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Big Sugar Bio
Big Sugar, as a "band" was
formed in 1991 with Johnson (Infidels, Molly Johnson, Watertown), Cross (Jane
Siberry, Don Freed) and Wilkins (Rough Trade, David Wilcox) though the three
musicians had worked together at impromptu jam nights for 5 years at the Hotel
Isabella. Wilkins and Johnson were also members of a later day version of
With the help of singer Molly Johnson (Alta Moda, Infidels), the band drew the
attention of Tom Treumuth's Hypnotic Records who signed them and stuck them in a
live-off-the -floor setting to do what they do best - improvise. 50 songs were
recorded and 12 were released on their eponymous debut in 1991.
In 1993 the band changed with the exit of Wilkins and they released 'Five
Hundred Pounds' which featured musicians including Kelly Hoppe who would later
join the band. Their first noteworthy single from the album also spawned an EP
called "Ride Like Hell". With little fanfare the CD sold nearly 10,000
Throughout 1993 and 1994 the band developed its chops and reputation as a
musical genre jukebox of improvisation in the clubs - usually at the El Seven
Nite Club. The result was a full length live compilation of Big Sugar performing
with some of Toronto's hottest El Seven regulars.
By 1995 some new material was demanded by the fans and Big Sugar aimed to please
with the 5 song EP 'Dear Mr. Fantasy' - featuring a reworking of the classic
Traffic tune. The band at this point was made up of Johnson, Cross, Kelly Hoppe
handling the harmonica, melodica, and steel guitar, Garry Lowe on bass, Stytch
Wilson on drums and Patrick Ballantyne on acoustic
In 1996 Big Sugar had mutated once more with their heavy guitar 'Hemi Vision'
and had added ex-Odds drummer Paul Brennan. "Diggin' A Hole" vaulted
them into the MuchMusic spotlight and their album began some serious sales and
gigs were plentiful.
Brennan's stay was short lived and he departed in mid-1997. He was replaced by
In 2000, the band released its long-gestating dub project, "Extra Long
Life", under the moniker Alkaline.
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