Sucker, friends pack venues on Front Range

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— Scott Stoughton is all about the positive vibe and joining his friends on stage for a highly energized performance for the fans.

At Saturday night's Leftover Salmon and Friends show at The Fillmore in Denver, the sticky floors began to shake and fans jumped with their arms in the air when Stoughton made his debut appearance that night.

Among Peter Rowan, Bela Fleck and other friends jamming on stage, Stoughton left a funky bluegrass show rising with energy.

"It's been quite an experience," Stoughton said. "We get along so well, I can't help laughing."

Lately more and more, Stoughton said he and other members of Sucker are sitting in with other musician friends, producing or doing solo gigs around the Denver area. Laying low but continuing to play are Sucker's top priorities.

Members of Sucker include Aaron Snyder on bass and vocals (Liza Band and Open Air Ensemble); Steve Vidaic on electronics, keys and vocals (The Motet and Open Air Ensemble); Rodney "Rocket" Coquia on guitar and vocals; and Aaron "JR Mint" Ficca on drums and vocals.

Soon enough they'll be playing for packed venues on the Front Range, recording six to seven live songs for their new CD and back into the studio to record another four to five.

But lately Stoughton and other members of Sucker are sticking around Colorado and area states to save energy, sit in with friends and work on their third album.

"We're just trying to get re-energized," Stoughton said.

Although no plans have been made for a title, Stoughton said he hopes the band will get working seriously in December and January and finish up in late spring.

After a long touring stint around the country a couple of years ago, Stoughton said the band seems satisfied looking at the Rocky Mountains in their backyard for a while.

Stoughton said booking dates, driving and playing every night became a tiring job.

Four years ago, Sucker began playing in the Vail Valley as a four-piece band. But with a new bass player, drummer and an added keyboardist, the sounds of Sucker seeped into the Boulder music scene.

"We try to just keep it fun and fresh," Stoughton said of adding a keyboard to the band.

Sucker plays in various venues including X Games, Gravity Games and other local extreme sporting events.

The band also has been performing for the Teton Gravity Research film premiere "Mind Addiction."

Stoughton said Sucker's hard edge and positive lyrics create a connection with the extreme sports community.

But jumping in with friends such as Leftover Salmon is not uncommon for Stoughton. He said he's been a guest artist for about 20 to 30 shows since he met them almost two years ago.

Banjo player for Leftover Salmon Mark Vann saw Sucker at the One World Festival in Crested Butte two years ago and asked the band to play on stage with the polyethnic Cajun slamgrass band.

"Then I asked them to play on stage with us," Stoughton said, adding Vann was jamming on the banjo when Stoughton started rapping a Beastie Boys song. "We just became good friends."

Stoughton said being on stage together was a huge turning point.

"I'm not the best singer or rapper by any means. But it's not what you're playing and how you're playing it but the vibe you're creating," Stoughton said. "That's truly what it's all about."

Stoughton appeared in four shows with Leftover Salmon and Friends on the Front Range last week. His improvisational skills created a dynamite energy on stage that left Salmon members and friends smiling with enthusiasm.

Although Sucker and Leftover Salmon seem to produce bipolar sounds on the music scale, Stoughton said they're all about the same positive message.

Mainstream, large record labels don't interest Stoughton like they did years ago when the intent was to sell records.

Stoughton doesn't believe the band is about changing to fit the style and taste of music today. The band and the sound have matured and so has Stoughton.

Networking on the Front Range and keeping the venues packed keeps Sucker distressed while they wait for the perfect time to begin recording a CD that represents their funk base with rhymes, reggae and infused electronic sounds.

"Ironically, Sucker has never sounded better," Stoughton said. "We're pretty content."

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