Oh Susanna concert - Mostly, it is...
Apr. 12th, 2008
09:32 pm - Oh Susanna concert
What with the news, I wanted to get out somewhere and absorbed in something. I'd seen her twice before at the same venue (Hugh's Room) - once as a band, and once as Oh Susanna and Friends (Basically she had around 10 local-ish semi-indie people, some of whom, several years later, are bigger now, do a song or three each of theirs, often with one or more friends in accompaniment. People I can remember off the top of my head: Kurt Swinghammer "Appearing regularly at the Cameron and Horseshoe Tavern", Kathleen Edwards, Edward's husband/producer/guitarist whose name I can't remember but who also produced some of Suzie's earlier albums back when he was unmarried and she could hit on him without Kathleen comically calling out in fake drunken wrath from the bar "Keep 'way from muh man! ...I'm srrrious," (also before Suzie was married to her now husband/drummer/boy from when they were on the road in Nova Scotia who'd had her come out to the field after the show and play him her songs; who then told her about how he was such a bad boyfriend and all the things that he'd put his exes through; while all the while she was thinking "Stop talking and kiss me", who was probably behind Suzie at the drum kit while the stage flirting was going on.), Sarah Harmer, I seem to remember The Bees Knees, but stylistically there's some significant stylistic dissonance there, so I could be wrong). I remembered little of the actual content of her music, but the impression that I had was that it was good. I also remember thinking that I might not want to see her too often, but couldn't recall reasons why.
An unannounced opening act - Brian MacMillan turned out to be quite good technically, lyrically and musically, with an easy stage presence. Holmes said just before presenting Oh Susanna, "I think that's only the fifth time an opener's ever had an encore." and this is Hugh's Room's seventh anniversary weekend. He only had a few CDs with him, and they sold out, but fortunately he'll be back later this spring, so I'll get another chance to hear him.
For the main act, the Juno nominee reminded me why I should be more careful coming to her shows partway through the first verse. And that is because she's adept at leading a person into a place that is emotionally true, deep, and in at least four songs in five, beautifully depressing. Songs carrying the stoic aching pain with the scary background that this is ordinary life, that makes up one of the strongest currents running through country western music. Old loss, doomed hopes, past sins, failed dreams and fatal courage. Perhaps one in those four are hopeful if you can separate their stories from what you know happens after the songs' ends. Gifted songwriter and performer.
Good choice, bad choice. How would I tell?