The Sugar Britches, a sweet and spicy juxtaposed duo made up of Front Range natives Brian Johanson of Glove Trucker and Josh Long of Josh and the Long Haul, are reinvigorating classic country. The Britches hold a monthly Sunday country extravaganza at the Forge Publick House, play shows throughout the Front Range regularly, and are releasing a new album this month.
Brian is the “Britches” and Josh is the “Sugar.” Brian is the lyricist and the business side and Josh is the lighthearted guitarist who shakes his hips and engages in the crowd. They aren’t afraid to be country. They say that often, country music artists get flak for writing over-the-top pop or sad-tear-in-your-beer anthems. But the Sugar Britches take the normal dose of life and make it easy to listen to and fun to see. Josh explains the sound, “Brian tells good stories and his stories are country because country is like a miniature movie in three minutes. We can take a sad situation and make it more palatable. We were still trying to get people to dance.”
Last year, Brian had a going away party, to which he invited a bunch of local rockabilly players. He got Josh’s name from a mutual friend, Liza Fisher, who DJ’s KRFC’s Poudre Valley Barn Dance. At the party, they connected immediately. They played a few shows following, and Sugar Britches was born. After the first shows, they kept getting bookings. More and more interest sparked and Brian says it has been the busiest year of his musical career. The credit is due to a great performance and the fantastic songwriting but also their collective business intelligence.
“I don’t know how (Brian) he does it,” Josh says. “He works hard at making people feel welcome. The biggest thing I realized is that we have a community here of musicians and they’re all in their own individual crowd. One thing I like that Brian and I do is like and share other bands’ events. One of the biggest reasons I enjoy playing with Brian, not his sloppy guitar, (he says jokingly) but the fact he’s such a nice guy. He is genuine and he cares about other people. He works hard, and he has a unique way. I’m kind of taken aback approach. I watch how he does it and I think I need to do that.”
Brian says he, too, enjoys working with Josh. “I still laugh all the time every show,”he says. “He does something so unexpected and so funny. I call him Mr. Wiggles because of his dance moves and shimmies. I think I’ve learned so much from Josh — even just (how he) engages people in between sets or before and after. It’s actually a fully enriching experience. A good rule of thumb in any business is just to be a nice person. Josh has got a superb knowledge of the history of country music.”
The new album is in the final mixes and should be available online this month. The duo says the sound is a little country and a little syrup with classic grooves and new flavors. It is to sound like a live recording, a kind of loose and a natural feel. The album features the duo, a standup bass and percussion. It was recorded and produced at Stout Studios.
See them on Dec. 2 —The Forge as the Krampus 3. The Krampus 3 is Mark Verschoor on bass, Josh Long on guitar and vocals and Brian Johanson on rhythm guitar and vocals. They will play nontraditional rockabilly Christmas music.
Other shows: Dec. 14 — Old Colorado Brewing Company; Dec. 15 — Swing Station as the Krampus 3 with Grant McIntosh; Dec. 27 — Lucky Joe’s; Dec. 29 —The Barrel Estes Park.