November 1, 2008
a sassy wit ... outspoken songs
Two years ago Susan Werner graced our stage with a thrilling concert, and we described it then as:
"The air was electric tonight in anticipation of Susan Werner's concert ... and she supercharged our audience with a mix of dynamic keyboard ballads and gospel variations, and guitar based solos on love and life. She brought our Ken "The Rocket" Korb on stage with his harmonicas to harmoniously accompany her on two moving songs ... and her clever repartee on Chicago etal kept us in stitches. This was an evening that will not be forgotten."
A s part of out 40th Anniversary Year celebration, Susan is one of the hit performers returning to our stage this year, and we expected this show to be as exciting as her last. To put it simply IT WAS. This was yet another evening that will not be forgetten.
Her first set featured songs from Susan's recent album The Gospel Truth, her modern day Gospel compositions, some irreverent and controversial. Susan performed them courageously beneath our venue's giant cross (although she stayed six feet clear to the front) ... and with frequent humorous playful references to it. The songs from her socially conscious, contemporary gospel album balance the faithful and the agnostic in one collection of originals, both heartfelt and incisive, biting yet optimistic, that draw from Werner’s own personal spiritual questions to engage the Christian community at large. Addressing those universal doubts that even fundamentalists surely have but wish to God they could verbalize, Werner seeks common ground with her traditional religious counterparts in finding solutions to the issues that divide America. The infectious joy of gospel music with lyrics anybody - or, almost anybody - can agree with - and sing along to ...
A fter the break, the second set featured a wider range of Susan's songs, some new, some older that enchanted. Susan closed with her stirring "alternative national anthem" My Strange Nation that reflected on the results of the 2004 election, a battle hymn with added lyrics that encompass both the poetry and hypocrisy innate to the United States.
S.usan Werner maintains an active touring career throughout the U.S. and has received a string of accolades from the likes of The Washington Post, The Village Voice and The New Yorker. She has become one of the defining artists of the folk music genre. Her songs effortlessly slide between folk, jazz and pop, and are delivered with a sassy wit and classic midwestern charm on piano or acoustic guitar.
Farm girl Susan Werner was raised in rural Iowa but began her professional music career in Philadelphia, after studying classical voice at Temple University. Inspired by a Nanci Griffith concert, Werner left behind her opera training and began performing as a singer-songwriter at coffeehouses throughout the northeast. She self-released her first album Midwestern Saturday Night in 1992 and then went on to put out Live at Tin Angel the following year. In 1995 came her breakout album Last of the Good Straight Girls. Werner next recorded two albums even better than her previous work, adding some country and soul sounds to her signature vocal stylings, Time Between Trains, and in 2001 New Non-Fiction.
A lways ready to reinvent herself, in 2004 Susan Werner released her album of her American Songbook gems I Can't Be New. For years she had incorporated cabaret-style numbers in her live performances, exchanging her guitar for the piano, and she'd been asked by her audience to put all those songs in one recording. Fans and critics alike sang her praises: the All Music Guide calling it "a brilliantly constructed, soulful, and cleverly tender effort by a songwriter and musician who is in such complete command of her gifts that it's almost scary."
Her sassy wit combined with her classic midwestern charm and her outspoken song lyrics make Susan's shows as exciting as folk was in the classic folk era of the 60's and 70's. ... We're very pleased that we didn't miss this rousing evening!
A t this concert, Susan had available her newest CD, Live at Passim, a collection of live recordings of Susan Werner performing with band from two nights at Club Passim in 2007.
Praises by others for her performances:
S.usan was introduced tonight by John Platt of WFUV-FM, who reminded us of her virtuosity and told us of the great show we were about to witness.
Opening tonight were our featured open mike performers:
Our host tonight was Ira Perlman, If you weren't here tonight, you missed yet another of the very best programs of the year ...
Our host tonight was Ira Perlman,
If you weren't here tonight, you missed yet another of the very best programs of the year ...