Q&A with Sugar Lime Blue (Ashley & Dave Beth), a premiere Americana Soul Jam Band rising up from Nashville, TN

"Be kind. Be humble and helpful. Music is so powerful and moving. It is a weighty responsibility to me, like a super power of sorts. Music sinks into your soul through your ears, it touches the places that light doesn’t reach, it can heal and bring you company in the lonely corners of life. We are all just people people-ing around, trying to make a better place for the people to people after we are gone, music is my way of doing that."

Sugar Lime Blue: Sweet/Sour and Bluesy

For over a decade Sugar Lime Blue has been committed to recording music that draws from several genres and their latest effort is no different. Recorded at the Historic Blackbird Studio in Nashville, TN, The Blackbird Sessions (2022) is a crossroads album in many ways for the Lebanon, TN-based quintet, signaling the end of an era while simultaneously ushering in a new one. Started prior to the Covid pandemic with basic tracking completed shortly after the release of their third album, Narcoluptuous (2019, which was added on 120 FM stations), production came to a standstill Following the loss of SLB founding member and bassist Russ Dean in 2020. Despite the loss, Ashley and Dave Beth remained committed to seeing the album through to completion, enlisting the services of bassist Joe Bass (Brian Howe) and keyboardist Scott Guberman (Phil Lesh) to complete the studio tracking. During this time the band also re-established a live presence -- embarking on several multi-state tours while adding members Luis "Slice" Echeverria on keyboards and Ikaika Pekelo on drums, both of whom also contributed to The Blackbird Sessions.                      (Photo: Sugar Lime Blue, Nashville, TN)

Sugar Lime Blue remains a strong presence in the Americana/Jam band scene, having played national festivals alongside mainstays Umphreys McGee, Moe, Ween, The Wood Brothers, and Buddy Guy, among others. With four albums released and over a decade of experience, SLB has performed nearly one-thousand concerts and has been featured in both national and international press. If you like music to be more than just the background noise in your life, check out Sugar Lime Blue next time they come to your town. The band feeds off the energy of their fans and puts their hearts into every show. We only have a short time on this planet and making the moment inclusive to all that hear and enjoy the sound is what it’s all about for them. Playing music is the ultimate group expression in creativity and Sugar Lime Blue is a family bound by love and music -- with the ultimate goal to be able to spread that music love around.

Interview by Michael Limnios

How has the Roots music and Rock Counterculture influenced your views of the world and the journeys you’ve taken?

Ashley: Roots music fundamentally connects us all. The root is origin, genesis, introduction. So much music, ours included has been steeped in roots music, even if the resulting sound can’t be readily identified as “roots”. The rock counterculture of the 60s and 70s produced some of the most influential music of our lifetime. The “vibe” of that time is one thing that Sugar Lime Blue seeks to capture. Organic, spontaneous, open to movements and change.

Dave: I actually chose my sophomore year in High School for my final English writing assignment to be on how Rock Music and Counterculture effected the Vietnam war and modern history so this is always something that has been at the forefront of my mind. Without the music I don’t believe I would be really the same perso, its effected a lot of my attitude and of course emotions throughout my life.

How do you describe band’s sound and songbook? What is the story behind name: Sugar Lime Blue?

Ashley: One would be hard pressed to put Sugar Lime Blue’s music into one single genre. We are influenced by so many styles of music that it echos into what we are creating. We seek to be inspired and influenced and in our turn, to inspire and influence. The sound, in a word, honest. The songbook is mostly our originals with a sprinkling of some of our favorite covers that we have put our touch on. 

The name “Sugar Lime Blue” was first uttered by founding member and guitarist, Dave Beth on a sofa at home. We had been trying on names for what seemed like an eternity, looking for the right feel and fit. (much like one would try on clothing, some colors and fits are better left on the hanger) When the three little words “Sugar” with no attachment whatsoever “Lime” here to date to each other “Blue”… it just felt right. It sounded right. It fit us.

Dave: As Ashley always says, “Sugar, the sweet stuff; Lime, the citrus fruit; Blue, the color!” Its eclectic sweet/sour and bluesy!

"Roots music fundamentally connects us all. The root is origin, genesis, introduction. So much music, ours included has been steeped in roots music, even if the resulting sound can’t be readily identified as “roots”. The rock counterculture of the 60s and 70s produced some of the most influential music of our lifetime. The “vibe” of that time is one thing that Sugar Lime Blue seeks to capture. Organic, spontaneous, open to movements and change." (Photo: Ashley Beth)

Why do you think that the Nashville music scene continues to generate such a devoted following?

Ashley: Nashville is a funny place. Music centric, and also not. People who are supporters and super proud to be adding to the scene in any capacity they can.  The business side of the music business is totally covered here, and studios and session musicians abound. There’s a lot of opportunity to be had here. 

Dave: It’s so centrally located its a great place to travel in the states from, and the resources are great being able to hire musicians of top skill level for any project and find those that best fit your band. Also, its still possible to live with a small town feel and lower costs and be within an hour’s drive of the city, though that is changing.

Are there any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

Ashley: Oh road stories are the best! We’ve had so many ridiculous things happen to us along the way. (Usually funnier after some time has passed) Once we drove through a storm to get to a gig that turned out to be a tornado, and if that wasn’t enough, on the way home it started snowing and we got a flat tire. I have a whole video (in YouTube) about how the album “Narcoluptuous” got its name.  

Dave: Its so true, life on the road is so much different then the usual at home, you quickly find out where there are so many “on the road” songs from the bands and artists you love… but one quick highlight for me was SummerCamp Music festival a few years back, that many people in one place that just LOVE music, the vibe is so amazing and so good.

What do you miss most nowadays from the music of the past? What are your hopes and fears for the future of?

Ashley: I miss the attention span that we used to have for music. Music is commonly consumed in 30 second snippets nowadays, as opposed to sitting with an album and listening in its entirety, or going out to see a live show. People seem more keen for a music festival (which is admittedly super duper fun and I’m totally here for it) rather than going to see one band at a local venue. I hope that as technology continues to elevate our collective standard of living, we have are re-renaissance era in which art, in all of it forms, rises to the top of our lives.

Dave: I miss all the bands that were titans of the eras and just continued on with powerful music that connected to generations. I’m worried that with the splintering of genres and the ease that music is now produced that so many of todays great artists will never find their audiences and potential.

"The name “Sugar Lime Blue” was first uttered by founding member and guitarist, Dave Beth on a sofa at home. We had been trying on names for what seemed like an eternity, looking for the right feel and fit. (much like one would try on clothing, some colors and fits are better left on the hanger) When the three little words “Sugar” with no attachment whatsoever “Lime” here to date to each other “Blue”… it just felt right. It sounded right. It fit us." (Photo: Ashley and Dave Beth on stage)

If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

Ashley: I would create a mid-tier market. There’s a huge gap between small local venues and arena type gigs. Festivals are great, but they are seasonal. There is a scattering of theatre venues to be had, but they are few and far between. So musicians who have proved themselves in the smaller venues could really use a stepping stone between that and the stadium shows we all dream of…

Dave: Ashley is exactly right. Its either the small bar scene or the low pay van touring market, then it seems like a huge jump for original bands to make. It would be nice if their was some way where artists could make a living and of course allow them to devote more time to their art in the middle grounds.

What are some of the most important lessons you have learned from your experience in the music paths?

Ashley: Be kind. Be humble and helpful. Music is so powerful and moving. It is a weighty responsibility to me, like a super power of sorts. Music sinks into your soul through your ears, it touches the places that light doesn’t reach, it can heal and bring you company in the lonely corners of life. We are all just people people-ing around, trying to make a better place for the people to people after we are gone, music is my way of doing that.

Dave: Being able to perform for people is a gift, and the impact of music on peoples lives is unmeasurable. The stories we have heard told back about our songs and how it has effected someone… music heals, music inspires…it takes us out of the mundane… it doesn’t matter if it effects 1 person or hundreds, we’ve done our job by being the musician and allowing the muse to work through us.

Sugar Lime Blue - Home

(Photo: Sugar Lime Blues, Nashville TN)

Sugar Lime Blue - Summer Tour 2023

June 6 (Tue)          SUMMERFEST 2023                    Ashland City TN

June 8 (Thur)         SUMMER CONCERT SERIES         Cumberland MD

June 9 (Fri)            KENNETT FLASH                         Kennett Square PA

June 23 (Fri)          SUMMER EQUINOX FESTIVAL       Red Boiling Springs TN

June 24 (Sat)         JIMMY'S                                      Lebanon TN

July 1 (Sat)            TWISTED OAKS                           Doweltown TN

July 3 (Mon)          GREEN TURTLE BAY RESORT        Grand Rivers KY

Aug 3 (Thur)         SUMMER CONCERT SERIES           Kingsport TN

Aug 4 (Fri)            GOLDEN GROVE FARM & BREW     Piedmont SC

Aug 31 (Thur)       THE PIXY THEATRE                       Edinburg IL

Sept 1 (Fri)            JOLIET MUSEUM CONCERT SERIES    Joliet IL

Sept 2 (Sat)           THE LIVERY                                  Benton Harbor MI

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