song "Do What You Want." After energizing the crowd, she called out, "Don't that make you feel good. Make you want to knock someone out." She introduced her next song, "Dance Til the Crack of Dawn," noting that after 40 years she hit #15 on the pop charts with the revised recording. The fast, funky driving blues was driven by Sugar Pie dancing and singing with passion, guitarist Obeda laying down some great, buzzing guitar riffs, Virgil playing a mean B-3 with a wicked solo, and Stupka and Lindberg laying down a rock solid, fast-paced rhythm. Horn players Greenwell on sax and Nelson on trombone added the horn flourishes and punctuation.
Sugar Pie featured a number of her songs form her last CD, some of which were reworked previous hits, such as "Hello San Francisco." This two-part song has everything you'll ever hear in the blues: loving, cheating, travel, anger, joy, humor, loss, redemption, and above all else, rolling with the punches of life with attitude. Sugar Pie rolled on the stage, jumped up, and continued her speaking / singing of her tale. She selected a male victim from the crowd to dance with her on stage. Then she hugged his neck, jumped up on him and wrapped her legs around him, then released him, feel back on the stage, the man thinking she was hurt. She resumed singing, jumped up, and kept on rolling. I think it's safe to say The Dakota has never seen anyone quite like Sugar Pie, and hopefully they'll have her back soon.
Sugar Pie toured with James Brown, Rufus Thomas, Jackie Wilson, as well as writing for and recording with a host of Chess Records artists in the late 50's up to the mid-60's. She recently received an R & B Pioneer Award and is a past recipient of a BAMMIES Regional Award for Best Female Blues Artist. Be sure to catch her show if you ever have a chance. You won't be disappointed.
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