Feb 27, 2011

Susan Werner at Old Town School of Folk on 2/25/11

I am a long time fan of Susan. I have known about her PH, PC, PGH (that's pre-husband, children, and grey hair) which translates to many years. My friend Ann first told me about her back about 15 years ago and I have now seen her at least eight times. She never fails to amaze me with her extreme talent and creativity. Never anything but an all out energetic performance. She is a singer-songwriter, jazz, folk, cabaret, and gospel singer all wrapped up in one. She is also a very funny, self-deprecating comedienne. Needless to say, there are no dull moments because she knows how to fill silence with intelligent and funny banter before there is ever a chance for it to become awkward. The video below is a short medley which gives you just a hint of the flavor of her seemingly endless talent.

I could not use my own flip camera at the show because the "artist requested that no photography or video recordings" be taken. They pretty much say this at all OTSFM shows so it could be standard verbage in the pre-recorded overhead statement. I was so tempted to bootleg a video and break the law, but did not (painful as it was!).

The only criticism I have about Susan is her unfailing lack of fashion sense. Tonight, for example, she wore polyester slacks at least one size too big and plastic western boots that she told us were bought for $10 at the Brown Elephant. She needs a wardrobe assistant. She also needs to wear her hair in less of a side part (almost like a comb over). Maybe she has a bald spot. Maybe this adds to her charm. In her self-depricating style, she did mock her own clothing and joked about her style. She did say that her "tailor" was in the audience and asked her to stand up. Likely the tailor needs to be an apprentice a bit longer.

If I had to name one performer or celebrity that I would like to go out drinking with, it would be Susan. She has been living in Chicago for ten years now and our paths have only crossed at her shows. So far, we have not thrown any back together.

Tonight, Susan had Chris Montgomery open for her. He is singer, actor, and comedian. He is also very gay. During his set, he talked about Rahm Emmanuel winning the election and that "it was not a bad view". He also compared Rahm to a "hot toy" while pantomiming picking up a small sized Rahm and holding him in the air. The funny part is that ironically Rahm was in the audience during Susan's show. Chris had no idea that Rahm was attending the show but Hot Toy Rahm was coincidentally not in the audience while Chris performed. Susan on the other hand had full knowledge of Rahm's presence and used her podium effectively. At one point she mentioned the misuse of taxpayer dollars to purchase snow mobiles during the recent blizzard and perhaps "someone might know who to talk to about this", as she glanced sideways at Rahm, who was then sitting at a cabaret table near the stage.

Susan performed songs both new and old. She has a new project out (as she referred to it) Kicking the Beehive, that takes us back to her folk roots. Her previous album, The Gospel Truth, is a highly likable and popular amongst her fans. Her creative work on The Gospel Truth demonstrates just how truly ambitious she is. Her piano and guitar playing are also both flawless. Her chord changes and rhythm sense are unbelievable. She seems to play better each time I see her. She is also touring with Trina Hamlin who is an amazing percussionist, back up vocalist, and harmonica player. Trina's accompaniment really added to the depth and richness of Susan's music.

Susan has such a fan following now that a Tribute called The World of Susan Werner is scheduled for three Thursdays in March at Davenport's Piano Bar in Bucktown. Four singers are featured during these shows and I would imagine, Susan will be in the audience if she is not touring. I would recommend going to the tribute but seeing her perform first (if you never have) would certainly add to your enjoyment.

The show at Old Town gets a 5 out of 5 guitar rating for flawless performance, great sound, great site lines (upper balcony) and great entertainment. For music samples and Susan's website click here.

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