You'd be forgiven if, in stumbling upon the first notes of a Low Society song, you thought you'd found a forgotten classic. But a few bars in and you know this is not your grandpa's blues. Sturgis Nikides slide guitar starts at the blues but winds its way through the full repertoire of what we sometimes call rock and roll, from its origins in delta blues to its far dark alternative edge. Woven with the powerful voice of his partner in life and crime, Mandy Lemons, his genre-bending guitar style has found its home. The pair has codified their shared love of Texas and Delta Blues, hillbilly music and rock 'n roll into their own subconscious language. Low Society’s songs are a diverse amalgamation of intensely personal original blues with lyrics that invoke Mandy's hard scrabble Texas origins. Their 2011 debut album ‘High Time' has been called “an audacious dirty blues record” by author Gene Gregorits. Big City Rhythm & Blues Magazine says “these hipsters have taken southern country blues and super-charged it to a white-hot intensity”. Standout tracks include 'Dead Man’s Shoes', ‘Black Pelican’ and Mandy's soul baring, soon to be a classic, 'Three Time Loser'.
Sturgis Nikides picked up the guitar at an early age, after seeing the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan show. By his teens he was playing sold out shows at legendary NYC nightspots including CBGB and Max's Kansas City. After working with Velvet Underground chanteuse Nico in the late 70's, he joined forces with VU co-founder John Cale. He made his vinyl debut on Cale's 1979 release Ready for War followed by the 1981 cult classic Honi Soit on A&M Records. After his years recording and touring with Cale ended Sturgis migrated south to Miami Beach where he formed the band Voidville with Diane Ward. He released his debut solo album Man of Steel in 2004, playing venues from New York to the Great Lakes, refining the slide guitar style that he is noted for.
Mandy Lemons sings the blues with an astonishing powerhouse voice which mixes original southern fried soul and northern attitude. She hails from one of the blues ‘capitals’ of the world, Houston Texas, home of the late great Lightnin’ Hopkins. Her mother exposed her to Billie Holiday at an early age, which made a lasting impression. You will be astonished to hear so much power coming out of such a small figure, and you can clearly hear the influences of Koko Taylor, Etta James, Bessie Smith, and of course Janis Joplin. Her performances are visually and emotionally dramatic, approaching legendary status. Hans Werksman of the music blog ‘Here Comes The Flood’ says "seriously lacking in stage fright, Miss Lemons is able to scare the shit out of Joss Stone". Mandy "escaped" Houston in 2003 and headed to New York City. Five years later fate intervened and a mutual friend introduced her to Sturgis. They immediately began writing and recording and played their first show together in 2008. Among their hundreds (and counting) of shows, notable Low Society appearances include Mississippi's Juke Joint Festival for three consecutive years (2011/2012/2013), the BluesAlive Festival 2012 in Sumperk & Zlin, Czech Republic and Chorzow Poland, and NYC's Howl Festival for three consecutive years (2009/2010/2011).
Sturgis and Mandy left NYC in January 2012, journeying south in search of the essence of the roots of American music. Wandering through the backroads of Texas and Mississippi, they landed in Memphis Tennessee, the birthplace of rock 'n roll and the cradle of the blues. They have joined forces with some of the best musicians the Bluff City has to offer. On select dates in Memphis, this includes the legendary Dr. Herman Green on saxophone. Dr.Green is the leader of Memphis’ longest running band Freeworld and also has the distinction of being the only individual to have a pair of brass notes on Beale Street. Joining the band on bass is Arkansas native Niko "The Neck" Nood. Last but not least is newcomer Mike Munn on the drums. He’s a native Memphian, destined for greatness. The new line-up is a powerhouse, scorching audiences all over the mid-south. Work has begun on the next album, with plans to tour, worldwide. Catch them in a city near you soon!
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Created: March 8, 2016, 2:35 a.m.
Last Modified: June 14, 2016, 2:03 a.m.