One of the perks of working at a music venue is the endless flow of great music. Not only that, but you’re often exposed to music you might not otherwise discover on your own. This was exactly the case for me. After my college graduation, I landed an internship at a venue just north of Chicago that is known for its intimate atmosphere. Every night, as people found their seats, we had music playing overhead. Some nights it was Americana or Folk, others it was Blues or Jazz. Then came the croons of Sugar & The Hi-Lows.
When you hear Sugar & The Hi-Lows for the first time, you might briefly wonder if you’ve traveled back in time to the 50’s or 60’s. Their sound brings a feeling of familiarity—a sound that would fit perfectly if played on a jukebox or a turntable, or perhaps your AM radio on some dirt road along Route 66. Straight out of Nashville, Tennessee, singer-songwriters Trent Dabbs and Amy Stroup started Sugar & The Hi-Lows as a side project in 2012. Things quickly took off when they realized the ease that came with writing music that pulled from both their musical backgrounds. Dabbs grew up in Mississippi, listening to Blues and Motown. Stroup was raised with a musical background and ultimately landed in Nashville.
What Dabbs and Stroup create together is unlike anything in the industry right now. Built upon incredible harmonies and catchy melodies, Sugar & The Hi-Lows is a little rock and roll, a little blues, a little retro pop, and a whole lotta soul. You’ll find yourself clapping along to their tambourine-infused beats and singing along to the layers of vocals that effortlessly melt into one another. Dabbs and Stroup define their genre as “new music, old sound.” They’re re-creating and bringing life back to a sound that has otherwise fallen victim to the over-produced pop on our radios. They want to infuse the old and the new. They want to revive the feel-good music vibes. They want to charm you and make you dance.
I’ve been told I’m an old-soul type of person, so there’s no surprise that I find something really refreshing about Sugar & The Hi-Lows. Maybe it’s the swing or maybe it’s the sass—they certainly bring both. From their first self-titled release to their recent sophomore success, “High Roller,” Sugar & The Hi-Lows is going to continue collaborating, so long as it feels as natural as it did from the start.
Now pour yourself a little whiskey, put on your dancing shoes, and check out “Think I Said Too Much,” “Bees Left The Trees,” and their latest album’s title track, “High Roller.” If you want a little more sway than swing, give “Tennessee Quick” and “I’ve Got You Covered” a listen. Next week, “High Roller” will be available on vinyl—perfect timing! If you’re lucky, you might even be able to catch the duo and their friends on tour this fall.