Sugar & the Hi-Lows at Minglewood Hall 

"My dad used to say music's not good if you can't dance to it," says Trent Dabbs, recalling his childhood spent listening to his father's old Motown and Stax albums. The Mississippi native now makes music of his own in Nashville, although you could hardly shake a tailfeather to any of the songs he's landed on shows like Grey's Anatomy or The Vampire Diaries. But his father's sound advice informs his latest project: a duo he formed with Nashville singer-songwriter Amy Stroup. The longtime collaborators gave themselves an assignment to co-write a batch of songs in the vein of old soul hits like "Mercy Mercy" and "I Can't Help Myself." When the results sounded nothing like their solo material, Dabbs and Stroup invited some friends to round out the group and Sugar & the Hi-Lows was born. Drawing inspiration from '60s soul and even older R&B, the duo will release its eponymous debut on Valentine's Day, and it's arguably the best thing either of them has done. These eight songs go against the grain of most Nashville songwriting by emphasizing the universal over the confessional. "What I love as an artist is a good song," Stroup says. "Everyone needs another good song — to bond with, or fall in love with, or whatever washes away the sorrows." Sugar & the Hi-Lows open for Marc Broussard on Wednesday, February 15th, at Minglewood Hall. Showtime is 8 p.m. Tickets are $16 in advance and $18 the day of the show.

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