BRATTLEBORO—Rose are red, violets are blue, sugar is sweet and now there’s a jazzy new trio that actually calls itself Sweet As Sugar.
The group is fronted by well-known area musician Bill Shontz, and it’s putting on a benefit show this Friday, June 17, that opens with a tasting of gourmet chocolates by master chocolatier Kerstin Roos. Sugar is sweet, indeed.
The show is at 7 p.m. at 118 Elliot St. Tickets are $15 at the door. Proceeds from the concert benefit the 10th annual “Gathering in Gratitude,” a Mahalo Art Center cultural exchange program that connects people from the Brattleboro area with at-risk teens at the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota.
The center is raising money for a two-week trip west to join indigenous people from Easter Island, Mexico, Australia, and other nations in a gathering called “Spiritual Unity of Tribes — Gathering of Eagles.”
Shontz will be the musical director for the trip, which will end in a show created by the participants. He’ll be bringing with him musical instruments, including many recorders, that have been donated by the Brattleboro Music Center.
Shontz, an entertainer and songwriter, is fondly remembered as one-half of the nationally acclaimed children’s group RosenShontz. He has earned an Emmy nomination, performed at The White House, Disneyland and Fenway Park (for the Red Sox), has released 10 award-winning albums and three videos, and is currently a member of the 1960s group Orpheus.
Sweet As Sugar is Shontz’s newest project. It is a jazz-oriented pop group consisting of Shontz on wind instruments, singer Kate Nicolaou and master guitarist Zack Danziger.
“We like to take jazz and pop tunes and kind of mash them together,” Shontz said. “For example, ’Pennies From Heaven’ with ’When You’re Smiling.’ We also do originals. The three-part harmonies are amazing. I love playing with musicians who get it, who know how to play together, exchange melodies, make the music jump and swing. That’s what this band does! I love playing with these guys!”
This will be the “break-out” concert for the group, which has performed together in public only a few times.
“So far, every time we perform we get more work,” Shontz said. “We’ve already done three shows and we’ve worked out all the kinks.”