Live Neue Soul – a look at the Mike Clark’s Sugar Sounds live show

PULP | Kara Mason
PULP | Kara Mason

Classic soul suit with a narrow tie. Rugged even gruff demeanor yet disarming with his big smile and pure azure eyes.

The man at the front of the stage is Mike Clark and this is where he belongs at the front. I wasn’t sure what to expect seeing Mike Clark take the helm of his new Blank Tape Records super band, The Sugar Sounds. You see, Mike Clark has been the lovable utility performer for The Haunted Windchimes, the front man of the Jack Trades and his own solo album but this is foreign territory for him even if it’s only two feet away from where he normally stands.

Any band will tell you to check them out live but with a band who is the right mix of 60’s soul, lo-fi garage rock ‘n roll and the sweat of legendary rhythm and blues singers – the Sugar Sounds are a band to be listened to live. 

PULP | Kara Mason
PULP | Kara Mason

The audience is already lively and ready when Mike Clark and the Sugar Sounds take the stage.  Mike amps up the energy, takes off his shoes, and – wait takes off his shoes? You heard me right, is there any other way to jump around and get down than to put skin to stage? Hell no! Mike Clark and the Sugar Sounds’ music has been described time again as “Rock & Roll mixed with Garage soul”, a heavy combination that yields an unbelievable result. There is so much passion and energy behind Mike that you can feel his story speak to the soul, to the heart, to the bones. Though he claimed, and I quote, he “ain’t never been much for dancing,” Mike got the crowd moving. Once Mike set the stage in motion, there was no stopping the rush of energy reciprocated by the audience! 

It seems there’s nothing this music protégé can’t do, from the punk and country flair of The Jack Trades to the whimsical sounds of The Haunted Windchimes and now soulful Rock & Roll, it seems Mike really is a Jack of all trades. The group features Mike Clark on vocals and guitar, Inaiah Lujan on guitar, Marc Benning on bass, Alex Koshak on drums, Ian Bourgal on Sax, and Grant Sabin on Trumpet. So how does Mike do it? Play the guitar, sing “Hey Daisy” and ride a bicycle, as he did oh so well in one of his latest videos. We’d all like to know his secret, but it seems he has an instilled musical talent. Mike Clark played the mandolin at the Concert for Sophie, a fundraising event to raise money for a beautiful little girl with a rare form of cancer, for the first time and it sounded beautifully; as though he’d been playing it for years instead of only picking it up that day. This seems to be a trend for Mike; only getting into the music biz about seven years ago, and he’s already topping the list as a sensation. 

A concert is not a concert if the singer doesn’t jump off stage and walk through their swooning crowd. Mike did just that during an outstanding performance of “Hey Daisy” from his new album Round and Round. Your guess is as good as mine as to where this Rock & Roll, soul, jazz, blues band got their sounds from, however Mike Clark and The Sugar Sounds found their fame through various live performances at dance-parties throughout the past year. From small town local events such as their latest concert at the Loft in Colorado Springs to a crowd of over four million people at A Prairie Home Companion with The Haunted Windchimes from the previous year, Mike Clark delivers. One thing that’s for sure is Mike Clark and The Sugar Sounds’ performance of “Summer Girls” will keep your spirit warm and moving through the cold winter without fail. Mike even joins in with the crowd, allowing the music to get him up on his toes and free fall through the swinging beats beaming through the amps. 

PULP | Kara Mason
PULP | Kara Mason

The Sugar Sounds was a new direction for Mike; what caused such a change of heart for this artist who’s taking the world one stage at a time? According to him, his previous songs were only focused on sex and loneliness and he wanted more than that. He knew he had more to offer his fans and decided to branch out and pursue what he was passionate about. It can be pretty well agreed upon that Mike hit the nail on the head in his search. Not only has he become an outstanding artist, he’s been able to do so with his own flare of originality. His music is still based in that classic scheme of summer, women, having fun, and grabbing life by the horns. However, Mike Clark and The Sugar Sounds stand apart from the MTV list of overly done songs about love and heartbreak. 

Once Mike Clark and The Sugar Sounds wrapped up their final beat – it’s clear Mike Clark needs to take two steps to the front more often. If Mike Clark can play just about anything, be the nice guy he always is, who is, ahem, not bad on the eyes, he may just be the best undiscovered talent in Colorado.

by Brittany Hicks

You will also want to check out:

How to buy Round and Round

Mike Clark & The Sugar Sounds Fuel/Friends Blog Chapel Sessions:

Filmed in Colorado Springs which includes audio of the session and additional videos. Mike Clark on Fuel Friends Blog

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