The Sugar Thieves Stay Busy (and Dancing) Around Phoenix

The Sugar Thieves, considered by many the best dance-blues band in Phoenix, have been busy for a while now, playing a regular gig every Wednesday at Copper Blues, touring across the state, and working toward getting an album out in 2014.

Oh, yeah, and band members Mikel Lander and Meredith Moore recently were married in Moore's home state of Nebraska. And you can guess who played at their wedding.

The Sugar Thieves, who won the Arizona Blues Challenge last year, have been performing the blues at Copper Blues for two years. The Arizona Lindy Hop Society, which promotes swing music, also gets folks dancing to the Sugar Thieves' tunes. Copper Blues has the stage behind the bar and offers 100 beers on tap including microbrews.

The Sugar Thieves have been together for six years now. "Mikel and I started as a duo, but we're all family now," Moore says. "We have a great work dynamic, and the caliber of the musicians is awesome."

The other members of the band are David Libman on percussion, Jeff Naylor on bass, and Shea Marshall on "piano, accordion, and anything else he can get his hands on."

Aside from their weekly gigs, the Sugar Thieves have upcoming performances at the Tempe Arts Festival and Desert Botanical Gardens. The Sugar Thieves' last CD was called Plywood Palace; their next one is tentatively titled Sugar Thieves in the Raw.


Buzz Fowler, coordinator of last week's 12 Hour Food Benefit, said the concert was a success because they raised enough donations to fill five big orange St. Mary's Food Drive boxes, or an estimated 1,300 pounds along with $500 in cash.

The Phoenix Blues Society, which cosponsored the event, added some new members and raised funds by selling merchandise. "All of the bands were great," Fowler says. "They showed up and performed at top notch."

Ten bands performed, and several that weren't dropped off donations before heading to other gigs. Blaise Lantana, music director at KJZZ, performed as emcee and sang her originals with Sir Harrison Band and Juke Rockers.

Fowler's two bands, Rhythm Street and Toolshed, also performed.


The blues just got better in the Phoenix area. Sugaray Rayford, a Chicago-style blues expert, is now in the Phoenix area. Last month saw his newest release, Dangerous, which is pure fun. Everybody in this economy will relate to his song "Stuck for a Buck," in which he opens with the comment that he's too broke for a joke--of course, this is the kind of blues where that comment's a joke in itself.

The result is a CD full of good-time Chicago blues. "I'm Dangerous" gives folks an idea of what to look out for when he's around, but the best song on the album is "Two Times Sugar," which reminds listeners that two times sugar is better than one.

Stan Bindell performs the Blues Magician show on KUYI Hopi radio from 7 to 9 p.m. Mondays. The show is streaming online at

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Stan Bindell